Archives for category: Mindfulness

Most details of this delightful love I share with my Traveling Partner play out in our kitchen. Discussions about recipes, cooking techniques, taste preferences, costs and sources of various ingredients, and sharing suggestions, tips, and offering practical help, or even just hanging out to watch and share the experience, are all very commonplace happenings here. We both cook. He’s quite good at it. I’m a perpetual novice, tackling every new recipe as if cooking for the first time. I’ve learned quite a lot from my partner, in our kitchen. Even subtler nuances of love play out in our kitchen; how our dynamic works (or doesn’t, now and then), the search for balance, mutual autonomy, mutual respect, and the way our obvious fond regard for one another eases the strain of occasional conflict. How to communicate. How to follow instructions. It’s all in the kitchen.

I personally have a strange mixed up relationship with “the kitchen”. In my childhood, this was the place women gathered – or were directed towards. “Real chefs” were respected in the world… women in the kitchen were not. I have a lingering fuck-ton of baggage about misogyny, the kitchen, feminism, equality, and what it means to be a woman in the kitchen, in American life. All mine. I don’t think my partner shares that garbage (he’s no doubt got his own to deal with), and this too becomes part of the theater of life – and the kitchen.

…I do love cookbooks. This may seem odd considering my strange relationship with the kitchen and with cooking. I long resented the dishes (as in “dirty, in the sink”) as emblematic of servitude, for like… decades. No idea when I got over that… I think it was when I realized that it was my own desire for order that drove my stress about the dishes, that I was finally able to put some of that down and walk on from it. I even like cooking. I like taking ingredients and making them something more than they once were – something worth sharing, and experiencing. The effort has meaning and value, when I allow myself to wholly enjoy the outcome, authentically, honestly, and fearlessly. I mean – let’s be real here – I’m not the most fantastic cook on the block. lol I’ve got a lot to learn, and mistakes have been made. 🙂 I’ll probably enjoy learning more about cooking for a long while to come.

I’ve learned a few things in the kitchen, in this relationship, and not just recipes or gadgets. I’ve learned more about “the dance” of lovers in close quarters working on separate tasks; kitchens are often small confined spaces, and in some cases even two people is one person “too many” for ease and convenience. Coordination becomes relevant. Communication is important. Acceptance, and understanding, and the assumption of positive intent keep things merrily moving along toward a successful, hopefully tasty conclusion. 🙂 There are some really useful lessons to be learned in the kitchen.

Friday I said I wanted to work on my pancakes this weekend. They’re okay. Not “great”. They’re perfectly good pancakes, but not such that anyone is going to ask me to make them. LOL So, okay. I made pancakes yesterday. Re-learned the lesson that is “make sure your surface is hot enough before you start cooking the pancakes”. Important lesson there. 🙂 In the evening, I remembered my plan to make pancakes and spoke up about my intention to do so again today for breakfast. My partner’s reply? “Waffles?”. Yep. I learned to make waffles pretty well last year, around this same time, I think. At that time, my Traveling Partner was kind, and very clear about it “I don’t really like waffles, but…” he was totally open to supporting my efforts by eating waffles now and then. He just didn’t want me to be disappointed if he just wasn’t wowed by waffles. I appreciate expectation-setting, especially when done with such care and love. I made the waffles. They were “okay”. We ate them. I made more waffles, and the next time or two they were beyond “okay” – we ate those, too, obviously. My waffles are pretty good. Good enough to freeze any excess and using them as homemade freezer waffles for later. lol My partner asks me to make waffles – because my waffles are fucking delicious. 😀 There’s a lesson here. There’s a metaphor here. I think it over and sip my coffee.

Soon, it’ll be time to begin again. In the kitchen. Making waffles. Feeling loved.

It’s a new year, eh? New cup of coffee here on my desk, too. New morning, new day – a Saturday. The season has turned, and Winter is truly upon us. Here that mostly means cold, wet, and rainy, with occasional flooding, and the sounds of trees cracking when the wind blows on a freezing day. Other places, other weather.

Out on a nearby trail, taking note of the recent winter storm damage; fallen trees open up new views of the sky.

It’s been a few days since I sat down to put words to a blank page. The holidays passed, as holidays do, and this is a time when best intentions set boldly of a New Year’s Eve begin to fall to the mundane, the routine, and the unexceptional – change is quite a bit of work. Did you commit yourself to some specific change or improvement in life for this new year? Are you already frustrated? I try to avoid “resolutions” – it just hasn’t been a successful approach for me, personally. Still, this year I do want to “do more, better” – and be more that person I most want to be. It wants a new beginning, though, because I am deeply flawed, fundamentally very human, and entirely capable of bad decision-making, errors, and falling short of expectations and commitments. I’ve disappointed myself a number of times this year, once in a serious, significant, and painful way. So, as is so common, I set myself to putting things right as the new year approached, and tried to sort out what really crap-tacular shit is holding me back, and what baggage I can maybe put down , and what things I can do better, generally. I’m back in therapy, working on difficult specifics.

What sorts of changes am I looking for, this year, myself? It’s an assortment. Last year I got in 1 mile per day (average) over the second half of the year (started in July, finished on 12/31/21). This year I’m going for 2 miles per day, all year. 730 miles. On foot. I mean… it’s not “all that”. People do through hikes that are far longer, and conquer those in shorter time. 🙂 For me, working from home full time, during a pandemic, 2 miles a day on foot still manages to feel like a (healthy) stretch, particularly if I am making a legitimate attempt to do some portion of that every single day. So. I’m doing it. I’ve at least started. I sip my coffee and wonder if I’ll give up, or feel inclined to “cheat”. (There is no “cheating” on such things; either I succeed or I fail. Miles on foot are miles on foot. Doesn’t mean there won’t be something within me inclined to wonder if I could “find an easier way”. I’m very human.) Various other small things; get more done with less bitching (housekeeping shit, I mostly mean), really embracing the direct personal value to my quality of life that those efforts have, and maybe stop fucking resenting the necessity. That gets super tedious for me, even from within. “Do more, bitch less” seems a good place to begin. So far this year, I’ve been hitting the mark there pretty well, just making a bit more effort, with a bit less resistance to the effort required. It does seem to make things actually easier.

I’ve got bigger changes in mind, too. This partnership means the world to me. My Traveling Partner is special in my heart. Surely I could be a better partner? Better friend? Better human being to make a life with? I mean… there may be some things about me that may not improve much, however I fuss and practice, but that can’t be what stops me from growing and improving in all the ways I can improve, right? PTSD and brain trauma are for sure ass-kickers, as life challenges go, but I’m not without potential, and I’m pretty wonderful in so many other ways – there’s no legitimate reason to allow my issues to define me, or hold me back from making more progress, and walking my path with future successes in mind.

I wrote a bunch more words, deleted those when I noticed that my mind was wandering, and my words had become… unfocused? Purposeless? Too… something. My Traveling Partner stops by to invite me to share an experience with him later – doesn’t matter what sort, really, it’s the invitation to enjoy each other that matters most. Sounds like fun. I enjoy his company, and sharing time and activities. I smile after he walks away; we’re both pretty grumpy first thing in the morning, and don’t always want to “deal with people” – including each other. It’s a wonderful morning when we’re already exchanging smiles by 8:00 am on a Saturday, and making suggestions for shared experiences to enjoy.

Other than one errand I plan to run this morning, I’m hoping to spend most of the day here in the studio (painting, instead of writing). It’s a good day for it, I think, rainy, cold, dreary… the bright lights in the studio are probably good for my emotional wellness in winter months. 🙂 I’ll make cocoa… and begin again.

I stayed up “late” last night with my Traveling Partner – somehow managed to wake up early this morning. lol S’okay, my coffee is hot, and it tastes “good” in that way coffee does (and doesn’t; it’s an acquired taste, I think). It’s a work day after a long holiday weekend. The morning is a chilly one, sort of, but at 45 degrees Fahrenheit, hardly reaches the potential for “the first day of Winter”. One of the perks of life in the Pacific Northwest, I guess; at least for now, winter is a mild season. The forecast hints at some small potential for snow on Giftmas, more likely on New Year’s weekend. Am I eager for the snow? I don’t know that I have any particular enthusiasm or reluctance, though I know I am likely to be as kiddy as a school kid to see it when it falls. lol

Yesterday, I took note of the season’s change with a longish walk in a nearby wildlife refuge. It was a lovely day, mostly on the sunny side, after many days of rain. It was a day well-spent in gentle contemplation and ease.

A lovely day for a walk along a path that wanders between meadow, marsh, and riverbank.

After many days of rain, the rivers are swollen and many have exceeded their usual path, flowing over into low-lying areas beyond their banks. It’s not a surprise. I see it nearer to home; the wee creek at the edge of the property is, itself, well-beyond the capacity of it’s banks, the ground beyond on all sides soaked, puddled, and marshy. Hard to get a clear picture through the trees and the berry vines. I feel fortunate that the water level seems to stay just beyond our little yard quite reliably.

…Another holiday behind us, other holidays ahead…

I sip my coffee thinking about the weekend that has so recently ended, and all the small details that made it so lovely. In the background, my Traveling Partner’s voice. I have on one of his flight simulator videos as a sort of “alarm clock”; it’ll end just at the time I want to redirect my attention to work for the day. 😀 His soothing tone, focused on the process in front of him, is pleasant and “feels like home”. Content creation is an involved endeavor, and I’m impressed with his will and progress, and I enjoy his work. I let the details of a weekend of love and conversation drift by in my thoughts, and smile.

…This is good coffee…

2021 begins to end… we’ve had our “longest night”, and it’s time for the days to slowly begin to grow longer. It’s time to begin again. 😀

I slept deeply, living an alternate reality, rich, colorful, surreal, and woke to recollections of some other life. Some other self. I remember lights, and music, and abundance, holiday festivities. Giftmas dreams. I woke, also, to a visceral recollection of sitting forlorn and draggled at a rainy city bus stop during the holiday season, surrounded by holiday lights and late afternoon winter darkness – thinking thoughts, then, that had a striking resemblance to the dream I woke from, this morning, but from the perspective of yearning, rather than celebration. How very strange. Later, with this cup of coffee, I’m struck by the unlikely coincidence of seeing a thumbnail for a video (the one I linked just now, earlier in this paragraph) that very much looked like the scene I was remembering! Stranger, still, it looks very like the city I once lived in, too. Odd morning.

…”It’s a journey.” Life, by way of metaphor.

Dreams are only dreams. Progress is made through actions. There are verbs involved. Surely I could sit at a bus stop in the rain, crying over what is not, for endless hours – but doing so changes nothing. I’m just saying; misery may love company, but it also tends to be lazy as fuck. 😉 Choose a verb, choose your adventure, take a step on your path… there is no “too late” if you’ve another breath to take.

Wins and losses in life don’t have to become a punishing point system that nags or mocks you for your perceived failures. Let that bullshit go, if you can. Dream your dreams, choose your verbs, find your own way – one step, one beginning at a time. 🙂 Try to be kind to yourself along the way – there will always be plenty of other people around you ready to be discouraging assholes, or just plain mean or discourteous. 🙂 No reason to add to all of that.

‘Tis the season

I think about the day ahead. The year drawing to a close. Thanksgiving already over. The Winter Solstice, Giftmas, and New Year’s ahead. I sip my coffee and enjoy the sound of rain (on this video, that I’m not sitting in, wet, at a lonely bus stop, broke, and alone). I think about the things that went quite well this year, in spite of the pandemic. I think about things that continue to challenge me, as a human, seeking to be the woman I most want to be. I think about love, and my Traveling Partner, and the life we build together every day. I feel fortunate. I feel thankful. I take a breath, filling my lungs with air clean enough to breathe. I sip coffee made with clean filtered water, and locally roasted, sustainably-sourced (they say) coffee beans. Choices that became advantages. Advantages that represent privilege – and good fortune. I did not build my life alone with my own two hands “from the ground up”, myself. To say that I have feeds into the cultural lie that is the “bootstrap fallacy“. This has always been a shared journey, and I am wholly interdependent on lives around me, and the actions and choices of others. That’s just real. Yeah, the verbs are spread out; I can choose my own. None of us get where we are without help, good fortune, useful circumstances, and a sprinkling of coincidence, however “self-made” we’re inclined to make ourselves out to be.

The day ahead is not really a holiday. Just a day off. I took it easy all weekend after getting my seasonal flu shot and my Covid booster. Choices. Today I feel pretty good. A good day for housekeeping, tidying up before the next holiday. Maybe playing some video games, or getting a hike in, if the rain stops. Choices aplenty. Choices, followed by verbs; doesn’t matter what I may “decide” to do, if I don’t act on that decision. Seems obvious enough.

I made a lovely plum pudding for Giftmas; I remind myself to baste it with spirits, again today. Odd tangent – my Granny once invited me to make a Christmas Pudding with her from an old recipe she’d found in her grandmother’s handwriting, tucked into an old cookbook. I was visiting, (my last visit with her as it turned out) over a holiday season. I was moody and she was seeking to lift my spirits and help me regain perspective. I declined, rather flippantly saying something about making a plum pudding seeming the sort of thing I’d only want to do “once I had a proper home of my own”, somehow. She was pleasant about that rejection; she didn’t want to put in all the effort if I wasn’t also into it, and we quickly found other delightful ways to enjoy our time together. This year I remembered. So… this year I made that plum pudding (linked recipe is very traditional, also very large, and was not the recipe I used, myself, just looks like a good one). Rather hilariously, my Traveling Partner has zero interest – it just isn’t his sort of dessert. So, this one is for me. A memory, and a celebration. I do wish I actually had that original recipe in my great-great-grandmother’s handwriting, though… what a treasure that would be. 🙂

My coffee is finished. My cell phone has finished re-charging. The rain outside continues to fall. Seems a good time to begin again. 🙂

Here it is, another holiday season. 🙂 Still got this pandemic going on, although it’s clear that many folks are sort of just pretending that it doesn’t exist (which is frankly a bit terrifying, and the lack of basic consideration involved there is disheartening). “The world” seems a bit askew, but I’m not really certain that there is legitimately more (or potentially actually less) violence going on “out there” (none at all in here)… it definitely seems so. The news is filled with an alarming number of articles alerting us all of a huge assortment of violent events, from the very peculiar outbursts from adults on aircraft to truly heinous reprehensible acts of terror and gun violence in schools and on our streets. The long term solutions are complex – but achievable, if we were to bother with them as a society. The short term solution is easier; change the channel. Turn off the news. Log off of social media. Be here. Now. (This does assume that your “here” is safe and quiet and calm… which sometimes feels like a very privileged position to be in, these days. Yeah…. turn off the fucking news for awhile.)

I am sipping this tasty mocha I made for myself after running a quick errand. I’m feeling a bit run down and “off” – I had my seasonal flu shot and my Covid booster (both) yesterday. I’m not ill, just… feelin’ it. lol This mocha, though, is super tasty, and I’m delighted with it, as much because I made it for myself as for the taste of it. 🙂 Self-care feels pretty nice. What are you doing for you? So much effort, and heart, and time goes into these holidays – it’s important to take care of yourself. Life is an endurance race, not a sprint. 😀

I had an idea before I sat down here… thought I’d write about this or that, things that have been on my mind, vexing details of life, how to do this or that in a way that would be more productive, useful, or… something. Those ideas faded when I looked into my Traveling Partners eyes after arriving home, and feeling his embrace. lol I thought then, perhaps, that I would write about love in some way… it’s not always easy to love skillfully, and my own awareness of that halted me; what do I even know about that? I’m a student of love, still learning the basics. 🙂 I’m feeling more inspired to live and to love than to write about either – and I surely need practice at both. lol

I load my favorite playlist. I don’t sort it very often, and listening to it “takes me back in time” in an interesting way. Leave it on long enough (it’s many hours of music) and it rolls the clock back by years, through complicated times, through memories of life and love, the beats a steady reminder that time passes, and that our joys are fleeting – but they live on in our memories, when we allow it. It’s too easy to focus on the shit that has made us most miserable over the years, and too easy to forget all the good times. This particular playlist hints at the miseries now and then, but mostly it’s a merry romp through the good times, and a celebration of joy. I mean… if you like dance music, and videos. lol 😀 (Not all of these tracks are what I’d call “great art” – some of them are just “catchy tunes”, others are amazing works of video art supporting music that maybe isn’t so impressive, and others that it’s the music that gets my attention, and a few with no video at all, just happens that I found the track on YouTube.) Enjoy. Merry Giftmas in advance, and thank you for continuing to read my writing. 🙂 I’m glad you’re here.

My holiday earrings tinkle and jangle with the turn of my head, as my Traveling Partner walks by. G’damn, all these years and I still absolutely adore him. I tell myself that I’ll write more tomorrow, maybe… 🙂