Archives for category: Mindfulness

I am sipping my morning coffee, considering the walk I am eager to want to take. I’m “not there yet”. lol My muscles ache from pushing myself, already. I’m not bitching about it, and I’m not unhappy over it. Sore muscles are muscles working a bit harder, doing more things that need done, and becoming more capable of more work. Consistency is a requirement for forward progress; if I skip the walk today over sore muscles, I don’t make as much progress toward my goals, nor as quickly, so… at some point? Walking. I’m not looking forward to the walking itself, although I’d like to. I am in pain. The walking helps the pain in my back and my neck (osteoarthritis), but is less helpful with the bad ankle that has to support the weight. Without walking, the weight remains an issue. With the walking, the ankle is an issue. I’m not saying it as though this is an unsolvable conundrum, either, just saying that these complications are part of my experience. 🙂 There’s a metaphor here…

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

We become what we practice. Emotionally and physically. There’s not a lot of room to argue on this one. Are you hot tempered, easily frustrated, quick to react, and tending to fall back on negative feedback and criticism to communicate your needs? Well, that’s the person you become, over time, in a fixed and rather predictably unpleasant way. Are you tender-hearted, prone to tears in the face of negative feedback, (whether or not it is accurate or well-intended, or useful at all) particularly when it comes from someone whose opinion you value? Same slope; you become more of who you already are, and what you choose to do with the toxicity of the world around you, because it is what you practice. You may get called a bitch when you demand that your agency be respected, or when you insist on not being interrupted in a meeting, but that lack of boundary-setting? It’s a practice, too.

…Also? Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a bitch. Don’t call someone names, either; how about we start there? Speak gently. Be clear, and also honest. “Stay in your lane” in the sense that not every opinion you have actually needs to be shared (particularly with regard to your aesthetic, and someone else’s appearance). Check your assumptions – a lot of them are wrong (the science is in on that) – and practice deep listening, instead of waiting for your turn to talk.

Does it sound like I’m venting aimlessly, about commonplace bullshit we all seem to engage in, if not regularly, then once in a while? Well… then I’ve failed to communicate clearly. I’ll try again…

Your words matter. Use them with care. If you are communicating with someone you say you love, communicate with love – real love, using words and tone that make it very clear that the love is first and foremost in your mind, rather than some momentary frustration. Our bitterness, our hurt, our anger – once shared, it’s out there. Shared with emotional force, and absent the love that may be part of our experience, it causes real harms, real doubts about our affection, and can undermine that love we cherish so much.

Don’t let the sun set on a treasured relationship without saying something encouraging, supportive, authentically affectionate – the smallest moment of authentic appreciation and praise can change the color of an entire day. I am fairly certain most of us share negative feedback with cherished others almost every day… imagine the crushing weight of all that criticism, all that negativity, the constant pressure to raise oneself up from beneath the weight of it… Let’s not do that. Let’s handle our words with greater care, ensuring that we take more time for what is positive and uplifting that we do for things we see as problems needing correction.

I challenge you to practice even a 1 to 1 ratio of (authentic) compliments and (sincere) encouragement to criticism and requests for change. I hope you find that incredibly easy (and succeed) – because people need more love and encouragement than that, and as starting points go, it’s a bare minimum for success. I promise you that if you are only sharing negative feedback, that’s all that is being heard. That sounds like a pretty terrible experience to be on the receiving end of, just saying. Use your words as a force for good in your life, use them to lift others up, to encourage what is positive in everyone you meet.

A lot of people may grow up in environments in which very little positive feedback is shared, or the positive words are hollow superlatives about qualities they can’t control, and no attention given to the whole person. People coming from that place may not know how to give authentic positive feedback, and may genuinely not understand why it is necessary. They need to see it done, to feel it, before it will be something they can easily practice themselves. Is that someone part of your life? Be open to explicitly telling them what you need to hear – without excuses, or a need to justify yourself. It’s okay to need what you need, and it’s also quite okay to ask for it. 🙂 “I need you to say something nice to me right now.” may feel weird to say, but it is one place to start. 🙂

We’re all so human. There’s so much stress and hostility in the world right now. Our culture feels so toxic. Be someone who understands there is work to be done, and recognize you can do some of it. Be someone willing to do it. Be the change we need. Speak gently. Be encouraging and kind. Soften your tone. Be trustworthy. Be honest without being mean. Let small shit go. Don’t drink the poison offered to you. Don’t offer others poison.

Don’t like the world as it is? Be part of what changes it. We become what we practice. Practice being the person you truly most want to be. Every choice, every interaction, every day. Sometimes you will fail (I know I do); your results will vary. Practice more. 🙂 Be that better version of yourself, because you choose it, and it matters. Other people may not make these choices – don’t drink the poison they offer you, and walk your own path. 😉

It’s time to begin again.

2.4 miles yesterday. 2.7 miles today. These are “easy miles”, mostly paved, and mostly level. One walk at a time, my strength and endurance begin to return, and just in time to adjust to a new commute that reliably adds 1.4 walking miles to my commute, round trip, each day. I’m ready for that. 🙂 I’m hoping to get back to a “5 miles? No problem!” level of everyday fitness, before the weather is suitable (for me) for camping.

…I wonder briefly if my Traveling Partner will join me, camping, this year? Then I let that go, content with all the many things we do together, as it is.

I consider walking metaphors… paths… journeys… steps… distant horizons… goal-setting… achievements along the journey that unlock new adventures.

Even when we are so fortunate as to have a paved and level path to walk, and a journey with a clear destination, we each walk our own mile. We are each having our own experience.

This particular walk is convenient to me, but still requires some effort, and pushes me a bit outside my comfort zone. The hill on which it begins, and ends,  is quite steep. The downward start of the journey, although paved, slopes somewhat toward the street, the opposite direction of what is comfortable for my bad left ankle. Each time I set out, I do so with great care, and my cane, and also taking a moment to appreciate, very explicitly, that the return trip, when I am most fatigued, at the end of the journey, will be sloping in the correct direction for that bad left ankle; something to look forward to, about tackling that daunting hill. It’s very existence discourages and tests me. This weekend, I overcame my reluctance, and my (let’s be honest) fearfulness. That’s progress. It’s a small thing, but I sit quietly, feeling my muscles relax and cool down, feeling my heart rate slow to my normal resting rate, and I celebrate. 🙂

There are so many beautiful things to experience, but many of those are out of reach, without making a journey.

I think about tomorrow. I’m off for the holiday. Another opportunity to walk a distance. Another chance to begin again. 🙂

Sumos  are in season, again. I am delighted by the fragrance as I pull the peel away, revealing the whole fruit within. Pulling each segment from the fruit feels satisfying. The scent lingers on my fingers. Each sweet delicious bite seems as luscious as a fulfilled dream. I bite into another one, and relish the sweet-tart juice that bursts from it. Now this? This is a pleasant moment.

A juicy moment of joy.

I grin with pure delight, and take another bite. It’s a work day, and a busy one, but the busiest days seem far more productive, and I feel more purposeful and capable, when I practice good self-care. Today, that means a break to enjoy a delicious favorite citrus fruit, savoring each segment, and letting metaphors about fruits, and segments, and juice, fill my thoughts. A couple relaxed, deep, breaths, and I’m on with my day. It’s a good day. I blame it on my juice. 😉

This morning I woke to the sound of distant music. I couldn’t place the source. I turned over once or twice, thinking perhaps I might go back to sleep, once I wasn’t hearing it. It was faint. Ambient. Vaguely familiar. I finally sat up, wondering if my Traveling Partner was awake, quietly watching TV or something. There was a hint of light, under the bedroom door, so… maybe?

Well…shit. Now I’m awake. LOL

I got up, and made my way down the hallway in the morning darkness. No lights were on, there was only a hint of light from the front stoop, illuminating my studio through open blinds, which gave some small amount of light and the hint of an appearance (from within the dark of the bedroom) that a light could be on. (No lights were on.) I stood in the darkness, puzzled. The house was quiet. There was no music. I had stopped hearing it, as soon as I opened the bedroom door onto the utterly ordinary darkness of the house in the wee hours. Strange. I turned my head, and thought I heard something, again, like music… I shrugged off the inconsequential mystery and started to get ready for a new day.

I started making coffee, and it was then, while the grinder was running, that I heard the music again. It’s not music. Now I’ve sorted it out. Between my tinnitus, and the sounds of the fridge, and the aquarium, when the heat kicked on, too, I heard it; a hint of an impression of the sound of distant music. Frequencies of noise, blending strangely, and becoming vaguely musical. lol Damn it. That woke me? Wild. I sip my coffee, breathe, relax, and let that go. It’s not really relevant to anything else, at all. 🙂

I dress myself every day. I’m not bragging, most people do. I’m just saying, usually I feel pretty comfortable and satisfied with those choices. Easy enough. Today, weirdly, I just… don’t. LOL I’m not sure what I wanted out of wearing clothes today, but somehow… this isn’t it. LOL I’m feeling my years. I’m feeling my weight. I’m feeling aggravated by the sensations of fabric and constriction and confinement and… wtf? Oh. Hang on.  I breathe and let that go, too. I notice that my tinnitus is pretty loud today, just generally, and allow the awareness to become more real, as I listen to it. Okay, so, a quiet noise woke me, and my clothes “feel weird”. I give myself some self-care and attention. I listen to the woman in the mirror beefing about the weird of the day, and wonder how much is symptomatic of one issue or another. TBI or spinal injury… I guess I can take my pick, or admit that acknowledging the potential is enough to initiate heightened attention to my physical wellness and self-care needs today, and let that be enough.

A few minutes of meditation. More coffee. Neck pain. A headache. More self-care. Appropriate medication. A glass of water. The day, oddly, is beginning pretty well, in spite of whatever bullshit and weirdness is going on with my nervous system today. I’m content to enjoy the parts I can, and nurture the parts that need care, and just let the rest go. It’s enough.

One last swallow of coffee. One more quick scan of this moment, and this space, right here; do I have what I need for the day ahead? I guess it’s time to begin again. 🙂

This morning I woke ahead of the alarm clock, feeling rested. I did some yoga. I showered. Made coffee. Dressed for work. I hadn’t yet checked the weather, but so far “snow-pocalypse” has been fairly disappointing, and I wasn’t worried about the weather, because I arrived home last night prepared to work from home this morning. Instead of fussing about the weather, I took time for meditation, no timer. It was a lovely start to the morning.

(I still don’t know what the weather may be like, and still haven’t checked.)

Now, I am sipping my coffee and considering things. Mostly things I am grateful for. It’s not exactly “prayer” – but it isn’t entirely unlike prayer, I suppose. I’m not conscientiously cataloging gratitude-worthy moments, or events, or people, either. More like I’m allowing my thoughts to go where they wish, and as they do, I’m making a point to definitely feel gratitude for things that I happen to be grateful for. It’s an exercise in appreciate, in awareness, and in observation, and I feel lifted up every day that I do this particular practice.

(There’s so much in life to be grateful for.)

My coffee is precisely as I like it. I sip it with contentment, and wonder briefly why no other coffee really tastes quite like this first carefully crafted pour-over in the morning? I let that thought go, and welcome the next. One by one, they turn up, and then depart. Moments considered. It’s been a good week so far, and even my pain has been generally fairly well-managed, which tends to result in being in a “better mood” just as generally. It’s nice. I think about valued co-workers and some exceptionally satisfying positive interactions in this young new year. Promising. I mull over the past year of living with my Traveling Partner, and smile; it’s been delightful to enjoy so much of his company. I appreciate his presence. I think about practical details that are worthy candidates for gratitude, right down to the small details like doors that lock, indoor plumbing, refrigeration, and electric lights; life would be different – very different – without those. I take a moment to appreciate connectivity, and then to appreciate the vast improvement in my day-to-day experience that resulted from giving up social media; those experiences exist side-by-side in a meaningful way, and there’s something to be learned from that, beyond this moment. I sit quietly, absorbed in my thoughts, suffused with a feeling of contentment.

(I allow myself to be distracted by the clock on my monitor for an instant.)

My seamless fabric of grateful musing begins to unravel with distractions. I haven’t put on earrings. My coffee is almost cold – and almost finished. Will I drive or take the train today? Will it actually snow? I wonder what we’ll have for dinner tonight? I wonder if there are “any cool shows on” tonight? I haven’t put on perfume. Did I actually brush my hair? Is my backpack ready for the day? I didn’t forget my laptop or hub, did I? Did I manage not to wake my partner while I dressed? I wonder if today will be sunny? How is my author friend doing? Or that one DJ friend of mine? Or the friend with a new baby? Should I get back in the habit of writing paper letters, and hand-drawing and water-coloring note cards? Oh, I already finished my coffee… I wonder who will be elected president this next time? Shit, the world’s going to hell so fast, it seems like. Where shall we go out for “date night” next time? Oh, hey, what time is it, now?

(I notice the endless possible distractions have lead me far from mindfulness and contentment. I take a deep breath, and another. I exhale. I relax. I bring myself back to now, and begin again.)

The heat comes on, reminding me of the cold morning temperatures beyond these windows and walls. I breathe deeply. I sit quietly. I’m not asking anything extraordinary of myself in this moment, just to be here, now, awake, aware, and listening, observing the world around me. I feel relaxed and contented. Calm. I experience this as a state of readiness, without agitation, or hyper-vigilance, simply present in this moment. I give myself over to a few minutes of simply being present and aware, without any agenda or concerns. It’s a good foundation for the busy work day ahead. I look at the clock. It’s definitely time to begin again. 🙂