Archives for category: Oregon Trails

It’s our anniversary today. 12 years. Lovely day for it. Not a sunny day, but the weather isn’t bad. The stormy looking clouds scooting past overhead create some beautiful views. No rain so far.

My Traveling Partner was still sleeping when I left the house early-ish this morning. I got a pleasant walk in, and ran a couple errands. I headed home when I got his ping letting me know he was awake. Efficient. One of those errands was picking up a new “spa frog” for the hot tub, and by lunch time, my partner had the chemistry adjusted and ready for soaking. Damn that felt soooo good, too. My aching back was enormously grateful.

Gratitude is definitely something filling my heart today. Gratitude and love. This relationship is pretty mind-blowing and characterized by love, loving, and mutual regard. I adore this particular human being rather a lot. Perhaps, I sometimes think, too much…? Love is the good stuff, though, isn’t it? 🙂 Hard to argue that it isn’t. I smile and think of his arms around me. Our experience of love isn’t “perfect”; we’re both human beings, and we’ve both reached where we are in life by wading through rather a lot of pointless crap, bad decision-making, and individual trauma, so… yeah… we’ve each got our baggage and our “issues”. Still… I never lose sight of how very much this human being loves me, and what a delightful return-on-investment (because I love him) this love is. We’re happy – for most values of “happy”.

…12 years…

Today we’re also, in addition to celebrating our anniversary, waiting on packages. This is a less successful or satisfying endeavor than simply loving each other, unfortunately (seems like it should require quite a lot less work all around). Packages that should have been delivered, based on expectation-setting by shippers, Friday. Weather? Nope. It’s a pretty mild spring most places. Civil disorder? Not on that level (yet) in this country (generally). With regard to at least one package, it actually looks like just maybe it’s in the process of being stolen. This is seriously aggravating. The tracking tools available these days certainly make easier to spot sketchy weird bullshit, though.

My partner finally gets a support call through to an actual human being, who agrees the particulars look exceedingly questionable. They start doing whatever is to be done to track down it’s location in the physical world. What a bunch of bullshit. Of course, the stress of dealing with it harshes the mellow of a lovely day. I step away (here, now) long enough to get enough distance from the blast of frustration and ire to (hopefully) avoid being triggered by it. So far, so good.

I think about this love of ours, and the future camping fun we’re already planning to enjoy together. That’s part of today’s frustration; the items we’re waiting on are a handful of basic essentials that we need for safe (enjoyable) off-roading, and efficient management/storage of our gear. I know my Traveling Partner is eager to take the truck out and get it off-road for a few days, looking for some great camping spots to enjoy together on my birthday (and beyond). I understand the maddening frustration of packages that don’t come when promised, or arrive damaged, or… just don’t arrive. (Just gonna say it; Amazon’s services have less and less actual value as time passes, and I no longer use them as my “go to” when I am shopping online. Between the shipping disappointments – which are numerous – and the knock-offs or scam products mixed in with legit listings, it’s just not worth the hassles, or the price.)

I smile, thinking of my partner. Thinking of spending time together in the truck, on the road, out in the woods, out on a trail… fuck I love this guy. It’s the kind of love that makes it so worthwhile to do my best to be the woman I most want to be.

I am sipping flavored water this morning. I had my coffee on the commute into the office. It’s a Monday, and these days I rarely go into the office on a Monday, but I woke to a reminder from the VA about an appointment today that I had managed to memorize correctly for the date, but somehow thought that would be on Wednesday. It is not. It is today. LOL So I quickly adjusted my intentions, and hit the road for the morning commute. I expected it would be tedious… but… apparently I’m not alone in not going into an office on Mondays; there was almost no traffic at all.

I am thinking about the weekend, and the time spent planning future getaways with my Traveling Partner. The truck has us both fired up and eager to explore corners of favorite places and new destinations previously unreachable in his sedan, or in my Mazda. We have hours long conversations about camp kitchens, roof-top tents, jet-boil stoves vs all the other sorts, the necessity or luxury of taking a portable toilet, and does it make sense to have a solar generator and a fridge, or is that just ridiculous? There are so many options to choose from, so many approaches to overlanding, camping, hiking, from the gear to the routes to take, to the destinations near and far that we might want to see. It’s a pleasant way to pass time together, talking about the options and our choices, and whether we can tackle them now, or whether they go on a list for future purchases – or is there some other way we can do that thing in a less costly more personalized way, using our skills, time, and materials on hand? I’m getting to know a whole new side of my Traveling Partner – it’s very exciting.

I spent much of my weekend in the garden. Planting alyssum for future mounds of fragrant ground-covering flowers. Putting up a trellis for the peas. “Encouraging” the blueberries and the roses with oohs and aahs of delight that they are doing so well, already. Checking to see if the neighbor’s cat is staying out of the vegetables now that I’ve put that cat-deterring spikey-matt down here and there. Weeding out dandelions from the flower beds and the small bit of lawn we’ve got. (So many dandelions!) It was a lovely weekend. Time well-spent.

The real point here isn’t that I had a great weekend spent in excellent company. The point is that I had choices. A lot of choices. I chose to enjoy the weekend in spite of the pain I was in on Friday evening, and much of Saturday. I chose to go hither and thither with my Traveling Partner for occasional errands (I could have stayed home). I chose to garden. Together we chose to put time into figuring out what we really want of our leisure time – and how we can make that happen most easily. Oh, for sure, sometimes I let myself bob around like a cork on the ocean, and circumstances or the whims of my partner made the decisions for me… nonetheless, even taking that approach is making a choice. There is so much that is truly within our control through our power to choose. 🙂

I think I’m saying “don’t choose to be miserable then wonder why you are miserable; choose differently if you want a different experience”. Misery is sometimes kind of an “easy way out”, isn’t it? There are verbs involved in escaping misery. Results will vary. We become what we practice, though… so… keeping practicing? Choose something different? Begin again?

Choices are not always “simple” or “easy”. Outcomes are not guaranteed. We do have an astonishing number of choices, though…

I guess I’ll begin again. 😀

I am thinking about journeys, and maps, and preparedness, and how different life feels at each different “stop along the way”. Just a few more days – mid-June – and I’ll be on the other side of 60. Wild. At 25 I wasn’t even certain I’d see 30, with any confidence. I can’t honestly say that I’ve been a skillful or well-prepared traveler in life, either. I sort of stumbled on down the path wherever it led, and I’m fortunate to be where I now stand. (Well… actually, where I sit, as in this moment right now, I’m sitting at my computer with a lovely hot cup of tea, after a day in the garden.)

I’m enjoying this cup of tea, feeling my muscles a bit stiff and achy after the gardening. Lots of stooping, kneeling, leaning, and of course, occasionally standing back up. lol It was a good day of gardening, and I’m pleased with the results; peas and beans planted, the neighbor’s cat (hopefully) quite discouraged from my vegetable bed, a wire trellis added for the peas to climb, and some new herb plants tucked in here and there in the flower beds among the roses (some French tarragon, lemon thyme, and a curry plant). It has been quite a lovely day.

One sunny corner in my garden.

I love the garden as a metaphor for life. Is it perfect? Nope. I sure don’t have either that kind of money or that kind of time. I work on things over the seasons, adding something new, making some little change or improvement, enjoying what I’ve done, and starting all over again each Spring. Eventually, I know the primroses will fill in that corner they occupy, though they haven’t yet. I know the lupines will bloom sturdy and bold, in their own good time – they’re still quite young and are still developing strong roots. I know that eventually, the neighbor’s cat and I will achieve some sort of acceptable understanding of our mutual boundaries. Next year, the blueberries may have fruit, but I know they won’t this year. Still, season after season, year after year, I make improvements, and I enjoy the results. I make a point of spending more time appreciating what worked out nicely, and the veggies that ripened to maturity and yielded good harvests. I don’t spend much time thinking about the entire row of gorgeous seedlings that damned cat dug up, or the unexpected freeze that killed an entire crop I planted too early. I take note of the things that went wrong. I’m observant of the things I failed at. I just don’t get mired in those details or spend much time dwelling on those. It suits me to spend more time on the delights of the garden, and my great joy to be there.

…Life also seems to benefit from that approach; I let myself soak in the joys and celebrate the small wins. I face my failures with measured calm, and an observer’s gaze, without getting stuck there. I mean, that’s the goal. 😀 I’m still ever so human. lol

I saw a small brown bunny today, nibbling my neighbor’s lawn while I worked. I enjoyed a chocolate donut in the passenger’s seat of my Traveling Partner’s new truck, as we headed home from running errands together. I breathed fresh morning air, and enjoyed afternoon sunshine. It’s been a thoroughly lovely day – it doesn’t need anything more to complete it. It is… enough.

I sigh, and sip my tea. It’s warming and quite nice, smelling of pine and forests. I feel chilly; it’s just fatigue. I contemplate a hot shower – that would feel pleasantly warming, too. Sometimes the simplest things are quite enough.

My Traveling Partner and I have been enjoying happy hours discussing camping trips and discussing the gear we have, the gear we need. The truck is a lovely addition to future adventuring, no doubt, and we found ourselves short a few things to camp together or go overlanding. Almost all my gear is specifically selected for solo camping, and intended to allow me to travel light while also ensuring I can get a good night’s rest, enjoy a cup of coffee, and apply first aid to a blistered foot if needed. Together? Hmm… we’re more about the glamping and the really getting away, you know? LOL There are new trailheads waiting! Another useful metaphor for living; traveling. Solo or in the company of a friend, traveling benefits from a bit of planning, and from being prepared. There’s value in bringing a map…but… sometimes, we really do have to blaze our own trail, and become our own cartographer. (I know, I know… helpful to have an emergency beacon, GPS, a trail app… it’s the 21st century, and we have so many more options in life – and in metaphors. 😉 )

…I find myself thinking back on a wonderful camping trip I once took with a dear friend. I don’t recall quite where we went, only how lovely it was. I took a wonderful walk, though I wasn’t really certain what to “do with myself” – I was too recently returned from deployment, too recently discharged back into civilian life… I did not know how to camp recreationally. LOL I kept trying to find something to do… kept an eye on the horizon, listening for certain sorts of noises… hilarious looking back on it. I also made some sketches, wrote some poetry, read awhile… It was a good time, and I’m glad I have it to look back on. I sure wish I could remember where that was…

A nice way to coast into the evening. I smile, finish my tea, and think about love. It’s time to begin again. There are adventures yet to have, and my birthday is so close! 😀

It’s a good morning to sip coffee and just be here. It’s a pleasant moment. Funny enough, if it were an unpleasant moment, it would probably still be a potentially good moment to simply be… maybe just not right in that spot. lol Embracing authenticity, and also seeking to be the best version of myself I am able to be, tends to “make life easier”, if only by reducing the amount of bullshit I’m attempting to support, manage, dispense, or accept. Trying to “manage” every micro-expression to ensure I’m always “wearing the right face” is exhausting. Why do that? Just breathe, and be. Not an excuse to be a jackass; don’t do that. Be your most worthy self moment-to-moment. Make your best decisions – or be wise enough to set some decisions aside for a time when you can make them with a clear head. Be kind, honest, frank – and withhold unkind or harsh words for a time when you can find the words to communicate your point without being cruel or adversarial. Things like that really matter.

…I know it’s a lot to ask of a simple, mortal, human primate. We’re complicated and we almost seem to relish doing stupid shit and getting things entirely wrong. For example, we broadly proclaim the explicit value of reason, but truly we lead with our emotions pretty reliably. One might expect that, knowing we are such emotional creatures, we would also be of very high “emotional intelligence” and would put quite a lot of developmental time educationally into learning about emotions, how they work, the biochemistry of our emotions, the differences between “feelings” and “sensations”, the differences between feeling and thinking, and how best to express our emotions skillfully… but no; we prefer to bumble about in ignorance for some reason. It’s as if we think that by ignoring emotions we can escape them. lol (Doesn’t work that way.)

How much fucking trauma does humanity inflict upon itself over the lack of understanding of our fucking emotions, and lack of skill communicating or managing them? (Like, a whole lot – it was a rhetorical question.)

The news is mostly bad. The war drags on in Ukraine. Americans continue to slaughter children with guns. Wealth and privilege still insulate some people from the consequences of their actions. People still take sides in arguments of false dichotomies. Scammers continue to take what they can from anyone they can deceive. For-profit medicine continues to fail those who can’t afford to pay. For-profit education continues to take money out of the pockets of people who can ill-afford to waste it on empty promises of future success. Humans being human. We could do so much better – for ourselves, for each other, for the world.

Don’t mind me. I’m not even feeling gloomy this morning. Just sitting here sipping coffee fairly contentedly. Happy that I’m not sitting in an office in the city every day, killing time between two arbitrary points on the clock, hoping my car isn’t broken into while it’s parked, and hoping that I don’t get mugged or shot or stabbed on my way to my car at the end of the day. It all sounds much gloomier than I mean it to.

…Maybe it’s the gray, chilly morning coloring my thoughts…

I’m one human being, doing (mostly) my best to be the woman I most want to be. I’m good with it. Some days I’m a better version of myself than others. When I fall short of my own expectations of who I am – or could be – I at least know I can give it another go, some other time. I can “begin again” – with the experience of my most recent failures to grow from. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s something.

…Do new things, grow from those experiences, keep “becoming”…

This past weekend, my Traveling Partner and I went out for a drive in his truck. We had spent exciting hours exploring videos of off-roading and overland adventuring (in vehicles) and were pretty eager to take the truck out beyond the paved city streets. It was fun. We even got out into the wilds enough to reach snow, and to face a (brief, momentary) concern that just perhaps we may have “gone too far”. lol It was fun. The campgrounds we passed on the BLM land were still closed for the season, but we spotted some lovely places to get away that are actually quite near to home, though they felt very remote. What a fun adventure. I’m still thinking about it quite happily.

I look at the time and realize it’s already time to begin again… 😀

I’m sipping a cup of tea and thinking about life. In general, things are good. My anxiety has flared up, though, and it often feels as though “dial is turned up to 11“. My PTSD is reliably aggravated by my anxiety… and my anxiety is aggravated when my PTSD flares up… and around and around I go. My finger tips are torn and my cuticles are ragged from gnawing at them mindlessly. My Traveling Partner notes my overall stress level and suggests various things to help me “relax” – I reliably reply that I am relaxed – I’m not.

My self-care is going to shit quickly… there’s definitely a “mind-body” connection to be considered, too. As my anxiety worsens, I sleep more poorly. As my quality of sleep degrades, my pain becomes harder to manage. As my physical condition worsens over time, my emotional resilience is undermined, and I become more volatile, more easily provoked to anger, and struggle more and more to maintain a rational perspective on circumstances and events. It’s an emotionally painful and demoralizing process.

…I’ve “been here” before. I have tools now that I lacked years ago. I know to address the source(s) of my stress, and to meditate regularly, and practice non-attachment. I have learned over time that my reaction-in-the-moment, at the best of times, is likely to be less helpful that a well-considered, responsive approach, that is nuanced and thorough. I know that I am prone to “catastrophizing” and that this can become a real problem very quickly, robbing me of perspective, and a sense of sufficiency. I quickly “lose my joy”.

So, I am sipping this cup of tea and thinking about practices, and next steps, and how best to take care of myself under the current circumstances. It’s not “easy”, but that’s often the case with stressful situations. I’m fortunate to have a supportive partner, and good quality of life; at least I’m not having to also worry about those details!

I had talked things over with my therapist at my most recent appointment. He made some follow-up suggestions – almost a “homework” assignment, in practical terms. It was just 4 things he wanted me to consider doing. I’ve done two of those, so far. Feels pretty good.

I sigh. I am thinking about how often it seems that when a person expresses a deep interest in a topic, or shares some detail that gives them great joy, there’s often someone lurking in their social network who seems eager to pull the rug out from under them. Weird, eh? Don’t do that. Treat people as people. Treat them with kindness (you don’t know what they are going through). Appreciate that you can’t possibly know life and the world (or the decision-making of others) from the perspective of someone else – even if they choose to share that perspective with you. We’re each having our own experience. Do what you can not to fuck things up for someone else, eh? If we each did just that, the world would be far more pleasant for many more people.

This weekend my Traveling Partner when for a long drive together. We talked about life, and future other camping and cool drives we’d like to take together out in the wildernesses of America. It was lovely. Time well-spent. It’s not enough, however pleasant, to remove all my challenges from my experience of self. I’ve got the issues I’ve got. I’m learning to manage them more skillfully – and sometimes that means “change”.

It’s time to breathe. Exhale. Relax. And begin again.