Archives for category: solo hiking

I woke to the alarm. My coffee this morning is a tasty Americano. I am wrapped in modest comfort, and feel safe, cared-for, and content. It’s a nice start to a Wednesday.

I hadn’t been up long before I started feeling that weird nagging sensation that is my half-aware recognition that there’s something I meant to do… right. Chickens. I mean, I’d said I would send my chicken references to Her. (Damn, She really needs a better nickname here…) I was delighted to hear her say she’d like to have chickens (me too!!). It felt like a connection, as much as a shared interest.

I put aside my writing to fulfill this commitment, and email over the links to vendors, resources, references, catalogs, and feel warmed by participating in something we share. I remember her asking about pets… I find myself not recalling why, at first, then – her dogs. Of course. πŸ™‚ Chickens – any livestock, really – are pets enough for me. I like creatures. The small wild lizards everywhere there delight me. The inquisitive jays and wily crows make me smile. Her dogs are fun and friendly. What else could I want? Chickens. LOL It’s a small thing to share an interest with another human being. We are so many, and so many of us share interests. It feels good to connect with another person. Get their views. Hear their thoughts. Share my own. Practice listening more than talking, while I’m at it. lol (Still so human.)

I hit send. Finish my coffee. Contemplate the brief remainder of the work week. It was rainy yesterday. There is rain in the forecast for the rest of the week. I’m okay with that. My arthritis is less okay with it. I think about the climate “down there”… “at home”? (Can I say that? I want to. It is a vision of one possible future that I do find very enticing.) My arthritis didn’t bother me pain-wise the entire weekend I was down visiting my Traveling Partner and Her. (Fuck. I need a better name for Her. Something playful and fond.) I still dealt with the stiffness, some, but it wasn’t so bad. The weekend here is likely to be rainy. I’m likely to be in pain. Still… there is much to do and to enjoy.

It’s a good time to winterize the deck and the potted garden.

It’s a good time to give the place a thorough cleaning in preparation for the holidays to come.

It’s a good time to light the pilot light on the gas fireplace for the cool autumn nights and cold winter days ahead.

It’s a good time for a last visit to the Farmer’s Market – maybe the big one downtown?

It’s a good time for long autumn hikes through colorful fall forest along unexplored trails.

There’s nothing fancy on my calendar this week; this one’s for me. A simple enough quiet weekend at home. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, tidying up, reading a book with my feet up by the fire, sipping coffee in the afternoon…

“WhatΒ  are you doing this weekend?”

Everything. This precious mortal lifetime won’t just live itself. πŸ˜€

 

Let’s overlook how often I simply choose not to go out to some event, or show, or whatever I thought I’d talked myself into – because that’s a thing I totally do (and I highly recommend it, myself, since I think forcing myself to attend events I don’t feel up to for whatever reason is a rather stupid use of my time, generally). I do like “doing stuff”, going places, seeing sights, hearing music, hiking trails, exploring the world and getting to know its bizarre inhabitants; I love all that. Mostly. Sometimes.

I live alone. Which I also like. Sure, I have a committed and adoring partner. Sometimes there’s a lover in the picture. I have friends. Associates. Assorted hangers-on of one variety or another. A tribe. A social circle. A scene. I live my life in the company of other humans living their lives. Excellent stuff for keeping good company – and I recommend that, too; we are social creatures. Our lurking ever-present need for intimacy, connection, and contact doesn’t somehow dissipate over time spent in solitude. I definitely enjoy the company of others. I don’t always have it. So, okay… what to do in the context of being alone, and wanting to do stuff…?

Go do stuff.

No kidding. It’s that simple. Farmer’s markets excite you? Go to those. Have a determined passion for growing lovely flowers? Go to places where flowers grow, where plants are sold, where gardens are planned – obviously. Maybe art is your thing? Lots of museums, galleries, and art shows to attend! Antiques more your thing? Cars? Beaches? Surfing? Concerts? Travel? Exotic dining? No problem; the world is vast and entertaining, and all the options exist. Do the verbs. Go to the places you dream of.

Alone?!

…Why not alone?

After my break up with my most recent ex I sort of… stopped doing things I enjoyed for some time. I’d pulled the same bullshit maneuver within a short while of being with the ex prior to that one, too. I was just… fuck it. Ennui. I trudged through my experience, supporting my then-partner’s desires to go and do and be, and tolerating the full-time discouragement of my own interests. I didn’t know how to do differently. The relationship before that one… was worse. Over time, learned helplessness crept in, and I failed myself in a rather large way. <shrugs> So okay, fast forward to this great relationship… still carrying these bad habits, and a total lack of skilled self-care. In a practical sense, one reason I made the choice to live alone was to sort some of this shit out. Learning good self-care was a much higher priority than museums, coffee houses, poetry readings, open mic nights, picnics in parks, small venue concerts… surviving was a bit more important, it seemed then, than thriving.

I was wrong though. I was incorrect about the importance and relative value of doing the things I love. Oh, not in a monstrous or malicious or hateful way. I just didn’t understand what living well could look like, built on my own choices; there were verbs I just wasn’t using. I didn’t understand that those things I personally thrive on might help me along my way, even help me sort out some of the chaos and damage, as well as provide opportunities for new connections with other humans.

I live alone. That’s just one characteristic about my life. I enjoy a lovely brunch out with friends. I also enjoy brunch alone. I enjoy brunch. πŸ™‚ I enjoy music, and the events and artists I want to see represent my own taste – sometimes going alone makes for a very special evening, since I won’t spend any of it wondering if the person attending with me actually enjoys it, or is just being polite in their silent misery. I like the things I like whether I am alone or not.

I’m just saying – take time to do the things that excite and interest you, whether you do them with someone else, or alone. They are still the things that excite and interest you. You will still grow from those new experiences. They subtract nothing from your experience to do them alone. It is your journey. Your experience.Β  πŸ™‚

…Clearly ballroom dancing will be easier to enjoy with a partner, but… yeah. In general. Go do the stuff you love. Yes, and alone, also – why the fuck not? lol

My calendar for the autumn and upcoming winter months has filled out nicely. I’ve got tickets for a couple of concerts I’m excited to see. A couple trips down to see my Traveling Partner. Quiet weekends in the studio, or out on the trail (while the weather holds up)… brunch… farmer’s markets… I’ve got a lot to look forward to, which I enjoy rather a lot just by itself. The anticipation, I mean. Choices and verbs. And planning. And living.

Don’t wait around. This is your life. You can live it, fully, delightfully, and even beautifully – even if you’re going solo on this journey. πŸ™‚

I drove home through miles of choking smoke yesterday; Oregon is on fire. Scary. Not as scary as some of the alarmist images being shared on social media. So, I re-calibrate my understanding of what is real and true with something more reliable.

Fighting fake news with real data works nicely.

I arrived home to a very different homecoming than I might have experienced at the apartment, in a number of small but important ways. The house was comfortably cool in spite of the heat of the weekend, thanks to having A/C and a good thermostat. My new place also feels very safe – emotionally and physically, which is a win. Because I had closely followed a carefully managed “deployment plan” for the weekend, I also returned home to a nicely tidy apartment, suitable for really relaxing as I unpacked. It was a delightful homecoming with only one fairly obvious flaw. I already miss my Traveling Partner dreadfully. More than I generally do for having so recently been wrapped in his arms, and lit by his smiles. Manageable, fully human feelings of loneliness competed briefly with the all over ease of living in my own space. πŸ™‚

A lovely misty looking view from Sunday’s hike. The mist isn’t mist at all. It’s smoke from distant wild fires.

I drove home as quickly as I safely could, and it became clear it was a safer choice to eschew breaks along the drive in favor of getting to the other side of the worst of the smoke of the many Oregon wildfires currently burning; the air quality could easily be called “not safe to breathe”. My burning eyes, irritated sinuses, sore throat, and the cough I quickly developed in spite of having the a/c set to “recirculate”, were all the confirmation I needed that breathing more of that air more deeply at some “rest stop” along the way was just not a great idea. Visibility much of the way was down to only about a thousand feet. So I drove continuously, content to find relief from stiff joints on my yoga mat when I got home, with only one very brief stop to pee.

…And of course, there was traffic as I got closer to home. It was, after all, the end of Labor Day weekend.

None of the details of the drive are actually particularly relevant to my experience of the weekend, except to observe that the air down at my Traveling Partner’s current address was already pretty shitty from the smoke of the Chetco Bar fire. I got in one decent hike, over the weekend, but didn’t push myself because the air quality was so poor. I stayed on a well-maintained local trail, got some miles while he worked, and took some pictures of the local wild flowers. We stayed indoors and enjoyed each other.

A hike-able trail, a yoga mat and meditation-cushion waiting for me when I arrived; I felt so very welcome. I felt at home. Β πŸ™‚

My heart is still beating to love’s shared rhythm. It was a lovely intimate connected weekend with just enough hours in it that he had had to commit to work that I also got plenty of “me time” for meditation, yoga, and reading that I felt quite at home. I’m eager to find the perfect balance of proximity and distance and be close enough to spend a great deal more time together, more easily. I definitely want to spend more time together. πŸ™‚ I already miss him.

The details of the weekend itself aren’t really built of anecdotes to share, or life lessons of note. It was time spent on love and loving. That’s enough. It needn’t be anything else; love matters most. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee contentedly with a soft smile of satisfaction. It’s a good cup of coffee. It’s a pretty nice life. I return gently to weekday routines feeling wholly loved and appreciated, and ready to return to work for another week. Eager to begin all manner of things again, and follow threads and paths wherever they may lead me. There are verbs than want doing. Lessons to learn. Improvement to make. Calories to burn. Choices upon choices upon choices – all of which will likely result in changes. I still don’t know what the future holds, and I am unconcerned; I have now. πŸ™‚

I check the clock. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

 

Yeah, our individual lives and experiences continue alongside the culture-storm of change going on around us. Well… mine does. Doesn’t yours?

I sip my coffee. Breathe, relax. I don’t avoid the awareness that cried myself to sleep last night. I keep my heart open to the awareness that I don’t fully “know why”. Sadness crept in. Tears spilled out. I’m no saint; I’m pretty sure my tears were “all about me“.

My Traveling Partner got into town sometime yesterday, busy with plans and no time for me. It’s an honest truth. My heart aches with it. This morning as I wake he is already far away. His route took him the closest he has been to my new place, since I moved; approximately just 1 mile away, passing by in the night, sometime after I had gone to bed. No drama. No storm of “if you loved me, you would…”. No conditional affection. This event has been planned on his calendar a long while. This makes only twice he’s been in town since he started his new job. Both times he was in town briefly. Both times for other purposes than seeing me. Neither time did we see each other. I’ve lived here now for one month; he has yet to see the place, though he has keys. I get through those thoughts, this time, without tears.

I sip my coffee, and move on with my own experience.

I keep an eye on the clock. There is an early morning meeting at the office, and I will make a point of being there, without resentment for the disruption in my schedule; it is a welcome distraction.

I let my thoughts coast through memories of other lovers, feeling grateful for this partnership I’ve got. It allows me to live (and thrive) on my own terms – even when those terms became “I need a place of my own”. Our choices reliably have consequences. Some of the consequences of our choices are not easily predictable for us, as individuals in the moment, sometimes because they can’t be predicted with ease, sometimes because we refrain from looking ahead with cool-headed clarity.

I find myself “listening for the rain”, thinking perhaps I heard drops on the windows or rooftop, but no rain is falling. No tears, either. I’m okay right now. I sip my coffee, and let contentment wash over me. Running from my feelings doesn’t get me here so quickly. Neither does wallowing in them, allowing myself to spiral downward into the darkness. It’s a peculiar thing to sit with my emotions. Make room for them as if for a fellow traveling on public transportation; sometimes quite reluctantly, but not wanting to be rude. Giving myself a comfortable moment to feel my feelings without taking action, to listen to my moment gently, and to allow myself to feel heard from within can make such a difference in emotional moments. Yeah… as always… verbs. Practice. Varying results. (See that subject line? Results vary!) I’m grateful for mornings; each one utterly new. A restart. A do over. A beginning.

Where does this path lead?

I miss my Traveling Partner. I feel the feeling of it. I allow myself to be wrapped in the love that makes missing him matter so much, and soak in that for some minutes, recalling things we have enjoyed together this year. I allow the mixed emotions to be what they are. There has been little of this so-precious time shared this year. Tears and a smile. I’m okay with that. I think ahead to the week to come. It feels a little empty knowing there won’t be a last-minute urgent message from him late on a Thursday suggesting I drive down to see him, followed by a message noting that he’d checked my calendar and sees I have plans… or a reply from me that I’m on my way, or… soon. We’ll see each other in September. We saw each other once in August. And in June we spent a weekend together for my birthday. Soon, autumn, the holiday season… more weekends together than not, perhaps. Perhaps not. I smile and let go of my expectations like airborne fluff from a cottonwood tree. It’s a journey, and what’s up ahead isn’t very clear. I’ll take it a day at a time. Each rung on the ladder individually climbed. Each step in the staircase individually tread. Each moment individually lived. Well… as much as possible. I’m quite human. lol

It’s time to begin again.

 

 

 

I woke up early. It makes sense. I went to bed early, too. I woke during the night. No surprise there, I often do. There’s no stress over any of that. My head is a jumble of random beginnings of thoughts seeking a narrative in which to play a role. My morning is a strange sequence of broken routines and randomness. I’m not concerned about that, either. Again and again, I pull myself back to this moment, here, now.

I sit down with my coffee, eventually, some two hours after waking (which is only one of many odd random bits of altered behavior that seems without cause or purpose).

The first track on my playlist right now is an old favorite. I want very much to play the bass line; I am not yet sufficiently skilled (and realistically, there is chance I never will be). I can try to play it, and fail. I could do that repeatedly. I could do that repeatedly until I am frustrated to the point of disliking what I am doing, although I am doing it because I enjoy it… a lot of people approaching learning something challenging in just that fashion.

I take another approach, instead of “trying”… I practice. That’s it. My approach to a lot of stuff I’m not good at, don’t yet know, haven’t yet found my way around, through, over, or into, or need to do and don’t quite “get”, yet. I practice. I practice the basic skills that would be required to do the thing. Too complicated? I break those things down further, to more elemental basics, until I can begin assembling simpler behavior or actions (or understandings) into more and more complex combinations, and – if all goes well – have learned to do the thing, have gained a new understanding, have completed some complicated task… whatever it is. Most things seem to work out pretty well this way, although it is not the fastest process by which to achieve success. It’s a bit like… a through hike on an unmarked trail, while all the way along observing what appears to be a freeway almost within reach, on the other side of a fence. I could waste time trying to reach that freeway, or I can walk on.

I still get where I’m going. That’s enough.

It may be an uphill climb, some days. I still practice taking time to enjoy the journey, and to look for beauty.

I enjoyed a strangely intimate and emotionally nurturing yesterday. I hung out with a dear friend of many years. We haven’t made time to hang out in about 4 years, and it was overdue, welcome, and comfortably intimate. She is someone I love, though we’ve never been lovers. We’re at very different places in life, and that has been an interesting characteristic of our friendship all along. She was the friend who said to me, so many years ago, “have you heard of ACT?”. Words that would later prove to be another piece to the puzzle of healing and learning to care for the woman in the mirror, because they would still be lingering in my consciousness on that grim December day when I began checking off my list of things to do before I would end my own life. That last item? Try therapy one more time. Her words were a hint at a new direction; “third wave cognitive behavior therapy”. There are several, some very rigid and formal, others less so.

Have we covered this before? Sure. It’s buried in the details, in much older posts. The eagerness of this new way to experience life, more authentically, with greater self-compassion, erupts in my words post after post after post. Life happens. I write about that too. Now and then I add something to The Reading List; my journey is paved with stepping-stones made of books, and practices, and the words of dear friends.

A current favorite track on my playlist feels timed for the moment. My heart fills with tenderness, and gratitude. I’m glad I stayed. Warm tears splash my glasses, and my shoulders shake with sobbing, and I’m just fucking crying now… I’m not unhappy. I’m relieved. I might have missed this precious moment right now. I might have missed yesterday… the lovely color work I got done on my hair… the phone call with my Traveling Partner later in the day… the conversations with friends. Fuck I am so glad I stayed around awhile longer… My heart aches with a powerful need to say “thank you” or.. “I’m sorry”… or… something. Β There are literally no words for this strange strong emotion of thankfulness I feel that I chose to live. I’m okay with that too. I’m not afraid to feel.

Another good morning on which to begin again. I don’t know that I’ve done anything that changes the world, but so much as changed about the woman in the mirror. πŸ™‚