Archives for category: solo hiking

I am sipping my second coffee of the morning, listening to garden videos, and reflecting on a recent profoundly pleasant compliment a colleague paid me. I realize I am allowing myself to maintain layered distractions, which doesn’t really work well for me. I pause the video to sit with my thoughts and focus on my writing. The coffee? Not much of a distraction, really, although I must admit I am not being especially mindful to juggle my coffee and my thoughts. Would be more mindful (and focused) to do one or the other (and I often sit silently sipping my first cup in a quiet room, or out on the deck, with that in mind).

Compliments feel really good. They also, rather oddly I think, feel like “validation” – as though indeed I had “earned” whatever lovely words came my way. It’s hard to get comfortable with the idea that these lovely words and pleasing compliments are no more personal (or “real” or “true”), than the unwelcome slights or criticisms (or trolling) I may be exposed to in the course of a day. It’s all very subjective, and tends to say more about the person giving the compliment (or insult) than the intended recipient. It’s an opinion. Often an unsolicited opinion. It’s for sure much nicer (even welcome) to hear pleasant compliments than to have to deal with insults, just saying; there’s nothing personal in either one.

On the other side of the interaction, it sometimes feels very gratifying to savage someone with words when we are hurt or angry. It’s reliably unkind. Generally unnecessary. Rarely actually useful. Certain to damage a relationship (if any exists). I know, for myself, the wiser choice is to consider my anger and hurt, discover the source of my pain and deal with it myself honestly, and let go of lashing out at some other person. Even if I feel I have been “wronged” in some way, it’s rarely worthwhile to seek some kind of paybacks or punishment, however emotionally satisfying it may feel to do so in the heat of the moment.

Compliments are altogether different. They feel just as good to give as they do to receive. Giving someone honest positive feedback, or offering a pleasant observation, and seeing them light up (because it does feel good to be appreciated) is a lovely mood booster. I tend to choose to give encouragement often and quite freely (while also keeping it authentic and real). I avoid adversarial or authoritarian sorts of criticism or negative feedback, mostly because it feels pretty shitty to receive it, and rarely gets put to any sort of good use as a result. There are better ways to communicate concerns, boundaries, needs, and expectations than through negative feedback and criticism. That’s my own position on it. Obviously, you do you – but if you explicitly prefer negative feedback (sometimes called “painful truth”), let’s not hang out, shall we? LOL It’s just not fun. We both have better things to do with our time. 😉

Every sunrise is a new beginning. What will you do with it?

I woke early-ish, but pretty near to the sunrise. I dressed quickly, and was surprised when I noticed my Traveling Partner already awake and up for the day. Generally, half the point of my morning camera walks is to give my partner a bit of time to sleep deeply without having to endure my snoring! He didn’t-quite-invite-me to stay home this morning, pointing out that since he was up I didn’t have to go… I really enjoy my camera walks and time out on the trail or alongside a meadow in the mornings, though, so I went. For me. It was nice. Chilly, though, and it is clearly autumn. There are fallen leaves on the street. The air has “that fall smell”. It wasn’t raining, though… I thought about driving out to the nature reserve to get pictures of water birds and nutria on the marsh, but changed my mind as I drove when I passed a flipped over wreck of a one-car collision that must have happened sometime late yesterday. I lost my enthusiasm to drive any distance – and almost turned around to return to the safety of home. Instead, I went to the nearby meadow trail that I favor on weekday mornings. The sunrise was lovely.

I am focused on the garden today (at least for now). I’ve got plants to plant. Seeds to sow. Beds to clean up for fall. Seeds saved from earlier crops to clean up and put in labeled packets for later planting. …I’ve got a list…

New roses waiting to be planted, and seedlings almost ready to be planted. There’s probably a metaphor here somewhere. 🙂

I guess what I’m saying is that this coffee has gone cold, and the garden isn’t going to take care of itself; it’s time to begin again. 🙂

Queen Elizabeth passed away today. Good long run. An impressive legacy. She didn’t quite make it to 100 years. Seems like more people may be able to in the future, though, and perhaps longer if medical science continues to progress… how amazing would that be?

Juan and Marisa, in love on the beach in 2022… where will they be in 2083? Will their love last? What will they do with their lives? Will they be remembered?

I “went coastal” yesterday, to give my Traveling Partner (breathing)room to work on a complicated project without the unintended distractions of me just being around in the background. I don’t grudge him that time and space, and I genuinely enjoy getting away for a few solitary hours with camera in hand, walking new trails, seeing things from another perspective, and breathing the sea air. It reminds me of my Granny, and the many visits together to the seashore, or along the marshy estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay. I miss her greatly, and most of all when I am “at the shore”. Any shore. That was “us” – long car drives filled with conversation, and sunny hours “at the shore”. Fuck I do miss that woman. Often. I think maybe she would be proud of how far I have come.

I feel for the loved ones of Queen Elizabeth. They didn’t just lose a monarch – they lost their mother, grandmother, great-grandmother… they lost someone truly dear to them. That is painful stuff.

Traffic on the way home.

Yesterday afternoon I returned home, but my partner wasn’t finished with the work he was doing, and my excited-just-got-that-job-offer energy was definitely a distraction. After some testy unsatisfying exchanges that were well-intended and heartfelt, but painful, I suggested that I return to the coast today, and he was totally down for that. So… I did. Later, he indicated (text messaging for the win!) that he would need more time, really. So… I got a room on the coast for the night and went back to walking the beaches, stalking the birds with my camera, and feeling the sea breezes muss my hair. Frankly, I left the house this morning prepared for the potential usefulness in making a night of it, and I made a point to tuck the needed medications into my gear, and made a point of having alllll the batteries and devices charged up, and even took my laptop along with me (figuring that might be handy on an overnight). I even remembered spare socks and underwear. 😀 I didn’t go as far as packing an overnight bag, though now I wonder why. LOL

Oh… Yes, I got an excellent job offer from a company I’m eager to work for, on a team that looks like a great fit for me. I’m excited about it. It’s just not really the most important thing today. Honestly, neither is the death of a distant monarch (however badass she was, and omg she totally was a major badass). Today is breezy, relaxed, and sunny, and I am enjoying everything about that. Doing so while also being 100% certain I am not distracting my partner while he is working? Extra good. It’s enough. More than enough. It’s quite choice, and I am enjoying the day.

Where will I be in 2083? In my grave? Forgotten? Still alive, and so old that no one around me remembers that I was once a badass? My legacy forgotten? Alive and lively, loved and cared-for, with the kind of vast historical perspective that results in day-time news shows wanting to interview me about what I personally witnessed of history? Will my Traveling Partner and I continue to travel life’s journey together through all those decades ahead? Will we be little old people slowly walking the neighborhood holding hands and talking softly, laughing loudly? The future is not written, and this journey has no map…

The journey is the destination.

My thoughts come and go like the gulls beyond the balcony rail. They appear, they pass by, leaving only the recollection of a moment. I breathe, exhale, and relax. It’s a lovely moment for contemplation.

One of the things my partner and I were discussing last night was my anxiety. For sure my PTSD and my chronic anxiety issues are pretty well-managed compared to where I was 10 years ago…but… I still struggle more than I’d like to, and it affects my quality of life – and his. I guess it’s worth doing something about that. I feel a bit stalled and struggle with the learned helplessness that inevitably results from dealing with a chronic condition for a long time. I already know, though, that there are steps to take and things to do. It’s time to step through those, and try some things differently. It was one productive outcome of our conversation; a sense of focus and purpose, and an idea of direction. That’s not nothing – it’s a place to start.

It’s a good time to begin again.

I’ve got huge plans for today… sort of. It’s a lovely summer day, not too hot, and nothing much going on. Spent some time out on the trail with my camera in the morning. Enjoyed coffee with my Traveling Partner (already up) before I left – then again after I got back. It was a strange misty morning, lovely for walking.

The mist lent itself well to thinking thoughts.

Out in the marsh, the ducks and geese were also enjoying the morning, a bit out of reach of my lens. I’m okay with that; I just kept walking.

The ducks and geese took no notice of me as I walked along the trail.

I had the park mostly to myself this morning. A rare treat. I stopped awhile at a favorite spot for watching smaller birds was visited by quite a few swallows, and other birds I was less familiar with. Good times.

Few of my shots turned out this morning, but that hardly matters; I enjoyed the time.

The walk back up the path was well-timed; I passed a lot of other folks with cameras on their way down the path, talking about seeing pelicans? I didn’t see any pelicans. lol I marveled at the dewy spider webs that festooned the meadow flowers as I walked back to the car in the summer sunshine.

Like delicate lace.

…But the morning isn’t the day. The moment is not the whole experience. The time that has passed is not about future plans. lol So…what’s the big deal today? It’s not all that, really, I am just planning a (hopefully) delicious homemade meal for dinner… garlic bread, spaghetti with a favorite meat sauce, cooked slowly, with care. I enjoyed selecting the ingredients. Been thinking about the cooking all day. LOL So… yeah. I’m excited about an absolutely ordinary moment-to-come. 🙂 It’s enough to put a smile on my face. I don’t need more than that today.

It’s a lovely place to begin again.

This morning I’m all smiles. I had a lovely day with my Traveling Partner, yesterday. It finished well. Life feels balanced, and I am contented. Sure, sure, still looking for a job, so there’s that, but I don’t see that it has any requirement to be a massive continuous buzzkill every minute of every day… or… any minutes. Ever. I know “this too will pass” – doesn’t matter whether it’s a good mood, a bad mood, a wonderful moment, a tragedy; moments are moments. Transient. Finite. Limited. Very little in a single human life is so dire that despair is truly warranted (that’s one of the things that makes despair so terrible and terrifying – it feels like “everything”, and it’s very “sticky”). I enjoy the smile on my face, take a sip of this glass of water, and listen to a video that makes me smile with such tremendous delight it’s hard to move on to the next one. No, I’m not linking it; delight is not “universal”, and what tickles me so profoundly may be disturbing or offensive or puzzling for someone else. No point. Hit up Google or YouTube, find your groove. 😉

Different day, different meadow.

I went to the nearby nature reserve this morning to get shots of birds. I got there just at daybreak; first car into the park. Choice. The summer-scented air was fragrant with meadow flowers and a hint of marsh. The morning was very quiet and quite overcast. I grabbed my gear and walked down the path to a spot I know is a good one for taking pictures of birds. No birds. It was rather as if the wildlife decided to sleep in on this quiet gray morning. I walked on. Snapped some pictures of flowers, the skyline, reflections on the water. Kept walking. Eventually my Traveling Partner pinged me.

My last trip was more “productive”, if I choose to define it that way – there were more birds.
I got a lot of chances to improve on my skills at taking pictures of birds that day.

There’s no expectation that I’ll cut my camera time short when my partner wakes, although I do try to “stay gone” long enough for him to sleep in, should he choose to and find himself able. Still… not much going on in the nature park, so I turned back and walked back to the parking lot. I passed a lot of other visitors with cameras. By the time I was within view of the parking lot, the path down to the meadow looked like a fucking camera convention. Individuals and groups, each taking some favored spot, waiting, watching, hoping for a great shot of… something. (Anything – other than each other.) lol I see a lot of really fancy gear as I pass other visitors. I could easily be overcome with dissatisfaction and “gear envy”…but it’s not my way. Like, I mean, explicitly not my choice to be thusly overcome; I get some great shots with my modest gear. I enjoy it as it is. It’s often so much more about location, timing, and willingness to walk on, or sit quietly awhile, and less to do with the gear, generally. 🙂 A lot of life is like that. Even mindfulness practices – anyone can (people often do) spend a ton of money on coaches, consultants, therapists, or “specialists” to learn to sit quietly, breathe, and relax. (It’s even possible to take an expensive destination retreat at an actual monastery, should you have the desire and the resources. It’s not necessary to do so, though, at all.) It’s not even a certainty that spending that kind of money on breathing exercises and mindfulness practices will “pave the trail” for you more skillfully than taking it upon yourself to read a book and begin practicing practices. It’s more about the verbs than the dollars.

…I’m one of those people, by the way. No kidding. I was at the edge and still spiraling down, and I felt wholly defeated. I spent a notable amount of my limited resources on therapy. Doing so saved my life. Looking back, I can see how easily I could have made that journey, perhaps, without spending that money…only… I didn’t, because I wasn’t able to. I did not know what I did not know. I needed that help. So I did the needful and took steps to get the help I needed. Did my therapist do more than point me in the direction of reading different books, or helping me practice other practices? Oh, for sure. Real therapy. I needed a lot of help making that healing journey (that is still in progress), and part of that process was gaining a better understanding of my actual legit issues. Still… it is possible to make a healing journey without a map. It isn’t about the money.

I prepared my reading list so that someone who maybe can’t at all afford the expense of therapy in their here-and-now could still benefit from the foundations of the journey I’m taking myself. I write this blog for that same reason – and also because I often find that I “fail to take my own good advice” because I’ve lost perspective over time. This blog is something of a repository of my notes about this journey, and my changing perspective over time – a reminder that it can be done, because I’ve done it, just in case I find myself doubting. (I’m very human.)

What a lovely morning this is, so far. It may last the day. It may not. So much of that is up to me. I’ve got choices to make. Practices to practice. Verbs to put into motion. It’s time to begin again.

Good steps to begin a journey:

  1. Do something differently. (Follow-up)
  2. What about self-care?
  3. Maybe just don’t be in your own way?

The morning is very overcast. The meadow is dull and dry looking this morning. I sit with my coffee in the grass, on the compact three-legged camp stool I keep in the car. My camera is set up, but the birds are shy this morning. I sit watching the colorless sunrise, and listening to the noise of my tinnitus and… helicopters? Yep. It’s the air show weekend. No wonder the birds are laying low this morning.

Another sip of coffee. I manage not to fall on my ass as I set the cup down abruptly hoping to quickly get some shots of a small mouse or vole or other small mammal in the grass. I failed to make the adjustments needed quickly enough to get the picture, and subsequently also missed a small yellow bird who decided to stop precisely where my camera had been pointed. Yep. It’s one of those days. lol

I reach for my coffee and knock it over. lol

The air quality seems poor today. It’s warm again this morning, and very muggy. I don’t envy folks attending the airshow; it’s going to be uncomfortably hot before noon. I definitely don’t feel like I am missing anything by not attending. The constant sound of aircraft overhead makes me tense and cross. The heat and humidity leave me feeling irritable and sticky.

There’s nothing on my calendar for today. I had planned to go camping again next week, but the heat discouraged me, and as it turns out I have a final interview with a job I interviewed for this week… so I canceled my camping trip. Very adult of me. lol I plan to enjoy today as part of my weekend.

Lanscape crews turn up… I expect they’ll mow this lovely meadow, and I am feeling annoyed by that.

Is it me, or is it this moment? I notice that I am already struggling to manage my pain, on top of “everything else”. Sounds like it’s me. I give the landscapers a wave and start gathering up my gear. There’s a pleasant park on my route home, a lovely spot for meditation. I will relocate, and begin again.