Archives for category: Summer

It’s been awhile since I’ve gone camping. I can’t recall now why that is. I remember what sweet relief being camped out under the stars can be… So… Why has it been, seriously? More than a year? My gear stands packed and ready, and my Traveling Partner will be off on his summer travels soon, and this year leaving the car with me looks like a thing. 🙂 Convenient for so many reasons! Heading into the trees and reaching distant trailheads, are surely among those reasons.

It’s been nagging at me since yesterday; June is near at hand. The weather will be lovely for camping, most likely, and summer just beginning. This morning I sit down purposefully and make reservations, securing a favorite tent site. When I get into the office, I’ll request the time off. 🙂

A favorite spot waits for me.

My “last” camping trip was cut short by my lack of preparedness and the fairly irksome discovery that I had forgotten both my bee sting kit, and any coffee at all, proved to be too much for me. (I’m very human!) I went home feeling vaguely, somewhat playfully, “disgraced”. I can do better, and knowing that I can, and didn’t, continued to bite at my consciousness like a stinging insect for some time after that. I did actually go camping last year (that other wasn’t really the most recent trip, at all) though it doesn’t linger in my memory with so much clarity, it too is a recollection tinged with “failure”. I went to a distant trailhead, camped under the stars during a meteor shower, but struggled to enjoy it because it was one of those super popular locations that everyone thinks is their own secret find, and it was over-crowded, swarming with hikers, picnickers, rowdy party folks hollering from camp to camp through the night, and headlights sweeping through the trees all night long, as weary travelers arrived, discovered there was no room, and turned around to drive on. Not really a pleasant trip as much as checking a trail off a list, and doing so rather half-heartedly, once it proved to be – for now – beyond my abilities to get to the summit. I could go there, and try that again, except that the crowds were just not my thing at all. I head to the trees to be alone without all that. lol

I have everything I need to just go camping on a moment’s notice. It came in handy during the recent power outage; I simply lit candles, started a fire in the fire-place, and invited friends over to chill. No panic. Camping generally feels easy like that, too, these days. I quickly get set up, and then quickly shift gears to slow things down, stretch time, and soak in the sounds, scents, and sights of the forest. I spend most of my time hiking, reading, writing, and meditating. I take pictures. I sit quietly. I sit quietly a lot. I could do all these things at home. I do all these things at home. Camping takes them to another level of inner stillness, and turns my attention more fully inward; there are no escapes from self out among the trees.

I’m eager to go. Eager to begin again. 🙂

 

Tomorrow I go back to work. That isn’t today. Today, however, is a good day to prepare, to make myself ready, to review plans and expectations, to jot down questions, to plot a new commute with care, and plan out new routines that take into account my return to the workforce, as well as the likelihood that I’ll be seeing a great deal more of my traveling partner as the weather turns from festival summer to fireside fall.

The end of a chilly rainy autumn day.

Yesterday ended well, although chilly.

Who am I? It seems a day for such questions. Rainy. Mild. More yellow and amber tones in the leaves of the trees on the far side of the park than there were yesterday. Evidence of time passing, and of seasons changing. I feel transformed, myself, and able to face the prospect of working with quite a bit more contentment, and in much less day-to-day pain, even with the chill of autumn approaching. Has it really meant so much to take this time to care for myself, to live on my own terms, to follow my own agenda? Just six months? Worth it. Totally worth it. I’ll even be taking understandings gained and this perspective on the healing power of leisure into the workplace with me; I’ve learned a lot that has value to long-term workforce management strategies. Am I this person, this analyst-manager, this workforce management professional, this corporate employee? Is this who I am? No. Not really. I am not my work.

I look around the studio, very tidy – even projects in progress are cleaned up, for now, and put neatly aside. I’ll have a guest for some days, soon. Is this who I am? Hostess? Family member, local matriarch, devoted servant of home and hearth? Or am I the artist who has so accommodatingly set everything aside to welcome friends in need, lovers in distress, a traveler returning home, or family visiting from afar? Am I the frustrated citizen, attempting to dot i’s, cross t’s, and jump through hoops of paperwork on fire to comply with some requirement or another? Am I the disabled veteran, committed to my wellness, frustrated by “the system”, still doing what I can to meet my own needs over time, through diet, exercise, and careful management of my health? Am I the woman on the meditation cushion in the window, content, calm, relaxed? (Occasionally distracted with childlike delight to see a squirrel dart past, or a woodpecker stop at the suet feeder, sending both bird and feeder spinning crazily, to my great amusement.)

Who am I? Am I all these – or none? When I cling to some singular potentially defining quality, like my appearance, or an attitude, or a characteristic, or some detail singled out, change becomes such a frightening destructive force, with the potential to rob me of who I am. “Who am I?” is a question that quite honestly used to terrify me – not because I didn’t have a sense of self, but because I didn’t know what “the right answer” was, and that, by itself, was quite terrifying. Follow that with finding myself unclear on precisely what is required to prove the answer. Yep. Terrifying to feel so… unidentified.

There is no “right” answer. There may be quite a few… not “wrong” exactly… “incorrect”? Inaccurate. There may be quite a few inaccurate answers. I take time to consider the difference between “accurate” and “honest”. Truthful fits in there, somewhere, too. I’m not sure that accuracy in the details that describe this being of light wrapped in this fragile vessel made of meat actually answers the question “who am I?” at all well.

It’s a pleasant enough autumn morning, on the edge of a major life change. It seems a good time to give a moment of thought and consideration to the woman in the mirror. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or deep, or complicated; I’ll pick out work clothes for tomorrow at some point later, and likely find myself contemplating the woman in the mirror, who she has become, where she is headed, and how she hopes to share herself in this new context. That’s enough for now. 🙂

A cloudy autumn day suitable for hiking. A good day to walk on; the journey isn't about the destination.

Today begins well, a cloudy autumn day suitable for hiking. The season is changing.

Today is a good day to consider the journey. Today is a good day to walk on. Change is. Perhaps it’s just the season for it? 🙂

Swim or float. Dance or run away. Choose or be swept away by chance, and change. Things do change. It amuses me that one of life’s constants is change, itself.

I woke early, feeling I’d ‘overslept’, but only because I’m resetting my internal clock to wake more precisely at 5 am daily, in preparation for returning to the work force. (Why is it a “work force“, exactly?) Unsure what woke me, I rose, did my ‘oh crap I’m so stiff’ yoga sequence, then made my way toward coffee. I smile, mindful that my routines are at risk of breaking with my traveling partner staying over. It’s on me to manage my self-care, and ensure I stay on track with fitness tasks, and meditation. It is a comfortable awareness where once it felt only frustrating. I keep practicing. So many things are about the experience of a practice, more than any end result, that I’ve gotten much more skilled at not being invested in a particular outcome, which seems also quite comfortable now.

I think I’m saying I recognize I’m fit to return to work, by my own understanding of my self, on my own terms. 🙂 It’s a welcome observation.

My smile rests comfortably on my face; I smile a lot these days, genuine, natural, unforced. It feels good. Smiles feel good; if the facial expression I’m holding in place doesn’t feel good, it’s probably not smiling, however many teeth I may be showing. lol

Change is a real thing, though, and sweeps in as a storm as often as it creeps  in slowly like the tide. Either way, it’s fairly unavoidable. I expected this would be quite a solitary week. It is a week spent in the company of friends, and with my traveling partner. I expected I probably would not see my traveling partner for many days, from last Thursday, to next Tuesday sometime, but here’s he, now, having his morning coffee…and there’s some chance we’ll dine together after I am off work my first day back, next Monday. Not all the changes thrown my way are of consequence, some are quite wonderful and pleasant, some have nothing whatever to do with me, rippling over my experience like the waves of some pebble tossed into still water. Change is, I have no say in that. I’m learning to swim. Learning to dance. Learning to choose to be changed along the way, with a calm heart, and wide-eyed with wonder.

Each time for the first time, each moment the only moment.  ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

Each time for the first time, each moment the only moment. ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

It’s a lovely morning on the fading edge of summer. The days grow shorter, and cooler. The nights are becoming longer, and chilly. I begin the days in darkness now, watching the sunrise as I write is far more rare; it hasn’t yet begun, and I am almost finished here, this morning. The wheel turns.

My partner’s voice resonates with warmth and love (or simply because his deeper male voice sounds so to my ears) when he steps into the studio for a word or two. A welcome interruption… I’m nearly finished here, and the day is getting started. There’s a life to live, and a world to explore! There will probably be changes… where I am an ‘agent of chaos’ in my own life, my traveling partner is as often an ‘agent of change’, through his adventurous spirit and spontaneity. Change is. It’s far easier to surrender to the inevitability of change, and to grow, than to resist it – and to grow in some other direction, with considerably less comfort. LOL 😉

IMAG8161

 

Today is an odd sort of day. It feels like one of those filled with moments filled with waiting. I’ll wait another day to see my traveling partner. I also wait to begin work. With a background check in progress, I suppose I also wait for that outcome, in the background. 🙂

This morning I wait for the hour to be late enough to do laundry without disturbing neighbors who must share a wall with the laundry room. I wait for the next opportunity to hang out with a new friend. I wait for friends nearer at hand to wake for the day, or find a moment to drop by. I wait for water to boil for my second cup of coffee. I wait for the sun to rise a little higher so I can open the blinds and see across the meadow without going blind from the sun in my eyes. None of this is new, or a big deal; waiting is a thing we do. I do it most often when I am not here, now, fully present in this moment. I do it when I am focused on some future moment that is not now. Waiting is expensive, in terms of time and time management; it is generally not productive time, if left to be solely what it is.

I smile into my empty cup of coffee, having already forgotten I am waiting for water to boil, or that I was on my way to make a second cup of coffee. I am engaged in this moment, here, and these words. I’ve already moved on, in fact, from the thought of waiting to writing about waiting – and am no longer waiting, at all. Waiting is not only not productive, it isn’t particularly engaging, really. It’s the thing I’m waiting for that holds my attention, I suggest to myself, but I’m not sure that’s really true – haven’t I often fussed over the waiting, itself? Anticipation feels different from waiting.

I sit up straighter, thinking for a moment about my commitment to better health and fitness; no waiting required, just verbs. I breathe deeply, and relax, feeling my shoulders return to their natural place. Definitely no waiting needed for breathing deeply, or for relaxing. This moment, here, in the present – in whatever form it takes in this moment, now – isn’t at all about waiting. Time well-spent is rarely spent waiting, and far more often spent being.

Each time for the first time, each moment the only moment.  ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

Each time for the first time, each moment the only moment.    ~Jon Kabat-Zinn

This morning there is no time to wait. Today is a good day to be here, in this moment, engaged, present, available, connected… and not ‘device connected’, either – connected heart to heart, connected through eye contact, through shared conversation, through hugs, touches, kisses. Connected through mindful awareness. Connected through consideration. Connected now, because we’re all in this together. Today is a good day for a shared experience. There are verbs involved (and people). Your results may vary. 🙂

It’s been a busy few days. Appointments, friends, interviews… there has also been time for stillness, although I’ve taken fewer of those opportunities than I could have, I know. Today is a day to recover, to regain balance, to let new knowledge and changed thinking settle in to be considered in context.

"Baby Love" on a rainy morning.

“Baby Love” on a rainy morning.

A misty rain falls this morning, as it did yesterday, as it likely will tomorrow. “Is summer over?” I wonder to myself. We can expect another handful of summer days before autumn firmly takes hold. Spring and autumn are the longest seasons in this area; by the time it seems reasonable to complain about summer heat to friends living in genuinely hot climates, summer here is over. The rain has come. A gasp of winter weather follows, then the drenching we can expect for spring begins, and seemingly endlessly showers us with all the different kinds of rain I’ve known, in some quantity or another, before the wheel turns again, back to our brief summer.

Life works very similarly, I find, changing like the seasons if only I give it time. More often than I’d like to count, some situation or another causing me stress just… goes away, after a time. Things change. Change is as much a passive seeming thing happening around us continuously as it is a tool with which we can craft our experience through our choices and actions (and reactions). That’s pretty useful sometimes; no matter how stuck in some one moment I may feel, regardless how terminally miserable I think I am, things do change. On the reverse of that coin, however, is the reciprocal truth that our moments of greatest and most intoxicating joy will also, inevitably, pass in favor of some other moment to come.

Yesterday was wonderful. I hung out with my new friend, although for now I’ve no convenient nickname or characterization to use to bring her to mind, here. Soon enough, I’m sure. We had made plans to go to the farmer’s market together (she hadn’t been). We both had things we’d intended to do after that… but chose to spend the day together, because we were simply having too much fun to let go so soon. She hugs easily. I want to learn to be so approachable, while still maintaining such clear boundaries with gracious firmness. Powerful. We share ourselves easily, together, and I find incredible joy in being so relaxed, and so un-self-consciously myself with another human being, at a time in my life when I am quietly plagued by self-consciousness about small quirks, and unexpected deviations from obvious norms. She’s not frustrated by my definite over-use of fancy language; she laughs with delight, and good-natured humor, happily “correcting” my verbiage along the way, with more laughter. (We rode the light rail through an economically under-privileged community, which I noted as unfortunate, and she laughingly corrected me, “ghetto” with a grin and a hug. Like my traveling partner, she favors simple clear language.) We have interesting conversations about the use of language to convey subtleties of meaning, and conversations about brain injuries, child-rearing, and surviving. We spent 8 hours together, talking. Yep. I can talk for 8 hours – ask anyone. LOL (I’m sitting here suddenly hoping very much that I listened for at least half of that time…)

My traveling partner is in my thoughts, too. I wonder how his weekend is going? He’s been away during the days, and we’ve been out of touch. I’m eager to get together and share how our days have been until we feel we’ve been together. I’m eager to “talk for 8 hours” – there’s a quality to such an experience that I thrive on, and I definitely miss our days of long conversations together, when love was new and neither of us had all the answers about the other – or any notion that we might have that kind of complete and thorough understanding, in the first place. I will do well to be mindful how we differ, and how we’ve grown, and make a point to listen for long luxurious hours of story-telling and anecdotes of exotic adventure – without interrupting, if I can manage it. (That would probably be a lovely treat for him. lol)

Perspective matters. I often find it here. ;-)

Perspective matters. I often find it here. 😉

There are things to consider and reconsider from the week’s conversations. New perspectives on life, on love, on being human, on being vulnerable, on work, on family, on the future… it’s been a very busy week, and my mental buffer is filled – over-filled – with things to think over. Today, I’ll stop being so busy, and just be, instead. Today is a good day for it. Today is a good day for meditation, and for mindful service. Today is a good day for consideration – if we’re all considerate at the same time, we could change the world. 🙂