Archives for category: The Art of Being

Well damn. I guess I’m a real grown-up… 6 days to my 60th birthday. Wild. In spite of some hard living, some hardships, some trauma, some misadventure… I am standing in this place, considering this milestone birthday ahead of me. Wow. I mean, I legitimately did not expect that making it this far was ever a given. Wasn’t at all sure I would… but here I am. 😀

My Traveling Partner and I have plans to camp for a few days. Really getting away, out into the trees, away from the traffic, the stress, the work, the world… the people. I know that I, personally, really need a break from “everything”. Just for a minute. A few quiet hours. Some distance. A different view. A new perspective. A moment of my life that isn’t in any way whatsoever about working, earning a living, maintaining a household… just fresh air, soft breezes, sunshine, and birdsong. Maybe the occasional passing shower. 🙂 I already know my results will vary, and that the plan is not the experience, and neither is the map the world. So. There’s that.

…No idea what the days ahead will really be like, I just know I’m looking forward to logging out of my work tools, and locking the door of the house behind us as we leave for a few days. 😀 (Will I write? Maybe, but I won’t have a cell signal, and my words will be ink on paper, for later – I’m also going equipped to paint in watercolor, and I’m taking my camera of course. My Traveling Partner is taking along a couple of good books, and his fishing tackle.)

Slow days ahead. I’m eager to embrace that, without giving a thought to what may be “on the other side” – we’ll see when we get there, eh?

In the meantime, there are flowers in the garden, and sunny days in the forecast. The weather is lovely and mild, summery and warm without being unpleasantly scorching hot, generally. Life (and love) feel good. I’m not rushing through that feeling, either; I’m making a point to slow down and savor it, as much as I can, as often as I notice how very pleasant things seem to be, presently. Quiet reflection is a worthwhile use of my time, particularly when my thoughts feel infused with soft joy and contentment. I smile thinking of my Traveling Partner; he’s also eager to get out on the road. The truck is already packed of all but a handful of last minute items (my camera bag, food…).

I catch myself in a fit of sneezing – seasonal allergies. Fucking hell, where are those tissues…?? It reminds me to check the tracking on my inbound prescription refills… will they be here in time…? Looks like they will, and I find myself feeling relieved about that. One less thing that could cause background stress while I’m earnestly working to rest my busy mind. 😀

Well, damn… looks like time to begin again. 😀 If I don’t talk to you before I leave… I’ll drop a note right here when I get back. 😀

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about love. I’m listening to jazz in the background – nice change from the insipid pop tracks that are often playing in the co-work space. I am reminded of a quote attributed to Miles Davis, “It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.” Sometimes love is like that. Some moment of miscommunication, or a misstep in the way we treat each other, feels “off”, like a “wrong note” in an otherwise beautiful piece of music… and it does very much seem to matter greatly what comes next, maybe even more so than that “wrong note” itself.

I sat down to write this morning grateful for the quiet time to reflect and write before this morning’s unusually busy Friday meeting calendar; back to back for about 4 and half hours. Ouch. My phone rang – before 0600, which was entirely unexpected, but… it was my Traveling Partner. I hadn’t replied to his text messages, of which there were… several. My “do not disturb” settings go to 0600, though, so I didn’t get notifications on those, and didn’t expect to hear from him either. He was alarmed that I didn’t respond, so he called. Fair enough. He expressed surprise that I was already at my desk, and concerned that I wasn’t out walking. I felt surprised that he didn’t remember me bitching about my meeting calendar and that I planned to go into the co-work space since my meetings would begin quite early compared to most days. Somehow, the interaction was less affectionate than it was… something quite different than that. lol Shit.

The morning is a chilly one, and I ache. After the “off moment” with my Traveling Partner this morning (which managed to feel rather “parental” in tone), I’m sort of cross. I know I can move past it. I’m just annoyed to have started the day thinking I’d have this quiet time “entirely to myself”, only to become mired in ruminations, anxiety, and finding myself juggling my baggage. Human, I suppose. Pretty annoying though.

…It’s bizarrely difficult (for me) to get even an hour of completely uninterrupted quiet time for reflection and writing, sometimes, which is it’s own self-care issue worthy of consideration… some other time, perhaps.

Here’s the thing – back to that quote I started on – it matters more what follows that “off moment”, than the moment itself. Whether I react. How I respond. What I say in reply to what has been said. How I choose to take the circumstances as they come. I can do/say/think about it in ways that aggravate things further – or I can “let small things stay small” and practice compassion, openness, empathy, and non-attachment, and move on to enjoy the day as it unfolds. No, I’m not saying it’s “easy” – there are definitely verbs involved, and the effort is “all mine”, at least inasmuch as I only control my own actions, words, and thoughts. My results vary. A lot. I’ve got room to grow and improve. I can do better. So…

…Looks like time to begin again. 🙂

Memorial Day is sometimes a hard one (for me). The days leading up to it this year were particularly difficult, though I don’t really have a reason why. I’ve lost a few folks over the years. That will never not be true in my life; once we lose the first one, it’s all “more” from there. Spent some time over the weekend reflecting on those losses, and those people. I spent the time with my Traveling Partner, and it was a very healing time we managed to share. I’m grateful.

Losses are hard. We feel our own pain most (and worst, generally). Running from it doesn’t change it – the way out is through. The challenge is not getting stalled in the momentary misery of grief.

The weekend was summery, and fairly mild. We got out among the trees. I got out into the garden. We drove beautiful miles and shared deep conversations. I needed that. We both did, I guess, and we’re better for it.

I’m sipping my morning coffee a bit surprised at how poorly I slept last night after a couple days of extraordinarily good sleep, deep and restful… last night my anxiety flared up with the recollection that today is a work day. Silly, but real. I woke numerous times to double-check that my “sunrise alarm” was actually set. It was. Every time I checked. lol It remains true that a few days of healing and emotionally gentle and nourishing time don’t “fix” anxiety. It comes and goes. My results vary. This morning I got up and managed to start the day without taking it personally or escalating it beyond the obvious; it’s disordered, and there is no reason to feed it and give it more energy.

I smile when I think about the weekend, and my Traveling Partner. Good times.

…Time to begin again…

Change is. Taking some quiet time really mattered. Helped a lot.

Memorial Day weekend.

I’ll take weekend and try to s I rt myself out and soothe myself. Garden. Maybe paint. Get some trail time.

There are still verbs involved. My results still vary. I’ll keep practicing. Maybe get some sleep.

I’ll begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee, early, in the co-work space. It’s hours before the work day will begin. I am reflecting on emotional reactions and what sorts of things I react to. My inclination is to think that my reactions are reliably to the real-world events going on around me. You, too? Something happens, and I react to that, right? Only… I have to point out that it’s quite clear that human primates don’t really seem to “work that way” – we react to a lot of things, don’t we? We react to events. We react to things we hear other people say. We react to things we read. We react to the reactions of other human primates. We react to our own emotions. We react to our assumptions.

…Wait… Do we really react to things that lack any substantial reality at all? That seems likely to go very wrong, very easily… But we sure do. News stories (whether fact-checked or not). Books (both fiction and non-fiction). Conversations about future potential events that have not yet come to pass (and maybe never will). Opinions of people we have never met (even if they have no direct influence on our own experience). Our own assumptions even trip us up; we react to things we assume are going on, without a reality check of any kind. How fucking dumb are we? This is an instant short-cut to full-on drama. The map is not the world. Our assumptions are not reality. I don’t really know what to say about that… don’t do that? Maybe check yourself (and your assumptions) and slow down before you lash out at someone over something that isn’t real, isn’t true, or didn’t happen the way you assume that it did.

This isn’t unusual stuff; humans make assumptions. Humans have emotions. Humans react to their assumptions with emotions. Funny that our big brains don’t really help us out with this one. I sit here with my coffee thinking about it. Asking myself “how can I best ensure that I’m not reacting to fictions of various sorts and inflicting my reaction on people who don’t share my assumptions?” It’s a worthwhile question. Another worthwhile question is “how can I make a point of avoiding making assumptions in the first place?”

I stare into my half-finished half-cold cup of coffee. Maybe you assume I could just go make another, if I am discontent with this one? Could I, though? Is there even coffee here in this place? Water to make it with? A cup to use? Some kind of coffee machine? Any actual need or desire to do so? The unknown details begin to pile up… undermining the assumption that I could just go make a fresh cup to address a need that may or may not exist in the first place. Some of our most common assumptions day-to-day are resting on very little actual information. I often find that when I begin checking the details about an assumption I’ve made, I’m quite wrong about it – regardless how commonplace it may be, or how firm my convictions are about what is fundamentally just my imagination going to work, until/unless confirmed through questions and observation.

Assumption making is one of the most common thinking errors. It’s so prevalent and problematic, it’s got it’s own place of honor in The Four Agreements. Untested assumptions cause all kinds of chaos and miscommunication.

My morning began early, this morning. It began with a reaction to an untested assumption (that was likely completely and entirely incorrect). There is a lot of potential to derail a (potentially lovely) new day over that kind of bullshit, so I chose instead to let it go, to just drop it entirely, and move on from that moment. I let go of my assumption(s) (that’s not always easy or effortless, but do-able). I made the choice to begin the day differently and hope for a good outcome.

Here I am. New day. New beginning. New opportunities to be the woman I most want to be.

I’m admittedly still a bit cross. Another cup of coffee might be nice, though. (Yes, there’s coffee here, and a coffee machine, and potable water from a tap, and a clean mug if I don’t want to re-use the one I’ve got at my desk.) It’s time to begin (again).