Archives for category: The Art of Being

A seed, planted in soil, isn’t much to look at. It takes a while to show itself as a seedling, longer still to amount to more. That’s the nature of growth, generally.

Given adequate growth, eventually, a flower.

I have my first sip of coffee. Still can’t drink it hot, but now that’s largely a matter of how cups work, because I’d prefer not to risk slopping hot coffee down the front of my shirt, and I’m still drinking with care, mouth partially open, avoiding the still-painful sensation any sort of suction causes. No longer forced to drink everything room temperature, I am enjoying it quite cold, and the coolness of the cold coffee feels nice against my wounded gum, at the edge of the hole where that molar used to be. I let my tongue very gently touch the edge of my gum… it’s not swollen, now, and doesn’t feel “hot” to the touch. Progress. Still quite tender, and I’m so over the constant eye on the clock, alert to the next interval at which to take still more Ibuprofen, to avoid more throbbing pain in my jaw. Any small miss on the self-care, and I pay for it in momentary misery. I’m grateful that I’ve already healed this much, so quickly, and so far it seems as if the perforation is going to heal, at least as far as I can tell, right now.

Healing processes take time. I have another soothing sip of ice cold coffee, grateful for the reminder that healing processes are also… not comfortable. Even painful. A timely reminder, coming so soon after my mother’s death. There, too, I have… “moments”. It comes and goes. I forget all about it, then, unexpectedly, I remember – and like this hole in my jaw that is not yet healed, I feel a vacancy that is tender, even painful, when I poke at it with my thoughts. Healing takes time, and it is not likely that I can “force the process”. It’s not even necessary. I smile at some fond recollection, taking comfort in that – like a sip of ice cold coffee coursing over my aching empty tooth socket.

“Why is it always about coffee with you? Damn.” I grin at myself. It isn’t, you know… sometimes I drink tea. Water. Occasionally some juice. More rare to have a small glass of something carbonated. Every now and then, a small glass of sherry or port. Mostly water. Mostly coffee. lol It’s not “about” any of that. Just a reliably handy metaphor suitable for this or that. 😉

I was pretty cross by the end of the day, yesterday. I’m feeling better this morning. Each morning, this painful bit of dental work seems to feel some better. 🙂 Reliably, at the end of the days, I am no longer at my best. It would be so easy to lose sight of real progress, just due to the experience of being fatigued at the end of the day, spoons all used up. So far, I’ve avoided any sort of major displays of ire. Having a supportive partnership, and a fairly satisfying life, generally, these days, helps a lot. I only mention that because there, too, there are choices involved. Choosing to remain in a shitty “partnership” with someone who is not in any authentic way a partner, would put me in a very different place in life. Struggling day-to-day just to meet basic survival and quality of life needs would likely jeopardize any sort of good recovery from illness or injury – if I could still afford to have such things taken care of at all. I sip my coffee and explore some moments of gratitude and appreciation for the life I have now. (There were choices, and good fortune and happenstance surely played a huge part in getting from “over there”, to “here, now”, too; it’s all worth appreciating.) So, I let being cross about discomfort fade, and sip my cold coffee, watching the sky lighten through the window of my recently-tidied-up studio, feeling grateful instead.

I notice the time, and stretch, and have another deep, long, drink of icy cold black coffee. Another day. More beginnings. A life to live. These small encouraging moments aren’t “world changing” in any notable way, I know. They have, however, changed my own experience of the world – and of life. That’s been worth it to me, and likely worth it to friends and loved ones who interact with me regularly (my deep enduring misery, bitterness, cynicism, anger, and pain, could be a massive buzzkill). Every time we lift ourselves out of our private hell, we make the whole world just that tiniest bit less mired in misery, overall. One less wounded soul, right? 😉 I finish my coffee, and get ready to begin again.

No point. Just flowers. 🙂

This morning over coffee I watched a clip from a Joe Rogan interview on the topic of “How to Workout” and found myself contemplating the concepts of consistency, intensity, and flow. A worthy start to my day. I pause long enough to send the link to my work email, to share with my team; the concepts easily apply to cognition, and workload management, too. A healthy consistence pace does reliably result, for me, in an enjoyable experience, with better long-term results. 🙂 Applying that everywhere I successfully can totally makes sense – why haven’t I considered this sooner, and more often??

…Why are we so eager to seek fatigue?? Where did we get the idea that working that hard is necessary or even good?

The weekend was filled with flowers, and love. Making a point to enjoy them matters.

I got in a good walk yesterday. (It’s not really a hike, is it, if I am on a comfortably paved suburban trail, no pack, wearing sandals, and just strolling along?) I hit a personal milestone, getting my distance back up nicely, and getting back home without feeling completely wrung out; I felt great! There were so many flowers along the way. It was lovely.

Pause for flowers. (It’s a metaphor.)

The hole in my jaw seems to be healing… I try not to overthink it. Reliably good self-care seems the way to go.

“Consistency”. Something new to contemplate further. It makes so much sense; it is precisely why practicing some simple healthy supportive practices results in incremental change over time. Why I haven’t applied this concept to way more things in life is less important than recognizing this is the case, and making some changes. 🙂 No point wasting time on “troubleshooting” this one; I have choices, choices that result in change, changes that can result in improved quality of life – with potentially reduced intensity of effort day-to-day. 😀 Easy.

…It’s definitely time to begin again!

I spent yesterday pretty gently, relaxing at home, seeking small distractions to take my mind off this wound in my jaw (from a recent tooth extraction). I alternated between considerable pain, discomfort, and bitching about those – and the inconvenience of all that – and being mostly pretty okay, generally, aside from the occasionally more intense pain, and near-continuous discomfort. In any moment that I noticed I was not in considerable pain, I made a point to really notice that, and explicitly enjoy it. I found small distractions to take my mind off of the pain, whenever it seemed to worsen. My Traveling Partner helped with that, rather a lot.

Brunch with a friend helped; uncomfortably, but yeah, it was a nice distraction, in spite of my self-consciousness about trying to drink any sort of beverage in a public place without either causing myself more pain (and potentially prolonging the healing process) or dripping it all down the front of myself, awkwardly.

Time in the garden, observing the young praying mantises that have just hatched, renewed my joie de vivre more than once, over the course of the day.

…and, I just find them terrifically fun to watch.

We watched a favorite movie together, in the evening, and a variety of interesting video content from favored content creators. I read, played video games, and went out into the world once or twice – mostly just to take my mind off the pain of this healing process.

Healing processes can be painful. Read that again. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Take that in for a moment, it’s very real; healing processes can be painful. All kinds of healing processes, for all manner of wounds. Absorb that observation, and let it be a stepping stone to letting something go, and stepping off on a new beginning, if you can. 🙂

I’d honestly prefer that any given healing process be truly a matter of feeling reliably progressively better, moment-to-moment, but giving the matter some thought, and considering other wounds, other hurts, injuries incurred over a lifetime, I find myself inclined to be fairly certain that no particular healing process has been pain-free – or even reliably less painful in a clearly improving way, over time. It’s often been a matter of surges of increased pain, interspersed with considerable improvement, or even lingering significant chronic pain over a prolonged period that rather abruptly resolved at some later point. Some healing processes have even seemed to hurt worse than the original injury/condition, to get to an outcome that felt wholly better than I’d ever previously experienced. Weird, right? I mean, that healing hurts. That doesn’t seem intuitive to me, and I suspect my lack of preparedness and acceptance that healing processes can be painful, themselves, has held me back from healing most efficiently (and quickly), in some circumstances.

Yesterday had some seemingly excessively painful moments. I fussed about it. I fretted over it. I self-threatened to go back to the dentist this week so he can look in my mouth and tell me “yep, it’s coming along just fine” – because when I hurt, I doubt that it is. I forget, over and over again, that healing processes can be painful. lol

I think it complicates things that it is also needful to distinguish between the routine painfulness one might expect while healing from some kind of wound, and the painfulness of not healing – of getting worse – as from an infection of a wound that would ideally be healing. Damn it. Well, that results in a few more verbs, more awareness, more commitment to self-care, more presence, more attention to details, more non-attachment… Shit. Adulting is hard. I don’t like pain. So… having to sort out the pain of healing from the pain of “oh hey, this is getting worse, I should see to that”, and the pain of “this new thing” from “that chronic thing”, and the pain of “this’ll take a while to heal” from “holy crap that hurt just now, but it’ll pass quickly” is, sort of, um… a pain in the ass. LOL

I have a few contented swallows of cold coffee with my mouth half open (to avoid creating any suction in my mouth as I drink and swallow). I’m getting good at this, as small a thing as it is. (I was having trouble staying hydrated the first two days.) I’ve gotten the timing on the Ibuprofen down, such that I generally avoid any significant increase in pain between doses. I’ll be glad to stop taking it altogether; it’s not really a good choice for me, in the context of my general health.

Today feels some better, though… maybe it even actually is some better? I don’t actually know that, one way or the other. I know I am, in this moment right here, in somewhat less pain. 🙂 Good enough. Small steps. Small victories. Slow progress. I’m okay with that.

More of the same, today: small distractions, garden flowers, and slow progress.

I don’t think I actually ever gave thought to how often, or how much, “suction” place a role with regard to the general state of a human mouth. lol Having a molar extracted, and the resulting perforation of my lower facial sinus, with all the requested after-care that follows, is definitely an education in maintaining mindful awareness. The balance between “aware” and “self-conscious” – the latter of which tends to cause more moments of “sucking on my teeth, in some fashion – is, itself, a very new thing to explore (all over again). It generally… um… sucks.

(I’m aware of how dreadful that pun was, and nonetheless I spend five minutes wracked with mirth, trying not to laugh literally out loud, nor to stifle my laughter in any way that might result in disturbing the healing of that tooth socket, with the realization that my situation literally illustrates the point I was making the first place driving still further laughter. What a morning. What the fuck is the point of “uncomfortable merriment”? Why is that even a thing? lol)

Eating is complicated. Drinking is a major challenge. Even sitting around, generally, reading, watching a video, or just being thoughtful, seems to continuously put me at risk of subtly (or less so) “pulling” at that wound in my mouth with some quantity of suction unintentionally. “Rinsing” my mouth requires a rather delicate approach, since any sort of “swishing” technique likely involves – you guessed it already, I bet – suction. It’s not the very firm sucking-suction of deliberately sucking on something (like a straw) that trips me up; it’s the common everyday rather mild suction of things like holding my tongue to the roof of my mouth, or drinking from a container with a small opening, or… swallowing. lol That last one plagues me – it is unavoidable. I’m not bitching, I’m just saying; there are techniques involved that I did not already know.

I woke to rain. I find myself wondering how the Praying Mantis hatchlings are doing. They hatched yesterday, from purchased egg cases that I put in the garden in the spring.

There appear to be hundreds of wee mantises on this one rose bush, basking in the sunshine.

The dense foliage of the reliably well-leaved out rose bush on which I placed them offers a lot of places to hide safely, and with my container garden being very near a forested green space, and birds coming and going at the deck feeder every day, there is plenty of food for the young mantises – and plenty of predators to be concerned with. I spotted them fairly quickly, when I went out to water the garden.

I watched them for awhile.

I watched several quite skillfully avoid a largish, probably quite frustrated, garden spider who had also taken up housekeeping in the rose bush. I was feeling certain that sooner or later, the spider would have her meal, when a young mantis turned the tables on the predator-prey narrative, and began to enjoy her first meal – of spider. Wow, Nature, way to present a life lesson!

I watch awhile longer. Choices. Verbs. Sunshine. Moments.

I felt huge peering down at the wee creatures in my garden. Some of them stared seemingly fearlessly, curiously, back at me. I felt a tickle on my arm, and notice that one, then several more, have jump from the bush to my arm, and my hand, as I held my camera outstretched for a closer shot. I use the opportunity to give them an easy ride, slowly, around the garden. It delighted me to see each jump off to a new location in a hanging basket, potted salad greens, a bucket full of blooming flowers, or another rose. I remind them to watch out for spiders, before I go back inside.

I woke this morning to rain. It only makes sense to wonder how the little new comers are doing. Coffee first, I decided, and here I am – with a drink bottle (selected specifically for the size of the mouth of the bottle) partially filled with cool-not-icy-cold coffee, listening to the rain and the sound of my fingers on the keyboard. I give some thought to where I might take my walk today; it’s the weekend, and I’ve been enjoying being out on the trail again, rain need not slow me down (it’s not rainy hard, just sort of dripping gently). Muddy or slick trails would be less than ideal… maybe along the waterfront? The well-paved trails are popular, so it’s not likely to have the same “away from it all” feel as I might experience on a wilderness trail, or even a suburban forest trail miles in, further along than an easy walk with a child would take one – still a lovely walk, worth taking. The city is reliably a beautiful and varied view.

Some other rainy morning, along the waterfront, and a view of a city I love.

…I keep coming back to this not-excessively-painful-but-definitely-wholly-uncomfortable-and-quite-inconveniently-tender-complicated-to-care-for wound in my mouth; it distracts me. I also find my thoughts returning to the wee newcomers in my garden. I can’t do much about the extracted tooth; the jaw and gum need time and care to heal. I can, however, satisfying my curiosity about the mantises – verbs are required. A moment of action is all that is necessary…

The smell of freshness, summer rain, and petrichor fill my senses when I step out onto the deck. The sound of rain on the big leaf maples is musical. It isn’t raining hard; just a steady misty drizzle, barely hard enough to be explicitly rain. I check “Baby Love”, the rose on which the mantis young found themselves on their very first day, eagerly seeking signs that “the kids are alright”…

Petals have fallen in the rain, but the wee mantis young take the rainy day in stride.

I spot first one, then another, then several, then, as my eye begins to calibrate to their shape and color, their plentiful numbers are revealed. Most have simply stepped around to a convenient underside of a leaf, or even the narrow protection of a stem. A few just stand out in the rain, damp, seeming unconcerned.

They are everywhere I look. A good metaphor for so many things I sometimes struggle to see that are “right in front of me”. 🙂

A few minutes of writing, some coffee, a rainy morning… I’ve been most particularly tempted by this deliciously rainy summer morning… I think I’ll begin again. 🙂

In the garden, or on the trail, it’s a lovely time to embrace this “now” moment. (Your results may vary; there are verbs involved.)

I’m very carefully, and rather peculiarly, sipping my room temperature coffee, seeking to do so without creating any suction or pressure in my mouth, to avoid disturbing the healing progress of the small perforation of my right sinus. Rather tediously complicated. It’s not specific to coffee; anything I eat, anything I drink, all comes with this new challenge. lol. I’m not bitching; it is what it is, and one thing it happens to be is an opportunity for greater mindfulness. So… I’m careful, present, very much aware. Sip after careful sip, sort of sliding the liquid down the opposite side of my open mouth, swallowing without closing my mouth. LOL I’m okay.

No suction. Doesn’t sound that difficult, or inconvenient, in the abstract. I was not sufficiently aware of how much “mouth stuff” involves some amount of suction or pressure. 🙂 I’m learning a lot.

…Still… A lot of what inconveniences me turns out to be a useful opportunity. Another example? Distance without social media; giving up social media has resulted in a growing feeling of distance from dear friends. It wasn’t that we were closer with social media, we weren’t, at all. We were simply easily able to eavesdrop on each other’s lives and experience the sensation of remaining quite close and caught up on things, without making a legitimate effort, or being present in an authentic way. Now? I have to put the effort in. I have to make a point to reach out. I experience the lag that goes along with snail mail, or the sound sensitivity that is part of my experience of talking on the phone, or the inconvenience of noticing, again, that I’ve written several letters – days or weeks ago – and failed to mail them. No social media gives me a huge opportunity to live up to value of these relationships by showing some effort. (I’m not saying I’m doing a great job of it – I’m not, so far – I’m just pointing out the opportunity very much exists.)

This morning, limited by this perforated sinus, and heading into the office, I have still more opportunities. Opportunities to gauge my emotional wellness, resilience, and ability to manage day-to-day stresses without the (admitted) crutch of nicotine, for example. Opportunities to be my best self in commuter traffic. Opportunities to make reasoned, considered choices, throughout a new day. Opportunities to rise above personal discomfort, grief, and practical challenges of being a human being, midst other human beings having their own experiences. Opportunities to communicate more skillfully, and to love and be loved. A new day filled with opportunities – and choices – and verbs. 🙂

The 4th of July holiday came and went fairly uneventfully. I am not of a mind to “celebrate” national independence by wastefully expending colorful ordnance. Not so much my thing. No stress in it, these days, it’s just that I’m unclear on what I would be celebrating, at this point… So… with my ability to enjoy tasty holiday tidbits impaired, and feeling frankly a tad injured, and needing to rest and recover, no celebration at all seemed much easier than a pro forma celebration of a flag. Certainly, I have no emotional connection to, or investment in, the banana republic display going on in the nation’s capital. lol It was a quiet day, of reading mostly. 😀

I glance at the time. Attempt another caution sip of coffee, and look to the opportunities of the day ahead; it’s already time to begin again. 🙂