Archives for category: The Big 5

It’s a mild Saturday morning. Not yet sunny. Also not raining. Just a morning. My coffee is hot, sitting mostly untouched in front of me. My Traveling Partner and I are “enjoying” our individual, somewhat overlapping, personal experiences of seasonal allergies. His, a lifetime struggle. Mine? Returning with a vengeance here in this new place, after decades mostly without allergies at all. I’ve minimized my allergies for years; they simply aren’t “anything” in comparison to what my Mom endured, or what my Traveling Partner goes through for so much of the calendar year that even suggesting those are “seasonal” could seem like a mockery. “I don’t have allergies” still seems mostly true for me… but this morning, my stuffy head and sneezes tell a story of Spring, and pollen (it’s the tree pollen that seems to be the issue; I can smell flowers all damned day without concern).

…And of course, my preferred walks each day? Forests. Trees. Shaded paths. Hilarious. 0_o (That’s a rare use of sarcasm; I’m not finding it all amusing really.)

It is a mild Saturday morning, suitable for gardening (I have a list of things to do), and relaxing. I’m eager to do a bit of gardening in this new place – gardening that won’t suddenly face the upheaval of moving away, gardening that can be planned for a future that exists. Maybe. I mean… the future is an uncertain thing, but at least here I can plan for some sort of permanence, as much as one ever can. No, I’m not feeling down or fatalistic, just disinclined to deceive myself with fanciful tales of “happily ever after” or “always”. Those are not helpful concepts, generally speaking. πŸ™‚

“Baby Love”, an early bloomer, will go into the ground this weekend. πŸ™‚

This cup of coffee is good. Not good enough to ease me past the morning frustration of dealing with allergies, perhaps, or to fix any of society’s ills, but it’s a nice moment on a pleasant morning, and that’s enough right now. I think of far away friends I’d like to take time to connect with, emails I’d like to write. Maybe pick up the damned phone now and then? (Does anyone actually answer the phone when it rings, any more? I rarely do… is that a “me thing”, or an “everyone thing”? Has the etiquette of a phone call changed since… before?)

At some point, after our anniversary was past, my Traveling Partner ever-so-gently brought up how much benefit I seem to get out of a weekend away, solo, and wondered aloud if I were, perhaps, due for one…? He admitted to having the thought on our anniversary, and shared that it seemed less than ideal to bring it up on that occasion. I appreciate his consideration… I’d had that thought, too, and felt like a complete jerk for it, considering the occasion. LOL He’s quite right, though; I’m definitely “feeling it”.

…And he definitely feels me feeling it…

I’m not sure why I’m feeling it so hard right now… the new job is intense (in good ways) and quite busy. I do spend nearly 100% of my waking time in the presence of at least one other human being, or on a call, or in a meeting (and yes, Zoom meetings are still every bit as “people-y” as in person, for me)… it gets fatiguing after a while. I enjoy solitude. I want to simply exist, free of social constraints or pressures to perform, conform, achieve, or relieve. I want to breathe my own breath. Think my own thoughts. Exist entirely in the context of my own experience. Make choices with little regard for other tastes, other needs, other timing. It’s complicated when people partner up who have very different needs in this area. I’m fairly certain that while I feel like I “never have a minute for my own thoughts”, my partner may feel that we “never get to spend any time together” – and both those experiences are legitimate perspectives on our individual experience as human primates. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership in which we recognize our differences and value them – and help each other find our best path forward.

Anyway. I’ve been vaccinated. I feel relatively comfortable making the short journey to the coast and taking a day for myself. Masked & distancing, yeah, that’s still a thing for sure. I’m okay with that, too. I got lucky on getting a pleasant ocean view room a few steps from the beach (131 actual stair steps, if reviews are to be believed) – next weekend. The weather is nice for painting. I’ll take my water colors and my camera along with me. My laptop. I’ll walk miles along the beach. Take some pictures. Meditate. Think. Write. Paint.

…I will miss my Traveling Partner so so much…

We benefit from a bit of time to miss each other. I sip my coffee and wonder what he’ll get up to while I’m away… besides missing me, I mean. πŸ™‚ I already look forward to sharing pictures and conversing about time we did not spend together.

…I’m already looking forward to beginning again. πŸ™‚

The work day is behind me. The afternoon sunshine illuminates the room through the shade, casting a diffuse blue-gray hue to the entire room. I am relaxed. Calm. Mostly fairly comfortable, physically. I feel my Traveling Partner’s stress and aggravation radiate through the house; I am aware of him, without being part of the experience right now. We had, earlier, enjoyed a celebratory moment of shared joy; he had completed a ton of work on fine-tuning our sound system and home theater, a project that we are both excited about (having a shared love of music and movies). It sounded amazing!

Later, shortly before I finished my work day, my obviously frustrated partner leaned into my studio to tell me he’d had to turn off a component to do something – and all those painstakingly determined settings that resulted in such great sound? Gone. Apparently they don’t save. I can only imagine his frustration – so much went into that! He got it done in the context of being considerate of my noise sensitivity, and is now faced with doing it all again, after assuring me he was done with all that. After I got off work I figured I’d hang out and enjoy his company while he finished off the resetting of settings and all that… It’s not that simple, is it? We’re humans, being human together, enjoying our shared experience of being individual beings. I’m not helping by hanging out – however supportive I want to be, however relaxed I feel myself, however much joy I take in his company, right now, the simplest of truths is that he’d like to handle this without the added anxiety of worried about my noise sensitivity or other “high maintenance bullshit” (my language, not his). I even get it. So… A good time to write? I guess so.

I sip on a bottle of water, thinking about how easily we become fused with each other’s emotional states. Not just him, not just me, it’s more of a human thing – most of us experience it, at some point. We become invested in that other person’s emotional experience for whatever reason, and it becomes “part of who we are”, ourselves. I suppose in some circumstances that could be useful. As individual, independent, autonomous, equal free-will adult human beings it’s often far from being “helpful”, at all. I avoid emotional entanglements of this sort, when I notice it in time to do something different. Another room. Another task. A different place. A book to read. Something that is more about me, and less about that other person, for a little while. No hard feelings. No regrets. No embarrassment… Just good self-care.

I hear music in the other room. A moment later he puts his head into the room, “I’m finished” he says calmly. I feel calm, too, and fairly fortunate that we have this partnership of equals. Sure, ups and downs, and sometimes quite a bit of work, and occasional resettings of expectations, together, nonetheless… so fortunate. So grateful. So happy to have this beautiful music, and this beautiful love.

“Finished”? Some things never really “finish”. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Most of the time, these days, I’m writing from a contented, emotionally fairly comfortable place. Life is pretty good day-to-day, in spite of the pandemic. I don’t have the terrifying, chronic, so-frequent-as-to-be-routine, issues with emotional volatility that I had 8 years ago. I’m fortunate. I also “work hard” at this. There’s a lot of practice. A lot of very necessary restarts, do-overs, and new beginnings. My results vary. I am entirely 100% made of human, from the soaring heights of the most delightful moments of great joy and celebration, to the lowest depths of the most grim, bleakest darkness, the most despairing moments of sorrow, ennui, and futility. Anger gets a turn in there, somewhere. Frustration, too.

…So does love. So does hope. So does happiness – yep, even happiness gets her day in the sunshine. Doesn’t happen to be today, but today this moment is apparently not about feeling good. At least not right at this very moment, right here, right now, which mostly sucks.

…This too shall pass. It sure will. Eventually. I wonder sometimes if that’s actually a good thing at all. Storms pass. The weather clears up. It’s so tempting to just move on from the things crying out for attention during stormy weather, once the sun is shining again. Something to think about.

I’m not sure what to say “about” this moment, right here. I feel…angry. I… feel hurt. I’m annoyed and frustrated. Not just with myself and my own limitations. Not simply with “not being heard”. It’s complicated. I don’t have a healthy relationship with anger. I am aware of that. Mine or anyone else’s; it’s not specific to whose anger it is. I’m uncomfortable with anger. I’m especially uncomfortable with mine. That’s true. Today, I’m angry with my Traveling Partner. (This may be the first time I’ve written that sentence in this blog, I’m not certain.) I haven’t lost any affection for this human being I am so fond of… I’m just angry right now. I don’t know what to do with/about that… it just is, and I’m incredibly uncomfortable with it. So. Here I am. In a separate space, door closed, headphones on, working on “being alone right now” – which is very tough in a small house during a pandemic. As I said; uncomfortable. I’m not lashing out or escalating. I’m maintaining a self-inflicted disciplined calm, because I just don’t know what else to do with or about my anger. I clearly can’t act on it. I’m also having trouble conversing through it to resolve things with my partner; I start weeping. It makes conversation difficult and needlessly, unproductively, emotional. Not okay – and I’m frankly not at all interested in taking the risk of damaging anything I own by having some tantrum, or finding myself in the middle of further emotional escalation and angry words with my partner. Anger feels like emotional poison to me. I know there are ways to process anger more skillfully than I do. I haven’t finished that work, yet. I am unskilled. It takes a lifetime to process a lifetime of trauma, apparently…Or, at least, I have not, personally found a shortcut to the work that must be done to heal the damage that already was done.

Yelling at one’s partner is mistreatment. I work to avoid raising my voice. I don’t even like “yelling across the house” in a conversational way (seriously seriously dislike that shit – if I’m not in the same room, let’s just not converse, or hey, it’s a small house, join me in a shared space). I’m human, though, and I am more easily provoked than I want to be. If I raise my voice, I’ll also apologize for that, and having accepted responsibility for that behavior, immediately seek to bring the volume back down. It’s hard. I don’t always succeed. I struggle with anger – particularly when I am not feeling heard, or when I am being interrupted, or when I feel mistreated myself, in the face of mockery, insults, or other such (also very human, unpleasant, not okay things, but I particularly detest mockery). I work on not yelling. I ask people in relationships with me to not yell. It’s a choice. Take a kind tone. Speak gently. Choices. Encourage each other. Worthwhile – but, yeah, there are verbs involved, and it takes a lot of fucking practice, and it’s got to actually really matter. No one can do the work for you. Hell, you may even find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to choose to make these changes or do this work without much encouragement or reciprocity. Hard, right? Sometimes, yeah. For anyone.

What makes any of that shit worth it? Why is the ongoing effort – and ongoing frustration with having to make that effort – worth it at all, if it won’t placate an angry partner, or restore the peace, or diminish the chaos, or create calm? …I think about that question a lot, and I’m pretty clear on my answer; it’s about being the woman I most want to be, myself, for myself. I’m okay with feeling anger. I’m not okay with losing my shit and yelling at someone I love. Doesn’t matter how provoked I feel. Doesn’t matter who is “right” or who is “wrong”. Doesn’t matter whether I am in pain, or exhausted, or absolutely 100% justified in my opinion, or my understanding of the situation. What matters is … who do I most want to be, and is my behavior consistent with that standard? How does that woman respond to such a situation? How does that woman maintain her calm, stay balanced, and process strong emotion? I think that over, looking for answers, and a next step to being that woman… more so today, than yesterday. More so tomorrow than I am right now. We become what we practice.

…That’s true for everyone, and everything we choose to practice (or fall into habitually). Just saying. Choices. Practices. Beginnings.

Again.

…I hear the tv in the other room. My partner bravely checked-on me, and expressed his desire to hang out – in spite of the chaos, what matters most is our affection for each other. It’s hard to be vulnerable. Hard to set down the baggage. Sometimes it’s even hard to begin again. I take a breath, and steady myself to take that step…

More specifically, I mean to say that I find it pointlessly disruptive and uncomfortable to deal with the time changes twice yearly, and most particularly the change in Spring. I’m groggy this morning. I have this splitting headache (not the usual one, just the one that comes of messing with time/timing and circadian rhythms that I experience each year for a handful of mornings following the Spring change to DST). I’m more than ordinarily grateful for a good cup of strong coffee, and the mellow companionship of my Traveling Partner. But, yeah… Fuck Daylight Savings Time. For real. Damn. We ought to consider not doing this, as it serves literally no one. (Seriously, no one. Google it.)

The weekend is behind me. New job starts today. This morning. In fact, in a sense, it has begun; it’s Monday morning. The laptop in its neat factory packaging sits on the desk to my left, waiting to be opened. I’ve read over the instructions provided by the IT department, and those seem pretty clear. First onboarding item on my calendar is at 10:00 am. Last meeting of the day is at 3:00 pm. Between those events, my calendar is full of other meetings with other colleagues, “meet & greets” and onboarding sessions of various sorts. I’d be more excited, perhaps, if this were not also the first Monday following DST, with its associated headache and brain fog. :-\ I’ll get there; I am actually excited, I’m just not completely awake yet.

I glance at the clock and notice it is “7:04 am” (my body says that’s a lie, and that it is “really” 6:04 am, and while a perfectly reasonable time to be awake… it feels “too early”, because I woke up “too early”). I think about expectations and assumptions, and look out the window into the pre-dawn darkness. I know I’ll feel more awake when the sun rises. I take a couple Ibuprofen for the headache. I make my second coffee much earlier than usual (and consider whether to indulge in a third once I finish the second one).

Every year I go through this. I’d prefer not to. I’ve seen some encouraging news articles this year that suggest I am not alone in my desire to be done with this bullshit fairly arbitrary twice-yearly time change. Maybe we’ll do something about it instead of just pissing and moaning about how unpleasant it is? πŸ™‚

I think about the weekend. Sip my coffee. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Pull myself fully upright, again, and smile; my Traveling Partner has been helping me improve the ergonomics of my workstation at home (for which I’m very grateful, since I’m less able to see where things are off, and it really matters since I now work full time from home). I’m delighted with the most recent changes. I still have to make the effort to maintain good posture, but the placement of my gear now makes that quite comfortable, almost effortless aside from needing to be aware of my body in the first place.

It was lovely to return home, yesterday. We enjoyed a splendid day together, relaxing, playing video games. The house looks amazing. Tidy. Welcoming. It was definitely worth putting in the effort to tidy up my spaces before I went to the coast, because on top of the work my partner did (before and after), the homecoming ended up being sooooo relaxed and comfortable. No housekeeping pressure. πŸ˜€ Worth it. I’m fortunate to have a partner who is also very committed to our quality of life, day-to-day. I already know I don’t have the energy reliably available to do it all myself. πŸ™‚

…Damn this is good coffee. Definitely better than the utterly dreadful hotel coffee of yesterday. πŸ™‚ A good start on a new beginning. I see daylight developing beyond the window. Looks like time to begin again. πŸ˜€

My last day at my previous job was Wednesday. It’s Friday, today. I spent much of yesterday “overhauling” my studio (which is also my office, for work purposes), cleaning, tidying, organizing – putting away what once was, and making room for what is yet to come. The result? Honestly, it was a satisfying project, and it felt as if I managed to “get more moved in”. Certainly, I finished off some incomplete moving-in tasks (like actually filing the paperwork associated with the mortgage closing, the new utility bills, and the move, itself), and surprised myself by finding quite a few things that I’d managed to lug along to this new place that I truly don’t need (or value) now. I made a pile of those odds and ends, and what is still serviceable has been dropped off at a local donation center, to benefit someone else for awhile.

Today, I made the day about doing the same sort of work in my library (the smallest of the bedrooms, well-suited to being a quiet reading nook, cozy with book-filled bookshelves, and a comfy couch – and handily available as a spare bedroom, when needed). It sounds rather grand to have a library…but I’ve certainly got enough books that they need a room of their own, if I’m not making use of them in the living room dΓ©cor. lol By the time I was done, there was another trip to be made to take things to a donation center, with an entire shopping bag filled with cookbooks it turns out I don’t use (not even one recipe, which sort of defeats the entire purpose of a cookbook). There’s no sadness there; I read them. I enjoyed them. They don’t meet the need, and in their departure there is now room for some other cookbook that may be “just the thing” for how I cook now. Dusting. Vacuuming. Sorting books that seemed out of place into the places it seemed they belonged. Clearing the closet of random weird clutter that had been shoved into that mostly hidden location “until I can get to it” – back when we moved in. I laughed about that more than once while I worked.

…It was my Traveling Partner’s idea to tidy “my” spaces between jobs, and not out of any need to nag me about the housekeeping; he knows me. I’d asked “what will I get most benefit from in order to get real down time between these jobs?” He suggested – as I had been considering, myself – that I take a trip to the coast and spend the weekend there, solo (I head out tomorrow morning, early). Then, he suggested-more-than-asked that I clean up my studio and library over the long weekend, too. I agreed, and it seemed a good use of my time, but I didn’t really grasp how deeply satisfying and… “wholesome”(?) it would feel. (Sure, “wholesome works – and it has felt both satisfying and rather restful and delightful.) My partner understood more than I did, when he made his suggestion about the tidying, how much I really would get out of it, as a project between jobs. πŸ™‚

Today, I’m grateful to have a partner who knows me so well. I’m feeling contented and satisfied, and happy to be alive. I feel secure and comfortable in this home we’ve made together. I feel loved, and supported. It’s nice.

Tomorrow I’ll head to the coast, check into a room, and walk the beach for hours taking pictures of nothing-in-particular, and listening to the wind and the waves, and asking myself hard questions, and listening to my own thoughts for awhile. I’ll meditate. I’ll write. I’ll think. I’ll read. I’ll be, quiet and still, alone with the woman in the mirror. (I’m okay with that; we’re very close. πŸ˜‰ )

…I’ll miss my Traveling Partner while I am away, and that’s a good thing; we need to miss each other now and then, to really appreciate how fortunate we are to love as we do, and to re-explore our joy together with new eyes. It’s been a long pandemic year…

…It’s time to begin again.