Archives for category: The Big 5

It’s a sunny Sunday morning in Autumn. It wasn’t frosty this morning, but quite cold (not quite freezing). The morning has been lovely. Intimate. Romantic. Connected. I enjoyed the shared experience of coffee with my Traveling Partner, and this lovely Sunday morning, savoring each minute.

Eventually, his morning and mine diverged ever so slightly; he heads into his woodshop, I sit down with my listing of things to do. I favor Sundays for thorough housekeeping and mindful service to hearth and home. 🙂 It’s become a practice, over time, and I find it a satisfying approach to ending one week and moving on to the next. It’s definitely more satisfying still, with this lingering smile on my face. I feel very loved. It’s a beautiful morning.

I take a minute for small things of value. Little things I enjoy and appreciate. I make room in my thinking for some moments of gratitude. What an interesting journey this “life” thing is, yeah? I think of faraway friends, and remind myself to send this one an email, that one a letter, maybe, just maybe, pick up the damned phone once in a while. 🙂 These lasting friendships are an important part of my journey, my history, my story – and my success along the way. Totally worth taking the time to check in once in while, with people who are dear to me.

A small bird lands on a branch of the pear tree beyond the window, and sits there briefly as the branch bobs in the breeze, before flying away for some other branch, in some other tree. An ordinary bird. An ordinary moment. I make a point of savoring the simple delight I take in the sight, nonetheless. (Have you ever stopped to consider how very few things in life – good or bad – are truly “extraordinary” in any way? If we reserve our joy for only the outstandingly joyful moment, aren’t we short-changing ourselves on many many hours of heart felt smaller joys? How sad.)

My coffee is almost gone. What’s left is cold. The sunshine reflected off the side of my neighbor’s house reminds me that the day will not wait for me, and I’ve got quite a list of things I’d like to do today. 🙂 It’s already time to begin again. 😀

I’m sipping my second coffee on a proper day off. I highly recommend taking the occasional actual day off from work (and yes, even from non-work routines). Real down time. Don’t check that email. Don’t answer those calls. Don’t participate in “just one meeting”. Be available for you, once in a while.

…There are very few things that feel reliably more luxurious, satisfying, and nurturing than having my own undivided attention for a few hours, a day, or a weekend… Just saying. Totally worth doing, even during a pandemic. Even if social distancing. Even staying right here at home. I like the woman in the mirror, rather a lot these days, and I enjoy her company greatly. (If you don’t feel well-disposed toward that human being you face in your mirror each day, well… it’s a great place to begin again, on better terms!)

It is a lovely autumn morning, well-suited to all sorts of things I might like to do with my time.

Autumn is already more than just hints of color, or occasional leaves found on the deck.

It is a chilly morning. Yesterday, there was even ice on the windshield of my car, well past sunrise. I enjoyed my morning coffee with my Traveling Partner. I took time to soak in the hot tub, watching the morning sunshine warm the dewy rooftops, steamy vapor rising into the air. I listened to the birds in the neighbor’s pear tree arguing over the not-yet-ripe pears, hoping they’d leave a few unmarred by pecking, but not particularly concerned about it. My mind wandered briefly to chores and housekeeping, and weekend meals, and I made some “mental notes” (promptly forgotten) about things I could add to my list. No pressure.

Today is definitely about “no pressure”, and that feels good.

The holiday season crossed my mind. Gifts to think about. Meals to consider. Guests to invite. No guests; there’s a pandemic going on. No, seriously – and it is serious – we’re okay here at home, and fortunate to enjoy each other in close quarters over a long period of time. (I sometimes suspect our military experience gives us an advantage; we “work as a unit”, even when we are aggravated with each other.) I know there are people who are frustrated with the constraints placed upon them by pandemic life. I get it. I just think it’s worth making the effort to be generally safe, generally respectful of the wellness of others, and generally fully compliant with the requirement to practice social distancing, to wear a mask, to avoid crowds. Yes, even close family crowds at important family events; those people will go home (and so will you), having shared whatever they’ve been exposed to, and to share what they were exposed to at the event. It’s not an acceptable risk, from my perspective. We see it play out in the news every week; a big gathering, a spike in new cases of COVID-19. It honestly just seems like an easy choice to me… so, since March, my partner and I stay home, except for a handful of difficult to avoid errands. It complicated house hunting. It complicated the closing. It complicated the move.

…Both of us remain well. Worth the complications.

We relaxed enough to allow my partner’s son (my step-son) to visit after we finished moving in. I regretted that more than a little bit, as much I enjoyed seeing him, particularly after he admitted to attending gatherings of friends, more recently than two weeks prior to traveling to see us… and… he did have to travel. He was here less than two weeks. Yes, it caused me stress to consider that with greater care – too late to change the planning. I am unlikely to make another exception as we head into flu season. I’d rather not even get the flu, or a head cold, and social distancing and mask wearing has definitely reduced my exposure to those risks! Win.

…But… Thanksgiving…!?! Giftmas??

Yeah. Thanksgiving. Giftmas, too. Fuck your Thanksgiving feast and holiday parties if they send half your family home to far away places with new exposure to COVID-19, and with increased potential of losing loved ones to it. I mean, seriously? Weddings too. Baby showers. Parties of all kinds. Music festivals. Worship. Celebrations. All of it. Fuck every minute of every “important life event” any one of us chooses to attend that results in the loss of someone else’s life. What right do we have, as individuals, to be callous with someone else’s risk of death?

So. Holidays will be simple this year, here at home. Cards. Letters. Calls. Merriment. A comfy holiday at home – intimate, joyful, and low-stress. Healthy, too, maybe…? (I am one of those folks who nearly always has a head cold, or is “just getting over” – or just catching – the flu, right around Thanksgiving or Giftmas – maybe not this year?)

I sip my coffee and smile. We’ve already figured out where the Giftmas tree will go… and there’s so much room for it… 🙂 Right now, that’s enough. I look at the time. The lovely day stretches out ahead of me. It looks like a good one to take a walk on an untraveled trail… or simply to begin again. 🙂

Today is off to a rough start. I’m writing early, with tears on my face. This morning begins with a challenge. I’m not always ready to measure my words, to smile accommodatingly at the world, or to be prepared for things to skid sideways unexpectedly over some random thing and handle it with grace and diplomacy. I’m not that skilled or resilient, yet. I’m taking my coffee in the studio, this morning, as far from other human beings as this house permits. Fuck humans. This morning I have already had enough of people.

…That didn’t take long…

An innocent seeming remark, taken personally, wrecks what had some small shot at being a good morning. It sucks. Weekday morning. I’ve got work in a little while. I’m wreckage. God damn it this sucks all kinds of completely.  We’ve got a house guest too, on top of just sucking generally, so on top of the general sucking – we’re having an argument at 5 o’clock in the morning while a guest tries to sleep through our bullshit. Fucking hell. Not okay. On top of the stress of this, generally, I’m also deeply embarrassed by our basic rudeness.

Fuck people. Fuck relationships. Fuck having to deal with any of it, ever, at all. I am feeling bitter, and I am feeling blue. I am angry that a small well-intentioned observation that was emotionally neutral at the moment it was spoken, turned into this shitstorm of emotional sewage so early in the morning. I feel robbed of a pleasant morning. He does too, enough to make a point of expressing unhappiness that I would choose to be in my studio, writing, instead of hanging out with him, even as things are right now. (I admit, I don’t get that – I don’t even want to be around me right now.)

…I slept like shit…

…I woke up feeling cross and headache-y…

…I was already “not in a good place”…

…I’m in pain…

Realistically, I can’t put this morning on my partner. My emotions? Mine to deal with. I apologized to him. He didn’t hear me. He apologized to me. I didn’t hear him. We repeat the cycle. Eventually apologies are audible. We hear each other. We acknowledge those words. He wants to talk. To engage. To restore emotional intimacy. I want to withdraw to the safety of solitude. He feels hurt by my rejection. I feel hurt by his lack of understanding that I want to provide myself with some basic self-care right now. We repeat the cycles we’re most familiar with. Doing differently is serious work.

…I haven’t even had my first cup of coffee…

Making predictions about the day may tend to “lock in” the assumptions I’d have to make to do so. It’s a poor choice. I breathe. Exhale. Let it go. I keep at it. Breathing. Exhaling. Focusing on my breath. Letting my shoulders relax. Pulling my posture upright. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. I hear my typing cadence begin to become even. Regular. A steady beat. Less chaotic and tempestuous. There are choices here. Verbs. Effort. Will. The journey is not always an easy one. The road ahead is not always smooth under my feet when I walk it. There is no growth or forward momentum in what is easiest, only joy and contentment. My results vary. I need more practice.

…I’ve gotta admit, I do like the joy and contentment, though…

I sip my coffee. Contentment can be built. More verbs. A lot of practice. We become what we practice. What am I practicing? (I can’t do a fucking thing about anyone else’s practices, only my own, that’s just real.) Am I, as I sit here, the woman I most want to be? (I could do better.) Still human. So human.

It’s a fairly shitty morning so far. I could definitely do better. I guess I have to begin again.

…Time to get on with that…

My coffee was some time ago. I’ll have a second, “soon”. I took a few minutes to run an early errand, before returning to work. Something like a “lunch break” I suppose, since the rest of my day is locked up with back to back meetings. I’m not bitching, I’m just observing that it is the state of things, today.

Hints of autumn begin to appear.

I had noticed, a day or two ago, that it seemed some leaves were beginning to yellow in the trees here and there. I wondered if it was the dry weather? This morning, hints of amber, orange, russet, and red are turning up, too. Fall? Already? It feels as if there was barely a summer, although the few days of summer were quite hot… but pandemic life being what it is, the days (and yes, seasons) blend together a bit.

I pulled the car over, while I was out, adjacent to a nearby farm property that presents a lovely view, itself, the barn and house a bit distant, with the more distant foothills fading into the morning fog. Pretty picture. I sat a moment looking out across the landscape, before continuing on my way. Time well-spent, frankly.

…When was the last time you just “took a minute” for some small thing, a view, a flower, a bit of music that brings back memories…? I found I was overdue for it, and enjoyed it immensely to take that time for me. 🙂

I thought of a lovely compliment paid to me last night by a friend who reads my work (thank you!), “I like your writing, and the everyday-ness of what you share…”. I’m still smiling. I mean, I’ve said before that I write for me, as much as for anyone, but it moves me to be appreciated for the very thing that sometimes causes me doubt; I write about what is so ordinary. 🙂 Thanks for reading. ❤

…So…fall creeping up on us already? Well, then. Seasons still change. 🙂

I take a moment to make a second coffee for myself, and for my Traveling Partner. We exchange gentle teasing words, enjoy some merriment. I make raisin toast – apparently a childhood favorite for both of us, and oddly, that’s new information for me (at least where he is concerned)! We’ve been together a decade, and we still learn new things about each other. It’s lovely. 🙂 We share coffee, enjoy our toast, and resume the forward momentum of the day. Chances are good that this gentle loving moment will be the one we remember… not the work we did later on. I’m just pointing that out – invest your precious limited lifetime wisely (it’s definitely not “about” the money).

Huh. Look at the time – already time to begin again. 🙂

Yesterday, rather unexpectedly (entirely unexpectedly), my Traveling Partner called gently to me from inside the house “…can you come into the house quickly?” So, of course, I made my way into the house with some haste. I stepped into the living room, and first saw him, standing in front of the aquarium, looking at it, perplexed and concerned. As he pointed, my eye followed… to water flowing from the aquarium… the water on the floor… back to the “leak” (which appeared to be coming from nowhere, just sort of “seeping, aggressively” from the lower rim. What the hell? (And, also… 29 gallons of water is a lot more water than it seems like it would be, when it is flowing down the front of furniture, pooling on the floor, and expanding in all directions. Just saying. “Astonished” just about describes my experience.)

A lot went on from that moment of recognition, until the completed resolution some hours later. My Traveling Partner stayed cool and calm. I did pretty well in that department, too. I obtained a new aquarium was quickly obtained from the local fish store (a genuine stroke of good fortune on that – it’s a strange size, and not commonly carried everywhere). While I was doing that, my partner siphoned the remaining water into buckets, rescued plants and livestock, and cleaned up literally every sign that there ever was a leak, anywhere. (Call me impressed – I got home seriously worried about “all of the things”, and committed to doing my part… which was, after all that, simply to set up the new aquarium. Wow. So much love.)

I spent a relatively relaxed evening setting up the new aquarium, and enjoyed having the help of my Traveling Partner. We worked together on it, and the outcome was a good one; not one fish fatality, a thorough water change (that was due), significant pruning and algae removal, and some tidying up and re-scaping the substrate and object placement. This morning, clear water and happy creatures were waiting for me.

The point of relating all of this is mostly to point out how fucking cursed I felt in that moment of discovery; yet another “aquarium-related” mishap. Another leak/water damage concern. Another moment of chaos. I could have just fucking lost it… and I didn’t. Not this time. Neither did my partner. Fish could have died. I knew that, then. I even contemplated, briefly, just … not. Meaning just give up on the aquarium (the eternal cry “this is too hard!” so readily within reach). I chose differently. Not because I felt obligated, or cornered, or expected to – I chose to “do the needful”, because I really enjoy my aquarium. It matters to me.

We each practiced good emotional health practices last night. We supported each other. We “played to our strengths”. We took immediate action, but without panic. Hell, my partner even made sure I specifically took breaks – we worked on this together for hours. With his help, we didn’t end up exhausted or cross with each other. It was simply the adventure we shared that evening.

Then we began again. 🙂