Archives for category: winter

What a difference it makes to get a good night’s sleep. How different from each other can two mornings be? I am making a point of savoring my mood and my experience of morning, this morning, because it is mild, pleasant, quietly joyful, and a total departure from yesterday’s crossness and irritability. I lived a great many years thinking every moment of my life was misery, and finding out that some portion of that was entirely a matter of perspective (and choice) wasn’t just an eye-opener, not merely a good-to-know insight, but wholly useful. I also now know to take time to savor, appreciate, and linger in these lovely quiet moments, and to allow them to become memorable.

(If the only emotional experiences you linger over, invest in, dredge up for later discussion again and again, are the painful and unpleasant ones, the whole of life eventually may feel painful and unpleasant; we become what we practice.)

I find, as with breathing, a hidden gem of a practice within the simplest experiences of pleasure, contentment, and joy – simply that of taking time to experience them fully, to linger over them in my recollection, to “share the story” (however silly it may seem to say aloud “I am having such a nice morning!” to someone else). Allowing our quiet moments of joy and our incidental experiences of pleasant living to become memories, by investing our time and attention in them, ensures that our implicit memory of life in general doesn’t become wholly negative, and instead, supports a steady sense of self, over time, that feels generally quite positive. That’s what I did to become “a positive person” by the way; I took the slow route through practicing “taking in the good” and over time shifted my implicit memory in a more positive direction. Incremental change over time is a thing that happens; we become what we practice.

…Think that over, though, “we become what we practice” – that’s all of it. Everything we practice routinely becomes part of who we “are”. Over time, anything we practice regularly, whether we like it or not about ourselves, becomes who we are. Good and bad.  Choose wisely. 🙂

Thanksgiving is almost here. There was a momentary thought in the background, something like “Oh no – what if I forget the ____?!”, and then I grinned at myself as it slipped away. I’m not especially spontaneous, as people go, but I am adaptable AF. lol I have options. Life’s menu is vast. This matter of living it is not like riding a train; it isn’t on rails, I have choices, plans change with circumstances. Missing ingredients become opportunities to explore new recipes, that’s all. It seems doubtful that anything could really “go wrong” with the holiday weekend ahead. I will cook a holiday meal, it will involve food – tasty and nourishing – and the excellent company of my Traveling Partner. We’ll hang out and enjoy each other for a couple days. Perfect! lol Sufficiency for the win. 🙂

Toward the end of the long weekend, after my partner has departed, I’ll get started on putting up the holiday tree. 😀

Quite a few folks in my network, and community, find Thanksgiving somewhat distasteful, these days, and there is little talk of pilgrims. I find there is definitely room on my calendar for a repurposed harvest season holiday build around a feast, and a feeling of gratitude and community, with which to kick off the winter holiday season. I continue to celebrate Thanksgiving as the holiday it is named to be; a celebration of gratitude, appreciation, and simple joys, a good meal shared in good company, and a long weekend with which to prepare for winter. It is also a season for charity, for giving to others, for reaching out and helping those in need, for doing a little more for people who are not me. It seems a wholesome and well-intended holiday, and I cherish it in that spirit, myself.

I wish you well this Thanksgiving – and I hope you have much to be thankful for. If it is hard times, I hope that you find sufficiency and contentment (and prosperity at some point, too). If you have plenty, I hope you share it. If you have little, I hope you enjoy what you have without guilt or shame. I hope we all find a moment that matters, and take a good opportunity to begin again. 🙂

The concert Friday night was amazing. My ears were still ringing well into the afternoon, yesterday.

I’d had plans to hang out with a friend in the afternoon, yesterday. He messaged considerately early and alerted me he had a conflict. That worked out well; I had quite a bit of housekeeping I wanted to get done, and the result of the uninterrupted time to play house was that I nearly wiped out my list, and even had time to do a bit of grocery shopping. 🙂

The world lost a major chunk of what moved me during my high school years; I read that Malcolm Young of AC/DC had died. I didn’t weep, but I sat a long while listening to the songs I loved then, first several AC/DC tracks that had been my own favorites, then as the morning wore on, random tracks that I loved from those years. It was more fun than tragic, more nurturing than grieving. I enjoyed those songs then, they generally still appeal to me now, though I listen to very different stuff these days, most of the time.

The Thanksgiving holiday ahead of me continues to take shape. I contentedly plan and act on plans, and move through time moment by moment.

I only now notice that I didn’t write yesterday. I smile at the thought of a day so rich in moments that there seemed no suitable moment – or need – to write at all.

A misty autumn morning

It is another day. There are more moments. I woke to a misty autumn morning after a restless night. I slept in. I woke surprised at the lateness of the hour, when I finally woke. I opened the curtains, surprised again to see the sliver of forest adjacent to the deck filled with mist. There are fewer bright autumn leaves clinging to the trees, and more of them on the deck itself. I remind myself to sweep them off, again. The bird bath on the deck rail was partially frozen over; winter is near.

A partially frozen bird bath

It’s time to live in these next moments ahead. I wonder what they hold? I know there are at least opportunities to begin again, and to practice being the human being I most want to be. 🙂 I think I’ll go do those things…

I woke in pain.

Damn it. A sentence that short doesn’t do the moment justice. Rainy, chilly, autumn days, and colder night-time temperatures, and here it is time again for my arthritis pain to become a serious shot-caller in my day-to-day experience. Damn, this sucks. I woke hurting, couldn’t roll over because my spine was locked up, rigid and aching, from my waist to my shoulders. I laid still with the pain for a few moments, taking time to be aware that I was able to breathe “comfortably” – for some values of “comfort” – and confirming fingers and toes move, and that I felt sensations in extremities.

Time for the winter practices, already? Yeah, looks that way. I slowly, with great determination, begin moving the bits and pieces that do seem pretty mobile. I flex fingers, arms, toes, feet, legs. I stretch anything that stretches. I find adequate leverage to roll to my back. I pull my knees to my chest one by one, and begin working on arching my back some small bit. I push-pull-rock and get rolled first to one side, then the other. Repeat all the motions on each side. Eventually, I am able to roll to my right side, push myself up on an elbow, pull myself the rest of the way using the arm on the other side, and a firm grasp on the edge of the pillow top of the mattress. Sitting up! Yes! It feels like triumph.

I sit for a few minutes, ignoring the tears – a combination of pain and relief, that spilled over as I sat up. Mornings like this one, I am “painfully aware” (lol) that one day I won’t be able to easily live alone; I’ll need help with basic things, at some point. Aging is a thing. I am definitely living that process. I sigh, and the sound fills the otherwise quiet room. Maybe a shower will help?

The long minutes lingering in a hot shower leaves my skin reddened in places, but my spine is a bit more flex-y, as a spine ideally would be. I don’t hurt quite so much. I can dress, with care, and anything to do with standing is as easy as ever, and that means – coffee. 🙂 My coffee this morning even turned out wonderfully well, and I am enjoying it with a smile that has no trace of the pain I woke in. Oh, I still hurt; it’s that sort of day. It’s more manageable now, is all, and that is enough.

I sip my coffee and think about the phone call with my Traveling Partner last night, sharing his autumn and winter travel plans with me. I think, now, about how those may/can change my own plans. I smile. The physical distance doesn’t change much for me; we talk regularly, and the specifics of distance are irrelevant in our digital experience. We see each other when circumstances and choices permit it. (Sure, I will miss him; I always miss him when he isn’t near me, but that doesn’t have to mean drama and bullshit. lol) I was planning to discuss my reluctance to plan regular visits down once the roads begin to freeze, or snow becomes a concern (even though I have chains, it’s just not my preference to tackle long drives in icy/snowy conditions); his plans are such that it just won’t actually be a concern. lol Win and good. Convenient. Stress-free mutually beneficial planning for the win! 🙂

First coffee finished, I make a second, and load a great set, from a favorite DJ who does a regular live cast on Facebook, to get me moving, and hopefully provide additional relief of my pain, and a bit more freedom of movement. Movement hurts, but it helps, too. Hard not to dance to great music.

I spend coffee #2 grooving in my chair, writing, and chatting with my Traveling Partner as we get our mornings started. A promising beginning to a leisurely Sunday. I open my “to do list” and frown at tasks I know I am not going to be able to do with any ease, and scroll through prioritizing the tasks that will be more easily handled today. I smile when I get to the line that says “get enough rest” – that’s one I can check off right now. 🙂

No idea what the day holds, but I’m here. You’re here. There’s an entire day ahead to make something of – and that’s enough. 🙂

I woke from troubled dreams sometime around three, still in pain. With effort, I pulled myself fully free of sleep and made the hard choice to take something for my pain, and tried to go back to sleep. I’m in less pain now, but the sleep thing didn’t really work out, so I’m up with a nice cup of coffee much too early on a Sunday, but still feeling well-rested, and now I’m not in so much pain…so… there’s that. 🙂 I don’t even recall with any clarity what my nightmares were about… debt… loneliness… “failure”. Dreams of discouragement and heartbreak. I remember the mood and the emotions, but the details are fading quickly. I think I’m okay with that. 🙂

I’ve no idea what today holds. I’ve got the laundry sorted… I guess I’m doing laundry. Well, it needs to be done, and living alone it’s entirely on me to do it. Now and then I may yield to some moment of adolescent foolishness, forgetting that no one else will undertake the day-to-day tasks of maintaining my lifestyle, and put aside some bit of housekeeping or another. I end up regretting that as soon as I am faced with non-negotiable workload on timing not of my choosing. So yeah, laundry today. lol I think back to the holidays; I’d lost control of my recycling in the weeks after the Yule holiday, unexpectedly, having set aside good quality boxes, thinking I might move in January, then faced with snow and ice such that physically getting to and from the recycling bin wasn’t logistically possible (for me) while also carrying the recycling. The recycling piled up a bit, and because it was “an eyesore”, I moved the boxes into my studio, where there was more space… which became more boxes. My Traveling Partner and a friend noticed I had fallen behind, and on a visit they helpfully undertook breaking down the boxes and hauling them up the driveway to the recycling bin for me. I had it on my list to do for that upcoming weekend, and I definitely appreciated their help with that; the task had begun to overwhelm me, and the likelihood I might continue to put it off had increased because of that. (I try not to get to that point with any one housekeeping task for that reason.)

Yesterday's blue skies took no notice of my pain. I made a point of noticing the blue skies. :-)

Yesterday’s blue skies took no notice of my pain. I made a point of noticing the blue skies. 🙂

I looked around yesterday, in the morning, and spent the day on housekeeping, aside from the delightful hours I spent with my Traveling Partner in the afternoon. It was a day well-spent, in spite of the amount of pain I was in. This morning I don’t hurt so much. There’s still some housekeeping to do, and I’m torn… I’d also like to paint, but I think this particular weekend is one to spend on self-care in the form of unpaid labor: laundry, vacuuming, tidying things up generally, preparing my tax documents. These are all also a good use of my time. These are things that do need to be done. Being an adult, it is fully on me to do these things. Being adult, I know that as investments go, investing my own effort into my desired quality of life matters a great deal.

"Irises" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas w/glow, February 2017

“Irises” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, February 2017

For me, adequate studio time is a quality of life concern. 🙂

"Hillside Meadow" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas w/glow, February 2017

“Hillside Meadow” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, February 2017

I listen to the rain fall. There’s likely time, and light (later), for painting too; that is the advantage of having real studio space right here. I’ll have to see where these moments take me, today. Perhaps I’ll light a fire and read a book instead? I sit quietly, listening to the rain, and the wind chime rocking in the pre-dawn wind, distracted from my writing.

Rainy morning, before dawn - what does the day hold? Where will my journey take me?

Rainy morning, before dawn – what does the day hold? Where will my journey take me?

Today is a good day for being and becoming. Today is a good day to take the very best care of the person in the mirror. Today is a good day for meditation, for housekeeping, for sipping coffee and watching the rain fall. Today is a good day to change the world within these walls, and within this heart. Today that’s enough. ❤

Funny that the two conversations happened on the same evening, in near-real-time simultaneity, although I didn’t quite notice that until after the fact.

Each moment the only moment.

Each moment the only moment.

One friend reached out to let me know he’s doing better, that things I have shared previously have more value now that he is more able to understand, and that he is more or less generally mostly okay, but… Yeah. I remember smiling to myself as I read his message. I understood the poignant moment of changed hearts. Sometimes the very solo journey through our own chaos and damage, however successful for us, ourselves, however healing and however much growth we experience… it’s not well received by some who love us dearly (or have said that they do). I’ve lost quite a few “friends” along the way; people who were more invested in who I had been than they were willing to accept (or understand) who I am becoming.

These are my choices. This is my life. The decisions about me that matter most are my own. This is as true for you, as it is for me. 🙂

Most of what we think we know about each other we've made up in our own heads.

Most of what we think we know about each other we’ve made up in our own heads.

We’re walking our own mile. This journey, like it or not, is a solo-hike of self-discovery. It may sound a bit existentialist – but we are born alone, we live our experience in a uniquely solitary way (however much we surround ourselves with the busy-ness of other lives), and we will each die alone – even if we are surrounded by our loved ones. We are each having our own experience.

Another friend reached out to me to tell me sternly that I am “in a very dark place” and that my “soul is in danger” and also that he doesn’t know me anymore. That last is a true statement. The rest is internal narrative he’s made up for himself, that meets his own needs, and has nothing whatever to do with me, so no point internalizing any of that.  It probably goes without saying that he doesn’t read my blog. lol My soul is in danger now, but not while I was contemplating suicide after a lifetime of struggling with my PTSD? I’m in a very dark place because my politics lean left and I’m comfortable saying so, and think that the quality of life of people different than me is also worth fighting for? Funny way to conduct a discussion, and I frankly don’t tolerate emotional manipulation or bullying. His choice to end our friendship is surely his own, and although it was a poignant moment, the underlying truths of the conversation are that we don’t see the world similarly, and my views are received as a threat to his perspective.

I went to bed still feeling a little sad about losing a friendship that has existed since 1986. I also felt hopeful and encouraged that another friend was sticking with us in the mortal world, to walk another hard mile, and find his own way. It was a complicated experience, emotionally rich and fairly adult. I slept well and deeply.

I woke feeling content, settled, and emotionally comfortable. I also woke feeling rather acutely aware that of the friendships that have ended over divergent politics in the past 16 or so months, they’ve all been male friends, and all of those friendships have ended on some moment during which I spoke up firmly, and positively, about my values, and stood up for people who are at a disadvantage. In each case, my lack of willingness to argue set off a storm of fury for the friend in question, that could not be silenced or eased except by silencing my own voice, and yielding my own understanding, and negating my own opinion. Each of these friendships ended in some moment when only my full capitulation to their rightness would suffice. Each ended with me feeling bullied or silenced (or at least aware of the attempt to silence me).

I don’t prefer to argue. My mind is not changed through argument or bullying. My thinking is changed through reasoned discourse, with cited references and real data, and being heard. I still recognize facts as things with actual reality, and I’m pretty strict about what qualifies. (I’m dismayed by how much opinion and made up shit people tout as ‘fact’ without even blinking, solely because it sounds true or feels agreeable and fits their world view.) Shouting at me alienates me. Silencing me fuels my resentment, my anger, and creates distance. That’s no way to conduct a friendship. lol

I am, myself, quite entirely made of human, and I am also capable (and at risk) of being hung up on an opinion not well supported in fact, because it sounds true, feels agreeable, and fits my world view. I try to stay on top of that sort of foolishness with plenty of reading, fact-checking, consideration, empathy, new perspective, and wholesome reasoned dialogue with friends more expert in one area or another than I am, myself. I do my best to be the human being I most want to be. I am painfully aware of how little actual value “being right” has, particularly if “being right” is wrecking someone else’s experience, robbing them of opportunities, or generally just creating a shitty world. For a lot of people, “being right” isn’t actually about any sort of factual accuracy, or progress for humanity, it’s only about winning some invisible trophy to hold over others, a way of feeling important or valued, specifically by making others “wrong”. “I’m right and you must succumb to my will!” is toddler bullshit. lol We can do so much better as beings.

Yeah. Pretty far left… and not allowing myself to be shouted down anymore. That can be uncomfortable for friends who liked a different set of characteristics about me – and that’s the point this morning. I am my own person. This life, my life, is about me. No kidding. Even if I give it in selfless service to others, it’s still my own experience of life, and can’t be muted or shouted down or denigrated or dismissed or diminished, without my accepting that experience, and permitting it. I’m walking my own mile, because it’s the journey I’ve got – and it’s mine. I may share some portion of the journey with a friend or a lover, but even then, I’m walking my mile, while they walk theirs. We are each having our own experience. I can’t change that – and in the process of changing who I am, learning to become the woman I most want to be, myself…I’ve lost some friends, who wanted a very different me. Well…but… only sort of. I’ve lost associations with individuals who were fond friends of a woman who is not, now, me. Some friends outlast changes and personal growth, others do not. There are choices involved, and some of those choices are not mine. 🙂 I’m even okay with that.

(It doesn’t matter if I’m okay with that… Reality does not care what we believe, or what we are okay with, and we are each having our own experience. Some of the choices going on around us simple are not ours to make.)

Begin again.

Begin again.

Today is a good day for perspective, for balance, and for walking my own mile. I’ve no ill will for friends I’ve lost over time, and wish only the best for them on their journeys. I’ve grown, so have they, and people change. Being and becoming. This is how we change the world.