Archives for category: winter

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…

My coffee tastes different this morning. It’s not because I am sitting cross-legged on the surprisingly comfy Queen bed in this seaside hotel, not even because it’s fairly typically-terrible hotel coffee made in a fairly generically terrible-coffee-making drip machine sitting atop the small room-sized hotel refrigerator, but more because I am sipping it solo, with no chance at all of sharing the moment with my Traveling Partner. Right at the moment, in all practical terms, we’re traveling separately (he’s sleeping still, at home, I hope, and I am sitting cross-legged in sloppy-loose blue jeans, laptop perched precariously on my lap, waiting for my terrible coffee to cool enough to drink properly).

I’d say my goal of relaxing and getting some “down time” before shifting gears to start the new job has been successful; I woke having entirely forgotten about Daylight Savings Time, and looking at the clock and finding “6:30 am” to be both believable, and an acceptable time to wake on a leisure morning… I woke up. I laughed when I finally noticed the discrepancy between the clock that I had checked upon waking (which automatically updated) and the one that did not (provided by the hotel, plugged into the wall in the usual way). I shrugged it off and got started making terrible coffee and looking over the notes I took at several points yesterday, as I walked and wandered, waited and reflected, breathed and meditated.

The ocean does not care when or whether I check into my hotel room, nor when I leave. My presence makes no difference to the timing of the waves, or the fierceness of the winds.

I arrived to the shore much too early to check into the hotel, and my room was not yet ready. Didn’t matter much; the endless ocean tickled the shore without regard to check-in times. The hotel graciously allowed me to use the private beach access in the meantime, and I went down what seemed like 1001 concrete steps to the beach. The wind was brisk and cold. There were bundled up families flying kites and enjoying the day. There were even barefooted kids playing in the shallow water of the waves as they spread across the beach, then receded; they seemed as shore birds, running forward as the water pulled back, running back as the waves spread forward. I found myself reflecting on that. There’s something to learn, there, I suppose.

…This coffee is simply dreadful. I add sugar and the available non-dairy creamer. Still awful. I’m still drinking it…

I gave up beach walking when my legs became tired, and trudged patiently up those many steps once more. Room not yet ready, I headed into town and, masked and distant, and wandered through enticing antique shops.

In a shop filled with carefully crafted miniatures, I find room after room of furnishings that seem to be idealized versions of various stages of my own aesthetic, and wonder if, after all, so many of them could really have come from… doll houses?

The tourist “traps” that line the street are the sort common to any seaside town I’ve visited… saltwater taffy shops, “old time” candy stores, antique shops, t-shirts, sea shells, and nautically themed whatsits of all kinds (lighthouse sculptures, pirate “treasure”, glass fishing floats and paperweights, and “the world’s best” of some local dish). I wandered until I was more distracted by my own thoughts than engaged by what I saw in front of me, and returned again to the hotel, and to the beach, to walk and reflect awhile longer.

I sat for a long while, occasionally attempting to light a joint in the fierce coastal “breeze” without success.

I spent a couple of contented hours walking, and thinking. Reflecting on lessons learned, both generally (and recently), and also specifically (with regard to my most recent job, and how to make good use of what I learned in future roles). It was time well-spent. Aside from the wind and my tinnitus, the only thing I was hearing was… me. I walked the beach listening deeply to what the woman in the mirror has to say… about life… about love… about work… about a future that is unknown (and largely unknowable). I contemplated the confounds of expectations and assumptions.

…At check in time, I made my way to my room, let myself into this small space that is more or less my own (until check out time), and unpacked my baggage – literally, and metaphorically.

…Damn this is dreadful coffee. Wtf? Why am I putting myself through this? LOL I stare into the cup, warm in my hand, astonished by its prodigious awfulness with a certain amount of respect; it’s a hell of an achievement for a cup of coffee to be this bad.

I took time to reflect on all I’d seen, and on my notes, and the many “living metaphors” the day had presented to me.

I ask myself “the hard questions” on my mind as the day becomes evening… What matters most? What has me chained to some past moment? What have I accepted as the basis of my sense of self? Is that truly “who I am”? How do I free myself to soar to greater heights? Where does my path lead? The moments, questions, and the thoughts they carry with them crash onto the shore of my consciousness, and recede one by one. I find “embracing change” to be a process, and an ongoing practice. Taking some time alone to be with my thoughts – and, unavoidably, with my self, is a useful break for “sorting things out”. For finding the signal in the noise. Life may not have a map, but I can sure jot down some notes as I might if I were writing down directions to go from here to … somewhere else. It’s important to be clear on the desired destination. It’s important to be aware of where I stand right now. πŸ™‚ With those things in mind, how much more easily can I begin again?

…It’s that time, isn’t it? Beginning again, I mean. The new job starts tomorrow. The new laptop was delivered Friday, and is waiting for me to set it up.

…Fucking hell I am missing my Traveling Partner this morning. I missed him ferociously last night, too. The value in missing him has nuances that are worthwhile experiences of their own. Missing him reduces the likelihood that I will take his precious presence in my life for granted. Missing him reinforces how much I enjoy him being part of my experience. Being absent the many things he does for me (and for us), large and small, reminds me that I legit don’t do as well for myself on my own as I seem able to in this specific partnership. (Not dissing myself or minimizing how much I appreciate myself for (and as) myself, just saying there’s a ton of stuff that just doesn’t seem to stay on my radar, and my sometimes general lack of fucks to give, or pain, results in more chaos than I easily manage… and that seems far less likely in his company, and with his help.)

…And both of us make an excellent cup of coffee that is so much better than this warm brown liquid that I’ve decided can’t at all be called “coffee” – it’s just that bad, and I am seriously missing something better… and my partner… this morning. πŸ™‚

The sun is not yet up. Check out time is not for another 3 hours. There is time to walk on the beach, time for a bite of breakfast, and time to find a better cup of coffee. LOL There’s time to begin again.

A group of rocks along the shore, exposed at low tide, inaccessible at high tide. Even in that, there is something to reflect on, a metaphor in action, something to learn about who I am, and where I am headed.

I look at the clock, and see daylight beginning to show through the curtains. Definitely 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.

Time for a reset! It’s the last day at this job. There are a handful of days before the new one begins. Between now and then… new glasses… a vaccine (yay! my turn!)… then… what? How can I clearly and distinctly separate the one from the other, put down any stray baggage picked up along the way, and get some much needed “real down time”? I ask my Traveling Partner for his thoughts… he says out loud the words I am thinking in my own head, “Why not get a room at the coast, spend some time walking on the beach?” For real… why not, indeed? Caution + mask + social distancing + vaccinated…? Sign me up!

I make the reservation… beach view. I find my “weekend bag”. Camera. Tri-Pod. Sketchbook. Watercolors. Brushes. I start powering up my power brick, my laptop… and second-guessing all of it. Maybe I just go without all that fuss and bother and just… sit watching the waves, listening to the sea birds and the breezes, breathing along with the tempo of the world… Maybe. It’s a chance to embrace change.

It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I mean, seriously though? I could use a real break. A break from the pandemic, and all the inconveniences, hassles, and stress of it. A break from being on lockdown with the too-often-strained-by-circumstances companionship of my partner. A break from work. A break from housekeeping. A break from well-intended reminders and critical feedback of all kinds. A break from the noise and bother of “the world”. A break from strong emotion – mine, and everyone else’s, too. I’d like a real, proper, restful, wholly recharging, legitimate break, please.

…I am silently “screaming into the void” on this one. It’s not that the need for a restful break from whatever-the-fuck is unreasonable, it’s just that getting that break is entirely on me, myself. To make or find the time? That’s on me. To create the conditions? Again, all on me. To set and manage boundaries considerately and explicitly? Again, that’s mine to do for myself. I am certainly feeling the strain of prolonged fatigue and day-to-day frustrations with pandemic life, and occasionally very poor self-care.

I write a bunch more very specific, petty, cross, bad-tempered, resentful words about small, petty, trivial humans-being-human crap. I delete it. I write a bunch more and delete that too – not because the words hold no truths, but because the truths they appear to hold are filtered through so much baggage and bullshit that the actual worthwhile truths are hidden, and I need a break from that, too. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I take a minute to look at things differently. I work on taking shit less personally, while also accepting that I have no control over how personally anyone else may take things, and being mindful that our individual experiences as individuals are quite separate, even as we’re “all in this together”. No two human beings ever really see the world quite the same way, and even in the moment, in a shared experience… and in a sense we each walk a very different path. Alone. That’s not a sorrowful thing, it’s just a thing. Maybe I can find my much-needed break somewhere within that understanding of separateness…

…I mean to say, maybe it’s not the circumstances weighing me down so much as my attachment to some element of them? A moment…and outcome… an expectation? Maybe a misplaced assumption? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I let go of everything that is not this moment, now, me, here. This room. This text editor. This open window and the fence beyond, lit by the morning sunshine. Now.

I breathe, and focus on my breath. I let the slamming and banging of my partner doing housekeeping tasks on the other side of the house recede into the background, and listen to the sounds of rain falling through my headphones. I breathe and make room for gratitude – it’s no small thing to have a partner willing to do housekeeping, and eager to maintain a nice home, and good quality of life together. It’s helpful to have reminders on things I commonly forget or overlook, even though it can be uncomfortable, awkward, or embarrassing to need them. (It’s got to be uncomfortable to provide them, too.) I breathe and let go of baggage I’m lugging around that is to do with work; my last day is tomorrow. I let that go, too. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. I sit comfortably upright in my chair, and let my shoulders relax. The cold fresh air coming in through the open window already smells of spring. I breathe, inhaling deeply. I smile, exhaling my entire breath.

…These spreadsheets won’t update themselves. It’s already time to begin again.

*Moments later, my partner asks me to come take a look at what he’s gotten done. Spotless, beautifully organized kitchen, broad ready-to-go counter space for food prep. I feel appreciated and loved. He appears to have taken note of how I work in the kitchen, when I’m cooking, moving some things from one place to another, better-suited to my needs. I feel heard. I listen while he explains what the changes are, and why, and asks me to help out maintaining it and keeping things tidy. All reasonable. He asks that I explicitly ask for help if I am falling behind on housekeeping I expect to handle myself, and let him actually help me instead of trying to do it all. I suck at that – I want to do “all the things”, and demonstrate that I can… but who I am trying to prove that to? Is that even, ever, realistic? Doesn’t that approach also undermine our partnership by robbing him of the opportunity to work with me, alongside me, cooperatively? Together. It’s different than alone. lol I look around the kitchen again, and thank him for the work he’s done. I head back to the practical matter of work (as in “the job”) feeling very fortunate indeed…