Archives for category: Words

Yesterday was rough. I’m glad it’s over. I mean… for most values of unpleasant experiences, it was not any sort of record-breaker. Snowy day during a pandemic, stuck in the house committed to a work day, fatigued and irritable from not sleeping well… there were so many things that could have gone much more seriously wrong than two people who love each other having a tough time communicating easily, and feeling frustrated, hurt, and cross with each other. Life is capable of delivering far worse upon a human being.

…It did snow… It was lovely.

It started rather suddenly, big fat flakes that splashed, at first, melting and cooling everything.
It wasn’t long before the forest beyond the deck rail was wintry, snow clinging everywhere – so much of the stuff than my Traveling Partner took down the overhead shades to prevent the weight of the snow from snapping off the poles that support them.
It was only a couple of hours of snowfall, and today, much of it is already gone.

I admit, I was in such a snit it was a real effort to really enjoy the snow at all, as much as I wanted to. My delight collided with my fatigue and irritability, and I just frankly did not find my way to a notably better experience. Clearly, my results vary. I need more practice.

I consider yesterday. I consider today. Certainly, the start of a new day helps a lot. I’m literally not the same person I was yesterday, in the sense that I am 1. an entire day older, 2. a whole day’s worth of experience more actually experienced and operating with more knowledge, 3. benefiting from an entire night of good sleep, and 4. fortunate to have a partnership with a growth mindset, real love, and mutual recognition and respect for each other. It’s just not always a lovely afternoon walk holding hands, is all. There are things that I know I can do better – for myself, and for my relationships. That’s just real. Today I focus on lessons learned, and new practices – and reinforcing the ones that work well to support this strange journey. Love is worth that.

So. Another beginning. Another step along this journey. I smile when I start to type something commonplace about “staying on the path”… I think about recent trail walks at Airport Park, and wonder what it looked like there, yesterday, in all that snow… “Maybe next time,” I tell myself.

Busy day of work. Personal growth ongoing in the background. (I call it “multi-tasking”. lol) Breathe, exhale, relax… and begin again.

Some of my “favorite” practices feel the most difficult… or… it’s at least accurate to say that some simple-seeming practices present me with my greatest challenges. It doesn’t much matter whether it is the brain injury, or the PTSD, or the circumstances, or the particular relationship affected by either my ineptitude or the lack of proficiency on some thing or another… difficult is difficult. “Hard” is subjective, in this case.

This evening I’m watching the light fade, filtered through the window shade, and thinking about an important simple-but-difficult practice, “listening deeply“. Practices need practice. Maybe this is more accessible?

…Maybe this is relevant, too? (I know, I know, none of us want to think so, but, …_) I’m just saying.

Paying attention, really listening (instead of “waiting to talk”) isn’t “automatic” – and some of us really really have to work at it. I’m even saying that there is legitimate intimate and social value in doing so. It’s worth it to get to be a “good listener”. So… I focus on the practice.

I seriously need more practice, too… I cut people off while they are still talking, way too often. It really doesn’t matter whether I’m correct or incorrect about where the conversation is going – cutting people off that way, interrupting, is rude. I am aware this is something I need work on. I work on it. Practices need practicing. I can tell I still need more practice. So… yeah. Working on it.

…I get interrupted too. A lot. At work, at home, out in the world… I’m not the only human being who would benefit from working on my listening skills. I suspect maybe a whole bunch of us, maybe even “most”, would find life and relationships improved by tackling this important life skill.

So. Here I am. Sitting in the afternoon light of a winter day, and wondering “fucking hell, how do I still suck so much at this particular skill?” I mean… it’s meaningful to me, it matters to me, it is a lot of what I want when I converse with someone – that they listen to me. Just seems reasonable that they’d want the same…and yet… I still need so much practice.

…I sigh out loud, rubbing my aching neck…

…It’s time to begin again.

It’s funny how a long-held dream or goal sometimes unfolds very differently than I imagined it might. House in the country? Check. Well… I mean… it’s well away from the city, and there is a large-ish farm across the road… The house itself? It’s in a small suburban neighborhood at the edge of a small town. lol It’s not exactly “rural” in m most respects, and quite convenient – even rather “walkable” (although the country lane that runs between our neighborhood and the farm on the other side is perhaps less than ideal for walking; it’s a busy road, and narrow in spots).

I’m not complaining. I love this little house. I love the view from the deck. The house manages to be both larger than I thought I could afford, and much smaller than I thought I might want. lol There’s a lot of that sort of thing cropping up as dreams become realities. It’s a bit like a chapter in Alice in Wonderland. How lovely, though, that generally the translations of my dreams into reality have been so much more likely to be a pleasant surprise instead of a disappointment, these days. (I’ll note that I don’t think this reflects a change in “the way things turn out” as much as it reflects a change in my perspective on things and ways, generally.)

That gets me thinking about books I got over the Giftmas holiday that I haven’t yet finished, and other books I’d also like to read. I think about a favorite bookstore, and wonder when the pandemic will really end? I do miss a bit of proper shopping. 🙂 Today will be a good day to read, too.

Similarly, my anticipated “regular local mile” – which I figured would likely be right here in my own neighborhood (and that has been a frequent walk) – turns out to be nearby, but still about a 10-minute drive or so… and about 5 miles away. It’s a lovely forested walk. There is a 1-mile loop, and a 1/2-mile loop. It’s the sort of lush bit of forest that I love, and the trail carries me up and down the hills, and over a creek a couple times, and around and through the forest until it returns to the trailhead. It’s quite lovely. I’ll probably go there often. I went yesterday. I’m planning to go today – I may do both loops (I like it that much).

Yesterday the approach to the trailhead was quite foggy when I got started.

It’s a good season for walking and reflecting, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, in this area where winter’s are generally relatively mild. (Maybe snow or ice later in January, or in February?) I enjoy the walking for more than fitness; I find that it “clears my head” and gives me literal “breathing room” for sorting things out and “gazing inward” while I enjoy the scenery along the trail. Taking pictures helps keep me grounded and anchored to “now”, as I walk. (I don’t do well stuck in my head.)

It was a beautiful misty morning for a walk.

I remind myself to run an errand on the way back from my walk this morning. I mean… for sure, that’s convenient, why not? I hope I still remember when the time comes… lol

The Vine Maples and Big Leaf Maples extend their bare branches, but without their leaves, I can see almost all the way across the park from a high vantage point on one side.

The muddy trails don’t fret me. They are still passable and fairly safe, and I always bring my cane for trail walking or hiking. I love the tangles of branches, the morning mist, and the puddles reflecting the sky.

Lovely little city park. It’s enough. 🙂 More than enough.

I sip my coffee and look over yesterday’s pictures. They distract me from the pain in my neck, which is quite a feat. I smile and sip my coffee, feeling wholly content and satisfied with this moment, right here. I think of my Traveling Partner, hearing him move about in the other room. I’ll invite him to go walking with me. He’ll look out at the chilly gray rather rainy looking day, and smile and say “No, thank you.”

My partner appears in the doorway as if I’d called to him, just as I begin to turn my chair to go ask if he’d like to go walking with me. He looks apologetic, kind, and very serious. “You may want to just avoid me today,” he says in that loving apologetic tone I know so well, “I just hurt that much, and I don’t want to treat you badly or take it out on you at all.” I nod. I let him know I understand and that I’m okay with that; I hurt too. It’s not an ideal combination of humans-in-pain, sometimes. We take our best care of each other, some days, by alerting the other we’re not fit companionship, at all, and making room to love each other with a little space between us. It’s a much better practice than some I’ve seen, and it works for us. No hurt feelings. Clear expectations.

So…a quiet Sunday, a walk, some housekeeping, laundry, and I’ll probably bake cookies and bars for the week, too. Before any of that? I’ll have to begin again. 😀

Sometimes I have to remind myself (yeah, and this at 57) that most uncomfortable or unpleasant situations I may find myself in, and very nearly all difficult interactions with other people, have within them an opportunity to learn and grow… if I can sort out what exactly the lesson is. Sometimes I find it less than ideally obvious what could be learned from some challenging moment.

I take a break from working to reflect on how conversations flow. I have a long-standing personal challenge with interrupting people. I’m sure it is a byproduct of impaired executive function, one of many pieces of my TBI puzzle. I’m not saying that to excuse it, I’m just pointing out that it persists for reasons that seem likely to be associated with the underlying nature of the issue. I continue to work on it. I continue to interrupt people. It continues to be unpleasant for those who are being interrupted – I know that with certainty, because I myself also dislike being interrupted (and as a woman in America often speaking with, among, or to, men, I experience it regularly, I promise you, but it’s not the topic today).

…I continue to work on it.

…I continue to interrupt people.

Fucking hell. I know that it’s necessary to begin again. Practice deep listening. Slow down. Find the balance point between considering what I’ve heard for so long that I’ve forgotten to reply at all… and jumping in to respond before someone has actually finished their thought. Make a point of really noticing, observing, when I “get it right”, and a conversation flows naturally, everyone feels heard, talking is in turns… savor the successes, to build an implicit comfort with that timing and cadence, generally. Breathe more. Speak in a measured, comfortable pace that allows me to continue to breathe.

…So much to practice…

I rather expect I’ll be working on this one until my actual last breath… but my results have been known to vary. I do begin again, pretty reliably, and we do become what we practice… eventually. 🙂 Consider this one a bit of self-nagging on the way to beginning again. 😉

We become what we practice. Now to practice not interrupting… 😀

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

I’m thinking about life, and love, and forward momentum. I am pondering hurdles I have cleared, and those that I fell short of. I’m thinking over good decisions, poor decisions, and some handful of decisions I can only look back on with a sort of befuddled astonishment (as if in acknowledgement that some choices were just that poor, or so obviously wrong-headed, even based on what I knew at the time). I give myself a moment of tender understanding, and obligatory self-compassion; I would be kind and understanding to anyone dear to me, if I found them mired in self-doubt, wondering where it all went wrong, or pissing and moaning about how much they suck as a person, so, it seems only reasonable to “be here” for the woman in the mirror, pretty much mostly all the time. 🙂

…Today is a good day, it just happens that it is also a day suited to contemplation.

What about you? Are you maintaining some kind of committed practice of being there for the person in the mirror? Of treating yourself well? Setting and managing clear expectations with others regarding boundaries and limitations? Are you being frank with yourself about what you want and need in life? Are you first in line to deliver it to yourself? How about those sticky attachments in life that find you struggling with frustrations, “extra” obstacles, or mystifying emotions? Are you working on letting some of that go? How’s your health? Are you staying safe and well? Are you sufficiently privileged and fortunate to be able to?

I spent the Winter Solstice in contemplation, meditation, and in the studio painting. I woke this morning feeling a certain nagging feeling suggestive of “loose ends” that want to be tidied up. More meditation is clearly in order. More painting. More walking along the creek, or among the trees.

Sometimes it really is enough just to be there, with and for myself, for a few quiet moments. Sometimes… maybe not quite enough. Time is precious and limited.

…And it’s already time to begin again… What will I do with my opportunity to restart, regroup, re-purpose, renew, refresh, or re-attempt? It’s here. It’s now.

It’s time.