A couple hours from now I’ll be on the road, heading to the coast (again). Short trip. Small break. A bit of downtime. It’s so nice to have that luxury, at this time in my life. I find myself wondering why I did nothing like this for myself for so long, when I needed it so badly? I failed myself pretty horribly in the self-care department for many many years. I’m here, now, though, itinerary planned, room booked (I couldn’t find a reservable campsite anywhere within the same distance – I tried!), bag packed… I’m ready. It’s only left to finish this bit of the workday, load my modest weekend bag into the Mazda, and fill the gas tank on my way, and I’ll be seaside with my thoughts for a couple days.

…Last time I went, I spent most of my time walking on the beach, listening to the sounds of wind and waves, just thinking and meditating. Pretty “uneventful” by most definitions – and that’s okay with me. I need this time to recharge, to recenter, and to gain perspective on “all the things”. I feel fortunate to have a partnership with someone who “gets it”. 🙂 Who gets me.

…Shit. I already miss my Traveling Partner, and I haven’t even left yet. LOL

I’ve got my laptop packed. I might write. I might not. No pressure… just quiet and time. 🙂

What are you doing to take care of that person in the mirror? Seriously. You can begin again. You can try something new. You can set new expectations and new boundaries. You can claim what you need for yourself from your own limited lifetime. There are verbs involved, and the work will fall to you, if it is to get done at all. You can do this!

…But will you?

The ringing in my ears is ferocious today. Like a jumbled up combination of a distant (persistent) phone ringing next to a fire alarm, surrounded by chimes. I have the sense that my hearing may even be impaired, though generally that’s a bit of an illusion (tinnitus is very distracting, though). My back aches – arthritis pain. My head aches, too, not sure why, but sometimes “it’s a set” rather than just one something or other hurting.

The work day is behind me, and I sort of feel as though this could/should be a “joyful moment” – but my physical limitations at the moment are aggravating my partner, who is, himself, aggravated by other things – most particularly, his frustration with a new tool that he’d like to upgrade, and has the parts with which to do so, but… sometimes things are not as simple as all that. Real life getting real. Instead of his infectious delight with a new tool, I’m breathing in his profound frustration, which is not at all pleasant. I wish I could help, but aside from offering up one suggestion that seemed to have some small bit of promise, I’m just staying out of the fucking way. It’s the best I can do, right now.

Instead of getting mixed up in his moment, I’ve got mine, right here. My phone has been laggy and less-than-ideally responsive lately, and with the addition of the home automation application – which serves best when it runs smoothly – I am painfully aware of the poor device performance. What I am not, however, is “surprised”. My SD card is 100% absolutely entirely full of photos and videos… and when that happened, some months ago, I haplessly went ahead and told the silly thing to save new ones to the device storage instead. Now that’s full too. Not a little full… I’m talking 10,000+ high resolution images. LOL So, after some apparently-necessary reminding by my partner, I’m cleaning that mess up. With some hesitation (I’ve definitely got some “hoarder ancestry”), I checked “erase after importing”, and clicked “import”… now, it’s a matter of waiting… and writing. 🙂

I take a breath. Relax. Turn my attention to my Traveling Partner when he comes to me with his stress and aggravation. He’s disappointed – it’s an exciting moment to acquire a new tool, and when it doesn’t meet expectations, for some reason, particularly reasons that render the tool no longer a functional tool, it’s a whole other order of magnitude of disappointment. Great customer service was a selling point for the brand… but… so far? Not actually “great”. Well, shit. Here I am, still wishing I could help, still got nothing to offer but my sympathy, my compassion, and my unfortunate empathy. (I say “unfortunate” because I don’t really want to feel this disappointment and frustration alongside him in such a visceral way – it’s unpleasant for both of us to feel this, and my empathy is not helpful or useful, in this instance. He’s having his own experience. I’m mostly working on “being here” for him, and not making it worse, while I have mine.

Fuck. Damn, I was hoping to be feeling the soaring heights of his delight, right about now. Still wishing I could properly help.

…6303 items imported of 10,176. Progress.

My work trip to Seattle fell through. I guess I’m not surprised, although I was momentarily quite disappointed. I’m okay being home. I was able to cancel all the reservations for travel and lodging without any penalties, which was an unexpected success. My partner made a point of mentioning – while also being very grateful and appreciative that I’d be staying home – he would miss having some solo time to work on things around the house. I changed up my plans and found a room on the coast at a reasonable price, and made new reservations for an entirely other experience. I asked for, and got, Friday off to extend the time I can offer my partner for his own purposes.

…My head begins to ache when I recall that he’d asked for that time primarily to work with the new tool that is sure to be returned before I ever check into that room on the coast, and I realize I’m clenching my jaw in sympathetic frustration…

…Was I sufficiently encouraging and supportive…? I wonder to myself and drink more water. (Maybe this headache will go away if I drink more water?)

…Fuck this headache…!

I think over books to read. I think about videos I’ve been meaning to watch. My head pounds in the background. I drink more water.

…My bag was already packed for my business trip. I won’t have to repack it, just swap the shined boots for sandals, and make a point to throw in my sketch book and some pens & pencils, and maybe my watercolors. All I’ve got to do between now and Thursday, to prepare for my short getaway is resist the urge to pull something out of that bag to wear sooner. LOL I think I’ve got this. 🙂 Not that hard.

…8234 items imported…

I feel a moment of trepidation – there likely won’t be any images (of mine) on my phone at all. I could have been more precise, selecting a few to keep on the device for… reasons… (Is this how we accumulate bullshit and baggage? Why yes, I think it is…) I sigh to myself. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of that lingering attachment – there are always new pictures. Always. 🙂

I watch the final steps of the import process playout as a fast sequence of thumbnails in the import window. Entertaining. I feel the pain medication I took before I sat down start to have the desired effect. I hear my Traveling Partner close a door somewhere else… it wasn’t slammed, so that’s progress. (I still wish I could actually help soothe him and ease his stress and disappointment, but we’re each having our own experience, and there’s no real way to it differently, I think.)

The shards of sharp summer sunlight sneaking through the fabric of the window shade pierce my vision, and add to my headache. I recall the vestiges of a dream I had recently, in which bright sunshine was “shining directly on my brain” through my eyes, and as much as I covered them or dodged the light, I could not escape the blinding pain. Strangely, it wasn’t a nightmare at all, just an odd dream, filled with frustration. The recollection dissipates before I can assemble it more completely, and I lose interest in thinking about it further.

I finish my bottle of water, head still aching. I know that once I get up for another, I won’t return to this… it’ll be the beginning of some other thing I will be doing, then… but I don’t yet know what. I sigh, letting the air out of my lungs, and refilling them completely a time or two. Wondering what to make for dinner.

It’s a good time to begin again.

I’m sipping my morning coffee on a sunny summer Sunday, thinking about Love. I feel relaxed and mellow. Sundays mean housekeeping – and that’s just fine with me. 🙂 I like a tidy living space, and investing the time and effort (as much as I am able), is worth the pay off in improved emotional wellness day-to-day.

The home automation project – which started with the lighting, and grew to a bigger project – is coming along nicely, with some frustrating moments here and there. I’m fortunate that my Traveling Partner has the interest and skills to take on the project. I don’t have to do much besides enjoy the outcome – and help out with testing things now and then. It’s pretty exciting – it’s a lot of work, though. I find myself hoping it’s actually a project he’s enjoying, after one of those previously mentioned “frustrating moments” this morning; I’d never force it on him. It’s likely to be an ongoing thing, as we learn what we like most about it, and change or improve on things over time. That’s already been a thing. lol

I’ll travel for work this week. That feels strange. I’m excited about it, mostly. I like traveling by rail, and that was what I chose this time. (I think my thinking was that it would be more… convenient…?)

…So far a pleasant day, and a joyful weekend…

I spent a few minutes this morning happily working on a project for the distant Yule holiday. I feel settled, here, safe, and contented. I pause on the awareness and sit with that awhile. It feels good, and I don’t want to miss the moment. Moments are what we have. 🙂

…Soon enough, it’s time to begin again, again.

I’m sipping coffee and listening to videos in the background. Pleasant Sunday morning. Housekeeping on the agenda, not much else. I expect it’ll be a hot summer day. I’m okay with a couple hours of chores and a few moments for myself, and some pleasant hours with my Traveling Partner.

Our path may not always be level, the day may not always be sunny.

…Love isn’t “perfect”. Life either. Nothing really is. (Maybe this cup of coffee…) I make a lot of choices, and some of those are compromises, and some are just poor choices…on the other hand, I’ve got a lot of very cool opportunities to choose from, and fascinating people with whom I can choose to associate. Kinda neat, actually. Even our most intimate relationships are filled with choices.

We choose our path, and we choose what we consider our choices to be.

I chose my Traveling Partner a long time ago (11 years)… on a commute, I think. There was a hug involved. Hours of conversation, over time. A friendship developed. I adore this human being. He is “flawed” (inasmuch as he is quite human), as I am myself. There are days when one or the other of us seriously aggravates the other. (Just being real, and let’s be frank, one thing I know I can count on in life is that life will be, generally, quite “real”. lol) I enjoy him, as a friend, as a human being, as a partner… I smile when I think of him, and he is the person most easily able to unintentionally hurt me emotionally with a harsh word in a difficult moment. I still choose him, and yeah, even when I’m crying over a moment of hurt feelings, I still choose him.

He’s very dear to me. 😀 (bad pun intentional)

Why bring it up? It’s been a lovely weekend. This is all pretty obvious practical shit, right here, and hardly bears pointing out. Don’t we all go through it? Some moment that contrasts the wonderful qualities with the very human, sometimes much less wonderful qualities? Again – pretty real. Pretty ordinary. I dunno. I was thinking about it as I walked yesterday… “What matters most?”… “What builds a firm enduring foundation for love?”… “What does a healthy relationship look like, over time?”… “How does healthy boundary and expectation-setting look and feel in the context of a healthy adult relationship?”… “What part do I, myself, play in ensuring I am treated well based on my own understanding of “good treatment” – and how I do ensure I am skillfully, authentically, ensuring I treat my partner well based on their understanding of “good treatment” – and my own?” Big questions. (Long walk.)

Growth isn’t about what’s easy or comfortable. It’s often about hard questions, and answers that require rather a lot of real work. “Is the effort worth it?” is one question that is easy to answer, for me, in the context of this relationship: yes.

Sometimes choices seem so limited… or complicated… those perceptions are also choices.

I’ve had 3 other “long term relationships” of any notable duration. Two ran far longer than the quality of the relationship warranted. (Okay, well, all three of those, actually, were far longer than what was healthy, but I did manage to cut that last one short before my life or mental health were in complete chaos.) I’ve often been that person working at it longer/harder and loyally clinging to the carcass of a relationship that did not at all rate such a ferocious commitment in the first place. “I didn’t know better” doesn’t describe the goings on so much as “brain damage”, honestly. Yikes. That feels “too real”, right there. I sigh, finish my coffee, and let it go. 🙂 I’m rather happily in a very different place these days, different relationship altogether. “Learned my lesson”? Possibly not – more than I’ve been fortunate, and this particular relationship grew and developed largely in the context of ongoing therapy and other positive life choices (and changes) that took me down a healthier path.

Choices.

Don’t sit around miserable, is what I’m saying. You have choices. You don’t have to wait for decades of your life to slip by – you can choose change. Any time. You can begin again. Oh, I know, it’s a difficult sort of choice to make, but truly, it is yours.

Maybe what looks like a dead-end just isn’t your path at all?

Hot coffee. Sunny summer morning and one day remaining in a long weekend. I don’t have much to say about the 4th of July holiday, really… I used to make jokes that the entire nation came together as one to celebrate the end of my first marriage with me. lol It was on the 4th of July that I finally walked away. It was an important moment, but… at this point? Just one of many in a long life rich in ups, downs, good fortune, poor choices, and a lot of opportunities to pause, rethink, and begin again.

My Traveling Partner and I enjoyed the day, and each other’s company. I went out into the world, into an actual retail space, and actually did a bit of shopping. I don’t mean that I went into a store masked and distanced, quickly identified what I came for, and quickly made my exit, not that at all; I shopped. I even – are you ready for this one? I tried on clothes! Wow. The freedom. 🙂 (The lingering “end” of the pandemic found me with a lot more “comfy clothes” and a bit short on suitable work casuals, and suddenly I’ve got a business trip on my calendar, and colleagues eager to meet me in person for the first time… so… seemed wise to do a bit of shopping rather than showing up in yoga pants or jammies. LOL)

Today? Just a day. Most of them are, aren’t they? Today it’ll be housekeeping; it is functionally “the sunday” of this particular long weekend, and that’s how I do; housekeeping on Sundays, get the place ready for the new week. It’s a practice that is all about beginning again, and meditation, and mindful service. Sometimes it’s also tedious and annoying. Sometimes it feels like a huge effort, and even a burden. I will straight up admit that I loathe most housekeeping chores, completely. I like to take things easy…but… I also enjoy, prefer, and thrive in conditions of “orderliness”. So, Sunday is my day to fight off the chaos with restored order, and a bit of tidying up. Has to be done, if I’m committed to the life I most want to be living. 🙂

I put on music that makes me want to dance. There are clean clothes to put on after my shower, and sunshine streaming through the blinds, filtered and soft, tempting me to step outside. Pleasant day. That’ll do nicely for all manner of new beginnings, I think. 🙂

I sip this coffee, smiling, and listening to tunes. Mostly rap, this morning, mostly women: Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Saweetie, Snow Tha Product, Nicki Minaj… there are quite a few really good ones, and my play list is filled with their power, their juice, and their joy. 🙂

…This coffee is almost gone, though… and that means it’s time to begin again. 🙂