I woke up after a needed night of good rest. 10 hours. Solid sleep. Deep. Restful. I woke without my headache. I woke without much pain. A good morning, so far. Hell, I even woke without any obvious attachment to my former place of employment, after a great final day there.

…By the time I finished my coffee, my previous role, and my colleagues’ challenges in my absence, are on my mind, again. I take a breath, and let that go. Again.

New beginnings often follow obvious endings. The ending has to be accepted, and allowed to occur. Much easier when I can “let that go”. The next couple days are all about letting it go, and moving on to something new. A relaxed weekend at home. A relaxed Valentine’s Day in the company of my Traveling Partner. Cartoons. Anime. Video shorts. Laundry. Definitely laundry. (Does every “moving in together” process involve massive amounts of laundry? Why is that a thing?) Hell, all of that sounds lovely, honestly. 🙂 We’ll do it together.

The morning is a rainy one. My Traveling Partner sleeps. I am “up early” after having most definitely slept in. There are no pressing concerns beyond this grocery list I’m not actually preparing, for a shopping trip that definitely should happen. 🙂

I smile. Finish my coffee. Choose a course of action. Let go, again, of what is not now. All the many things – lingering threads that only tangle, and obscure the way ahead. “Now” is enough.

It’s time to begin again.

I woke unexpectedly. It may have been my partner’s restlessness, it may have been my own. I woke to find him awake, too. We quietly crossed paths in the wee hours. I got up. He already was. I made coffee, offered him a cup, too. He is quietly about his own business in another room, I am here, writing. It feels quite comfortably like the ordinary work morning it so clearly is. I smile contentedly, and sip my coffee.

Man, these particular coffee beans… suck. lol I grin quietly in the dim morning light. It doesn’t really matter. I’m drinking it anyway. lol

I’ve tried to mostly avoid specifically counting down the days to this job change. It’s an unnecessary distraction from the work that must be done to do so skillfully, and that’s what I’m focused on, and committed to. Still… I sip my coffee very much aware that today is one of just two remaining shifts before… change. Wow.

I chose this. I remind myself. I sip my coffee. I feel the excitement. This is now. Feels pretty good.

I sip my coffee aware that “now” isn’t always going to be infused with this heady potion of excitement, eagerness, delight, joy, satisfaction, and love. I make a point to appreciate and savor it; fuel to push past future heartache, perhaps.

I smile at how vain and insipid my writing feels to me this morning, and let even that go, comfortably aware that it is ever so much more difficult to share happiness in words than to entice with bits of chaos, drama, trauma, and darkness. I’d still much prefer the experiences of happiness, however fleeting, however difficult to communicate.

I think of a colleague I’ll miss greatly, and hope that he’ll “be okay” after I’m gone. Experience of being that colleague left behind, I know that he will, and I also make a point to “do something” to shore up a real friendship, instead of leaving things hanging with some cursory “let’s keep in touch” that will feel hollow. I eye a painting that suddenly speaks to me, having been silent since the moment it was completed. “I get it now,” I think to myself, and ready it for the drive to the office this morning.

“Macro & Micro” , 6″ x 6″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and glitter, 2018 (this crazy thing sparkles like madness, seen in person)

It’s not a sad good-bye; it’s a new beginning. 😉

It’s come up a number of times as I transition out of this job, and certainly it has come up any number of times, an uncountable number of times, in life, generally; we don’t know what we don’t know. None of us do. I certainly don’t know what I don’t know. Demonstrably so. My colleagues don’t know what they don’t know. I can prove it.

I considered writing in detail about the painful professional reminders of this fairly predictable conundrum, but quickly tired of the mundanity of an experience I am living right now, and am also already so over. When we dismiss or diminish the hard-won experience and expertise of a friend or loved one (or colleague), we also undermine their interest in remaining emotionally invested in supporting our needs. That’s just real. Respect, consideration, listening to the answers to questions that are asked, taking time to be thoughtful and studious about information our experienced, expert, associates are willing to share with us, are great ways to demonstrate our appreciation, and to ensure their time is not wasted on us. Time is precious and limited.

Yes, it matters. We don’t know what we don’t know. We can’t. We literally can’t grasp the vastness of the information we just don’t have. Ideas we’ve never been exposed to. The potential negative consequences of the things we do not understand, or are not aware of. Showing consideration and respect for those among us who do know something more, and are willing to share that with us, is just an element of what could be called “common decency”.

Put down your opinion along with your ego for a moment, and be open to the idea that not only do you “not know everything” (easy enough to accept, generally), but also that there are others who do know more (a bit harder sometimes, perhaps). Our opinions don’t amount to knowledge. That can be so hard to accept. It’s still true. You want to be the expert? Gain the experience. Study. Gain the knowledge. Use it. Gain more experience. Fail some. Try things. Study more. Seek credentials where credentials are appropriate. Study more. Use that knowledge. Try more things. Ask new questions. Learn more things. See where this is going? You may have an opinion you feel strongly about, but unless your opinion is validated in some way, and proves to be quite correct, it has nothing whatsoever to do with “knowledge” and certainly nothing to do with expertise. Opinions, however firmly held, do not amount to facts – nor are they an assurance of understanding.

It’s okay not knowing. It predicts nothing about the future state of one’s knowledge or expertise; these are things that can be learned. We become what we practice. You want to be the expert? Gain some experience, seek knowledge. There are verbs involved. In the meantime, maybe get comfortable with the expertise of others. Ask them what they know. Listen when they tell you. Don’t assume that the appearance of ease is any indication that something is easy – maybe it is just well-practiced?

We can’t know what we don’t know – but we can pay attention, be open to learning, be willing to study. And we can begin again. 🙂

There are other voices than mine. There are other lived truths than the truth I live myself. There are other perspectives, other viewpoints, other angles from which to consider each very human moment. There are other tales to tell, told by other travelers. Each existing alongside all the others, their existence, itself, does nothing to diminish the truth of the others; these are narratives. Subjective experiences of being human, in all its wonder, glory, pain, and joy. I tell mine here, my way. 🙂

A friend posted on Facebook recently that she is undertaking her own healing journey, walking that hard mile, processing trauma, seeking healing, and that she had started a blog. She started a group, to post to, understanding that perhaps not everyone wants to share that journey with her. I appreciate the consideration. I respect the journey; I’ve been on my own such journey for a while now. I reflected back on that moment when I decided to start a journey, and a blog, and considered how that “went down”, and the reactions I’d gotten at that time, from friends and loved ones (a fairly discouraging mix of disinterest, distance, and patronizing comments, generally, and a couple folks sincerely interested in being supportive). I asked myself, explicitly, “how do I want to ‘be there’ for my friend, and her experience, right now?”

I provided a reply I hoped would be welcoming and supportive, and accepted the request to join her group. Why would I not? Reluctance to be triggered? I grant you; it’s a risk. (People in my life spend a lot of time opening up to me about trauma, as it is. I’ve survived it so far.) People need to feel heard. They need emotionally secure relationships in which to open up about what hurts them. Me, too. Can I “be there” to support that? Of course I can. It’s on me to set and manage my boundaries, if it gets to be too much, and even that is a way of being there for a friend or loved one, setting that powerful example that it is also okay to set boundaries, and showing what that looks like, in practice. Practice. Yeah – and also, because I, too, am entirely made of human, I need practice, myself. Practice at listening deeply. Practice at maintaining perspective on past trauma. Practice understanding that we each walk our own hard mile. Practice at “being there” for others. Practice, frankly, at being the woman I most want to be – in every interaction, every moment, on every day. Words are just words. It’s the verbs that make changes come to life. It’s what we practice that matters; we become what we practice.

This morning I read the first of her posts (that I’ve read). I savored her voice. The difference in her style of communication. I read from a place of non-judgmental acceptance, and non-attachment. Her tale is not my tale, however similar some details may seem; she is having her own experience. I listen with empathy, consideration, compassion. I listen deeply. I recognize her humanity, her unique experience. I acknowledge the human experience beyond the words. I nod quietly, more than once. “I know you,” I think to myself. Still, I also allow her her moment; we are individuals, with our own experiences, our own pain. We’re in very different places on our individual journeys. That doesn’t matter as much as “being there” – being present, aware, and compassionate – because although we are each having our own experiences, we’re also “all in this together”. I sip my coffee and contemplate the journey stretching ahead of her.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs. Begin again.

I woke up to snowfall this morning. That wasn’t much of a surprise, honestly; weather forecasting has gotten pretty good over the years, as data sets build in size over generations of meteorological expertise also accumulated. Even in weather forecasting, incremental improvements over time are a thing. 🙂

My first look at winter storm “Maya”, before dawn. 

Rather a lot of snow for this area. Rather peculiarly late in the year, being, already, mid-February. I sip my coffee, which turned out rather poorly for some reason, and consider Winter. I think of my Traveling Partner, who headed out yesterday, late in the afternoon, to head south for a gig, and to pick up more of his stuff to continue the moving home process (almost completed). I missed him, some, within minutes of his departure, but also enjoyed the quiet, after a very busy week of moving things in, moving things around, and getting caught up and settled in together in shared living space long-term. It was a pleasant and deeply connected week. I sit for some minutes, reflecting on love, loving, and being loved.

This morning, the world quieted by a blanket of snow, alone with my coffee, I miss him much more.

I had made brunch plans with a friend, for this morning…lol.

…Doesn’t look like I’m going to brunch. Thanks, no, I’m good here at home. lol

Oh, I know, this “isn’t that much snow”. It’s only 4 inches or so, and lots of places in this country that wouldn’t even slow folks down. I get it. People here aren’t used to it, and they drive exactly as though they aren’t used to it; they don’t have the right skills (or gear) for these conditions, making driving doubly hazardous. The communities, by and large, at least in this metro area, also don’t do shit to clear the snow and ice from the roads, they just let it sit there until it is gone, mostly… which… yeah. Wtf? lol I don’t know. Not my circus, not my monkeys. What I do know is that it was a wise choice to do the grocery shopping yesterday, and to bring my laptop home with me from the office, Thursday after work. I’m well-prepared, even if I am stuck here for days.

I over think a detail, and step through the house turning faucets to drip very slowly, hoping to prevent any pipes from freezing. I don’t need that headache, for sure, and it is quite cold. 🙂

Daybreak unfolds, and the sky lightens. I notice small birds here and there, and get up to put out bird seed, peanuts, and dry corn, for my furred and feathered neighbors. Within a handful of minutes, it looks like a forest-creature version of Hometown Buffet on my deck. I sit with my coffee awhile, delighted with their presence, and pleased with my forethought while I was shopping yesterday.

Minutes later, visitors still coming and going, lots of kinds of tracks in the fresh snow.

Winter comes when it comes. It’s like a lot of things in life that may take us by surprise. We can be prepared for so much. Sometimes, we won’t be. Planning helps with that. Being aware of conditions is also a step toward wisdom, generally. Being willing to “take care of” a future we can’t see, with our choices in the moment, can definitely have the potential to turn disaster to mere circumstance, of little consequence. It’s not easy, though; there’s no map. No clear timeline of all the shit that could go wrong in life. Things change – and change again. All of this also applies to great good fortune, and circumstances that are wholly positive, and also characterized by change and upheaval. What are you going to do about it? Prepare skillfully, or just take that wild ride hoping for the best?

Last summer I bought de-icer for the driveway, even though I didn’t know if I would need it. On February 1st, I noticed it there, and found myself amused, because it really seemed, just then, a complete waste of money. 8 days later, snow everywhere, I’m pretty appreciative to have it; I’m likely going to need it. Same with the winter-strength washer fluid I put in the car. The upgraded all-weather tires, replaced in October, too – all part of preparing for a winter that seemed not to come, after all… until last night. I’m just saying; look ahead in life, as far as you are able. Go ahead and make room in your experience (and your budget) to take steps that will ease you into positive outcomes. Why not?

Winter comes when it comes. This is a metaphor.

Even when I haven’t had the financial resources to put a lot of money into such planning ahead, the reality is that there are not only helpful other things one can do, it’s also helpful simply to prepare my mind for those potential events. I don’t mean to suggest endlessly agonizing over shit that hasn’t happened, but could, getting all hung up and anxious over the future, which doesn’t exist yet outside our thoughts. Not at all. I’m suggesting simply allowing yourself to consider things, evaluate their likelihood, and be mentally (and where possible, logistically) prepared for the most likely of those.

The pay off in taking care of myself, both right here and now, and also looking ahead to support my needs over time, is that, this morning I am sipping hot coffee, warm, dry, and comfortable, with a well-stocked pantry, plenty of books to read, and a day ahead of me to enjoy at leisure. (I’m suddenly feeling, also, alarmingly privileged to be so well-supported by my planning – but also by my circumstances; I am fortunate, and yeah, that does matter, too. I take time to quietly contemplate what I can do, from right here, to help others who may not be so well situated on a cold winter day, instead of sitting on my ass contentedly enjoying gas heat, and a snow day. It’s a small world, and a smaller community, and we’re all in this together.)

My coffee is gone. The birdseed has been picked clean from the deck. It is daylight, and I hear an occasional car brave the steep hill of the road I live on. A new day starts here. 🙂