It’s that time of year; my Traveling Partner is gearing up for a season of journeys, adventures, trips, visits, away time, festivals, events, shows… he will be going (a lot) and doing (a lot) and it is not my lifestyle choice to be so… busy. ๐Ÿ™‚ Inconveniently enough, our wedding anniversary and my birthday both fall in this same rather busy, utterly over-booked, time period. It could be awkward if I were someone different than I am. lol

Most years we don’t do much about our anniversary. Last year, we spent a remarkable weekend away together on the coast, and it was magical, romantic, and delightful. Attempting to repeat that experience by merely repeating the experience manages to be not at all how that works, and I know better than to force it (experience is a great teacher). Other relationships, other needs, perhaps; I know that in this one, I don’t need an annual moment of recognition to feel loved, valued, or to celebrate the delights in this shared experience… and I cherish those moments most when they occur without being scheduled. Maybe next year? The year after? Some year when we both earnestly need a getaway and time alone with each other, and nothing more will do? This year, we’re both busy with other things, and that’s okay, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

My birthday is weird like that, and different, too. It’s “my day”, by choice. For many years, after I turned 18, I insisted that everyone else also honor my day with me. I like presents, but it wasn’t about that – it was about agency, free will, and being the one to get to call all the damned shots for a change. I fought the powerlessness I felt in life, generally, by being a petty dictator once a ย year. The fact that there would likely be cake, or dessert of some sort, and a great deal of (my idea of) fun doesn’t really change the fact that I was also pretty demanding about things going my way. Once I understood that being a mini-monster once a year doesn’t really “balance the scales” in a life of learned helplessness and frustration, I let all that go. It wasn’t that hard; my birthday is still “my day”… but that’s just me being me, on my own terms, on my day, doing my thing my way and enjoying myself in a life filled with many other such days. It not only doesn’t require a party, it doesn’t require any outside participation. lol ย I enjoy spending time with my Traveling Partner, but it doesn’t have to be on any particular day – including the one I was born on. No idea what I’ll do with my birthday this year… maybe go camping. ๐Ÿ˜€

…I do like presents, though, and find myself hoping my Traveling Partner doesn’t actually forget my birthday, and perhaps brings me something back from somewhere interesting… ๐Ÿ˜€ (Still very human!)

Looking at it another way…

I am taking a moment this morning to appreciate being loved – this person I am, as I actually am, quirks and weirdness and mad moments and all. I’m taking a moment to appreciate this strong partnership that allows me to be me – the me I actually am, without demands that I be otherwise. It’s a nice feeling to wake up with. It’s not a passive thing, there are verbs involved here too, and practices; my own affection for the woman in the mirror is a large part of what gets me here. It’s got to be okay with me to be who I am, before it is at all relevant whether it is okay with anyone else. ๐Ÿ™‚

You may be in a different place in life, or with yourself… that’s okay too; if you want to be somewhere different than you are, you can make that journey. There are verbs involved. You’ll be having your own experience. Your results may vary. It’s okay, though; you can begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s been awhile since I’ve gone camping. I can’t recall now why that is. I remember what sweet relief being camped out under the stars can be… So… Why has it been, seriously? More than a year? My gear stands packed and ready, and my Traveling Partner will be off on his summer travels soon, and this year leaving the car with me looks like a thing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Convenient for so many reasons! Heading into the trees and reaching distant trailheads, areย surely among those reasons.

It’s been nagging at me since yesterday; June is near at hand. The weather will be lovely for camping, most likely, and summer just beginning. This morning I sit down purposefully and make reservations, securing a favorite tent site. When I get into the office, I’ll request the time off. ๐Ÿ™‚

A favorite spot waits for me.

My “last” camping trip was cut short by my lack of preparedness and the fairly irksome discovery that I had forgotten both my bee sting kit, and any coffee at all, proved to be too much for me. (I’m very human!) I went home feeling vaguely, somewhat playfully, “disgraced”. I can do better, and knowing that I can, and didn’t, continued to bite at my consciousness like a stinging insect for some time after that. I did actually go camping last yearย (that other wasn’t really the most recent trip, at all) though it doesn’t linger in my memory with so much clarity, it too is a recollection tinged with “failure”. I went to a distant trailhead, camped under the stars during a meteor shower, but struggled to enjoy it because it was one of those super popular locations that everyone thinks is their own secret find, and it was over-crowded, swarming with hikers, picnickers, rowdy party folks hollering from camp to camp through the night, and headlights sweeping through the trees all night long, as weary travelers arrived, discovered there was no room, and turned around to drive on. Not really a pleasant trip as much as checking a trail off a list, and doing so rather half-heartedly, once it proved to be – for now – beyond my abilities to get to the summit. I could go there, and try that again, except that the crowds were just not my thing at all. I head to the trees to be alone without all that. lol

I have everything I need to just go camping on a moment’s notice. It came in handy during the recent power outage; I simply lit candles, started a fire in the fire-place, and invited friends over to chill. No panic. Camping generally feels easy like that, too, these days. I quickly get set up, and then quickly shift gears to slow things down, stretch time, and soak in the sounds, scents, and sights of the forest. I spend most of my time hiking, reading, writing, and meditating. I take pictures. I sit quietly. I sit quietly a lot. I could do all these things at home. I do all these things at home. Camping takes them to another level of inner stillness, and turns my attention more fully inward; there are no escapes from self out among the trees.

I’m eager to go. Eager to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

I spent yesterday gently. I’m glad I did. A night out dancing finds me, on a Monday morning, feeling like I worked out hard, or took a beating, or both. I slept well, last night, and managed sufficient rest in both quality and duration, and had a great weekend, so… I’m not really complaining about sore muscles or arthritis pain, just noticing they exist this morning.

This morning I refrain from reading the news, at all. It’s Monday. I see no legitimate reason to fill my consciousness at the start of both day and week with all the crazed cruel bullshit going on in Washington, or the strange eruptions of bad behavior by previously normal-enough-seeming human beings reaching some unplanned breaking point. I am already aware it’s out there. I don’t honestly need more detail about it on any sort of daily basis.

How odd. This morning I find myself… well, “bored” is not quite the right word, and “speechless” gives a different impression that I mean, also, but… I’m done with this, here, right now – the writing thing, I mean. I just don’t have more to say this morning, right now, about… anything, really. The morning starts differently, and I decide to take my coffee to my meditation cushion, by the patio door, and watch the sun rise, instead. ๐Ÿ™‚ Even on a Monday, I can choose to slow the morning down, and take an alternate path to the start of the day.

It’s only a Monday. I’ll just begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

I definitely “feel 53” this morning. I’m okay with that; I am 53. ๐Ÿ™‚ The show last night was amazing. It was not really “a concert” or.. well… it was a fantastical stage production centering around music, themed on Alice in Wonderland, attended by beings willing to suspend expectations of the ordinary for a night and just… go with it. A needed, and worthy, break from the routine. There were dancers, jugglers, performance artists of several sorts, and painters practicing their craft live, to massive fabulous bass-y beats. It was quite wonderful. I got home very late, and I had planned and prepared for this to be the case… but, there were verbs involved, choices made, and of course today I begin again.

Down the Rabbit Hole 2017 at the Crystal Ballroom

My ears are ringing like crazy. I took ear plugs with me, and when I wasn’t on the dance floor, had a comfortable vantage point from the balcony of the historic theater venue – my ears are still ringing. Experience suggests my tinnitus will be a mild impairment for at least today, then fading into the background to exist as a mild persistent distraction once again. I’m tired. I can look at the number of hours that I slept and figure I’ve “gotten enough sleep”, but I feel groggy, and inclined to return to bed – but I won’t sleep now that I’m awake and consciousness is filled with morning sunshine. I hurt all over. As I think about that, my pain worsens. That’s a practical detail worthy of consideration; if I make my pain my focus, it becomes the most important thing in my awareness, and thereby becomes more prominent. I take a deep breath and let it go; it doesn’t stop me hurting altogether, but seems to reduce the magnitude somewhat.

Why all the bitching? I smile and sip my coffee, because I know something about me and this peculiar singular journey that is my experience; when I know where I am, I am more easily able to move on from that place. The challenge is to make the observation without making the observed detail a theme, or the focus of my experience, when it is something painful, uncomfortable, or perceivably “negative”. It’s worth remembering, too, that this also opens the door to more willfully lingering over, and savoring, the nurturing, delightful, pleasant, and uplifting experiences – deliberating shifting gears to make those a focus of my experience, or a theme, results in useful changes in implicit biases. The bitching, in this case, is structured and part of a process with a clear point. (Thanks cognitive science!)

A welcome seat with a decent view; the lamp included in the shot because it’s pretty cool, also. lol

I think over the high points of the evening… dancing with my Traveling Partner (we attended with another friend)… the music… the wow factor of the varied costumes of both the performers and the attendees… soaking in the lights, the scene, the wonder… finding a good seat with an unobstructed view that remained mine more or less all evening (even though I left it and returned several times)… losing track of my partner and his friend in the crowd and dancing dancing dancing through and among and around thinking I would eventually find them, and losing myself in the music instead (I found them when I returned to my seat! lol).

Sold out show.

My tinnitus fades into the background as I linger over the recollections of the evening. My back aches less. I forget that I’m rather amusingly sitting here with noise cancelling headphones on… but not playing any sounds. Going back to bed still sounds pretty nice… My eye wanders to the list of household chores I had planned to do today, from the vantage point of yesterday morning… I chuckle rather merrily and give silent side eye to the woman who wrote that list yesterday; I’m seriously doubting I will do even one thing on that list today. I’m okay with that. Today, rest and take care of me. Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

Three words, and a very challenging practice.

“Assume positive intent”… well… that seems generally like a very good starting point in most relationships. Certainly our loves can be assumed to have positive intent (elsewise perhaps we benefit from choosing our loves with greater care!) The average stranger in passing rates an assumption of positive intent, and even in the face of moments that might suggest that a stranger’s intentions are less than ideally positive; it’s highly likely that it is my own narrative coaching me to a different outcome than any action, choice, or intention of that stranger. Most of us, much of the time, are far to self-involved to willfully and deliberately, with consideration of the consequences, and planning of the details, do each other some harm. Hapless inconsiderate douchebaggery notwithstanding, most people, most of the time, are mostly doing something that is more or less, in that moment, their rather human “best”. ย Assuming positive intent applies a little social lubricant to my interactions, rather in the same way that saying “please” and “thank you” do. Assuming positive intent is the flip side of being courteous.

I write this morning, thinking about “assuming positive intent” in the context of three experiences.

The first of these was a gentle chiding by a professional peer in response to a cynical remark I made in the office. She had replied, with some firmness, “you aren’t assuming positive intent”. She was right. I have since thought it over a lot. It was an important observation. Too often past pain and trauma in relationships, or current struggles that linger, become source material in my thinking and decision-making in the present. I can do better than that – with practice.

The next experience was my homecoming last night. It was obvious my Traveling Partner had been and gone. It was obvious because my produce delivery had been brought in, and because there were coffee cups and glasses left on end tables here and there, and a cushion moved to a “comfortable guest spot” in the living room (I’d left it by the patio door). A used tissue on the floor. A small decorative container I’d left closed, was left open. I started to be annoyed about having to pick up after people I didn’t hang out with… which was tested by also being pleased about the produce being brought in. An assumption of positive intent helped out here; by choosing willfully to assume positive intent, I was reminded that my Traveling Partner had a super full calendar yesterday, and likely hadn’t intended to linger at my place at all, possibly rushing off without double-checking that things had been tidied up. It made it a lot easier to get past an “I’m notย the maid” moment.

The third experience was waking up this morning and reading (again) about the United States dropping a fucking “MOAB” on Afghanistan. Yeah. I’ll admit right now; I can’t find any room in my heart to assume positive intent on this one. There is no moment at which taking a human life by force holds an assumption of positive intent. Dropping a big ass bomb far away hoping to kill a couple dozen people just seems like … heinous short-sighted crassly violent stupidity. So we killed some people we’ve decided to define as “bad guys”, based on our own narrative… but… what about the other effects of slamming the planet with a big ass bomb? What about the earth itself? What about other people? (“We have no evidence of civilian casualties” is a pretty pitifully insensitive remark to be making, when the bomb that was dropped likely obliterated everything within a substantial radius, entirely.) What about… other life forms than human beings? Seriously. We’re just not “everything that matters”. What about desert foxes, wee mammals, birds, reptiles… what about the fucking environment we all live in? This? Not the time for assumptions of positive intent, because right here, it is plain to see the aggressive, violent, damaging action we’ve taken. It isn’t pretty. It’s not okay. It was toxic muscle-flexing, stupid, short-sighted, gross over-kill. Not an action taken from a position of assuming positive intent, or with any wholesome outcome in mind. The dead were the bad guys? Yeah, well – apparently so are we; dropping a bomb is not a good guy moment.

I take a deep breath and another sip of my coffee. I look back on a lifetime of experience and acknowledge that I didn’t always feel the way I do now about war – or assuming positive intent, either. Growth and change – and practicing practices, and choosing different verbs, and walking this path through chaos and damage, working to heal, and finding other ways to be than continuous raging fury – have taken me a very long way from that woman in the mirror that I was at 23. 53 is nearly over… 59 days remaining, then I’ll get to take 54 for a spin, and see how I like that one. I know one thing; I’ll be practicing assuming positive intent – and I won’t be dropping any bombs.

We change when we grow. There are verbs involved. I’ve had to begin again a whole bunch of times, and walk on from discouragement, from pain, and even from friendships that could not be sustained any longer. I’ve made choices to change. I’ve had change forced on me unexpectedly. I’m having my own experience. 53 is among my very favorite years of life… it’s had some lovely moments (quite a lot of them) and some interesting challenges. Totally worth all the verbs and practicing. ๐Ÿ™‚

I look at the time; it’s time to begin again. ๐Ÿ˜€