Archives for posts with tag: a few deep breaths

I could so easily mess with today by getting myself invested in expectations of misery, frustration, and boredom… I caught myself on the first attempt, and gave myself a chance to reconsider. I’m going down to the VA today, to wait on a cancellation or other opportunity to get my imaging done sooner than the [only available] scheduled appointment more than three weeks away. I’m hopeful I’ll be fortunate, and that my patience will pay off today. If it doesn’t – there’s tomorrow, and I’d likely commit 2-3 days a week to this, to get the images done sooner than later.

It's a journey, there is no map. Sometimes, there is no trail.

It’s a journey, there is no map. Sometimes, there is no trail.

This is where things start getting trickier for me; my perspective, my experience, my emotions… those are just me. What about ‘everyone else’? It’s a matter of balance, and sure, perspective, too. It matters that “we are each having our own experience”, because “we’re all in it together”. ¬†Today I will do my best to be approachable, to-the-point, and calm. I’ll listen deeply, and do my best to avoid interrupting. I’ll ask clarifying questions. I’ll be patient with others and respect their humanity. I will remind myself regularly that at the VA almost everyone hurts in some way, and be considerate and compassionate – with myself, too. It’s a lot to practice…

A deep breathe. A lovely flower.

A deep breathe. A lovely flower.

We become what we practice. I’ll have to face the woman in the mirror at the end of the day. I hope to choose my practices wisely.

Practices… perspective… mindfulness… balance… It’s a lot to keep up on, if I take them one by one. Thankfully, they’re sort of ‘bundled’ together in one practice-filled mindfulness package. ūüôā

I balance my bee sting allergy with my fascination for bees by keeping my bee sting kit handy, and using great care.

I balance my bee sting allergy with my fascination for bees by keeping my bee sting kit handy, and using great care.

Balance is important enough to practice. I thought about it, metaphorically, while I worked on balancing literally during my workout, this morning. One portion of my workout is entirely about balance, and when I began it,¬†some of it seemed pretty silly… “stand on one leg”. Huh. Okay, sure. Easy! Oh… not so easy these days. Hmm. I begin again. Again. And again. I wobble. I sway. I keep at it. I practice. Seems easy. I guess, in most practical regards, it actually is quite easy. It’s the doing it well reliably bit that complicates things… and then… well… I’ve been on this new workout routine for…a week? About a week. A bit more maybe. It’s feeling really good, in the sense that my muscles tell me each day that there is change. Then, yesterday, I was able to put some real miles on my boots with much more comfort. Bad posture and pain had begun really holding me back… By the time I got home, feeling refreshed, strong, and exhilarated, I was also feeling my left knee ache. (Damn it!) This morning, I got up and felt it as soon as I took a step. I reached for my hiking staff before I even made coffee – looks like I’ll be walking with support for a few days. Balance… definitely not ‘easy’. Definitely takes practice.

perspective

Perspective matters, too; it’s easy to focus on how much my knee aches… or how unpleasant I find dealing with the VA…

 

There's more to it than this moment.

There’s more to it than this moment! I consider my needs over time; how do I best take care of myself long-term?

We become what we practice. Incremental change takes time. Building new skills – or restoring old ones – requires both. A good measure of patience with myself, and some perspective on the challenges, will probably be useful, too. ūüôā

Practicing patience, self-soothing, and learning balance has unexpected delights.

Practicing patience, self-soothing, and learning balance has unexpected delights.

Disclaimer: This post is about emotions. I sometimes work through them more easily with words, in text, that I can see reflecting the experience back at me. It is a way of getting perspective. This post, though, may be a¬†downer – I say that before I even write it, because I am having my own experience, and I feel what I feel in this moment. I am so very human. So…do yourself a huge favor, take a moment for ‘informed consent’; if you are in a place emotionally where someone else’s pain and struggling may wound you, throw off a good vibe you are enjoying, or change your experience for the worse, I recommend skipping this one. Hey, if nothing else, the writing is likely to be of poor quality, and angst-y, and rife with spelling errors and weird grammar fails – who needs that on a Friday morning? I’ll understand, I promise.

Still here? Okay…

Some other morning, a coffee.

Some other morning, a coffee.

I woke crying this morning. I fell asleep crying last night. In between, I found myself ambushed by Demons in The Nightmare City. This is not an emotional space I want to occupy. I am frustrated by my lack of resilience, my lack of emotional regulation, and my lack of perspective. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel resentful and let down. I feel. Yeah. I definitely feel. I feel mistreated, and mislead. I feel set up and I feel sabotaged. I feel hurt.

“That’s a whole lot of feelings there, lady, what gives?” I’m a human primate. I am an emotional being more than a rational one – it’s a balance. Today it isn’t balancing as well as I’d like. Stress kicks my ass, being hurt kicks my ass, abrupt change kicks my ass – and it takes me a little time to recover, even with some support. Emotions are not criminal actions. Assaulting people with them is, I hear, avoidable. That sounds like fine thing to me, and I turned the little sign on my door this morning to ‘do not disturb’, meditated a while, had a shower, meditated some more… I still don’t want to be as disturbed as I feel, right now.¬†The sign didn’t do much to help with the feelings, but by design it may prevent anyone else from walking through the mess I woke to, within, this morning.

Meditation, mindfulness practices, good basic self-care are all going a long way to improve my experience of me, very nicely. I feel a momentary hurt, recalling with sadness how quickly encouragement turned to criticism, a few months after I began this journey. I was taking a moment to feel proud of my progress, and I was feeling pretty impressed with new tools and practices being effective at helping me on a level nothing else ever had… I got called ‘smug’. I was incredibly hurt. Admittedly, I had been foolishly trying to explain or share the experience with someone else… maybe they hadn’t asked? (I suck at that – put a person in front of me and I will probably just start talking. Are you aware that your executive function manages that for you?) It hurt, nonetheless, and since then I am self-conscious about feeling encouraged by progress, and reluctant to share positive feelings about it in conversations. (Sticks and stones? Fuck right off; words matter.)

I feel confused. “Emptied out”. I feel overburdened by unmet emotional needs piling up over time. I feel like I am not making the progress I could be, right now. It’ll be okay, I think – I hold on to that tightly. I’ve got the hotline number in my pocket, just in case it gets too hard. ¬†I lost a beautiful niece to suicide this year, and I see how it hurts my cousin every day she is without her daughter; I won’t put my traveling partner through that, and¬†I can take the steps to avoid it. Despair is a motherfucker – it is part of our human experience.

...and another...

…and another…

I can’t be certain that the intensity of my emotions this morning reflects something ‘real’ or necessary; they are only emotions. For all I know, this is a 100% bio-chemical experience with no grounding in events or experience. Does that matter in the moment? Well, sure. It matters the way anything true ‘matters’. One true thing is that my emotions are this intense, and unpredictably so. Another true thing is that my emotions, and lack of top-down control, are incredibly uncomfortable for some people to live with. (I don’t get a choice, myself; this is my experience and I live it.) Unfortunately, in a live and unscripted real-life environment, I also don’t get much compassion specific to the ‘invisible’ issues associated with my TBI or PTSD. I rarely fight for it; if it isn’t there to be offered, begging for it, pleading for it or wishing it were there will not make it appear. Compassion can be taught – but that phenomenon also requires an active learner. Change is, but forcing it on someone isn’t appropriate – and generally isn’t effective.

My traveling partner encourages and supports me – he frankly provides a level of emotional support that I can only describe as ‘super human’ – but the environment in the household, generally, is unhealthy for me. I feel aggravated and moody about looking for a place of my own, because I’d honestly prefer to continue living with my traveling partner – he’s wonderful to live with [for me]. I am painfully aware, though, that living with me can be hard on him. Right now so much of what I am working through touches on sexuality, gender, individual identity, boundary setting/management, and relationships with others that it’s harder to treat each other gently in moments when we need it most from each other. So…yeah. I need to be on my own a while – not a break up, not even a separation, just a different living arrangement. It still sucks to hurt over it. I hope by day’s end I am embracing it in good spirits.

I leave other household members out of this, generally; I am writing about my own experience and the other people in it are entitled to be free of public scrutiny of their values and choices filtered through my chaos and damage. But…I am not willing to continue to over-compromise my needs, or undercut my values to keep peace, and the time I spend in the arms of my loves is too precious to taint it with OPD, or games. As a population of individuals, we don’t want or need the same things, and at 52 I have no time to waste on fighting to get the most basic emotional needs met; we are not all equally committed to that endeavor. I don’t yet have the emotional resilience to hold enough in reserve to continue to take care of me when common place bullshit goes sideways, and often find myself without any emotional reserves left to care for me, myself, by the time I have a moment to do so. I feel positive about the choice to get my own place…and for the moment, sad that it is necessary at all.

You know what I don’t feel? I don’t feel guilt or shame over the choice to move out, it needs to happen; I don’t thrive in an environment in which my emotional quality of life is poor. Hell, right now in this moment… I’m okay. (Thanks, Dearheart!) My tears have dried. I’m not feeling social, but I’m not enthralled by Demons in The Nightmare City. ¬†(If I knew that I would have the kind of nightmares that I had last night, in nights to come, I’d never sleep again.) I don’t have the headache that followed me around all day yesterday, which is a huge improvement. ¬†My coffee tastes good – I feel a pang of sadness sweep over me when I realize I won’t have an espresso machine in my kitchen for some time to come after I move; it will be a frugal lifestyle, focused on painting, meditation, and love. Wow. Suddenly that sounds fucking amazing – and all over again I wonder why this hurts at all. I enjoy solitude. I dislike drama. I have musical and culinary tastes that are not shared in the household at large… and I miss a good French press in the morning; it’s a lovely ritual to prepare coffee that way, time it carefully, enjoy the outcome at leisure… I miss living a gentle life. (The most humorous thing about that is how little time I have ever spent living that kind of exceptional quality of life – across years and relationships, I can’t really pin down more than a total of about 18 months that qualify as ‘gentle living’ in 52 years!

I’ve already found my way to a better place. It’s nice. No rushing, either; I’ve made changes to my schedule, effective this week, intended to dial down some of the fatigue-related stress, and don’t have to rush off so soon on Friday mornings. Have you actually read this far? Are you okay? Thank you for being interested, curious, or concerned enough to come all this way with me – whether just this morning, or over these past couple years. I appreciate it. You help me feel heard.

Yeah. Some days, the nightmares win. Today they didn’t. ūüôā

Because love matters more. "Emotion and Reason" 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic details and glow 2012

Because love matters more.
“Emotion and Reason” 24‚Ä≥ x 36‚Ä≥ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic details and glow 2012

Today is a good day to put down some baggage. Today is a good day to practice good self-care. Today is a good day for self-compassion – first, not last. Today is a good day to enjoy this amazing woman I am becoming without competition, dread, or games. Today is a good day to treat others well, and understand that they are walking their own path; their story, and experience, are not mine to endure, to manage, or to criticize – and participation is a choice.

This is a lovely gentle moment. Last evening was also very nice. In between these moments, ideally, would be several hours of sleep. I am content with the handful of hours of sleep I got, and a couple¬†more of rest and meditation, and I woke to my alarm feeling comfortable. My arthritis is felt as a distant thing, this morning, managed and of no real consequence. My coffee is very welcome. My jeans, a size smaller than I’ve been wearing, feel comfortable, relaxed, and soft against my skin, like very old broken in favorite jeans – a very nice way for a new pair of jeans to feel. There is a lot to smile about, this morning (and even most mornings).

I will take today as it comes, practicing good practices, shoring up practices that I know work that I may not be fully committed to, practicing not practicing practices that don’t work as well…and treating others well.

One spring moment of many, with all the possibility and potential of any new moment.

One spring moment of many, with all the possibility and potential of any new moment.

This is a lovely moment. Many of them are, actually, even in the face of my own chaos and damage; so often it is embracing the fundamental loveliness of some ‘now’ moment or another that calms my storms, and helps me ‘find my way home’ to a gentler heart. A few deep breaths, a moment or two of real stillness, the solitude to find calm; these are so essential to maintaining balance and building resilience. Learning to allow myself to meet those needs has been challenging, and totally worth the time and effort to learn, and to practice.

However loving the lover, however caring the caregiver, however tender the heart of someone who wants to support me, first and perhaps of greatest importance has been learning to love and care for myself, my own heart, my own life – and not because there’s no one else out there, or because others cannot be relied upon, or because the world is in any way ‘unworthy’ – but because it is my own ability, and will, to care for myself well that shows everyone else ways to love and care for me, too. Besides, who else would be a better fit as ‘lifelong super best friend’ for me than me?

Does it seem odd to bother with writing such a simple post, on such a slim bit of an idea? I find that some of life’s best bits are painted across my experience with a very delicate brush¬†– it’s not all drama, big deals, or epiphanies. Some of the stuff that has mattered most to me is pretty simple, basic, every day living. I’m okay with that; simple is easier to practice. ūüôā

Today feels full of possibilities. Today is a good day to embrace the moment with wonder and enthusiasm. Today is a good day to connect, and to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Today is a good day to change the world.

My day started wonderfully well yesterday. Calm, strong, confidant, I enjoyed the walk to the office. Along the way, I passed the spot where someone else, on their own journey, regularly stacks a number of rocks. They are often tumbled down by someone else, on a very different trajectory in life, and that was the case yesterday morning. It touched me and being moved I stood motionless in consideration.

I really find value and a moment of stillness and calm in that stack of rocks, so carefully balanced. I didn’t question that feeling, simply stood and experienced the moment. Then…

I stacked the rocks.

I stacked the rocks.

A humble offering, a moment of gratitude for the serenity that short pillar of balanced stones has offered me so many mornings. As I walked away, I wondered how long it would remain.

On the other side of an extraordinarily unpleasant stressful day at work, during which I had many opportunities to deploy new tools, practice new skills, and discover depths of strength and character I did not know I had within myself, I walked home. I felt aggravated. I felt disrespected. I felt unappreciated.  My walk was aggressive, fast paced, and my heels struck the ground on every step, rather than seeming to move softly over the surface of my experience. I felt angry to the point of wanting very much to define myself as anger.

Then I got to the pillar of stones I had stacked in the morning, still standing there so still and strong. Hot angry tears held back with such discipline during the day spilled out and coursed down my cheeks. I stood, still. I felt my feelings and really gave them the room they need, instead of trying to steady myself and gently hush my spirit. I’d done what I had to, it was finally time for me. I stood and I wept and I felt the strength of my breath, and the simple power of acknowledging choice¬†and will.

I walked on feeling calmed. I got home and my loving family was there to greet me and the evening was gentle and nurturing. Other challenges were set aside for the moment, and we built instead of destroying. No railing against the unfairness of it all, no hours of dissecting the who and the why of every painful moment. I was content to be home, to be safe, to be valued. ¬†As I drifted off to sleep – which surprisingly enough came with relative ease – I heard the voice of a favorite cartoon character in my head “I learned something today…”

Today, I am strong. I am compassionate. I am open to change. Reason? Purpose? Value? I have them in good quantity, and they are my own to make use of as I will.  Today, I will change the world.

This morning started well, although I’m having serious challenges with my arthritis this fall. ¬†The work day was productive, harmonious, and we ‘performed well to goal’, which probably matters to someone. I enjoyed the work, and that matters to me. ¬†There were emotional challenges on the periphery that threatened to blow my smooth day, and somehow new tools were at the ready, and it was rather like reaching for a hammer to hang a ¬†painting, and finding it precisely where I expect it to be, and in good working order. The right tools for the job proved to be effective, and today taking a few minutes for me, a couple deep breaths, a moment or two mindfully in the courtyard, actually felt quite natural. ¬†For me, a good day.

Random photo from the WW WP 5k; mushrooms.

When conditions are right – growth.

It would be lovely, wouldn’t it, if every human being would pause, and just enjoy their ‘right now’ experience? ¬†Seriously pause for serenity, for wholeness, for harmony – for what matters; to allow calm and wise to take the lead over righteous fervor and entitlement. ¬†I’m actually not trying to be fanciful – I felt almost able to envision that state of things, in a moment of real chill, and it actually startled me out of meditation because for an instant it was a very visceral thing. ¬†I make no effort to interpret the experience, justify it, or explain. ¬†It was a lovely, if startling, moment.

Raindrops - sometimes beauty is a matter of taking a look from another perspective.

Raindrops – sometimes beauty is a matter of taking a look from another perspective.

Today I undertook a handful of tasks that needed to be done. Simple enough. That is the thing though – it was enough to do them, to appreciate the need, to experience and value the effort, and the skill, and the result. ¬†No scorecard, no validation – this is new for me. I like recognition. I like hearing that I did something well. ¬†Today, it just wasn’t about that, and I had no need for any further satisfaction than in completing my task well.

I’m tired now. It is evening. I’d like to say something profound, but many of life’s details at the moment are uncertainties and sorrows. ¬†Funny… I realize, as I write those words, I am aware that some of the challenges I’ll be facing in the near future hold the potential for a lot of heart ache, and I’m not freaking out, I’m not tragically blue, I’m not devastated… This is my life. There have been, and there are going to be, some rough moments. ¬†Resenting life, taking struggle personally, or lashing out at existence don’t enhance the experience or improve it. (Holy crap – am I ‘growing up’? lol. )

I’m okay. I’m tired. I hurt… it’s the end of one day. Tomorrow is another and with the sunrise I begin a whole new experience. So do you. I hope our tomorrow, and every tomorrow that follows, is a worthy experience. I hope each of our sorrows is followed by joy, tenfold. ¬†I hope we choose our actions wisely, and treat each other well, and with kindness and compassion. ¬†I hope our dreams are fanciful, and that we don’t lose our sense of humor in the struggle to find balance.