Archives for posts with tag: a few of my favorite things

Yesterday was awesome. Sure, I woke feeling cross – I shared those feelings, and made a point of really just saying what I had to say about it. I find that trying to just squash down my feelings and ‘get over it’ is a somewhat callous way to treat myself, and not especially effective. Once shared, the feelings passed. Once expressed, the anger diminished. Once revealed, the resentment subsided. Regardless how it may be received, openness about my experience and how it feels to me, keeps me on a path that is genuine, authentic, vulnerable – and more likely to connect me with people who understand me as I am, and enjoy me.

Headed for adventure, letting the day take me where it might is an opportunity to learn to distinguish more clearly between anxiety and excitement.

Letting the day take me where it might is an opportunity to learn to distinguish more clearly between anxiety and excitement.

I went on with my day with great enthusiasm, minimally planned. I embraced unexpected opportunities to do more, live well, and thrive by being present in my experience without struggling with baggage and leftover work bullshit. It was quite lovely. I went out, in spite of expected high temperatures, and enjoyed the morning downtown. I took 5 hours just to buy coffee beans, have a bite of brunch, and visit an antique gallery that specializes in some of the rarities of life that I adore – generally entirely out of reach of any reasonable hope I’ll own any of it, but I enjoy seeing the exotic rugs from far away, the pre-war European porcelains that I love so, and discussing those things with the devoted connoisseur who owns the gallery.

I value things crafted to last a lifetime and grew up around antiques of all sorts; my various break ups over the years have cost me most of the things I acquired during my life. But… my taste has changed in some cases, and I have discovered that the shopping is the better part of experiencing many goods. There’s something of much greater value than having things; talking about something with a person who has both knowledge and passion for the subject. It’s the learning process, and the connection, that I value. These days, I tend to defer to the ‘wealth of selection’ rather than ‘the wealth of quantity’. I choose with care, buy only what I can afford – and only what I have room to use, and to display beautifully. More than that is waste and greed – both in very poor taste, and not sustainable. (The hoarders I have met, whether of things or of money, don’t value what they have – they value the having of it, and in so many cases with no care at all for whether it lasts, is cared for, or used.)

I returned home happy, before the day got too hot, with coffee beans, photographs, memories, anecdotes, experiences – and a lovely rug in colors I favor, that sparks some vague recollection of childhood, as well as reminding me how wonderful it is to treat myself well, and to live my own values and aesthetic day-to-day. I made a point of giving myself a pedicure, so that my toenails would complement the new rug. (Yeah, I totally did. 🙂 )

Beautiful things, selected with care, cherished, and used with great joy are an element of living beautifully, and thriving.

For me, beautiful things, selected with care, cherished, and used with great joy are an element of living beautifully, and thriving.

This morning I relax over my coffee, made with the freshest ground beans, recently roasted, enjoying the chill morning air filling the apartment through the open patio door. A feline neighbor stops by to press her nose to the screen and ask ‘mrow?’, but doesn’t linger for my reply, or stay long enough to be photographed. Song birds share the details of their morning, and I eavesdrop smiling. This particular moment is well beyond ‘contentment’ and I am savoring it without anxiety about whether it might slip away unexpectedly  – of course it will, at some point, because even “this too shall pass”, but it is no cause for concern, right now.

Today is a good day to be. Today is a good day for ‘now’. Today is a good day for smiles, and self-acceptance, and contentment – and if some moment fails me, well, today is also a good day to begin again. 😀

I hurt this morning. I slept well, and with few interruptions. I guess I am “at an age” where I can commonly expect to wake in the night, sometimes more than once, just to pee. It’s not even annoying anymore, and I barely wake up. I know the layout here at home so well now that there is no need to turn on a light for something so routine, and I tumble back into bed still quite comfortable; the hot water here is hot straight away, so I am not awakened by cold water, or cold hands.

I started my coffee at about the same time as I started a “conversation” with my traveling partner, online. I enjoy those moments greatly, particularly when we are both in enough pain to wonder if it is worth it to pursue the plans we made earlier in the week. The connected dialogue feels intimate and real, and often satisfies most needs to feel visible, to be heard, to feel the power and strength of the connection we share… the missing pieces (touch, scent, hugs, kisses, sex) aren’t ‘everything’ – although I am admittedly quite late in life arriving at that conclusion, and definitely miss those things when we are apart.

I’m in enough pain with my arthritis this morning that yoga is the first thing on my mind – but not yet actually ‘do-able’. I am so stiff that gentle changes in posture, for now, are enough to hurt – and ease the stiffness somewhat – and it will be possibly an hour or more before doing yoga is a thing. So, I enjoy my morning coffee and a few minutes of conversation with my dear love, and start the day quite gently.

I stepped into my living room this morning and felt something new… as if I were really welcoming myself home for the very first time. I spent quite a bit of the afternoon yesterday tackling small tasks leftover from moving: sorting papers that had been stuffed into small drawers, tidying cables and cords, taking the wall-mount hardware off the back of the t.v. and reattaching the stand, placing the t.v. in its new location, rearranging some objects and making choices about precisely which paintings will hang precisely where on the long west wall now that I could see it with the t.v. in its place. I didn’t think much about the outcome when I had finished, aside from feeling content and satisfied. This morning I wasn’t thinking about those changes, or the living room, at all – and when I stepped out of the hallway (no kidding, the builder managed to wedge a hallway into this tiny apartment) into the living room, I paused, startled – it felt like a homecoming after a long time away, a combination of welcoming relief, and delight.

Enough.

Enough.

This morning I am delightfully aware of some things I really love about my home, and my life. I take time to appreciate them.

  • Cool morning air currents chilling my bare toes as I sit, sipping my coffee, watching the morning sky lighten through the partially open vertical blinds on the open patio door.
  • The sparkle of sequins on the floor cushion by the window, where I often sit and meditate gazing out across the lawn, watching the birds, squirrels, and cats go about their own lives.
  • The plentiful hot water; I am ever-grateful for indoor plumbing, and the convenience of hot running water in good supply. The water pressure, and the ready hot water here at Number 27 are especially nice.
  • A big bathtub. The bath here is not ‘over-sized’ in any notable way – but it is of an era when ‘efficiency’ sized tubs for apartments weren’t a thing, and ‘water-saving’ tubs were not common. It is spacious, and deep enough to soak. It is enameled cast iron, too, instead of fiberglass, and retains warmth. After more than two years enduring a plastic ‘water-saving’ tub barely big enough for a child, and unreliable hot water, this tub seems lavish and I do love the hot water. 🙂
  • The aesthetic – this place looks like a place I would live; it is decorated with books (everywhere), art (mine, mostly), and comfort in mind. It is an easy place to relax, to find stillness, to enjoy solitude – or to hang out with friends (although for now, seating is limited). It is a drama-free zone.
  • I love that my breakables are on display, and have no concern that they may be damaged or mishandled; having them on display means I not only see them, and enjoy them aesthetically – they are near at hand for use! Hand made swizzle sticks, rare porcelain demi-tasse cups, lovely lampwork paperweights, antique sherbet dishes, and first edition books – out, and on display because this is my life, my home – and this is my way.
  • Every detail here is managed to provide as much comfort and ease in my own experience as I can make possible.
  • The counters are orderly and uncluttered. It’s a small kitchen, and space is in high demand – in spite of the luxury it represents, I choose to put things away in a fashion that leaves the counters mostly quite bare unless in use. The only appliances that remain out all the time are for making coffee: the burr grinder, the goose-neck kettle, the air-tight containers holding the coffee beans, and the filters. I love the smooth expanse of clean counters.

These are things that appeal to me. This is my own life. I don’t imagine for a moment that these things are necessary for your comfort; you are having your own experience. There are other ways. Other lives. Other choices. I’ve spent a lifetime compromising my aesthetic, and my comfort, for other people – often simply to pacify them, or make something more convenient in their experience – and done so at the expense of far more than my ‘convenience’ in some cases. I’ve managed to over-compromise to the point of doing myself real damage in some relationships, unwilling to say ‘um…go fuck your convenience, because this is actually something I need to heal, and to thrive.’ I didn’t have the words – and in some relationships, wouldn’t have been heard anyway. Some people only ever hear their own voice.

I think I am sharing this, today, not because you need the details of what pleases me, but to give perspective on what details may really matter – and how small those can be for any one of us. You too. It’s no trivial thing for me to have my breakables on display – it’s actually a very big deal, although in the simplest of sentences it seems a fairly small thing; it’s heart breaking for me when they are all boxed up and put away ‘for safe keeping’. Same with having my art hanging – in a building in which I reside, seeing bare walls causes me real emotional pain, and leaves me feeling frankly disrespected, devalued – and unloved. Having to double-down on that insult by seeing common ‘production decor’ hanging in my environment day to day instead of original art of some kind, by any actual artist, is… offensive. You are a different person, but certainly there are ‘small things’ in your own experience that don’t feel so small to you. Those matter. It’s okay that they matter. Taking care of you may mean giving those details more attention, and greater prominence, for no other reason than that they matter to you.

It’s taken awhile getting here…but, yeah, I matter enough to matter to me. Finally. It’s a nice feeling to wake up to, even when I hurt. No one knows me like I do – and no one can take care of me as well as I can, or show me greater consideration… but there are verbs involved, and intent, and will.  For far too long I allowed my ‘won’t’ to take the lead in my life.

I hurt today, rather a lot. It’s okay though; I’m at home. I have what I need, here, to take the very best care of me. Today, this is enough. 🙂

It’s late, and the house is quiet. The weekend is over, Thanksgiving is past, and this moment right now is the space between waking and sleeping. I’m not quite ready to let the weekend go. I’m also not particularly in need of an audience, or someone with whom to share this quiet moment. My sharing, for now, is handled and this moment, now, is my own. It’s a very nice quiet one.

An annual celebration of light.

An annual celebration of light.

The loft has been transformed into a holiday paradise. There are very personal, particular, even… ‘magical’ qualities to the holiday season for me, that go far beyond jingles, sales, advertisements, tradition, marketing, habit, or expectations. I made the winter holidays my own, a very long time ago. Today, I sipped my last coffee of the day surrounded by colored lights, and fantastical glass ornaments of all imaginable sorts, quite content to enjoy the things about this holiday season that move me so much. I’ve tried hard for so many years, and in so many relationships, to share this particular experience, this magic, this wondrous transformative understanding of the winter holidays that is my own experience of it… I’m not sure that I’ve ever really succeeded beyond communicating with some modest success that these are holidays that matter to me. That’s enough. It has to be. We are each having our own experience.

Ornaments as metaphors; love is a lighthouse.

Ornaments as metaphors; love is a lighthouse.

For me, preparing the house for the holidays, decorating, setting up the holiday tree are more than tradition, or habit, or expectation; they are in important ritual in the cycle of my life, letting every year end on a note of warmth, love, generosity, appreciation, gratitude, and value – no matter how bad the nightmares, or how traumatic the reality. Each year I unpack the ornaments and treasure the moments I recall as I handle them, and look them over in the light. I place each one so carefully, considering even ‘now details’ and how the precious memories it holds fit the context of my life; I place some prominently, and tuck others around in the back where they are less likely to be seen, or asked about. Each year the tree is a monument to life, to emotion, to memory – to the content and meaning of life and love, experienced over time. Bits of sentiment, souvenirs, and trophies, too, perhaps; my life in glass and glitter cherished through the season, and packed away ever so carefully once the new year arrives.

Some ornaments are purchased, others are handmade.

Some ornaments are purchased, others are handmade.

I sat, hands warm and wrapped around my coffee cup, enjoying a moment of stillness and waiting on our evening meal, it finally became more real…how little need there is for any one else to ‘really get it’, so long as I am true to myself, my values, and I am accepted and valued within my relationships such that I can enjoy the experience that is my own without any particular hindrance.  A lovely moment, a gentle lesson in life’s curriculum; I almost managed not to wonder if I feel exactly precisely all of this every year, without being able to understand that I have, that I do, that I will… I did manage not to be frustrated with that thought, it too passed, and I enjoyed the stillness.

Holiday magic - everyone makes their own.

Holiday magic – everyone makes their own.

These simple harmless pleasures contribute to this amazing journey, enjoying them is part of who I am – and it’s one of the very best parts, too – I woke up to a better understanding about ‘experiencing’ and ‘sharing’ and how distinct from each other those ideas can be, and how utterly okay that actually is. It’s a nice idea on which to end such a nice day, such a good weekend.

Yesterday I spent the day gently, most of it, on mindful service to the small creatures in my life. I spent hours on aquatic gardening: doing a water change in my community tank, some pruning, planting, tidying things up, acclimating the new tetras that have been in quarantine, and generally spending the larger part of the day with the fish.  It was soothing and serene, and I definitely needed to support my inner stillness after a morning of unexpected turmoil.  Tending the aquarium was a good choice to get back on track and feeling calm and balanced.

The secret life of shrimp.

The secret life of shrimp.

It was a moment of shared humor to find myself discussing the aqua gardening, and commenting that I doubted there were any shrimp surviving, since I simply never see them…I gestured to the tank and…there’s a shrimp, right up front! LOL I took a moment to snap a picture, because I wanted to be sure later that I didn’t doubt my recollection of having seen him. 😀  All that cleaning and moving things around must have disturbed any shrimp in the community. I found several more lurking quietly in the Java fern. 🙂

What made yesterday sort itself out in such a wonderful way wasn’t heartfelt apologies, or emotional ‘laying down of arms’, or occupying time in spaces away from conflict, although those things generally help.  For me, it was more about taking time to be deeply engaged in a favored activity, a needful task of some complexity, that I gave my entire attention to for a while to a ‘greater good’. Mindful service. In this case, mindful service to my own needs, and my aquarium. Simple gardening on some level, and gardening is something I know puts my heart and head right, when I take the time to allow it, to pursue it, and to invest in the good in it.  (Experience tells me I could pay lip service to the idea of ‘mindful service’ and just go through some motions, and perform tasks to completion, while investing in being hurt and angry, and get nothing in return but a sense of futility and resentment – will and intent matter; results also require action.)

The day was a good one, morning challenges passed quickly, comfortably, and were quickly forgotten. That’s more progress, and it feels like something I can begin to count on. 🙂  I admittedly enjoy tallying up the improvements in emotional resilience, reductions in volatility, new tools, new skills, new experiences of living in a general state of contentment, and comfort within myself…it’s been a year (368 days) since my sense of self began to unravel in a terrible way, a process that took weeks, consumed the holiday experience, and ultimately found me as only a shell of myself, considering choosing to end my own life… What a difference a year can make!  I don’t discuss those dark days in any detail with people, even people I love very much; too much pain to share, too few words to express it without sharing the pain more than the understanding. I feel hopeful that those days are well behind me now, and nothing more than a memory.

The mindfulness thing was the key. Still is. There are so many times I wish I could convincingly say “no, really, try this“, to friends and loved ones with their own challenges, their own suffering… but generally, as with my own experience in my own life, there is a state of readiness needed to even hear the suggestion in a usable way. I was once someone willing to say, with conviction and based on my own experience, that I had ‘tried meditation and it didn’t do anything for me’.  “I tried meditation…” No, no I had not. Not like this. I had always been focused on focus, focused on concentration, focused on clarity – focused on thought. I did not understand ‘awareness’, ‘stillness’, or observation. I did not understand the importance of breathing. I’m not sure what I ‘understand’ now…but I practice. 🙂  It is enough.

A lot more is ‘enough’, now. I hope to more deeply explore ‘sufficiency’ in 2014, to be more deeply and mindfully in service to home, hearth, and to myself, to ask more questions, and be more comfortable with uncertainty, to continue my studies of life and love, and to connect more deeply and more intimately with my loves, with my friends, with my family. I’ll get started today – it’s a lovely day to change the world.

It’s been the sort of day that just keeps dropping precious moments and opportunities to delight in one or another favorite thing or favorite place or favorite activity…so much so that, just at the moment, I’m not sure if any one of the day’s wonders are really ‘a favorite’ or if it is just the feel of the day.

Paperweights and Porcelain

Paperweights and Porcelain…

…A quiet morning, a great latte, a good conversation with an old old friend, a trip to a local farmer’s market, biscuits and gravy for breakfast, crisp fall apples, learning things from artisans, reading a moving story, enjoying my aquarium, a brisk walk on a fall day, gentle service to home and family – these are a few of my favorite things.

Enjoying the weekend. Another favorite thing.