Archives for posts with tag: a good day for gratitude

I woke up early. It makes sense. I went to bed early, too. I woke during the night. No surprise there, I often do. There’s no stress over any of that. My head is a jumble of random beginnings of thoughts seeking a narrative in which to play a role. My morning is a strange sequence of broken routines and randomness. I’m not concerned about that, either. Again and again, I pull myself back to this moment, here, now.

I sit down with my coffee, eventually, some two hours after waking (which is only one of many odd random bits of altered behavior that seems without cause or purpose).

The first track on my playlist right now is an old favorite. I want very much to play the bass line; I am not yet sufficiently skilled (and realistically, there is chance I never will be). I can try to play it, and fail. I could do that repeatedly. I could do that repeatedly until I am frustrated to the point of disliking what I am doing, although I am doing it because I enjoy it… a lot of people approaching learning something challenging in just that fashion.

I take another approach, instead of “trying”… I practice. That’s it. My approach to a lot of stuff I’m not good at, don’t yet know, haven’t yet found my way around, through, over, or into, or need to do and don’t quite “get”, yet. I practice. I practice the basic skills that would be required to do the thing. Too complicated? I break those things down further, to more elemental basics, until I can begin assembling simpler behavior or actions (or understandings) into more and more complex combinations, and – if all goes well – have learned to do the thing, have gained a new understanding, have completed some complicated task… whatever it is. Most things seem to work out pretty well this way, although it is not the fastest process by which to achieve success. It’s a bit like… a through hike on an unmarked trail, while all the way along observing what appears to be a freeway almost within reach, on the other side of a fence. I could waste time trying to reach that freeway, or I can walk on.

I still get where I’m going. That’s enough.

It may be an uphill climb, some days. I still practice taking time to enjoy the journey, and to look for beauty.

I enjoyed a strangely intimate and emotionally nurturing yesterday. I hung out with a dear friend of many years. We haven’t made time to hang out in about 4 years, and it was overdue, welcome, and comfortably intimate. She is someone I love, though we’ve never been lovers. We’re at very different places in life, and that has been an interesting characteristic of our friendship all along. She was the friend who said to me, so many years ago, “have you heard of ACT?”. Words that would later prove to be another piece to the puzzle of healing and learning to care for the woman in the mirror, because they would still be lingering in my consciousness on that grim December day when I began checking off my list of things to do before I would end my own life. That last item? Try therapy one more time. Her words were a hint at a new direction; “third wave cognitive behavior therapy”. There are several, some very rigid and formal, others less so.

Have we covered this before? Sure. It’s buried in the details, in much older posts. The eagerness of this new way to experience life, more authentically, with greater self-compassion, erupts in my words post after post after post. Life happens. I write about that too. Now and then I add something to The Reading List; my journey is paved with stepping-stones made of books, and practices, and the words of dear friends.

A current favorite track on my playlist feels timed for the moment. My heart fills with tenderness, and gratitude. I’m glad I stayed. Warm tears splash my glasses, and my shoulders shake with sobbing, and I’m just fucking crying now… I’m not unhappy. I’m relieved. I might have missed this precious moment right now. I might have missed yesterday… the lovely color work I got done on my hair… the phone call with my Traveling Partner later in the day… the conversations with friends. Fuck I am so glad I stayed around awhile longer… My heart aches with a powerful need to say “thank you” or.. “I’m sorry”… or… something.  There are literally no words for this strange strong emotion of thankfulness I feel that I chose to live. I’m okay with that too. I’m not afraid to feel.

Another good morning on which to begin again. I don’t know that I’ve done anything that changes the world, but so much as changed about the woman in the mirror. 🙂

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for me, although I don’t celebrate much ‘pilgrim vs indigenous people’ stuff.  For me, this is a holiday about feasting, gratitude, hospitality, welcoming, and acceptance. Today I’ll cook a fairly lavish meal compared to the day-to-day, as is traditional for so many. It’s a rare year that I don’t have a handful of others invited to join me for the holiday meal, and today the celebration is not dependent on a guest list at all. It’s still a holiday, still about gratitude, and still about being welcoming and thankful – and I care share all those things with the woman in the mirror, too. There have been far too many times I didn’t appreciate her, or even welcome her in her own experience. This is a year to celebrate how much I value the part I play, myself, in my experience, in my choices, and in my opportunities. It’s a year to be thankful, appreciative, and welcoming – of myself.

I begin the holiday season reflecting on gratitude, and good fortune.

I begin the holiday season reflecting on gratitude, and good fortune.

I am sipping my coffee, enjoying the slow encroachment of sunshine on carpet near the patio door, and planning the day’s cooking; small kitchen, small spaces, one oven, no microwave… I’ve had it far worse. Here all the burners work, I have a functioning dishwasher, and every surface is sparkling clean and available for food prep. I am grateful for my tiny kitchen, and all of its convenience – including the pantry almost as large as the kitchen itself, and having everything I’ll need within easy reach. I will happily spend the next hour or two making final recipe choices, smiling over the memories that surface with each recipe card, cookbook, or saved article from some ancient newspaper or magazine, handed down woman to woman over generations. I am grateful for the recollection of so many wonderful home-cooked meals over the years. I am grateful for this smile.

Planning the day has become organizing the cooking, and soon all the planning and organizing will become action – there will be verbs involved, and practices practiced. Safety with knives. Food-safe preparation, and clean-as-I-go practices. Proper food storage practices. Kindness and compassion will be practiced today, too. There’s not likely to be any drama on this holiday – but I could make choices that leave me feeling run down, blue, and angst-y later in the day. Being kind to myself, and compassionate with myself as a human being worthy of consideration and love will make just as much as much sense for me, solo, as it would for me entertaining a crowd. I will take time to treat myself well. I will pace myself, today, and remember that enjoying the day, the meal, and the moment, is the point – not the success of any one dish or the timing with which the meal is served. There’s nothing to be stressed about; this is a holiday about appreciation, sufficiency, and thanks – it’s not a competition, and there are no winners besides the people who put down their stress and agita and simply enjoy the day, present in the moment, and grateful for all that they have.

Facing the approach of winter, I feel fortunate in my cozy home.

Facing the approach of winter, I feel fortunate in my cozy home.

Today I take time to give thanks – I have more than enough.

I am no stranger to violence. It saddens me deeply every time I learn there has been yet another horrible attack on human life. It sickens me to acknowledge that each and every one represents a pinpoint of darkness, a flaw in a gem of great beauty; we are so very human, and these unrelenting repeated acts of terror and violence are willful – they are choices. Human beings choosing to inflict violence upon other human beings. Being hurt enough, angry enough, to want to choose violence isn’t foreign to me; I am so very human. To enact violence on another person as an actual action, an act of will following an intention, isn’t something that seems so easy, or so obvious. I sometimes feel quite certain humanity is entirely doomed if we do not find a way to soothe the souls of the injured, the enraged, the powerless – and learn to treat each other, one and all, truly well and with great kindness and compassion. I wonder why the verbs involved are not embraced more freely, and with greater enthusiasm?

I look out into the darkness for signs of light.

I look out into the darkness for signs of light.

These are just words. There are verbs involved and I will surely do my part; I will not kill anyone today, or lash out violently in anger, or frustration. I will not impose my will on anyone else by force or coercion. I can do at least this much myself to end global violence; it’s no small thing, and if we each make the same choice and commitment, well – you see how that works out, right?

Interconnected, we are all in this together, and each having our own experience.

Interconnected, we are all in this together, and each having our own experience.

I am relaxing over my morning coffee, grateful that this small peaceful space feels safe and secure. Brunch with a friend, some small bit of shopping later. I reflect with gratitude on how unlikely it is that I will meet with violence, and remind myself that allowing the violence in the world to win begins with the smallest thing – allowing it to change my experience of this moment, here, now, slowly letting it become my experience, coloring all things. I won’t be doing that.

Today is a good day to treat each other well. It is a good day to begin again, and to walk on from what not worked out well before. Today is a good day to choose love, to be love. Today is a good day to change the world.

I am sipping my coffee after a very good night’s sleep, and waking with relative ease to the sound of the alarm. I am in pain this morning, and so stiff that I’m more than a little grateful that my bed doesn’t rest on the floor – how would I get up? Sometime after the shower that eases some of the stiffness, and the yoga that moves that process along, and the meditation that insulates my nervous system and emotions from the battering the world may (or may not) deliver later, I am sipping my coffee and letting my mind coast…

Humble beginnings; the herbs in my garden have the power to change an entire meal.

Humble beginnings; the herbs in my garden have the power to change an entire meal.

I find myself considering how often the movies deliver to us a Hero (or more rarely a Heroine) who is somehow ‘The One’ – the only being in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills and a dash of good fortune and great sidekicks. They rarely seem aware they are The One. It takes persuasion, convincing, sometimes even force to get them to understand that ‘everything’ depends on them. Heroes are humble like that. At some point in any good tale, the Hero has some sort of awakening moment, at which point he (or she) recognizes ‘the truth of it’ and goes forth to save the day – with some luck, and the help of their trusty sidekicks. Most of us have a sidekick or two in life, someone – a friend, a family member, a work buddy, a lover – who is reliably ‘there for us’ when we need emotional support. Most often, we (and by we I mean ‘me’) don’t seem aware that we’re the hero of the story…that we are, in our own narrative, The One. So far so good in hero territory, I suppose…only…where’s that moment of awakening, when we each take on the world – or at least our own circumstances – and solve the puzzle, master the challenge, clear the hurdle, or conquer our foe? There’s a metaphor here, but there is also something very directly real and true in it. We do well to be our own heroes, and to embrace our opportunity to be The One in our own experience.

Remember Keanu Reeves, in The Matrix, that moment where he begins to do his virtual training in the matrix, learning to fight, to fly, all that? When did you last take your own education so seriously that you plugged into a machine and just went for it – for hours, or days, or years if it takes that? (It’s those damned verbs, again!) How much time do you put into becoming the person you most want to be, investing  your will in that endeavor with mindful deliberately chosen actions? I know I could do more, myself, and within the thoughts I find the questions that light the way along the path ahead.

Be ‘The One’. Be ‘The One’? What does that even mean, really? I hear it, and I feel a certain implicit understanding of the thing…but that’s hardly enough to manifest a change, is it? Being ‘The One’ in my own narrative, the hero of my own experience, implies that I value myself as worthy – even in my humblest bumbling and fumbling and inept moments, even as I learn things I didn’t know previously, even as I swing and miss, even as I try – when I meant to do. Being ‘The One’ in my own story means trusting the hero to save the day – all the while aware that I am my own hero, and saving the day clearly means there will be verbs involved, and as in any exciting hero’s tale, I will likely get it wrong once or twice, bring my world to the brink of disaster perhaps, but always finding my way at the last minute. Or something very like that.

Isn’t it okay to grow and learn and change? Isn’t incremental change over time part of the process of healing and growth? How much more easily will I make progress if I am seeing myself as the hero of the story – and actively investing in my further growth, trusting that the journey will take me where I most need to go, and accepting my missteps along with my great triumphs as being part of the experience all along? Yes, it is okay – totally okay. I know the truth of it, even as I struggle sometimes with the reality of how many damned verbs really are involved, and how relentlessly continuous the journey can sometimes feel. Being ‘The One’ has immense power to heal and transform and bring change…but there’s rarely a great prophet around to tell us who we are when we most need to hear it – making us, once again, ‘The One’ – the one with the message to the woman in the mirror.

A beautiful sunset, a cherished experience.

A beautiful sunset, a cherished experience.

I enjoyed last evening in the company of a friend. The conversation went a lot of places, and as with some friends more than others, the conversation was fairly ‘deep’. I woke this morning from dreams filled with reminders of things said, feeling inspired, and experiencing a deeper understanding of what being ‘The One’ in my own experience may require of me in will, and in action. I’m not likely to save New York City from disaster…or to save the world from alien invaders…but I very easily could be ‘The One’ who saves the day – my day – probably from me. 🙂

I take a moment, sipping my coffee, to appreciate how many times friends become sidekicks when I most need one, and how often sidekicks turn out to be great prophets revealing that particular truth I most need to hear. Today is a good day to be grateful for the connections I share with people – we are each so very human, each having our own experience – each the hero of our own adventure story – it’s quite wonderful when we connect, overlap, share the moment – and save the world.

It is a quiet morning, following a quietly productive Sunday. I spent the afternoon between household chores getting ready for the work week, and tidying up the loft for improved space to paint and to create ‘guest space’, and a bit of painting, too. We have a house guest for a couple weeks, a friend visiting for work. I felt strangely aware of how loud the espresso machine really is, as I made my coffee this morning. 

This morning I had that strange vertigo again, that I had yesterday morning. It’s very unsettling, and although it cleared up quickly, I am concerned because it is new. I guess I can expect some bits and pieces to start showing signs of wear; this mortal body is a fairly fragile thing, and I’ve not treated it well over the years. 

When my partners alerted me they were on their way home last night, it was clear they’d be home a bit earlier than I had expected, and my willingness to adjust for that allowed me to greet them when they arrived home. I’m glad I did. It was lovely to welcome my traveling partner home, and feel his strong arms around me, and the warmth and love in his embrace. It was a relaxed, happy homecoming and definitely worth the later bed time. I made a point of heading to bed promptly once they had arrived home; staying on schedule and getting enough sleep really matters for me. Making the effort doesn’t always assure success, though, and I was wakeful until after midnight, aware of the presence of our house guest. I managed not to be irked with myself about it, and eventually drifted off to sleep. It was a short night. I will be mindful of that as the day progresses, and make a point of getting to sleep on time tonight. 

With just one partner at home, I’ve gotten pretty good at ensuring I meditate, do yoga, and take care of me. I’ve been easily distracted in the past, from self-care and practicing what works to maintain my emotional resilience and perspective, when they are both home. I’ve had weeks of practicing practices and perhaps over time I’ve become sufficiently practiced – comfortable with new routines – that they will be an easier fit with everyone home? I’m hopeful. 

It was wonderful to cuddle my traveling partner, now returned home, to find myself experiencing that very particular presence that is his, and to share this love we have. Quite wonderful. This morning, it feels like ‘everything’, and certainly ‘everything’ is enough. 🙂

"Compassion" Harkness 1972

“Compassion” Harkness 1972

Today is a good day for love. Today is a good day to enjoy what feels good without hesitation. Today is a good day to be the change I wish to see in the world.