Archives for posts with tag: a journey paved in choices

I talk a lot about making choices. I remind myself to make a new beginning, regularly. I practice non-attachment with commitment and discipline. I let things go. I move on. There is a serious reason why these are important practices for me; I have survived a lot through these practices. These are not practices for small circumstances, though it is the mundane petty things that provide the opportunities to practice regularly. These are the practices for the big shit in life.

Marriages that dissolve – with small children involved; sometimes people have to literally choose to walk away from their children to save their own lives. That’s hard. I can’t at all imagine what that must feel like, although I’ve had friends and loved ones go through it.

Jobs that end unexpectedly – with no opportunity to continue in a field of expertise or passion; sometimes people have to choose to undertake something entirely different, from the very beginning, without wanting to at all. Been there a couple of times, myself.

Abusive relationships – sometimes with real love involved; sometimes people have to walk away (in spite of love) to save their own lives – from violence, mental illness, or a narcissistic, petty, spoiled, unremorsefully callous loved-one unable or unwilling to make changes. Too many of us go through some version of this experience, sadly.

Sometimes life throws some very adult shit our way, seemingly forcing us to choose between our life and well-being, and what we think we want, or think we have, or think we need. It’s not easy. Sometimes the better, saner, choice is to just let it go. Begin again. Choose differently.

To escape violence in my first marriage, I had to reach a point where I was willing to walk away from everything. My home. My “stuff”. My existing social network. My career. My community. It was a matter of literally saving my life. I didn’t have much in the way of good practices for such circumstances then; I got lucky and made some choices that favored my survival. I’m grateful for that – and every day that my arthritis pain reminds me how mortal I am, it also reminds me that I have survived hell, and I am okay right now. Powerful lessons.

It’s tempting to work at things we’ve invested our hearts in, well beyond any useful point in making that effort. It’s tempting to excuse, explain, troubleshoot, or try again (and again, and again…). Sometimes those aren’t our best choices. It’s hard to be sure when that is the case, in advance, and we can be easily stalled by doubt. It’s emotionally difficult to choose differently, to select “self-care” from life’s menu, and “quality of life”, and to walk on from something we earnestly value, even when it is wrapped in misery. A good starting point is a realistic look at whether the thing we are valuing, whether it is a job, a relationship, a circumstance, or a possession, is truly all we think it to be. Is it just a “soap bubble”? What matters most? Have that and be controlled by it? Let it go and be free? It’s a choice. A really fucking hard one.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Letting go doesn’t necessarily mean there is no later follow-up, and there may be other actions to be taken… ending a marriage likely requires a divorce, for example – that’s a process that has a beginning and (hopefully) an end, but the process follows the decision to let go. The choice to act precedes the actions. Lost jobs are generally followed by new jobs – or some other new option for living life. Abusive relationships are… complicated. The ending of such things can be filled with further trauma; it’s rare that an abuser wants that relationship to end, themselves, they are invested because they specifically benefit from it. Things can get ugly. Scary. Filled with fear. Filled with sorrow. Filled with panic. Letting go – non-attachment- is a broad and well-lit path to emotional freedom. We can’t be controlled by what we are willing to let go.

It’s not easy. I’m having to let go of a specific, warm, and charming retirement that seemed so real and imminent, in favor of… no idea yet, but realistically I have to be willing to acknowledge that it won’t be that. I’m having to let go of a promising-seeming relationship (less difficult that it might have been, because the person involved made a specific point of burning bridges by way of mistreatment) – always painful. The worst? I’m having to let go of 42 original works of (my) art that I have not yet been able to recover, and may actually be destroyed (39 small works on paper, 3 canvases). It’s fucking hard, but even to continue to pursue recovering them (which may require litigation), I need to let them go, at least inasmuch as I have to allow myself to move on from grieving the loss, or being attached to a specific outcome. Still fucking hard. This? This is why I practice some of the practices I do, though; when I need them, they are here for me, reliably.

The sky is still blue. 🙂

I had a lovely weekend, in spite of the possible loss of 42 precious original works of art. No small feat, and I am smiling over my coffee, feeling wrapped in love and supported and cared for. (Seriously? It was like a vacation, crammed into one delicious day and night.) I am relaxed and ready for the work week. I’m grateful for my Traveling Partner. Grateful to have such wonderful friends. Grateful to be okay right now.  It’s a nice beginning to the week, whatever it holds.

The menu of options in life is… vast. There is so much to choose from, so many directions one could take life, generally. A nearly unlimited array of choices in a complex choose-your-own-adventure experience that layers the consequences of our actions and decision making over a strange randomized mesh of other people’s free will and a sprinkling of circumstances builds our perceivable context, sometimes bamboozling us into thinking we lack control… or at least influence, and choice. Choice. I keep using that word. It’s a good word. It is a word with a lot of power.

Last night I saw The Hip Hop Nutcracker and enjoyed a rather comfortably adult night on the town that included a relaxed walk through a foggy, rainy, urban nightscape, a pleasant dinner, and a little pre-holiday window shopping. It was a lovely evening. Those were my choices.

This morning, I am contentedly grooving to a DJ’s mix that I adore (the DJ? the mix? both? 🙂 I’m just saying this is a good way to start my morning…or end my evening… or fill my time. lol). Another choice.

We don’t hesitate when we make choices about the music we listen to. That’s a pretty easy one, isn’t it? I like this. You like that. We share some experiences. We don’t “get it” sometimes. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal to like music other people don’t care for, or to acknowledge it when I don’t like some particular band, sound, genre, or track.

Music. Clothes. Style of furniture and decor. Colors. TV shows. Foods. Times of day. Our internal “preferences” settings are by far more complicated than any software. We spend a lifetime “building our profile” as human beings. We spend more time becoming who we are than we do being who we are… It seems useful to be aware of that, and to choose. I don’t mean fall into, and then accept, what we are and what we do – I mean think it over, seriously, and choose, willfully.

Who are you? What do you like? What have you chosen? What experiences and choices are a core part of your “profile” in life? Which ones are “just a test drive”? We grow and learn and change (if only the tiniest bit) every day – how much of that are you considering, selecting, guiding, and living with your eyes wide open?

You know this life is yours, right? What are you doing about that? I mean, like, today? 🙂

I listen to the music, grooving and enjoying my coffee, thinking over life and love and choices, and feeling content on a Thursday morning. It’s enough. Hell – more than enough – I may even be… happy. Wow.

This too will pass. lol No kidding, that’s a given. There will be blue days ahead, some headaches, challenges… maybe I will fail myself – or you – or maybe I will fall short of expectations in a less meaningful way, but still feel dissatisfied? Ups and downs and incremental change over time; however far we come, there is farther to go. Choose wisely. Choose willfully. Be the verbs. (It’s sounds easy, but there are verbs involved. lol)

I look at the clock, and into my empty coffee cup. The music plays on… “…keep it moving…keep it moving… keep it moving…

It’s already time to begin again.

I woke slowly, resisting the end of the night as long as I could. I felt comfortable, content, and rested – I just didn’t want to wake up quite then, although I could see dawn was imminent by the lightness of the room, generally. I woke. Wandered around the place in an unhurried way opening up the patio door and the rest of the windows to let in more of the cool morning breezes. Today won’t be as hot. I find myself smiling; I’ll get more done. There’s more to do. This works for me.

The night ended gently.

Yesterday was a good day. I’d planned to do more, including go enjoy dinner with visiting friends from out-of-town. I wasn’t up to it after all. I didn’t let that blow my general good spirits or fill me with guilt or shame or disappointment, and since I took a different approach than all of those things, I also avoided becoming mired in hidden resentment, irritation, or defensiveness – the sort of things that are, while very human, so capable of wrecking a perfectly good time, and frankly so easy to avoid, by choices that I make myself to live authentically, and take good care of this fragile vessel.

This morning we have it in mind to get together over brunch. 🙂 Fun! I love brunch. My traveling partner is of a mind to join us, and it all sounds quite wonderful. 🙂

Today is another day of packing, boxing, and sorting things out for the move. Laundry, too. Fuck – this doesn’t sound like a day of leisure at all. LOL I take a deep breath as my anxiety level attempts to rise, and as I exhale I feel myself relax. I chose this. I’m eager to proceed with it. This means it will be most easily done if I am also able to embrace the realities of the effort involved. There’s really no dodging the verbs, and life has a lot of them to offer.

I remind myself that this is a move that is only 11 days away at this point. (What?!!) That’s okay – I have boxes, a list, packing tape, sticky labels, a sharpie, tissue paper, and bubble wrap! How much more prepared could I be? Yesterday I got a thoroughly excellent start on having Day 1 items ready to move, and placed in an expedient “staging area” that I suppose could also be called a “dining room”. I made sure to provide the landlord my new address, and my firm move out date, and in return she provided me with the specifics of my pro-rated July rent. This is real. This is happening.

I take a few deep breaths of cool meadow breezes, and pause to listen to the wind chime, the call of the crow in the little pine outside my window, and to sip  my coffee. There remains much to do. It only feels overwhelming when I find my consciousness stalled in some future moment, while standing in the midst of all of the things yet to be done, and feeling rather as if that future moment is now, a now in which I am clearly not ready for it to be that future moment, then. lol Well, that’s easily remedied, is it not? I return my consciousness to now as well, and I’m just fine.

My anxiety comes and goes as I move through the work and details of managing yet another move. Some of my anxiety is merely baggage, the remnants of my chaos and damage lurking in the background of every moment. Some of my anxiety is real enough, but also that fairly natural impotent sort of not-very-helpful anxiety that crops up in the face of adulting at full speed, and suddenly noticing “I don’t have training wheels”; I feel less skilled at all of this than I most likely actually am. I’ve moved before. I’ve moved recently. I’ve moved myself with minimal help. I’ve coordinated moves when I’ve had a lot of help. I’ve got this. Anxiety is liar.

It’s a pleasant morning, and the day has yet to reveal its many delights. It’s enough to enjoy the moment, to enjoy the breezes, to enjoy my coffee, and to begin again. 🙂

I went to bed walking on clouds, wrapped in love, and feeling sure of “my place in the universe”. In my next moment of awareness I am mired in doubt. Restless. Insecure. Uncertain. Questioning even those things that seemed so certain the night before. Questioning love. Questioning the value of taking care of this fragile vessel. More questions than answers, and not the solid sort of question that just by being asked becomes a sign post on life’s journey. No, these were the questions that torment, more like the flea bite on my wrist – aggravating and not worth obsessing over, but I’m still scratching it. As with that metaphorical flea bite, digging at it long enough could do actual damage, rather pointlessly. Knowing that does not stop it itching.

I started to reassure myself, and stumble on thoughts intended to soothe and encourage. I notice, at some point, that I am actually quite awake. 3:37 am. I am awake in the wee hours asking myself existential questions about life, house hunting, relationships, the future… It’s a poor time of day for that sort of reflection. My brain attacks me in the darkness. I finally just get up, feeling some weird complex emotional stew of sadness, insecurity, fear and learned helplessness. Why the ever-loving hell am I putting myself through all of this? (Particularly after such a pleasant weekend.)

Is it going to be that kind of day? I find myself struggling to balance concerns about my health with eagerness about the house hunting. So human. Struggling to balance powerful feeling of being loved and valued by my partner that comes of having his confidence and trust as I house hunt for a more permanent place of my own with the sudden fear that this could mean he is indifferent to the outcome, and that I mean less to him than I thought I did. Struggling to balance my own confidence in myself with the lingering chaos and damage that begins whispering “how dare you?” in the background. Struggling, out of nowhere, with self-doubt about my painting, my writing – my existence itself. Instead of “who am I”, this morning my brain sucker punches me with “why am I?” and I question my worthiness as a human creature. Manufactured internal drama.

When the tears come, I am not surprised. I sip my coffee and snarl back at myself “fuck your tears and your moody bullshit!” In the quiet room my voice sounds stern, and harsher than I mean it to. I haven’t had enough sleep. I’m somewhat stressed about my health. It’s a very poor time to rethink every-damned-thing I’ve worked on while I was well-rested and clear-headed. Certainly, I have no cause to doubt my partner, or the worthiness of life itself. It’s scary to make a decision on something as huge as a house. 30  years of debt. Fuck. That sounds… yeah. Scary. I breathe through that moment and give myself a chance to accept that it does feel pretty nerve-wracking. Reasonably so. The fear is tempered somewhat by my partner’s confidence in my decision-making, but also boosted by that same experience; what if I choose badly? Doubt found its foothold right there. It percolated through my sleeping consciousness. I wake here; mired in doubt, wrestling with personal demons before the alarm clock goes off.

Damn it. I’m also wrestling with my keyboard. I spilled coffee on it yesterday, cleaned it up, let it dry, and hoping for the best, took no further immediate action. I need to clean it properly. It becomes a metaphor in this moment for taking better care, for listening deeply, for following through on tasks, and for patience with circumstances; the “insert” function is stuck in the on position. When I attempt to make a correction, hilarity ensues. I am okay right now. (I am most particularly okay once I notice that my “insert” key isn’t stuck at all; I’ve been tapping at the wrong key, quite ineffectively. Yeah. Getting enough rest does matter. I smile at the journey this small living metaphor has taken me on this morning. I’m definitely okay right now, for most values of okay. 🙂 )

The thing with insecurity and doubt are that they are no more “real” than any other emotion of the moment (and no less so). They have no decision-making power that I don’t choose to grant them. I find I’m still annoyed with waking myself up over moody bullshit, and the less-than-subtle moment of irritation is returned to me as a silent reminder to treat myself well, to show myself kindness, to consider myself…

…I’m taken back to the conversation about house-hunting I had with my Traveling Partner last night. “I really want you to meet your needs with this,” he’d said “don’t be focused on what I might want.” And “I’m excited about this for you.” Is that what set off my doubt and insecurity? Is it that fucking hard, even now, to be really okay with taking care of me? I find myself smiling in spite of how annoyed I am to have disrupted my own sleep, undermining needed rest, to waste time feeling uncertain about whether I know what I want and need for myself, or feeling fearful of committing to it. It’s very human, and a reminder that there is still work to do on this solo hike through life, becoming the person I most want to be. I pause to recall the lovely observations made by my Traveling Partner last night, about how he sees me, how that feels for him, and about this love we share, and the strength we find in our shared journey.

The little house I’ll see today isn’t the biggest one I’ve seen in my price range (it’s also not the smallest). It doesn’t have everything on my wish list (but it has a lot of things). There are no obvious ‘deal breakers’ in the described details or photographs, but experience has already taught me that people will take very careful pictures to avoid showing those off. I’ll just have to see it. Is it enough? For some values of “enough” it obviously is. I set the whole matter aside; there’s nothing more to be done, or felt, or decided, until I see it. The alarm goes off in the other room. It’s time to get up. lol

Today I’ll treat myself well, and with great consideration. The day will begin, and it will end, and tomorrow I’ll begin again. Somewhere in between, I’ll see a doctor, see a house, and see to getting the day’s work done. From the vantage point of “now”, it’s enough.

Sometimes I have the sense that the entirety of my life is a process of waking up slowly, but in the case of this morning, the titular remark is an observation relevant only to the morning I face now. This one. I woke really early and went back to sleep. I woke a bit later, on time for taking my morning medication – which I did – then I went back to sleep. I woke about 90 minutes later, again, found another comfortable position. Went back to sleep. This repeated until some minutes ago… when I woke, and after looking at the clock, pulled myself upright to begin the day, rather arbitrarily. I think I could have kept sleeping.

I woke slowly. I woke puzzled by the utter quiet. I still don’t hear any traffic, really, just bird song. The on site contractors working on this and that haven’t yet arrived, and there’s no sound of neighborhood children heading to school… It’s quite peculiar. I make a point to listen – I do hear birdsong. I hear my fingers on the keyboard. The morning is such a quiet one, even with the windows thrown open to the morning breezes, that I easily hear the goose neck kettle finish it’s part in the making off coffee – no whistle, no alarm, just a quiet ‘click’ from the kitchen.

My coffee is good. I sip it contentedly and let the morning slowly come to life. I think about yesterday, and consider what I learned from it, and all the many mysteries that remain. It wasn’t actually a ‘bad day’ or even a ‘bad experience’ being at the VA yesterday, generally speaking. I got my imaging done, and took some interesting pictures while I was waiting. I don’t know more about my health than I did before. I’m still waiting. I’m not at all sure what to make of that. There’s probably something to learn from it. 🙂

Something... something... perspective. (Give me a break, I haven't had my coffee, yet!) :-)

Something… something… perspective. (Give me a break, I haven’t had my coffee, yet!) 🙂

I arrived home incredibly cross on this whole other aggravating level. I canceled plans with my traveling partner; I wasn’t fit to be around, honestly, and I’d have gotten as far from me as I could, if that were an option. My irritability didn’t last, once I undertook to care for my needs. There is no place at the VA convenient for using cannabis, the grim hilarity of which is not lost on me (it’s the only drug I know that actually works effectively on many PTSD symptoms), and I arrived home seriously under-medicated for my stress level. My blood sugar wasn’t an issue, and I was pleased that I’d managed that piece with such care. My noise sensitivity was through the roof – doesn’t matter if that was caused by being under-medicated or due to the stress, resolving either would ease it. I felt angry-but-not-at-anything-specific, and more than anything I just needed quiet in an environment with a lot less stimuli – particularly social stimuli. Public transportation is crowded, noisy, and emotionally loaded during rush hour. Once I was home, it was not-quite-easy to take care of my needs, dial down my stress, ease my frazzled nerves, and find my way to feeling okay, again. It was a nice change to be able to re-calibrate my mood successfully.

Work in progress - like me. :-)

Work in progress – like me. 🙂

Now, here’s today. What’s to be done with that? My knee aches from the long Monday hike, and I’m walking with my hiking staff for support for a few days. The apartment could use some tidying, and there’s laundry to be done. I’m in the middle of an art project I’m emotionally  invested in. I’ve taken up bass guitar, and – well – practice is a necessary thing. I have one appointment, later. The knee is an inconvenience, were it not for that the day plans itself easily walking to the appointment, from the appointment to the store, and home… maybe I can manage that in spite of the knee, taking things slowly and with great care? There’s time. It sounds like a nice day, actually…but it won’t feel so nice if I over-commit, and find myself a mile or more down the trail, unable to continue due to pain. Yoga first and reassess? That seems a wise choice. I finish my coffee feeling purposeful, still wrapped in contentment.

I’m hopeful the day will include a visit with my traveling partner, but I’m not so invested in it that I would be blown off course if the day takes a different turn. That’s a lovely level of flexibility and resilience to have – I’ve worked at it for a while now. Success feels very comfortable. Natural. Learning to let go of attachment, and becoming more emotionally self-sufficient, has been entirely worth making the effort to sort myself out, find out how worthy I am of my own company, and to become a woman I am entirely content to hang out with day-to-day, on my own. 🙂  Still… I miss my partner when we’re apart, and I’m eager to enjoy his company, if not today, then another day – any other day. 🙂

It's a good day for practicing effective practices.

It’s a good day for practicing effective practices.

Today is a good day for sunshine, and getting things done. Today is a good day to smile at strangers. Today is a good day to be the change I wish to see in the world. Right now? Right now is a good time for a second cup of coffee. 😉