Archives for posts with tag: a student of life and love

I watched the sun set as I rode the light rail across town. It was lovely. I didn’t think to take a picture, and I’m not sure I could have captured the quality of light reliably. I enjoyed the moment. The ride was fairly quiet, as if all the other commuters were similarly wrapped in their own thoughts, or simply tired at the end of a long day. I didn’t think much about it at the time. I rode along wrapped in my own thoughts.

Home. There’s not much on my mind besides this gentle quiet place, and love. It’s enough.

I spent some time, before it began to get quite dark, rearranging the potted roses and herbs on my patio; the contractors had their own idea about placement, and left my garden in disarray when they left. It was a lovely soothing moment tending home and hearth, and the evening feels very satisfying. This is also enough.

A different evening, a different place, some other moment.

A different evening, a different place, some other moment.

There was a point at which I had pulled fine filaments of words together in a complex braided thread that became quite properly an idea. It dissipated like mist in the golden sunset as I rode along smiling at the evening light, and I arrived home pleasantly tired. Satisfied with the moment; all of it, every bit, quite enough.

I woke to my alarm this morning. I slept through the night aside from one very brief interruption in my sleep that ended with checking the clock and agreeing with myself that getting up at 1:35 am was silly. I went back to sleep easily. I am adjusting to the new environment. There’s no anxiety associated with my disturbed sleep, which is an improvement. I am simply in a new place and the differences make a difference to my sleep until my sense of things grows to rely on implicit memory of this new place, rather than some other place I have been previously. Waking in the night is no longer so disorienting, and when I reached for my alarm this morning my hand found it immediately.

Incremental changes over time do happen, and applying some verbs from my basic self-care arsenal helps that process along nicely. Taking care of me, here, is about more than stress-relieving meditation, pain-relieving yoga, and healthy sleep, too. It is also about dishes, and vacuuming, and making the bed. It is about maintaining order, and a beautiful home for myself – and not because someone else says these things have value (actually, that approach just doesn’t work at all). These are things I value for myself. I can only have them if I do the tasks and take the actions that building that life requires. The verbs are inescapable.

I woke up this morning with a smile. My coffee is hot and tasty and from the vantage point of my desk I can see, on one side, my as-yet-unmade bed, and on the other my very clean kitchen. Timing, too, is part of my self-care picture – waking to a clean kitchen and no dishes waiting in the sink really matters to me. On the other hand, there is no stress or pressure to make my bed upon rising, and I am happy to give myself time to wake up and have coffee and handle that task a little later. I am gentle with myself in this new space. I am efficient, and also patient with myself about competing priorities, and overlapping needs. I have given up berating and criticizing myself over small things – it’s mean and hurtful when others do it, and I don’t care for it – when I inflict such things on myself, it goes beyond hurting and becomes part of who I am, and changes what I accept from others, or tolerate in myself. It hasn’t been easy to give up the practice of treating myself poorly in the context of environments in which others may be treating themselves poorly, or me, or other people – it’s too much continuous reinforcement of behaviors I have been working to change.

I’m not saying it is ‘easy’ now – there are still verbs involved – it just feels a bit less complicated to practice treating myself gently in this quiet space.

They set a good example of living in the moment.

They set a good example of living in the moment.

My aquarium arrived yesterday, and having it set up here at home delights me. I definitely missed the cadre of tiny eyes watching me while I write, and the fish are a wonderful living example of being in the moment – where else would they be? The fios guys stopped round yesterday and got me connected. Later I stopped at the grocery store and picked up groceries – a far less time-consuming process cooking for one, and that one being me (I know what I like, what is healthy for me, and don’t have to work so hard to accommodate other tastes and needs now) – particularly with the store being a short walk away. My pantry is not yet complete. I don’t have a complete set of pots and pans, either. Those details don’t matter right now; I have enough.

It has been just one week since moving day, and I am moved in (aside from hanging paintings, and storing those that will not be hanging). I feel at home already, and this surprises me – I expected ‘finding my way home’ to be more complicated, and require vastly more work to change…something. Something inside myself. Whatever that something is, it has apparently already changed leaving behind only geography and choices to make. There is no need to rush the choices that continue to personalize my home over time – there is fun in the process of exploring new ideas, as well as growth, and rushing those remaining choices increases the risk of being discontent with the outcome later. I take my time with it, and enjoy the process.

Honestly, it is still very new to live entirely alone. My traveling partner wondered aloud recently what it would be like for me once the novelty wears off. I wonder too. I also wonder if I would notice the novelty wearing off at all – my novelty identification circuitry is quite broken. lol Would I complain if living alone continued to be a wonder and a delight indefinitely? I don’t think I would. 🙂 Real life is real, though, and I’m okay with that too. The kitchen floor creaks ferociously here. The fios equipment is rather awkwardly placed. The dishwasher (brand new) doesn’t work and it will be another couple of days before the appliance guy comes to fix it. My aquarium is not arranged precisely as I had it – the mover did her best, and I did not complain; I am content to have my aquarium at home, and I can make any adjustments I care to, later. The warm evening yesterday, and the open door while the aquarium mover moved my aquarium let some mosquitoes into the house and I woke with some mosquito bites this morning. So, sure… there’s no shortage of imperfections even in this gentle experience. I’m still okay with that. I’m living my life, doing my best to treat myself and others well, and using some verbs.

Who I am, who I once was, and the journey between those points.

Who I am, who I once was, and the journey between those points; it is enough.

 

I am home.

Like anything else, love tends to be imperfect, and there are moments less worthy of celebration than others: misunderstandings that cause hurt feelings, the human failings and small shortcomings that lead to inevitable disappointments small and large, and the effects of change and the passage of time having their say in matters of love, too.

One perspective on home.

One perspective on home.

I’m back from my trip out to the trees, and I am thinking about love, and the things about love that move me most, that matter most, and that nurture me in solitary moments. I am struggling a lot, lately, with attachment. The challenges pile up, tangential to each other, complicating progress like trying to wind sticky yarn into an orderly ball in a strong breeze; I feel frustrated and dissatisfied. Some of the questions feel angrier than usual, and perspective, compassion and understanding compete with resentment and discontent – emotions all vying for the attention of this broken brain; whatever shouts loudest, first, will likely be the thing expressed, however poorly, and however low on my list of real priorities. That, too, frustrates me.

Not this way...

Not this way…

Moments like this it’s too easy to drown in discontent, to bring the focus to what isn’t, to what was, to what I yearn for and don’t have. I haven’t had much success with changing that; loss hurts. One healthier practice I practice when I’m struggling with attachment and feeling resentful or discontent is to take time to consider, instead, the things I very much enjoy and value in my experience that exist and are real – even things I’m not so fortunate as to enjoy regularly (or at all, let’s be honest; there are times of plenty and times of famine) – because putting the focus on the joy, itself, rather than the momentary or immediate lack of it, does make a difference in my perspective in general. It’s worth the discipline – and there are verbs involved – because if nothing else, it just feels better to contemplate, and savor, the beautiful experiences life offers more than it does to allow myself to become mired in the sorrow and heartache of regret. Enjoying the recollection of the things I like about love is a handy rope ladder I can throw to myself…

…Sometimes I need the help.

The path isn't always well-marked...

The path isn’t always well-marked…

You know what I like about love? Tenderness. I like tender words spoken softly, almost in secret, in my ear unexpectedly. I like the feather soft touch of a lover brushing my hair from my face while looking into my eyes. I like little moments of gentle touch, here and there, in passing, in the hallway, in the kitchen, the unexpected embrace, the sense that love is so urgent that not another moment could pass without touching. I like passion; I most enjoy the passion of reciprocal sexual love, body against body, seeing into each other’s hearts, feeling touch and feeling touched in shared moments, electric, intimate, raw. I like romance, flirtatious, playful, rambunctious, mysterious, and enduring. I like looking into a lovers sleepy eyes as we wake together, realizing that we fell asleep together, unplanned, cuddled like puppies, exhausted from friendly adult play. I like cooking together, and laughing about calories. I like deep conversation, mind to mind, sharing intellectual fervor – and emotional vulnerability, looking for understanding instead of righteousness. I like engagement – heart to heart, sharing personal moments, important memories, things that matter – and things that don’t. I like sharing laughter – laughing with a lover feels better than any other laughter, ever. I like slow lingering intimate moments after sex, when just being, and breathing in the same space is the only ‘I love you’ anyone needs to hear. I like the touches that lead to sex; too exciting for words, communicating so much more than words can. I like that breath-taking moment in a lover’s arms when it is clear that it is the only place in that moment that any of us need to be.

It's worth enjoying the best the journey has to offer, no matter the weather.

It’s worth enjoying the best the journey has to offer, no matter the weather.

Today is a good day to love, and to enjoy what love offers now. Today is a good day to invest in love, by taking time to appreciate, savor, and value all that it means to me to love, over time.

 

Be kind. It’s a simple enough suggestion. It’s not expensive to be kind to people (or animals, or celebrities, or nice things you may have acquired along life’s path). Further, what good reason is there to be unkind? Oh sure, there’s a lot of wiggle room between ‘kind’ and ‘unkind’ that isn’t so clearly defined. Can we accept that both kindness and unkindness are likely active choices or processes, rather than just fumbling along doing and being? If so, and we also recognize that most of us living in the U.S. probably heard the ‘be kind’ message, the ‘play nicely’ and ‘do unto others’ messages pretty repetitively growing up…what the hell is the matter with us as adults? Have you seen the way people treat each other? The nastiness? The negativity? The vicious unending criticism of self and others? The callousness and cruelty built on foundations of self-righteous entitlement and us/them thinking? So…um…if this is our idea of ‘kindness’ or ‘good treatment’ of our fellow man…maybe we would do well to be kinder than that? Seriously.

Sorry. I’m sick with a head cold, and feeling out of sorts. Life’s day-to-day bullshit and drama are more easily tolerated, avoided, or managed more skillfully when I’m not ill. My emotional resilience is limited – and when I’m sick, my default reaction is often anger; I honestly just want to be treated gently, supported, and cared for – because I’m sick.  Of course I’m not alone in that; it’s spring, and the second significant wave of illness has hit the area (there’s ‘flu’ season, then just as spring gears up, we often see a major short-term increase in people out of office with colds).  I’m pretty sure I picked this cold up either in the office or on the commute. (Cover your coughs/sneezes, people, please!) Hell, I’m not even the only person in the household who is ill this week.

Here’s the thing about kindness that I notice most often; people aren’t doing it. A lot of people, totally not investing even the slightest effort to be kind, and instead actively investing will, intent, emotion, time, choice, and action into treating people poorly – not just any people, the people they say matter most! I regularly see or hear people being total dicks, seriously hurtful and unkind, to friends, lovers, even family. What the hell? These are people we care about? What’s the thinking there?

What does kindness really look like?

What does kindness really look like?

I’ll take a real-life example – a stranger from a recent bus ride – to illustrate. A woman gets on the bus, she is on a phone call. She is talking very loudly, and it is not possible to avoid overhearing every word of her phone call (at least her end of it). So, okay – that’s our first moment of unkindness; she seemed utterly unaware that this behavior could be disruptive or unpleasant for other passengers at all. As the call progressed I learned way to much about her, but it fuels the writing this morning. 🙂 She was angry, and venting to a friend about her resentment that her current lover expected her to shower before sex (note, this is happening late in the afternoon on a Wednesday) and observes “I just had a shower on Sunday morning, and it’s not like I’ve had sex since then!”. I’m struck by her resentment… we live in a pretty hygiene conscious society, and my own perspective in this context was to feel just a little shocked that she’d admit to ‘being so nasty’. lol (I am aware that different standards exist in other cultures, and that the frequency of bathing in other circumstances could reasonably be quite different.) She goes on from there to rant about his many other lovers that she is sure exist, and all manner of vengeance she is inclined to enact due to the existence of these other lovers. The conversation continues. In the space of a few minutes she rather self-righteously exclaims a variety of fairly criminal acts to be within reason for her, in her circumstances: stealing her lovers phone to go through his address book without his consent, contacting people she doesn’t know to say derogatory things about him (specifically untrue, and she’s quite clear about that, too), physical violence against her lover or his potential lovers, arson, homicide, assault, gas-lighting, stalking… and all delivered in a tone of utter self-righteous entitlement, and clear anticipation that her position is rationally supportable and justified. It was actually pretty  horrifying to listen to. I could not help but wonder why anyone would have sex with someone who would say such things about them, or potentially behave in any of those ways! She directed an equal measure of implied invective toward herself stating assumptions about other women with similar characteristics reflecting her self-defined short-comings, and the imagined advantages held by women of others sorts. (She was very concerned about the weight of her lovers potential paramours, and made it clear that ‘skinny girls don’t have these problems’ – which goes well beyond any acceptable lack of social awareness for an adult, I think.)

Am I gossiping? I hope not… I am also doing my best to avoid being (or sounding) judgmental… I’m trying to get around to making this point; be kind. Treat yourself and others well. Sure – but if you don’t understand that being loud on a cell phone on the bus is unkind to other passengers, will you know not to do it? If I don’t understand that making threats of violence when I am angry is unkind to people for whom that level of acting out causes anxiety, will I know to work on handling my volatility differently? If we live in a culture where we regularly see people treated as property, will we understand that people are not property – and that assault and arson are not appropriate responses to another human beings sexual decision-making? That it isn’t okay to kill people because we’re angry with them? The woman on the bus very clearly believed in her cause, and that she had been wronged, and that any action she might take to redress that wrong would be acceptable – who taught her that? Who taught her that her lover becomes her property because they have a sexual relationship? Who taught her that someone else’s needs are of less importance than her own? It really got me thinking about me – about what I do or don’t expect from people, and what I find appropriate day-to-day – and why. I can do better, day-to-day, to be kind. I can’t find any reason not to.

Many years ago I was admittedly not particularly concerned about kindness. I didn’t ‘get it’. (Righteous rage doesn’t make much room for compassion or kindness, honestly.) I think about kindness a lot now. I am not able to make a good argument against being kind – but I see a lot of ‘traps’ along my journey; it is tempting to rationalize very good sounding reasons to exclude one person or another from being treated with kindness. It isn’t easy to maintain kindness toward others when I’m having a difficult moment, or feel angry at that person I am tempted to be unkind towards. It is sometimes difficult to be skillful at not permitting myself to be taken advantage of or treated badly in the face of kindness; I know I have much to learn, and I also know that kindness is possible without sacrificing good self-treatment, consideration, and self-respect, too.  Life’s curriculum is rich, complex – and rewarding. I am still a student. I am still a beginner. “I am only an egg.”

What does it take to build a beautiful life?

What does it take to build a beautiful life?

Today is a good day to be kind. It’s also a good day to be kinder than that. It’s a good day to take being the woman I most want to be to another level. We are each having our own experience; a kind moment might be all that other person needs to thrive. It’s a good day to be the change I wish to see in the world.

Better content.

Better content.*

Mindful service to hearth and home.
Mindful service to community and the world.
Mindful service to self, heart and soul.
Mindful will and wide-eyed wonder.
What would it look like to be the nicest person in the room?
Taking care.

One autumn moment worth pausing for.

One autumn moment worth pausing for.

*What started out simply as notes, taken in passing, sloppily written on the palm of my hand, standing in the cold, became a moment to cherish, to savor, to enjoy fully present…and lacking the words to truly share the moment, I shared the notes instead. 🙂