Archives for posts with tag: ACT

I often think of life as a metaphorical garden. (Isn’t it?)

I sometimes stray down the path without tending the garden.

The healthy tilth is a good starting point; planting seeds in crags and rocks may not yield a generous crop of fruits, vegetables, or flowers. Understanding what is fertile ground, and how to prepare ground for planting has value.

Composting scraps and garden waste skillfully results in more fertile soil… but which scraps are suitable, and which will ruin the compost? Not all that is waste or scrap is worth keeping.

Lush and beautiful, chosen with care. We reap what we sow, and how we tend our garden matters.

Choosing seeds and plants with care, understanding the climate, and the seasons, locally, in my own garden, really matters; however fertile the soil, planting something that can’t thrive in my climate puts my garden at a disadvantage.

A weed in one context may be a crop in another.

Taking care, every day, to nurture my garden, to fertilize when needed, to water, to cut back spent blooms, to weed out noxious or invasive intruders that consume resources, but yield nothing, matters greatly over time. If I am not present, some plants may thrive, willy-nilly, coincidental to the luck of the rainfall and the weather, but the outcome is left to chance – other plants will wither and die. My harvest may not be plentiful. My blooming season limited.

My roses suffer my lack of attention; this is true of most things that require attention.

Self-care works very much in this same way. I don’t suppose I need to spell it all out more factually – if you already keep a garden, you already get it. 🙂

My results vary, as does the weather.

I haven’t been home much, lately. Most weekends I am away. I travel to see my Traveling Partner, catching up with him wherever he is. I travel to see friends. I travel for this or that event or festival. I travel on a whim. I catch myself yearning to be at home, in my own garden…

…Yes, it’s a metaphor. 🙂

This weekend I am at home. I am in my own garden, tending it with care, making up for lost time, present, and appreciating this moment, right here. It’s enough to be here, now, and there is no need or time for self-criticism, or what-ifs, or if-onlys. This is now, and now is enough, and I am here, enjoying it with the woman in the mirror – who has been missing this quiet place, and time.

Be present. See wonders. Experience the moment, fully.

The morning started slowly, and auspiciously enough; I slept in. I woke gently in the twilight of a new day, the room turning light in spite of the curtains, as day broke. I got up. Showered. Found my feet carrying me toward the car as soon as I was dressed. Coffee-to-Go and a breakfast sandwich on a hilltop looking out across the countryside, with a view of Mt Hood beyond. Bare feet. Damp grass. Contentment. No firm plan, and coffee finished, I found my way to the farmer’s market, then heading home with fresh local strawberries, fully ripe – the sort one never finds in a grocery store. The scent fills the car.

I arrive home, smiling so hard my face hurt, in spite of the peculiarly moody dark sky, threatening imminent rain (that has only now started to fall, some hours later). I make a Turkish coffee, melt some chocolate, and feast on strawberries dipped in warm chocolate, sipping coffee, in my garden. I raise my cup cheerily at a robin who joins me, watching me from the deck rail. There is work to do in my garden, metaphorical or otherwise, and I have been away far too much for my own good. I finish my coffee, then finish the spring planting, finish the weeding, finish the watering, just in time to head indoors before the rain comes. I leave a strawberry, fat, juicy, and fully ripe, on the deck rail… in case of visitors. 🙂

Rain is definitely coming.

Inside, my metaphorical life-garden greets me, and here too there is work to be done. Untidiness has crept in, a corner here, a stack of paperwork over there, a piece of gear that was not put away, a book askew from all the rest, a stray sock left where it fell, unnoticed, and so much laundry that very much wants to be put away… I’m still smiling. It’s a good day to begin again. 🙂

Tuesday it was Kate Spade. This morning, I read that Anthony Bourdain has also taken his own life. I pause for a moment to consider the engaging chef whose books and television shows entertained and educated me. I enjoyed his wit. The headline “Anthony Bourdain Has Died” didn’t prepare me for the further information regarding his suicide. There’s a certain different ache in my soul when I read of suicide…

…I know what despair feels like.

Well, shit. It’s a scary, seriously frightening and frustrating world these days. I get feeling overwhelmed by despair. Some days it is hard not to. We will see, for days to come, articles about suicide help lines, and some analyses of what drives people to take their own lives. There will be salacious gossip about the lives of the fallen. Someone will share a recent article about the high rate of senior or veteran suicides. Most of the people who read those will shake their heads, and turn away, unaware someone dear to them is on the brink of making that major “life” decision.

Connect with your loved ones, your friends, associates, and coworkers. Be sure to mention that they matter to you in an authentic way, and be real about it. It’s not about hyperbole and fake compliments, and it isn’t necessary to use superlatives. Easier to straight up give voice to that thing they do that you enjoy, or count on, or appreciate, or wish you did as well – or, fucking hell, just have lunch, or coffee – make time. Be present. Don’t rush those connected social moments; they are what matter most in our days. There’s no knowing when someone may choose to check out, and while you may not be able to change their mind about it, you can, at least, enjoy who they are while they are here.

On the other side of the equation, please consider sticking around awhile? If you’re considering a firm end to the chaos, and stress, and trauma, and struggle, and despair… please, just for a moment, consider that there may be other things you have yet to try. There may be practices that improve your experience, even if they don’t change the entire world, itself. Incremental change takes time – please give yourself some. Someone, I promise you, will miss you if you go.

I stayed. There are a lot of verbs involved, but it has been, very much, worth it to have stayed. I’ll go on with that, with staying around I mean, because things got better. Things continue to get better. I can’t promise that for you, but I can assure you that choosing change results in changes, so long as you do the verbs. 🙂 Your results may (will) vary, and the changes you choose in life may be somewhat askew from the changes you subsequently find unfolding around you, but change is. Despair isn’t particularly sustainable, it’s just annoyingly difficult to see through when we’re feeling it.

There’s one irksome thing about suicide that never fails to leave me feeling bereft and discontent; I don’t know why. No, I mean… I don’t know why. That’s what leaves me feeling so bereft and discontent. I’m not sure there’s any solid “why” to suicide. Surely, people have their reasons. Many leave a note behind, but often those are not public, and even when they are public, they leave so much left unexplained – as if I think there is, or should be, a reasonable explanation when despair overtakes someone. Despair is shitty enough to be its own reason.

One more time, I let the “why?” go, and pause for a moment to say good-bye to a fallen soul. I pause for regret. I pause to appreciate, to mourn, to find personal solace after a time. I pause to be aware I am, myself, okay right now… as though it could creep up on me, and take me by surprise, myself…

…Then I begin again.

I woke at 4 am. The headache nagging at me had all the signs of likely being caused by dehydration, in spite of the quantity of water I am drinking. I need to be drinking more; it’s just that dry here. Fresno is, more or less, a city snatched from a desert by sheer cussedness. It’s not the most hospitable climate for human primates, but we adapt pretty easily.

With effort, and considerable awkwardness as my muscles protest, I get up, get a big big drink of unbelievably icy cold water from the near-frozen bottle of water in the tiny (working, quiet, convenient, appreciated) fridge. I think I’m going back to bed. I’m not. I don’t. I’m awake.

Fuck this headache.

I drink more water. I check my email. I rather pointlessly hunt for the tiny earring back that fell to the floor when I got up; I forgot to take my earrings out last night. In spite of the early hour, I was that tired. No matter. I give up; I’m not even awake at that point and the effort is wasted until sometime after sunrise. There is only one working light in the room, and it doesn’t illuminate much at all. lol

I drink more water. I’ve been drinking more than a gallon of water a day. It’s not enough. This is Fresno.

So hot.

I’ve a journey ahead, and find myself feeling a pang of reluctance to return “home” so soon. How is this place not home? I mean… yeah. I could, still, call this place home. I miss these friends. I miss the life that had been developing, before I moved, chasing “love” (sex, actually, and maybe security). A different path might not have brought my Traveling Partner and I together, so, no regrets, really… But, oh this place! These friends. I miss a great deal of what “here” has to offer. It’s hard to leave so soon.

…On the other hand. I miss my own place. This small room confounds me. lol I am traveling quite light on this trip, and I’m missing a few things for everyday expected comfort. I can’t paint… no art supplies. 0_o In this heat, I don’t have the energy for hiking and shooting nature photographs. The heat exhausts me; I slept in every morning but this one. That peculiar sleep of desert folk, where the best deepest sleep really begins shortly before dawn, after the night has cooled off all that it will. It makes sleeping in quite effortless; it’s the best sleep. This morning I woke early with a headache, having somehow not consumed enough water yesterday. It’s a bit annoying, really; I was looking forward to the sleep. :-\

The Author will pick me up around 8am, and we’ll go out to breakfast somewhere sort of near the airport before he drops me off to people watch and read before my flight departs. I’ll arrive home, hours later, after a layover, after ride from the airport to my residence. There will be the moment of relief. The setting down of bags. The discerning glance around the place as I note how well or poorly I have welcomed myself home, based on how thoroughly I prepared for that moment, before I departed. A shower. A quiet evening. Then… back to the routines of life. Not as if this trip hadn’t happened – it has been too profoundly rewarding and connected for that – more grateful to have had the experience, and the opportunity to see so many people so dear to me, than anything else. A needed vacation.

Headed back to a cooler climate.

Still with the fucking headache? I drink more water, and look at the time. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Yeah. Still a thing. Still so human. I woke anxious at 2:41 a.m. I got up at 3:00 for a few minutes to deal with it, when turning over and calming my breathing wasn’t sufficient to soothe me. I went back to bed a few minutes later. I woke with the alarm, less anxious. It’s still lurking there in the background waiting to be taken more seriously. Ideally, I don’t plan to give it much thought, this morning; there’s nothing “wrong” over which anxiety could gain some legitimacy.

I’ll just say this bluntly; this is advanced anxiety management, and I could not have managed it in this fashion a few years ago. It’s not that I’m “ignoring it”, quite the contrary, I’m very aware that the sensations are there, and those are quite physical, but, and this is an important thing, because there really isn’t anything particular to be anxious about, I am mostly able, at this point, after years of practice and work at this specific thing, I am mostly able to relegate the experience firmly to the realm of “weird physical sensations that don’t mean much” and let it go. Mostly. I’m more than typically vulnerable to stress real-time, though, and that’s something to be mindful of as I go through my day. I treat myself gently, and a bit as if I am “already triggered”, just to stay alert for unexpected losses of perspective or emotional balance as I go through my day.

I sip my iced coffee. I breathe. I practice good self-care. I consider the day ahead. I look forward to the weekend. Oh – there it is. Am I anxious about the flight? I rarely travel by air, and it’s been rather a while since I have. I’m pretty human. lol Novelty isn’t especially comfortable for me. Crowded airport spaces are noisy, and filled with stimulus. I’m easily overwhelmed by it. I breathe. I pause to remember the real joy and excitement of waiting for my grandfather in airports when I was small. I feel a smile tugging at my face, and the anxiety dissipates. Yeah. Just needed to feel heard. Okay. I got this. 😀

This weekend I’ll be taking my laptop, and possibly writing a bit; it’s a time for self-reflection as I close in on 55. Wow. 55?? How the fuck did that grand age creep up on me, and why is it that it feels so much younger than old? Pretty sure I once thought 55 would be… old. It’s just not, actually. lol I guess I’m glad about that – there’s still so much to do!!

It’s time to get started – I’ve got a list. 😉

I’m sipping my coffee thinking about challenges, struggles, and practices. Thinking about the discomfort of listening to one friend or another, in one moment or another, going through changes and the frustration of hearing them beef about how hard it all is… and make no mistake, it’s not easy, but… yeah. Do something, though. Just pissing and moaning about how hard life is to sympathetic friends doesn’t have much power to change anything.

Small changes are enough, and over time they make bigger changes. We become what we practice.

Hate all the drama in your life? Choose different relationships (or choose differently in the ones you’ve got). Practice being low drama. Create a drama free zone that is a sacred space for you. Set clear boundaries – and respect them yourself. Hell no, it’s not “easy” – what is? Practice. Then practice some more. We become what we practice.

Hate “who you’ve become”? Well… shit… become someone different than who you are now. I mean… yeah. It is actually “that simple”, although it isn’t “easy”, really, at all. It takes practice. Decisions about who we each are, are not enough – it’s the behavior that creates change in our thinking (although changing our thinking can definitely change our behavior – and you can mix and match).

While we’re on about it – maybe stop “hating” stuff? It’s a poor practice. It allows you to become good at hate. We become what we practice.

So… what are you practicing?

Today is a good day to begin again. Today is a good day to practice being the person you most want to be. ❤