Archives for posts with tag: aging

Stop.

Seriously, just put it all on pause for a minute or two. You’ll be fine. The work will wait. The pings and texts will wait too. That urgent whateverthefuck you just have to get done right now? Yep, even that will wait for a couple minutes. Take care of you for a minute. Breathe. Exhale. Relax.

Turn off the music. Quiet as much of the noise as you can control. Just sit for a minute. Another breath. Need a timer? I’ve got you… here, try this one. You’ve got two minutes for you, right?

…<sigh>… Feels good. Just a quiet minute or two…

There’s a lot to get done. Life sometimes feels so crazy busy that I walk around with a chronic lingering sensation of something being incomplete, unfinished, or forgotten. Sometimes, when I stumble on the thing driving that sensation, it’ll turn out to be something forgettably unimportant like being interrupted while reading a receipt, and having the sensation of “an unfinished conversation” that turns out to be with myself. lol I’ve found, more than once, that the “secret” to feeling less busy, less frantic, less consumed by the details… is to slow down. So. Do that.

Do it again.

Set expectations with yourself and others about how much you really can (or are really willing) to do. Take care of yourself. “Human” comes with some known limitations. Respect your limitations – and your boundaries. Tired? Rest. Hurting? Heal. Cross with the world? Take a step back and enjoy you for a little while. Recognize that everyone around you needs those same things – rest, healing, and time to just be who they are, and enjoy that experience.

Look, I’m not telling you what to do. I’m telling you what I’m doing – and going to do, and planning to continue to practice until I get properly good at it. It just doesn’t make any damned sense to be the person in the world treating me the worst. lol I am practicing treating myself – and my loved ones – as well as I know how to treat anyone at all. Every day. Every interaction. Moment by moment. I expect to fall short of my goals – maybe a lot. Failure is an option – pretty commonplace, actually – and we learn more from failures than from successes, so… there’s that. 🙂 You’re gonna fail at some things. That has to be okay. Start over. Begin again. Understand where things went amiss, and do something different or change the context. Just don’t give up on yourself. You have room to grow – and even that journey can be fun, and even pleasant, and rewarding, and filled with love. 🙂 Worth exploring, I think.

…I’m in so much pain today. Arthritis in my spine. Cervicogenic headache. The consequences of injuries, aging, and cold weather… and it seems so completely ordinary as to defy being worth bitching about…but here I am. I think I’ll just begin again, myself. 🙂 I’m certainly too busy to let pain tell me what to do. 😉

My first cup of coffee followed a hurried trip to the grocery store, which I chose to do after waking to snow. It was falling, at that time, and the roads were still only mildly slushy. I’d planned to go later, but figured there was at least some risk that the snow might continue to fall, shutting us in for a day or two. Working from home isn’t a challenge; I’ve got the freedom to do so any time I choose to, which is a circumstance of this job I greatly appreciate. Still, being “stuck at home” with dwindling pantry supplies that had originally been stocked based solely on my own needs and preferences would suck pretty quickly, and potentially cause strife. So. Shopping. Before coffee. It was an easy trip, and the store was not at all crowded at 7:15 am on a snowy Sunday.

I returned home satisfied, content, and delighted to see my Traveling Partner awake already (we’d stayed up quite late watching movies together, and enjoying the intimacy and warmth of being wrapped in each other’s love, and entertained by each other’s merriment). The joyful greeting when I walked in the door has left a lingering smile that remains on my face even now, more than an hour later. I very much love being welcomed home by someone I love, who loves me in return.

The house is comfortably warm. The squirrels, chipmunks, and birds seem pleased with their morning feast on the deck. I made a point to thaw the water in the bird bath, too. The squirrels regularly seek out a drink of water from that dish. The snow on the deck is pretty. My coffee was delicious.

I sat quietly for a time, feeling the gratitude for this comfort, this pleasant place, these circumstances, this life… and, strangely, the softness of my skin, as I gently rub my hands out of some unnoticed impulse. So soft. So useful, these hands. So capable. I spend some minutes, tenderly, just being aware of how well I am caring for myself, generally, these days. No negative self-talk. A moment of honest appreciation for the woman in the mirror, and this decently, sustainably, modestly comfortable life I provide myself these days (and now share with my partner). I allow myself a moment of thanks – from me, for me. It’s not always easy. I have to make choices, and sometimes that means “telling myself no” on questions of luxury, of frivolity, of entertainment, and of expenses that I can’t really afford, in the moment. That’s just real. I am content with sufficiency. Trying to snatch more from life than what is enough to be content with has done more to hurt my quality of life than most other sorts of poor decision-making has. I consider that awhile longer.

I look at these hands, and gently stroke the soft skin, noticing, not unkindly, that these are not the hands of a woman of 22 – or of 40. Aging is a very real thing, and it’s hard to say much about it that provides any really meaningful insight, until I get to that place… and then, it’s damned difficult to communicate across the great divide that is the profound difference in perspective between the young, and the older. (Seriously. So hard.) I don’t know much about what the experience ahead is going to be like. I know what I’ve been through, myself, and what I’m going through, now… mostly. I have a layperson’s understanding of this experience. My perspective, only. It’s all very subjective, and poorly informed by any real science on the matter. It is what it is, and that is enough.

I enjoy the softness of my skin, without regard to understanding every detail of the anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biology, psychology, or sociology of being a human being over 50. This moment, this flesh, and this enjoyment of existence are easily experienced absent all that. I love knowing what I can know. I eagerly seek out more knowledge. It has, nonetheless, been enormously freeing to release my experience of living life from the bonds of opinion, knowledge, expectations, assumptions, and superstitious narrative about aging passed from generation to generation. It makes so much more practical sense to simply experience the moment, present, and aware. So I do that. I avoid filling my head with “because…” sorts of things; it’s the sort of thinking that tends to foster uninformed opinions that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

There’s time for another coffee later. Time to relax and watch the squirrels play on the deck. Time to enjoy reading a book by the fire. Time for conversation and laughter, and late nights watching movies with someone I love. There is time to live life “now”.

…Are you not enjoying your experience? Are you not able to appreciate all you do for yourself each day? I’ve got great news for you… there’s also time for beginning again. You can change how you experience life, each moment, and each day. There are verbs involved. Choices. Changes you may need to make. All within reach, though; practical, achievable positive changes in perspective, in sense of self, in experience of agency, in contentment – you can do this, if you want it, if you choose it, if you practice. We become what we practice.

You’ve got this. Go ahead, begin again. ❀

I’ve had some health concerns on my mind lately. Aging seems to have that effect on people. Last night my traveling partner and I really talked through the concerns I have, what’s to be done, and what else if, and etcetera. My simmering stress and anxiety about my health – and frankly, my mortality – spilled over as hot tears. We shared the moment, comforted each other, moved quickly to one really important super obvious detail; I’m okay right now. We both are.

Are you okay?

Are you okay?

There’s literally not actually anything wrong right now. Sure, maybe at some point in the future, in some doctor’s office or another, somewhen, I may be given some sort of medical diagnosis that presents real risk of shortening my lifespan, or degrading my quality of life. Sure could. Hasn’t. Has not happened yet. It’s (playfully) Schrödinger’s Health Concern, being neither a crisis now, of any certainty, nor clearly and most definitely nothing at all. 🙂 My partner’s great (and very reassuring) perspective calmed me way down – as did taking the time to speak together frankly, intimately, and openly about our individual fears (as well as we know how to), concerns, needs, and to share comforting words, and presence. We moved on comfortably to other things, though I’m sure we’re both still thinking about it more often than we’d like.

Love matters most.

Love matters most.

The lovely day today has been a product of good fortune, and good self-care practices, I suppose. I’m dreadfully tired, in the middle of the day. It’s not that strange – I only slept a bit more than 4 hours last night, having stayed up quite late watching a movie. I woke a bit earlier than my usual time, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I spent the early hours on yoga, exercise, and meditation. I went for my walk in the park in the early morning sunshine. It was beautiful. Today has felt ‘easy’, in spite of being short on sleep. Is that due to all the practice, new resilience, good self-care, getting good sleep most of the time, some combination of those things, none of those things – just an unexpectedly effortless pleasant day? (Those exist. They’re lovely.) It doesn’t matter. I enjoy the day quietly. I enjoy it in my garden, and on my patio with coffee. I enjoy it over a few chapters of the book I am reading. I enjoy it while I go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and at the store while I buy coffee. I enjoy the sunshine on my back and the breeze through my hair. I enjoy miles of walking. I enjoy returning home and the opportunity to stop walking, sit down and rest. I enjoy the breathing. I enjoy the thinking. I enjoy the daydreaming. I enjoy the Love. Yeah… just a generally very pleasant day. I sat for a while wondering if some people have a lot of these, and don’t realize that it’s not super common. Then… I wonder if it’s actually quite routine and mundane, and if perhaps I’m the one with the strange experience. Then… I wonder why the hell I am screwing with a lovely sunny summer day with all this strange wondering? So, I enjoy the day.

A summer day as beautiful as a postcard.

A summer day as beautiful as a postcard.

At some point I realized I hadn’t written this morning. I’d forgotten… and then… Well, then I did all that, up there ^^^^^, and here we are. 🙂

The long weekend coming is forecast to be quite beautiful. I’ve a Saturday adventure planned; I am taking the train to a distant farmer’s market, one that I have not been to before. No expectations, besides taking the journey and seeing the sights.

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It’s enough to be, to breathe, to see the sights.

I relax with the moment, and find myself suddenly sleepy. Too late in the day for coffee, far too early to call it a night. Perhaps another walk in the sunshine… Change being what it is, I’ll enjoy what I have now. Summer doesn’t stick around forever, here (at least not in 2016).

I am awake. Nightmares. I drifted happily back to sleep in the arms of my traveling partner sometime in the wee hours. I didn’t check a clock. Sometime after, nightmares got at me. It happens. My brain is efficient about attacking me from within; it reaches deep into my consciousness for the deepest fears, the worst doubts and insecurities, and has no regard whatsoever for the hour of the day – or night. I woke weeping.

It doesn’t matter one bit what the nightmares were ‘about’; they are an experience of pure emotion, there are no ‘facts’ involved. Realistically, they are not ‘real’. I suspect that lacking substance they try harder…or something that feels similar but isn’t quite that.

It’s shortly after 4:00 am now, and there’s nothing at all about sleep to which I would choose to return right now. I’d like not to just sit here feeling sadness and regret, though, or as though my life is slipping through a sieve very quietly, and everything I enjoy, everything that meets my needs, everything that feels so good…is just slipping away, as if I have had my share, used up my turn, and now…something else…or something that feels similar but isn’t quite that.

It is not yet dawn, the day hasn’t really begun, and I am grieving losses quietly, weeping in the darkness. A year ago I would also be seething inside, resenting the intrusion of subtle emotions and the lack of ability to regulate, control, or manage them. I would escalate slowly, becoming a spring-loaded emotional train wreck; a brutal surprise for an unwary lover first thing in the morning. By the time anyone else thought to wake and great the day, I’d be at some invisible breaking point, wounded and ready to attack. This is not that. It’s not that moment. It’s not that experience. I approach it rather differently this morning – sure, tears, regrets, and a profound sense of loss and…a clock ticking. Aging is. I will never be young again. I will never know again some of the moments I have known before…. but I knew them once. I did have my experience over time, and it is mine, and it can’t be taken from me. Grieving is not a bad act, even when we grieve things that are intangible; lost dreams, lost passion, lost… something… are still losses. Pain hurts, even emotional pain hurts. I cry when I am hurting. This morning I am also here with me, compassionately so, comforting myself in my grief, reminding myself ‘all’ is not lost and that life is, and love is, and a future that is not yet, also is.  The tears fall, sure, and while that may be regrettable – and uncomfortable – it’s okay to grieve losses.

This morning I grieve knowing that the grieving, itself, does come to an end. Regrets are what they are, and I will perhaps always feel some pangs of regret over meaningful losses, reluctant changes, and the things that just didn’t go as planned, hoped for, or intended. Attachment is a tough puzzle. I give myself time, this morning, to grieve in an honest way over meaningful losses. It hurts, but denying myself the honest opportunity to grieve hurts too, and becomes a festering wound over time. I don’t need that. I’ll take grieving and moving on, thanks.

Half empty? Half full? Why does the size of the glass matter if the contents meet my needs?

Half empty? Half full? Why does the size of the glass matter if the contents meet my needs?

Later today, I head for the trees for a few days. I need some real downtime, and although having spent a week quick sick leaves me a little drained, and feeling weaker than I otherwise might, my heart needs this time, and I can take it easier in so many small ways and still be out there, under a canopy of tiny new spring leaves unfolding to fill the sky, wrapped in sweet wildflower breezes and stillness. Perhaps the contentment and joy I seek is to be found under the stars, or along some little-used trail in the forest, or some forgotten corner I have not yet explored? I know that I carry the seeds of my contentment with me everywhere…I know, too, that sad yearnings, and regrets, are soothed with new joys and the pleasure and delight of the moment, if only I can stand firmly within it…or something that feels similar, but isn’t quite that.  I’m still working out the details of what I want of life…and even though these damned tears blur my vision of the future, I’m still aware there is one. That’s progress, right there. 🙂

I’m okay. Nightmares are a shit way to start a day, but it happens now and then. Tears dry. Moments pass. Emotions are – and reason often has to catch up later. Given time, I find my way ‘home’ to a different perspective, aware of other things. Aware that I woke without a headache this morning. Aware that my arthritis isn’t bad, and my freedom of movement is better than usual. Aware that today I head for the trees, and the feeling of eagerness to be out there in the stillness with my blue jay and chipmunk neighbors. Aware of love. Aware of this gentle moment of now that is actually quite sweet and calm and still, itself. We are each having our own experience. There’s nothing about that to imply it is a static or unchanging experience.  My experience of now is already substantially different from my experience of waking some short time ago.  Soon, a shower, a routine, the start of a new day… a new experience, different from that last one, already in the past.

Today is a good day for perspective, and a good day to walk on. Today is a good day to take care of me, and trust that emotions are part of the process. Today is a good day to practice good practices. Today is a good day for acceptance – easier when things that feel wonderful are involved, sure, but every bit as needful when it is time to accept something that hurts (maybe more). Today is a good day to embrace now, as it is, and to be reminded that seeking is not always about finding…or not about finding what we thought we sought.

I woke with some difficulty this morning, so stiff that rolling over to shut off the alarm took effort, and the seeming ceaseless beeping until I got to the clock didn’t seem to do as much to wake me, for real, than I might have expected had I been sufficiently awake to have expectations beyond expecting to be able to turn off the alarm sooner, with greater ease. I’m still groggy.

I’ve been sitting here, gazing vacantly at my aquarium, and listening to a jazz standard that doesn’t sound quite right…even though I feel sure that the version I am listening to it the one I favor most.  It’s an odd sensation, that finds me searching YouTube for other versions, by other artists I have listened to singing this song… none of them sound the way I remember. the arrangement is somewhat different in all of them. Then…as I hum the version I expected, quietly, it hits me; I’m hearing the version of the song that is most representative of me singing it, myself. Yep. I sing jazz standards, mostly a capella, mostly in the shower, in the car, or out walking…and I rarely do so when anyone can hear me because my singing is actually pretty dreadful. lol I love the feeling that goes with whatever moves me to sing, and alone I feel no hint of self-consciousness about delighting myself in this fashion. I find it unexpected that my favorite version of any of these songs I love would be my own.

I suspect being hung up on this song this morning is a kindness my brain is offering me to distract from both pain, and the worrisome appointment later. It is convenient that the biopsy falls on the same day as therapy – however emotionally challenging the biopsy procedure may turn out to be, I’ll be getting pro-level support later. By the end of the work day yesterday, I was feeling pretty pragmatic about the appointment – and the procedure. I’m still tense about it, still a bit worried about the outcome, but it’s no surprise to me that I’m mortal, that I’m 52 this year, that aging is, or that uncomfortable medical procedures are sometimes necessary. I’m fortunate to have ‘procedures’ available that may save me from an early demise. Fear subsided by day’s end, and this morning I am…tense, yes, but unafraid. That’s an improvement.

The worst case scenarios my brain devised, of course, are dreadful – and seemingly reasonable, or at least potentially possible, but that’s sort of a requirement for a really terrifying worst case scenario, I think. I didn’t get past the fear until I allowed myself to consider these ‘worsts’ to their apparent likely conclusions, and took a moment to consider those proposed outcomes with an open heart, self-compassion, and acceptance. “What if…”  It added some things to the disappointingly long list of shit I think I need to work on, and served to reinforce an eagerness for life that is pretty positive, generally. My next step – and this one needed real will, and commitment to action, was to take some moments to consider that these worst case scenarios are just my brain running simulations – “what if” analysis – and they have no more reality at all than any other work of fiction. They are merely words, images, and projections of potential moments that are not yet, and may never be. They have no power over me that I do not give them, myself.

Perspective

Perspective

Having reached a point of emotional equilibrium about this appointment, it’s disappointing to wake up this morning in this much pain, and this stiff. My spine feels like my vertebrae are super-glued in place and lack any flexibility at all…but, hey… great day to see a doctor, even on an unrelated issue. (Are there really any ‘unrelated issues’, ever?)

So here’s a question… If you had to check out today – and I do mean end your mortal experience here in this plane of existence, no planning, no preparation, no last great experiences, just wrap things up and call it good – if you had to check out today, are you content with what you got done for yourself, and for the world? Have you left a lasting positive legacy of some kind, even if it’s only the lovely memories of having loved you that remain? Was it ‘worth it’? If the answer is ‘no’ – what will you do differently tomorrow? It was this question in mind, last night, as I arrived home that gave me insight I needed to communicate, at long last, something that had been throwing my heart’s song off-key and I was finally able to express it as a question without accusation, or grief, or baggage, and that was a wonderful moment.

Well…here it is, today, and no more stalling. Today is a good day to take care of me. Today is a good day to recognize the sometimes hurtful fictions in my thoughts are not the experience I live, unless I choose that experience, myself. Today is a good day to let events unfold gently. Today is just one day of many, and I am just one person, each of us having our own experience of the world.