Archives for posts with tag: are you experienced?

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. ❤

If each birthday were a new beginning, a moment of re-birth, an awakening, a start on a journey, a moment of profundity, or simply a break from the being we once had been which opens us to being the being we would soon become… would we grow faster?

…But isn’t it? I mean, it could be, couldn’t it? Is that a choice we make? When we’re very young we eagerly look ahead to milestones marked by years… The year we’re promised high heels, or make-up, or a firearm, or dating, or a trip somewhere exotic, or the year we graduate, or get to vote for the first time, or ride a bicycle, or buy a car, or a house, or get married, or have a child… each a big deal, anticipated, considered, maybe yearned for and planned around – are these not re-births of a sort? A new beginning, a change of heart or thinking so profound that “the course of our life” is altered in ways that seem subjectively obvious, and also unexpected? We begin again, so many times…

I took a journey down a road I’d never traveled, predictably it lead me somewhere I’d never been.

My birthday weekend was amazing, and connected, and shared, and human, and delicious with wonder, and adventure. It was eye-opening. It was romantic. It was practical. It was peculiarly wholesome – for some values of wholesome – and it “took me places” I hadn’t thought to travel previously. I’m glad I went. I’m glad I “said yes” to the moment and immersed myself in a something strangely new, made up, as it was, of so much that was entirely familiar.

The music festival weekend was likely not at all as planned by the event organizers. It was cold. When we arrived a freezing rain was falling. It was wet. The rain fell, on and off, all weekend long. It was blustery. I personally helped catch, retrieve, and right 3 different canopies and 1 tent over the 3 days I was there. There was rather of a lot of odd drama which seemed both unexpected and tedious, but it was such a small part of the experience the recollection will likely fade quickly. I met a lot of new people, and I got to hang out with my Traveling Partner and a friend while they did their thing out there in the world. I listened to some great music – and I listened to that music so loud, so bass-heavy, so entirely encompassing that the ground shook with it – for 2 days, from noon to 6 am. No kidding. Sleep was a very new experience in that environment. My dreams didn’t suffer from it, but I made the drive home in silence, listening only to my tinnitus and the sound of the wind along the way.  The people who came to the event, who stayed through the wind and weather, brought with them a sense of community that I’m still wowed by. The best part? New friends – and time well-spent wrapped in love, just hanging out with my Traveling Partner for a couple days. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

I’m still smiling. It’s Monday night, tomorrow I get back to the office, back to the routine of meetings, calls, emails, spreadsheets, summaries, recommendations, task processing, and commuting. I feel pretty okay with that, sitting here this evening. I smile, thinking about my Traveling Partner. I think about the weekend. I think about his visit this afternoon. I think about shared goals, and the dovetailing of individual goals that is so tidy that even those feel shared; a partnership of equals.

I’m taking a quiet moment at the end of the day to wish the woman in the mirror a happy birthday. This one definitely feels like the beginning of something wonderful, and if nothing else it is enough that the weekend and the day were themselves quite wonderful. Really nothing more is required, it’s all quite enough. 54? Yes, I am. ❤

Funny how much difference one moment can make in the way my experience feels. I’m still working on making the most of some pretty vast raw materials; the artistic masterwork of a lifetime is the journey I take to become the woman I most want to be, exploring my experience, and taking this amazing journey of discovery as a being. I am still taken by surprise, sometimes, at how little it takes to change the tone of that experience, to color it, to shift it on the emotional spectrum one direction or another.

So much potential.

A new day holds so much potential.

Yesterday the tone of a reply to a practical question held the potential to be a powerful destructive force in my day. I dislike being dismissed, or disregarded – I suppose most people likely do. I found great satisfaction that the day didn’t go awry, and took time to be grateful for new practices making a difference. I took that approach every step of the way yesterday, refraining from taking things personally – even when they appeared to be very personal indeed – because I was able to understand that the behaviors of others reflect their will (not mine), their values (not mine), and their choices (I make my own); I’m a bystander in their experience. Their pain is their own, as are their great joys. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

This morning, I woke early, feeling a bit off, my mind inclined to wander into anger or irritation although the day was so very new there was no cause for it. New practices for the win, this morning, too; I gently nudged my mood back toward joy and contentment with meditation, and just as I felt relaxed and content again, I was treated to cuddles and love. Cuddles and love are simply one utterly wonderful way to start a morning. Any morning.

A lovely autumn morning.

Mornings hold so much potential.

Now I’m just chilling, sipping my first espresso, and listening to the world wake up around me. The sound track of human experience. I’m also listening to a terribly cheesy love song in my head; sometimes love does that to me. Sometimes I just sing holiday carols. LOL (No foolin’, I do.)

This human thing isn’t always easy, or orderly, or pleasant, and the weirdest shit seems to go wrong at the strangest times. People matter. I’m including myself in that set these days, which is a very nourishing experience emotionally. I’m setting my own priorities, based on what I need, and what matters to me. It makes some of the everyday drama pretty inconsequential. That’s really the reason I don’t drill down into the details of everyday drama that comes up in my relationships. It’s less about privacy than priorities. Some of it would be fun reading, exciting fiction, pretty gripping – stuff we can all easily identify with, perhaps even a bit titillating sometimes…but it’s not a high priority for me. Those every day stresses between human primates in close quarters are not the focus of this journey, and honestly, we all have our daily grind, and my advice wouldn’t likely be particularly useful – it’s always a sort of ‘you had to be there’ moment, isn’t it? Love each other. That’s the important thing. Listen attentively, with your whole awareness. Be engaged and present. Be willing to be vulnerable and speak your mind – and your heart. Do no harm. Be kind while you are being honest. Let the small stuff go. Did I mention Love? Sometimes I find re-envisioning some challenging moment with someone dear to me animated as The Simpsons, or Archer, or South Park. It’s not so much the colorful figures; I also rewrite the script, and the plot, and try to be true to the tone of the show and characters. It relieves a lot of that sense of loss and chaos that sometimes goes hand in hand with small drama.

Like mushrooms; under the right conditions, all sorts of things come up.

Like mushrooms; under the right conditions, all sorts of things come up.

So, here it is another day in this human experience. I wonder what will come of it? Today is a good day to make good choices and express the best of who I am in every interaction. Today is a good day to love and be loved in return. Today is a good day to respond instead of react. Today is a good day to feel autumn breezes, and see smiles on the faces of children. Today is a good day to be open to new ideas and to take chances on trying new practices. Today is a good day to change; that’s how I change the world.

Every long journey ideally has an occasional rest stop along the way, or a place to pause, pull off the road, get some rest, or some refreshment. Why would a spiritual journey, or a journey of self-discovery or healing be any different? Moving through life at break-neck speed is not only rushed, pressured, and full of momentum that robs one of detailed observation; it’s exhausting. I still approach my experience, some days, with a sense of urgency – as if, perhaps, I am too late to find my way out of the darkness, or perhaps if I don’t move quickly enough to change, or find a better way to treat myself well, and enjoy my experience, the clock will run out with the work left undone. That’s a lot of pressure.

When I move through my experience at a speed dictated by pressure, I get all tangled up.

When I move through my experience at a speed dictated by pressure, I get all tangled up.

A series of recent experiences, moments, and observations find me, this morning, feeling a bit as if I pulled off the freeway to rest for a moment. The morning is calm and quiet, but beyond that, beneath the calm surface of this morning’s gentle thoughts and acceptance of the moment, is a similar deeper calm and contentment within my heart, as though the very framework of how I experience myself and my life are somehow altered from some other prior observation of them. It’s not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it is exquisitely not related to value judgments at all. I feel present, alert, content. I feel aware and calm and strong. It’s a pleasant morning.

Last evening was its own experience...

Last evening was its own experience…

Last night wasn’t about me. There isn’t more to say about it than that; I was more passenger on that journey, than driver, and I wasn’t even the passenger in the front seat. There is no criticism in those observations, and no yearning that things be different. I am not alone in the universe, and each of us having our own experience definitely means that many many experiences are not even a little bit ‘about me’.  I found it a worthwhile experience to share, to participate in, to observe; I definitely value the lesson in perspective.

Somewhen recently, very recently, I found a sense of inner strength that feels like I had simply misplaced it along life’s longer journey; a strength that has been with me all along, that I count on so utterly it functions entirely outside my awareness, generally. I’m glad I spotted it in the wreckage and dusted it off. I love this piece of me. These past couple days I have been exploring this sense of comfortable experienced womanhood and wisdom gained over time. That doesn’t sound at all humble, and if reflecting on my strength makes you feel  uncomfortable, I understand – me, too. Still, here I am, and I am okay with this moment in time, this point in my experience, this unhurried complex nexus of will and experiences that is some part of what is really ‘me’. It’s certainly worth spending some time getting to know me, yet again.

Because...flowers.

Because…flowers.

Today is a good day to explore the outcome of change over time, and take a step back from the details and enjoy the experience at leisure. Today is a good day to take a break from the work of becoming, and enjoy being. Today is a good day to love. Today is a good day to embrace the change we’d like to see in the world with enthusiasm, and will, and unhurried desire.

Yesterday was blazing hot (for where I live) and the heat of summer blasted the face of the streets and buildings with ferocious and unrelenting boldness. It got to a high of 97 degrees (F) or so.  I still did my midday walk, although I made doubly sure I was well hydrated. I still walked the pieces of my commute that required travel in the hotter part of the day. Why not? I used to live in Fresno. Yesterday it was something like 105 degrees (F) in Fresno. lol. I will happily take on the 97 versus the 105.

Hello, Sunshine!

Hello, Sunshine!

Perspective matters.

The evening felt very short. There wasn’t much shared time to connect over the day’s details. I started, but didn’t finish, a favorite movie; I had trouble being really engaged. I feel pre-occupied. I feel… discontent. It could be hormones. It could be the state of the world. There are a lot of details of life that can result in a feeling of discontent.  It’s a very human experience.

As it turns out, I require very little to feel contented. A state of calm and contentment is pretty natural for me, given a calm environment and pleasant circumstances. Life isn’t always so orderly. Desires and expectations can definitely undermine a feeling of contentment.  Things simply ‘going wrong’.  Frustration, although it is an emotion all its own, can sure share the stage with discontent, in my own experience; I rarely feel contented when I am also frustrated.  Feeling unheard can result in a profound feeling of discontent. Actually… discontent seems a rather gentle warning siren in my emotional life that something is amiss. When I listen, and attend to the feelings, and take care of me it is sometimes a simple matter to get my experience back to some pleasantly contented state of being.  Ignoring discontent is like a promise to seriously derail my emotional balance at some later time.

I am putting a lot of study and practice into being more emotionally intelligent.  It matters, quite possible more so than intellect, education, or so many other cognitive characteristics. Our emotional intelligence is what we bring along for the fun when we interact with other people.  For much of my adulthood I have been severely deficient in the area of emotional intelligence…and I learned late that a quick wit, a decent education, professional drive, competence…none of that means shit if I am also callous, mean, terse, and insensitive; people will not want to connect with me, or be able to do so easily, and the experience of rejection is unpleasant, to say the least.  I didn’t figure it all out at once – not sure I’ve ‘figured it out’ anyway. I didn’t approach the issue wanting to improve my emotional intelligence. When I headed down this path, I didn’t even know ’emotional intelligence’ is a thing. Still working on it, still studying, and still asking more questions than I am seeking out ‘answers’.

This morning I am making room for feelings of discontent. It’s a very personal experience, not directed outward; a conversation of sorts, with myself.  When meditating on gratitude and loving kindness don’t ease a developing feeling of discontent, these days, I embrace the feeling as simply being part of my experience of the moment, make room in my heart to be compassionate toward myself… and start asking questions. I don’t set the bar high on answers. I have found answers are often not really necessary as much as awareness and tender acceptance of my needs and desires. I am learning to treat myself well, and truly honor my own experience. It’s pretty wow sometimes, particularly in moments of discontent.

I still feel discontented. It could be as simple as the house filling with disorderly looking stacks of boxes; a variety of household projects ongoing require rooms to be emptied, the contents boxed up for safety.  A partner’s recent shipment of household items passed on from a deceased family member add to the clutter. My hiking gear, art supplies, books… I have too much stuff, or too little space. Discontent, for me, often feels like I’ve lost my sense of ‘sufficiency’ or order, on some point or another.  I find myself wondering about the value of scaling down from a king size bed to a twin; panic sets in with a vicious attack by my brain – challenging the status quo with novel thinking, or challenging some point on which I have become complacent, can be really hard on me, but it’s also very good for me in terms of flexible thinking and being adaptable. I give myself a mental wink and a smile, “Look at you go, Brain! Very creative!” I manage not to become invested in the suspiciously convenient narrative offered.

Flowers; not just pretty, also a favorite metaphor for blossoming in our own time.

Flowers; not just pretty, also a favorite metaphor for blossoming in our own time.

More meditation. Yoga. Another espresso. A few minutes in the garden at dawn. Discontent can sneak attack with little provocation; I find it important to be wary, watchful, and compassionate with myself. It’s a very human thing to become caught up in emotions. Dealing with emotions is not my area of greatest strength. I keep studying. Practicing meditation. Making more room to feel my feelings, accept my experience, and show myself some consideration. (The Big 5 again: Consideration)

I still feel discontented. At some point, I will accept some opportunity to make a change that may change my emotional experience for the better. Choices matter. Perspective, too, matters. Today is a therapy day. Maybe there is hidden wisdom to be revealed? Maybe not. Maybe just more practice, but it helps to talk through the challenges.

Blue skies on a summer day, even in the face of the emotion of the moment.

Blue skies on a summer day, even in the face of the emotion of the moment.

Today is a good day to practice. Today is a good day to show myself compassion. Today is a good day to acknowledge what works, what feels good, and what satisfies. Today is a good day to say ‘thank you’. Today is a good day to change the world.