Archives for posts with tag: authentically me

I am sipping my coffee and… yeah, just sitting here quietly, sipping my coffee as the minutes tick by gently. It’s pleasant and easy on my consciousness. Feels nice. I’m not pushing hard in any particular direction. I’m not trying to provoke suitably shareworthy words, or insightful thoughts. I’m just… being. Nice morning for it. I’m not specifically meditating. I’m also not not meditating. I am simply sitting here quietly with my coffee. Well, I was. Now I’m writing about that moment. lol

One of the things I’ve been wrestling with internally, for the last week particularly and also since I destroyed 20 years of pen & ink journals, is the question of “who am I?” or, more particularly, to narrow that grand question down a bit, who am I when I’m alone – the “real me”, the me that is mostly truly me, without the add-ons of external inputs, fears & doubts, insecurity in my relationships or professional role… the real actual me person that I am because this is who I have chosen to become over time. My “me”. How I see myself. As near as I can get to an understanding of this self that I am, and the woman I most want to be… without regard to what anyone else thinks about me – or her. It’s a surprisingly difficult exercise in self-reflection. It “feels important” right now.

…I’ve been through some shit over the course of a lifetime. A lot of it has “changed me”…but now I’m wondering what does that really mean? Changed how? Some of the changes that trauma makes on a human being, in addition to being “lasting” changes, could be described as “involuntary”, and potentially “undesirable” – what does that mean for “who I am” – or who I want to be? What parts of me aren’t “really me” or feels as though they “aren’t mine”? How much of me is me, and how much of me is “chaos and damage” and evidence of lasting trauma? Is that a fair question to ask – and what does the answer even mean? Yeah, I find myself going deep on this one. Not sure why it keeps coming back to me among all the many things upon which I could choose to reflect, but there it is. I want to understand this better.

Why should anyone at all – or any event – have more say over who I am than I do myself?

I think about it awhile longer. I don’t have any answers today. It’s just a Friday morning and a good cup of coffee in a quiet place. Seems a worthy opportunity to reflect on this journey of self.

I glance at the time. This doesn’t end here…but it is time to begin again.

My morning began quite gently with the rare treat of sleeping in. I emptied the dishwasher while water boiled for coffee. I made a wee celebration of turning the page on the notepad I use for my ‘to do’ list each day, flipping the page over boldly, fully disregarding anything remaining on yesterday’s page (at least for now), and then cheerily walking away from it without writing a single thing on the blank the page. Yesterday wasn’t a bad day at all – it’s still over. Entirely past. Done. Behind me. I’ve turned the page. šŸ™‚

What's left of yesterday? Photographs, memories, and change.

What’s left of yesterday? Photographs, memories, and change.

Today my intention is to keep things simple and enjoy the day. I have committed to some general tidying up, studying, and sorting through my thoughts on a topic that inspires me both as an artist and as a writer. It may be days or weeks in the making, which feels… amazing. It is a topic that pushes me to think differently about connection, intimacy, individuality, identity, interdependence, image, authenticity, and where my value as a being truly lies.

What exactly is an 'individual', anyway?

What exactly is an ‘individual’, anyway?

This seems a nice morning for thinking thoughts, taking notes, making observations, and for balancing presence with insight gleaned from experience over time. (Caution: there are no fewer verbs involved when the work we do is within ourselves!) I enjoy intimacy, connection, communion with others; I am a social creature. I am also an emotionally injured human being. Emotional injuries are those that, whether they are also physical injuries or not, hit us in the deep down places where our being resides, seemingly safe. The result? Mental illness. Post traumatic stress. “Anger management issues.” Difficulties connecting, attaching, and being intimate. Difficulties being comfortable, trusting, being social, sharing, cohabiting. Hurt feelings. Drama. Weirdness. Strange negative assumptions and expectations. Fear. I mean…maybe not all of those, for everyone, every time, but… yeah. Ā The effort to clean up the chaos and damage, find a better way to live, maybe even find a way to actually thrive in life… it’s slow going, not easy, requires practice – a lot of it – and verbs – too many. (Totally worth it.) The point I think I’d like to make is that sometimes it feels asĀ lonely and distancing to be working on cleaning up the chaos and damage, as it does to have it in the first place. That’s okay – it’s a bit of a solo hike, sometimes. It sort of has to be. šŸ™‚

Look closer. How many individuals are in this picture?

Look closer. How many individuals are in this picture?

It’s reassuring to consider that I’m not really in this alone. I’ve felt so alone sometimes. But… Really? I’m not – it’s an illusion, one that is, itself, part of the chaos and damage, isolating me and suggesting I am too broken to be accepted as a human being, too broken even, perhaps, to be loved. My results vary, and there are verbs involved, and sometimes it seems damned slow going – but I’m learning to go beyond being warily, passively open to connection (hoping for the best, certain no good can come of it), to being willing to reach out, to actually being open. It’s a very different thing. To be open requires a measure of vulnerability and authenticity that can feel pretty scary… What if it isn’t reciprocated?? I find some solace and security in the awareness that individuality, however defined, isn’t sufficient to fully undermine how interconnected we also are as creatures; we are not alone. I’m okay with that. Sometimes it’s nice to share the journey – it’s a long one.

I am my own cartographer, keeper of the list, and adult-in-charge, in this life that is mine.

I am my own cartographer, keeper of the list, and adult-in-charge, in this life that is mine.

This morning, I am alone with my time and my chores. Later? So not alone. šŸ™‚ It’s ‘date night’, and I’ll spend the evening in the charming company of my traveling partner, filling my moments with love and laughter. The time has come to set aside the morning in favor of the day… Today is a good day to pause and enjoy progress over time, and to appreciate and enjoy the woman in the mirror.

I woke from a nightmare this morning, one that doesn’t actually belong to me. I put the material in my brain myself. I knew going into it that there was some risk, too. I still chose to binge watch a terrifically (in the literal sense) dramatic and emotionally provocative television show, Ā hanging out with my traveling partner. I had a great time, it was a fun weekend experience to share. I still woke from a nightmare this morning. I’ll get past the insidious thing in due course, but it has me wondering…if this sort of thing affects me profoundly, how many people just wandering around are similarly powerfully affected by things that ‘don’t actually belong to them’, and suffering greatly over it?

Well, sure, you say that, but...

Well, sure, you say that, but…

In this instance, the nightmare was simply that in all the world each and every single person in all languages spoken could be counted upon to be utterly duplicitous, deceitful, not only looking out for their own interests exclusively – but not necessary with good awareness of what served them best, nor what the circumstancesĀ truly are. Liars. Cutthroats. Thieves. Worse. And me – living as authentically as the world will allow, without reservation, without hesitation… without defense. Oh. Shit. That didn’t feel safe or likely to have a good outcome at all. I woke trembling and nauseous, and fearful of my safety. It was weird to feel it so intensely, and to be also clearly aware it wasn’t really anything to do with me ‘in real life’.

I got up for the morning, and allowed the nightmare content to linger in my thoughts… sometimesĀ that ‘compare/contrast’ inner dialogue makes a nightmare seem more ludicrous, surreal, less ‘real’ – undermining the seemingly ‘valid points’. In this case, this morning, that wasn’t the experienceĀ at all. It was a huge mistake, and the aftermath of the nightmare wasĀ far worse than the dream was itself. I’m easily able to recall being lied to, or misled, even by people very dear to me. (No doubt some of them have had similar moments with me.) Sometimes with good intentionsĀ – like ‘white lies’ sometimes used with the intent of kindness, for example – still lies. Other times for less innocent purposesĀ – like omitting details to convey a different impression, still easily definable as willful deceptions. There are, too, grander machinations – real gaslighting – even in the context of loving or familial relationships; I’ve endured some myself, watched others from the sideline. For a moment, humanity seems pretty fantastically vile, as my awareness of the hurts, and the lies, and the manipulationĀ starts piling up…the television images of violence conflate with my own experiences, and I feel… something complicated…something primitive… something more like fear as it builds, and anger as it diminishes. I’m okay right now. The big take away? Be more careful with binge watching television; no content is worth a visit to the nightmare city. šŸ™‚

"The Nightmare City" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas w/glow

“The Nightmare City” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow

The morning started early. My partner and I are both up with the dawn. He asks me how I slept. I tell him. He chides me for the quantity of words so early in the morning. I still had my nightmare in my thoughts. We’ve both just awakened. I take my coffee and my bleak outlook in the studio, and give us both a shot at a pleasant morning, once we’re actually awake.

It was a lovely weekend to share. The time together well-spent relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. No stress. No drama. Just people who love each other hanging out together, and sharing life’s journey without having to take up arms. Quite a contrast from television. šŸ™‚

So…now it’s a whole new week. A new adventure. Where will it take me? Will I meet an exciting stranger? Will I learn discover the truth? Will I find my fortune? Will adventure catch me unawares? Life isn’t usually so dramatic, frankly – unless I invest imagination, assumptions, expectations, and a hearty helping of attachment in it, and then pursue chaos with ferocity, and reactivity. I think I’ll pass. Television shows are not usually written about contentment and living beautifully – low ratings – but this says nothing about whether these are worthy qualities in life, they are perhaps the most worthy characteristics on which to build my life. I’m only saying that because I find it pleasant to be content, and to live beautifully…and I’d find it less pleasant by far to be constantly worried about betrayal, violence, and lies. šŸ™‚


Today is a good day to enjoy life’s most mundane pleasures: a good coffee, a lovely sunrise, a smile from a friend, a hug, a kiss, laughter, loving with all my heart regardless whether it is reciprocated – because love feels good. Today is good day to live – well, and deliberately, and eyes open. Some people may indeed be playing a diminished ‘Game of Thrones’ in their every day lives…but it doesn’t have to be me. šŸ™‚

I really wanted to sleep in this morning. For the past several evenings I have been up later than is my general practice, not for any specific purpose just not sleepy enough earlier to make trying to sleep worthwhile. I don’t mind, there’s always another chapter in another excellent book, or some quiet something-or-other than can be done before retiring for the evening. But…it’s helpful if I can also comfortably sleep later the next day. Hasn’t been working out this weekend, I am awake with the dawn at the latest, and that has been a compromise, attempting to return to sleep after waking seriously too damned early to want to be up.

It may have felt too early, but this morning I woke to a beautiful sunrise just beyond the window. Worth it.

It may have felt too early, but this morning I woke to a beautiful sunrise just beyond the window. Worth it.

It’s been the sort of weekend that each deviation from plan, desire, or intent, has proven to be an outcome just beyond ‘enough’, and often splendidly beautiful, unexpectedly positive, delightful, or noteworthy in some pleasant way. It has been helpful that I’ve been open to each change as it has developed, finding myself moments of wonder and joy along a path I didn’t expect to tread.

Another unexpected outcome of the weekend’s peculiarly unscripted unfolding has been that I wake on a Sunday without plans or planning. The Friday evening I’d intended to spend with my traveling partner ended up spent on laundry, meditation, study, and art. The Saturday morning I’d planned to do laundry was spent on art, writing, and yoga. My Saturday evening date canceled for his own reasons, without animus, and I ended up spending Saturday evening with my traveling partner. Now here it is Sunday…and somehow the usual housekeeping got done between other things. I like a tidy home, particularly if I might be entertaining, butĀ I so dislike ‘project housekeeping’ of theĀ sort that isĀ frenetic activity immediately prior to guests arriving that I just won’t do that. I ‘clean as I go’ generally, and on Sunday often put in a routine 2-3 hours of really detailed cleaning. Today it just isn’t necessary, and the laundry is done. The errands I ran yesterday, between the morning and evening, knocked out much of the miscellany that had been on my mind since I moved. So… now what?

...And birdsong included.

…And birdsong included.

I watch the sunrise develop beyond the window of my studio, sipping my coffee. I contemplate change, choice, and perspective. These are among my favorite themes to consider, and how lovely a metaphor is a sunrise? šŸ™‚

…But what to do with the day? I feel a yearning for… something. Something new, but not complicated. Something beautiful, but not remote. Something precious and perhaps limited – rare? Commonplace beauty that is rare doesn’t sound easy to find, and actually it sounds more like a Zen riddle.

I could really benefit from a good hike, out in the trees. I see runners passing by on Fanno Creek Trail, which runs between the sunrise and my studio window. I recall a recent article about a neighborhood park or trails or something to be soon lost with a road expansion… looking it up I read that an uncompleted road became, over time, a neighborhood park along a corridor between back fences, where the road had been planned to be, but never finished. Apparently, the funding and approvals are now a done deal, after so many years, and the plan is to begin construction very soon – when things dry out after the spring rains, most likely. I read quotes from community members irked to lose their greenspace after so long, which seems reasonable; there are no quotes from community members who want the road completed, only civic planners; the traffic in this neighborhood is quite horrific during commuter hours. It’s not a fancy or grand destination, but it is nearby and I’ve never walked those trails – and they may not be there to be walked sometime very soon. Regrets suck, particularly when they are the result of my own choices; today I will take time to walk this mysterious soon-to-disappear trail, because it is there, now. šŸ™‚

A pleasant hike along a local trail isn’t going to take an entire Sunday, and the day remains leisurely, unscripted, and quite delightfully rich with possibilities. Today is a good day to enjoy the day, without expectations, without demands, without insistence on or adherence to an agenda. Today is a good day to listen deeply, to be gentle with myself and the world, and to let the day unfold as it will. Isn’t that enough?

Sometimes finding a happy place is surprisingly close to home.

Sometimes finding a happy place is surprisingly close to home.


I am the human being I am, having this experience right here. There are no promises, few ‘right answers’, and the ‘limited life-time guarantee’ is merely that my lifetime will be limited. I enjoyed a lovely quiet weekend, and crashed out at a comfortably typical time, neither late nor early. I woke some 90 or so minutes later, awakened by my own alarmed vocalization, and weeping; I had taken a detour through The Nightmare City. It happens. I once (as in, ongoing, for many years verging on ‘always’) had grimly persistent disordered sleep (nightmares, night terrors, occasional sleep paralysis, some sleep walking, insomnia…), and improvements over time don’t assure me of continued easy sleep ongoing ‘forever’. I’m still very human. I still deal with PTSD. I still have this brain injury. So… sometimes nightmares happen.

How will I "find my way home"? "Daytime in The Nightmare City" 10" x 14" acrylic on canvas with glow, glitter and micaceous oxide. Indoor light, charged. 2014

How will I “find my way home”?
“Daytime in The Nightmare City” 10″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas with glow, glitter and micaceous oxide. Indoor light, charged. 2014

I woke and began the steps and practices to calm myself, addressing the latent hysteria first, moving on to relaxing such that my heart rate would normalize, and the weeping would stop. I did things children do; I got a big drink of water, and walked through the apartment turning lights on and seeing how normal everything is. I did things adults do, too; I took time to reach out to my traveling partner to share a key feeling of insecurity, to seek reassurance and let that feeling of fear and doubt go. I kept it simple and made a point of avoiding grim details that might put me at risk of writing in a very emotive way – which would tend to ‘spread the poison around’ and also stoke my own emotional volatility afresh. I meditated for a few minutes until my heart felt lighter. All that was left was to get past the aversion to returning to sleep – and this is where The Nightmare City has it’s greatest power over me. If I am unable to sleep, I am increasingly likely over time to have more nightmares, lose more sleep, and slowly spiral downward into disorder.

After pleasantly distracting myself with some relatively studious content from favorite YouTube channels (in this case Veritasium and Kurzgesagt-In a Nutshell) while administering an appropriate amount of medical cannabis to keep my symptoms from flaring up again, I returned to sleep. I woke comfortably to the morning alarm, although it took me some time to become fully aware of the meaning of the insistent beeping. The sleep I got was restful, and I feel pretty good. I know to be mindful that I didn’t get as many hours as I likely need to be at my best – by the end of the day that may be more apparent; I check my calendar to ensure I am not over-committed later in the day.

I’m not alone with this stuff (ha! …Neither are you. šŸ˜‰ ). I have learned better practices for managing it when my PTSD flares up, or my injury is aggravated (and aggravating me in return). There are still verbs involved. My results still vary. There’s no particular reason for distress over that – or futility; it is a very human thing. I just begin again. šŸ™‚

Like moments, the cup of coffee that matters most is the one in front of me now. :-)

Like moments, the cup of coffee that matters most is the one in front of me now. šŸ™‚

This morning that beginning began with the return email from my traveling partner, sent during the wee hours, reminding me that I am loved. It’s enough – and I start the day well.