Archives for posts with tag: balance

I woke a bit early this morning, still smiling from the lovely evening spent with my Traveling Partner last night. I’ll probably be smiling for days, unless something entirely different knocks the smile off my face at some point. Hot coffee, headphones on, great playlist, smiling… this is a beautiful moment, as I start my day, still warm from a leisurely hot shower, still comfortable after my morning yoga… did I mention I’m still smiling?

What we see is often determined by what we’re looking at – and how we feel.

This moment is delightful. It’s still just a moment. Mindfulness is only part of this peculiar puzzle that is my journey from surviving to thriving; perspective matters every bit as much, I think. Take that lovely blue sky moment shot yesterday, pictured above, for example. It’s not an entirely frank image… I zoomed in on a small bit of blue sky, and some tree tops at the edge of a parking lot, downtown, near the waterfront, surrounded by concrete overpasses, framed in traffic, asphalt, and homeless people. I grabbed that sliver of beauty and blew it way out of proportion. I think I do that often, even without a camera. It’s also possible to do that in quite the reverse (and exceedingly common), zooming in on the suffering, the unpleasantness, the litter, the damage, the pain, the violence… life has a lot to offer, and it isn’t all pleasant happy fun stuff.

Still

How we view the world, how we experience our own lives, does have to do with our perspective on it. We filter our experience through our perspective. We give the details context, even going as far as making up, or filling in, missing narrative.

Still

Don’t miss out on the fun of life, or it’s whimsy!

We have choices, even about what to look at, and how to see it. Those choices matter, too. Balance matters. Perspective matters. Being “real” matters – and it matters how we define “being real”.

I don’t have anything super useful here, I’m just saying… perspective is a thing, and it’s useful to have some. Moments are moments, pleasant and unpleasant, and there will be some. 🙂 Taken together those ideas don’t stop life (and moments) from being rather like a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle which has pieces that are all shades of gray, and each piece uniquely shaped. Assembling such a thing into something that is ordered seems complicated. I don’t actually know if it is complicated…

…I’m just going to dump the pieces out of the box, and get started on this puzzle. 😉

It’s been raining a lot. There have even been landslides. That’s something that definitely gets me thinking differently about homeownership; houses perched on hillsides hold less appeal. Mostly, though, I think about the rain, when it is raining. I enjoy the sound of it, the smell of petrichor, the strange changes of scene as storms sweep through town. I watch off and on, all day, through endless windows that wrap the office.

I left the office at the usual time, which is “later than I meant to”. Some of the most productive conversations seem to begin as I leave the building. I’ll work on that. 🙂

Rain in the distance.

It was raining when I left, but it was that gentle misty rain on a warm-ish evening; it seemed of little consequence, and I enjoyed the feel of it. The skyline on the other side of the river was obscured in places by low hanging clouds clinging to hilltops, and a certain gray sort of moving density that hinted at an approaching shower.

I walk on. It keeps raining.

Sure enough, the shower caught me just as I reached the bridge. I smiled in spite of being caught in the drenching down pour long enough to be soaked in spots. I smiled as I waited out the worst of it from beneath the bridge. I smiled as I walked on, once it had passed. It seemed an easy enough journey home.

It makes sense to seek shelter from the storm.

I headed home eager to enjoy dinner. I arrived home to discover I was out of literally everything I had considered making. I shrugged it off, had something different, and looked forward to a relaxed, quiet evening. What I actually had was quite different; I had noise. A lot of noise. I had the noise of a professional carpet cleaning service (the sort with a loud van operated vacuum and pump system of some kind), which commenced sometime after 7 pm, and was still at it well-past 8:30 pm (on a “work night”). The parking spaces are just steps from front doors and thin walls that keep out basically no noise, so it sounded more or less like that truck was parked in my kitchen. I spent the evening wearing hearing protection. It rattled the walls. It rattled my consciousness. It was inescapable. The headache and anger were pretty nearly inevitable. Because I am up at 4:30 am, I’m usually at least trying to get some sleep by 8:30 pm, most nights, or at least making my way in that general direction for the attempt. That wasn’t going to be possible; it took more than 90 minutes from when the noise finally stopped (at 8:47 pm), for me to be sufficiently at ease to sleep. Meditation helped. Meditation (almost) always helps (me) with a great many things associated with emotional reactivity, regardless of the cause.

I woke rested, and in a good place. Tired. Not enough sleep. This too shall pass, like a rain storm. The rain passed. The noise stopped. Sleep happened. Lack of sleep will also resolve, in time, because change is a thing. In most respects, an utterly ordinary Thursday.

I look over the new list from my Realtor, and smile, sipping my coffee; even this “will pass”. Eventually, there will be a house, there will be an offer made and accepted, there will be a closing, and there will be a move. There will be excited bliss, a sort of relief, great contentment. There will also be paperwork, and small moments of homeowner reality-checking-frustration-driving-angst-making moments of doubt and inconvenience, and there will be a home, nonetheless. It’s what I am working towards, and incremental change over time, and the inevitable outcome of practicing suggests that if I simply keep at it, patiently, persistently, refraining from taking a process personally, I will find myself transformed (into a homeowner)(with massive debt)(and a mortgage)(instead of renting)(and the freedom to really make a home that meets my needs over time).

Another day. Another beginning. Another opportunity to make the choices that bring me closer to being the woman I most want to be. Today it’s enough.

 

I could so easily mess with today by getting myself invested in expectations of misery, frustration, and boredom… I caught myself on the first attempt, and gave myself a chance to reconsider. I’m going down to the VA today, to wait on a cancellation or other opportunity to get my imaging done sooner than the [only available] scheduled appointment more than three weeks away. I’m hopeful I’ll be fortunate, and that my patience will pay off today. If it doesn’t – there’s tomorrow, and I’d likely commit 2-3 days a week to this, to get the images done sooner than later.

It's a journey, there is no map. Sometimes, there is no trail.

It’s a journey, there is no map. Sometimes, there is no trail.

This is where things start getting trickier for me; my perspective, my experience, my emotions… those are just me. What about ‘everyone else’? It’s a matter of balance, and sure, perspective, too. It matters that “we are each having our own experience”, because “we’re all in it together”.  Today I will do my best to be approachable, to-the-point, and calm. I’ll listen deeply, and do my best to avoid interrupting. I’ll ask clarifying questions. I’ll be patient with others and respect their humanity. I will remind myself regularly that at the VA almost everyone hurts in some way, and be considerate and compassionate – with myself, too. It’s a lot to practice…

A deep breathe. A lovely flower.

A deep breathe. A lovely flower.

We become what we practice. I’ll have to face the woman in the mirror at the end of the day. I hope to choose my practices wisely.

Practices… perspective… mindfulness… balance… It’s a lot to keep up on, if I take them one by one. Thankfully, they’re sort of ‘bundled’ together in one practice-filled mindfulness package. 🙂

I balance my bee sting allergy with my fascination for bees by keeping my bee sting kit handy, and using great care.

I balance my bee sting allergy with my fascination for bees by keeping my bee sting kit handy, and using great care.

Balance is important enough to practice. I thought about it, metaphorically, while I worked on balancing literally during my workout, this morning. One portion of my workout is entirely about balance, and when I began it, some of it seemed pretty silly… “stand on one leg”. Huh. Okay, sure. Easy! Oh… not so easy these days. Hmm. I begin again. Again. And again. I wobble. I sway. I keep at it. I practice. Seems easy. I guess, in most practical regards, it actually is quite easy. It’s the doing it well reliably bit that complicates things… and then… well… I’ve been on this new workout routine for…a week? About a week. A bit more maybe. It’s feeling really good, in the sense that my muscles tell me each day that there is change. Then, yesterday, I was able to put some real miles on my boots with much more comfort. Bad posture and pain had begun really holding me back… By the time I got home, feeling refreshed, strong, and exhilarated, I was also feeling my left knee ache. (Damn it!) This morning, I got up and felt it as soon as I took a step. I reached for my hiking staff before I even made coffee – looks like I’ll be walking with support for a few days. Balance… definitely not ‘easy’. Definitely takes practice.

perspective

Perspective matters, too; it’s easy to focus on how much my knee aches… or how unpleasant I find dealing with the VA…

 

There's more to it than this moment.

There’s more to it than this moment! I consider my needs over time; how do I best take care of myself long-term?

We become what we practice. Incremental change takes time. Building new skills – or restoring old ones – requires both. A good measure of patience with myself, and some perspective on the challenges, will probably be useful, too. 🙂

Practicing patience, self-soothing, and learning balance has unexpected delights.

Practicing patience, self-soothing, and learning balance has unexpected delights.

…Well…hardly ‘coffee’ … and you may be sipping something quite different. (I’ve read somewhere that more people drink tea than coffee, and considered it myself this morning.) Maybe you didn’t even sleep well? I woke in the night to the sound of a cough next door, which caused me a moment of concern before drifting back to sleep; my neighbors are elders of many years – and my bedroom is separated from their by the differing floor plans which put their living room between the bedrooms of the two units, I find myself hoping no one is seriously ill. When the alarm goes off, I am alert – reaching to switch it off, and listening for sounds of wakefulness next door. Still, generally speaking, I woke feeling well-rested in spite of that.

Wait…why ‘hardly coffee’? Because I’m out of coffee beans, and don’t keep instant in the house. lol I noticed last night before bed, and took no action on the basis of ‘I can get caffeine at work soon enough’. We’ll see, eh? This cup of dark warmth here next to me is half decaf – in order to get enough beans through the grinder for a whole cup of coffee, I added decaf to it so… yep. It’s not the usual brew, and it won’t have the usual wake-me-up factor. I begin sipping it almost reluctantly, as if my brain is guiding my will via ‘who cares’ signals, but once I overcome my vague feeling of dismissiveness about the coffee this morning, I am finding it quite tasty and suitable to the morning. Assumptions, expectations – humans. (Note to self: just go ahead and give yourself a chance to enjoy things without forecasting the outcome, would you please?)

My back cracks and pops through my morning yoga, but the pain I am in is somewhat diminished having gone ahead and practiced my way through my practice – each change of posture accompanied by an assurance to myself that “I can always stop after this one…” I just keep going until I am finished. (Is it going to be that day?) I shower, dress, take medication… each step in my morning routine feeling subtly forced, like a child being pushed along on a school morning. I am the grown up in this house! Yeah… but I am also the laughing naked child dashing through the house, resisting ‘what must be’ for all those other opportunities… to play. I earnestly want to ‘skip school’ today – just not go to work, just not do ‘the thing’. I don’t really want to be the grown up today. I’d like to stay home and paint, or read, or listen to music, or garden. All the truly worthwhile things life offers for our enjoyment – and for which I do not get paid. LOL “Welcome to Adulthood” I hear the woman in the mirror mutter back to me – out loud. Considering I am alone with my thoughts in this wee haven, that just seems mean – it wasn’t at all necessary to speak the words! Besides… I haven’t really had my coffee yet, and I don’t want to hear conversation just now.

If I only see what is unpleasant, if I only hear unpleasant words, will it be a surprise if my experience is also unpleasant? I can choose my perspective.

If I only see what is unpleasant, if I only hear unpleasant words, will it be a surprise if my experience is also unpleasant? I can choose my perspective.

It isn’t a bad morning. It is a fairly ordinary, very human, sort of morning. I’m okay with that – as I said, it isn’t bad. Is it good? My traveling partner would most certainly point out that I am phrasing it in the negative to say the morning ‘isn’t bad’ (“How is it?” he might ask…) I might answer “It’s okay, better than bad… not noteworthy…I’m enjoying it well enough.” All rather vague, but all… okay. 🙂 It is in the nature of contentment that the fancy adjectives and superlatives get a little dusty from disuse. lol

The work week is at a half-way point. I am eager to hear word on the apartment I’d like to move into, but I am not impatient about it, since it is happening rather faster than I expected as it is. The weekend is ahead of me… a date with my traveling partner Friday night… friends over to plan shared hikes this year on Saturday…Sunday…well…I’ve no idea. The housekeeping doesn’t do itself around here, so perhaps Sunday will be spent on practical matters, and invested in myself entirely? I find myself wondering… once the chaos and damage has all been sorted out, and put away, and once the gates of The Nightmare City are closed permanently and locked, and once life has proven it’s point about lasting contentment… then what? Does such a thing ever occur in life? Would I stop writing? I haven’t really had to look at any of that realistically in earlier years; it wasn’t a realistic likelihood in the past – it may be the future. Life isn’t about perfection and standing still, though, and I am confident that life’s curriculum is more vast than any single lifetime, so… yeah. Probably still writing for a while. LOL 🙂

I tend to think about work and life very separately, and sometimes wistfully imagine that I make my living doing something profoundly important to mankind, something remarkable, or something meaningful… I wonder what that would be like? Ah, but I remember in this same moment things that do matter. The gratitude of the young employee whose needs were met using unconventional solutions. I remember a day when some particularly elegant piece of analysis improved efficiency by illuminating a challenge in a way that allowed it to also be easily addressed. I remember great moments of partnering with colleagues on exciting projects. I start feeling renewed excitement and commitment as my thoughts shift toward the professional side of my life. It’s complicated. I’d like more time to paint, more time to live my own agenda – I don’t actually hate what I do, as much as find that it competes with what I love. Perhaps I am almost grown up enough to tackle this one, too? 🙂

Today is a good day to live each moment right here in the moment I am in, enjoying the thing I am doing now with my entire awareness. Doing so tends to change my view of the world. 🙂

 

Another lovely quiet morning follows a lovely quiet evening. I have feelings that fit figures of speech such as ‘I’m really on to something!’ or ‘I found it!’. I am aware that these feelings, like any feelings, are feelings – lacking substance or reality independent of my experience. I enjoy them without becoming invested in them, or building expectations that this sensation of comfort, contentment, and some not yet clearly defined feeling are permanent or lasting. No emotions are permanent or particularly lasting. Emotions come and go.  Our inner world is very fluid, very malleable, very changeable. Change is. For now, though, these are the feelings I am experiencing, and it is a pleasant quiet morning.

One moment, one flower - we each blossom in our own time.

One moment, one flower – we each blossom in our own time.

The title is not ‘finding my way’ this morning…because somehow that implies there may be only one such way of  my own, and I am coming to understand that while ‘my way’ is my own, and my journey is my own, and my choices are my own…there are so many options on a such vast menu of choices that this morning I feel less comfortable implying that any one way is the only one, mine or otherwise. I am my own cartographer, and I choose my steps, choose my path, choose my actions (and even choose what I think those choices may be).

This week I have had multiple opportunities to do what I can to be ‘supportive’ for friends suffering one or more of life’s hurts. (I am not very good at it, although I mean well.) People hurt. People suffer. Sometimes people even choose to do so. That’s hard for me to watch. I want to say ‘hey, choose differently…’, and sometimes I even do say something quite like that, but I know from my own suffering that it can be hard to hear messages of free will and choice and good self-care when we hurt. What is it about the suffering that can make it so difficult to turn away from it, when we suffer? It is undeniably true, in my own experience, that practicing mindfulness, meditation, and good self-care are often quite enough to ease my suffering, however much I am hurting. It is also equally true that knowing this is not enough to ensure that I reliably take advantage of that knowledge, myself. I see the challenge reflected back at me in the suffering of friends and those dear to me; they, too, find it difficult to turn away from suffering, and to choose good self-care, balance, perspective, and to take advantage of the tools in their emotional toolkit to sooth their own suffering through careful application of some verbs and choices (and many of them are not even a little bit ‘broken’).  Life’s curriculum, this week, is enhanced by case studies. We are each having our own experience… we are all in this together.

What is it that stops us from embracing all our choices, or from maintaining broad perspective, or from remembering that ‘this too shall pass’? I am still more about questions that answers.

There is value in considering the vastness of our potential, and our options.

There is value in considering the vastness of our potential, and our options.

Today is a good day to share without pushing, and to listen deeply. Today is a good day for affection, good-natured appreciation of the small things, and kindness. Today is a good day to be practical, and to be hopeful. Today is a good day to make good choices. Today is a good day to enjoy what matters most, and to invest deeply in what I love. Today is a good day to change a world.