Archives for posts with tag: be here now

I gave my notice yesterday, and set expectations about my departure from my current job. I sought to do so with care, consideration, and professionalism; no bridges burned. It’s a high bar to set, but worth it in the long run, generally. Has been for me, at least. Now come the moments of lightness and contentment and calm – and a hint of resignation, actually – that are a counterpoint to the forward-looking eagerness and excitement about the new job. I try to balance these, and find a comfortable middle place emotionally where I can work, undisturbed, and un-disturbing.

My Traveling Partner asks me if I will go for a walk today, sometime. A snack cake bakes while I work. A soft rain falls, and I watch through the window, wondering where the sunshine he had referred to has gone so quickly. I may walk anyway. I’ve got rain gear, and thoughts to think that would be well-suited for being wrapped in forest. I’m also in pain. Arthritis. Cold wet weather. Just being real… parts of me have no interest in walking. Those same parts would likely benefit from a long walk, regardless of my reluctance. Fuck pain.

I listen for the oven timer to alert me that the snack cake is finished… and think about beginnings. And endings. Aren’t they nearly always, quite commonly at least, all tangled up with each other? What beginning – besides our very birth – is not preceded by some other thing ending? What ending, besides our death (and then, perhaps, only from our own perspective – although I don’t know), is not following quite quickly by the beginning of something else entirely? The persistent entanglement of beginnings and endings exists alongside our persistent refusal to see them both as, mostly, the same thing. lol

I notice my coffee is not finished… and it’s past noon. I quickly swallow the last cold coffee, as though “getting away with” something. The end of this coffee… the beginning of another moment.

…Always time to begin again.

I am sitting quietly at the end of my work day, listening to rain falling into the trees and onto the pavement of an untraveled roadway. The sun is streaming through the window of my studio. These things exist because they can. The rain is falling on video, a pleasant enough way to drown out background noise during the work day, but now, at the end of the work day, it’s not necessary. I turn it off, and take off my headphones. Still a sunny afternoon beyond the window. Lovely hints of spring all along the boughs of the pear trees on the other side of the fence. It’s quiet here. I am actually entirely alone for this moment; my Traveling Partner has made a rare trip out of the house during this pandemic, and with great care. He needs the social time with a friend (who is not me) and I need the solitude every bit as much. It works out well.

…I breathe… exhale… sip my water… relax…

The heat comes on for a few minutes. It reminds me that beyond this window and these walls it is still (what passes for) winter here. I smile and listen to the quiet, feeling it sink into me, filling me up with softness and peace. I let my mind wander, and bring it back to my breath. I breathe awhile, then wander the house on soft feet, feeling the sensation of being in this place, wrapped in silence and solitude, and everywhere I look reminded of love.

…I breathe… exhale… have another swallow of cold refreshing fizzy water… I relax as this moment becomes the next…

…How satisfying and comfortable is solitude? I smile, and my mind veers off that path and onto another. The work day is ended… the sun is shining… maybe a walk? A soak in the hot tub? Quiet time with a good book?

…What a lovely gift this solitude is… and a choice moment to begin again. 🙂

A rainy Monday. A work day. Coffee long gone and finished in the morning. I notice it is afternoon. I sit a bit more upright, when I catch myself slumping over my key board. I breathe a bit more deeply and evenly, each time I catch myself not doing so. I glance at my email, at my calendar, and back at the spreadsheet in front of me. Task by task, process by process, one deadline met, then another, all very routine.

I glanced up and through the window, seeing the naked branches of the pear trees on the other side of the fence between my yard, and the neighbor’s. There are quite a lot of small birds hopping about. Landing, taking off, pecking at this or that, or sipping drops of water clinging to branches since the last downpour. I enjoy watching them. They are as busy as I am, myself, although I suspect the work of their day is somehow more important to their experience than this spreadsheet is to mine. lol

Where does this path lead?

I smile and think about the future. Imminent change is filled with promise, but a lot like a forest path with a curve in it, I can’t really see beyond that change to what really lies ahead. I’m curious. Eager. Filled with wonder. I’m seeking to face the new day able to make use of the full measure of my experience gained so far… my results vary. I’m having my own experience. It’s still a journey without a map…

…and it’s already time to begin again.

I’m inclined to consider “breathing” one of the things I do most naturally… and more or less continuously, while I do all the other sorts of things I am wont to do. I am incorrect in my assumption that “breathing” comes wholly naturally to me; I’m getting better at noticing when I am holding my breath. LOL

It’s not like it’s super obvious. I’m not taking a stance like a defiant child, cheeks inflated, eyes squeezed shut, forcibly holding my breath as long as I can… it’s a more subtle thing, and so I have missed it, for… how long? It’s more like a “long pause”… without air. It’s as if I stop paying attention and forget to breathe for a moment… or… several. This can’t be healthy. So… I keep practicing. I’m sure I’ll need a ton more practice…

…Last night I was focusing on my breathing and sort of… forgot to sleep. I mean… yeah. I noticed around 1:00 am that I had somehow simply overlooked actually falling asleep. Just… laying there awake, breathing. I mean… I guess that’s better than not breathing… and that’s sort of the point. I didn’t get 100% of the rest I really needed, but the day has gone okay, and being real? Some part of that may be due to actually breathing more. I think maybe? Could be. It’s worthwhile enough to keep practicing. 🙂

Every time I’ve had a break from work today, I’ve made a point to breath. Between meetings. Between tasks. As if I specifically must undertake it as a task to complete. Weird, but… I’m not hurting anyone with this, and maybe, just maybe, I’m helping myself move on past some old pain. That’s definitely worth some practice. 🙂

…Time to begin again? One sec, I need to take a couple breaths. 😀

It’s afternoon. Near the end of the work day. I decide to take my break here, writing and reflecting. It’s been a busy few days since my last bit of writing. Busy with winter weather, and winter power outages. Busy with a bit of leisure, a long weekend that most definitely turned out quite differently than planned (see “winter weather” and “power outages” in the previous sentence). It was still a very enjoyable weekend…

Winter view of an icy dawn through the kitchen window.

…There was this one thing, though…

“Are you breathing?” It’s not an unusual question for my Traveling Partner to ask me, with varying levels of aggravation, frustration, or concern. I get frustrated by it, myself – although most of my frustration has had to do with interrupted flow, interrupted reading, interrupted thoughts, interrupted concentration, all interrupted by what felt like a fairly silly question. “Am I breathing? Well… for fucks’ sake, how am I not??” I would think it to myself, before “checking in with myself” to determine whether, for some reason, I might actually be “holding my breath”. I mean, seriously though, why would I be holding my breath?? BUT… and it’s legit… my Traveling Partner cares about me, loves me, and wants me to thrive, so… why would he be making shit up and just randomly interrupting my every leisure moment with such a silly sounding question?

…Tl;dr? He wouldn’t.

…Frustrating for both of us…

Monday I found myself crying over this well-intended, concerned, loving question. “Are you breathing?” I’d fucking had it with that question. Why does it keep coming up?? I cried and cried, all of my frustration with this one question spilling over as tears, and – possibly for the first time – I let myself actually think about the question. I got angry with it. I fought it in my head. I denied it with reasonable arguments, alone in the twilight of a quiet dimly lit room (I was at that point on the edge of a stress-migraine), but I was actually fully considering the question, and what could be driving it.

…I caught myself “holding my breath” while I sat there thinking and crying, too, more than once… Well… shit… so… this is thing?

My partner checked on me a couple times, offering hugs and sympathy, and assurances of his love and abiding affection. He maintained a non-judgmental approach, and gave me room to have my experience without taking it personally. He “let me cry” – and I needed that. See… this “breathing thing” sources with some very old trauma. Very very old. Ancient pain. Unresolved heartache and chaos and damage, from a lifetime ago. Well, damn… I guess, as my partner pointed out to me encouragingly later on, I may just be, finally and at long last, in a place in life where I can actually tackle some things that were too big for me at any earlier point. Squelched and squashed down for so long… erupting unexpectedly in a fury of tears and sadness, like a timer going off.

Later he shares an interesting article with me that seems potentially relevant, about some people experiencing “email apnea“. Reading it gave me a framework to understand the physical behavior of “not breathing” and how that may be affecting my experience moment-to-moment if it is any sort of common concern. A way to understand the observed phenomenon without mistreating myself, and giving me a way to put it into the context of my TBI, or my PTSD, or both. Well… I like science, and I like empirical evidence much more than opinion… so… I took advantage of the technology at hand to begin taking a measurement of my blood oxygen if my partner expressed concern that I wasn’t breathing… I’ll admit, hoping very much to “prove this wrong”. It only took a few such measurements to have to acknowledge that he is noticing something that could be a legitimate concern. I can’t take “real” personally. Instead, I put practices in place to get better at noticing if I am holding my breath (without requiring someone else to point it out), and also to breath more fully without having to actually stop every-damned-thing and actually meditate.

I know to expect incremental change over time to be slow. I know my results may vary. I know I need practice. That’s okay, too; new need? New practice. Hilariously… kinda the same old practice in a fairly basic way. Breathe. Seriously? (I hear myself laugh out loud. Okay… at least I’m still laughing.)

…By the end of the day, we’d had a lovely day together, one of the most pleasant days I can recall in a while… just… really comfortable, connected, pleasant, romantic, tender, wholesome, and just… fun. Good bit of positive reinforcement there. I smile thinking about the day. Today I keep practicing, and find myself recalling scenes from Demon Slayer (season 1), in which the hero, Tanjiro, is learning “Total Concentration Breathing”. I smile and feel considerably less insecure, or sad, or diminished, or frustrated, or put out, or inconvenienced, or… yeah, I’m not feeling anything but love, and gratitude; I have a partner who cares – literally – that I am able to breathe. That’s pretty amazing.

I smile. I check my blood oxygen monitor. 99%. Nice. I pause for a moment to breathe mindfully… and begin again.