Archives for posts with tag: be the change

The School of Life doesn’t have a rigid test schedule that is easy to plan ahead for. Cheating is just about impossible. All the tests are entirely open book, and generally really fucking hard. There’s no curve to be graded on; each test, each question, each student stands alone in judgment, generally the internal self-inflicted judgment is most intense. The grading system is mysterious, flexible, and grades can change even in the past; we become what we practice, and the result is that context, meaning, understanding, and perspective over time can all change as we become someone we weren’t at some other, earlier point.

I’m just saying, the tests are hard.

It’s test time. Maybe it sort of always is, but I’m feeling it more this week. My anxiety comes and goes, and it is both unwelcome, and unsurprising. Happily, I’m also not extraordinarily tense about the anxiety itself, an experience which can really add a lot of additional anxiety to the anxiety that is more about the anxiety itself than whatever I may think I’m anxious about. It’s not helpful to have to sort all that out, but it can be majorly helpful to make the attempt to do so. No pressure… time is passing… what, it’s still there?? I chuckle over my coffee in spite of the mild persistent tension of the anxiety in the background. Shit gets real sometimes.

When a fresh wave of anxiety tightens the pit of my stomach, pulls me over my keyboard, pushes my shoulders high, and makes my chest tighten, I push back gently, raising myself up full erect on my spine, breathing deeply, letting my shoulders relax again. Another breath, reminding myself these sensations are only that, this emotion just a momentary experience – emotional weather. Another breath, “this too will pass”. The sounds of traffic and tinnitus mix with the sound of my very even breathing. Another slow even deep breath, the knot in my stomach begins to unwind.

I keep at it for a few minutes (in this instance, about 6 and a half minutes, actually), until the wave of tension and worry passes over me, and recedes. If yesterday is any predictor, it’ll come and go rather more frequently than usual today, not attached to much of anything, besides the general every day stress of managing expenses, change, and adulthood. I’m okay right now. There’s nothing much “wrong”, really. The comfortable awareness of this reassures and soothes me, and I return to sipping my coffee and writing.

Have a flower. It can be helpful to take time for beauty. I’m a fan of pausing for flowers. 🙂

Some of the most stressful things in life are made far worse by our way of treating ourselves, and this one piece of living life skillfully is so very much within our own control, it’s hard to imagine not to at least give improving those skills a try. It’s been a good strategy for me – admittedly, it’s also a lot of work, and self-awareness, and failing, and learning, and getting things wrong, and owning my own poor choices, or behavior, and change, and practice, and… yeah. It’s a commitment to self that rivals any commitment I could ever consider making to another person. I try my best not to let myself down, and when I do let myself down, I try my best to move forward having learned something from the experience.

I’m so human. There’s no “cure” for my head injury, or for my PTSD, and so… this human experience. Very human. Ups, downs, all the things. This week? Anxiety. I’m not mad about it, just saying; I go through it. It used to be worse and more often. It is mostly manageable, most of the time, now. That’s more than something – it’s enough. Truly.

Ah, yes, there it is again, surging up from a ball of background stress and fear lodged in my gut; anxiety. As it begins to grow large and fill my consciousness, I return my attention to my breathing, and make a point of letting it go, again. I shrug in the silence. I can do this all day. All week. All of the rest of my life if necessary. It’s far better than becoming mired in the feeling of anxiety, frankly. I’d rather practice the practices that dial it back. Yes, of course, there are verbs involved; I have to do the things that help. Just thinking about them won’t do it. Bitching about the anxiety, by itself, is also not effective – although it can be enough distraction to break the cycle, so I can’t say “don’t bitch about anxiety”. lol Sometimes that really does work, too.

Art, puzzles, an intellectual distraction of some kind, these are things that can also help reduce anxiety.

Funny thing; the anxiety does not really want me to focus on my breathing or other self-soothing practices at all. It would far prefer that I try to troubleshoot why I feel anxious, as if deep-diving those details and attempting to fix all that would resolve the anxiety. It might. It might not. Anxiety is its own thing, and it’s a bit of a mistake to fuse it with some narrative about “why” that I’ve built up in my head. Instead, addressing the anxiety itself, from the perspective of being an experience built on some specific sensations and emotions, and accepting that it may not be so directly connected to a “why” at all, tends to be most effective. It doesn’t actually matter whether I’m “anxious for a reason” – the anxiety doesn’t care about that at all, and makes shit up on the regular for me to stress “about”. lol I’m not falling for that bullshit anymore. 😉

It is a short work week. I’m missing my Traveling Partner. Anxiety is currently part of my experience. I’m physically fairly comfortable at the moment. My coffee is almost gone. These are all equally true observations of my subjective experience. One human. One experience. Tons of choices.

I take a deep breath and relax, and choose to begin again. 🙂

Yesterday was lovely. Relaxed. Relaxing. Spent in a leisurely way on leisure activities, generally. Most of the weekend has been, actually. Each time something specifically not leisure got my attention, I put it to rest pretty firmly. I let my sleep cycle be whatever it was, too; naps are wonderful. Naps leading to long nights of delicious slumber are pretty spectacular, too. Any worries that my early morning weekday routine might get broken was “put to rest” (lol) this morning, when I woke, well-rested, at 2:47 am. Close enough to 3:00 am… and 3:00 am is close enough to 4:00 am. Today is the last day of my long weekend, and I woke quite naturally fairly close to the ludicrous early hour I typically wake. 😀 Splendid.

…Amusingly enough, I crashed hard last night sometime around 6:00 pm. I woke at 11:00 pm and considered getting up… instead, I went back to bad and slept deeply for several more hours. Hikes every day. Yoga. Taking up Qigong. Walking more. I’ve been putting in some time and attention on getting my activity level up where it needs to be to reach my fitness goals. Exerting the effort amounts to work, work leads to fatigue, fatigue requires rest, the need to rest results in feeling tired, which leads to sleep…and I do enjoy quality sleep. A weekend well spent. 😀

I have had opportunities to explore pretty much all the hours of the day over this weekend. Afternoon and mid-morning napping fairly reliably leads to wakefulness in the wee hours of morning, or late into the evening. I’ve spent them meditating, writing, reading… I’ve spent the hours of my days quite well. It’s lovely to look back on.

From my vantage point this morning, it feels I have gotten back on track on any number of little things that matter to me. I’m waiting on one more; I tinkered with my old Gear Fit2 fitness tracker and managed to bring it back to life. I woke this morning to a 100% charge on it (it hadn’t been taking a charge for a long while, then I forgot all about it in a drawer). Ah, but of course; updates. Well, shit. I’ve been looking at this 56% completed status for a while now… Will it? Won’t it? I try not to watch it. lol

Feeling “ready” to get back on track is a different place to be than yearning for it, or planning on it, or figuring I ought to do something about… something. Real readiness almost seems to handle business without any input from me; the inputs are implicit, and already exist, everything is down to verbs now. Readiness doesn’t hesitate over a fucking verb. 😉 I’m eager to see where this leads. Incremental change over time sometimes feels so slow. Mostly, actually. Painfully slow. Discouragingly slow. There are, though, occasional steps forward that feel a bit bigger – like suddenly lurching forward and finding oneself several steps ahead, upon returning to a more natural gait… or… like falling. Or jumping. Springing forward unexpectedly, and resuming the slow steady pace from a different starting point. It feels good, and in spite of hesitating to trust it and fully embrace it, it feels like real progress.

These are only feelings; there are still verbs involved. My results may still vary. My journey remains my own. My choices continue to matter.

I’ve still got to walk my own path.

56%? Shit. Still? Well… it’s more than half way. 🙂 As starting points go, it has promise. What if it’s just stuck and can’t go further? Well… I guess a factory reset, another attempt at the updates, and see where that takes me. Seems a good approach. Why would I give up entirely in the face of real progress, even when faced with a set back? Well… I wouldn’t. 🙂 I’ll most definitely be mildly frustrated if, after even that effort, my fitness tracker is no kidding just dead; it would mean shopping for another, and honestly, it’s a bad time for that – I just bought a car, and need to be very careful with money until I’m sure I’ve got my budget back on track. Wholesome adulting. I mean… the thing that brings a budget successfully to life isn’t the budget or the planning or the review of all the details and the careful documentation – it’s the choices I make that are rooted in that planning and decision-making. If I just do the planning and don’t live out the plan using my choices and actions? It’s just time spent on a spreadsheet, without any meaning. Busy work. The same thing that fails new year’s resolutions for most people is exactly the same thing that fails so many budgets; the simple failure to make those choices in the moment, in real life.

So many choices. So many verbs.

So much to “track” as an adult… so much to manage… so much to do… so much to care for and about… I am feeling particularly grateful to feel so well-rested. Small things stay small, freeing me to consider bigger things without any particular stress. 🙂

Then, there’s always technical support… sometimes, help is good to have. 🙂 After staring at “56%” for nearly an hour, through the entire process of waking for the day, making coffee, meditating, writing… I checked for online solutions. Read a support article. Noticing nothing seemed quite on point for the issue at hand occurred just at the same time that the Live Chat prompt popped on my screen. Sure. Why not? Precisely 7 minutes later… the update is completed. The device functions once more. 🙂 So basic: ask for help when you need help. 😀

Feeling good on a Monday; I feel very much that I’m “back on track”. If nothing else, I am, at least, back on tracker. 😉 It makes a great beginning.

I am relaxing over one final coffee for today. (More after this time of day reliably disturbs my sleep later on, so, generally, noon is my cut off for coffee unless I am planning to “make a night of it” for some event or activity.) I am feeling content and thoughtful.

I took my first Qigong class today. The main focus was on some basics: “four count breathing”, “horse stance”, and a very slow walking meditation. It was fun, comfortable, challenging without being frustrating, and “harder than it looks” to do quite correctly – which means room to grow and push myself. 🙂 It seems a good fit for my needs, generally. I’m pretty eager to make it a practice; that was sort of the entire point of undertaking today’s exploratory lesson, at all. 🙂

How is it I’m feeling sleepy? lol I also feel, generally, pretty well-rested.

Change is work. Sometimes it’s physical labor, sometimes just cognitive effort, but regardless; changing requires some verbs, and verbs require effort, and effort amounts to work. 🙂 We become what we practice, whether by force of will or happenstance. Each time I’ve undertaken some specific change, and followed through on my intentions with actual effort and commitment, doing so has changed me. We become what we practice. Our practices change our thinking, as well as our physical selves.

Where will your path take you?

I hear from my Traveling Partner, off somewhere or another, doing his thing, living his life, enjoying the day. I smile when I think about him. It’s a sunny day at the end of summer, neither hot nor cold, with a soft breeze that touches my skin quite gently. A good day for leisure, for contemplation, for gardening, for housekeeping, for errands, for exercise, for hiking, for napping… just generally a pleasant day. I finish off my coffee with an enthusiastic commitment to enjoy it fully.

…And now? Why, yet another beginning, most likely. I could begin laundry, or begin the dishwasher’s wash cycle, or begin tidying up the container garden for autumn, or begin studying a new language, or begin reading a new book, or begin work on a new canvas. I could also use this moment to resume something – a new beginning on existing endeavors is still a new beginning. There’s pretty nearly always some convenient way to step forward into a new moment, energized, renewed, and ready to move on with things, generally. This seems the sort of moment for it…

My coffee is finished. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

What’s leaning on you? What are you doing to get some relief? (It’s just a question.)

This morning I woke so slowly and so deliciously at ease that I didn’t really notice the transition from dreaming to thinking, from sleeping to waking; I simply realized at some point that I was, indeed, actually awake, and had been for some unnoticed, unmeasured time. I got up with more than usual ease and freedom of movement, too. I moved gently through the usual details of mornings: a shower, yoga, that first delicious hot cup of coffee, and catching up on the world a bit.

I feel… “relieved”.

I followed up with meditation, sitting contentedly in the open patio doorway, gazing out into the trees and my small container garden, as a soft rain fell. It’s hard to imagine a more delightfully contented moment.

I enjoy the soft rain after the scorching days of summer.

Much of the day, today, is being spent writing letters and calling legislators about issues that matter to me, mostly labor and wage stuff, quality of life concerns, universal healthcare, and judicial reform. I take some time for me, too; this right here and now me, the woman in the mirror – I’ve got some needs of my own, that are on my mind (wellness and quality of life concerns). I check out a Tai Chi studio online… I plan my weekend hikes.

Sometimes it is hard to really relax and completely recharge with just two days of weekend. This weekend I’ve got 4 days to work with. It’s quite wonderful.

I take a sip of what is left of my now cold coffee. There’s definitely time to enjoy another cup. I smile at the thought of my sparkling clean kitchen, and think happy thoughts about how supportive and helpful my Traveling Partner is, and how wonderful love is, just generally. Having a little help now and then can make so much difference! I remind myself gently that it is also helpful to ask for it when I need it, instead of letting myself fall behind.

Self-care takes a lot of forms. Like yoga, dance, flow practices, or martial arts, self-care has so many varied forms and combinations of supportive practices, it would seem possible that any one of us could assemble a system of practices that work ideally well for this one particular singular unique human primate that we are… It’s a damned big menu, though, and the variety itself can overwhelm and confuse. One thing at a time then? Why not? Pick up a practice. Practice it “awhile” – days, weeks, months, whatever it takes to determine with reliable certainty whether it is “for you” – let it go, if it isn’t. Keep it up, if it is. Either way, there’s no avoiding those verbs. We become what we practice. Incremental change over time can be so damned slow, but… it does happen. With practice. With repetition. With study. Each day a new beginning, and ample opportunity to fail, to be mistaken, to get it wrong, to re-do something, to try again – to become the human being we most want to be.

There are no short cuts.

It’s time. Make the most of the opportunity. ❤

We all deal with occasional emotional “stormy weather”. I wish I could really help. I’d hand you an umbrella, or some wet weather gear, if it were, you know, properly weather. Instead, all I can really do is take time to listen. Give you a hug. Hand you a tissue. Frustratedly attempt to assure you it will pass.

…You won’t be letting it go until you’re ready.

Your perspective on the situation is your own, and you may not be ready to own any piece of your circumstances, or recognize any amount of personal accountability – and right now you’re hurting. I see it. My frustration sources with your choices, and your unreadiness to look yourself in the face and understand which of your choices may have contributed (or be contributing) to the situation quite directly. It’s hard to watch. I could tell you that some of this is made up nonsense in your own head, or that some of it actually just doesn’t “matter”, in fact, at all.

…You won’t be believing or accepting anything you aren’t ready for – how could you?

Your suffering is quite real. I wish I could help in a real way. I lack the tools. I’d offer you perspective, a quite moment over a cup of tea, perhaps some words over coffee and a moment to gather your thoughts… but the verbs are all yours, in the moment you choose to bring action to your experience and really do something about… whatever is going on.

I’ve found far too often that my own assumptions, expectations, and attachments, were precisely the thing causing me so much suffering, rather than the circumstances themselves. My very human insistence on attributing a “because” to some action taken by another, or words I’ve read or heard, and making it all exceedingly personal (whether it had any legitimate potential to be so, or not), often causes me much more pain than anything anyone actually did, regardless of their intention. Seriously. We make so much shit up in our heads. Yes, you too.

Then, “the hormone thing”. Yeah. Fucking hell. I get it. It’s hard. Hardest still is seeing how much choice there still is. We get used to “can’t help it” and we get so used to making excuses, apologies, and accepting sympathy, that we entirely overlook our opportunities to behave differently in the face of our hormonal challenges – and most of us could realistically do a lot better. No, I’m not going to take a step back from that, and I’ll point out the choice to do better is available both to those with the hormone challenges, and those who love those who have them. Then, how hard is it, sometimes, to even acknowledge “the hormone thing” at all, in some moment when we feel so righteous about our pain or anger? Everyone can win when we all simply treat each other well. No kidding. It’s about behavior, not emotions. Verbs. Choices.

Do better. You can. No kidding. However stressed and freaked out you are right now, you can choose so much of your experience – including how you deal with it. I need reminders too, sometimes. I’ll finish this, and drop the link in an email to myself with some alarming subject line like “I JUST CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!” all in caps, and tag it and archive it without thinking twice about it, and some future day when maybe I find myself lost in the deep end of emotional bullshit, I’ll go searching for emotional wounds to pick at from my email archives… and instead, find the link to this reminder that I have choices – and that I can do better. 🙂

A lot of the shit we allow to upset us most is of little real consequence. Let it go. Take a breath. Take another one. A proper deep breath. Let it out slowly. Have a cup of tea and just stop for a minute. Maybe take 10 minutes to meditate, or have a calming shower. Go for a walk and sift through your thoughts without judgment. Give yourself quiet time to process things. Get some perspective. Deal with your emotions without taking them personally. Take care of yourself – if you haven’t eaten, have some calories. Drink some water. It will pass.

Feasting on our anger or heartache by ceaselessly venting, again and again, about the same shit, tends to grow it larger in the garden of our hearts. Seriously. We become what we practice. Practice anger, you get good at being angry. Practice tears and tantrums, you get really good at crying and raging. Practice losing your shit and becoming hysterical and wrapped up in yourself, and, no kidding, you get good at that.  Maybe practice letting go of your attachment to your own bullshit, instead? Or practice building calm and emotional resilience? How about practicing contentment? You could even practice communicating your emotions without screaming them at people… I’m just saying, behavior is something we can change through choices and practices. It’s not about emotions, at all. Go right ahead and feel all of the things you are feeling. How are you behaving? It matters. 😉

You’ll most likely be okay, you know? How about right now? Are you okay right now? Start there. Begin again. ❤