Archives for posts with tag: be who you are

What a lovely Saturday it is, here. I mean… yeah. Gorgeous sunny mild morning, no agenda, no “heavy lifting”, emotional or otherwise, just a pretty day. My Traveling Partner has been in good spirits all morning. Me, too. Coffee was decent – neither my best nor my worst – and we enjoyed it together before moving on to our own tasks. I spent considerable time entertaining myself watching the new “bamboo shrimp” in the aquarium, and doing some maintenance (mostly to do with removing some algae, being careful not to disturb the Blue Velvet shrimp who also live in this community tank). I’ve got a grocery list for a quick trip to the store a bit later, and a plan to make some oatmeal cookies.

Looks like a relaxed day ahead, and I honestly can’t thank me enough for it. 🙂 That’s right. It’s on me to make sure I get the downtime I need. It’s up to me to set clear boundaries, and to know my limits. It’s up to me to “budget my energy” (and my time), and to choose my tasks and the things that occupy my attention. Today, I think I’ve chosen wisely. 🙂 I plan to enjoy this with my whole self, too.

From my walk, yesterday.

I’ve been having to be more intentional about getting my walks in, lately. It’s become too dim in the early morning to walk entirely safely in forested places (both due to the risk of tripping over a hazard, and also the potential for predatory wildlife). So… I told myself “no problem, I’ll walk on my lunch break”. That sounded completely reasonable, but I underestimated my lack of enthusiasm for suburban neighborhood sidewalk “hikes”. As it turns out, by midday, many of the places I do enjoy walking regularly are also filled with moms & kids, school outings and groups of kids, trail runners, dog walkers… and loud conversations. Not at all what I’m going for. It’s been challenging me to think differently about where and when I get my walk in. I really don’t want to overlook it, though; walking has started to feel like it has the potential to be a “use it or lose it” scenario, and I really don’t want to find myself permanently off my feet at some future point solely due to lack of effort now, while effort-making is relatively “easy”. So here I am. Thinking about walking, which is just a bit amusing to me.

Forward momentum doesn’t have to be fast. It often isn’t. Progress. Achievement. Things that have steps, require effort, include task-processing, or have verbs involved are often found in a slower pace than I’d ideally like. You too? Incremental change over time can be ridiculously slow to the point of being imperceptible without really really looking for it. So… look for it. You’ve come so far – even if there is further to go, you’re here, now. Celebrate that. Why not? Some work went into this place you stand right now. It’s not where you’re headed? Not where you want to be? Yeah, okay, I get that – me, too. There are things I know I want to understand more. I keep studying. There are places I want to get to. I keep walking. There are goals I want to achieve. I keep working at them. Each step, each task, each moment – hopefully – taking me closer to those experiences and destinations. 🙂 Sometimes “slow” has to be enough.

My coffee is finished. The morning moves on. I’ve got my recipe picked out, and I’ve got my shopping list, and I’ve got this day ahead of me – and it’s mine to enjoy as I choose, in this place I call home, with this human being who is my partner, on this lovely mild sunny Saturday on the edge of autumn. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping coffee and listening to videos in the background. Pleasant Sunday morning. Housekeeping on the agenda, not much else. I expect it’ll be a hot summer day. I’m okay with a couple hours of chores and a few moments for myself, and some pleasant hours with my Traveling Partner.

Our path may not always be level, the day may not always be sunny.

…Love isn’t “perfect”. Life either. Nothing really is. (Maybe this cup of coffee…) I make a lot of choices, and some of those are compromises, and some are just poor choices…on the other hand, I’ve got a lot of very cool opportunities to choose from, and fascinating people with whom I can choose to associate. Kinda neat, actually. Even our most intimate relationships are filled with choices.

We choose our path, and we choose what we consider our choices to be.

I chose my Traveling Partner a long time ago (11 years)… on a commute, I think. There was a hug involved. Hours of conversation, over time. A friendship developed. I adore this human being. He is “flawed” (inasmuch as he is quite human), as I am myself. There are days when one or the other of us seriously aggravates the other. (Just being real, and let’s be frank, one thing I know I can count on in life is that life will be, generally, quite “real”. lol) I enjoy him, as a friend, as a human being, as a partner… I smile when I think of him, and he is the person most easily able to unintentionally hurt me emotionally with a harsh word in a difficult moment. I still choose him, and yeah, even when I’m crying over a moment of hurt feelings, I still choose him.

He’s very dear to me. 😀 (bad pun intentional)

Why bring it up? It’s been a lovely weekend. This is all pretty obvious practical shit, right here, and hardly bears pointing out. Don’t we all go through it? Some moment that contrasts the wonderful qualities with the very human, sometimes much less wonderful qualities? Again – pretty real. Pretty ordinary. I dunno. I was thinking about it as I walked yesterday… “What matters most?”… “What builds a firm enduring foundation for love?”… “What does a healthy relationship look like, over time?”… “How does healthy boundary and expectation-setting look and feel in the context of a healthy adult relationship?”… “What part do I, myself, play in ensuring I am treated well based on my own understanding of “good treatment” – and how I do ensure I am skillfully, authentically, ensuring I treat my partner well based on their understanding of “good treatment” – and my own?” Big questions. (Long walk.)

Growth isn’t about what’s easy or comfortable. It’s often about hard questions, and answers that require rather a lot of real work. “Is the effort worth it?” is one question that is easy to answer, for me, in the context of this relationship: yes.

Sometimes choices seem so limited… or complicated… those perceptions are also choices.

I’ve had 3 other “long term relationships” of any notable duration. Two ran far longer than the quality of the relationship warranted. (Okay, well, all three of those, actually, were far longer than what was healthy, but I did manage to cut that last one short before my life or mental health were in complete chaos.) I’ve often been that person working at it longer/harder and loyally clinging to the carcass of a relationship that did not at all rate such a ferocious commitment in the first place. “I didn’t know better” doesn’t describe the goings on so much as “brain damage”, honestly. Yikes. That feels “too real”, right there. I sigh, finish my coffee, and let it go. 🙂 I’m rather happily in a very different place these days, different relationship altogether. “Learned my lesson”? Possibly not – more than I’ve been fortunate, and this particular relationship grew and developed largely in the context of ongoing therapy and other positive life choices (and changes) that took me down a healthier path.

Choices.

Don’t sit around miserable, is what I’m saying. You have choices. You don’t have to wait for decades of your life to slip by – you can choose change. Any time. You can begin again. Oh, I know, it’s a difficult sort of choice to make, but truly, it is yours.

Maybe what looks like a dead-end just isn’t your path at all?

I’m sipping my coffee and frowning past my monitor, looking beyond the “view” outside the window. Nothing impressive, just the fence, the pear trees that rise above it, and the wall of the neighbor’s house beyond – I’m not really seeing it, right now, I am in my own head. I am ruminating over the bitch of an inconvenience that is the very real truth that however much someone loves us, however much someone cares, no matter the level of consideration, empathy, or understanding – we are each walking our own mile, having our own experience, and there will inevitably be some detail that is simply not visible, or not recognized for what it is, or not understood with any clarity, or seems wholly miscommunicated to the detriment of a pleasant moment. Have a brain injury? Ratchet that up a notch. Grieving? This one too; it’s progressively more invisible over time, and people eventually reach their “you’re not over this yet?” point – sooner than you will, yourself. It’s just real. We feel our own pain most intensely. We understand our own circumstances more than we can understand someone else’s, generally. We filter every interaction through who we are ourselves, and how we personally understand the world, with little regard for the demonstrable reality that it legitimately is not the same for someone else. Sometimes I feel completely fucked over by that whole entire messy business.

I’m not pissing and moaning about this while mired in self-pity. I’m actually more… a tad angry about it. I earnestly want to do better by my friends, family, and loved ones than that, myself. I still struggle with it, too. Maybe it just feels easier to bitch about what someone else is doing than it is to attend to what is within my personal control? I could stop doing that, and redirect that time and effort into personal growth and change… that sounds pretty positive.

I take a breath, and a sip of my coffee. When I got out of the shower, my Traveling Partner had already made his coffee. I generally make coffee for the both of us. It’s one way I say “I love you” and start the morning off pleasantly. I enjoy the routine. This morning, he did not wait on that, he took ownership of needs and made his coffee. I can’t fault him for that. Good self-care. He did not make my coffee. (I could take that personally – it could even be possible that it was intended to silently signal his irritation with me, more likely he just wasn’t sure I’d be out of the shower before it got cold.) I don’t give it much thought beyond observation, and let go of any concern about “sending me a message”, because, frankly, he uses his words. He’s not the sort who goes around being under-handed or passive-aggressive with communicating his needs or feelings; it’s a pretty unhealthy approach. I try to avoid that sort of thing, myself; it’s very imprecise, and not reliably clear. I’m not even certain I’d “get the message” – I tend (more often than not) to be very “face value” about those sorts of things, in my interactions, and it’s likely that that kind of thing would “go over my head” anyway. 🙂

I’m working on taking better care of myself, generally, which I also generally suck at. It’s a lot of work. I enjoy spending time with my partner to the point that I overlook taking time with myself. It doesn’t take long before my background stress is evident, and becoming unmanageable. So… I reset, begin again, and work on building better habits, and practicing the practices that I know support my emotional wellness, best. It is, however, still an ongoing, challenging, messy, aggravating, frustrating, endlessly fiddly bit of bullshit and effort that will no doubt plague me to the end of my days.

…It could be worse…

I sip my coffee. I’m writing on a pleasant summer morning. I’ve got a partner who loves me and does his best, reliably, to love me well. I could say “that’s enough”, but I’m aware how much more than “enough” that really is; I haven’t always had it like this. My good circumstances just don’t happen to alleviate me of my burdens in life. (Why did I expect that they might?) The work day peaks at me from the clock… it’s time to begin again.

I’m sipping my morning coffee on a sunny summery Saturday. No firm plans, no clear expectations; just me, this coffee, and this morning moment with my thoughts.

It’s expected to be a hot day. I won’t want to go for a walk in the heat of the afternoon. I think over where I might like to walk this morning… my thoughts are still fuzzy with “just woke up” fog and imprecision. Right now? Walking doesn’t even sound pleasant; my knee aches, my ankle aches, and my back hurts.

…Oh hey – no headache (right now)! Win!

My tomato plants are growing tall, and strong, and they are blooming plentifully. My Traveling Partner suggested yesterday that they be moved a bit further apart (realistic potential because they are planted in garden bags with handles, and can be moved with care). Maybe I’ll do that today… before it gets too hot…?

I picked strawberries from the garden on Thursday. So yummy! Fully ripe. Fresh. Delicious little bites of summer. There are a few left, and there are more on the plants, ripening in the sun. It’s a small plot of strawberries, and likely will be finished for the year before July ends. I think about putting a narrow raised bed along the opposite side of the step-stone walkway along which the strawberries are planted, into which I could plant more… maybe next year?

There is so much potential in this one human lifetime. So many choices. So many paths on which to travel into an unknown future… I don’t have much more going on than these musings this morning. It’s enough. 🙂 There’s this whole sunny day ahead, and so much potential…

…Time for a second coffee, and a new beginning. 🙂

Fresh. Out of so many, how do I choose? 🙂

I’ve got this headache plaguing my every minute again, today. It sucks. It’s a small irritant in a generally good experience, though, and things could be far worse. Weirdly, “things seem strange” – the ratio and size of this window looks somehow wrong. The font seems small compared to my expectations. I check that I’m wearing the right glasses. I find myself clenching my jaw, and make a point to breathe and relax my face. Where is this stress and feeling of aggravation and enduring frustration coming from? I feel a bit… generally peeved. Did I miss the mark on my morning coffee…? No, I definitely had two cups.

I increase the magnification on this window, and let that go. I take an OTC pain reliever for the headache, and let that go, too. I breathe, exhale, relax – and take a minute to savor the excitement of the upcoming job change. There’s a moment of satisfaction in each piece of paperwork in that process that is completed. I give myself a moment to feel the sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing the tax paperwork for the year, and let go any lingering stress left behind from that process, too. Small details. Life, lived.

…This headache, though…

A couple weeks ago, my lack of enthusiasm for vacuuming found itself notably worsened by the earnest-but-inadequate efforts of the wee cheap plastic upright vacuum I’d purchased back in 2015, when I moved into #27. Tiny apartment – it didn’t need an expensive feature-packed vacuum cleaner, just a vacuum cleaner sufficient to keep up with one women in less than 700 sq feet of space, one third of which wasn’t carpeted. This house is bigger than that, and although only the bedrooms are carpeted, it’s still quite a bit of vacuuming each week keeping up with two busy adults venturing in/out, onto the deck, into the front yard, out into the shop (in the garage)… and, I can’t say I was successfully keeping up, at all. Neither was that vacuum. It did its best, and it got me by for… 6 years. Wow. Not bad. 🙂 Just not enough, anymore. My Traveling Partner and I talked it over and decided a new vacuum cleaner would be the next quality of life improvement, and did some pre-shopping, settled on a make/model, determined the likely date of purchase (if available). That was two weeks ago. This morning, I was up early, and out the door between my first and second coffees, heading up the road to the retailer with the vacuum cleaner we’d selected.

…It rained the entire drive there and back…

This is not an exciting tale of adventure. I bought a vacuum cleaner. Not exciting. It’s a good one, though, and I’m delighted with the results. I mean… the rugs in the living room actually look clean, for the first time in quite a while. Satisfying. I make room to savor even this small emotional victory. (This headache sucks so much, truly, that contemplating a good result with a quality household appliance feels like real greatness. lol)

…I let go of how irked I am with myself that I hurt too much to aggressively persistently vacuum every inch of flooring across every square foot of house; I can only do my best, and still need to care for myself. I definitely do not want to be the sort of human being willing to make myself cry over the vacuuming. I mean… seriously. It matters so much more that I am in pain. I give myself a minute to consider next steps to care for myself well.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and I feel my irritation resurface recalling that I confused “W-4” with “W-2” in conversation with my partner – which, after a tax-paying lifetime as an American adult, one would figure I’d have mastered as just too fucking basic to get wrong. I let it go. Small mistakes are common enough for people. Even the sharpest, wittiest, most educated, most well-spoken, most erudite, most fluent human beings make mistakes when they speak. Wrong words. Mixed metaphors. Poor choice of verbiage. Slips of the tongue. All too human. I happen to be prone to those things as much as anyone… maybe the tiniest bit more because of my TBI. I’m likely far more sensitive to my errors than other people are, and more so in these later years when I am more prepared to be authentically myself, and less likely to rely on a “script” that conforms to social norms and expectations. Still, I find it awkward and embarassing, and I take a moment to wonder what drives that, instead of focusing on the mistakes that are so human, themselves. It’s the expectations, isn’t it? It’s not the mistake that is the “problem”, in this instance – it’s that I have expectations of myself that don’t allow for those mistakes. That seems like a bit of a dick move… I certainly don’t treat other people that way. Another breath. Another moment to relax. I left all that go, too. I can treat myself better. 🙂 Clearly I need practice.

I review my writing for grammatical errors – a particular sort that is specific to my issues, which is to say, messed up suffixes, opposites, and missing words. They’ve gotten to be pretty common, unfortunately, and I wouldn’t bother about it if they weren’t the sort to entirely change the meanings of sentences. I mean, rather a lot, actually. I look over my writing, correct the mistakes I find. Breathe. Exhale. Relax.

…Fuck this headache…

I’m fatigued from fighting my pain, and managing my mood. I feel tears well up over nothing at all – just the frustration of being in pain. Still. Again. (“Other people have it much worse,” I remind myself, “It’s just physical pain. Just the arthritis and the chill and the damp. Let it go.”) Another breathe. Another moment.

…Time to begin again.