Archives for posts with tag: beauty

It’s definitely Spring, now. Tiny green leaves are unfolding from swellings that became small buds on so many of the trees and shrubs! There is a green “mist” of unfolding forming in the view beyond the deck. Green things sprouting from the damp of the forest floor. Swampy ground becoming more firm. Little birds everywhere. My flower beds still reflect the sales-appeal-focused (simple, but hardy and low maintenance) plantings that were in place when we bought the house. (I’ve added very little, so far, planting only some dahlia tubers and a bare root rose that arrived a bit ahead of my expectations.) The primroses reflect a lack of care in color choices. They are still lovely, and blooming like they’ll only get one shot at it, ever.

Simple, lovely, enduring – and so beautiful in the Spring sunshine!

There are other wonders to come; flowers that have sent up leaves, blades, stalks, some with buds… I wait to see what flowers open next.

Next weekend seems the likely one for planting the rest of the container roses into the garden beds. It would be nice to tell them so, and know whether they are eager to stretch their roots, or have any thoughts on placement… fanciful musings over coffee on a Sunday morning.

My Traveling Partner has spent much of this new Spring cleaning things, tidying, bringing order to chaos – even “tuning the sound stage” in our living room, and finishing some dĂ©cor and design plans we’d made when we moved in (all delayed by the unexpected water damage and resulting fuss and bother after the AC was installed). He’s added acoustic treatments that removed the notable echo in the living room, and refined the placement of various objects to even further improve our listening (and viewing) experiences. It’s gorgeous and sounds wonderful.

…Every time I step into the living room, now, I grin so hard my face hurts. I feel very loved. I’m enjoying our considerable collection of music all over again, as if it were new. It definitely feels like Spring…

Pain? Pain is pain. That’s still a thing I live with. I shrug it off when I can. I attempt to be patient with myself and people around me when I can’t. I try to be consistent with my self-care and pain management. Work? Work is still work. I still work – it’s a necessary part of my life, for now. I like the new job – honestly? I like it enough that my enthusiasm for the work collides with my desire to hang out with my partner, and sort of drains away any time I may have planned for writing, for painting, for most endeavors that are not work, or time with my partner, or necessary housekeeping to keep those parts of life running most smoothly. lol Self-care fail? Yeah, admittedly. Small now… but it is the sort of thing that can fester over time and become chronic resentment, utterly without ever intending it. I keep an eye on it, and this morning, in a small inconsequential moment of disharmony, I acknowledged the opportunity and stepped away to write a bit.

…French toast later…

There’s often a new beginning just ahead. A choice. An opportunity. A whim. A change – desired, chosen, or inflicted. A moment of inspiration. A moment just being.

…This coffee is good, itself a new beginning of sorts…

…What about this moment? This blog post? These words? More beginnings…? I think maybe, yes…

I think about photos, songs, moments… and I think about love.

Thank you, Love “Contemplation” 12″ x 16″ acrylic and iron oxide. August 2011

A new beginning can be a bit scary, sometimes. Too often I have found myself hesitant to walk away from something that just doesn’t work for me. You too? I admit, it’s also often true that once I’ve taken that first step, life unfolds with less effort when I choose well – based on my values, and the real truths of my heart (and reality), and take those steps in the direction I actually want to go. Worth the moment of anxiety, doubt, insecurity, or fearfulness? Very much so; that’s just a moment, and it doesn’t last. Life, when we’re most fortunate, continues on beyond that moment. 🙂

…This coffee is just about gone… French toast is sounding pretty good… it may be time to begin again. 😀

I started the morning at a pleasant hour, feeling rested and merry, in a familiar amount of pain, consistent with the cold weather. I sipped my coffee and quietly honored MLK Jr Day, reading biographical essays of great civil rights leaders of color, and about black American, and immigrant experiences of struggling with the American dream. I had considered going to one of the numerous public events, but the icy weather keeps me home today.

I got to thinking about racism and discriminatory biases generally, even peculiar “mean girl” biases against “outsiders” who don’t wear the “right” clothes, or make-up, or use the “right” language; human primates take “fitting in” pretty fucking seriously. Comically so, were it not for how much damage we do, and how we hurt each other. Can we not let go of that? It’s so childish and trivial.

I think about a younger me. It has been a struggle to better myself, to leave my racist upbringing behind, to stop judging others because they are not within the parameters of some bullshit ideal built up in my head about what people “should” be, handed down to me by my parents, or propagated by the media. I’m not the woman I was at 23, at 27, at 32, at 40… Still very human. I still face the woman in the mirror every morning asking how can I take another step toward being the woman I most want to be? How do I treat my fellow human being truly well, and also treat myself truly well?

I saw myself on video the other day. A corporate end-of-year presentation looking ahead to the year to come. I did not recognize myself visually, at first glance; that woman doesn’t look like how I feel when I look out from within this fragile vessel made of flesh. She’s… fat. Not pretty. Not “cool”. Sort of… nerdy. Older. I felt struck by something else; I’m okay with who I am these days. I wasn’t frightened, offended, appalled, or ashamed of that woman on video. I heard her words. I smiled because she engaged me with her passion and ideas. I lost sight of her appearance quickly. I have grown.

A change of perspective can be really helpful.

A change of perspective can be really helpful.

For some time now, I make a point to seek out what is beautiful in the people I see around me. I shut off the dripping internal faucet of subtle criticism any time I catch it dripping, and return to smiling at strangers, wishing them well, and seeing what else there is to see about my fellow human beings on this strange journey. I take advantage of the power of imagination, and life experience, to rewrite the internal narrative I tell myself about humanity.

No, we aren’t all kind people. We aren’t all supportive or pleasant people. We aren’t all “doing our best” to improve the world. Still – there is more to each of us than our worst moments, and there is more to each of us than our outward appearance taken in at a glance by a stranger in an impatient moment. So. I try to see more. I try to see differently. I look for the beauty. I look for the delight. I look for the best of what each stranger offers the world. When I catch myself doing differently, in some very human moment of my own, I imagine switching to a different pair of glasses. Glasses that filter out the ugliness and hate. Glasses, let’s be clear, that filter out my ugliness and hate, and judgmental criticism, and anger, and impatience with the world, and frustration, and pain. I’m human too. Sometimes I need to see more clearly, sometimes that means changing not the world itself, but how I see it. 🙂

What sort of tint is on your glasses? Hate? Mockery? Cruelty? Anger? Criticism? Impatience? Smug superiority? Righteous fury? Resentment? And when you turn your attention from the world to the person in your mirror, what then?

Today is a good day to see the world through different eyes. A change of perspective. Greater compassion. Acceptance that we are each having our own experience, and awareness that the experience I have myself, may not be what someone else experiences, at all. Simple respect, consideration, compassion, and awareness, go a long way toward healing the world. It doesn’t take much more than seeing the circumstances and asking “how can I help?”, without defensiveness, without blame, and without criticism. I’m ready to clean off my glasses and begin again.

I managed to hang on to the slower pace with which I started the day, yesterday. I found it a pleasant and worthwhile approach to the day, which finished well with a phone call from my traveling partner, safely returned home.

This morning I am ‘in no mood to be rushed’, but it’s not an unpleasant place to be; I’m simply taking the morning slowly. My coffee is hot, and tasty, the morning is quiet – it is still too early for birdsong, and traffic has not yet begun the harried pace that creates the background noise that is so familiar to modern life. For now, it is about as quiet as it gets, here. I sipped my coffee, relaxing on the love seat, away from screens, and monitors, and applications, and active digital information being shoved into my consciousness for some time. That, too, is lovely, quiet, calming…I embrace all of those qualities with gentle enthusiasm, not looking for relief from stress or worrisome emotions – I have none this morning. I’m just enjoying a chill morning, content over my coffee.

Enough.

Enough.

There’s often so much pressure to make more of things. I’m not sure where it comes from, I’m content to be content, myself, generally. Why would it need to be any fancier than that? I do like pretty language…sometimes it carries me too far, and I find myself looking for ‘more’, when all I actually need is ‘enough’. I find the example of books fitting; I love books, real books, bound books, and although I have a Kindle, I also still have quite a few books. I could have more – there are more to have – I did have more, once, and each relocation finds me sorting through the books and inevitably sending some along to someone else to read and to have, usually based on ‘does this book really represent some piece of who I have come to be?’. I like the books I have to be part of who I am. I’ve read every book I own. On the other hand, I sometimes find myself getting caught up in the excitement of discovering a first edition among my books…then I may find that I’m shopping for more books, fancy books, first edition books, rare books…more books!! I don’t need ‘more books’, though, and I know that I will only keep the ones that mean something to me…so…what the hell? If it remains fun, and doesn’t take over my experience obsessively, and doesn’t lead to financial ruin, why does it matter what I do with my time, or how many books I pile up in corners and on shelves? Well…it does matter, for me, because the obsessive quality of acquisition isn’t based in a mindful experience, lacks perspective, often results in having so much that none of it matters and there’s no time to appreciate the individual elements being collected; it becomes an experience that exceeds any sense of sufficiency to the point that over time I feel my good character and values being degraded. Over books? Over anything – I just used books as an example.

All the practices...

All the practices…

Sufficiency is peculiar. I have a small collection of very fine porcelain demi-tasse cups and saucers. I began collecting them when I lived in Europe. Many of the pieces I own are antiques. They were not expensive individual purchases, and the study of the manufacturers, the patterns, the history of porcelain, and the slow enthusiasm of shopping with great care over time for something precious (and affordable) creates a beautiful experience for me. It’s the slow process, the depth of explored knowledge, the appreciation of each individual cup and saucer, the worthiness and beauty of them – and the power of choice that went into ‘this versus that’; there’s only ever so much room to keep things. Of all the elements of my whole life experience over time, this one – my porcelain – is entirely representative of my own choices, unaffected by the will – or taste – of anyone else. It sprang to life as a thing for me during a time in my life when damned little seemed mine to choose, and life was frightening, chaotic, painful, secretive, and potentially not survivable at all. My little collection is not only ‘enough’, and built on the sufficiency, and luxury, of beauty, it represents the incredible strength of my will to go on, and to find something beautiful in a life filled with fear, grief, and trauma. I’ve always had trouble explaining why seeing them boxed up and put away for safety from life’s chaos and OPD has been so heartbreaking for me – they are more than just ‘breakables’, by far.

Whimsical porcelain figurine; Meissen on display at the Portland Art Museum.

Whimsical porcelain figurine; Meissen on display at the Portland Art Museum.

My life is taking on the shape of who I am. I’ve never seen me in this light before, unfolding over time as this particular being, with these particular qualities of character, living her life specifically as it suits her best, decorating with bound books on shelves, and antiques not only displayed but in every day use – and still, somehow, a life lacking in clutter or chaos…tidy…simple…lovely. Couldn’t I have made these choices in other environments, in shared experiences? It seems so… I didn’t find it a simple thing to do. The living metaphor when something precious is broken just destroys me, emotionally, for some small time, and seems far more common in shared living arrangements, than living alone. I find myself wondering, a bit puzzled, if one driver of moving into my own place was simply to reduce the potential for things being broken, carelessly, and finding myself content to accept that it could be adequate cause to move into my own place, from my perspective – then realizing that this small detail speaks volumes on who I am, and how far I have come to be the woman I most want to be, and how much farther there seems to go.

Beautiful things linger in memory and meaning long after they are gone from my physical experience.

Beautiful things linger in memory and meaning long after they are gone from my physical experience.

Is this all sounding very serious this morning? It’s not so much. Just thoughts, words… I am my own cartographer; perhaps I am simply updating the map, and enjoying the morning over a good cup of coffee?

Morning is here. The whoosh of commuter traffic makes itself heard, and the sky is light enough to see that the day is overcast, at least for now.  There is a squirrel sitting outside the patio door, looking in; he has uprooted the last remaining gladiolus bulb that I had potted when I moved…or perhaps something else, that he had planted there, himself, at some later point. I smile; it’s not a detail that distresses me, and I enjoy the antics of squirrels. I hear birdsong now, and in the distance a siren – someone else’s morning is not going very well at all.

The continued investment in contentment, in calm, in stillness, all add up over time. It’s necessary to keep practicing the practices that have that result – it’s not a permanent sort of thing that can be achieved and then put aside. There is a continuous, patient, investment in self required, there are verbs involved, being human there are opportunities to fail myself now and then  – and learn and grow from that, too. My results vary, regularly, and I sometimes find myself doubting my progress or success…then there is a morning like this one. Things fit. Things feel right. I feel content, relaxed, and self-assured – it’s not a report card, or a finish line, and it is not the achievement of some goal that can be checked off a to do list, or added to a spreadsheet. This is a continuous journey, its own ongoing thing, a process – a verb, a series of verbs, an experience happening now – always happening now. I smile over my coffee; life is worth slowing down for.