Archives for posts with tag: being and becoming

These days I seem wholly contented more often than not. Days sometimes slip by, without noticing I have not written a word, and life feels generally very pleasant within the limited context of my own experience. (Admittedly, when I look beyond that limited lifetime, I see so much struggle, so much pain, and so much unpleasantness, it is hard not to avert my gaze.) Even this lovely life filled with balance and quiet joy holds opportunities to improve, to love more skillfully than I do, to take care of myself more skillfully that I yet know how, and to be of greater service to hearth, and home, and community. Growth gets more complicated, it seems, the more contented I am. πŸ™‚

My gear is packed, with the exception of the clothes I’ll be wearing, and a handful of things that I put through the wash yesterday, and an Rx that I’ll drop in my bag after I take it before bed tonight. I’ll leave for the office tomorrow morning, and head to the camp site after work. I was more ready than I realized, and there were few purchases to make; even my stores of camping food were in good supply and had been kept reliably well-thought out to support a trip to the trees without major shopping (they double as “emergency supplies” between camping trips, creating an ongoing incentive to keep them well-stocked all year).

I’m excited to be out in the woods, camping among the trees, listening to birdsong and breezes. I’m looking forward to uncomfortable hours of self-reflection, meditation, and study. I’m looking forward to thoughtful sketches of small flowers, and reading books I haven’t started yet. I’m looking forward to shameless napping in the heat of the afternoon, lulled to sleep by the buzzing of various insects. I’m looking forward to moments of insecurity, fearfulness, and doubt, and feelings of uncertainty, and inadequacy, and the feelings that follow all of those, when I master them in those moments, and feel my sense of ease and assurance return. I’m eager to sit down “face to face” with the woman in the mirror, and have a chat (figuratively speaking); I find camping exceedingly useful for brushing away the distractions, and really getting focused on the things I need to face, and deal with. I could be a better human being than I am right now, this morning – this journey (and practice) is a way to get there. πŸ™‚

I am also just… tired. Cognitively fatigued. Weekends, however chill and relaxing, aren’t quite enough at this point to get me the deep cognitive, emotional, and intellectual, rest that I need so badly. Nearly every moment, of most any day, is filled from start to end with interactions, and human voices, and this, that, or the other thing pinging on my consciousness. I need a break from all of that, long enough to get properly rested, in order to really grow and benefit from all that I am exposed to, and all that I have learned. πŸ™‚ My ‘brain buffer” is full. Sleep isn’t enough to clear it. I’m sometimes cross with frustration that results from nothing more than feeling persistently distracted and overloaded. “Too much”.

So, tomorrow… well, from the perspective of write here, I guess today. Tomorrow I’ll be finishing loading the car (it’s mostly already loaded), and double-checking that I have coffee, my bee sting kit, and any medication I may need, and adequate cash for picking up a bundle of firewood from the camp hosts up the road. 4 nights out. 4 days. Long enough to really appreciate the luxuries life routinely makes available (through not having them) and long enough to have to push past personal demons queuing up for attention, and to have to kick aside any “baggage” in my way, on a path of self-reflection, re-calibration, and rest. πŸ™‚

I expect to return with pictures of flowers, sunsets, blue skies, paths ahead of me, and moments. I expect to return with a clear heart and sense of purpose. Expectations can be huge buzzkills in real life, so I sip my coffee, smile, and let those go. πŸ™‚ It’s enough to be here, ready to go there, and to let that be what it is, when the time comes. πŸ™‚ For now? It’s just a Monday morning, over coffee, and it’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Sipping coffee, planning for camping, and feeling contented; it’s a pleasant start to the morning. πŸ™‚ I’m excited about my camping trip – and it’s almost here! Next week. Whether I write or not, I’ve no idea, I do know there’s no cell signal available through much of that large beautiful hike-able acreage. Just… none. If my recollection is correct, there’s a hint of a bit of a signal now and then, but only at this one particular spot, and it’s a trek of a couple miles (uphill) to reach it, and it’s not reliable…so… I most likely won’t be posting during that time, regardless whether or not I do write. πŸ™‚

Honestly… lots of past posts to explore, and it’s not as if I’m truly writing wholly original content, is it, since I generally write the same things, most days… drinking coffee… breathing… good self-care… choices, verbs, practicing practices, and beginning again… right? πŸ˜‰ Don’t let yourself down on my account; I’ll be right back. πŸ˜€

There are paths yet to be explored – where will yours take you?

I’m eager for the break in routine, and for the days and nights among the trees. I’m eager to hear bird song, and not traffic, and the loud peeps and chirps and calls of chipmunks and squirrels, instead of the conversation of commuters and random human beings out in the world. I’m eager to read the weather, the actual weather, instead of the news. πŸ™‚

I remind myself not to forget coffee!

I have a list of gear I need to either double-check that I do still have it, or pick it up before I go. I keep adding things to it, and crossing things off. I enjoy camping much more when I am prepared…and I also enjoy traveling light, and without excessive weight or baggage dragging me down. I’ve got a list that makes sense. It’s an observation that doesn’t last long when the next question hits me…

…What if it rains?

I laugh so hard I snort coffee, which is less than pleasant, but now I’m giggling; I literally haven’t made any specific effort to plan for any sort of significant rain. It’s August. Why would it rain? Only… it may, and it could, and it’s been known to happen, and… it’s in the forecast. lol So…?

Like a lot of life’s circumstances, preparedness makes an easier journey, for sure. Also like life, and circumstances, it’s not particularly easy to be prepared for all of everything that could be part of my experience than I might want to… while also traveling light, and keeping baggage to a minimum. The more I am inclined to carry, the more verbs (and effort) will be involved in the journey, itself, and the more there will be to manage, deal with, juggle, find space for, when I arrive at my destination. There are choices to be made. Some circumstances are best accepted, than prepared for in advance in any notable way. (I’m not actually saying rainfall is one of those, I mean… it’s possible to shove rain gear into my backpack without adding a ton of weight to my gear!)

Don’t let a little rain stop you. πŸ™‚

Anyway. Rain is a thing that happens, even in August. I’m giggling because I enjoy the rain… but… I also dislike being soaked to the skin, catching a chill, and miserable because all my gear is soaked. lol There are definitely choices to make, and planning is a useful tool for making them. I give some thought to the rain, and my list, and make some adjustments to also account for chilly nights, and dewy cold mornings. Will I be warm enough? Cool enough? Dry enough? Will I have coffee for the mornings? Will I want paper books, or digital books? Don’t forget to bring a towel! What about tea? Broth? It’s nice to have something hot to sip on that isn’t loaded with caffeine – or sugar. What about sleep…? Do I want my cot, or an inflatable something or other? (I already know I don’t much feel like sleeping directly on the ground, on a thin sleeping mat; I’ll be out there for 4 nights.)

Everything I take on this journey, I’ll have to carry, myself.Β That’s a hell of a metaphor, right there.

I look at the time. Yeah. Already. I smile, and finish my coffee, and put aside my list. Same path, different day. I smile, and grab my keys, and my backpack, and get ready to begin again. πŸ˜€

A few years ago, a much younger version of me was heading home from work, it was late, a hot evening, and… the train seemed to be late. The later it got, the more anxious and agitated I was becoming. There was already so little time. The more stressed out I became, the more bothered I was by even the slightest restless movement of other aggravated commuters – and the longer we waited, the more of us there were. Frustrated clueless conversation reached me from various pairings of “been waiting” and “just got here” commuters; that was making me angry, too. “Just stand still and wait!” I snarled quietly under my breath. In fact… I had, at one point, gotten to the “teeth-grinding and sub-vocalization” level of stress and pure, distilled frustration. I wanted to rip my damned heart out of my chest to stop the pounding.

…I just wanted to go home. That’s all.

Yesterday morning, on the way in to the office, I observed that there was a rail interruption for construction, and a shuttle-bus detour provided, on my usual route to work. I didn’t think much about it. It did add some minutes to my commute, but at 5:30 am, that’s not exactly noteworthy – and there are no crowds, just stoic sleepy-eyed commuters quietly heading to work on auto-pilot.

After a very busy, very weird, day in the office, I headed for home quite a bit later than usual – or planned – and made my way to the train platform. I didn’t see anything much to be concerned with, and I wasn’t troubled by the awareness of that bit of construction… I mean… they were probably done? Or… maybe I forgot? It wasn’t on my mind, is what I’m saying, even after I saw the sign.

Oh. Huh. Well… I guess that’s a pretty big project.

Pre-occupied with my own thoughts, I got on the train, and promptly forgot about the construction. Some few minutes later, the train stops. I look around puzzled and realize I’m at the last stop; the detour. Time to grab a shuttle bus… wait… where are the buses? I see a lot of passengers milling around waiting. Hell, the transit company is giving away free shave ice to the passengers waiting in the heat (almost 90 degrees F, a bit more than 32 C). No shade anywhere. It’s hot, and people are cross about waiting. An absolute raging douchebag pushes past a substantial queue of passengers growling “where do we get on the shuttle? where do we get on the shuttle?” squeezing past people with strollers, elders on walkers, and women in burqa’s to get to the front of the line. So rude. I’m irked, but… I breathe, and let that go.

We wait, and wait longer. I see transit employees on walkie-talkies beefing about the delay with the buses. I can see that traffic patterns have been interrupted to accommodate shuttle buses, there are cones, barriers, and signs everywhere, and frustrated workers in oranges vests – and more walkie-talkies. A bus arrives, after a time, and we all crowd on it. Finally. It won’t be long now. I’m almost merry – I’m at least content. I’m heading home.

So… about that.

Quite a crowd, waiting for a train, on a very hot day.

I ease myself past groups of strangers. I notice that even considering the construction, it seems odd that the platform is so crowded. It looks like more than one train’s worth of passengers. I overhear someone complain that they have already been waiting 20 minutes. I keep walking, to the far end; it looks less crowded.

10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes later… no train. More shuttle buses have continued to arrive. There are easily 200+ people waiting on the platform, crowded together, fussy, irritable, frustrated with waiting, growing more and more impatient, and potential for conflict increases. Giving the matter some thought, I realize I will not even want to try to crowd onto the first train that eventually arrives… maybe take an Uber, or… a bus? I make my way to a shady spot at the edge of the park alongside the platform. I exchange expectation-setting messages with my Traveling Partner. I hit my vape a couple times. I drink some water.

Well…so… the traffic around the construction is such a snarl, and being peak rush hour on top of that, and Uber was going to cost me dearly (on this whole other unreasonable level), so that was out. The estimated time for the closest bus I could walk to that would take me more or less directly to where my car was parked was a bit of a walk, followed by a bit of a wait, and then quite a long ride… the train would be faster, when it got here… So. I waited.

The crowd was sufficiently large that getting them in one shot from eye level was difficult.

More people accumulated on the platform, until it was clearly no longer safe for more, and they spilled onto the track that was not in service, and on into the edge of the park, where I was seated in the shade, at the edge of the piled up human stress-puppets, all waiting for the train. Still no train.

By the time the next train arrived, there were easily 300 commuters waiting for it. Trust me, they don’t hold that many. No way I was going to take that train. Maybe not the one after it, either. I watch people push on, crowding each other. I sat back, away from all that, having a vape, and watching the afternoon sunshine slowly turning golden as the sun began to sink lower in the sky. That train left so crammed with human beings, they were literally pressed against the doors and standing two abreast in the aisles as it pulled away. No thank you. The next train looked much the same, but as it left, there was actually room on the platform to stand and wait for the next, which came in just 5 minutes.

(As it turned out later, in addition to the construction snarl, a transit employee confirmed that there was the additional hassle of someone having thrown a shopping cart in front of a moving train, further east on the westbound line, resulting in the transit company having to remove that train from service, and clear the track – and backing up trains rather a lot, creating the fairly horrible delay I’d found myself caught up in.)

I got on the train, no pushing, no snarling, no frustration, and took a seat. All the seats ended up full, and a handful of folks standing – that’s what the train generally looks like in the evening, as I head home. People were a bit more tense and aggravated than usual, and there was a crying baby (the shrieking “I’m fucking pissed and you just don’t get it” crying of a confused, discontented, uncomfortable, too hot in the summertime, baby who has no will to be consoled). At one point, the entire train had to be stopped over … drama and bullshit. Tempers flared over priority seating for disabled passengers; a seated disabled woman with a child in a stroller refused to yield her seat to a woman insisting she was “more disabled”, rail-thin, appearing intoxicated, pushing a wheeled shopping basket. All hell broke loose when rail-thin woman touched the seated woman’s baby, as if to move the child out of her way. People were yelling. I was more than a little surprised it didn’t break out into a proper brawl. Other passengers got involved. Eventually the driver call-button was pushed. That’s when the train was stopped, and held, at the platform, while the driver intervened. The rail-thin woman was ejected from the train by the driver, firmly, although he did point out (and truthfully) that another train followed closely behind his. We continued our journey. The baby commenced to crying again.

At each stop, a few more passengers disembarked. It got quieter. The train reached my station, and I got in my car, and went home (by way of the grocery store, for salad ingredients for a dinner that we didn’t have, because it was late, and we were neither of us very hungry). I enjoyed a pleasant evening with my partner.

So… simple. So… easy. No freak out? Nope. No tantrum? Nope. No snarling at other people impatiently because… “omg, what the fuck??” Nope. I was pretty chill the whole time – in spite of the heat. (lol) It’s summertime, and that means construction, and construction delays, and… well… I don’t know. I’m fine. It wasn’t a big deal.

Who is this woman I have become over time? She’s pretty patient about construction delays, cranky passengers on crowded trains, shrieking babies, and douchebags who line-jump crowds on hot days. I like that about me… I sip my coffee and wonder when I became this woman, and what did I practice that got me here? Did the meditation get me here? The reflection and perspective-seeking? The savoring small pleasant moments and building emotional resilience over time? The creation of, and existence within, a calm and generally contented environment at home? I’m not perfect; I’m surprised. I fully expect that some time in the future I’ll lose my shit over something dumb (I have priors)… but… last night? Last night wasn’t that time. πŸ˜€

This morning? Pretty nice morning. My coffee is just okay, but it’s still coffee, and I’m grateful. I load up the dishwasher, and set it for a delayed start to avoid waking my partner (who I think I already woke with my bumbling around half-awake after the alarm jerked me from dreams of love and contentment). I consider the commute ahead of me. Maybe I’ll drive in. LOL I smile to myself; a good start to the day. I look at the clock… definitely time to begin again. πŸ˜€

“Success” is a funny thing; it is defined quite differently from individual to individual, from task to task, from moment to moment, and exists on a slippery gradient that shifts just when it seems to be “obvious”. When we chase it ferociously, it’s often not our effort that determines our outcome, it’s more about our focus… or our willingness to learn, to grow, and to begin again. There is, unquestionably, effort involved, and that varies, too… with preparedness, with good fortune, with circumstance, with how much help we are likely to receive, with how relatively difficult our own notion of success actually is (for us, individually). It’s weird to me when I see people pin all their hopes and sense of self on a single idea of success. Personally, I like my success to stay fairly manageable, and not keep me up at night. So… small stuff generally. πŸ™‚ It adds up.

A flower seen along yesterday’s walk.

Why am I on about this, on an easy Sunday morning? Simple; I walked 3 miles yesterday, hitting a tiny milestone, a modest goal, and finding a small bit of success on my fitness journey. It’s such a small thing. All the driving last year, and the lack of trail miles that resulted from the lost leisure time spent on the road, resulted in starting this year struggling to make 2 continuous walking miles with any ease. I like ease. I embrace ease. I strive for ease. Which means… I need more time walking. My scale agrees. lol I’ve been at it this year, a bit at a time. I’ve been slowly and steadily losing the weight I’d accumulated (in part due to diet, and definitely due to not walking – see the pattern?). I had been approaching things rather unproductively, for some time, pushing too hard and struggling across my imagined finish line, and ending up so exhausted (or injured) that I’d need days and days (weeks) of much lower intensity work to recover… and… um… walking is pretty low intensity as it is. lol I changed my approach; it helps to study and learn, and reinforce practices that have proven to work.

I’ve put in some study time. Consulted a dietitian. Gotten more serious (again) and more focused (again), and returned to seeking and accepting – and celebrating – smaller successes. They do add up. Yesterday’s three miles will join the three miles I’ll walk later today, and next week getting an easy two miles in over my lunch break won’t break a sweat. It bodes well for my camping trip, and how much fun that will be, hiking out in the trees, with so much more ease. πŸ˜€

I’ve got my favorite site reserved. πŸ™‚

When my practice fails me (because I am allowing myself the choice to fail myself), I begin again. Knowing what matters most to me, myself, helps with that; practicing things that have no value, no positive outcome, or which contribute nothing positive to my life can be added to that long list of things to let go. Recognizing successes is dependent on understanding success… my idea of success is pretty definitive if I’m hoping to recognize my successes. It took me awhile to get here. It’s easy to let an externally imposed notion of success drive our choices and our behavior… education, marriage, offspring, career, address, social status, wealth… none of that is specifically, explicitly, characteristic of “success”. Seriously. You get to choose for yourself what your success looks like. Is an unwed PhD-holding carpenter living in a small town successful, or not successful? Hard to say, isn’t it, unless you know what they want from their life. Is an accountant of limited means, living luxuriously, resources stretched to the breaking point, losing sleep to panic attacks, while impressing colleagues and neighbors, a “success”? Well… “At what, exactly?”, would be my question. (I tend to think not, but again; I would need to understand their idea of success to have any reasonable thoughts on that.)

So…yeah. My idea of success really only applies to me. I’m more successful, professionally, than I ever imagined I would be; it wasn’t what I was focused on in life, generally. I’m more emotionally well, and enjoying better mental health than I have at any previous point in my life – that feels incredibly successful, to me. I worked to get here, and it’s been a slow, often quite difficult journey. Worth it. Am I wealthy? Nope. I don’t expect I ever will be. I’m content with knowing the bills are paid, and that “getting ahead” is within reach. It’s enough. I’ve already wasted too many years on someone else’s idea of success (a parent, a partner, a teacher, an employer… lots of folks out there ready to suggest that we are not successful because we have not yet achieved something significant to them). What gets me out of bed with a smile every day may not be the thing that satisfies you. Do you. Definitely a better choice, day to day. πŸ™‚

Still… I do put time and thought and effort into being a better me today than I was yesterday. Every day. There is no “finish line”. No completed product. No final goal. No level of mastery such that I can’t continue to make that single, purposeful effort to be my best self, as I understand the woman I most want to be, here, now. There’s always another mile I could walk. Sometimes I’ll falter. Sometimes I’ll fail. That’s okay too; I can begin again.

I smile into my fairly dreadful cup of coffee and consider my morning walk. It’s early, and not yet hot. The trail I intend to walk is level, and paved, and not likely to be crowded at this time of morning. I’m eager to get started, but also aware that I didn’t think to grab socks when I slipped out of the bedroom with the rest of my clothes; going back in risks disturbing my sleeping partner. I really don’t like messing with people’s sleep; a byproduct of my own sleep difficulties coloring my thinking about sleep, generally, and my tendency toward (perhaps excessive) consideration. I catch myself mindlessly scratching at a mosquito bite from yesterday’s walk, stop myself, and add “bug wipes” to my camping list, still smiling. The moment also serves as a useful reminder that I would do well to walk in my hiking boots today (not wear sandals) – if only because mosquito bites on feet just suck so much. lol

I think over my approach to getting socks without waking my partner, smiling, and grateful for the lovely start to the day. So far? Very successful. πŸ˜€

 

 

Too hot… Tooooo hot… My coffee’s too hot, Lady… πŸ˜‰

Seriously, though? My coffee is too hot. lol …And it’s okay to be amused, to be silly, to be whimsical, to make jokes, to be merry, even in the morning, yes and all day, too. Lighten up whenΒ  you can, enjoy the moments that don’t weigh you down, and savor those, too. Even if – especially if – your heart is heavy with grief, pain, or trauma; those lighter moments can help us through some really dark times.

For clarity, because I assume by this point you are somewhat familiar with my whimsy (and word play, and over-use of metaphors), I’ll explicitly point out that this morning is merry and quite delightful, thus far. Neither the song I linked, nor the context of my experience right now, is weighed down by pain, or grief, or trauma – I’m just saying letting your heart be light when it will is a healthy thing. πŸ™‚

Yesterday was as easy as the day before was difficult. It was a lovely day, summery, fun, fulfilling, exciting… did I mention the fun? And the fulfillment? A good day.

If you’ve made the whole thing about the job, you may be missing the point. πŸ™‚

…Good days also end. They come around again. However dark times feel in one moment, it’s only one moment. There’ll be another. We can make choices, change choices, put verbs in motion, adjust our perspective, and even walk away from what doesn’t work. We have so much power over our own lives, often more than we use, certainly more than we recognize, when we feel hurt, trapped, or held back. How often is it our own choices allowing us to be hurt, trapped, and held back? (Sometimes it isn’t, let’s be real about that, and the harshness of our circumstances can be imposed upon us by bad lawmaking, by human nastiness, and by the choices of others, just as it can be by anything we’ve done, ourselves – also a thing, and yeah, even there, our decision-making can alter our experience of our circumstances to a greater or lesser degree, and we still have tremendous power to change the future.)

“This too shall pass,” applies even to the best of times. The best, sunniest days, eventually see the sun set. It’ll rise again. The wheel turns. There’s a new beginning just over the horizon. With this being the case, then it is also a given that it’s true of our darkest times. I mean, generally… there’s also death to contend with, eventually, no argument there. I don’t have much to say about that, and existential angst can get out of hand pretty quickly if we’re overly concerned about that.

Oh, nice… my coffee is cool enough to drink. I smile merrily. In this moment, that matters. That’s okay. I think all I’m getting at this morning is… be sure to have a good time, too. Enjoy living life. Enjoy the sunshine, and the rain. Enjoy this human being that you are – even while you work to become the person you most want to be. There is only practice, there is no “perfect” – enjoy the journey (you may not ever reach the destination).

The clock keeps ticking. It’s a new day, a new beginning, a new chance to be the woman I most want to be. It feels like summer.

…It feels like time to begin again. πŸ˜€