Archives for posts with tag: birdsong

Yesterday? Work, home, dinner, some chill time, and positioning bookcases. The day felt comfortably normal, comfortably routine. I still can’t quite find my way around in the dark here. The dimensions of the spaces are different (like the width of the hallway), in addition to the very different floorplan, generally. I struggled to fall asleep, still learning “new noises” – some of which sound very much as though they are inside the house (they aren’t, I checked). ┬áFeeling really settled comes with time, and the unpacking of books, and the hanging of paintings, and the mental cataloging of noises. I remind myself there is no rush; I live here.

My commute was pleasant, yesterday. It’s an improvement over the old one, even if I take public transportation, which I did. There is a nearby-ish “park and ride”, and I am taking advantage of it to continue to let my foot heal. The bus I take is a straight shot to the office, no transfers, no delays, frequent service. Convenient. Shorter than the old commute, if measured in minutes. I am grateful to have the car, and can choose to use it.

I smile, thinking of my Traveling Partner, and his assurances that I certainly need the car more than he does, right now, and letting me have it for some while. The sky lightens beyond my window, and I wonder where he is this morning, and whether he is also looking at the morning sky.

This morning is the start of another day of “the new normal”. The morning traffic just outside my window, is the start of noisy, busy, Tuesday morning commuter traffic. I chuckle thinking about how much I bitched about the ceaseless quiet roar of distant traffic at #59… somehow it still managed to wear on my nerves more than the louder, nearer, traffic does here. Was it the broad expanse of meadow and marsh that made it such an affront to my senses? Or was it the lack of pauses, the lack of quiet even in the wee hours? I feel generally calmer here (so far). Planes overhead. Cars. Trucks. Buses. Cement mixers. Delivery vans. None of that drowns out the peeping tree frogs, chirping and singing of the birds in the trees alongside the deck, or the vocalizations of the squirrels and chipmunks. It’s lovely here, in spite of the traffic, in spite of the aircraft occasionally overhead, and even in spite of not being entirely moved in quite yet. (I’m down to the bit I can take my time with, and I’ll be more satisfied with the aesthetic outcome if I do take my time with it.)

Tuesday, huh? Precedes Wednesdays, generally. This week, that means another work day. I’ve grown rather accustomed to 3 day work days and 4 day weekends. lol Definitely a schedule I could enjoy long-term. ­čÖé This week it’s back to full length work weeks, and Thursday feels rather far away.

A new normal will ideally include all of the best self-care practices that nurture this fragile vessel, and support an active life. It’ll need continuation of the practices that support my emotional and mental wellness, too. I guess I’ll get on with that… it’s a lovely morning to take a seat on my meditation cushion, looking out a different window, into a different morning view.

Taking care of me. I see changes to make based on the aesthetics of the view.

It’s a lovely morning to begin again.

I woke earlier than I wanted to this morning. I fell asleep later than I wanted to last night. The sleep in between those points was filled with distressing dreams that were neither pleasant, nor were they nightmares; they were instead rich in content, symbolism, and implication without being over-obvious, as if daring me to overlook what matters most in the storm of surrealism. I woke feeling stiff and twisted, with a headache that sources down low in my spine, and makes it way to my skull, a dull unrelenting ache that pulsates when I walk. It’s about as dreadful as it sounds…only…I also woke warm and dry, safe from physical harm, indoor plumbing near at hand, and clean drinking water besides. I woke to birdsong outside my window and a not-too-very-rainy morning, and the sound of Dave Matthews Band on the stereo; my traveling partner already awake, playing chess quietly. I woke to an offer of a hot latte made just the way I like it. I woke to a warm hug, and a loving smile. This is my very human experience; it’s not good sometimes and bad other times as much as it is generally a mix of details of a variety of sorts.

Over the past two years I’ve read a lot of words written by several people whose working lives are spent studying the neuroscience of emotion and consciousness. I’ve read about negativity bias, and have a very elementary understanding that the most intense experiences tend to be most memorable, and that we tend to prioritize negative experiences more highly on an implicit level as a survival trait. Sounds damning, sometimes. I’ve also read more than a little bit about a number of practices that can be put to use to minimize or mitigate our negativity bias – resulting in a more implicitly pleasant experience overall; they do work, I’ve tried them. I’ve read about (and tried) practices for calming my storming heart when my PTSD catches me unawares, or I find myself so fatigued that I am unexpectedly volatile. I have explored practices that have tended to take me from a very negative, bitter, chronically irritated and dissatisfied state of being, to a day-to-day state sense of self that tends to be rather calm, generally content, and mostly pretty joyful.

I hope I’ve never led you to believe it’s “easy” every day. I work at ‘happy’ and ‘content’ by practicing an assortment of practices that tend to take me that direction over time. There are verbs involved. A commitment to wake up every day and actually practice them – because they are only effective when I do them. Thinking about them doesn’t quite change anything. When I consider moments over the past two years when things just didn’t seem quite as good as they could be – speaking just of my own experience, subjectively – it seems significant that there’s often some days preceding during which I was less committed than usual to some key practice or another. (That’s often how I figure out which ones are ‘key’ for me personally! lol) I don’t feel any shame over that, and I don’t feel like a failure. (I hear my traveling partner’s voice in my thoughts asking in a humorous tone “Well, how do you feel?”) I do feel very human; encouraged by the bits that go well, and a little beat down by the things that don’t.

Like it or not, there are verbs involved. Real actions to take, that require some small effort of will – a decision, a choice, an intention followed through on with a behavior of some appropriate sort. There’s just no getting out from under the action-reaction thing. The actions I choose aren’t always ideal; that’s the next challenge, isn’t it? Once my will is firmly in place, and I’ve made a choice, and taken an action, then experience unfolds the next lesson like a map, and I see where my choices take me. Then the whole thing again, for some other circumstance. Life. I am learning to be more aware of the puzzle pieces themselves in this jigsaw puzzle, rather than straining to see the finished picture while I piece it together.

It’s hard to overstate the value I’ve been finding in the ‘taking in the good’ exercises in Hardwiring Happiness. I haven’t ‘finished’ the book yet, because I keep re-reading it, and meditating on pieces of the content that are most relevant to my own experience. The practice, particularly, of lingering over pleasant moments for a considerable time rather than allowing them to be so fleeting, and also of refraining from lingering over unpleasant moments and treating them fairly casually after-the-fact, is a current favorite; it really does seem to be altering my implicit emotional bias for the better. I recently started a simple practice for improving my perspective with regard to positive and negative interactions, intended to prevent me from taking such things personally, particularly when they are not (and they mostly aren’t). It’s a simple reality-check; if I am feeling very picked on and emotionally beat down, I make a list of the specific complaints, or negative feedback, directed specifically to me, about my actions – no other negative content is listed, because it ‘isn’t about me’. The first time I did it, I quickly recognized that I’d only actually been offered a single point of negative feedback – and the rest of the discussion wasn’t about me at all, however negative it sounded in my thoughts. A negative bias functions on a lot of levels, it seems. This simple practice has seriously improved my relationships with other people; in one case I was able to recognize that new boundaries needed to be explicitly set in a work relationship, without things blowing up, when my list made it clear that 1. the relationship was profoundly negative and critical, and 2. there was a legitimate issue surfacing as a theme that could be easily addressed.

Illumination, or artificial lighting?

Illumination, or artificial lighting?

Meditation does take a commitment. Practicing is action. Choices are necessary. Verbs are involved. The results, for me, so far, are entirely worth it. I sure don’t have ‘the answers’. I am finding it worthwhile to consider some of the questions carefully. Will… that’s the thing, isn’t it? The Will to Practice. How do I build Will? Practicing.

Today is a good day to experience the birdsong, the music, the laughter, and the love. Today is a good day to change the world.

No pictures today. I wish I could photograph the sounds of the song birds outside my window happily aware of being safe from the cat (mostly because of the rain), and enjoying the morning. Perhaps they are commenting, too, on the shitty service around here? I need to refill the feeders today. The rain falls. I sip my coffee, catch up on my email, eye my plan for the day and the gray rainy skies.

On a morning like this, the tragedies in the news reflected in the dismay of FB friends seem farther away from the moment I am in, right here, right now; this is a precious moment of chill and calm and peace. Something more than a quiet morning, or an extra day off. I’ve no reason to celebrate the existence of presidents, really, so… I celebrate the morning.

A good night’s sleep matters so much. Starting my day with what has become a stabilizing routine of meditation-yoga-meditation, generally followed by coffee, and email or a few minutes of writing, feels very natural and unforced. The day that follows a morning like this may not always be without challenges, or without stress, but whatever challenges and stress I do find myself facing are more easily managed. It’s lovely and feels rather grown up. ┬áProgress. Growth. Change. It actually does ‘work’ to change ones practices to support desired experiences. When life sucks and experiences all feel pretty bleak, undesirable, challenging, stressful, frustrating, disappointing, and lacking in fulfillment or satisfaction, it can be incredibly hard to believe that our choices and practices have so much to say about it. I’m convinced.

So…back to the birdsong, back to the morning. I hope you find every reason to enjoy the day, to grab your moment and make the most of it, and to practice what feels good to you and builds a good foundation for the future you desire. I’m sure going to! ­čÖé ┬áToday I will change the world.