Archives for posts with tag: breathe exhale relax

It’s a mild Saturday morning. Not yet sunny. Also not raining. Just a morning. My coffee is hot, sitting mostly untouched in front of me. My Traveling Partner and I are “enjoying” our individual, somewhat overlapping, personal experiences of seasonal allergies. His, a lifetime struggle. Mine? Returning with a vengeance here in this new place, after decades mostly without allergies at all. I’ve minimized my allergies for years; they simply aren’t “anything” in comparison to what my Mom endured, or what my Traveling Partner goes through for so much of the calendar year that even suggesting those are “seasonal” could seem like a mockery. “I don’t have allergies” still seems mostly true for me… but this morning, my stuffy head and sneezes tell a story of Spring, and pollen (it’s the tree pollen that seems to be the issue; I can smell flowers all damned day without concern).

…And of course, my preferred walks each day? Forests. Trees. Shaded paths. Hilarious. 0_o (That’s a rare use of sarcasm; I’m not finding it all amusing really.)

It is a mild Saturday morning, suitable for gardening (I have a list of things to do), and relaxing. I’m eager to do a bit of gardening in this new place – gardening that won’t suddenly face the upheaval of moving away, gardening that can be planned for a future that exists. Maybe. I mean… the future is an uncertain thing, but at least here I can plan for some sort of permanence, as much as one ever can. No, I’m not feeling down or fatalistic, just disinclined to deceive myself with fanciful tales of “happily ever after” or “always”. Those are not helpful concepts, generally speaking. 🙂

“Baby Love”, an early bloomer, will go into the ground this weekend. 🙂

This cup of coffee is good. Not good enough to ease me past the morning frustration of dealing with allergies, perhaps, or to fix any of society’s ills, but it’s a nice moment on a pleasant morning, and that’s enough right now. I think of far away friends I’d like to take time to connect with, emails I’d like to write. Maybe pick up the damned phone now and then? (Does anyone actually answer the phone when it rings, any more? I rarely do… is that a “me thing”, or an “everyone thing”? Has the etiquette of a phone call changed since… before?)

At some point, after our anniversary was past, my Traveling Partner ever-so-gently brought up how much benefit I seem to get out of a weekend away, solo, and wondered aloud if I were, perhaps, due for one…? He admitted to having the thought on our anniversary, and shared that it seemed less than ideal to bring it up on that occasion. I appreciate his consideration… I’d had that thought, too, and felt like a complete jerk for it, considering the occasion. LOL He’s quite right, though; I’m definitely “feeling it”.

…And he definitely feels me feeling it…

I’m not sure why I’m feeling it so hard right now… the new job is intense (in good ways) and quite busy. I do spend nearly 100% of my waking time in the presence of at least one other human being, or on a call, or in a meeting (and yes, Zoom meetings are still every bit as “people-y” as in person, for me)… it gets fatiguing after a while. I enjoy solitude. I want to simply exist, free of social constraints or pressures to perform, conform, achieve, or relieve. I want to breathe my own breath. Think my own thoughts. Exist entirely in the context of my own experience. Make choices with little regard for other tastes, other needs, other timing. It’s complicated when people partner up who have very different needs in this area. I’m fairly certain that while I feel like I “never have a minute for my own thoughts”, my partner may feel that we “never get to spend any time together” – and both those experiences are legitimate perspectives on our individual experience as human primates. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership in which we recognize our differences and value them – and help each other find our best path forward.

Anyway. I’ve been vaccinated. I feel relatively comfortable making the short journey to the coast and taking a day for myself. Masked & distancing, yeah, that’s still a thing for sure. I’m okay with that, too. I got lucky on getting a pleasant ocean view room a few steps from the beach (131 actual stair steps, if reviews are to be believed) – next weekend. The weather is nice for painting. I’ll take my water colors and my camera along with me. My laptop. I’ll walk miles along the beach. Take some pictures. Meditate. Think. Write. Paint.

…I will miss my Traveling Partner so so much…

We benefit from a bit of time to miss each other. I sip my coffee and wonder what he’ll get up to while I’m away… besides missing me, I mean. 🙂 I already look forward to sharing pictures and conversing about time we did not spend together.

…I’m already looking forward to beginning again. 🙂

I could start with “I’m sipping my coffee…”, but I haven’t tasted it yet. It’s sitting here, hot, ready – too hot to drink, so perhaps not entirely ready. There’s probably a metaphor there, maybe one worth considering with great care.

It’s a rainy spring morning. I don’t mind the rain, so it isn’t the rain that has soured the start to this particular day… it’s just weather. So are these tears. Just emotional weather. Some mornings the challenges of making life in a share space with another human primate are emotionally difficult, frustrating, and push hard on every shred of resilience I’ve got. Living alone often requires more laborious work just getting everything done, but it does not require so much emotional work. It’s work that has to be done, in either case. Just work. Omg, though, some days I really just want to take things easy… where’s the fucking “easy” button around here??

My Traveling Partner comes in, rubs my shoulders and my neck, and says kind, tender words. It helps for a moment. I relax into his love. That helps, too. Love matters. As with other things requiring effort, avoiding the work involved in creating enduring love only results in love not enduring after all… so… we work at it. Humans being human. My partner knows this; he’s pretty skilled at love, generally. Still human. Very. We both are. We have shared much with each other over a decade, learned a lot (both of us) about love and loving, and living our life together while also taking steps to be the human being we each most want to be. There’s a lot of joy in this journey. Some stumbles. Some sorrows. Sometimes things seem quite complicated, other times very straightforward; I’m rarely certain whether the complexity of any given circumstance is self-imposed or imposed upon us.

I sip my coffee thinking about love – now that my coffee is cool enough to drink. I take a moment to give myself some credit for the pure ferocious sheer will-to-change (and grow and improve) that is characteristic of the way I love… and the frustration and resentment that can sometimes result from those efforts, if the result is successful (meaning the desired change was made), but… inadequate (in that it did not have the desired result). I have, over years and relationships, grown weary of being willing to change. It’s not fair to my current relationship that the baggage I’ve picked up over the years weighs us down, now. It’s just the nature of “baggage” to function in that way; it takes still more will to set that shit down and move on.

…This is a good cup of coffee…

I sigh aloud in this quiet room. It sounds louder than it is. I think about the day ahead, looking forward to an errand that needs to be run, trying to sort out my thoughts such that I don’t return home to discover there was one other thing that needed doing, or picking up from somewhere. Lately, I often feel as if I “can’t hear myself think”, or as if I’m struggling to hang on to a thought, however engaging, if there is any hint of a distraction of any sort at all. I sometimes feel as if I am being distracted from what I’m thinking about by the thing I am doing that I am thinking about. I only know one thing that seems to sort that sort of cognitive chaos out properly; solitude. My mental “buffers” are full, and in spite of sleeping decently well, I’m just not managing to process everything…and now my headspace is all clogged up with bulging random thought-clobs of garbage and jumbled nonsense, and it’s hard to finish any new thought at all. Or – so it seems to me, subjectively, as an internal experience.

It was August 2019 when I last went camping… perhaps I am overdue?

It’s lovely to have a home I can call my own. It’s especially nice to share this experience with my Traveling Partner… but I guess I still need what I need as this human creature that I am. Maybe it’s time to get out into the trees again, to sleep under the stars, to wonder with awe at my mortal fragility in a wilder world, to face my doubts and fears in a place from which there is no turning away from answering “the hard questions” in life? I didn’t camp at all in 2020 – pandemic closed the places that are my regular favorites, and later resulted in astonishing crowding at those that opened back up. I’ve had my vaccination… perhaps it’s time to plan a long weekend somewhere solo camping? I’ve had this thought several times, but each time I explored the idea further, it was clear that crowding in a lot of favorite spots is still an issue, and seriously the entire point is to get the fuck away from other human beings and the sounds coming out of their face holes, and yeah, even to get away from their mere presence in my awareness. Proper solitude can be hard to come by (and not everyone enjoys it – nothing wrong with you if you don’t!).

Coffee half-gone, thinking productively about how best to meet some of my emotional needs without placing a burden on my partner (who is also stretched thin emotionally by the challenges of pandemic life, himself), and how to be a better partner to him, myself; I’m feeling less weighed down by frustration and sadness. Work is work. Some things take quite a lot of it. Some challenges are more complicated – and often, as a result, more rewarding once overcome. Still, the journey, itself, is the destination; if I get hung up on outcomes and task completion, I lose so many opportunities to live joyful moments. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of random bullshit pinging on my consciousness. Another breath. Another moment…

…Another opportunity to begin again. 🙂

I remind myself that “we don’t grow from comfortable situations”, but it feels hollow. Tears well up, and I grit my teeth and stifle them, frustrated, angry. With myself, mostly. With the circumstances, definitely. There’s too much good fortune in my experience right now for this bullshit, I tell myself, echoing something my partner said to me moments ago, from his own pissed off, frustrated perspective. The feeling of futility I am presently mired in is a painful challenge to overcome. It’s all too human. It’s also baggage, and bullshit, and probably almost entirely self-imposed, if I could get to a clear-headed place to examine it with less visceral emotional involvement.

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

My writing stalls. My coffee just sits. There’s no eagerness to embrace the moment. No acceptance from with which to step forward, walk on, and begin again. I exist, presently, as a moment of pain. A living, breathing, emotional wound… but I’m not quite sure what this hurt is truly about, and so don’t know how to comfort myself or heal me. I think about my partner, doing his own best in another room. Cross words exchanged before we could even enjoy our coffee. I’m disappointed with myself for losing control; I know how much damage emotional volatility can do in a single moment. That delicate balance that is feeling the feelings while also holding oneself to a standard of appropriate behavior suitable for all circumstances, that lives my values moment to moment, in spite of whatever emotional storm is blowing in… is hard. It’s a feat that requires steady practice, and it has to matter… and, and this is the hardest bit, the win nearly always comes in spite of someone else’s volatility, turmoil, or provocation. It’s not enough to be steady, calm, and to listen deeply alone in a silent room. It’s about a practice that makes that possible in the face of someone else’s storm of emotion. My results definitely vary. This morning I failed utterly. I’d barely woken up. I honestly don’t even understand how or why everything went sideways so suddenly… nor do I think there is much value in troubleshooting that. It would be a distraction.

…From…? I don’t even know, right now. This headache is complicating my ability to think clearly and reason well.

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

I’m annoyed with myself. That’s not helping. I said some ridiculous (and vile) things, and it’s not okay, and at some point, how much does an apology really help? I take a deep breath. The breath “timer” pulses on my desktop out of the corner of my eye. I don’t know how much it really helps. I’m so frustrated with some of the challenges I face each day… I keep expecting at some point any part of this will feel properly routine and effortless, but any amount of study makes it immediately clear that my results may “always” vary – for any practical definition of “always” – and some damage is lasting. Frustrating. (Incremental change over time is a real thing…but some increments are too small to see individually.)

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

I’m struggling to be positive. I look back on my own words – recent, and less so – and there is so much positivity reflected there. So much will. This morning, right now, I just feel… bleak and defeated. I struggle to find meaning. I find myself reliably “missing the point”. The promising morning ahead that I was facing so eagerly has morphed into something less enticing. I’m eager to see darkness return, to go back to bed, to start over tomorrow… on a work day. That saddens me, further, and I feel my hopefulness sort of just trickling away.

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

It’s all very dramatic, is it not? Fucking hell. My head aches (partly from crying). “You’re creating this experience,” I remind myself. “Let it go,” I suggest, more helpfully than not (I hope). I feel a bit like a mechanic facing an easily repairable problem… without tools or parts to work with, and too stupid to look behind me to see that the tools are neatly laid out on my bench, with the parts ready to go. I suspect my partner feels a bit more like a parent in a grocery store trying to discreetly deal with a toddler having a screaming tantrum over something they can’t have; their love for their child is undiminished, but fucking hell – right now? Seriously? What a shitty experience all around. I could choose differently… couldn’t I?

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

Damn, I fucking failed hard this morning. My brain reaches for The Four Agreements, because… yeah… this could have gone a lot better, even if the only thing I’d done differently was these four things. For real. Not fancy.

Where this really started, back in 2010, and a moment of gratitude for the love of the man who shared it with me, then, and remains with me, still.

11 years is a long time to work on something without seeing lasting permanent verifiable results that have positive impact. If that were legitimately where I were standing this morning, feeling this despair become futility would make a lot of sense. That’s some real shit. BUT, and this is important (for me to observe and acknowledge, for myself), that’s not where I am standing this morning, at all. I take another deep breath and let it out as a loud sigh. Life is very different now than it was 11 years ago, this morning’s drama doesn’t even show on the same scale. Yes, I’ve still got challenges. Yes, the brain damage creates some headaches (literal and metaphorical) that continue to trouble me (and complicate my relationships). Yes, the PTSD complicates things rather a lot, and I utterly rely on every good health and emotional wellness practice I can master to maintain my balance day-to-day – and my results do still vary. I’m just saying, if you are mired in despair right now, feeling a profound sense of futility and hopelessness… I hope you take away from this reading the following things:

1. You are creating a large part of that experience, yourself, and you can choose to change it.

2. It won’t feel easy or comfortable to make changes, possibly ever.

3. What you practice you do become.

4. When you fail, however horribly, you can begin again.

Yeah, okay, I’ll be honest on that last one – there are no guarantees regarding the outcomes of new beginnings. I can begin again a million times, and likely will – it does not provide me any assurance that my relationships will be unaffected by my chaos and damage, or that every traveler on my path will choose to continue to travel with me. I’ve lost friends. Some I chose to let go, others turned away from me. Relationships come and go. People are human and it’s not fair or reasonable to expect they will endure our bullshit indefinitely, ever. So… the value in practicing the practices that allow me to become the woman I most want to be is in becoming the woman I most want to be. Period. End of goal-setting. Be a better human being, generally. Would I like to live that experience in the company of my current partner? Definitely. Do I have any guarantees? Nope. Not ever. Gotta just let that one go, too. There is a ton of work involved in lasting sustained love, and no guarantee of success. Definitely makes sense to treat each other well along the journey.

I take another breath. I sip my cold coffee. I think about The Four Agreements. When I am “impeccable with my word” I refrain from saying vile upsetting shit when I’m angry, because I’m committed to truth and working to keep my raw emotions separate from the words I say about my experience. That would have been an improvement this morning. When I avoid taking things personally, I am less likely to escalate emotionally when my partner is frustrated with me, or when I am frustrated with him. That would have been super useful this morning. I could certainly use more practice there. When I avoid making assumptions, it opens to door to listening more deeply, and requires me to ask clarifying questions, and leaves room in my awareness to appreciate my partner’s affection for me, in spite of his emotional experience in the moment. It would have been very helpful this morning to have refrained from making assumptions about my partner’s thinking, and to have given him a chance to share it in words. I suppose all these things are true for both of us, really. Good practices often work that way. I’d love to insist I was doing my best, this morning…that is, after all, the fourth agreement referenced in The Four Agreements… but… was I really? Pre-coffee? Less than an hour after waking? I give that a “maybe”, and a very frank admission that it’s quite likely I could have done better by being more willful, more present, and by taking my own bullshit less fucking personally, myself. So… Yeah. I could have done nothing more/better/differently than to have practiced the 4 simple practices outlined in The Four Agreements, and the morning would likely have gone very very differently. Maybe it wouldn’t have… but… did I really give it a chance? I see room for improvement.

…Breathe… Exhale… Relax…

I’m not in this relationship alone. That’s true. We’re in this together – and we’re each also having our own experience. We’ve each got our own personal demons. Our own chaos and damage. Our own trauma to heal. Our own baggage to lug around. Our own intolerable bullshit that we’re both each working individually to resolve or to master. It’s very human. It’s not about fault or blame, though, and it’s not about who is guilty or wrong, or who said what to whom… there’s little value in that. I can’t really work on anyone’s issues but my own, though, so I sit down and reflect on what I can do, what I can change, and how I can be the best version of this particular human being that I happen to be. Love asks us to unpack our own baggage.

…Breathe…Exhale…Relax…

…Begin again.

I am sitting quietly at the end of my work day, listening to rain falling into the trees and onto the pavement of an untraveled roadway. The sun is streaming through the window of my studio. These things exist because they can. The rain is falling on video, a pleasant enough way to drown out background noise during the work day, but now, at the end of the work day, it’s not necessary. I turn it off, and take off my headphones. Still a sunny afternoon beyond the window. Lovely hints of spring all along the boughs of the pear trees on the other side of the fence. It’s quiet here. I am actually entirely alone for this moment; my Traveling Partner has made a rare trip out of the house during this pandemic, and with great care. He needs the social time with a friend (who is not me) and I need the solitude every bit as much. It works out well.

…I breathe… exhale… sip my water… relax…

The heat comes on for a few minutes. It reminds me that beyond this window and these walls it is still (what passes for) winter here. I smile and listen to the quiet, feeling it sink into me, filling me up with softness and peace. I let my mind wander, and bring it back to my breath. I breathe awhile, then wander the house on soft feet, feeling the sensation of being in this place, wrapped in silence and solitude, and everywhere I look reminded of love.

…I breathe… exhale… have another swallow of cold refreshing fizzy water… I relax as this moment becomes the next…

…How satisfying and comfortable is solitude? I smile, and my mind veers off that path and onto another. The work day is ended… the sun is shining… maybe a walk? A soak in the hot tub? Quiet time with a good book?

…What a lovely gift this solitude is… and a choice moment to begin again. 🙂

I slept deeply through the night, and woke gently ahead of the alarm clock. I sat quietly with my coffee for almost an hour, simply breathing and reflecting. It was a pleasant gentle moment with myself, and a great start to my day.

I found myself reflecting on the yearning to be heard that so many of us feel, so chronically, and the way we once channeled our voices into writing – on paper, I mean – journals, manuscripts, letters to far off family, friends, or colleagues. Letters to editors. Letters to legislators. Letters to businesses and institutions. It’s a slower pace of communication, for certain, and one that presents an opportunity to reflect on our words, and reconsider them. Contrast this with the “shouting into the void” sorts of experiences we find on social media platforms of various sorts; we can drop our remarks into a quick post or tweet, and fire them off into feeds everywhere… so many more opportunities to be really heard! At least… that’s the marketing hype. Be heard. Share your voice. Share your opinion (however poorly supported in any factual way). Share your outrage and your anger (without regard to the completeness of your understanding, or how well-informed your perspective truly is). Likes, clicks, and views are monetized. Profits go to the loudest most “viral” voices. It’s not a coincidence that we discuss such things using the language of contagion; it’s less about the truth, and more about spreading that shit around.

I definitely “want to be heard”. This? Here? It’s not really about that, for me – it’s more about a long conversation with myself (and with you) that I can look back on, refer to for context, and gauge progress over time, or reach back in time for “help from a friend” I can generally count on these days – myself. I still find myself, often, disagreeing with an article or commentator and wanting to “answer them” or reply… I know I’m not alone in that. Twitter is undeniable proof that we’re a society of folks who shout at their televisions when the talking heads on the screen say something we find disagreeable. lol

…Sometimes it’s a better choice to simply “shout into the void” and then just let that shit go. Seriously. I mean… is every opinion I don’t share worth challenging? Is every bit of objectionable content worth actually objecting to? I bet you know what I think the answer to those questions is… Opinions don’t become facts just because a fuck-ton of people share one (or many). Still just opinion. Still no more valuable than that. Too often we allow ourselves to be persuaded to adopt an opinion or stance on some subject without properly exploring the facts – the real facts, the documented known facts – and we’re far too reluctant to accept uncertainty or a lack of knowledge. We’d much rather “know” something… even if it is patently and obviously and demonstrably provably incorrect. No kidding. It’s actually pretty challenging to fight off the inclination to “know” something I don’t truly know, and based on what I see in the news, and on various news-adjacent or purportedly informative platforms, it’s a common affliction among human primates.

We could do better.

I know I can do better… that’s something I’m pretty certain of, and I find quite a lot to support that supposition factually. So. There’s that.

Our emotions get ahead of us so often…

Don’t drink the poison. Don’t pass it around. Don’t practice “being” an emotional condition that could be a moment (instead of a lifetime condition). Just saying. There are other options. 🙂 Share kindness. Be there for each other in difficult times – in the most positive way possible. Assume positive intent. Take care of yourself – and make it a priority worth your time and attention.

I sip my coffee reflecting on other moments. Smiling. Breathing. Ready to begin again.

Once we choose our path, we’ve still got to walk it. The journey is the destination. 🙂