Archives for posts with tag: brute force mindfulness

I woke from a deep sleep to some kind of noise…a persistent sound of some sort…a beeping, or chiming, or… and it wasn’t stopping… Oh. My phone was ringing. Only one number rings through my “Do Not Disturb” settings; my Traveling Partner. I quickly lurch from bed and careen through the apartment, stumbling on shit that doesn’t match my mental map of my apartment; there are stacks of boxes everywhere. I reach the phone and answer it, delighted to hear his voice. No emergency, he’s just back in town and wanted to hear my voice. 🙂 It was a short call, and a quick return to sleep…

…only…

Nope. Not sleeping.

…I couldn’t so easily return to sleep.  Just as I was about to drift off my brain decided to attack with a barrage of insecure doubt and anxiety and dread, and oh, just all the things available to keep me laying wakefully for some time. I did eventually return to a restless unsatisfying sleep. Nightmares of loss and loneliness occupied my sleeping mind until the alarm went off.

I woke feeling okay. Feeling thoughtful. Feeling… thought-filled. lol This too will pass. I make a point of reminding myself how pointless rumination is, and that anything of substance that truly needs to be considered will still need to be considered later… after I wake up, after meditation, after my morning coffee, and perhaps even just quite a lot later today – after work. Perspective is helpful. Context matters. Oh, and also – brains make shit up all the damned time. lol My imagination is just as likely to work against me as to delight me. So, I shrug off as much of the weird lingering insecurity, anxiety, and doubt as I am able to, and I push on with the morning.

I have a practice for this one, and although it works, it’s not to be undertaken lightly first thing in the morning by a sleep-addled brain. (I learned that the hard way!) My practice for dealing firmly with insecurity and anxiety is to look my fears in the face without flinching. Seriously – I consider as frankly as I can whatever bundle of fears and bullshit that is freaking me out, and I consider it as if it were simply a given and life is no kidding going to deliver on all of it as if it were a promise. Feeling insecure about my relationship? I consider life without it, no bullshit, no drama – what does that look like? Could I still be okay? What advantages might that bring? Is there a future from that point that may still be quite nice? Does it change who I am? What am I truly afraid of? Is there an opportunity for growth, here? This works for any sort of insecurity, doubt, and anxiety, really. Emotions are powerful. It’s a good idea to choose some moment when it feels truly safe to fully consider my deepest fears. Results vary. Scary, tense, anxious, insecure, doubtful emotions can go sideways so easily, plunging me into real despair… but, all the more reason to learn to face them unafraid of the emotions themselves, and there is so much to learn. They’re still only emotions; getting to know them well, becoming comfortable with emotion, generally, and working to develop a measure of emotional intelligence that supports good quality of life is not only completely achievable, I have found that improving my emotional intelligence improves my interactions with others, too, and sort of “tidies up my thinking”. 🙂

So much of what goes on in our heads is actually completely made up bullshit going on in our heads. 🙂 I am as likely to find my anxiety provoked by things that are delightful, or changes that suit me better than whatever had changed ever could, as I am by things that are legitimately worth being anxious about. Silly primates – given both emotion and reason (which work so nicely together), and yet time and again we keep trying to choose one over the other. lol

I sip my coffee and watch the dawn slowly becoming day. I consider my imminent move. Just two more work shifts before that actually becomes a thing happening in the moment…and one of those work shifts is today. This is happening!! 😀 My conversation with my partner last night opened some opportunities in the context of moving that I hadn’t considered, and although I spent some time wracked with anxiety (because changing plans sometimes causes me anxiety), the opportunities themselves are worth considering fully. Later.

The calm of the morning develops like a Polaroid. I feel settled and secure, and focused on changes that meet my needs over time. I feel content. I feel loved. Fears and doubts fade away as the sky lightens, and anything that lingers to day’s end can be fully considered at some later point, in a comfortable, practical way.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I am sipping my first Monday morning coffee on the first work day of the new year. Getting up on time was no challenge; the alarm was set. As is so often the case the night before I return to work after a break, though, I slept restlessly and lightly, waking often. I used the hot shower to ease the stiffness in my joints, and put on a lively playlist to start my morning, dancing to the Kongos as I made my coffee.

The night stayed cold, and the snow remains from yesterday; the walk to work will be icy. I am unconcerned. I will stay comfortable today with a hiking base layer under my work clothes, good boots, and my handy “Yaktrax” for the icy walk. I’m not enthusiastic about getting back to work, honestly, and I am at risk of being highly distracted by exciting things going on for me outside the office – a good practice today will be basic mindfulness applied to work tasks; being fully engaged in each work task results in improved efficiency, better quality output, and less likelihood of daydreaming or my mind wandering. I’ll have to balance that with basic good self-care practices to ensure I take appropriate breaks, get calories and medication on time, and set clear expectations with myself and others about working hours. It can be so tempting to work long hours ‘getting caught up’ – but it is a poor way to treat the woman in the mirror, and there is no assurance that such an effort matters in the slightest to anyone else.

I sip my coffee and think ahead to the work day, distracting myself from my morning without meaning to. I let it go and come back to this moment, to the music, to the morning. I look around and see a couple of things that I’d rather not see when I get home from work and smile; there is still time to do some chores before I leave for work.

Today is a good day to take care of the woman in the mirror, she certainly does a lot for me.

The week ended well, which wasn’t something I expected, but I do often find that dread is a poor choice of foundation for anticipating or predicting things with any reliable level of accuracy. My back is aching, and it will be a short weekend, but I am not suffering, or struggling, or fussing with frustration over what is not, or even what is.

It was not obvious at first glance what the day might hold for me.

It was not obvious at first glance what the day might hold for me.

I am home, comfortable, and relaxed – although I am still in street clothes for the moment. Dinner is in the oven; it made sense to get it started before I shower away the last reminders of work (the tension in my shoulders, and the subtle sense that a presence of the office lingers on my skin).

I allowed myself to enjoy the beauty of the dawn uninterrupted by anxiety or dread.

I allowed myself to enjoy the beauty of the dawn uninterrupted by anxiety or dread.

I let my traveling partner know I’d be offline this evening after scrolling through my Facebook feed and realizing I could easily kill all the hours of my short weekend doing so; I choose differently tonight.

A bold blue evening sky lead me home.

A bold blue evening sky lead me home.

There are a lot of changes coming, some seasonal, some grand, some inconsequential to the point of going unnoticed were I not the person I am. I forget sometimes that this quantity of change is sometimes stressful for me in ways I can prepare for by being aware – and being kind to myself. There are as many good things about change as there are uncomfortable things about change – and there are so many changes I straight up embrace (still dealing with some of the consequences of change, nonetheless). I’m not bitching about change – there’s no point. Bitching about change is a little like complaining about spelling mistakes; the complaint changes nothing whatever, and really… it just is, sometimes. I can observe the change, accommodate the change, resist the change, embrace the change and build on it… I definitely have choices. Change is okay.

I took the scenic route; this is my life, why would I cheat myself of beauty or of love?

I took the scenic route; this is my life, why would I cheat myself of beauty or of love?

It’s a quiet autumn evening solo, and it feels comfortable, safe, utterly without anxiety in this precious tender moment of my time – spent entirely on me. It’s beautiful, and it’s enough.

Being love. Being the woman in the mirror. Being content on an autumn evening.

Being love. Being the woman in the mirror. Being content on an autumn evening.

The morning is well underway, and it is generally pleasant – coffee and jazz. I hadn’t intended to write, but finding my thoughts pulled back into a particular source of work stress in advance of the day, I decided to make a point of starting the morning from a different perspective.

I'll begin again.

I’ll begin again.

Different thinking leads to different choices, and different actions – how could it be otherwise? I can choose my thinking, and that’s a good place to begin.

I start with something easy and spend some minutes thinking about what I’ve got that works so well – small things work for this – I smile when I recall finding the small-sized food processor from a well-made brand, on sale, and in a color that suited my decor and my taste. I laugh realizing I’ve not yet used it. I listen more attentively to the music. I smile, enjoying the good quality stereo and the lifetime of experience and music that allowed me to select it with such care. It was a great way to treat myself well when I bought these speakers. I can see down the short hallway into my bedroom. I love that I have already made the bed and the view is tidy, orderly, and I can see a picture of my beloved on my nightstand. This is a good start to the day.

Now I can move on to the hard stuff – work stress. Work stress sucks. For me, it sucks just as much because it’s only fucking work in the first place – what right does it have to encroach on my time? lol I take a few minutes to think appreciatively to have a job at all, and to have one that pays adequately for my general needs. I remind myself that I’m not standing outside in the heat or in the rain, breaking my body over manual labor. Climate control. Indoor plumbing. A well-stocked break room. The work is not physically difficult or physically demanding. I’m salaried. So – yeah. All of that is worth being grateful for. The rest is just… small stuff. What I don’t do today, I will go in and do tomorrow – and the national security is not at stake, and no one is hurt if there is an error in a spreadsheet. Hell, this work has limited scope, limited impact, and trust me – limited importance. So what’s to stress over? The emotion of the moment? Fuck – it’s not worth all that. lol

It can be so easy to get caught up. It rarely feels as easy to let go. There are definitely verbs involved.

Yeah. Now I’m ready. 🙂

It’s been awhile since I was awake in the wee hours. I woke in tears with no recollection why I might be crying. I got a drink of water and ‘checked for monsters’ (walked through the small apartment quietly drinking my glass of water and assuring myself all is well). I went back to bed. That was more than an hour ago. I wasn’t going back to sleep, and the tears just kept sliding across my face. So.

It’s been a long while since I was awake in the wee hours. It wasn’t so long ago that it was a frequent thing, destroying my rest, throwing me off-balance, and fatiguing me well beyond any healthy sustainable point. I’m glad it isn’t every night any more. I’m appreciative that it isn’t even every week; it’s become quite rare… But I’m awake now. Tonight I am not sleeping through the night.

The wakefulness itself causes me no great stress. The feelings of insecurity and doubt, on the other hand, drive anxiety. On top of existing work stress, and common enough life stress,  I add stress in a valued, critically important (to me) relationship that suddenly feels far less secure than I generally take it to be. I am unsurprised that I am awake, or that I am overcome by waves of emotion attached to the thoughts about my experience: sad, insecure, doubtful, angry, hurt, frustrated, disappointed… did I mention sad? I did not get out of bed at 3 am to ‘enjoy’ the experience more intensely; I got up to reduce the intensity. I was not finding much success with distracting myself and getting back to dream land lying there in bed. My thoughts kept carrying me back to sad.

There is no miracle pill for sad wakefulness, or the tears that won’t quit at 3 am. There are a great many practices that ease my suffering, though. I get up and do some yoga; the focus on my physical body, and easing physical stress feels good. I drink a glass of water; crying makes me thirsty. I meditate, nothing fancy, no soundtrack, no light – just sitting in the stillness, in the darkness, focused on my breath, no timer – just time. I write. With just a few words in the night, I pause the flood of emotion to look at things from a more abstract observational perspective, giving myself a little distance from the hurting, and a chance to ‘edit the language’ as I see it in text on page instead of lit up boldly in the chemistry of my brain. It actually does make a difference [for me] to take the time to remove or change the adjectives and adverbs, correct the syntax, re-evaluate the thinking. So much easier to do that seeing it in written words [for me]. I read my experience from the edited perspective. I read it again. I am no longer crying.

Tomorrow is a work day. I haven’t set myself up for success there by being awake during the night – but being awake during the night and crying generally has an even less desirable outcome, emotionally. I feel valued to take the time with myself to ease the suffering I am experiencing, however much I can. I am definitely having my own experience. There is no lover here to hold me in the darkness and tell me everything will be okay – and maybe it won’t be. It generally will be, though, for at least some values of ‘okay’.

Small stressors keep piling up. The loss of aesthetic beauty of my wee home. The loss of day-to-day quiet here. The increasing tension and discontent in the workplace. The increasing insecurity and doubt in an important relationship. The lack of personal skill at coping with it when solitude becomes loneliness. The loss of intimacy and physical contact in my every day life. The chaos brought to my life through the exterior work being done in the community – it’s actually stressing me out to see paintings stacked differently for the convenience of contractors, or to see the A/C just sort of …sitting, no good place to store it, and such a small apartment. Lingering bitterness – not over old hurts themselves, but over the lack of being understood, the lack of consideration – or even awareness. I guess this is when I get to put new emotional resilience to the test, and find out whether all of the time and practice invested in emotional self-sufficiency will be enough to survive on. I’d like to thrive. It’s on my list of nice things to do for me. Maybe another time.

I feel very alone right now. Oddly, I notice the ticking clock – and realize there is no additional stress to being aware of the sound of it. I find some comfort in that. It’s a small thing, but it is meaningful that the ticking of the clock does not cause me stress, or anxiety. You know… sitting here in the darkness, at 3:34 am, that’s enough. It’s at least something – it’s incremental change over time. I think I’ll go back to bed.

It will be dawn soon enough. I will begin again.

It will be dawn soon enough. I will begin again.