Archives for posts with tag: can you hear me now?

I queue up my favorite Portishead + Morphine playlist… reminders that “this too shall pass – or maybe not, but fuck, it’s life, right?” It’s enough to keep me engaged in the work in front of me, honey-smooth and mellow, low notes and minor chords, and the occasional poignant moment in the background. An Rx solution to “take the edge off” – not enough to put the pain to rest completely, but frankly, I wouldn’t be comfortable with coming so close to shutting down my ability to think and work and write in the middle of a work day.

Weird world. Chaos and pain and anger everywhere. Hate. Killings. More killings after that. Blood in the streets. What a strange and terrible time to be alive – but it’s not as if we get a choice; we’re born into the world as it is. Nothing more.

I take a breath, and exhale. I go looking for something more uplifting to listen to in the background. I don’t have anything in mind aside from being distracted from my personal experience of subjective pain, and the very ongoing need to manage that. It’s a good track for data entry, and I pull my shoulders up, straightening my spine. I don’t “feel any better”, but I know “good posture” results in “more up time”. I feel a certain subtle resentment over turns of phrase that conflate human beings with machinery… I am not a machine. Just this fleshy meat sack wrapped around a consciousness. Humbling. Limited.

It’s been an amazing (delightful) few days. I’m not sure what the “secret sauce” has been. My Traveling Partner has been in the shop (a lot) working on projects (several for me), and I’ve been enjoying sharing some of that time, and helping where I easily can. The quality of life lift that results his handiwork is more than pleasant or convenient; I feel very loved. Every time he finishes some project that is the result of some stray “I wish I had a…” or “it would be cool if this would…” kind of remark, I feel heard and understood. It’s special. I feel respected and cared for.

A new cutting board, made for me.

…Then, in some unexpected moment, he’ll snarl at me out of frustration or annoyance over something or another, and I am reminded how human we actually both are. lol Which is to say, “very”. Very human, indeed. Most of the time I let those moments go. Sometimes I laugh with him over it. Sometimes I cry. (Yeah, very human.) Those sorts of moments are more common when one of us is in pain. Pain shrinks our world, pulls our focus inward, and we lose perspective.

My Traveling Partner comes in to share with me his latest finished work; lovely earrings, laser cut from wood. They delight me. (Earrings are the only jewelry I commonly wear, and I do love a fun new pair of earrings!)

Partnership has highs and lows. Pain comes and goes. There’s this moment, now, and very little else has to grab my attention “right now”. It’s okay to take a breath, and begin again.

I heard from an old old friend this morning (he’s not that old, really, we’ve just been friends a long while). It’s been too long. It’s good to “hear his voice” again, even via email. Heart-warming.

I sit sipping my coffee thinking about threads and connections, and making a mental note to reach out to other old friends I haven’t heard from – or communicated with – in a while. We are social creatures. In a pandemic, there are perhaps additional verbs involved. Email. Actual letter writing (of the sort that requires pen, paper, an envelope, an address, and a stamp, and involves the postal system and many days waiting). Catching up on other blogs. Exchanging recipes, and anecdotes. Catching up on old times. New times. Other times. Changes…

…There are always changes…

Good coffee. Nice morning for it. Yesterday kicked off the new year very well, at least in this household. I smile feeling simultaneous gratitude and hopefulness. There’s another day ahead. One more after that in the long holiday weekend…then… back to it. All the things. It’s a season of change; I find myself wondering what to expect, although I know very well that expectations are very premature so soon in the new year. lol

This morning the rain falls from a gray wintry sky. I ache. I shrug off the awareness of physical pain, and nudge my thoughts in the direction of taking down the holiday décor. Good day for it. It’s time.

…And time to begin again.

I’m sipping my Monday-morning-before-work coffee, and contemplating the days preceding this moment. Festive. Lovely. Warmed-through with loving intentions. Merry. So very merry. 🙂 I will admit to lower-than-average expectations – I mean, seriously, there’s a pandemic going on, and American politics are a disappointing ethical shambles presently, and I could every bit as easily have found myself focused on all that mess, instead of the delightful holiday interlude I shared with my Traveling Partner. I chose to focus on the holidays at hand, though, and the outcome was precious and will be cherished for the lifetime ahead. 🙂

…So merry…

Gifts were opened. Coffees and sweets and jokes were shared. Holiday tunes played in the background. I took winter walks along muddy lanes (rain here, no snow). Texts and emails were sent to family and friends (cards were mailed, probably too late to arrive in advance of the holiday). Cookies were baked. Recipes were tried. We reminisced over old times, good times, other times. It was a sweet and romantic connected holiday for two, in The Time of Pandemic. We didn’t go out. We didn’t have friends over. The car has the same gas in the tank it did more than a week ago. lol Sweet strange little holiday that managed to make my “top ten” lifetime fantastic holidays. 🙂

I feel fortunate. I sip my coffee smiling this morning. Half days in the office this week… I’m not expected until later on. Ample time to write… and to read. Maybe to paint? Do some housekeeping. 🙂 One life being lived.

My Traveling Partner woke minutes after I did, this morning. We both seem to be sleeping very well lately. We’re both less grumpy in the mornings as a result. It’s nice. I make room in my thoughts for a moment of compassion and understanding that it can be difficult not to be grumpy when one wakes in pain, and starts the day fairly certain that it’s not going to change. I consider my physical wellness this morning; I am in less pain because I am more well-rested? Maybe. It’s important to be mindful and note any changes in that sort of thing. Allowing implicit memory to smooth out changes that could indicate improvements (and it will) can make it difficult to enjoy and live a reality of less pain… I mean… I’m not going to be able to enjoy what I am not aware of, right? 🙂

Solstice…Giftmas…then, New Year’s… 2020 is almost over. It is an ending layered with more than typical meaning and significance for many people. What will we do with the opportunity ahead to make 2021 more meaningful and significant for ourselves, our families, our community, and for the world? What will I do with that opportunity?

…Then again (and also true), it’s just another change of day-month-year on an arbitrary calendar. It could be any day. It could be any moment – we can each choose to begin again when we will. That’s pretty powerful stuff. 😀 (Does tend to leave us without excuses, though, for why we have not embraced an important change we know we need to make for ourselves.) S’okay. We’ve got a few more days to consider the new year ahead. 🙂

It’s time to begin again. How will we change the world?

Yesterday turned out to be a tad… complicated. Emotional. Busy? All of those things and stressful, too. I’m honestly a bit surprised it went so… well. “Just homeowner stuff”, I guess. (What?! Already??) I ended my work day early to deal with it. My Traveling Partner met with the hot tub repair person who was scheduled to be out, and showed up 2 hours early (I don’t think I’m going to complain about that – it was a relief just being able to get that work done, at all), and I focused on the other thing. A leak. In a wall. That caused mold. On paintings. Omfg. I actually don’t have adequate words for the stress in that first moment of catastrophic realization. :-\

…It also is not a catastrophe in any literal sense. Not at all. Small thing, caught very quickly, being handled.

The rest of the day was spent between managing my mental and emotional wellness, and actually handling the circumstances in a way that would successfully (and completely) resolve them. It went fairly well, once the initial heart-breaking emotional blast to my consciousness had passed. It seems a little silly and “overdone” after-the-fact, but in the moment the hurt was very real, the panic very profound. From the vantage point of now, it’s serious, but rather ordinary, and nothing to trouble myself over emotionally. Humans are weird.

The morning starts peculiarly. I’d just gotten up moments ahead of my partner, and was sipping my coffee and beginning my writing after a few minutes of meditation (okay, I was up long enough to meditate, make coffee, and settle in to write…so more than a handful of minutes had gone by since I woke). He got up. I made coffee. Seemed ordinary enough, and the day began pleasantly with talk of a soak…

Obviously, I’m writing, not soaking. (Well, obvious to me, I’m the one sitting here, now, in a moment that is long over by the time you read these words.) He’s behind one closed door, I’m behind another. Communication breakdown. Hurt feelings. Routine human shit. I can’t even take it personally, although I am disappointed to have to deal with it on a pretty Saturday morning, when I could be contentedly soaking in the hot tub with my Traveling Partner. We’ve both got baggage. We’re both quite human. We love each other dearly and still manage, now and then, to hurt each other’s feelings, frustrate each other, or treat each other less well than we’d ideally like to. There it is. Humans being human. There’s a lot of work that goes into doing that well. Results vary.

I breathe. Exhale. Let it go. Well…sort of. So I begin again, with a deep deep breathe, correcting my posture and sitting fully upright. I exhale slowly, patiently. I inhale, making a point to feel the compassion I feel for my very human self – and his. I exhale, feeling acceptance and love, and really releasing that frustrating tendency to take shit personally. I let it go. No attachment to the outcome. No requirement to “be” “right”. Open to enjoying the day. I inhale again, feeling my shoulders relax, aware of the minor headache at the back of my skull. I exhale, content and aware, hearing the sound of the A/C coming on, and taking in the sunshine through the window as it lights the neighbors house. I hold myself here, in this present moment, exactly as it is. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Repeat. This is my favorite meditation – breathing. Still. Awake. Aware. Quiet. Just sitting. Just breathing. Letting go of everything that is not this moment, here, now.

Search within; it’s closest.

Some moments pass. I don’t know how many. I feel some better. I feel vulnerable to being easily hurt (maybe just a problematic byproduct of yesterday’s stress). I think about my best options for good self-care. I think about how to make things right with my partner. I’d like us both to enjoy the day, whether he chooses to spend it in my company or not. I remind myself of an errand I had planned to run, and one he may still want me to handle (asking would be the thing to do in this instance).

…Anyway. It’s time to begin again. I don’t know what the day ahead holds. No expectations. No assumptions. Open to succeeding.

Yesterday I found myself mired in an unexpectedly contentious moment with my Traveling Partner. Life in the Time of Pandemic takes its toll on us all, I suppose. Clear communication and skillful expectation and boundary setting are sometimes more challenging for me than I’d like. Living and loving well can be fraught with challenging circumstances. My results vary. I’m fortunate I can retreat to my studio and take a bit of time and distance to care for myself, and restore my sense of perspective, often through writing, sometimes through study or creative endeavors, sometimes meditation is enough. Yesterday evening was a bit strange in an unexpectedly helpful way; I used my words.

Wait though, I mean… I still retreated to my studio to take care of myself, emotionally, and sort myself out. It wasn’t about skillfully using my words live, real-time; I used them long ago, at some other point, and happened upon them on my way to opening a manuscript I am working on, expecting to spend some time writing. No kidding. I had written myself a note, at some point in the past. I happened upon it by chance (which sort of suggests I did a shitty job of putting it where I could easily find it, but this is not about that).

The note I wrote to myself has the title “What about when it feels like nothing really matters?“, which suggests I wrote it in a moment of despair, frustration, and futility, and great emotional pain. Out of curiosity, and feeling cross with myself, I opened it, and began reading;

So, okay. Right now is hard. Breathe. Sit upright. Breathe again. Let this painful, personal, very subjective moment, right here, this one, let it go. 

…Just… let it go. 

You’ve got this. Moments are brief. Temporary. Colored by emotion. Rationalized by a thin veneer of what feels like reason – and often isn’t that at all. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. 

Sometimes, and this may be unavoidable, you won’t feel heard. I’m telling you – from me to you (also me), that this is a thing and maybe always will be. Don’t join the queue of people who aren’t hearing you; listen. Give yourself that moment. Forgive yourself that instance of reactivity. Let that go, too. I’m not saying this is an easy thing, just that, with practice, and consideration, and presence, it is a thing that can be done. You can be heard by one human being who is literally “always there” as much as any one human being can be; yourself. So… do that. 

Start with a body scan. How does your body feel right now? Are you tired? Hungry? Cold? Hot? Thirsty? In pain? Be present and aware of your own physical experience. 

Assess your emotional experience. What are you feeling right now? Emotions and sensations are associated with words. They are not the words. They are experiences. Subjective. Tied to our personal dictionary. Informed by our personal understanding of the world – however flawed. Our perspective on our experience belongs to us – it’s yours. Fix it if it is broken. Accept it if it is an accurate reflection of your understanding of reality. Cut yourself some slack about being so human. 

Now, cut that other person some slack, too. They are every bit as human. Their emotional experience is every bit as valid – and also every bit as wholly subjective, and flawed. Doesn’t matter; it belongs to them. It is their context. Their narrative. Likes yours is for you. You won’t always find a match. Reach past that. Be compassionate. Be kind. Be understanding. Be those things for yourself, from your own perspective, and then also be that for them – aware that their perspective differs, and still able to embrace their humanity as fundamentally more important than this perceived difference. 

Rejection hurts. Conflict is uncomfortable. We want what we want, and often react to not getting that by lashing out in a hurtful way – which we are prone to justifying and rendering somehow righteous, by running that shit through our personal narrative, tidying it up, and making excuses for who we are. We’re not so right. We’re not all wrong. We can’t be “fixed” because we’re not, in fact, broken – we’re human. You are human. We each are. Seeking peace and nurturing, but finding demands, or rejection, or diminishment, or lost agency, or disappointment, or hurt feelings… all that sucks so very much – but it doesn’t have to define you, yourself. It’s just a moment. Let that shit go. 

Re-frame the experience. Assume positive intent (particularly if this “moment” develops within the context of a loving relationship). If you look again, with the certainty that all involved are authentically invested in the well-being of the individuals, and the relationships, does it still look the same? 

Shit sucks though. It’s unpleasant. It can feel overwhelming to feel so insignificant. To be unable to voice your experience in the face of the Other. Breathe anyway. Exhale in spite of it. Allow yourself to exert your agency by relaxing, and letting go of small shit. Specifically avoid lashing out. God damn, that can matter so much! Breathe. Listen. Exhale. Relax.

At the end of it, I was in a different place than when I began. It wasn’t so hard to reconnect, to begin again, to go past that moment and on to some other. The evening ended well. My perspective on the entire day changed. It was helpful. 🙂

Finding that right balance between joyful connected intimacy, and the frank realer-than-real truths of living life together 24/7, has its challenging moments. That’s okay, too. It’s an opportunity to do the work of growth and to explore more depth in this relationship. Nothing about that suggests a comfortable process. There doesn’t seem to be any ill-intention to it – just humans being human. We’re each having our own experience.

…Look at that… Already time to begin again.