Archives for posts with tag: carpe diem

The recollection of my nightmare lingered much of the day, unprocessed, and in the background. It wasn’t distressing me. I had already accepted its existence in my experience, and ‘dealt with it’ – I thought. In a spontaneous moment of unintended sharing with my traveling partner, it clearly still had the power to unsettled me, and I felt the emotions rush through me. It was a powerful moment to share, and he was there with comfort and support and his steady calm demeanor on which I so rely when I am in distress. A hug, a kiss, and our moment ended; I went back to work. The day finished well, and I thought no more of my nightmare…

…It was on the walk home tonight that the threads of that distant dream began to unravel, to tangle, to take new shape as I walked and considered love, considered the book I am reading now and a book I have long yearned to read and simply never started. I considered the nature of time and opportunity, in the context of this one finite mortal life stretching back 52+ years, and ahead of me some indeterminate additional number of (I hope) years. That was no mere nightmare last night – I walked home today grinning in the sunshine over the feeling of sunlight on my face, on my back, and a feeling of being illuminated from within. Perspective is still a very big deal.

Darkness must exist for illumination to reveal what is hidden.

Darkness must exist for illumination to reveal what is hidden.

Proust is on my Kindle now. There is a blank canvas on my easel. There is time in my day, and a feeling of lightness in my heart, as if all that is not mine has fallen away – some strange sort of ‘letting go’ has occurred in my sense of self. I’m okay with that; it’s a beginning.

How often have I heard it – how often have you – “you just…” or “you only…”, or “it’s super simple…” and subsequently found it a journey to new heights of frustration? It happens. Perspective matters. Experience counts. Aptitude gets to weigh in, whether we like it or not. What is obvious to one person, isn’t necessarily obvious to another. These are what make patience with each other, consideration, kindness, and compassion so incredibly valuable; we don’t all ‘get it’ with the same quickness, or in the same way, we don’t all learn at the same speed, and of course we are each having our own experience.

It’s been an interesting weekend to contemplate one particular very human duality, and finding balance between them. The first of these, and unavoidably so whether we recognize the truth of it or not; we are each having our own experience.  Recognizing that has been a big deal for me.  The other, and no less important generally; we’re all in this together. Yep. Interdependent, connected, social, and organized, one look at a global map of internet connections and it’s pretty obvious that we’re connected, by the communication of thoughts and emotions if not by flesh or ideology.

Each precious moment holds something worth cherishing now.

Each precious moment holds something worth cherishing now, something worth sharing.

This has been a good weekend to apply a number of things I’ve been learning over time. A good weekend to paint, to practice taking care of me, to invest in my continuing education as a human being, to invest in the qualities of mind that make me more who I want to be. The weekend went to ‘unscripted mode’ before I ever got home Friday night, though we’d had plans as a family that would have taken much of the weekend. I found myself undisturbed and content to let the weekend take me where it might, and I’ve been delighted with the outcome. Having space to paint set up and ready to go any time resulted in an easy and gentle switching of gears, yesterday morning, and it was as effortless as walking up a flight of stairs to be in another space, a different context, and enjoying my experience on my own terms. It was lovely.

"Summer Lamb's Ear" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas w/glow.

“Summer Lamb’s Ear” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow.

It was so productive, and comfortably so, that this morning I woke already thinking of painting, although my calendar clearly shows I’d intended to hike this morning. My arthritis chimed in early, having been my wake up call, alerting me that today would be characterized by more than usual pain, and less than ideal freedom of movement. Hiking would probably help. Painting could wait until afternoon. I dither over coffee. What do I want? 

"Carried Away by Opinion" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas w/glow, glitter, and googly eyes.

“Carried Away by Opinion” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glitter, and googly eyes.

Letting that go for the moment, I reconsider the somewhat peculiar weekend. I have been content, satisfied, serene… it’s been a lovely weekend so far, and I feel nurtured, comfortable, and secure. It’s peculiar because observation tells me that my partners may not be having the same quality of experience, themselves. Earlier plans falling through has seemed to find them discontent, and to my outside perspective, struggling with various levels of unhappiness moment to moment. That sucks. I see it. When I can, I attempt to appropriately support them both, and each, and nurture positive experiences, and treat them pleasantly, and compassionately. What I’m not doing this weekend is undermining my pleasant experience by adopting their discontent for myself. This is an area of life and relationship building where I find a lot of my challenges.  Ripping out programming that once drove me to make choices based on ‘well, if I really care, won’t I also be unhappy and share their feelings/experience with them?’ has been slow going; it feels somewhat disloyal to take care of me. That’s how programming works, though, it’s rooted in layers upon layers of internal dialogue, self-talk that uses key words and language to keep us in line, and it fights for survival as though it has an identity all its own.

Sometimes a change in perspective matters more than we can know before we get there. "Summer Lamb's Ear" photographed in darkness.

Sometimes a change in perspective matters more than we can know before we get there. “Summer Lamb’s Ear” photographed in darkness.

The weekend has been, for me, so far, quite wonderful. I have no idea where today will take me, and I have not invested in any expectations of it; spending the day on chores, painting, and study, and enjoying the companionship of my partners, would be satisfying and sufficient. I could enjoy investing time in keeping my image archive organized, or exploring my options for updating my webpage. A walk in the forest, camera in hand, would be lovely, too.

What do I want of my life, today? Whatever it may be, today is probably quite an excellent day for that.

Well…or something of that sort. I sometimes find it difficult to be certain I really am making progress, or that new skills actually function as hoped for, or that I’m experiencing real healing and holistic long-term improvements in quality of life, as well as in-the-moment improvements in how I experience my life.  An analog of this experience might be learning math in grade school; it is very difficult at that time in one’s life to understand what use it will have later on. Today, I found myself actually using new skills in a natural way, applying mindfulness to stress in-the-moment, using improved communication skills to clarify misunderstood details and context, taking care of me by expressing limitations and setting boundaries without being confrontational or accusatory and generally taking a brief moment of emotion and distress in my day, and allowing to be simply that – a moment.  Hell, I’m even having an excellent day – without mental gymnastics, denying myself my heartfelt emotions, or trampling on my own needs and boundaries.  Yeah, I actually do feel a bit like I ‘passed a test’.  If nothing else, I am encouraged that I am learning a few things that are helping me enjoy more of my experience, and really treat myself and my loved ones well.

In the spirit of celebrating a great report card, I’m going to get back to having a great latte, a lovely quiet morning of jazz and conversation, a little housekeeping as the day wears on – in short, enjoying my Saturday.  I hope you enjoy yours, too.

A picture of another lovely day.

A picture of another lovely day.

Have a cookie…let’s talk.

coffee or milk?

coffee or milk?

Today I woke up to a world filled with haters and trolls, and people who think there are acceptable reasons for violence or that there are excuses that mitigate treating other people badly. I woke to a world where human beings employed in productive work for a business are treated as a commodity or a ‘necessary business expense’ to be minimized at any cost, and to a government that sees killing as a more worthy expense than feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and housing the homeless. I woke to a world that treats women and people of color as having less value than the rapidly dwindling pasty white ‘majority’. I woke to a world where rape victims are treated as having some blame in the crime committed against them, and people are taught to take with force what isn’t given freely. I woke to a world where objecting to what is objectionable and demanding change can get a person a prison sentence, and one where people in uniforms can lawfully commit murder. I woke to a world where the concept of a living wage is sneered at by a lot of people who don’t have to worry about covering their bills. I woke to a world where telling the truth is a criminal act, and kindness can get someone killed.

Funny, in a not-so-funny way, this is what we choose. Every day. It’s a big culture, a big world, and there are a lot of ideas about living life. Choices are made, and often more poor choices than great choices are made in the name of ideology, dogma, tradition, religion, precedent, futility, frustration…but they are choices, made by people, and in some cases made by people who actually have the potential to do more, better, and who choose not to.

I have sometimes been that person who could have done more, better, had I chosen differently.

We each have greatness within us, however humble our beginnings.

We each have greatness within us, however humble our beginnings.

The individual commitment to doing it differently changes a very small piece of our world – but it does change that very small piece. So…today I will change the world. A very small piece. Will you?

What will the world be like tomorrow, if we choose wisely today?

What will the world be like tomorrow, if we choose wisely today?

It occurred to me today, as I unfolded from another night of nightmare-filled sleep to find myself safe in the arms of morning, that 50 years is a much longer time to contemplate going into it, than it is looking back.  I mean, on my 10th birthday I doubt I spent much time contemplating the first decade of life, or the next few to follow, it was far more likely I spent it thinking about me, in the moment, and… presents. lol. Now, I’m 50, and facing a very realistic likelihood of living another 50 years, or more. 50 years. Ahead of me. 50. That seems like a lot of nightmares, opportunities to miscommunicate, arguments with loved ones, disappointments, tedium, and all the disarray and mess that being a human primate promises and generally delivers.  It also seems like a lot of time to try new things, learn, become the woman I most want to be, to change the world for the better, to enjoy love and Love, to hang with friends and hear what they have to say about things that matter, to fight just causes, to celebrate milestones, to support and nurture what I value…and for hugs, kisses, sex, great glasses of wine, tasty bites of interesting foods, amazing music and art, new friends, new ideas, and a lot of cozy nights on the couch with lovers watching TED Talks… or whatever the equivalent of that might be, in 2063.

The menu in the restaurant of life is a long one – and everything is ordered a la carte, no matter how much we put into trying to plan all the details of the meal.

I feel sexy, and alive, and strong – in spite of everyday stress, and every night nightmares – I feel capable, and enthusiastic about life.  It’s a nice place to be. There are so many experiences I would like to have – I’m not sure 50 years is actually enough for the easy ones, and I’m often doubtful I’ll get to some of the odd stuff I’d like to explore. I resist the term ‘bucket list‘, because for me life is not about checking off a to do list (except on weekends, when it is a matter of managing the chores and essentials. lol) – but there are things I want to do – not ‘before I die’, just ‘at all’ because I want to, because I have done them before and loved the experience, because they are things I yearn to experience because they resonate with me, or because they would be a living protest in the face of my demons. I guess I do list them, because I’m human, and making lists is something many of us do. 🙂

(I pause a moment and wonder, if I had every list I’d ever compiled, without regard to purpose or state of completion, would I learn something about who I am?)

Seriously, though, who doesn’t have some sort of personal accounting of what they’d like to do, see, achieve, share, experience, know, or understand? Some of the things on my list are strangely specific, others are inexplicably odd (at least to me). Some look like an easy victory in list management, if only I would take the first step and get it done, others lack even the vaguest notion of a starting point, or have an as yet unreachable prerequisite.

This morning I am thinking, perhaps not so oddly, about things that are morning related… I’d like to have brunch with a lover in a lovely regional bistro on the Chesapeake Bay, watching sailboats make their lazy way along the waterfront, and feeling the heat of a summer morning slowly become a muggy summer day.   I’d also like to awaken tangled in clean sheets and heavy comforters in a sunny German Gasthaus, have eager unreserved sex, and a hearty breakfast over strong coffee and bad jokes – in Augsburg, or perhaps Munich – and then stroll the fussganger zone looking at art, crystal, and porcelain. I’d like to visit the Carpathian mountains, hiking and camping with a friend, and learning some Romanian. I very much enjoy supporting a good cause and seeing the world change through actions and voices…I really like that one, it’s one I’d want to do again and again. (In 50 years I’ve been awed to see so much history unfold…eager to see what more there is out there.) I’d like to visit a Pacific Island chain, something remote and simple, and walk on a quiet isolated beach and see the sun rise, and set. I’d like to visit Las Vegas in a very sexy sports car, exploring the city at night, and driving in the desert in the outskirts in the wee hours of morning before heat and sleep become the priority concerns.  I would like to paint in an isolated mountain cabin alone for a week, and in a yurt near the beach during a storm, and in the comfort of a charming bed and breakfast in Carmel, California – painting until inspiration is fulfilled, then wandering the galleries and talking to other artists about other inspirations.

There is a clear theme is my wish list for my next 50, and the theme from this vantage point is ‘satisfaction’ and ‘fulfillment’ – not trophies or brag-worthy endeavors, just simple pleasures of the heart and spirit. My heart. My spirit. My satisfaction. On a morning like this, finding those moments doesn’t really seem difficult. I’m near the end of this latte, and these thoughts… time to live a few moments without words. 😀

...walking a serene path.

…walking a serene path.