Archives for posts with tag: change

It’s already Monday, already time to get back to the routine routines, and the usual flow of activities of a busy work week. (Seriously? Already??) How is this so damned difficult? I stare into my half empty cup of not-quite-cold coffee and wonder if there is time for another.

All the windows are open to the morning chill. There’s a hot afternoon in the forecast and I am rethinking my choice of work clothes, too. Since I’ve been back from the forest, I’ve been notably less attentive to routines and habits, and existing more “casually”. It feels terrifically relaxed, but realistically may not be sustainable for me, with some of my persistent issues (memory challenges are what they are). I’ve misplaced my badge to get into the building at work… I think I may have left it in the car, which I’ve already dropped off at my Traveling Partner’s place. I grin at my oversight and shake my head. It’s a small thing, not worth becoming stressed over. (I can recall a time when even so small a thing would have sent me over the edge pretty reliably.)

My bare toes are cold, as the apartment cools down. The sweater I thought would be a good idea is still comfortable, but looking into the developing orange and hint of haze in the sky as the sun rises, the sweater is clearly in need of being reconsidered before I leave for work. Practical details. How is life so filled up with practical details and practical questions? How is there ever room left over for wonder or for mysteries? I’m astonished and amazed, and for just one moment wide-eyed with real appreciation for how much minutiae I do manage to keep track of moment-to-moment, day-to-day; life is busy.

What matters most?

I got the rest I needed this past weekend. I’m glad I took the time. This morning I look around my apartment – and my life – with “new eyes”, rested, refreshed, and open to change, and I see some things that are very much change-worthy and quite possibly overdue for it. It’s not always clear where some bit of alteration in life’s course may take things over time. Like a loose thread on a sweater, each dangling bit of something or other I might consider changing is connected with all of the details of my life; change one thing, and things are changed, generally. Pulling on that thread may have consequences as yet unconsidered. Still… change is. I can choose change, or I can allow it to be chosen for me by others, or by circumstances.

It’s an interesting journey, this life thing. I wonder where the next trail leads? The sun is up, it’s a Monday, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂

A good day of house-hunting, yesterday, reminded me that the world is not what I expect, nor does it adhere to my plans, or limit itself to my beliefs or whimsical notions. It is what it is. I can change. I can, perhaps, change the world. The world itself can (will) change – may even choose change – but at all points, in all moments, it (the world) and I (myself) remain entirely precisely what we each actually are (in that moment) without regard to belief.

I am  a practicing non-believer, generally. I prefer my understanding of myself and knowledge of the world be closely tied to what is, and not at all dependent on what I assume, expect, want, pretend, or make up in my head – or what I’m told. It just simplifies things. My only requirements at that point become awareness of the world around me, and acceptance of reality. No “believing” required. (Reality, like science, does not care what I believe.) I see, lately, a rather sad surplus of human primates mis-using the words “think” and “know” as synonymous with “believe”, but I’m on to those verbal shenanigans, and I’m watching for it. Believe what you like. I’ll seek knowledge, and accept that I do not know what I do not know. (Your beliefs can’t really substitute effectively for my knowledge, nor mine for yours. I’ll do my homework.)

The wisest among us know to refrain from supporting decision-making with untested assumptions, magical thinking, and “believing” things without checking them out thoroughly. Strangely, in spite of the modern surplus of data, there is a clear shortage of wisdom in the world. lol

I sip my coffee, watching signs of spring coming, just beyond my studio window. Small brown birds gathering up soft bits of this and that for nests. A large flock of Canada geese strutting and posing on the lawn between the patio and the meadow beyond. Blue sky streaked with indecisive clouds of several sorts, as though the weather for the day is simply not yet decided. Rain spatters the window, but only for a moment. I notice that my coffee has, at some point, gone cold. I’m smiling, nonetheless. Why not?

I think about the houses that I saw yesterday. The one that I “liked” the best was also in pretty bad shape. No… I mean… like, seriously, not good. As in, not fully habitable. At all. The cost to make it a home would be prohibitively high (obvious structural repairs were needed to interior floors, and the roof, every scrap of carpet was so badly damaged and soaked in cat urine that the entire building reeked of it… and so much more!), but I did like the floor plan, very much. I made notes when I got home. I’d almost talked myself out of being mindful of the quantity of obvious deal-breakers, by the time I sat down to consider the day. lol I marked the address in my favorites on a listing website I use, to keep an eye on it… maybe a radical drop in price…? I was stunned to see it updated to a pending offer before I finished dinner. That change didn’t realistically do anything to change that it wasn’t a good choice for me, personally, so it was interesting to observe my emotional landscape shift and change with the new knowledge. I had already formed the belief that “no one would want to undertake all that, even at that price” and already developed an expectation in my thinking that it “might still be available months from now, at a reduced price”. LOL Silly primate. No means no.

I looked at a house that was well-kept, clean, cosmetically very pleasant, in a nice seeming neighborhood, a reasonable commute to work, and move-in ready… It was also at the top of my price range, and on the small side of what I am looking for – and didn’t actually meet most of my significant needs, carefully listed and carried with me. It was just the only house I looked at that I could envision living in, myself, fairly contentedly… and that was the case primarily because it was clean, well-cared for, and vacant. Those characteristics aren’t really the ones that meet long-term needs for quality of life, and being at the top of my price range just as it was, it would have been unaffordable to improve it. Another set of pitfalls avoided. I remember thinking “this is hard!”

I looked at a house that had many of the characteristics that would meet my needs over time – and even those of my Traveling Partner at any point he might choose to be staying with me. It was occupied, which for me complicates looking at it; I struggle to filter out the experience of the resident, and their use of the space. I do my best, and it is a learning process, and there is a lot going for this one, I think to myself… and begin to observe the process of my brain working to talk me into or out of it. The house is on the corner of a very busy major street, across from a brightly lit car dealership, next door to a very large multi-family complex that is noisy, and littered. Could I “make it work”? Probably, but the location is both less-than-ideal and also manages to be inconvenient to shopping and services I would, myself, need. How long would it take before my PTSD and noise-sensitivity resulted in feeling unsafe, or uncomfortable? It’s not the one, either.

There was a very cute older place, well-cared for, and fairly fancy for its time – lots of well-crafted built-ins. It was an “open house” and there was a lot of interest in the wee charming move-in ready house. The rooms were small to the point of feeling claustrophobic, and the basement stairs were the deal breaker for me, with tread so narrow it was necessary to turn sort of sideways to safely go down into the finished basement. The ceiling in the basement was so low I had to stoop in places – and I’m only 5’5″-ish. Uncomfortable, and the safety hazards revealed themselves quite quickly; my realtor hit his head going back upstairs, and I stumbled on the narrow tread, causing me to also notice the utter lack of bannister or rail. A bannister or safety rail is an easy addition… but the concrete stairs with narrow tread? No way. Shivers ran up and down my spine when I considered the risk of falling down those stairs and hitting my head.

I could have tried to talk myself into any one of them, I suppose. I choose, instead, patience and learning. Instead of investing in the belief that I must choose one as soon as possible and settle for all of the compromises on all of the characteristics I would want to build a home upon, I continue to study what matters most to me, building by building. Belief is pretty easy; someone says something with conviction, and I then accept the words as true, and build on that. No homework required. Learning requires more effort, more cognitive strain, more moments confronting the human being in the mirror and demanding a reality check; it’s uncomfortable. I’m okay with that. Non-belief is also a practice. 😉

I didn’t find a house I would want to call my own yesterday. I’m okay with that. I’ll begin again. This too is part of the journey.  🙂

Between what? Between plans and outcomes, perhaps, or between what was and what may be, at some future point – in either case, I live just the one moment, ‘now’, and what I choose to do with it seems to matter so very much more than what may be planned for the future, or may have been planned for the past. It’s a quiet morning to contemplate time, planning, and outcomes. I find change far less unnerving when I plan things out, then prepare a good Plan B, then follow that with some alternate plans, contingency plans, wild cards plans, and anticipate potential outcomes of the unplanned possibilities – rendering them much less unexpected. Doesn’t matter that much, though; life tends to be quite unscripted and spontaneous regardless of planning… Which doesn’t have any tendency at all to stop me attempting to plan my life. 🙂

flowers

Perspective. 

The emotional climate seems very nice ‘here’. The emotional weather lately has also been sunny and mild. Storms of change are on the horizon, piling up like distant clouds – will it be a spring shower, or a powerful thing crafted of nightmares, hurricane winds, and monsoon rains, that sweeps aside all other considerations for a time? For planning purposes, scale matters a lot – or seems to. Opportunity sometimes seems to transmute change from something uncontrollable and potentially devastating to something almost festive…a see-saw on life’s playground. Here I stand, between moments, between metaphors, staring at the horizon on this perplexing and wonderful journey… still smiling, still okay, and feeling fairly ‘ready for it’.

flowers

Life is busy. It’s easy to miss details that matter.

I need to get some solid contemplative time alone at some point in the very near future. I find myself considering a day trip to the coast or up to ‘the big city’ (Seattle is the nearest of those), or a hike out in the trees, somewhere more distant than nearby nature parks. In any case, I need time to sort some things out with care, whether it is at my desk, at my easel, on foot, or traveling by some other means; my mind needs time and opportunity to wander. Easily done… there are verbs involved.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

Today is a good day to walk on, to consider the alternatives, to choose wisely and with great care. Today is a good day to take care of me, to love without reservations, and to listen deeply. Today is a good day to “stay on the path”… It’s definitely leading somewhere.

Moving is a process that is pretty much entirely all about changes. Sometimes moving is is also associated with a lot of ‘forced choices’; things decided upon in the moment that are either imposed by someone else’s decision-making, or by details in the circumstances that seem to limit the available options. (I say ‘seem to’ because sometimes I find myself making a choice based on it being ‘the only thing I can do’, which while it does immediately ensure that my perspective is that there is ‘no choice’, in reality ‘no choice’ is a rare condition.)

Last night I slept deeply and well in the old apartment, even crashing quite early, utterly exhausted. I woke earlier than my usual waking time, and although I was contentedly committed to returning to sleep for as long as I needed to rest, the attempt was wasted. I was awake. My thought, when I crashed out last night, was that I would wake later – probably after 7:00 am (the hour at which the community ‘quiet hours’ end). The intention was to immediately finish loading up the van and drive it down the hill, unload it, then have my morning coffee. I woke at 4:00 am, much too early to futz around with moving things, and a noisy truck. People were definitely still sleeping. (Yes, that matters to me; Consideration is  one of my Big 5 relationship values – are not my neighbors also sharing a relationship with me? That of neighbor?) I decided to dress, and take the frozen food down to the new apartment, and have my coffee while I watch the dawn slowly unfold over the park, from the new view.

The darkness before dawn is dotted with bright  lights.

The darkness before dawn is dotted with bright lights.

What a lovely morning, and what an excellent bit of decision-making! I returned to the old apartment some time later – after coffee number two, and 7:00 am. The rainy morning has prolonged the early morning gray misty skies, and dim lighting that might put my footing at risk. I choose a healthy breakfast, a few minutes at the keyboard, and no rush; I am up so much earlier than I planned that I am still entirely ‘on plan’ for the moving bits without rushing at all.

The choices I am making with regard to handling the move in this peculiarly slow deliberate way is also resulting in feeling more immediately moved in at the place. This morning felt right; I had my morning coffee ‘at home’ – and that was there, at the new place, sitting on the love seat in the living room, watching the sky lighten beyond the treeline on the other side of the park. Meditation. Yoga. A shower. I make no promises to myself about how this is going; it is enough to experience it.

A metaphor for change: the mantle shelf covered with treasured things that will not remain in this location. Sometimes the choices and changes are momentary.

A metaphor for impermanence: the mantle shelf covered with treasured things, safer on the shelf than on the floor, they will not be here long.

Isn’t that still what this is all about? Choices…changes… enough? 🙂

This morning I woke to a powerful feeling of insecurity and fearfulness that points directly at the move I am making this very week. The timing is inconvenient – and quite probably not at all coincidental. Buried in the chaos and damage are ancient reminders that I “am not good enough” and “don’t deserve this” or “can’t make this work” or ‘know’ this will “all go very wrong soon enough”. The vague uneasiness and doubt escalate then recede again and again as I work through my morning routine. My eye falls on some detail that got missed in the housekeeping, like a used tissue that missed the small bathroom waste basket, but also got missed when I emptied the trash yesterday, and instead of simply resolving the matter and moving on without concern, there is a hint of inward beratement and impatience lurking there, waiting for me. It is unusual these days for me to be so hard on myself.

"Anxiety" 10" x 14" - and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

I almost skip my shower, as though taking the time for it somehow robs me of time I could otherwise use for… what… being anxious? I attempt to make a light moment of it, and although that fails, I find myself compliant with the self-care rituals so carefully maintained, standing in the shower, doing the showering thing. It’s a step. I make eye contact with myself in the small shaving mirror mounted in the shower, and take some deep calming breaths. Change comes with the challenges and disruption of change itself – and the change that is moving is pretty much going to touch every routine of my day, all the perspectives of each angle of view I am used to seeing, the placement of every object in my personal space, the ambient noises, and shadows – yep. Basically everything but the actual contents of my home, and me – the woman living within it. The magnitude and weight of it hits me fully for the first time… everything is changing.

…The nausea hit me unexpectedly, and without argument. It was likely that I didn’t drink enough water with my morning medication, but this makes twice in the past couple weeks and so rare these days that it is almost certainly telling me something… about something. In the moment, though, I take it as a living metaphor, and hold onto the perspective of puking up all the baggage, the anxiety, the fear, and letting it go. I don’t know that it was as effective as I’d like, but I feel some better. Could be that the anxiety was impending nausea all along, and that as human primates do, I gave it a root cause from deep within that was not actually causal at all, merely correlated. I return to my coffee, undeterred by the uncomfortable moment; there is much to do.

We've all got some baggage.

We’ve all got some baggage.

The anxiety and insecurity are common [for me] during experiences that involve a lot of change. The more change, the more fear, generally. I can feel how tight my chest is, and the coiled spring of anxiety that has taken hold of the place where my diaphragm once rested, relaxed and ready for all the breathing and such. I feel a certain moment of relief that my traveling partner isn’t sleeping in the other room this morning; my anxiety permeates the room in a palpable way, or so it seems to me. It isn’t a comfortable experience to live alongside, and is the big reason I didn’t reach out for his help with the move. “I’ve got this!” is the war cry of protecting my love from the bullshit I must still wade through, cope with – and perhaps someday master. There are so many things in life I rely on help with – but this one, the ‘managing change’ thing, I tend to rely most heavily on the woman in the mirror to get the job done, to circle back and find new comfort in new routines, to practice good practices, and to recognize stability and balance when the task is completed. I am eager to welcome him to a new home, with the same lovely calm energy, that feels similarly my own…but I try to protect him from how hard change hits me getting there.

So what if I am scared this morning? This is all happening quite fast – it was already January when I mentioned the observed vacancy to the apartment manager and found out about the remodeling. My original mention was as a passing fancy, only, and it was with my traveling partner’s encouragement that I considered it more seriously, eventually embracing the idea fully as a ‘next step’ on this journey, and a worthy improvement in quality of life at the expected price. I’m ready – I check again at how the budget works – but I feel this leaden dread resting in my belly.  “Bitch, what’s up with this fucking fear?” I think crossly to myself, almost immediately hearing my therapist’s voice gently pointing out the harsh tone I am taking with myself. Yes, yes, I know… I can (and these days generally do) treat myself better, and with greater kindness and compassion than this. I am irked with me; the insecurity would have been so much more easily managed a week ago, before the move was certain, would it not? I laugh out loud at myself; insecurity and doubt don’t work that way. I set aside my writing for meditation and self-care. Words can wait.

A helpful reminder; I apply it equally to how I speak to myself these days.

A helpful reminder; I apply it equally to how I speak to myself these days.

Enough is enough. I am enjoying a life of general contentment and sufficiency. One limitation all this time has been the challenges presented romantically by my partner’s allergies, and how those are affected by much-lived-upon apartment carpeting. We discussed often how much more easily and regularly we could and would hang out together were it not for his allergies. In no small part the entire motivation for the move is to reduce the allergens in my home. It’s that simple. I’m paying a high price to do so, were that the only benefit (a very fancy air filter might do as well at a lower cost over the course of a year…maybe…), but there are other quality of life gains being made that are specific to my own day-to-day joy: the view of the park from the patio, no windows looking into neighbors windows, no shared wall on the bedroom side of the apartment, all new appliances in the kitchen, a shower insert in the bathroom that is entirely undamaged and never-repaired without a hint of entrenched mold or mildew beneath sealant, more convenient to the little community garden, and with enough additional space to move my artistic endeavors out of the living room… which also ensures that when I am painting or writing, I am not distracted by the world, so common from the vantage point of the couch in the living room.

The fearfulness hit me this morning, perhaps because I suddenly worried I am not being ‘true to myself’ by making this move? If what I have here is enough – why do I ‘need’ more? The deep breath that followed put me right at long last. This move is not about what I ‘need‘ at any minimum level; I have enough right now. Hell, after spending most of a week with my traveling partner right here, I’m quite certain this, here, is enough for me. Sharing my experience with him feels wonderful – and I want to position myself comfortably to enjoy more of that. This move is about finding my way – and learning to navigate the distance in my life between ‘enough’ and ‘more’, and learning what I want versus what I need, and making good decisions about which sorts of ‘more’ keep me on the path of becoming the woman I most want to be, living well and mindfully, taking care of me, and taking care to love well. There is a peculiar balance to strike here; if I refuse to move because of the expense, explicitly in order to hold on to those dollars in the bank account, in order to maintain a specific quantity of cash flow, unspent each month, what am I buying with my labor? Numbers? In an account? To what end does this serve me when those same dollars can also add 300 sq ft of useful living space, of a more healthy quality?

At long last my brain gets to the point; is the money I will spend on the new place being spent on something that matters to me such that the price is worth it? Isn’t that the question at the ‘bottom-line’? Is there something more or different on which I would truly prefer to spend that money, right now, every month? Do I have more urgent needs to meet that are going unmet? No, not really – and saving it as numbers in an account would serve just one purpose for me right now; to make these same sorts of changes through purchasing a home sometime down the road. Since that can be done regardless whether I make this move now, but would ideally wait (I think) until the car is paid off, this unexpected intermediate quality of life improvement is a nice option. I embraced it eagerly for all these reasons, and more, and I’ve given it considerable thought…what more is there to do with the insecurity and anxiety now, except to breathe?

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

I’m ready. Fear is not calling my shots today. 🙂