Archives for posts with tag: choices

Chilly morning. Coffee just a memory at this point. I consider making a pot of tea, or having a mid-morning soak in the hot tub. I think ahead to the weekend, and blustery autumn days, chilly walks through piles of autumn leaves, and cozying up to the fireplace wrapped in a soft blanket with a good book. There are some delights that even pandemic life does not dim. A book by the fire? Add a mug of warm cocoa to that, and it’s a small slice of heaven for some of us. 🙂

I ran a brief errand, and returned home. There’s still something so magical about stepping over the threshold, here. Home. Feels good. I smile at the fall foliage on the pear tree beyond the window. Here and there, green leaves turning to russet shades, shaking with the breeze as if to say “it is chilly today”. I sigh out loud in the quiet of my studio.

Small moments and small pleasures make up so much of what is joyful in life. I mean… that’s true for me, specifically. I can’t speak for your experience. 🙂 My results do vary… often depending on my choices. I sit with that though for a moment, aware of the chilly autumn day beyond the window. Aware of the comfort I am fortunate to enjoy, here at home. I think about that hot tub, out on the deck, and the pain I am in with my arthritis, right now…

…Choices… verbs… free will… opportunity…

…It’s a good time to begin again. 🙂

I woke early with a headache. I didn’t sleep well, waking several times for (sometimes) no obvious reason. More than once I woke from dreams of … noise. Just that. Car noise. Truck noise. Construction noise. I would wake to hear only quiet. No real noise. Back to sleep, to dream of noise. It wasn’t a great night.

I woke earlier than the alarm would have gone off by a bit more than an hour. I got up. Meditation. Some yoga. I felt restless and annoyed, headache persisting. I put on my boots and went for a walk. It was dark, quiet, and still. The chilly morning air felt wonderful. The quiet was lovely. The silhouettes of trees and shrubbery created fantastical scenes ahead of me along the way. The headache persisted.

I returned home, still before dawn and no hint of sunrise visible. I made coffee, and sat down with that – and my headache. I finished off the water in my water bottle while I waited for my coffee to cool enough to drink that, instead. About half-way through my coffee, I admitted that “nothing else” had worked to improve this headache, thus far, and took something for it. My Traveling Partner woke, perhaps I banged the drawer or rattled a pill bottle? We spent a pleasant half an hour or so hanging out with our morning coffee before my work day began.

I started my workday with this headache, and it is with me, even now. A soak in the hot tub in the chill of an autumn morning was lovely. Didn’t help with the headache. Lunch with my partner and his son was quite pleasant, too. Still enduring the headache. I’d taken a stronger headache remedy shortly before lunch, and it’s now about an hour later than we finished that meal. I’ve still got the headache, but… maybe it’s improved a bit? It only hurts when I move… and when I sit still. Sometimes it fades into the background for a moment (that’s definitely an improvement).

…I’m not really just whinging about this headache as much as I mean to be pointing out how important the self-care is, even though it isn’t helping the headache much. The self-care is keeping me from becoming a fucking monster and treating everyone around me badly. That’s worth something. It’s not so much that I can feel any notable improvement where the headache is concerned (I can’t) – but I’m not snarling at people. Not blasting anyone with negative emotion over some small thing. I haven’t lost my sense of humor, or become stern. I’m mostly enjoying my day, mostly being someone I can appreciate in my interactions with others (from my own perspective). I’m in pain. I’m not enjoying that, but I’m also not devolving into some shattered broken down thing, or causing a fuck ton of chaos for everyone around me. That’s worth something. Apologies only go so far, so often – sooner or later we have to take steps to change problem behavior. For real. Headaches and all.

Fuck this headache, though. Damn.

I started the morning with meditation. Coffee came later. 🙂 Nice morning for it. Not much to say about it. Pleasant morning.

It’s a work day, in the time of the pandemic. I am grateful to be employed. I’m grateful to be housed. I’m grateful that so much is going to so well in my life right now. I sip my coffee and sit quietly with thoughts of what is going well, what feels good, what is working out smoothly. Thoughts of sufficiency, thoughts of contentment.

…The point is not that my life is perfect, the point is to spend more time “dwelling on” what is going well, rather than investing that time in ruminations of what “sucks”, what “isn’t working out”, what is “holding me back”, or things that are painful, problematic, or inconvenient. Seriously. It’s a key practice I can’t recommend strongly enough; spend more time contemplating what is working, what is pleasant, and what you enjoy in your life, than you do fussing or bitching about what isn’t going as well. It has the potential to change your implicit experience of life, to change your actual brain, and could result in a more pleasant experience of life, generally. It also just feels better.

We don’t just find our “happy place” – we also create (or destroy) it.

…Isn’t “feeling better” one of the things we’d all like to do? “Being” a “pessimist” (or someone who is very negative about life) is not a permanent affliction (doesn’t have to be, anyway) – you can choose. 🙂 Yes, I’m even suggesting that in the face of living a “terrible” set of circumstances, it is possible to have a better experience than you may be having… with some carefully chosen practices, practiced with care and consistency, over time. No guarantee, of course; I’m not an expert, nor a doctor. My results have varied, surely yours will, also. Still… over the past decade I’ve gone from being a very cynical, rather bitter, wholly negative human being to someone who is generally fairly positive, mostly pretty optimistic, comfortably content much of the time, who feels a secure sense that, generally, most things will (or could) turn out acceptably okay. 🙂 It’s enough (for me). Life feels pretty good, mostly.

…There are a lot of implied new beginnings in that last paragraph, not gonna lie. A lot of work has been involved in getting myself from “there” to “here”. I still have occasional down days and blue moments. I still sometimes struggle with my emotional wellness and mental health. I’m a human, being human.

I finish my coffee with a smile. Go for a walk? A soak in the spa? Do some yoga? Start work early? I think things over…

…It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Sometimes finding a happy place is surprisingly close to home.

…Home…work…home…work… Back and forth, pretty much continuously, distractingly interspersed with a couple days off, not quite convincing me that I have ample leisure. lol Omg – fuck this. I sigh and sip my coffee. I breathe, exhale, relax… And remind myself that the bills are paid, and this home is comfortably warm on a chilly morning. I had hot water – and indoor plumbing – and sweet smelling shower gel in my morning shower. This cup of coffee? Work was involved in that, too; coffee beans aren’t free. The electricity that ran the burr grinder? Paid for that, too, with money I worked for. So…okay. Work is thing, I guess I’m stuck with that for now.

…I’m so ready to get off this treadmill. Have been for a long time. It aggravates me to see articles about the need to “raise the retirement age” – let that shit be optional, voluntary, and self-determined! Damn – you think I want to be “gainfully employed”? Um… no. It’s just that our society is built on the exchanges of goods and services made possible by the additional exchange of currency. Currency that represents our labor (and in a most bitter and unfortunate additional bit of truth, the “exchange rate” of life force for currency is neither “fair” nor “equal” and some human beings are most definitely paid too little for their time, whereas others are paid far far more than any real value that could be assessed based their life or humanity). So… work. Home to enjoy. Work to pay for it. Back and forth.

It really does bug me when “retirement ages” are set such that they only account for those who wish to work longer. Of course, it would also bug me if the agency of adult human beings was undermined such that people who are capable and eager are forced out of the workforce solely due to their age. Either way, it’s the lack of agency I’m actually objecting to; we are not machines, we’re not all identical in appearance – or intention. Some people earnestly want to work in their later years – I’ve met a few. (Keeping things real, I’ve met far more who felt they had to continue working because they needed the money and were not financially prepared to retire.) I’ve also met people who are looking ahead to retirement before they were 30. (I’m one of those, but I’m also likely going to be someone who has to keep working due to not being financially prepared to retire.)

Sipping coffee thinking about the work-life treadmill on a Thursday. Of course, I have choices, and I mull them over now and then, fully aware I could, perhaps, paint full time (and be creatively contented and probably below the poverty line), or go into business in my working profession as an independent consultant, or do some other work I’d never considered but is incredibly lucrative – people who have freed themselves from the treadmill do exist. I just don’t happen to be one of them. lol This morning I’m tired, and I woke with a headache from a dream that I was commuting to work driving my car backwards. lol Too many late-ish nights, not enough sleep? Another sip of coffee, and an internal commitment to going to bed “on time” tonight, is the only result of my fatigue-y cynicism.

The truth is, I’m good at my profession. I’ve chosen to continue it a couple times after attempting to escape it. I’m pretty skillful at the “going to work every day” thing, in a way that quite a few people I know are not. I support myself, loved ones, and creative endeavors through these skills, and I feel satisfied with all of that. I’m just tired this morning and yearning for a freedom from routine that I not only don’t have – I’m neither comfortable with, in fact, nor skilled at managing well. lol It is what it is. (This sort of thing is specifically why I don’t make major decisions while deeply fatigued or stressed out; my thinking changes when I am relaxed, and able to face challenges from an emotionally neutral, practical perspective, and I make very different decisions.)

Choices. Verbs. The things that are. The things that are not – or are not, yet. The wheel keeps turning. If I don’t like my circumstances, there are alternatives. If I don’t like the person I see myself becoming, I can make changes. If I don’t like the conversation going on around me, I can walk on. Hell, even when the conversation I’m not enjoying is the internal “conversation” going on with myself, I can definitely “fix that” – I can begin again. 😉

I woke up bathed in sweat. Shaking. I woke up with wet hair, and a sensation of having “survived the night”. Oddly, I don’t recall much from my dreams. Under the circumstances, I am so okay with that. lol

I sip my coffee and over and over I work on “letting it go” and restarting my awareness of the day from a newer, later, more comfortable vantage point. It feels like effort. The effort is real, and I am slow to fully wake up, this morning. That’s okay, too. I have another sip of my coffee, grateful it is now almost cool enough to drink. I’m eager to start the work day and put more distance between my waking life and whatever was chasing me in my dreams. lol

I read a lot of articles about “mindfulness”. They’re split between articles about how “dangerous” or “potentially harmful” mindfulness can be (it is most assuredly potentially very effective), or what a waste of time it is – and often the discussion boils down to the very fact that it is effective being a cause for concern – because it may actually do something for you, and yeah, maybe you don’t get to determine specifically what that result looks like – or how over-hyped it is, and why you shouldn’t waste your money, because you could totally do it for free.

Mindfulness is effective.

Mindfulness practices can be undertaken at no financial cost.

There. Simple. Well, but… also… mindfulness is only effective at the things that mindfulness can do or bring to an experience. If we’re looking for something else/different out of it, well… We’re unlikely to get anything but what it is. If we’ve been walking in our sleep all our lives, or living on autopilot with our emotions frozen, taking those first exploratory steps down a mindfulness path? Scary. Emotional. Potentially not at all what we expected. It doesn’t equip us to ignore our truths or hide from our pain, for sure. It rests heavily on the adage that “the way out is through”. If you are approaching mindfulness hoping for blissful avoidance and a glossy cover-style zen outlook on life, you’re probably missing the point. 😉 It’s work. There are verbs involved. It isn’t always emotionally easy, at all.

Mindfulness practices – contemplative practices of any sort, really, I’d expect – do not have to cost money. The exception? What if you know nothing, and need a guide? Someone to “show you how”? Well, that’s where it could become costly. Do you read a book? That’s not too expensive, right there, but it’s hard to ask questions and get an answer. Do you take a class? See a specialist? Go on a luxury retreat? Buy color-coordinated accessories? Remodel your house to include a meditation space? Have a landscaper build you a temple and meditation garden? See what I mean? It doesn’t have to cost anything. That doesn’t mean you, personally, won’t be tempted into spending plenty, based partly on marketing by companies, and partly on what you think a mindfulness practice “looks like”. You have choices.

Speaking of choices… this coffee has gone cold. I’d love to choose to have another leisurely cup, take the morning quite slow, meditate a while, and relax. It is, however, a work day of another sort, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂