Archives for posts with tag: choices

There is a new year ahead. New challenges headed my way. New solutions to old challenges will get tested. There will be choices to make, and practices to practice. What matters most? That’s a choice, too, isn’t it?

What a pair of thousand dollar shoes looks like.

“What do you want out of life?” I ask myself this question every year. I reflect on the nature of desire, and the risk of greed overtaking my better nature. I reflect on sufficiency. I muse over how my perspective on “what matters most” has changed over the years. I consider the things that are within easy reach – and ask myself what I really want… and what I really need. What does matter most?

I don’t plan to buy a truly gorgeous pair of candy-apple red gleaming sky-high patent leather Louboutin pumps (not this year, nor any other) – less because they are costly (I could save and buy them if I chose to do so, right?), more because they aren’t something I want for myself at this place in my life. They lurk far outside the bounds of “sufficiency” (or “comfort”, let’s be real). They are beautiful. So beautiful. They’re just also “not for me”. That’s okay, too. I touch them. Snap a picture. I have the memory of the beauty of them. That’s enough.

…There is a metaphor here. Something to reflect on…

The new year is coming. What matters most (to you)? What will you do with the opportunities ahead? What changes will you make to become the person you most want to be? To live the life you most want to live? I’m just saying… it’s worth thinking about.

It’s time to begin again. 😀

I am sipping iced coffee from a can, listening to a song that suggests I have some tea. Of these two juxtaposed experiences, the music is by far the better choice of the two. lol This is a thing to know about choices; the results vary. I still got to choose. 🙂

I woke early. Too early. Early enough to leave the house (early) and miss the morning commuter traffic into the city. It’s a Wednesday. I go in to the actual office each Wednesday. This, too, is a choice I make. Funny thing about choices; they feel different from circumstances that are imposed upon me. That commuter traffic? Dense and unpleasant and very stressful – if I have to endure it. Interesting to me is how much less stress I feel over commuter traffic going into the office once a week by choice. I shrug it off. I take my time. I relax and comfortably remind myself there is no hurry. I plan my evening around the longer commute time, and come home with take-out, or run an errand on the way. This morning, the lack of traffic at that early hour was a lovely change, so much so that the drenching downpour along the way did nothing to add stress to the drive (though it often would). Just a woman driving a car in the pre-dawn darkness on a rainy morning. Nothing to see here.

…When commuting is forced on me as a requirement of my employment, the seemingly endless hassles of the traffic, shitty drivers, and time pressure mount up day by day, worsening as each week progresses, becoming a thing to dread, and a source of lingering background stress, anxiety, and disappointment in my fellow human beings (some of whom clearly ought not be licensed to drive at all, based on what I’ve seen on the roads). It’s one of the things that nudged me in the direction of working remotely; that commuter traffic was a massive looming source of ongoing stress that I could choose to avoid.

So. I’m in the office early. I am alone – first in. I make coffee for folks who will arrive shortly. I grab “a cold one” – canned coffee – from the fridge in the break area. I sit down to write, feeling relaxed and comfortable. It’s a pleasant start to the day. I’m sufficiently relaxed to think about anxiety. LOL I give myself a moment with that thought.

A coworker’s heavy fragrance – classic, French, expensive – arrives seconds ahead of the sound of conversation, as she enters the work area with a colleague. The smell of rain follows them from the elevator. I feel a moment of appreciation and gratitude; the restroom is down that way near the elevators, also – the results could be much less pleasant than perfume and petrichor. LOL We all exchange smiles and greetings, and the morning feels merry as the presence of colleagues signals the start of the work day.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Note: I’ve referenced a bunch of roses by name in this one, without adding pictures (in most cases) – it may be interesting to open a second tab and google them to see what they look like or to read more about them. 🙂 If you put the word “rose” in front of their names, you should get images that are the correct rose without a lot of b.s. (I didn’t feel right linking to point of sale pages on all these, as it might have given the appearance of an endorsement.) Ready?

In my garden, the roses (and some flowers) are selected with great care to fit a theme. The theme? Love. Passion. Romance. A story of lovers over time. So, a rose named “The Alchymist” (a Kordes cross of R. eglanteria and a climber named Golden Glow from 1956) lives in the garden representing my Traveling Partner (it makes sense if you know him). “Baby Love”, (Scrivens, 1992?) was a gift from my Traveling Partner when we moved in together and he started a wee garden for me out on our balcony – “baby love” is also one of his pet names for me. So sweet. 😀 This year, close to “The Alchymist”, I’ll be adding “Baltimore Belle” (Feast, 1843), a nod to my home state of Maryland and recollections of many happy visits to “Charm City” in younger years.

Over the years, roses have come and gone. My first roses were “inherited” when my then-spouse and I bought a little house in Texas. Later, my first “proper” rose garden started with a Jackson & Perkins collection, before I had discovered the robust lasting beauty of roses on their own roots.

As gardens came and went with various moves, only those roses that could survive well in containers stayed “in my garden” as it moved from place to place, but I knew what I wanted, and the vision lingered. I want a garden that wraps me in love. 🙂 So, the roses are selected with great care, right down to the names. “The Alchymist” and “Baby Love” are currently joined by “Nozomi” (“Pink Pearl”, Onodera, 1968 – the rose that has been with me longest), and “Easy on the Eyes” (Carruth, 2017 – my “youngest” rose), and “Sweet Chariot” (Moore, 1984 – one of the first miniatures I ever purchased). I had a few others suited to my theme at my last address, but they weren’t doing well, and I decided not to haul their fungi, pests, or health issues to the new address. Starting fresh seemed the wiser choice. Some I’ll for sure replace (I miss the lovely “X-rated”, “Irresistible” and “Ebb Tide”) others maybe not (many of which I suspect just weren’t a good choice for container life…). We’ll see.

Soon three new roses will arrive: “Baltimore Belle”, along with “Golden Opportunity” (Carruth, 2012?), and “All My Loving” (Fryer, 2011). Roses have more than beautiful forms and captivating scents – they have provenance, history, and stories to tell. Some of my fondest favorites achieved their place in my heart because of the stories they have to tell. R. gallica, for example? It’s the oldest known rose, ever, anywhere. Wow, right? What must this rose have seen of human kind and histories gardens? I often consider planting her, just because… “history“.

I have a two long-time favorites I may never plant into this garden. They’re huge. Truly grand in size, and both are very thorny, too. I don’t have the space without a lot of strict pruning two or three times a year. lol One is R. eglanteria. One of my fondest favorites (also called “sweet briar” rose) she smells of green apple, and has so many adorable “wild rose” type flowers in a cute pink color. I often think that the Sleeping Beauty’s thorn-bushes were likely a mix of wild blackberries and R. eglanteria. 🙂 It’s a whimsical notion that delights me. The other? “Sombreuil” (unknown breeder, 1880, and previously sold as “Colonial White” in the US) – a massive and impressive climbing rose with enormous saucer-sized white blooms that are exquisitely fragrant and temptingly numerous – she guards them fiercely with her plentiful nasty thorns. Every year that I owned her, my arms told that the tale of keeping her pruned back. lol Worth it, though, and I daydream of adding her to my garden for that heavenly tea rose scent. She really doesn’t “fit the theme”, though… but oh I do miss her so!

…I could add either or both, but I can’t do so without acknowledging the challenge involved in keeping them to a manageable size in this climate; I’ve experienced that first hand. They were genuinely too big for container gardening, and I knew that back in 1998, when I moved them from Fresno, California, to Portland, Oregon. Back then, I had a community garden plot in the big community garden on the campus of Reed College. So… I planted them in my community garden plot. Why not? Well, I’ll tell you why not – about 7 years later, the college decided to reclaim the space the garden occupied to build new dorms. Those two roses, by that time, were so insanely large I could not move them at all! The college “kept them”, and indeed they are growing in the locations they had been planted (at least that was the case last I saw). My R. eglanteria was easily half the width of my plot (about 5′ wide) and twice that high. “Sombreuil” was similarly wide, on the other side of the plot, and far taller, with long sweeping canes curving downward gently, extending her visual width, each cane weighed down heavily with those big blooms. I only have one “sensible” location for either (or both) of them here, and that would be just on the other side of the retaining wall, instead of those invasive non-native blackberries (although that would be replacing a non-native with non-natives…so…). Then I could just let them do their thing over the years, taking space and being lovely. Getting them planted there, though, would require many days of intense labor clearing out those fucking blackberries by hand. Worth it? Maybe not…?

Where was I going with this? Love. Gardening. Roses. There are definitely roses I’d like to add, but limited space and a thematic commitment shorten the list quite a bit. 😀 What do I have in mind, as of this one moment on this particular summer day?

Love at First Sight – I mean, yeah, our “origin story” has a real hint of that “love at first sight” kind of experience.

Ebb Tide – the tides come and go. Emotions, too. That, and my Traveling Partner is a Navy veteran – there aren’t many roses with nautically relevant names. lol

Bliss – because love can be so much bliss, for real. 😀

You’re the One – well, yeah, that’s how it has played out for both of us. This unexpected lasting commitment and affection for each other has been significant.

Crazy Love – also, yeah, we both bring the fucking crazy to this rollercoaster. LOL

Orange Honey – okay, so, not “on theme” but another rose that was one of my earliest choices for my first rose garden. I fell in love with the trailing habit, the sweet fragrance, and enjoyed my friendship with the breeder Ralph Moore. It’s just a rose worth having. 🙂

Cutie Pie – my partner is my best friend, my “prince charming”, and for sure a “cutie pie”, so this one makes sense to me. 😀

Realistically, I have doubts that I could fit another 10 roses to my wee garden, after the 5 I’ve already got, and the three that are on their way right now. LOL I could probably do 10-12 (total), though, without looking like a mad woman… So, as with so many things in life, it’s about selection. Choices made with care. It’s about sufficiency. “Enough”. It’s about overcoming a very human inclination to acquire and to accumulate. Greed is not a character trait I want to develop (quite the contrary, I practice sufficiency).

How best to narrow down my list of 10 to 3-4? Well, one way I do that kind of thing is to let circumstances call some of the shots; I go to the website that I’m shopping from, and narrow things down (see list above) based on what fits my theme and appeals to me… then, that is likely further limited by what is still in stock. LOL This is how I selected the three that are headed my way now! If I look at the website this morning at my wishlist of 10 roses above, just two of them are actually available. This is sometimes frustrating, but it also prevents my garden from being too structured by introducing a certain not-quite-randomness. It also slows me down quite a lot. I’ll just add the three I’ve ordered for the 2023 garden – next year I’ll be looking over the options available then.

In the meantime, I entertain myself thinking about gardening and roses and searching for just the right rose to add here or there… and wait for new roses to arrive to be planted. Each one is a new beginning all its own. 🙂 Roses and gardens make beautiful metaphors. 😀

It’s been a month since I was laid off. Shortly afterward and largely unrelated, I took time to go through a large storage tote of odds and ends I’ve been hanging on to. It was a mix of military memorabilia and war mementos (why do people hold on to this shit??), and various employment-related paperwork items from past employers (decades of old reviews and accolades, exit paperwork, offer letters…). My purpose was to pare things down to just those items I really did want to keep. (I’ll make a point of observing that having kept the contents of this bin since the last time I went through these items some 10 or so years ago, I haven’t gone through them or needed/wanted to access any one item in this bin. Ever.)

The tl;dr on the process itself? I cut that bin of stuff down to about 30% of its original contents, with the remaining kept items being limited to a small assortment of military mementos, including 1 complete uniform from my war time deployment. The project seems to live on in lingering intentions to contemplate what I found and learned along the way; I had saved a quick draft with some notes.

about letting go of the past, tossing out mementos, old work papers, moving on from trauma, learning to truly let things go, shit like that

impermanence & non-attachment

fresh perspective on the woman I once was contrasted with who I thought I was at the time, and what it can teach me about getting to be that woman I most want to be

the value in keepsakes, the value in not keeping them

the added challenge in growing/changing if also clinging to reminders of what was

draft notes from the blog post draft of 9/12/22

This morning, I sit with my now-cold coffee, thinking about time, thinking about change, and thinking about how peculiar it was to actually read those old reviews and coaching notes (and yes, reprimands). It had been so many years, my own recollection of that time and those events was pretty firmly skewed toward me-as-hero-of-my-narrative. Fucking hell I needed a bit of work. LOL For one thing – I was 100% wrong every bit as often as I was 100% correct, and I was neither as awesome as some reviews make me out to be, nor as problematic as some of the warnings suggest I was. I was sometimes a liability and a headache, just by being myself, and probably quite difficult to manage, having both cPTSD and a TBI creating noteworthy cognitive quirks and emotional volatility.

Please note, I’m thinking back on events of the early ’00s, and well-before any legitimate push in the direction of “authenticity” in the workplace! Wasn’t a thing, yet, and quite often people really were punished or held back for the sole “crime” of being themselves and being different than the approved corporate drone template – which still goes on, but now we’re more likely to be offended by that. Progress? I’m just saying; I wasn’t always the “good guy” I saw myself as being. Very human. Also? Sometimes quite angry and kind of a bitch. Impatient. Inconsiderate. Smug. Rude. “Basic.” Unsympathetic. Lacking in compassion. Not a good look.

Sounds like I’m being pretty hard on myself. I mean, giving myself some credit …in spite of all that, I managed to find love…so..? Not a “lost cause” among human beings, surely. 🙂

The “truth of who we are” is more complicated that one perspective, even when that one perspective is our own. I know myself pretty well. I’m deeply acquainted with the woman in the mirror, but… until I really sat with a calm heart and new eyes to read those old reviews, coaching notes, and warnings, and really heard the messages, I did not understand the perspectives those Others were sharing with me. It must have been frustrating for people that it could be so hard to get through to me. I’m not into “taking it personally”, particularly at this late date; I am not the woman I was then. Still… I was that woman then. I understand her better now, not because of these old papers, but because I’ve gained so much new knowledge and perspective since then, generally. These old papers filled in some gaps, made sense of some “errata” that crept into my recollections over time. It was a great opportunity to loosen my grip on my existing personal narrative to allow that to be deepened and to become more nuanced through the addition of some really complex outside perspective.

I made a point of being open to listening to those past voices with more vulnerability, and willingness to learn as I went through all those papers. Does it change who I am now? Possibly not. Helps me understand who I was then more deeply, and provides a better understanding of how/why my journey over the years has had some of the complexities and challenges that it has had. Useful. Forces on me some useful and necessary humility, and if I’m being wholly honest, I need that. It also served to give me a moment to really put down some baggage and let go of some pointless bullshit that had lingered far too long. Needful.

If you spend your life thinking that you are Superman masquerading as Clark Kent, your choices (and words, and actions) are likely to be quite different than if you understand that you are Clark Kent daydreaming of being Superman. This is something worth thinking about. 🙂 Is there something so wrong with being an ethical person with a good heart, who is kind and who cares – but totally lacks any super powers at all? Just saying it’s something I think about.

Strange how I worked so hard to hold on to those papers over the years. They served no purpose besides taking up space… until I sat down and reviewed them, read them, and gave them real thought without taking any of it personally at all. And now? Having done that, I don’t need to keep them. What did I do with all that waste paper? Shredded and recycled. Gone. And then? Time to begin again.

Where does this path lead?

Yesterday I prepared a meal for my Traveling Partner and a visiting friend using vegetables from the garden.

We walked around the garden together, as I harvested peas and radishes, Swiss chard and daikon, and took note of which crops have been doing well, and which have been lagging behind. It’s been a slow chilly spring. Almost summer and the daytime temperatures are still generally in the high 60s to low 70s (Fahrenheit). The peas have been doing incredibly well. Radish, daikon, and bush beans appear to be doing very well, too. The recently planted peppers and the eggplant are doing well, but it looks like it’ll be awhile before I’m harvesting anything there; they need a few more sunny days and some warmer afternoons. The container garden, other than the peas, is not doing so well. Germination rates are poor, and this is likely because the first plantings were mostly “old seeds” that had been kept around from previous seasons, but stored in paper in a haphazard way. I find myself wondering is I might want to abandon those grow bags in future years for all but proven partial shade crops – like the peas, which are just exploding with eagerness to provide, and beautifully weighed down with young pea pods.

Veggies from my garden.

…There’s a metaphor here…

The planter box, so carefully built and filled, and planted with seeds chosen with care, is very successful… even the recently planted melons have sprouted in a promising way. Seems so obvious this is the way to go, right? Except I’ve got a wild “garden helper” fucking shit up out there, digging, and eating seedlings. LOL

What I’m saying is that even when we “get all of it right”, we may face some challenging circumstances in life, in love, in our professional endeavors. Just keeping it real. Do 100% of everything correctly, make all the “right” choices – still no guarantee of success. There’s a lot of “good fortune” involved in our individual successes, and a lot of help. We’re interdependent. We rely on each other. The well-chosen seeds planted in my garden? Yeah, I didn’t grow the plants that produced those seeds. I selected them from an online catalog from a vendor I felt I could trust. Interdependence. I didn’t built that planter box (although I helped a little bit, the design and effort were not exclusively mine). Interdependence. I was not the first to spot the handiwork of my wild garden “helper”; my Traveling Partner spotted the missing melon sprouts opposite the undamaged hill with healthy green seedlings before I did. Interdependence. We don’t walk our path alone.

A wee snake traveling through a flower bed. It’s easy to overlook fellow travelers as they make their own way.

…It is as important to choose our traveling companions on life’s journey as any other detail. Whether they are merchants who provide the goods and services we favor, or our friends, and even the loved ones we keep close and connect with frequently. These choices matter every bit as much as healthy self-care and wellness practices do. They affect our health as directly as the food we eat, and the media we consume.

I’m not telling you anything new. I’m also not telling you what changes – if any – you might want to make. I’m just saying; our relationships matter and affect the quality of our experience. Build good ones.

Like adding compost to my garden, it makes sense to cultivate healthy relationships. There is value in expressing gratitude and appreciation. There is value in participation and giving back. There is value in listening deeply, and checking assumptions and expectations. There is value in making choices with care – instead of free-falling through moments with strangers and shopping Amazon for every-fucking-thing. There are no “bootstraps” with which to pull yourself up, all alone and utterly independent of the goodwill and effort of others. That’s just… fucking dumb. Trace things back, you’ll find that you had help. 🙂

Never too late to begin again. To connect. To care. To choose. It’s a journey, and there are opportunities to take detours and choose another path. It’s your journey.

What might you see along the way, if you change the way you’re going?