Archives for posts with tag: connections

I sip my coffee and breathe. It’s morning. I’m awake. The workday has not yet started. I sit quietly, not exactly doing anything, not exactly waiting, just… being. It’s a pleasant moment.

I make a point to enjoy this quiet moment while it lasts. I reflect on the lovely long weekend spent in the company of my Traveling Partner, and in my studio painting. It was pretty splendid. I can’t recall a single harsh word between us, or moment of vexing miscommunication – it was pretty excellent, and I’m enjoying thinking back on time well-spent.

Individual moments, whole days, and even weekends, often don’t live up to expectations, that’s just real. Very human, too. I make a point of lingering on the recollections of the excellent weekend behind me, and “filling up my heart” on the delightful days painting, and on the shared moments with my partner. We are mortal creatures, and there is no knowing how long our joys (or sorrows) may last.

I breathe in deeply, and sigh as I exhale. I haven’t yet looked at the news. It’s probably the usual mish-mash of chaos and horror, with a hearty helping of human greed on the side. I grimly think, for a moment, that humanity is a pretty serious disappointment, generally, and perhaps a “do over” is warranted…? No way to begin a new day, and I shake it off with another sip of coffee and a lingering glance at the dawn unfolding beyond the window.

Over the weekend, I sent emails to several dear (and far away) friends. I was feeling a bit “out of touch” and distant, so reaching out seemed the thing to do. It was lovely to hear from old friends. I made a mental note to stay in touch more skillfully. Friends are a treasure beyond price; the handful of deep lasting friendships I have are for sure worth preserving. We’ve all been through a lot. Some of it together.

Today seems like a good day to catch up on things. A good day to reach out to an old friend. A good day to finish a project. A good day to follow up on loose ends. A good day to make plans. A good day to begin again. 🙂

I was sipping my coffee between moments in the studio when I really noticed; there’s a tree missing from the view beyond my deck.

What I expected to see…

It’s not a great picture, and I warn you now, it isn’t from an identical perspective – and perhaps that’s why it nagged at me so much. Something is different, I spotted that right away, but figured, in the gloom of twilight, last night, that perhaps it was just more winter, fewer leaves, more lights in the distance… something.

…what I see today.

There’s a missing tangle of mostly-dead tree. Obvious as anything could be, once I allowed myself to really see it, absent my expectations. There’s something to be learned from that.

The healthy heart-wood of the stump left-behind, quite evenly cut, about 18 inches from the ground, tells me it was not lost to misadventure or high winds. Willful. Probably well-intended. I feel sad about it anyway, thinking about the owl that had been making her home there. The squirrels using it as a freeway ramp to the tree nearer the deck. The loss of privacy from neighbors beyond. Just… the loss of a tree. It’s painful. Oh, I’m sure a dead tree just hanging out there on the steep edge of the yard, where it suddenly drops off just past the fence, was a hazard of some sort, to something, but… fucking hell. I’m getting a little sick of people just taking my fucking trees away every-fucking-where that I move. Irksome.

There’s much to learn from contemplating this change. Trees fall. Trees are cut. Impermanence is. Non-attachment helps with the pain of circumstantial misfortunes. We have choices. Trees can be planted. Trees sprout. Trees grow.

I sip a delicious afternoon coffee – a perk of having a 3-day weekend, afternoon coffee always feels like luxury to me. 🙂 I contemplate impermanence, and change – and choices. I think about seeing. I mean, really seeing – eyes and mind both open to what may be new and changed. I contemplate acceptance; change can be hard. Recognizing what has changed is not without it’s own challenges. I breathe. Relax, and consider what I am practicing, and what I want to achieve. I think over conversations with my Traveling Partner; this last visit was rich with thought-provoking, inspiring, observations, and discussion. Connected. Insightful. Loving.

We become what we practice. (Remember, “trees take a long time” 😉 )

It’s an odd sort of morning following a somewhat peculiar evening. It was a pleasant evening, and it is a pleasant morning. It would be easy to lose sight of how pleasant it is to focus on the oddity. The pleasantness, for me, is more important.

Evenings are quite short these days, a common experience for people who work and commute some distance. I arrived home about an hour earlier than usual, yesterday, which is enough time to make a difference. I enjoyed a bite of dinner, and meditation, and was headed to the shower when my traveling partner arrived. A whirlwind of greetings, moments, departures, and arrivals later, and the apartment was full of people, laughing, talking – it’s fairly easy to find a party breaking out at my place when both my traveling partner and I are at home; we two enjoy both company and solitude, and if we’re already together (and thus not alone) it’s a handy time to get other friends together, too. Parties happen. 🙂

I sip my coffee and for some moments think about far away friends, and long for their company, too. Magical thinking could intervene here, and leave me feeling lonely, or annoyed, or even inappropriately “abandoned”, or sad over what is not. It’s a choice, and I choose not to head down that spiral. I cherish my far away friends over my coffee, smiling with grateful delight at technology like Facebook, that so easily keeps us all in touch over the years. Any perceived distance melts away like morning fog as the sun rises, when we get together again. In the meantime, there are pictures of life, of new babies, of dance recitals, of fun and adventure, of love – all shared with affection, preserving a long-distance connection.

"Long Distance Connection"  18" x 24" acrylic on canvas w/glow, 2010

“Long Distance Connection” 18″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, 2010

Last night I crashed pretty early, and the party moved next door out of respect for my working hours and early mornings. I actually slept well and deeply. I woke with the alarm, feeling comfortable in my body, content with the woman in the mirror, and ready to start a new day. No noteworthy pain – so I make a point of noticing the lack, and making that, itself, noteworthy by being aware of how good I feel right now, savoring it, lingering over it, enjoying it without any dismissive internal commentary. I take time to be okay with being okay. Being miserable can become a very bad habit; we become what we practice.

I sit quietly, sipping my coffee, living my life gently, feeling contented. It’s a lovely start to a work day. I think about the  years and years I didn’t start my days this way, and then the years that I tried… and tried… and tried… and often found some delicate fragile moment of contentment or delight would skid unexpectedly sideways off life’s highway, leaving me stranded in tears by the side of the road, unaware that I only needed to dust my self off and walk on. There are so many choices, and so much of my experience is in my own hands. It can be daunting. Then, too, there’s all that “positivity” stuff out there, and “faking it until you make it” encouragement; those things didn’t work for me at all. Authenticity is demanding, and some of the moments of a life well-lived are… challenging? Unpleasant. Some of life’s moments are frankly awful. Still… I couldn’t force positivity down my own throat, and no amount of repeating scripted affirmations or pasting fake smiles on my face got me anywhere. I gave up, and in giving up felt even worse about myself and my circumstances.

I tend to be a very positive person these days – but I didn’t start here, and getting here wasn’t the goal. I started with taking better care of myself (physically and emotionally), and took up practices that supported my wellness, and nudged me gently towards my long-term goals by improving my self-care, my awareness, and my willful actions, over time. I suppose someone could respond that they feel like a screaming spoiled toddler, and if they are (mis)behaving it is merely an expression of their authentic self… I guess that’s where having a conscious awareness of my values is helpful for me; I don’t think to justify bad behavior on the basis of “authenticity” – because that isn’t the woman I most want to be. I don’t find myself having to “fake it” – I do find that choices are necessary, and there are verbs involved. I begin again, regularly. When I fuck up and hurt someone, I apologize sincerely and without reservations or excuses.

It’s been a long while since I had some terrible meltdown. I take a moment to appreciate that – because, honestly, realistically, and being so very human? This too shall pass. 🙂 It’s likely that sometime in my future I will be frustrated, or angry, or childishly disappointed, and I will have to deal with it appropriately.  I may hurt someone’s feelings and have to apologize. I’ll be wrong about some things. I’ll fail at some others in spite of trying. I may kick myself while I’m down, or revert to a bad habit unexpectedly. Still… we become what we practice. I’ll begin again. Over time, in small sometimes hardly noticeable increments, change will occur.

We do become what we practice. I stopped practicing having relentless temper tantrums and yielding to primitive frustrated rage – but not by “quitting”; I began practicing something different. That’s my own version of “positivity”. More a doing than an undoing. For me, it started with the most basic mindfulness practices, a few minutes each day for myself that I could really count on, and the will to begin again day after day, as if my life depended on it. (From my perspective, it very much did.) My reading list is built on the resources that got me here, now. I can share titles of books forever, and perhaps you even read them – but without the verbs, the practicing of practices, and the will to begin again, they’re only books filled with mere words. Just saying.

My coffee has gone cold. It’s almost time to head to the office. I’m still smiling. Life feels different than it did three years ago, in a number of very good ways. We become what we practice. My results vary – but I can begin again, often. Today is a good day to practice. Who will you choose to become? 🙂

I sip my coffee quietly, considering the day ahead. I think for a brief moment that I have no plans, but realize it isn’t so. I dither, wondering if accepting an invitation to hike this morning would have been a better choice, instead of being here. Right now, here doesn’t feel very good…and I’ve no idea why. Humans being human. It happens.

Words are powerful tools for love. They are not always used that way. I try to use mine gently, wisely, well – with consideration. I try to use them a little more skillfully, and with greater care every day. I hold on to the hope that in doing so, I improve my own experience of myself, of the world I live in, and my relationships. It isn’t always a notably successful effort – still human – and I’m not certain sometimes that anyone else notices or cares much – they are still human, too. Each having our own experience.

Something has gone wrong with the morning. I don’t know what, and I examine my expectations, first; have I somehow crafted this experience with assumptions and expectations? I do a ‘self inventory’ with considerable tenderness, looking for where I may be struggling with something else in the background, or a missed self-care detail more important than I recognized. I feel myself earnestly wanting to connect with my traveling partner pleasantly, merrily, intimately; there is so much potential for joy in who we are together. Somehow, now is not the time. My gentlest approach this morning is met with a frown. I escape to my studio, hoping his morning gets better over his coffee. I contemplate going back to bed, which feels like a childish over-reaction to something that isn’t about me. I work on letting it go, and staying in the headspace I woke in; calm, rested, curious what the day holds, eager to enjoy the companionship of my partner, when he finds himself ready, too.

Expectations and assumptions are the Boss bad guys of relationships, aren’t they? I can’t know what someone is assuming (about me, about us, about the circumstances) but it quickly becomes clear that assumptions are being made when conversation lacks understanding. I sometimes find myself holding onto expectations, unstated, that later detonate and turn my pleasant moment into an emotional blast zone, when my unnoticed expectations are not met by real life.

Last night I expected to arrive home to my partner’s smile and a hug and some time hanging out; he’d already called it a night. I felt disappointed, but understanding – it’s not personal, or tragic, when someone takes care of themselves. I woke this morning looking forward to enjoying his company, talking about my evening, hanging out over morning coffee. He wasn’t yet up, and that didn’t bother me at all. Hell, it’s not personal that the morning is difficult now – we’re neither of us actually ‘morning people’. I find myself feeling rather lonely in this particular moment – also not personal, and definitely more ‘weather’ than ‘climate’. Difficult in the moment. Moments pass. This one, in fact, passes as soon as my traveling partner steps into the studio, shares a few words about his evening, and asks about mine.

Take the time to enjoy the moment.

Take the time to enjoy the moment. Be kind. Be gentle.

Today will likely be quite a nice day, most especially if I am willing to set aside expectations, refrain from making assumptions, and refuse to take things personally. Today is a good day to use some verbs.