Archives for posts with tag: contentment

I had recently noticed that something’s been digging in my container garden. I know the squirrels, who are regular visitors, are likely suspects; I’ve seen them bury acorns in those same containers, so perhaps they’ve also been digging them up? Seems a safe enough assumption. It’s still just an assumption. If I hang on to that assumption long enough, it becomes a belief. As a belief, it sits in my head guiding my expectations of things to come. I expect, eventually, to see a squirrel digging up acorns from those pots, naturally.

A succulent garden in a large pot, thoroughly dug up, peanut shells littering the ground, carelessly left behind by a visitor.

Funny thing about “reality”; it isn’t at all what we imagine, or assume, or expect it to be. It is what it is. (What it’s made of is a lofty topic for other days, and fancy experts, I can’t do it justice, here.) I happened to be relaxing with a cup of decaf, considering the afternoon ahead, and spotted movement on the deck out of the corner of my eye. Squirrels? Not quite squirrel like. And tiny. I turn slowly and watch carefully, waiting… waiting… waiting… My eyes adjust to the “pattern” of the container garden on the deck – there it is. A new visitor, or at least one I haven’t spotted before – a chipmunk. An actual chipmunk has come up onto the deck (which exists on the same level as the single level residence in which I make my home, but from the back of the house, would be “the second floor”, because the property slopes considerably). I sit and watch the chipmunk. The chipmunk darts here and there, behind pots, over pots, between pots, watching me. There is no opportunity to get my new camera, but my phone is at hand. I don’t reach for it right away, I just watch.

My chipmunk visitor pauses perched on a pot.

That’s when I spotted it, a snapshot of a reality I don’t generally see; the chipmunk is my digging visitor. My little visitor hopped up to the lip of first one pot, then another, and just dug like crazy, leaving pock-marked soil, divots, and craters behind. The chipmunk was digging up the peanuts the squirrels had recently buried and eating them, one by one. There’s even a chance it’s been happening right in front of me – the little chipmunk’s camouflage is very good. I sat and watched a good while longer, until my little visitor left.

Some movement startles the chipmunk, which grabs one last peanut and darts away.

I end up sitting quietly for some minutes, contemplating the ease with which I assumed the squirrels to be responsible for the “bad acts” of the wee chipmunks, who I hadn’t considered at all – because I didn’t know they would come up onto the deck in the first place, having never seen that behavior. I was limited by my lack of knowledge, and my reasoning was impaired by my assumptions. It’s worth thinking about. It’s worth getting all “meta” with that experience and recognizing the damage I potentially do to myself and to my relationships to allow unverified assumptions to become beliefs which inform my expectations and guide my decision-making. There’s something greater to understand in that, something that matters. I sip my coffee and stare into the rain.

I sigh contentedly. I don’t need more from this moment. This is enough.


It started snowing moments ago. I wasn’t certain I was seeing actual snowflakes, since these were scooting past my window sideways, and there weren’t many flakes. There is clear sky overhead, gaps in heavy thunder-storm-y clouds. Flakes. Then no flakes. Well, damn it – is it snowing or isn’t it? Just as I decide that yes, it is snowing… it stops. The weather continues to toy with me, as I sip my coffee, and gaze out into the morning sky.

There are circumstances in which our choices make a great deal of immediate obvious difference, and others in which it’s not clear what difference any choice of ours might make, at all. On this strange winter morning, I smile recognizing that no amount of fussing over whether or not it is showing makes any difference whatever to the weather, itself. Really… no choice of mine ever does. I mean… we’re talking about the weather, here. Oh. Wait. Climate change. Maybe choices of mine do affect the weather… only… not immediately, and not in an obvious way…?  Right. Choices do matter. The snow stops and starts a couple more times as I consider the impact of my human behavior on the weather, over time, and the questions of “what counts as change?” and “what counts as being affected by me?” I chuckle quietly over the way scale can sometimes change a question, an answer, or the apparent circumstances. (One person spitting on my patio does not count as a rainstorm… on the other hand… dozens of people spitting on my patio may not be a rainstorm, but the gross mess they’ve made is certainly still going to seem significant in one or more ways. lol)

The snow stops. The snow starts. As snow storms go, it’s not particularly impressive. Just tiny flakes of sky dancing quickly past my window, never pausing to land anywhere.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll see my Traveling Partner today. It’s my last day of holiday time away from the office. Tomorrow… a new year, and a return to the office. I am more eager than hesitant, which says good things about the job, and confirms I’ve gotten the restful break from it that I needed. I pause, thinking about plans and planning. Today will be a good one for checking the calendar for the year-to-come and ensuring that I plan out sufficient out of office time to maintain wellness, and momentum. I make a note on my “to do list” so I don’t forget.

A new day, suitable for beginning again.

A new day, suitable for beginning again.

The snow stops. The few clouds still overhead are edged in gold as the sun rises. The snow starts again. Just scattered flakes on the wind, of no real consequence. I wonder how the weather is on my partner’s side of town? Yesterday the mild weather I was out in didn’t extend to his side of town at all; roads over there were frozen, driveways icy, and travel ideally avoided. My thoughts continue toward wondering if he’ll really make it over today… It’s a nice moment, I feel fond awareness that his safety matters, and that I would not struggle with painful disappointment if he should change his plans, today. Disappointment, sure, but not of that painful sort over which drama erupts, just garden variety minor “ah, well, another time then” disappointment, after which one simply moves on with the day quite contentedly, still smiling and feeling safely secure in the awareness that the change in circumstances and plan do not in any way change the amount of affection or high regard we have for each other. There are other days.

A mostly blue sky is revealed overhead as I finish off the final sips of my morning coffee, and no snow flakes. Birds of prey coast on air currents high above the tree tops. A small flock of doves is gathered under the bird feeder. They seem content with the morning, so far. So am I.

Sometimes "enough" doesn't require much.

Sometimes “enough” doesn’t require much.

So. Yeah. Wow. Good things happen. It’s nice to be part of that. It’s powerful to learn more about creating that. It’s mostly built on choices, perspective, and sufficiency. There are verbs involved, and practice – a lot of practice.

I’m sitting in this quiet room, at my desk, fingers dancing rhythmically across my mechanical keyboard (still giggling that the burglar(s) didn’t take it, too, and I’m grateful; it’s very specific to my needs). My replacement laptop arrived ahead of delivery commitment, and before Giftmas. (Thanks, Santa!!) My Traveling Partner arrived yesterday and was already settling in, and got to be here for the fun – and the occasional moment of frustration or confusion – as I begin “moving in” to the new machine. She and I have a way to got together before we’re really comfortable together. All in good time. Funny thing; sitting with her in the living room, or at the dining room table just wasn’t feeling… “right”. I felt somehow out-of-place, mismatched for activities or circumstances, or… something. I was stalled. I got up for a break and walked around the apartment, tidying up here and there; it’s one of my little ways of gathering my thoughts. I stepped into the studio to set something down rather willy-nilly, and noticed with new eyes how much it was beginning to look like a storage space.

Choices. Verbs. Perspective. A few minutes later, my studio looked rather tidy, even welcoming. My desk, which had slowly gathered small stacks of miscellany to cover the emptiness, was tidying up, wiped down, and… ready. Ready to begin again. Ready to welcome me… home. I giggled at the thought – do I “live in” my laptop, more than my apartment? I suppose it could be a truth about my experience; it’s my “back up brain”, if nothing else.

So here I am. Writing in the morning, next to the window, looking out on the meadow. Here I am, enjoying my partner’s voice from the other room “Do you have more of my coffee?” I smile, feeling welcome in my own space, feeling warmed by love, comfortably wrapped in enough. I’m okay right now. Sometimes the disordered bits get away with more than they ought, simply because I don’t see them with clarity; in comparison to ancient pain and heavier baggage, it hasn’t been a big deal… but my Traveling Partner noticed. My therapist noticed. My close neighbor friends noticed. I mostly ignored it, because it could have been so much worse. Over time, though, the small failures to take care of me more fully would have worsened, perhaps spread – it’s best to handle things promptly, when possible, I suppose.

I do love Giftmas. “Merry” feels good. “Merry” has more than fun to it, it’s deeper than that. There’s a quality of appreciation, and awareness to this merry moment. I didn’t get here alone.

I sit soaking in the moment of contentment and stillness. Merry Giftmas, World. Today is a good day to enjoy the moment, to share merriment, to be there for a friend, to save the day, to lend a hand – as with any other, today is a very good day to change the world. ❤

Full house this morning. My traveling partner and his son still sleeping, the apartment feels very quiet. I’ll probably be gone for the day long before they wake. I made it through the work day fairly comfortably, yesterday. I face today feeling confident I’ll manage, in spite of continued cold symptoms, and generally feeling somewhat miserable with the commonplace stuffy head nonsense slowly migrating into my chest for future misery with the congested chest nonsense next week. Maybe it won’t go that way… experience suggests otherwise. Do I have a preference? Is that even a question that makes any sense?

I breathe deeply – and set off a coughing fit. The coughing fit somehow results in looking into the kitchen light – long enough to start me sneezing, immediately after finishing with the coughing. I break out in a sweat, as though it amounts to real exertion. My fitness tracker disagrees, insisting I am “inactive”. I sneer at it dismissively, playfully retorting “you don’t know me” aloud, quietly. I smile that I’m “keeping my voice low” to prevent waking people; I ran the burr grinder for my coffee, have had multiple fits of coughing or sneezing, and closed the bathroom door on my hand earlier, resulting in quite an audible yelp of pain. So. I’m pretty sure sassing my fitness tracker isn’t going to be the thing that woke the household. 🙂 Funny human primates. Even on small courtesies we lack perspective.

Life looks different this morning than it did two weeks ago. I’ve lost 40 hours of my time each week, and gained valued resources in the exchange of life-force for currency. My traveling partner and I talk “next steps”, and about the future together. His restless heart yearns to move about his universe, exploring, traveling, seeing sights, and tasting adventure. Mine yearns for a safe haven after a lifetime of stormy seas and rootless wandering. Sometimes it sounds a poor fit, the two of us together, and this morning I savor how very well it suits me, to be here, safe, wrapped in contentment, a welcoming harbor for a traveler’s homecoming. This works for us. Later there will be stories shared, hugs, kisses (well… once I’m over this cold), and time well-spent, because we spent it together. Enough? More than enough.

In what direction will the journey unfold, now? What next steps can I see? Are there others, worthy useful others, I may be inclined to overlook? Do I want what my lover wants? Where our desires differ… who decides? Life is a solo hike; sometimes we share the journey alongside another, but it’s our hike to make, bearing the weight of our own burdens, and the consequences of our own choices. I am my own cartographer. Will I “pack light” and move quickly through life committed to a plan, without pausing to enjoy it? The map is not the world. The plan is not the experience. Will I struggle under the weight of my baggage, mile by mile, exhausted and cranky, but well-equipped for the unlikely odd circumstance? We are each having our own experience. How do I share life’s journey with skill, however briefly?

I sip my coffee, losing interest in the metaphor in favor of some distraction, already forgotten.

Where will the journey take me?

Where will the journey take me?

…And still the household sleeps. I look at my list for the day and realize I’ve overlooked meditation. Practices work best with verbs involved. It’s time to set aside the written word for a while. Today is a good day for practicing practices, and for good self-care. Today is a good day to invest in wellness. Today is a good day to slow down, and enjoy the journey. 🙂

I woke early this morning. I considered going back to bed. I didn’t end up making that choice; I made coffee, instead. Yoga. Meditation. Then I took my coffee into the studio with the intention of writing. I found myself staring out the window, watching the sun rise. As the morning turns to day, I see cats, here and there, in the tall meadow grass, watching and waiting. Crows walk awkwardly about in the playground on the meadow hilltop. It’s an ordinary sort of morning, preceding what is likely to be a very hot day. All the windows and doors are open to morning breezes.

A sunny summer day.

A day ahead, ready to enjoy.

I sip my coffee, and think over a conversation with a dear friend, last night. Anxiety is a major demon for both of us. I understand how bad it can get [for me] and he has my sympathy, my compassion, my affection… and my frustration. How do I effectively communicate that some things have really helped reduce my anxiety, generally, and also resulted in the bad moments I still have being notably less horrible? Is that truly possible, or are we such that we must truly walk our paths utterly alone? Do I have any cause to expect that what works for me will work for anyone else? How do I force the understanding into his brain, give him hope, encouragement, shake him free of his suffering? I can’t, actually, can I? We can share our ideas… but the verbs involved are our own. When it comes to growth, it’s not possible to “grab the mouse” and say “look, move over, I’ll just do that…” – and it wouldn’t work, if we did.

This one’s for you. Yes, you. Here are some things that help with my anxiety, and they might help you, if you practice them. (It does take practice.) (No, seriously, you have to actually do them.) (More than once.) (Maybe a lot.)

  1. Breathe! No kidding. I can’t tell you how often my anxiety affects my breathing, which stokes my anxiety, with causes my chest to feel tight, which affects my breathing, which… yeah. Stop. Just stop. Breathe deeply. Feel your breath.
  2. Anxiety is a liar, and thoughts have only as much substance as we give them. Stop “thinking it over”, get out of your head and into your body – walk, dance, run, bicycle, lift weights – whatever physical activity you can connect with, really get into, and just be in that moment, doing.
  3. Meditation – we become what we practice. When I practice calm, I am calmer. Not only that – a regular meditation practice has, over time, become lasting calm, generally, and lasting contentment. I have bad days, bad moments, sure – they are days. Only moments. Weather, rather than climate.
  4. Connect with someone, talk, share an experience, or have a profound conversation with a friend – or a stranger.
  5. Allow yourself – or even reach for – an engaging intellectual distraction. Learn something new. Read something that takes your thoughts a different direction entirely.

I’m not a neuroscientist, or a doctor, or a therapist – just a person. A person who has struggled – does struggle – with anxiety. I don’t tend to have to struggle so much, or with such painful intensity, or as often these days… something is working. I’m pretty sure it’s a verb. 🙂

As for that other matter… the issue of self-loathing, feeling unworthy… you are loved. I know some of the people who love you (specifically you… and maybe also you, over there…), and they’re awesome. Why do you doubt? I mean… besides being human, and the anxiety and whatnot. 🙂 No, we haven’t overlooked some invisible flaw only you can see; we love you as you are. You are uniquely you, and as far as I know, each of us who love you earnestly desire to be in your good company. I don’t know better words to say you matter to me, that you are loved… Maybe you haven’t been there for  yourself as often as you’ve been there for those of us who love you so? It’s okay to change that. It’s okay to look yourself right in the face, just you and the mirror, and see some of what we see in you, and share that joy. It’s a new day. You can begin again. You can join us – and love you.

I sip my coffee, and think of my friends… each so valued. Each so human. I have friends who struggle with depression. Friends who struggle with anger. Friends who struggle with jealousy. Friends who struggle with ennui. Friends who struggle with anxiety. Friends who struggle with feeling unworthy. Friends who struggle with feeling a fraud. Friends who struggle to be their authentic selves. I also have friends who don’t struggle so much, at all. We are each having our own experience. Growth requires a hearty helping of verbs, of practice, and the patience to observe incremental changes over time.

Today is a good day to ask a friend if they are okay. Today is a good day to be there for someone. Today is a good day to change the world. ❤