Archives for posts with tag: creating order from disorder

It was a generally lovely weekend, and I enjoyed it greatly. The one or two isolated moments of disharmony were too human, and too brief, to make much of and they quickly passed. It was a weekend to connect, to bond, to listen, and a weekend to be very aware of how much I also needed my own attention, if only for a few hours.

Meditation continues to be a key practice supporting my emotional wellness.

Meditation continues to be a key practice supporting my emotional wellness.

This weekend I took time to continue to ‘move in’ and get more settled; I’d only begun that process when my traveling partner unexpectedly landed on my doorstep for an extended stay. I had halted the process of ‘getting all moved in’ without really noticing I had. Providing him with support and care, and seeing to his comfort is also a high priority, and I attended to it immediately – then forgot I still had quite a lot to do for me, as well. One of the many valued opportunities for me in living alone has been learning to take care of myself, and to be more reliably self-sufficient, specifically because I do tend to ‘overlook myself’ in the context of cohabitation with intimate partners. This weekend I attended to a great many more ‘me-centric’ details, and put some effort into continuing to get moved in, myself.

My favored spot to meditate has been in front of the patio door, and living alone it hasn’t been a headache to simply leave my cushion sitting right there; I step around it. Living with my partner, the comfort of ‘having to step around it’ was no longer exclusively about me, and the cushion was somehow ‘in the way’ – funny how perspective changes on such details. Living alone, meditating in the living room  works beautifully. In a shared living space, the living room is now a busy common area, home to the stereo, television, video games, and fireplace – as well as the door to the patio garden, adjacent to kitchen and dining space – and no longer seems a good fit for meditating at some points in the day, there are too many distractions. Choosing to meditate less frequently, or on a schedule, doesn’t work for me, so I put time into rethinking where I meditate during those hours of the day when doing so may conflict with my partner’s activities, and decide to make sure my bedroom is also set up to be a convenient and inspiring place for meditation.

My studio quickly filled with paintings that are not yet hanging, many of which had been stacked in my partner’s bedroom, because it was an empty room when I moved in. Paintings not yet hanging in my own bedroom contributed to the disarray, as well as projects in progress. Painting rails for temporary displays and drying space have not yet been installed. Soon. This weekend I focused on hanging paintings in my bedroom, making that space ‘more my own’. I walk around the apartment quietly with my coffee, smiling at how much got done with weekend, and feeling very much ‘at home’.

This morning felt very natural. I woke a bit ahead of the alarm, not uncommon, and shut it off, choosing a few minutes more time meditating, rather than attempting another 15 minutes of sleep. It was nice that my cushion was already there, and the walls hung with carefully chosen art work on themes that tenderly guide my thinking toward perspective, balance, sufficiency, and mindful awareness. My stiff aching spine benefits from ‘sun salutations’ before I consider myself really ‘up’ for the day. By the time I got to the kitchen to make coffee, I was feeling fairly awake, and ready for the day. I quietly emptied the dishwasher while I waited for the water to heat for my coffee, feeling generally very comfortable, and very much at home. I had been concerned that I would feel less at home here, myself, with my traveling partner moving in. It seems I have learned some things about taking care of me, over the past year. I realize with some astonishment that, in fact, I lived alone for less than a year…

In the not-quite-a-year that I have lived alone, I have learned a lot about the details that matter most (for me) about cohabitation: the intimate friendly presence of a lover so near, the hellos and good-byes, the day-to-day graciousness and shared delight, conversations, planning for the future, shared tales of time apart shared more frequently in greater detail involving less time, the humor, the support, the availability of hugs, shared problem-solving, teamwork, and sure – sex, too, but surprisingly (to me) that isn’t the most singularly important detail…turns out that the most important details are about emotional intimacy, rather than physical intimacy. There remains so much to learn about life, about love, and even about the woman in the mirror. I am eager to share this piece of that journey, and see where it leads. There are a lot of verbs involved…

Sharing the journey? A good opportunity to be love.

Sharing the journey? A good opportunity to be love.

Today is a good day to start a journey. Today is a good day for love.

At some point in during the wee hours, I surfaced sufficiently from a sound sleep to notice how incredibly peculiarly strangely quiet the world seemed, and then returned to sleep. When I woke fully, some hours later, I noticed the apartment was chillier than usual and went to check the thermostat and whether I had closed the flue the night before. The faint glow of morning slipped past the vertical blinds of the patio door near me, and I opened them to see the dawn unfold (we’ve had a couple sunny days back to back) – but there is no sunshine this morning; it’s snowing! I smile – to myself, at the snow, at the thought of coffee, at how good it is to be warm and safe instead of out there, in the cold and the snow, and head to the kitchen to make coffee.

Some snow. (Don't laugh, it's still snowing.)

Some snow. (Don’t laugh, it’s still snowing.)

I put all the Giftmas decor into storage yesterday. Waking up this morning to neither a lavishly decorated tree covered in tiny lights nor a tower of boxes needing to be put away was strange; my wee apartment feels quite spacious for the moment. Today I will take time to put the household entirely in order, an easier commitment with the weather outside likely to encourage me to stay indoors. The small details matter, and one thing I learned when I moved into my own place and a solitary lifestyle is that those small details matter most (for me) when I wake, and when I arrive home from elsewhere. That ‘first impression’ in the moment, when I step into my apartment, or into my living room first thing in the morning, set the tone of my experience and how well-cared for I feel by the woman in the mirror.

An example of how much the small details matter; I generally leave the house having tidied up such that when I return home, it is to a well-cared-for tidy living space that supports my emotional need for order, and my desire to relax at the end of the day – I do much of my housework in the mornings, for that reason (after coffee, but before I leave for wherever). Yesterday, I rushed off on my morning errand, having gotten a tad behind schedule, and did so without starting the dishwasher (or frankly, loading it) – and when I returned home, it was to dirty dishes in the sink. Holy cow I was irked with myself! The dishes don’t get less gross, or in any way more appealing, sitting there longer – so of course, I immediately put away the groceries I had arrived with, and did the dishes straight away. The result? My return home did not feel relaxed and easy – it felt a bit rushed and busy. (Since this isn’t my preference, I don’t generally do things this way. 🙂 )

It’s rare to see dishes in my sink at all. Of course, the one day over the holidays that there are dishes in my sink is a day when my traveling partner and I arrive at my place at about the same time. Yep. I found myself feeling mildly ashamed of the state of my apartment, which contributed to the speed with which I made things right upon my arrival. He offered no criticism. I make a reflex apology nonetheless, although my apartment stays generally quite tidy, and I am obligated only to myself regardless. This morning, I smile when I step into the very tidy little kitchen. I totally made things right with the woman in the mirror yesterday, and today I find myself content with things as they are.

Maintaining a state of ongoing contentment requires the generous (and skillful) use of verbs, and a good measure of self-awareness. Maybe it’s not the dishes that bug you – maybe it’s the trash? Or unmade beds? Or a dirty toilet or shower? Or carpets that need to be vacuumed?  Me, personally, I enjoy a certain overall state of ‘order’ – so all those things matter. Being easily distracted, impulsive, and a tad disinclined to perform manual labor during leisure hours, it’s easy for me to lose track and suddenly my place is a mess, which definitely correlates to my state of mind becoming disordered, too. It’s a mental health connection that is a known thing – there’s science on that. Taking care of me definitely involves some verbs quite specifically related to general housekeeping, and while it’s not my preferred way to pass time, I so love the way it feels to live in an orderly well-kept space it is both in my best interests and very much worth the investment in will, energy, and time to do the verbs.  I’ve been very pleased with how well I have managed this area of my life, generally, living alone. “Being messy” just hasn’t been an issue, although I had had concerns that it might be when I moved into my apartment. 🙂 I take a moment to appreciate how far I’ve come – making time to savor successes is another ‘small detail’ that is a very big deal.

Something to look forward on the other side of the work to be done.

Something to look forward on the other side of the work to be done.

The snow continues to fall. Later there will be a fire in the fireplace…sometime after chores are finished. In the meantime, I will enjoy my second coffee and a bite of breakfast, plan my day, and enjoy the falling snow. 🙂