Archives for posts with tag: don’t forget to bring a towel!

Sipping coffee, planning for camping, and feeling contented; it’s a pleasant start to the morning. 🙂 I’m excited about my camping trip – and it’s almost here! Next week. Whether I write or not, I’ve no idea, I do know there’s no cell signal available through much of that large beautiful hike-able acreage. Just… none. If my recollection is correct, there’s a hint of a bit of a signal now and then, but only at this one particular spot, and it’s a trek of a couple miles (uphill) to reach it, and it’s not reliable…so… I most likely won’t be posting during that time, regardless whether or not I do write. 🙂

Honestly… lots of past posts to explore, and it’s not as if I’m truly writing wholly original content, is it, since I generally write the same things, most days… drinking coffee… breathing… good self-care… choices, verbs, practicing practices, and beginning again… right? 😉 Don’t let yourself down on my account; I’ll be right back. 😀

There are paths yet to be explored – where will yours take you?

I’m eager for the break in routine, and for the days and nights among the trees. I’m eager to hear bird song, and not traffic, and the loud peeps and chirps and calls of chipmunks and squirrels, instead of the conversation of commuters and random human beings out in the world. I’m eager to read the weather, the actual weather, instead of the news. 🙂

I remind myself not to forget coffee!

I have a list of gear I need to either double-check that I do still have it, or pick it up before I go. I keep adding things to it, and crossing things off. I enjoy camping much more when I am prepared…and I also enjoy traveling light, and without excessive weight or baggage dragging me down. I’ve got a list that makes sense. It’s an observation that doesn’t last long when the next question hits me…

…What if it rains?

I laugh so hard I snort coffee, which is less than pleasant, but now I’m giggling; I literally haven’t made any specific effort to plan for any sort of significant rain. It’s August. Why would it rain? Only… it may, and it could, and it’s been known to happen, and… it’s in the forecast. lol So…?

Like a lot of life’s circumstances, preparedness makes an easier journey, for sure. Also like life, and circumstances, it’s not particularly easy to be prepared for all of everything that could be part of my experience than I might want to… while also traveling light, and keeping baggage to a minimum. The more I am inclined to carry, the more verbs (and effort) will be involved in the journey, itself, and the more there will be to manage, deal with, juggle, find space for, when I arrive at my destination. There are choices to be made. Some circumstances are best accepted, than prepared for in advance in any notable way. (I’m not actually saying rainfall is one of those, I mean… it’s possible to shove rain gear into my backpack without adding a ton of weight to my gear!)

Don’t let a little rain stop you. 🙂

Anyway. Rain is a thing that happens, even in August. I’m giggling because I enjoy the rain… but… I also dislike being soaked to the skin, catching a chill, and miserable because all my gear is soaked. lol There are definitely choices to make, and planning is a useful tool for making them. I give some thought to the rain, and my list, and make some adjustments to also account for chilly nights, and dewy cold mornings. Will I be warm enough? Cool enough? Dry enough? Will I have coffee for the mornings? Will I want paper books, or digital books? Don’t forget to bring a towel! What about tea? Broth? It’s nice to have something hot to sip on that isn’t loaded with caffeine – or sugar. What about sleep…? Do I want my cot, or an inflatable something or other? (I already know I don’t much feel like sleeping directly on the ground, on a thin sleeping mat; I’ll be out there for 4 nights.)

Everything I take on this journey, I’ll have to carry, myself. That’s a hell of a metaphor, right there.

I look at the time. Yeah. Already. I smile, and finish my coffee, and put aside my list. Same path, different day. I smile, and grab my keys, and my backpack, and get ready to begin again. 😀

“What’s in your wallet?” I chuckle to find jingles and advertising slogans ‘stuck in my head’ as I pack a bag for a weekend of adventure and love. I pack in a fairly structured way, beginning with thinking through what I hope to do, and envisioning getting ready for those sorts of things – what might I miss? I make a list (and yes, sorted by categories of things, it’s part of ‘who I am’). This morning, I take another look at the list and assembled the listed items, group them, pack them, and move on to the next trusting that the planning is adequate to the purpose. If I think of something I overlooked, I add it to the list as well as packing it; the list will be the last thing packed, and a handy resource on the other end of the weekend to ensure that all the things I thought I might need also make their way back with me. 🙂

I don’t make a point of calling this out day-to-day, but for the benefit of those joining me here more recently; having a brain injury definitely affects how I do what I do, and it is also a very… personalized? Customized. It’s a very individual sort of thing in some regards; what works for me to cope with my own gaps, losses, quirks, etc, is very likely to be finger-print-distinctive if compared to what someone else with a TBI does to cope with their own needs. I do well making lists… which is kind of a good thing, since I also feel a certain… compulsion… to do so. 🙂 We are who we are, right? I mention it, because it may be that some readers may come to this blog with the perception that there are ‘one size fits all’ perfect-fit solutions to the chaos and damage they – or a loved one – may be experiencing. It’s not that easy. Perhaps if it were as easy as following some handy steps on a cheat sheet shared by all who suffer a head injury, I wouldn’t still be noodling around blogging about ‘wtf??’, ‘how the hell??’ and ‘oh, hey… that worked’ in this haphazard trial and error sort of way? 🙂  We are each having our own experience.

Anyway… moving on… this morning I am finding myself fairly engaged with the process of preparing for adventure, and packing what I’ll need. I consider everything quite carefully, not wanting to drag around a lot of weight that doesn’t serve a definite need. I find myself wondering how I can shift gears, and look at life itself through the lens of packing for adventure, applying the power of metaphor (and perhaps some linguistic shenanigans) to extract a better understanding of bags and ‘baggage’ on life’s journey… Could I… ‘pack lighter’? Could I drag along fewer things that no longer truly serve a purpose? If I were to consider my needs with greater care, and lighten my emotional load? I learn so much about myself, and about life and living, by contemplating the whole of it within the context of some smaller process or task.

…My poetry notebook! Damn… I almost forgot to pack it. I mean…I can write poetry on napkins in diners, and even in the quiet moments walking along, in my own head (some of my best poetry never finds its way to paper)… but… I do like writing it down neatly in my notebook, and poetry is one style of written communication which I never leave behind. The weight of a notebook, versus the weight of the unspoken word? Yeah. The notebook goes with me. 🙂 (For a moment, the demon chorus in the background gives voice to a bitter and angry hurt woman of long ago, “What are you, fucking 12?” and I am briefly stalled on the hurt I feel, delivered by my own brain. I take a deep breath, and allow myself to recognize the profound struggle to be heard represented, and show myself a moment of real compassion – it has been hard, and there are times when I’ve hurt myself worse than the world ever would think to, and it isn’t at all necessary or helpful. I imagine a softer kinder me giving that bitter angry woman a tender hug and a smile, as I pack the notebook; it’s important to both of us.)

Of course... the map is not the world.

Of course… the map is not the world.

It’s a lovely quiet morning with a good cup of coffee and a packing list. Adventure awaits!

I’m sipping my coffee and staring at a blank page, waiting for my brain to kick in with actual thoughts. So far… nothing. It’s not a lack of thoughts lurking in the background waiting their turn to be given a moment, or a lack of living metaphors, or whimsy. There is surely no shortage of photographs of this and that, out and about, useful for illustrating some point…or just being a lovely image or image of a lovely moment. Quite the opposite; my head is full of things to do, thoughts, notions, observations, yearnings, fleeting illustrative imaginings, and some of the best poetry I’ve never written, too… It’s a noisy mess in here, and frankly some tidying up is in order!

I slept well last night and rested deeply. I even ‘slept in’ some, having not set the alarm and waking at the time my eyes were most inclined to open and face the day (still quite early in the morning, sun not yet up). But what is there to say about sleep, besides noting the obvious value in being well-rested? Certainly it is worth taking the time to go to bed early enough to get a needed night’s sleep; no late night programming is truly worth passing up sleep. I’ve already used more words than needed on the topic of sleeping. Waking well-rested is an excellent start to any day that may have verbs in it. 🙂

There’s the thing, right? There are so many verbs from which to choose! I could meditate – and tidy up the mess within. I could do some housekeeping and tidy up the mess that surrounds me (it is limited to my studio, and is both inconvenient, and an impediment to working creatively). I could finish getting moved in – which tends to have a tidying up effect both internally and externally (it’s just that sort of process). I could ‘mix it up’ and spend some measure of time on a variety of tasks, ‘getting ahead on things’ in a more generalized way. I could choose to do something less obviously useful, like going for a long hike, or having an at-home “spa day” and really taking care of me on a whole other level, or spending the day bird-watching from my patio, or catching up on my studies by reading (and finishing) one or two exceptional reading selections I’ve been finding highly useful and haven’t yet finished… The point I am making (for me as much as anyone else) is that there is a fairly large variety of verbs I can choose from – in most any moment, on nearly any day – and the day is only begun. I am unlikely to make ‘relaxing’ and ‘sipping coffee’ last for the whole of the day, and not only are there more hours ahead of me (as far as I know) there is ever so much more to be done…

It’s down to choices. Choices and verbs.

I sit awhile, sipping my coffee and looking at those words, “choices and verbs”, and giving myself time to consider my choices and the verbs required more fully. I open my “to do list” and my “list of things” (which is a willy-nilly ‘as it came to me’ unsorted vast sort of list of all the many things I might like to have or ‘need to get’ to improve my day-to-day quality of life, or to resolve some small household issue or another), and make an addition here or there. I continue to sip my coffee. I consolidate the two lists into one, for convenience. I continue to consider the options – and the opportunities. As I review the list, add to it, and remove items that have been completed, I find myself feeling more organized, more aware, and less at loose ends. I feel more purposeful, and more mindful of my long-term needs. I remove some things from the list that are no longer relevant; needs and plans change. Change is. This individual day facing me in this moment is mostly unaffected by the changes I make to my lists, but I feel more organized, more clear-headed, and more present in this moment, being less burdened by the lack of ‘sense of direction’ that had occurred as planning broke down in the face of change. Change is – that much is entirely unavoidable, and fighting it is an unworthy use of precious limited life force, particularly when harnessing the power of change can be such a powerful ally on a much longer journey.

It’s still about choices and verbs, and my coffee is down to one last, cold, sip. It is a rainy day beyond the window, and the sun is apparently giving all the light and warmth it can. The gray rainy day nudges me in the direction of indoor choices, limiting the list just a bit. It’s still plenty to choose from. I pause, and notice a serious omission from my list, and make a point to add it… “Enjoy the day and take care of me.” I smile. I’m eager to check that one off every day, and recognize the value in making it a priority, and taking the time to fulfill my obligations to myself.

...Making a list... checking it twice...

…Making a list… checking it twice…

Choices. Verbs. The day won’t wait for me to keep up… Today is a good day to embrace change, and to take care of me… I’ve got a list, and I know how to use it. 😉

 

It’s a Monday morning. This has only whatever significance I choose to give it. Does my choice to face Monday differently (than ‘Oh, damn, not another Monday’, for example) also determine the outcome? Will I most certainly enjoy a lovely calm Monday without any challenges or stress simply by changing my assumptions going into the day? Realistically, there are no guarantees – I might have a terrible Monday however positive I feel going into it.

When I started down this path, I held onto the fairly childlike notion that good choices, and being open to success and positive outcomes would be enough to ensure the successes and positive outcomes would occur. It was incredibly disappointing the first many times I had a straight up no bullshit bad day – I’d chosen so well! I’d been so positive! I’ve learned a lot more since then. I’ve learned that my will is not the only will that is involved in my outcome – and that whatever the outcome, itself, I still have opportunities to enjoy what is enjoyable, to savor things that nurture me, and to learn from what wasn’t so pleasant. Those good choices all still matter – even if the day goes sideways, or ends poorly – because they determine more than merely the outcome. They say something about who I am, and build memory and experience. All of that matters.

Yesterday I had planned to go for a solo hike in a nearby park I’ve never visited. I planned to get there on transit, and it looked pretty easy to do. I checked my route again on Friday. I woke ready to go, yesterday, and was out the door at the time I had intended to be. The day was beautiful. I got downtown to my transfer point, and checked the bus timing; there was just one bus listed as going to the park I had in mind. Right – Sunday. I had checked the bus schedule on a weekday and failed to account for Sundays. No matter, I check my map again and notice the Sunday bus would still get me within a half an hour’s walk of the park itself. Close enough…right? (Can I pause to observe how convenient this technology is? This powerful computer in the palm of my hand can do so much!) A closer look reveals the walking portion of my route is along a detour – with no pedestrian space. Well…that’s a plan changer, right there. I might walk a few feet along a busy road without a sidewalk or pedestrian easement, but doing so for half an hour, early in the morning seems foolish without at least wearing reflective gear of some kind – and I wasn’t prepared.

A change of plans requires a change in perspective.

A change of plans requires a change in perspective.

As little as 3 years ago, I might have been frustrated to the point of being sensitive and easily angered, and disappointment would likely have been a companion for some hours, at least. A year or two ago, I’d have taken a few minutes to let that go, and moved on with my day with acceptance – probably returning home to ‘start over’ somehow. Yesterday was different – and delightfully not at all ‘special’ in this regard – I was barely disappointed enough to register the emotion as being part of my experience, and took time to enjoy quite an exceptional coffee at a favorite cafe, and a well-chosen pastry to complement the coffee (ensuring the low blood sugar didn’t complicate disappointment; it was time for some calories). I didn’t waste time fussing that my plan had fallen apart – the park exists, there are more days in the future (as far as I know), and there is so much that can be done with a lovely Sunday. I sipped my coffee, munched my pastry, and watched people come and go while giving the day some thought, without stress or anxiety.

Taking care of me.

Taking care of me.

Back to the wonder of the technology in my hand…I used it while enjoying my coffee to determine what other area attractions of interest to me might be a good ‘plan B’ for my Sunday adventure. Thank you, Science! Thank you, HTC! Thank you, Android! Thank you, Google! Thank you, DARPA and all the contributing developers of the World Wide Web and the Internet! I don’t say thank you enough, but I do benefit every day from the device you have put in my hands.

I observed on the map that a short walk, followed by a short bus ride, would put me on a trail to the International Rose Test Garden located in Washington Park, and felt the excitement of surprise and delight that goes with discovering ‘a better way’ to get somewhere I really like to go. The Japanese Garden is located nearby, too…and miles and miles of the Wildwood Trail, which I have walked very little of in the years I’ve lived in the area…my Sunday quickly began to take on its new form. I’d take this new route to the Rose Garden, visit the Japanese Garden, too, and enjoy the trails to, from, and between, along the way.

New path, new perspective.

New path, new perspective.

I made good choices, and the outcome was pleasant and worthwhile. I’m not sure how connected our choices are to our outcomes, though – sometimes more than others, it would seem, and I admit to being a bit confused by that sometimes, even now.  Acceptance of change is a big piece of the contentment puzzle, and it surely helps to be flexible and adaptable in the face of change. Perspective has a say in my outcomes, too, providing me an opportunity to build a different understanding of my experience, and perhaps a moment of calm in the face of the turmoil of change or an experience of disappointment. My assumptions, and the way I define the elements of my experience, will also have a say in my perception of the outcome; we are creatures of both emotion and reason, and my will can be applied to my thinking as well as my choices. I think what I am getting at is that I have a new understanding of choice and outcome. There’s a gap between them, filled with opportunities to learn, grow, consider, observe, enjoy, adapt, accept…and that gap is a worthy moment to be present and engaged, and to savor life. Or something. Your results may vary.

Why, yes, I think I will, thanks. :-)

Why, yes, I think I will, thanks. 🙂

Today is a good day to make good choices, and roll with changes. Today is a good day to enjoy the journey. Today is a good day to be my own cartographer; perhaps a good map can change the way I see the world?