Archives for posts with tag: embrace change

My coffee tastes different this morning. It’s not because I am sitting cross-legged on the surprisingly comfy Queen bed in this seaside hotel, not even because it’s fairly typically-terrible hotel coffee made in a fairly generically terrible-coffee-making drip machine sitting atop the small room-sized hotel refrigerator, but more because I am sipping it solo, with no chance at all of sharing the moment with my Traveling Partner. Right at the moment, in all practical terms, we’re traveling separately (he’s sleeping still, at home, I hope, and I am sitting cross-legged in sloppy-loose blue jeans, laptop perched precariously on my lap, waiting for my terrible coffee to cool enough to drink properly).

I’d say my goal of relaxing and getting some “down time” before shifting gears to start the new job has been successful; I woke having entirely forgotten about Daylight Savings Time, and looking at the clock and finding “6:30 am” to be both believable, and an acceptable time to wake on a leisure morning… I woke up. I laughed when I finally noticed the discrepancy between the clock that I had checked upon waking (which automatically updated) and the one that did not (provided by the hotel, plugged into the wall in the usual way). I shrugged it off and got started making terrible coffee and looking over the notes I took at several points yesterday, as I walked and wandered, waited and reflected, breathed and meditated.

The ocean does not care when or whether I check into my hotel room, nor when I leave. My presence makes no difference to the timing of the waves, or the fierceness of the winds.

I arrived to the shore much too early to check into the hotel, and my room was not yet ready. Didn’t matter much; the endless ocean tickled the shore without regard to check-in times. The hotel graciously allowed me to use the private beach access in the meantime, and I went down what seemed like 1001 concrete steps to the beach. The wind was brisk and cold. There were bundled up families flying kites and enjoying the day. There were even barefooted kids playing in the shallow water of the waves as they spread across the beach, then receded; they seemed as shore birds, running forward as the water pulled back, running back as the waves spread forward. I found myself reflecting on that. There’s something to learn, there, I suppose.

…This coffee is simply dreadful. I add sugar and the available non-dairy creamer. Still awful. I’m still drinking it…

I gave up beach walking when my legs became tired, and trudged patiently up those many steps once more. Room not yet ready, I headed into town and, masked and distant, and wandered through enticing antique shops.

In a shop filled with carefully crafted miniatures, I find room after room of furnishings that seem to be idealized versions of various stages of my own aesthetic, and wonder if, after all, so many of them could really have come from… doll houses?

The tourist “traps” that line the street are the sort common to any seaside town I’ve visited… saltwater taffy shops, “old time” candy stores, antique shops, t-shirts, sea shells, and nautically themed whatsits of all kinds (lighthouse sculptures, pirate “treasure”, glass fishing floats and paperweights, and “the world’s best” of some local dish). I wandered until I was more distracted by my own thoughts than engaged by what I saw in front of me, and returned again to the hotel, and to the beach, to walk and reflect awhile longer.

I sat for a long while, occasionally attempting to light a joint in the fierce coastal “breeze” without success.

I spent a couple of contented hours walking, and thinking. Reflecting on lessons learned, both generally (and recently), and also specifically (with regard to my most recent job, and how to make good use of what I learned in future roles). It was time well-spent. Aside from the wind and my tinnitus, the only thing I was hearing was… me. I walked the beach listening deeply to what the woman in the mirror has to say… about life… about love… about work… about a future that is unknown (and largely unknowable). I contemplated the confounds of expectations and assumptions.

…At check in time, I made my way to my room, let myself into this small space that is more or less my own (until check out time), and unpacked my baggage – literally, and metaphorically.

…Damn this is dreadful coffee. Wtf? Why am I putting myself through this? LOL I stare into the cup, warm in my hand, astonished by its prodigious awfulness with a certain amount of respect; it’s a hell of an achievement for a cup of coffee to be this bad.

I took time to reflect on all I’d seen, and on my notes, and the many “living metaphors” the day had presented to me.

I ask myself “the hard questions” on my mind as the day becomes evening… What matters most? What has me chained to some past moment? What have I accepted as the basis of my sense of self? Is that truly “who I am”? How do I free myself to soar to greater heights? Where does my path lead? The moments, questions, and the thoughts they carry with them crash onto the shore of my consciousness, and recede one by one. I find “embracing change” to be a process, and an ongoing practice. Taking some time alone to be with my thoughts – and, unavoidably, with my self, is a useful break for “sorting things out”. For finding the signal in the noise. Life may not have a map, but I can sure jot down some notes as I might if I were writing down directions to go from here to … somewhere else. It’s important to be clear on the desired destination. It’s important to be aware of where I stand right now. 🙂 With those things in mind, how much more easily can I begin again?

…It’s that time, isn’t it? Beginning again, I mean. The new job starts tomorrow. The new laptop was delivered Friday, and is waiting for me to set it up.

…Fucking hell I am missing my Traveling Partner this morning. I missed him ferociously last night, too. The value in missing him has nuances that are worthwhile experiences of their own. Missing him reduces the likelihood that I will take his precious presence in my life for granted. Missing him reinforces how much I enjoy him being part of my experience. Being absent the many things he does for me (and for us), large and small, reminds me that I legit don’t do as well for myself on my own as I seem able to in this specific partnership. (Not dissing myself or minimizing how much I appreciate myself for (and as) myself, just saying there’s a ton of stuff that just doesn’t seem to stay on my radar, and my sometimes general lack of fucks to give, or pain, results in more chaos than I easily manage… and that seems far less likely in his company, and with his help.)

…And both of us make an excellent cup of coffee that is so much better than this warm brown liquid that I’ve decided can’t at all be called “coffee” – it’s just that bad, and I am seriously missing something better… and my partner… this morning. 🙂

The sun is not yet up. Check out time is not for another 3 hours. There is time to walk on the beach, time for a bite of breakfast, and time to find a better cup of coffee. LOL There’s time to begin again.

A group of rocks along the shore, exposed at low tide, inaccessible at high tide. Even in that, there is something to reflect on, a metaphor in action, something to learn about who I am, and where I am headed.

I look at the clock, and see daylight beginning to show through the curtains. Definitely time to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping my coffee, looking over some completed work, and taking this firm break to refresh my thinking. The window shade is open, and I can see the wintry gray sky above the neighbor’s house, beyond the fence, and the naked branches of the pear tree. Human and filled with soft turmoil, hints of changes coming… or that could be, if I choose them. I sit quietly with my thoughts, not attached to an outcome, non-judgmentally, just… thoughts, and coffee, and a gray winter sky.

I listen to a jazzy rainy day station in the background; it suits the work, today.

I find myself reflexively seeking to return to work. My hands and eyes drift to more obviously purposeful things… but this break has a timer, and it is not yet time to return to work. 🙂 It may be time to begin again… for other values of beginning. There are bigger questions that need time to unfold comfortably, and, having been well-considered with patient thoroughness and calm, perhaps an action. Thoughts and coffee, first. 🙂

…It’s not as if I really know where my path leads, anyway, is it…?

I smile at my break timer. There are enough measured minutes remaining for another cup of coffee… and that’s enough. 🙂

I’m sipping my second coffee on a sunny Sunday morning. My Traveling Partner is preparing to undertake some household projects, partly to improve our quality of life, and partly (I feel fairly certain) to satisfy his own creative joy. I feel content, and also a certain strange happy satisfaction to see his power tools ready for use, and hear the details of his plan for the project in front of him. It “feels like home”.

…It has taken so long to get “here”.

One perspective on “home”.

In this instance, not a geographical location at all, nor an address, maybe not even a point in time – it’s more than any of that. Feels good, though, and I take a moment to think about a conversation I had with my partner, when he moved into my wee duplex with me. We were talking about the potential need to move into a somewhat bigger place (pre-pandemic). I remember feeling distressed and agitated, and struggling to communicate what felt so “urgent” to me, personally; I did not want to move again unless it was into our own home. It felt non-negotiable after having to move 5 times in 10 years. The constant chaos involved in moving is unpleasant for me, and has longer-lasting emotional wellness impact than I manage comfortably. The frequent change in living space messes with my head, and results in a loss of implicit knowledge of my surroundings – not necessarily a critical detail for everyone, definitely important to me personally.

I sip my coffee, appreciating the warmth of it, on a cool summer morning. The dewy surfaces out on the deck evaporate in the sunshine. My workstation, still set up in the dining room, has a view out to the deck. I can see my partner out there measuring things, taking notes. I smile. This is, if not “everything”, is surely enough to feast on with a happy heart.

“This too shall pass”. Of course. Everything does, at some point. We don’t know when the clock will run out on our fun, or our happy adventures, or the warmth of a smile that is dear to us, any more than we know with any certainty when our miseries or hardships will end. Everything does, though. Everything. I remind myself to embrace this charming happy “now” unreservedly. Enjoy the journey. Embrace change. Invest in love.

…Good cup of coffee… nice morning…

…time to begin again. 🙂

 

My coffee has gone cold. It’s been that sort of morning. Distractions. Being here, “now”, instead of driven by habit.

I woke to a misty drenching rain that I was only aware of once I stepped out onto the deck, shortly before dawn. So lovely. I love the sound of rain on leaves, and the bit of forest just beyond the deck definitely provides it. I’m still smiling. My thoughts are still full of raindrops and birdsong. I started the morning with a rainy day soak in the hot tub, which was soothing, and I’m in so much less pain because of it. The bonus, this morning, was in the conversation. My Traveling Partner opened the door on a fairly deep discussion for such an early time of morning (more or less “pre-coffee”). A rare thing. It went well, and looking back feels as productive as it felt helpful in the moment. New perspective on old issues. Gentle sharing, with consideration, and thoughtful use of language. Win. (Way to do “adulthood” well on a Thursday!)

Raindrops and blossoms on the pear tree beyond my window.

Eventually, the work day had to begin, and so it has. Same great job, same great boss… same real life “harsh reality” that change is a thing. Change just is. Few promises, few guarantees, and a lot of changes – that’s real. Too real this morning. Yesterday I got the news about a personnel change that matters to me (emotionally) a great deal. Hard to see someone I enjoy working with moving on. I mean… I’m glad they found something promising that will meet more of their needs, for sure. I will miss working with them a lot – I’ve learned a lot working with this colleague, and become a more skillful professional as a result. I also appreciate their enthusiastic interest in deep conversations, meta analysis, and unusual tangents and correlations. It’s hard seeing them go.

…I’ve “stood in this place” before, and the time that follows has sometimes been pretty unpleasant, and I’ve left jobs over the loss of… “communion”? Maybe that is the “right word”? Certainly, I’ve left jobs when things reached a point where I no longer had professional relationships I really enjoyed among my closest colleagues. This time, I’m in a healthier place as a human being (in spite of social distancing, pandemic life, and all of the baggage and bullshit I still tend to lug around). I don’t find myself catastrophizing what the future may hold. 🙂 It’s just a change.

Change is.

I sip my now-cold coffee, haplessly left behind on my way to soak and converse with my Traveling Partner as the rainy dawn unfolded into a gray rainy day. It’s still a good cup of coffee. I don’t mind that it is cold. Sometimes changes are just changes, and even though they “feel like” a big deal in one moment, later, in some other, they’ll probably just be what is. 🙂 It’s enough for a Thursday morning. I take a moment to contemplate change.

I begin again.

 

I was sipping my morning coffee in the dim of dawn, sun not yet peaking over the horizon. I was thinking about a friend who often seems to default to negative self-talk, and assumptions about others that are built on suspicion, fear, and mistrust. I know enough about my friend’s personal history to have some limited understanding why they would hold such a bleak perspective on life, relationships, and yes, even on the person in the mirror. I hold my friend in very high regard, and our mutual affection and appreciation has lasted many years…but even I am not immune to being the recipient of my friend’s mistrust, suspicion, and doubt.

My thoughts this morning, after recently having coffee together, were less about how uncomfortable it can feel to be viewed as an adversary, unexpectedly, and absent any input on my part to justify or support that view, and more about how unpleasant it must be to go through life that way, living in the context of some implicit certainty that everyone, eventually, is an enemy. It saddens me, and I struggle to balance my understanding and compassion with my feelings of helplessness and frustration – and lack of being understood clearly. My own communication challenges don’t make it easier. My own emotional baggage and personal history with relationships with other human primates don’t make it easier, either. I sipped my coffee, breathing, exhaling, relaxing, and consider my perspective, and where I can, also the perspective my friend expressed, with as much depth, and understanding, as I am able to do.

Perspective changes what we understand of the world.

I think back to articles I’ve read about mindfulness, and the handful of those that point out that undertaking a mindfulness practice can throw emotional health and balance into chaos for some people. I even accept that this is one of the potential experiences people may have; when we have adapted to darkness, the brightness of being flooded with light is not necessarily and immediately helpful, comfortable, or pleasant experience. Some of the things we keep to ourselves over a lifetime, dismissing our concerns, diminishing our sense of self, or building our narrative on a ton of self-serving made-up shit to compensate, perhaps, for the bleakness of our sense of doubt and futility, end up being powerful (and possibly successful) coping mechanisms for the hardest shit we don’t want to face – and having coped with, we don’t have to. Then along comes some “healthy” mindfulness practice that sounds awesome, that our friends are into, and we hop right into it, eager and enthusiastic… then, we find ourselves face to face with the darkness being dissipated by a light so bright we can’t see what it hides from us, and… we run, terrified and damaged, fearful of change, resisting what so bright a moment of illumination might really show us. After all, we’d coped with all that bullshit. We’d found a way. Now, here we are, facing our self, unexpectedly. Not always a pretty picture, and we’re not all ready for that.

Changing our own perspective doesn’t always feel comfortable. Whether or not “mindfulness” can be said to “work” is more than a little bit dependent on what we expect it to do, and whether that is what we actually want – or are ready for.

My friend and I talked about my journey, and theirs. We spoke of expectations, and of “reality”. My friend had, at one time, been a huge advocate for me finding my way to a more positive perspective on life. At that time, they seemed so unbelievably positive to me that it was hard to understand the thinking behind those words – wasn’t it a matter of “character” or personality? Wasn’t my personal history “real”, and sufficient to justify my chaos and damage… and negativity? Wasn’t my cynicism perfectly “reasonable”? Here I was sitting over coffee, after far too long out of touch, and I was the positive one, the contented one, the one bouncing back. My friend seemed overly negative, and out of touch with their own emotional experience, lacking in a certain authenticity and “presence”, that felt strangely dishonest and uncomfortable to me. The conversation came around to meditation, and mindfulness practices, generally. “All that’s bullshit,” my friend said firmly. “I tried that stuff back in the day, and it only made me cry a lot, and made me doubt my relationships.” I sat quietly listening (which can be difficult for me), then replied “What did your therapist say about that experience?” My friend answered abruptly, “I quit therapy. It was expensive, and kept making me doubt my place in the world, and my relationship with my partner.” She gestured vaguely, something like waving off that topic with her hand. “I didn’t need all that, I’m unhappy enough without help. Self-reflection bullshit just made me rethink everything. Who needs it?”

I keep turning the conversation over in my head, in the time since. So much of what she had shared seemed unhappy, and infused with a sense of having failed herself in some mysterious way, punctuated by occasionally accusations of some other person setting her up for failure. If she is so deeply unhappy in life, in her relationships, wouldn’t she expect self-reflection to hold up that mirror, and show her precisely that? Doesn’t that open the door to the potential that change could be made – chosen – and offer the chance to walk a different path?

No answers, this morning, really. Just questions, and self-reflection, and the illumination offered by shining a bright light into my own dark corners. There’s always an opportunity to begin again. 🙂 I am my own cartographer; I choose my path.