Archives for posts with tag: experience

Crazy busy week last week lead into a vibrant and busy weekend that finished with a long trying drive and a quick and unexpected, thoroughly predictable, bout of stress, anxiety, and a few tears. I totally had a tantrum. Like an exhausted, overstimulated, toddler. My funk didn’t last, and by the end of the evening, last night, I was feeling relaxed and mostly merry, even though I rather carelessly (literally carelessly) left my badge to get into the office behind when I quietly crept out of my Traveling Partner’s residence to avoid waking sleeping party guests, as I prepared for the return trip to my place. I smile thinking about it; best party I’ve been to in a long time. πŸ™‚ I’m not even irked that my morning (and departure) was anything but leisurely – and entirely coffee-free. Well. Not now. lol

Beautiful momentum.

I woke up this morning feeling busy already, the week ahead landed on my consciousness before I got out of bed. Unfortunate. I considered writing. It would have been a choice moment for writing, as a practice. I chose meditation, and housekeeping, instead, and felt decently mild-mannered and appropriately focused when I arrived at work. It didn’t really last… my head is filled buugeng patterns. lol I want to go home and practice more. πŸ˜€ Then, about half way through my morning, a quick blast of stress, and the resurrection of a personal demon. Even that didn’t last long. I got past it sufficiently to wrap up a productive workday in the usual fashion. The day began and ended rather well. The commute home was neither nauseating nor enraging (win!).

I got home still carrying some stress from earlier. Nothing weird or major (for me)(these days); money. Money damage. Money baggage. Money triggers. Money symptoms. I’d have done anything to numb those sensations and emotions, even 3-4 years ago, to ignore them, shut them out, to turn away. I don’t know exactly when my thinking changed on this, but really, it wasn’t worth fighting myself over it. I sat down and planned my 2018 budget, looked for (and found a couple) opportunities to be more efficient, more accurate, and therefore more realistic (and successful?). It felt good to finish that, to have a good plan… to be on my own side. πŸ™‚

The stress that had lingered in the background is gone. So is most of the evening – and I don’t feel at all cheated by that. I may even feel… entertained? Satisfied, at least. That’s often the resulting emotion (for me) when I am skillful on some self-care task, satisfaction. Comfort? A certain settled safe feeling that seems to accompany being able to count on me to take care of myself. πŸ™‚

I chuckle when I realize “plan 2018 budget” was never on my to do list… so… I add it, then I check it off. A nice finish to the day. Tomorrow, I can begin again.

I slept in, grateful for a comfortable bed, a heated home, shelter from the ceaseless autumn rain, and a well-stocked pantry, looking forward to a long weekend.Β I woke slowly this morning, a bit at a time, returning to sleep a few minutes more without reluctance or judgement, until I felt truly rested, and definitely awake. I feel grateful for the small luxuries I am fortunate to enjoy each day. My espresso is tasty, and I made this latte with almond milk, which doesn’t aggravate my health in the way that bovine milk seems to do. I smile when I think about the butterflied turkey breast waiting in the fridge, and – honestly – about having a fucking refrigerator in the first place. I am grateful for the means to enjoy a comfortable life in a place that feels safe to me, without much stress.

I greeted my Traveling Partner online, first thing. He was already awake. He is sick at home and will not be making the trip up. I’m grateful he has the wisdom to wisely choose self-care when he must. I am grateful that he loves me such that he is also pretty bummed out not to be here, with me, as planned. We chat a bit. We chat about coffee. lol Of course. πŸ˜€

An unexpected solo holiday, and I find that I am nonetheless filled with gratitude. A holiday in a household filled with people, crowded with family members visiting from afar, or friends popping ’round with sides and desserts and bottles of wine, can be so utterly warm and joyful – and I’m not “missing” that, because I’ve done it many many times. I am grateful for those experiences, and those memories. I enjoy a mental montage of those today, and find that I remain grateful for this quiet holiday, wrapped in love, and warmth, and contentment, and quite deliciously alone.

I have a friend who is also solo for Thanksgiving, and he made mention of frozen microwave breakfast sandwiches and despairing loneliness. Ouch. I’d have invited him to join me – because that sounds pretty shitty – but firstly, he is very far away and would not be able to make it, and secondly – and this is a bit hard to observe without a poignant moment of real pain – he chooses this experience, with his whole will. I’m grateful to have the positive experience of life, generally, that I do these days. I’m grateful I gave some of those verbs a try (meditating, caring for myself, letting go attachments, eating a good diet, practicing good sleep hygiene, showing self-compassion, showing self-respect… oh, just a ton of verbs, really) and that I have continued to begin again when I fail, and continued to practice what works. We each choose our adventure. I’m grateful for free will, and I am grateful to be in relationships that respect my agency.

My coffee is very good this morning. I’m grateful for the 133 year old technology that put it into my cup as a latte. I’m grateful for the 45-year-old technology that lets me enjoy real-time communication with my Traveling Partner on a holiday we can’t share in real life, in shared space. I’m grateful for the 90-year-old technology that will provide me with ample entertainment today, in the form of video, and the 562 years of the printed word that always ensures I have something to read – and let’s not forget the many thousands of years of literacy that makes having a book in my hands worthwhile in the first place.

I am grateful for paved roads, sidewalks, and convenient, well-stocked, retail spaces. I’m grateful for the remaining acres of unspoiled wilderness.

My point, this morning, is that I am grateful for so many things, it only makes sense that there be a holiday to savor and cherish gratitude itself. It makes sense to cultivate it within my experience, and to enjoy the things I am most grateful for in a mindful and aware state of mind. I know a few people who are enjoying, instead, some Thanksgiving ire or Thanksgiving outrage instead, today, due to pilgrims, heinous violations of the agency of indigenous Americans by entitled European land thieves, and more modern outrages against our modern indigenous brothers and sisters that are so shamefully still ongoing – those things are worth being angry about, no lie. My own thought on this holiday is that the connection between this date on the calendar, this celebration at the autumn dinner table, and this holiday gathering under a banner of gratitude, is tenuous at best, and frankly wholly artificial. That being the case, and this being a “made up holiday” intended to move school children, and sell turkeys, I choose to honor it at face value; a holiday about gratitude, and a day to appreciate, together, or alone, what we do have, what does work, what is valued in our shared or individual experiences. An autumn feast day, a start to the holiday season, a moment of thanks – because we all have things to be thankful for, and we all need a moment of celebration now and then. It’s not about pilgrims, land grabs, or empire, for me. It doesn’t have to be – it’s a made up holiday. Make it your own. πŸ™‚

I finish my coffee just as I finish that paragraph. I continue the conversation with my Traveling Partner, which will no doubt last the day in small exchanges over the hours – shared moments are shared moments, and in the 21st century, a great many of those are online, digital, and remote. It’s the emotional connectivity that matters most – the internet connectivity just holds the door open for that to occur. (Have you phoned your congressional and senatorial representatives to demand that net neutrality be preserved? It matters a great deal.)

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have far more to be grateful for than you have to bitch about. I hope your recipes turn out well, and your guests are entertaining and delightful. I hope you take care of yourself, and enjoy a low-stress holiday. I hope that you love, and are loved in return. ❀

I have spent “too much” of my lifetime feeling “irritated” about one thing or another. lol This morning I woke from a restless-but-deep sleep filled with bad dreams from which I could not wake. They were not specifically “nightmares” and I was not frightened, just… irritated. Bad dreams. I woke still feeling rather unspecifically irked, just generally, at no specific thing, or moment. I feel… annoyed. No idea why. I feel aggravated in advance of any obvious cause. Fussy. Irritable. Cross. Cranky. Rather disinclined to be at all social, and facing a day ahead of me filled with people. Shit. That’s annoying. (To be fair, emotions require no defense, no justification, and take no argument; they are simply feelings. Responses. Reactions. They are what they are.)

How do I figure it’s “too much” over the course of a lifetime? lol Totally subjective; as it turns out, I really dislike these emotional experiences of being aggravated, irritated, fussy, or annoyed. Any particular amount of time spent feeling this way just feels like “too much”, however little it is. πŸ™‚ My life. My experience. My definitions. πŸ˜‰

I sip my coffee and reflect on irritation… and on pearls. Pearls are lovely. Vaguely luminous in appearance, iridescent, sleek, precious… and they begin their existence as an irritant. Literally, in some cases, a grain of sand in an oyster starts the whole process. The pearl itself? A coping mechanism. The cause? Irritation. It gets me thinking about transformations, generally. How best to turn this morning’s irritation into one of life’s pearls? No idea, just now, but I do find it a lovely promising thought. (So many are!)

This whole TBI-PTSD journey from chaos and damage to manageable wellness is very much about transforming disadvantages to advantages, chaos to order, madness to reason, and hell yes – irritants into pearls. Metaphorical pearls, in this instance, but pearls of great value nonetheless. It’s not something that happens “automatically”. As with many things, there are verbs involved, an effort of will required, and an intention that must be formed before that process even begins – and so much practice!! Omg. So much practice. Incremental change over time is a given, we become what we practice, but it is a notoriously slow process and it often feels as though nothing is changing at all. It’s easy to become frustrated with that, to give up on myself, to give up on change, to give up on eventual actual manageable sustainable emotional wellness… but… change is legitimately a thing that is going to happen, and it will be wrapped in my choices, and my practices. Over time, my irritants may become pearls. (Or, they may not. My results vary.)

It’s a nice thought over my coffee. I pause on another thought, “this too will pass”. Also totally true. This morning’s irritability is what it is – but only that, and nothing more. It’s not sustainable. Emotional weather comes and goes. The climate in this life is pretty mild, much of the time. Contentment is fairly practical, as emotional goals go, sustainable, and something that can be “crafted” from components available in a great many lives, lifetimes, and experiences. Have you had a go at contentment, yet? It’s rather lovely. It lacks many of the dizzying highs of “happiness” – there is no euphoria – it also lacks the deep lows that go with chasing happiness, too. It is more a walk through a pleasant urban green space than a through hike on an unmarked wilderness trail; it is predictably level and comfortable. I find myself smiling past my irritability as my day-to-day contentment becomes a wellspring for more of the same, and slowly my heart fills up on that softer, sweeter, more satisfying emotional content.

My dreams were pretty shitty. They begin to fade from my recollection as my irritation recedes.

It feels, generally, fairly effortless to “begin again” when I feel pretty good. Harder when I feel irritable, angry, or strange. It’s still a choice, and even still a choice entirely available to me – it’s just a bit harder to choose it. Still an option, though. Needing a cognitive reset just to get to that place presents its own challenge. This morning, I find it useful to focus on a metaphor (those pearls) and gratitude (that I’ve come so far, already). It’s super hard to remain irritated (or angry) while feeling grateful or appreciative of something. πŸ˜€ (Nice trick, Brain, thanks!) Gratitude is an extraordinary way to hit the reset button on a moment, and find a new beginning – I definitely recommend it.

…And this morning, having begun again, I feel more than usually motivated to get a couple things done before I leave for work. Useful. I finish my coffee, and check my list. πŸ™‚

The menu of options in life is… vast. There is so much to choose from, so many directions one could take life, generally. A nearly unlimited array of choices in a complex choose-your-own-adventure experience that layers the consequences of our actions and decision making over a strange randomized mesh of other people’s free will and a sprinkling of circumstances builds our perceivable context, sometimes bamboozling us into thinking we lack control… or at least influence, and choice. Choice. I keep using that word. It’s a good word. It is a word with a lot of power.

Last night I saw The Hip Hop Nutcracker and enjoyed a rather comfortably adult night on the town that included a relaxed walk through a foggy, rainy, urban nightscape, a pleasant dinner, and a little pre-holiday window shopping. It was a lovely evening. Those were my choices.

This morning, I am contentedly grooving to a DJ’s mix that I adore (the DJ? the mix? both? πŸ™‚ I’m just saying this is a good way to start my morning…or end my evening… or fill my time. lol). Another choice.

We don’t hesitate when we make choices about the music we listen to. That’s a pretty easy one, isn’t it? I like this. You like that. We share some experiences. We don’t “get it” sometimes. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal to like music other people don’t care for, or to acknowledge it when I don’t like some particular band, sound, genre, or track.

Music. Clothes. Style of furniture and decor. Colors. TV shows. Foods. Times of day. Our internal “preferences” settings are by far more complicated than any software. We spend a lifetime “building our profile” as human beings. We spend more time becoming who we are than we do being who we are… It seems useful to be aware of that, and to choose. I don’t mean fall into, and then accept, what we are and what we do – I mean think it over, seriously, and choose, willfully.

Who are you? What do you like? What have you chosen? What experiences and choices are a core part of your “profile” in life? Which ones are “just a test drive”? We grow and learn and change (if only the tiniest bit) every day – how much of that are you considering, selecting, guiding, and living with your eyes wide open?

You know this life is yours, right? What are you doing about that? I mean, like, today? πŸ™‚

I listen to the music, grooving and enjoying my coffee, thinking over life and love and choices, and feeling content on a Thursday morning. It’s enough. Hell – more than enough – I may even be… happy. Wow.

This too will pass. lol No kidding, that’s a given. There will be blue days ahead, some headaches, challenges… maybe I will fail myself – or you – or maybe I will fall short of expectations in a less meaningful way, but still feel dissatisfied? Ups and downs and incremental change over time; however far we come, there is farther to go. Choose wisely. Choose willfully. Be the verbs. (It’s sounds easy, but there are verbs involved. lol)

I look at the clock, and into my empty coffee cup. The music plays on… “…keep it moving…keep it moving… keep it moving…

It’s already time to begin again.

What if you died today and had to give feedback to yourself on your life, or defend, justify, or excuse it, after-the-fact? How would well would you rate yourself?

What if you could try again? Would you make any changes?

It’s an interesting thought exercise… I’m inclined to follow through on this one very soon, perhaps over some solo weekend during the holiday season. I did it once before, purely by chance, years ago. It mattered a great deal and gave me new perspective on my life. It’s a tough one, though, and can really mire one in sadness – it’s not for the timid, the faint of heart (nor the inauthentic). Taking it lightly is neither useful nor helpful. I do hope you find it either useful, or helpful, or at least a thought-provoking read over your coffee, or tea.

Ready? Let’s begin…

Imagine this; you’ve died. It doesn’t matter at all how, you are dead. No opportunity for one more please, thank you, I’m sorry, or I love you. You are done. Game over. Right now. Okay, so now let the death part of the scenario just go; you know nothing of it, and can’t. You’re dead. Nothing new to remember. Let’s look at your life instead – or more to the point, you look at it. That’s right. You had your chance. It’s done. Game over. You are only a collection of memories – your own, and those that others left behind have of you.

Look at your words, and actions, and the outcomes of your choices, andΒ  your baggage, – your free will brought you to these ends. What were your actual, no bullshit, real values – based on your actions, your decisions, what you chased in life, what mattered most to you in fact (what you said you valued has no meaning now, you’re dead and those were just words) – what were your real true actual values? (Don’t rush this, you’ve got plenty of time; you’re dead.)

“Why those?” is maybe not the correct next question, more to the point; is this what you wanted of your life, and your choices? Is this end result “enough”, or “what you wanted”? Are you okay with this being your legacy?

Are the things that were stressing you, truly, now that you’re dead and can look back unafraid and unashamed, were they truly stress-worthy? The times you snapped at loved ones over petty annoyances – worth it? Justifiable? (I mean, you can’t change it now, and all they have to look back on is who you actually were, and how you really treated them.) The stress about work, all that potentially wasted time grinding away on someone else’s agenda – was it worth it in the end? Was there ever “enough” money? Was being “right” worth the agita of forcing someone else to say that you were right – even if they only did so to shut you up? Was it ever finally the “right time” to do something about what you wanted most to do?

Ask the hard questions. Gnothi seauton. No bullshit. Turn and face yourself, naked and revealed. Look into the mirror. Who were you? Is that who you wanted to be? Who you expected to be? Who you thought you were?

Could you have done “better” or “more”? Who defined those qualities for you in life? Why wasn’t it your call, your definitions, your free will reaching out to enact your own choices? Why did you settle? Why were you “chasing” happiness… money… pretty lovers…a better high…a more perfect romance…? Whatever it was… the curtain has fallen. You’re done. Was it worth it? Are you content with the person you were? Will you be remembered? How will you be remembered? What is your legacy?

There may be other questions, too, that matter to you particularly, that hold you back right now, questions I can’t possible know – but you know them. So ask those too. Who were you? Is this truly what you want to leave behind when death overtakes you?

Take your time – I’ve got work to get to, can’t stay with you while you work through the details on this one, and really… It’s all about you. When you are finished with being finished with being you… what then? When you allow yourself to understand and fully accept that a time will come when indeed “you had your chance” and now it has passed you by… will you think you have wasted that precious limited life time? Will you feel a moment of regret for the shitty choices, poor values, lack of ethics, lack of conscience, cruelty, carelessness, regrettable loss of control, the hurt you have done to loved ones, and yes, even strangers? I sort of hope that you do, or that, if nothing else, you feel something that moves you to make some change or other that takes your journey somewhere new – somewhere you really want to go, but hadn’t yet gotten to. Because death doesn’t seem to hold a ton of potential to change who you were, you know?

…Well… At least in this instance… you get a do-over. You get to begin again. Are you ready for your second chance to be the person you most want to be?

Here it is. Right now. It begins right here, right now, and with each choice that follows this moment.

What will you do with it?