Archives for posts with tag: finding balance

I left work later than I’d planned, after getting both more and less done than I intended – and needed – to do. I slumped against the hand rail in the elevator as the doors closed around me, alone at long last. Tears didn’t wait. I stoically stepped off the elevator doing a first-rate impression of being dry-eyed and calm.

I messaged my Traveling Partner that I would be heading home. It’s of no direct consequence for him, though, is it? Hardly. I’m here. He’s there. Fuck, why do I do this? I wonder as I buckle in for the commute home. Rain. I start the car – my washer fluid warning tells me I’ve run out. Shit. Really? Today? God damn it. As I pull out, the “time for an oil change” reminder comes on, too. My lips tremble. I’m not up to this. I’m not adult enough. It’s too much…

My phone bing-bongs at me. I haven’t pulled out of the parking lot, and stop, set the break, and check the message. Love and well-wishes for a safe drive from my Traveling Partner. More than that, really, a proper love note, heart-felt, yearning, and reminding me how much I would be missed if I didn’t make it home. Wow…

…I cried most of the way home, the slow enduring weeping of strong emotion that won’t be defeated. Not quite “happy tears”, just… relieved? Reassured? Profoundly moved. I took care with the drive, hearing the reminder still fresh in my thoughts and in my heart. I made it safely home in the usual amount of time, maybe less, and with far less stress – I’m sure there’s something to learn from that.

The box on the stoop reminded me again how loved I am. I sat down on the stoop, in the rain, and just fucking wept. “Too much.” Too much stress in the week, too much emotion in the moment, and it all came pouring out at once, on my front step, on a rainy night. When I became to cold for sentimental moments, too rained on to pretend I wasn’t cold, and my tears had dried, I gathered up my package and went into the house. I messaged my partner, so he’d know I was indeed home safely. His evening had already moved on to other things, and I don’t expect any immediately reply, so I move on to a hot shower, a few more tears, and then make a healthy bite of dinner.

I hurt, but it’s just pain. I’m not on the edge of tearing someone’s head off over nothing, or disintegrating into a sodden tearful wreck. It’s a quiet evening. I have made a lovely home here. I start a fire in the fireplace and take a seat on my meditation cushion, and feel “too much” begin to fall away, leaving behind only enough.

Thrown off balance and freaked out by what you are seeing in the news? I get it. Scary.  Seriously, though, however hard “now” is, however scary and rocked to your core you feel in this moment, breathe. Just that – breathe. Stay with that until you begin to feel settled (don’t keep checking, as though watching water to boil, just breathe and let the process unfold). Be aware of your body. Take a moment, and just be. Struggling with it? Begin again.

Some moments are hard. Crazy hard. Chaos can be terrifying, and most particularly when it catches us by surprise. Breathe through it. Don’t fight it. Just breathe. Take a moment. Get the oxygen you need to live. Feel the tension in your body and start letting that go. You can. There are some verbs involved. (Notice that “breathe” is a verb.) This too shall pass. No kidding. Change is. (You faced change to get to this moment, here.)

A change of perspective can be really helpful.

A change of perspective can be really helpful.

It’s hard to turn away from the political mayhem, even briefly. Those of us who care deeply, and feel great compassion for others directly affected by the hate and xenophobia and greed of the incoming administration – as well as the sheer incompetence due to lack of any relevant experience – are frightened and frustrated – what do we do to make things right? What can we do to help?  Others, driven less by compassion and more by fear, or hate, or greed, are likely also feeling disrupted and stressed out to see associates they didn’t understand would object, protest, or refuse to participate. suddenly rising up in organized protest, literally everywhere, and even calling people out for being racists, haters, bigots, and just basically completely vile, instead of quietly tolerating it. Families are torn apart by partisan bickering and refusal to communicate in a rational way. Whole industries are thrown off course by the weird hailstorm of executive orders spewing forth from a seemingly unhinged Washington. It’s understandably hard to look away… but… now and then, for sanity’s sake, you must. You’ve got to also take care of you. This isn’t going to be a short journey, and we need every decent human being to endure, and carry on… And you need you, too, so very much.

Embrace a peaceful moment. Breathe. Repeat.

Embrace a peaceful moment. Breathe. Repeat.

Take a minute and breathe. Have a coffee with a like-minded friend. Relax with a book, or a few moments of quiet. Watch the birds. Play with your kids. Go for a walk. Something that gives your heart a moment of ease, pleasure, and even joy. You need it to keep you going; we’ve got to pace ourselves for the long fight. It’s revolution, now, you see. Change is coming.

I’ll probably avoid saying much else about all of this. I’d like to focus my writing on more positive things – the practices that work, the day-to-day eye-opening moments that push me forward on life’s journey, things revealed, and baggage set by the wayside. I have already learned the lesson that when I focus on nothing but the pain, nothing but the challenges, nothing but the fears, my life becomes a painful, challenging, fearful place to endure my mortal time. I’ve grown beyond that, generally; it’s taken miles of walking, hours of practicing, and the slow incremental changes over time that result from doing my best moment to moment to be the person I most want to be. We become what we practice.

We become what we practice. Think about that. There’s nothing there that says “don’t be angry” – and there are things worth being angry about – but being angry, over time, without a break for good self-care and moments of joy, we become anger, and unable to experience our lives in its absence, unable to view content through any other lens. Be sure to take a break from anger, from outrage, from fear – there are other things to be. Don’t forget to be Love. ❤

He has his own agenda.

He has his own agenda.

This morning I woke feeling much better than yesterday, happily over being sick. A crow called to me from the tree top beyond the studio window with a stern reminder that the world beyond includes more moments that those being endlessly revisited, repeated, and recylced in the news. I linger over my coffee, bird-watching. I leave writing for later. Yoga, meditation, a lovely chat with my Traveling Partner, and the weekend’s housekeeping all seem more important, this morning, than the news; I’ve already read it once, you see. The rest is repetition, and there are healthier things to put on repeat. 🙂

Today is a good day to be. Today is a good day to breathe. Today is a good day for verbs. Today is a good day to ask “how can I help most?” and do that thing. Be in this moment. Be who you are. It’s enough.

This is a busy week. Doctor’s appointments, work, life, errands, decisions, choices, practices – and love – it’s a very busy week, indeed. Some of my appointments will bring me face to face with long-time concerns, some will require emotional presence – and emotional work. Work and life and errands and all the things that feel urgent or important or necessary may result in some stress to be managed. The love will be there, in background supporting me, in the foreground as something to be nurtured and invested in with good choices, consideration, and some verbs. I am a bit pre-occupied, particularly with the doctor’s appointments, and while I am hopeful that results may lead to quality of life improvements and a reduction in day-to-day pain… I don’t know what the outcome will be, really. I have questions.

I have rather a lot of questions. Maybe this queuing up of questions is more to do with any perceived feeling of being busy than all the things I am feeling busy with? Today seems a good day to ask questions. I can get on with answering them another time…any time. Some of them may not need answers at all – funny how some of the questions we ask work that way.

I list a bunch of questions. I mean seriously – a lot. Then I realize it really comes down to just a handful of questions that mostly cover it all.

What do I really want out of life from this perspective? Am I making the choices I need to in order to head in that direction? Am I willing to make different choices, or take greater risks? Do I have a good understanding of what my choices really are, and what the outcomes may be? Have I considered how each possible choice affects other areas of life – and people who matter most to me?

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

I “come up for air”, returning to this present moment, reminded how very ‘now’ life really is, as I consider questions that look forward. I missed two important [for me] questions…

What is enough?

Am I okay right now?

Isn't it enough to find balance?

Isn’t it enough to find balance?

Today is more about questions than answers. I am okay right now. Answering the others needn’t be rushed.

 

 

First, before I go farther, and carelessly hurt someone’s feelings over mystical or spiritual beliefs we may not share; nothing in this post is intended to slight someone else’s personal beliefs, challenge their system of beliefs, or deny them the chosen beliefs that comfort and guide them. Not even a little bit. This is not about that.

Finding peace and balance is a very personal journey.

Finding peace and balance is a very personal journey.

If you read this blog now and then, you are probably aware that I have a certain…cynicism is a good word… about medicine, and specifically the practice of medicine relevant to women, and our experiences. Still, so many of us get to a place in life where our desperation and suffering require intervention, because we are challenged to find solutions within, and many of us choose the Rx solution recommended to us. Sometimes that’s a life saver. Sometimes it is a game changer. Sometimes it is a real and very practical solution to get us through the hard times. For me… when my turn came the solution offered by the VA, in the form of first one pill, then another, then a handful, only seemed to be helping me, and only initially (resulting in ever-increasing dosages and frequencies being prescribed).  Certainly, being stupefied chemically, pacified, and ‘managed’ by way of the careful and regular consumption of mind-altering drugs (and yes, they are) got me promoted at work, and I suppose that matters… but I couldn’t write easily (and you know I love words!) and struggled to paint. When I could paint, it was often only the most wildly fluid abstractions that were still possible. I watched a lot of television, mostly court tv shows; there is something about the interaction of seemingly real authentic people facing challenges that fascinated me, even drugged.

"Metaphor" acrylic on canvas. Painted on Zyprexa

“Metaphor” acrylic on canvas. Painted on Zyprexa

My experiences with chemical intervention in the struggles I faced with my volatility, my PTSD, my temper, and my hormones were disappointing, at best. The drugs the VA gave me slowly wrecked my health, and along the way I gained a lot of weight. The worst thing about all of it? It didn’t ‘work’. I still had to go through it all, endure it all, and get to the ‘other side’ – menopause, better therapy, practicing what worked. I still had to address the real issues of my PTSD.  There was more to know and to learn about taking care of myself, meeting my own needs where I could, and I hadn’t yet found out about my TBI (which is sort of a big deal in the whole ‘taking care of me’ realm). Many of the drugs I was given turn out to be entirely contraindicated because of the TBI; other treatments were more appropriate, safer, more effective, less likely to cause my brain further damage.

Why do I mention it today? Because each and every time I ‘chose the red pill’ hoping for a miracle, I was disappointed when no miracle came. Over and over it broke my heart, to suffer. I felt like I would never be well, and never stop crying.  We put so much faith in our healers, our medicine men, our preachers, our faiths, our pills and cures and potions – and promises. We keep at it, too, as though the issue is not how we’re going about solving the puzzle, but more that we’ve just grabbed the wrong puzzle piece.  For some reason, we don’t just want relief, improvement, progress… we want it now. Right now. No delay and no real effort.  Pills are much easier than working to improve, so much easier than practicing a skill.  Choosing a different approach was much more challenging than choosing a different pill.

Sip of coffee. A calming breath. A reminder; this is not about you. :-)

A sip of coffee. A calming breath.

Pausing for a moment to reflect on my experience; I hope you are reflecting on yours, too, and in loving kindness, and awareness that your choices are your own, chosen by you, doing the best you can. I hope whatever you choose works to improve your experience over time, too, and if that means an Rx solution to some challenge or another, I hope you get the relief you need, and find wellness and contentment. You get no criticism from me; we’re different people. 🙂

It took me the better part of 2 years to get off the various psych meds the VA had put me on. It was harder than it had to be; there’s limited information of what the experience of going off some drugs is going to be like, and in some cases it is beyond scary, in others the damage left behind was unanticipated, and required further recovery.  Throughout the process I had the emotional support of friends and loved ones to complete the undertaking; very few of them ever thought I needed those drugs in the first place, although obviously something needed to be done. (Turns out it needed to be done by me, and drugs are not required.)

I can paint again. I can write again. I can think clearly (You, there in the back, no tittering!). Let’s be fair, though, I’m not doing nothing. I am doing a lot to take care of me, and it is an active process requiring my time and attention, my will, and my effort: meditation, yoga, study, practicing, modeling new behavior, role-playing the deconstruction of bad programming and conversations that could have been healing if handled differently, developing greater emotional intelligence, learning to ‘take care of me’… I barely have time for life and work, I put so much time and effort into learning to treat myself and others well, and healing, and achieving emotional wellness.  A pill would be much easier; there isn’t one for what I need.  (A pill never got me off the hook for doing the work that needed to be done, either, but often limited my ability to see that work needed to be done.)

Where am I going with this? Into the trees. 🙂 I’m taking time for me, in the woods, camping and meditating, hiking and sketching. Practicing. Change takes work. Sometimes work requires a bit of elbow room. It’s just 3 days, a long weekend alone, and I’m eager to get started; there are a few hours of work between me and… whoever I am when I walk out of the forest. Monday does not yet exist, and there’s still one last gear check, and packing it all up, loading the car, and a bit of a drive ahead. I have no particular expectations, there is no warning label, no contraindications, no risk of overdose. It’ll be me, and some timeless time alone with my heart. I hope I make skillful use of it, take care of my needs over time, and walk a path that leads… to another path, and probably more practice. lol

Walking my own path.

Walking my own path.

Did I mention? I’ll be away a few days. 🙂

Today is a good day to take a step forward. Today is a good day to breathe. Today is a good day to love and be loved. Today is a good day to walk away with a smile. Today is a good day to change the world.

I woke in a good place. Meditation lingered gently endless minutes and quiet breaths longer than usual. I am unconcerned.

Last night was sweet and quiet, and the painful conversations of the evening prior carried only positive value into  last night’s emotional space. It’s nice to feel heard, understood, and comforted.

There’s so much more to growing and learning than the bits that feel good. Sometimes it is the very small gestures, the subtle pleasures, that mean the most.

Small things matter.

Small things matter.