Archives for posts with tag: finding my own way

It takes time to recover from an injury. I over-eagerly pushed myself to complete a longer than usual last Monday, and arrived home with a sore knee. Tuesday I stayed mostly off of it and it felt much better by day’s end. Wednesday, it felt better still, though not fully recovered, and I undertook some nearby errands on foot – and worsened the injury. I knew better. I chose poorly. Yesterday, with some discipline, I stayed mostly off of it again, and this morning find myself ‘better’ although I still feel it aching, and occasional twinges if there’s any hint of lateral movement…and my brain happily chimes in first thing with hiking suggestions! No. I’m staying off it today, too. ūüė¶ It’s a more difficult choice than I’d like it to be.

A good day to relax in the garden.

A good day to relax in the garden.

Doing what I know is the correct thing, the most effective or appropriate choice to take care of my long-term needs well, is not always the easiest choice. It is, in fact, most often not at all the easiest choice.

After a night of rain showers, and a morning of sunshine, the garden needs little help from me besides enjoying it.

After a night of rain showers, and a morning of sunshine, the garden needs little help from me besides enjoying it.

I think about choices. I think about growth, and progress. I think about the world. I wonder about all the people who seem never to have taken time to reflect on that person in their mirror, to reflect on their choices, their actions, the outcomes. I can’t actually imagine that the vast numbers of ignorant hateful people shoring up our badly broken culture actually ever pause to reflect on what they do, on what they’ve done, or on why it matters so much that they learn another way – that we all¬†learn other, better, ways. (We are each having our own experience. Most people, even really vile hateful people, imagine themselves to be the good guys in their own narrative.) I think about how far I’ve come myself, growing up in ignorance, and learning so much to come so far – to discover how very ignorant I remain. Different things. The more I’ve learned of life, of love, of things universal or specific, of science, of violence, of art, of madmen and monsters in the darkness, of the fictions I craft for myself, of journeys to be taken, and of all the many practices within reach to become a better person than I was yesterday… the more there seems to be to learn. About all of it.

"Where did I get that idea?" "Why do I think so?" These are important questions to ask myself.

“Where did I get that idea?” “Why do I think so?” These are important questions to ask myself.

I’m no longer so frustrated by my own ignorance; this is a journey, and I continue to grow. I may have observed that I am unsure what other purpose life has, than growth, development, learning. We become. We become, in fact, what we practice. (But what we think we know weighs heavily on what we may choose to practice.) I began life knowing nothing. I know so much more now – and so little compared to the vastness of all there is to know. “I am only an egg” says Valentine Michael Smith. I can’t argue with that.

It's a good day to begin again. A good day to learn, and to love. A good day to change the world.

It’s a good day to begin again. A good day to learn, and to love. A good day to change the world.

Today I will spend my time being – and becoming. Painting. Practicing. Breathing. Loving. Treating myself and others as I well as I know how to, and learning to do it just a bit better while I’m at it. Today that’s enough.

The morning unfolds gently, quietly, slowly – and I am at home, not camping. I woke in the comfort of my bed, rather than waking in agony, stiff, and struggling to get my bones up off the ground. I have entirely deviated from any semblance of planning for the weekend – and I am also entirely okay with that; what I need from me with this time can be had right here, and figuring out how to get it here at home is a worthy endeavor, itself.

Although I was packed up and ready for my weekend in the trees, Thursday quickly went sideways once I confirmed that literally every reservable tent camping space within a 3 hour drive had been reserved. Frustrated by the outcome of my own lack of advance planning, I sat down with my thoughts to get my bearings, and check traffic for the route to the state park I was most inclined to drive to, figuring I might take my chances on a non-reservable space still being available so close to a choice summer camping weekend. The traffic was reported to be terrible (making a 45 minute drive nearly 2 hours). I became more fully aware of how much pain I was in. Camping seemed much less appealing than it had only days before.

Cats have a good idea what to do with their leisure time.

Cats have a good idea what to do with their leisure time.

Adulthood does have one clear advantage over childhood, and although I capitalize on it less¬†often than I could, I sure did on Thursday – I straight up owned being adult, and grabbed hold of the “I can do whatever I want” opportunity. I revisited my entire weekend plan, over a very tasty cup of coffee – no bed time – and decided on a series of day hikes fairly nearby, ones that are difficult to reach on public transit (taking advantage of having my traveling partner’s car for the weekend). I considered other things that appeal to me, that I can’t easily do most weekends (due to the limitation of not having a car, myself), and also made plans to visit favorite local places that are generally just out of reach.

My Thursday evening was very relaxed, and focused on caring for myself, and indulging simple pleasures. I turned off the technology, even my phone. I put the stereo on sounds of rainfall – hours of it that I have recorded myself over the years, drowning¬†out the sounds of the world outside as well as I could. It was, after all, the stillness that I was seeking most aggressively with this time… wait… what? Something nagged at me, even then…

There is something about being alone out in the trees, walking, awake, aware, and on my own journey.

There is something about being alone out in the trees, walking, awake, aware, and on my own journey.

Friday was very pleasant. My long hike on the trails through Tryon Creek Park was quite lovely, and refreshing, and…lovely. I could still hear the sounds of traffic with every step, and never did escape the continuous awareness of the presence of humanity. Was that what I was looking for? If so – did I understand how unrealistic a goal it was? (Rather like chasing ‘happily ever after’.) I felt a subtle aggravation with the experience, that coexisted with the pleasure of walking among the trees, along the creek, on paths that twisted, turned, climbed, dropped, and winded among trees of surprising age, and the lush dense greens of forest that I definitely had been seeking for comfort and nourishment.

This is my journey. Your results may vary.

This is my journey. Your results may vary.

I took both perspectives on the experience home with me. A bite of lunch, and a cup of coffee later and I was off again – headed down the road to where there are lovely roses to be had; it was on my mind to restore my patio garden to its own lushness, after weeks of sweltering heat, and to replace roses that had been carelessly lost more than a year ago, during a winter storm when I was out of town. Several of my favorite miniature roses in containers, that I had brought with me when I moved in, had died. I don’t think anyone else noticed, or cared, but it bothered me greatly and I missed them here at Number 27. I spent Friday afternoon gardening – another activity I find soothing, uplifting, and restoring. Friday was quite wonderful.

“The Sorcerer” – selected for my garden as an homage to love’s magic in my life.

Evening came, and that was when the various sensations, ideas, and perspectives collided while I was meditating; I was seeking stillness by running from the noise. It was a needed ‘aha!’ moment. I was ‘filling my time’ instead of actually embracing the possible stillness. It’s an easy mistake to make, but ineffective; I take myself with me everywhere I go. If the stillness I seek would be within, then the noise I am attempting to escape may¬†similarly be within me; running won’t get me very far from myself. It wasn’t that the time was wasted, or that the investment in self-care and things I enjoy is a mistake; I enjoyed my time, and it was well-spent – but it wasn’t going to get me any closer to the stillness I know I am needing.

This morning I woke early, and returned to sleep. It’s not possible to over-state the value of adequate rest. When I woke, I didn’t turn on the computer, the stereo, or the noise of the world. I showered in mindful silence, feeling the sensations, and being present. I took my time with my morning yoga, being patient with myself, and focused on the moment and each movement. I made my coffee with great care, and without wandering off to do something else during the process. One mindful task at a time, and no attempt to ‘multi-task’. I permit myself no distractions this morning. Over time, my ‘thinker’ has shoved my ‘observer’ out of the driver’s seat far too often for my good emotional health, and like a restless child, my ‘thinker’ wants to be on the move all the time. It’s a playground for my demons, and I am quickly overwhelmed by the noise – I had forgotten that the noise is most often entirely within, and similarly within my ability to silence the din. Chasing the stillness by running from the noise is not the most effective practice for finding the stillness.

bridge

I’m not the first to cover this ground; other thinkers and seekers of stillness have been here before me, each having our own experience.

So here it is, today. I am at home. It is a quiet morning. I have choices – most of them come down to choosing to embrace the stillness I am seeking, or to run from the noise (and no doubt getting things done along the way, but definitely not finding the stillness). ¬†A very good practice, I find, for embracing stillness is the practice of sitting still (literally that simple) – no stereo, no video, no conversation, no guided meditation – just sitting, quietly, breathing, aware of the sounds around me, aware my breath, filled with awareness itself – it sounds easy, but the restlessness and noise within want very much to be indulged, and it sometimes requires repeatedly returning to the present moment, setting aside distracting thoughts to breathe again, to be aware of the sounds without judgement or evaluation. We are coached all our lives to be productive, to refrain from ‘daydreaming’, and to maintain an active presence in the world. Sitting still requires practice.

Sometimes it seems necessary to find just the right place for sitting still...this too, is a distraction.

Sometimes it seems necessary to find just the right place for sitting still…this too, is a distraction.

Whatever else I may do with my time today, I will be doing it gently, mindfully, and savoring each precious moment.

It may be necessary to stand still long enough for stillness to catch up to me. :-)

It may be necessary to stand still long enough for stillness to catch up to me. ūüôā

I’ll let the stillness come to me.

This morning I woke feeling content, and comfortable. I woke smiling. The amount of pain I am in today seems irrelevant to the quality of my morning, which I am enjoying without expectation or demand. I am sipping my coffee and considering things involved with my imminent move; I have ‘a foot in the door’ on my studio, and planning the move has become very real, and very exciting. This feels like a moment of great strength, from the vantage point of experiencing it, and it turns my attention towards what makes me feel ‘strong’ – and what is that really about?

This is not a journey with a destination.

This is not a journey with a destination.

Tough times, hardships, trauma, and turmoil can so often feel unmanageable, or overwhelming. I have to commit to real effort to launch good practices sometimes, and to show myself compassion, and make time for simple reminders that ‘this too shall pass’, in order to feel I am going to ‘make it through to the other side’. I am vulnerable, and I am sometimes more fragile than I would prefer to have revealed to the world…but that openness that is so much part of who I am is also one of my greatest strengths, and a substantial gift.

Lasting strength seems built on moments of great hardship, survived and passed by. What I do with myself in times of stress, or trauma, isn’t merely about the strength I’ve already got – it seems to be what builds the strength I will count on in the future. I am learning to count on that strength in advance – like Harry Potter realizing he can cast his Patronus Charm, because he already has. Perspective once again pushing its way to the forefront of good practices, I suppose. ūüôā

Today is a good day to invest in future strength with good self-care, and real appreciation for the journey that has gotten me this far. Today is a good day to celebrate how far I have come, and the challenges behind me. Today is a good day to stare the future in the face with a welcoming smile. I am my own cartographer, and today is a good day for a journey.

The map is not the world...still good to have a map, though. :-)

The map is not the world…still good to have a map, though. ūüôā

I woke gently this morning. I woke slowly. My consciousness unfolded in a lovely way, without anxiety or stress, or residual negative emotions left over from unremembered nightmares. I woke feeling very little pain, minimal stiffness, and feeling comfortable in my body. I woke feeling beautiful, well, and pleasantly sensuous, enjoying the sensations of skin against sheets, blankets, pillows, and the softness of the morning air. No headache. Heart soaring. Feeling inspired and eager to face the blank canvas on my easel Рand metaphorically, the blank canvas of my day, and my future. I woke loving, and feeling loved, in the quiet solitude of comfortable surroundings, content and aware that love does not require proximity outside my own self-imposed attachments.

I woke to a quiet household. I contentedly made my coffee, contemplating what things I might get done today, and feeling artistically inspired – today is a good day to paint, and I’ve got a number of concepts sketched out that I am ready to make come alive, even some new notions this morning that I am eager to sketch and get started on. It is, in nearly every respect, an ideal day to paint. Currently, there is simply no room to do so. The space set aside for me to work has filled with another project, which has stalled temporarily due to real life happening, in spite of plans. On some other day, this could result in a lot of suppressed resentment festering in the background, and find me feeling unimportant, lacking in value, not well-cared for, and not understood. ¬†Today is different. Sure, it’s frustrating, and I earnestly want to live in an environment that truly supports me creatively, one in which ensuring I can paint when I am moved to paint, write when I am moved to write, listen to the music I love, sing, dance, and simply be this specific human that I am,¬†is among the¬†highest priorities of the household day-to-day. ¬†As with so many things, there are verbs involved, choices to make, and I am my own cartographer on this journey.

I am working on getting into a live/work space that really meets the needs I have at this point in my life; choices are made, verbs are verb-ing in an¬†appropriate order, and at a reasonable rate of progress. In the meantime, rather than blow a lovely day feeling creatively frustrated, I am feeling strong, feeling creative, and feeling joyful now, with what is. ¬†It’s a lovely morning. My coffee is hot and tasty. I feel inspired – and I am not limited to canvas and brush; I have all these lovely words, and ideas, and broad blue skies, endless paths to walk beneath them. It is a lovely Sunday to rise from the wreckage of my chaos and damage, and practice the beautiful Art of Being.

The humble dandelion stands out in a crowd; her strength unmistakable, her beauty her own.

The humble dandelion stands out in a crowd; her strength obvious, her beauty her own; it is no concern of hers that some see her as ‘a weed’.

Today is a good day to bring order to small corners of chaos. Today is a good day for good practices, and good self-care. Today is a good day to treat me well, and enjoy who I already am. Today is a good day for sketching, and laundry, and photographing the very first roses in my garden. Today is a good day to be, and to become, and to celebrate personal rebirth. Today is a good day to practice the Art of Being.