Archives for posts with tag: finding my way

I woke to the alarm after a restless night. 4th of July, of course, is a noisy holiday. I’d enjoy it more if more other Americans enjoyed it more often at public fireworks events, rather than in their driveways, streets, and the park beyond my patio. It was well past 11 pm before the bangs, crackles, and booms died away. I let it go, and got what sleep I could.

There is a peculiar low-hanging mist on the meadow this morning. The day is forecasted for a high of 88 degrees. I’m dressed for the hot weather, and appreciative how little time I will have to spend in the heat (it’s a work day, the office is well air-conditioned). I try to avoid fussing and fretting about how hot this apartment will be when I return to it, and instead work on cooling it down now. To be relatively comfortable at day’s end, on a such a hot day,  it needs to be below 70 degrees in here when I leave the house for work. I miss the tree that used to shade this place, keeping it comfortable even on very hot days. I feel my anger about the loss of the trees here surge, and begin to combine with other small irritants that have eroded my contentment here over time. I take a deep breath, and let that go, too.

I got to hang out with my Traveling Partner last night, and it was beautiful and connected and joyful…and…real. We really talked about a couple of things we’d been very careful about for some time. It was…needed. It was even tender. It was… worth having the conversation. I was able to say “I miss living with you…” and feel the tears start as my heart filled with the recollection of us two, living together, in our own place, for that one precious perfectly lovely year of deeply connected new relationship joy… and he didn’t resist, or become tense, or angry, or any of those things. He looked at me tenderly, with concern, and affection, and said something sane and wise… “You thrive living alone…” I don’t recall what else he said, or what came first, or what came after, just those words, and the somewhat puzzled look on his face, and the clear desire to “be there” for me, and to understand. I do thrive living alone, this is a true thing. He’s so right about that.  I do miss living with him… but… I don’t miss cohabitation generally. I actually do thrive – really thrive – living alone. I am disinclined to easily recognize that, when I think about living with my Traveling Partner, no fault of his; I’d never lived so well with another person, ever, than with him. It was… the very next best thing to living alone (which I hadn’t really done previously for any length of time)! I’d probably feel uncomfortable saying it so boldly and firmly this morning, if we hadn’t had the conversation we had last night.

For him, it is a beautiful thing to see me thrive. For me, living alone is the first time I truly have (thrived, I mean). The conversation at least got to the real point; I would enjoy spending more time with him. 🙂 We agree contentedly it has been a busy year for us both. He’s eager to see me in a more comfortable space, feeling safe again (I just haven’t since the burglary back in November). He steers my excitement about getting moved in such that I stay focused on what works for me, and don’t invest heavily in what might work for him in some abstract circumstance in which he lands on my doorstep for a long stay. He trusts my ability to create a beautiful home. I trust that he wants to spend time there with me. I let go of a little more baggage.

I got to reconnect briefly with another friend over the weekend. We exchanged birthday gifts. It was a fun moment. I smile and think of him every time I see the lovely pin he crafted, pinned on my hiking cap. My cap goes everywhere with me during the spring and summer, and often in autumn, and even sometimes in winter… a good all-purpose cap. It had been rather dull and unadorned. Now it seems to shout “you are loved” or “life has purpose” or… “damn I look good!” or something else positive and lovely, without undermining the practical nature of a good cap. I miss hanging out with him, too. A poignant moment of recognition of how much joy busy lives can rob us of… and I let that go, too. Busy, indeed, and legitimately so; there is no point grieving the positives in life. Are we each thriving? Is that not enough? 🙂

A simple cap, a fancy pin, a life now built on contentment and sufficiency.

It is a lovely summer morning for consideration; this morning that consideration is from me, for me, to me. I consider my feelings. I consider the context. I provide myself perspective. I embrace change and consider the needful things. I consider the planning. I consider the future. This morning I allow myself to be aware that indeed I do thrive living alone. I consider the chaos and damage that brought me here in life, without anger, without frustration, and without judgement. I am here. This is who I am. Thriving. Wow. Thriving… that’s a big deal. 🙂 It’s also very much “enough”.

One day in a life worth living…

The sun peeks over the horizon, tangerine and sparkling, turning the needle tips of the awkwardly place pine just beyond the window quite gold and glittery. There is a female duck at the edge of the meadow keeping a careful eye out for cats while having a look for tasty morsels in the grass. Day is beginning. Where will it take me?

 

No kidding. I’m super cross. Grumpy. No idea why, but it is enough to pull me back to my desk. I’ve tried things. I’ve done stuff. Blah blah practices… (eye roll)… verbs. Fuck. I got hit with varying results this afternoon.

Small things are rubbing my emotional balance the wrong way, like grit or sand or finely ground glass mixed into a lovely custard; my pleasant day is unexpectedly less pleasant. I know I can get past this bad bit – and it isn’t that bad, just sort of irritatingly irritating in a way that feels chronic – and isn’t at all (and won’t become so unless I invest in maintaining this experience). So… I sit down here with words to sort it all out and if not “make sense” of it, at least gain some perspective.

My gear is packed – but it is not yet “the day”, and although I am now fully packed up and ready to hit the trees, and the trails, I’ve got a couple more work days ahead of me before that moment arrives. Irritating. Understandably so; I’m eager to hit the trail and find some quiet out among the trees, but the time is not yet now. Frustration – any sort of frustration – is my kryptonite. So. There’s that.

Soon…

“Things” have been aggravating me – and a lot of it falls rather uncomfortably into the large bucket labeled “not my circus, not my monkeys”, things I could so easily let go of entirely, if only I could entirely let them go. LOL  Friends who are dear to me descending into the steaming pile of “horrible to watch” that is domestic violence definitely causes me some stress, more so now that they are “back together”. Fuck, I have seen that terrible cycle far too many times, and lived it too many times myself. There’s a fine line between “being there” for my friends, and enabling domestic violence, and I’ve had to set clear boundaries that at this point any hint of violence will simply result in a phone call to the police, non-negotiable. (How many fewer years of violence would I have suffered myself, if my neighbors had been unwilling to silently tolerate it, or look the other way?) Still, it’s stressful to be aware of its nearby presence, and I feel uncomfortable with it, and far more so because over days it has gone (in conversation) from “violence” to “a misunderstanding” (trust me when I say that violence is no misunderstanding, regardless how it begins). The discomfort is irritating, too. Local hate crimes are also pinging on my consciousness and adding stress to my experience – and that’s a major driver to get out into the trees; I need a break from society. Politics, too, and the news, and the constant ads and “sponsored content” in my “news” feeds… all stressful, all bullshit, very little of it with any legitimate value. Irritating, indeed. None of any of these things are “about me” – letting them all go would be the ideal thing, and I’m finding it difficult to do. So. There’s that.

A huge measure of my stress was apparently hidden in concern about my Traveling Partner, too. He’d said “Monday” when I observed that his calendar said “Sunday”, last week. Okay, no problem – although the lack of calendar accuracy is more sand in my custard, because I count on that planning and explicit expectation-setting when I make my own plans. Okay, okay, still seriously small stuff… although… if anything did happen to him, I would have no idea when to act on that, and could lose precious time by waiting too long to raise an alarm or seek help. It’s his choice to manage his plans in this fashion, though, and we’re both adults. Monday. That’s today. Okay, no problem… only… when? It’s felt like a long Monday as the hours have passed without a word. Shortly after 3 pm, he reaches out, we connect, and I feel much less background stress as a result. Good enough for this moment.

Minutes continue to tick by. Breaking down the stressors into manageable pieces provides me with the perspective I need to really let all of that go, and my contentment with the day is restored, refreshed, renewed – and I can begin again. Again. lol

I woke a bit early this morning, still smiling from the lovely evening spent with my Traveling Partner last night. I’ll probably be smiling for days, unless something entirely different knocks the smile off my face at some point. Hot coffee, headphones on, great playlist, smiling… this is a beautiful moment, as I start my day, still warm from a leisurely hot shower, still comfortable after my morning yoga… did I mention I’m still smiling?

What we see is often determined by what we’re looking at – and how we feel.

This moment is delightful. It’s still just a moment. Mindfulness is only part of this peculiar puzzle that is my journey from surviving to thriving; perspective matters every bit as much, I think. Take that lovely blue sky moment shot yesterday, pictured above, for example. It’s not an entirely frank image… I zoomed in on a small bit of blue sky, and some tree tops at the edge of a parking lot, downtown, near the waterfront, surrounded by concrete overpasses, framed in traffic, asphalt, and homeless people. I grabbed that sliver of beauty and blew it way out of proportion. I think I do that often, even without a camera. It’s also possible to do that in quite the reverse (and exceedingly common), zooming in on the suffering, the unpleasantness, the litter, the damage, the pain, the violence… life has a lot to offer, and it isn’t all pleasant happy fun stuff.

Still

How we view the world, how we experience our own lives, does have to do with our perspective on it. We filter our experience through our perspective. We give the details context, even going as far as making up, or filling in, missing narrative.

Still

Don’t miss out on the fun of life, or it’s whimsy!

We have choices, even about what to look at, and how to see it. Those choices matter, too. Balance matters. Perspective matters. Being “real” matters – and it matters how we define “being real”.

I don’t have anything super useful here, I’m just saying… perspective is a thing, and it’s useful to have some. Moments are moments, pleasant and unpleasant, and there will be some. 🙂 Taken together those ideas don’t stop life (and moments) from being rather like a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle which has pieces that are all shades of gray, and each piece uniquely shaped. Assembling such a thing into something that is ordered seems complicated. I don’t actually know if it is complicated…

…I’m just going to dump the pieces out of the box, and get started on this puzzle. 😉

I’m home. The busy work day is behind me. The week is finished. I sit quietly taking it in; I don’t work tomorrow. I am home. I am alone. Tonight… I’m even lonely. It happens. Just using the word, my eyes tear up a bit. I’m okay, just very human. Tired. In pain. Frustrated by the world every time I hear an adult conversation in passing, or read the news. “Stick a fork in me…” I sigh out loud, the sound of it in the room seems oddly out-of-place with the quiet.

A shower later, and a change into comfy clothes, I’m still in this strange place, poised between contentment and despair. There’s no particular reason for it, really… it’s winter. It’s been a busy week at work. Is that all this is? Am I just tired? I’m struggling to manage some of my self-care basics with the new job. I’m pushing “too hard”, taking too few breaks, getting too little rest… but I also love the job, feel passionate about the progress we’re making, and feel very valued and appreciated. What do I do with that? The long commutes make the days very long indeed, and the evenings very short.

I feel myself sort of… pull back. From everything. Closing the door on “extra people” – as if the friends and loved ones outside the workplace are not in fact far more important to me, day-to-day, moment-to-moment, than even my most esteemed colleague. I come home at the end of the day. Close the door. Sit down. Being fair to my self and my circumstances, it’s rare to feel other than contented on a quiet evening after work, these days. Tonight is different. I remind myself that the sensation of “always” that feels so dull and bleak and immovable is, itself, a part of this feeling – and every sad strained drop of it is pure emotion. Chemistry. Lacking in real meaning, or substance. It’s more a drug than an experience. Squashing it doesn’t help – never has. Venting… meh. I’ve had mixed success there, and my suspicion is that it is the camaraderie of sharing the tale, the connected moment, that results in any apparent success – and fuck, I already know that experiencing an intimate emotional (positive) connection with another human being is a fast track to losing the blues. This is not news.

…But I ache, and I’m tired, and… I’d also like very much to be alone. Now isn’t that a bitch? Feeling lonely, and still wanting to be alone. What the fuck do I do with that?? Well. In this particular instance, I light a fire in the fireplace. I put on some soup. (I made a tasty robust 15 bean soup yesterday in the slow cooker, while I worked from home. It’ll be even better today.) I put on my fuzziest, comfy-cosiest, softest spa socks. I did some yoga. Took some time to meditate. I started choosing to let the stress fall away. I looked the loneliness in the face, and let it be what it is, without piling self-criticism, disappointment, or additional demands on top of it. I lit the lights on the Giftmas tree – and grudgingly made room for the awareness that I was smiling, at least a little. One thing at a time. I started treating myself better, one thing at a time. Rather than continue down the unpleasant path of criticizing my crappy treatment of myself, I’m making a point to go ahead and treat myself better. Right now. Only that. We become what we practice.

Soup will be ready soon. It’s later than I generally have dinner, but I’m also not sleepy. Just tired… and the kind of tired that is mostly brain-tired. Giving my brain a rest isn’t always about sleep. My fingers find the edge of the book I am reading… soup first, though. Later, sleep.

Tomorrow I can begin again.

Nightmares woke me early this morning. I sat trembling, drenched in sweat, for some minutes wracked with sobbing before I was entirely certain that I was awake, and that I’d had a nightmare. I let the Nightmare City fade from my recollection, content that in forgetfulness I would also find relief. My distress passed pretty quickly; I have made this space very safe feeling, and my bedroom walls are hung with art, my art, and I chose pieces with positive meaning – and a lot of glow. Even in the darkest times, I am easily able to re-orient myself upon waking, and I know I am safe, and at home.

Straight from waking abruptly in tears, to meditation, and then to a soothing hot shower; I am okay now. It’s a lovely quiet morning, and the chaos and damage amounts to so much less of my experience these days. Some nightmares are tougher to get past than others, and this was one such – not the nightmare of graphic horrors, rather it was the nightmare of bitter disappointment, cynicism, sorrow and loss. The nightmares of sorrow are sometimes much harder to get over, for me; they seem very real and difficult to dispute. It’s a very human thing to have a nightmare, and I am grateful to be awake, however early. I am grateful to have come so far that I can look my insecurities in the face this morning and admit to myself that I have them, and also observe that as with other constructs of my mind, they lack substance, and they lack factual support. I smile at the woman in the mirror, and make coffee.

Enough.

Enough.

By the time I have coffee in hand, with cream and sugar this morning, I am dressed for work and wearing a smile. Today feels good. My arthritis pain is there, but in the background and less immediately relevant to my experience. The apartment is nicely tidy, and I am content with the life I am living. I am able to smile over the weekend that didn’t go at all as planned, and look ahead to a lovely evening in the company of my traveling partner, and to a far future that is not determined and wide open with possibilities remaining to be chosen. I have succeeded in setting myself free of so many limitations I had held onto – clung to – for so long. I have no idea at all what the future holds, beyond the questions, and the choices; I have been choosing change long enough to unravel all potential predetermination on which I might have settled. The reality of it feels much better than the fear of doing so told me it would. 🙂

Fear isn’t a joke. It can become a crippling disability, stalling me from within, limiting me, fighting any hint that I may do or be or go or have…something. Every now and then, Fear will throw a consolation prize my way, and nudge me into making choices that ‘keep me safe from harm’ but it is by far more common that my fears merely limit me to no good purpose. Fear lacks a subtlety of purpose, and is something of an emotional dinosaur, and I find it is best not to indulge it.

This weekend, having the use of my traveling partner’s car while he was out of town, I used it to drive across town to the concert on Saturday. Ordinarily I would eschew the highway in favor of quieter back roads, side streets, anything to avoid the freeway; that’s Fear talking, right there. I am actually very uneasy about freeway driving at this time in my life, largely because of the number of people I can easily see are actually on their cell phones and don’t have their eyes on the road – which I do find quite terrifying, honestly. Still…this particular weekend, I put my fears aside quite willfully, and took the freeway, both directions. As it turned out, it wasn’t a big deal at all, and definitely  shortened my drive time. Small choices to disarm my fears make big differences in my day-to-day experience of my life – and of myself, but I lack the vocabulary to describe the change easily. Is it enough to say that the less power Fear has in my experience, the calmer and more centered I feel? The stronger I find myself? The more willing I am to tackle other things about which I feel uneasy, or reluctant?

Choosing change isn’t always ‘easy’ – and it isn’t ‘effortless’, ever. Choosing change requires a certain vulnerability, and a willingness to be aware, and accepting, of that thing that I am inclined to change. The fun of it is that these are my choices to make, fully my own, and if they go poorly – I can make other changes as well. Living is not much about permanence. There’s very little of that to go around. It’s not the point at all, is it? Change, though, and the will to choose change, is a thing that gives us some say in the impermanence of our lives and our experience… There’s plenty to consider there, for a Tuesday morning.

It's a journey with a lot of stairs to climb...

It’s a journey with a lot of stairs to climb…

Are you sad? Unhappy with circumstances? Mired in tedium? Bored with ‘everything’? Frustrated with feeling stuck? Sorrowful? Wrapped in ennui? Chronically angry? Tragically wounded? Just spinning your wheels in life, metaphorically speaking, and going nowhere? There’s hope! There is change – and it is always always always within reach to choose it. (Having said that, I will also observe that it isn’t always the change that I think I want most that is most easily within reach, and sometimes the menu isn’t full of options I favor highly…but those things do not stop me from choosing change.) Change is, regardless; if I don’t make choices based on meeting my needs over time, pursuing the life I most want to live, and move forward on my journey with my will intact, I will nonetheless experience change. In the choosing lies great power; I am my own cartographer. At each intersection in life I choose the direction of my journey, myself. How about you?

...And there's no rush; the journey remains worthy when I take the time I need for me.

…And there’s no rush; the journey remains worthy when I take the time I need for me.

Today is a good day to choose change, and to embrace a future built on my choices. Today is a good day for practicing the simple basics, and embracing The Big 5 (Respect, Consideration, Reciprocity, Compassion, and Openness) in all my relationships. Today is a good day for deep listening; we all have our own desire to be heard. Today is a good day to change the world.