Archives for posts with tag: finding my way

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.

 

 

It’s morning, and the start of a new work week. I have my coffee, and I sip it contentedly contemplating the good night’s rest behind me, the work day ahead, and the reassuring joy knowing that my traveling partner will return from afar sometime today – although I won’t see him, myself, until tomorrow it feels good to know he will soon be near.

Light and flowers; I am fascinated by light as a metaphor for gnosis.

Light and flowers; I am fascinated by light as a metaphor for gnosis.

Love is not ‘forever’, generally; it is, only as long as it is, at which point it discontinues being. Some loves are brutally slaughtered by the will or disregard of participants. Some loves fade due to lack of investment or involvement. Some loves linger, maintained and managed, nurtured and valued, until all those doing that loving have passed on from the living to the dead – and a love like that may seem infinite, because all those touched by it recognize something remarkable and it lingers in their recollection. So…not quite infinite, certainly no more infinite than the yearnings that keep the desire for love ever in our attention, and at the top of so many to do lists. I am rambling on about love, although my thoughts were elsewhere, infinity-wise, until my traveling partner pinged me a cheery good morning; hearing from him, of course my thoughts are of love. 🙂

Raindrops on a rose named

Raindrops on a rose named “X-rated”.

I am sipping my coffee and thinking about life’s infinite journey; each day a new experience, each moment my own to engage, to enjoy, to savor, and I am offered a seemingly infinite series of such days, one after the after, each new… It’s not forever, though. My time is now, and will be until…yeah. Death. We are mortal. Life feels continuous. The journey itself seems strangely timeless in some moments, as though it does quite literally go on ‘forever’. Day after day. Moment upon moment. Thoughts. Emotions. Experiences. Dreams. Then, one day, I won’t wake up for another. Approximately infinite, because while my journey continues along a seemingly endless timeline of moments, at some point I, myself, am finite. I sip my coffee, still feeling quite content. Questions of ‘what then?’ don’t distress me; I am here, now. Perhaps there is something, perhaps there is nothing, in either case I am here, now, living my life and generally that’s enough. I haven’t learned all there is to know, yet. I haven’t found my way to the wisest possible perspective, yet. I haven’t mastered the practices upon which I build my contentment in life. I haven’t run out of ideas for paintings – nor exhausted the nearly endless supply of inspiration that fuels that creative work. I haven’t answered all the questions – or even figured out all the best questions to ask. I have not made an intimate sustainable connection with all the worthy beings with whom I might do so in one lifetime. I have not mastered love, Love, and loving – nor have I mastered The Art of Being. There is plenty to do, to experience, and to achieve in this one mortal lifetime – and how magical that there is no rush? Each moment its own, worthy of being savored… Each day unique, worthy of being explored… Each love, each lover, entirely individual and quite special, and worthy of being cherished – however things end. Aren’t we each many beginnings and endings, as beings?

Timeless questions; their greatest value is in the asking.

Timeless questions. Random thoughts. A series of moments.

I’m just saying. It’s a journey – the journey is the destination, and there’s more than enough time to take it moment by moment, awake, aware, alive; we reach the conclusion soon enough without hurrying. Being in this moment, now, and only this one, tends to slow the clock just a bit…or…approximately, seemingly so. I enjoy living most when I let ‘urgency’ fall by the wayside; nothing is more urgent than living my life well, and enjoying each moment I can, and learning something of value from those less enjoyable moments along the way.

When I rush, I so easily miss small things that hold great promise.

When I rush, I so easily miss small things that hold great promise.

So…this morning I sip my coffee, listening to the trickle of the aquarium, and the hushed sounds of the start of commuter traffic on a busy street somewhat near by, and watching the sky turn from night to day outside my patio door. I am unconcerned with other moments than this one, now. It’s a nice enough moment, as moments go, and somewhat uneventful. A moment on a Monday morning, worthy of being, but not in any way spectacular…letting even such a moment slip away unappreciated, unnoticed, un-lived would shorten my mortal journey in some subtle way…perhaps that’s the point I’m really getting at this morning; now is infinite. Well. Approximately infinite. 🙂

Look deeper. What matters most?

Look deeper. What matters most?

Today is a good day to be engaged in the moment, and living life beautifully. Today is a good day to move forward on my journey. Today is a good day to be reassured that however many minutes of my journey I may share with others, the journey I make is, itself, entirely my own. Today is a good day to choose, to question, and to walk on.  Today is a good day to live without waiting for the right set of circumstances.

With the return of the rain, I have a sense that autumn approaches; seasons change.

With the return of the rain, I have a sense that autumn approaches; seasons change.

Yesterday turned out to be a strangely difficult day, and the difficulty of it confused me; I had all the ingredients of a very good day, and yet, the day unfolded so poorly. Amusingly, the title for yesterday’s post remained relevant throughout; it was all very subjective, and it was clearly a matter of my own unique perspective on matters. The color of the day wasn’t a factual matter at all, it was pure emotion. One very awesome thing about yesterday? It’s yesterday. It is not ‘now’. 🙂 I am okay right now.  That’s enough.

Growth can't be forced; I unfold like a flower, opening my heart on my own timeline.

Growth can’t be forced; I am a flower, opening my heart on my own timeline. My journey and my seasons are my own.

My traveling partner takes being supportive and makes it his own, showing me the depth of his love by giving me space when I need it; that’s got to be hard for him sometimes, knowing how he adores me, and enjoys being with me. He misses me even when what separates us is not a matter of miles in distance, but more about my chaos and damage piling up between his heart and mine. This morning I take time to smile gently, grateful, appreciative, and content to have the strength of his love, even when I haven’t got strength enough of my own to be easy to share it with.

Love is always 'there' for me, when I recognize it sources from within.

Love is always ‘there’ for me, when I recognize that it sources from within.

Love sounded like it would be ‘easy’ when I was young. Easier still because I really wasn’t sold on it as a notion; it didn’t seem likely, or real to me, and I had had no experience of it to show me otherwise. Love, then, was a fairy tale. When I did eventually meet love, I was as a child bringing home some wounded animal and attempting to keep it as a pet; I didn’t know what I needed to know to treat love well, to nurture it, to grow with it. It quickly diminished, and eventually died, leaving me wondering how real it ever was. I probably had other chances at love, and didn’t even recognize them, after filtering every experience through my chaos and damage, and taking life coaching advice from my demons. I spent some portion of my life snarling ‘fuck love’ and striding purposefully through my experience without regard to my heart, on a campaign to stamp out emotion entirely.

Love being what it is, I did not succeed in stamping out my emotional fire. We are creatures of both emotion and reason; crippling one, mocks the other. Love, being what it is, gave me another chance to open my eyes – and my heart. I’ve managed to muck it up now and then, pretty badly, nonetheless. I’ve been frustrated more than once to make such an important journey without a map…or a rule book. Love does have rules, it needs to be built, to be nurtured, to be invested in, to be taken seriously – and not taken seriously at all – in order to thrive. Where romantic love must be reciprocal to thrive, love itself – the fundament of love, the foundation of love, the essence of love – all that must come from within, and it’s hard to get to the best that romantic love has to offer without doing the important work of loving myself, preferably first…but certainly at some point. ‘Now’ serves nicely.

If we don’t know how to nourish our love, it withers. When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love.”

How to Love, by Thich Nhat Hahn

The journey ahead winds through the chaos and damage, and no mystery there; love touches everything within me, every hurt, every sorrow, every shard of broken dreams. Like a rope thrown into a well, it’s up to me to pull myself out of the darkness and it looks dreadfully difficult sometimes, but the opportunity is there, the choice is mine, and with patient practice, and the will to do the verbs…well… I can see the light, just ahead…

Love is a living, breathing thing. There is no need to force it to grow in a particular direction. If we start by being easy and gentle with ourselves, we will find it is just there inside of us, solid and healing.”

How to Love, by Thich Nhat Hahn

Easy? Gentle with myself? Why does that sound difficult? Is it only because my skill is limited, and I need more practice? Is it because I am still fighting off demons, and wading through chaos and damage? Is it because old programming and negative self-talk get in the way? Is it because I sometimes overlook that will, choice, and action are required, moment to moment? Is it because when I am hurting I still punish me first?

Why, yes. All of those things. There’s good news, though; I have choices. 🙂

My path takes a turn I don't expect; the way ahead holds so much promise.

My path takes a turn I don’t expect; the way ahead holds so much promise.

Today is a good day for love. Today is a good day to change the world.