Archives for posts with tag: gratitude

It took awhile to get here, today. At this point, I am relaxed, content, and more or less comfortable. I spend the day in pain, working, doing the things needing to be done, dodging interruptions and distractions as well as I could – some of them are my own doing, purely a product of being human, and enjoying that moment of connection with other humans. I probably need a few of those, anyway. 🙂 The commute home was routine. Nothing terrible… well… no more so than usual, and somehow less aggravating.

Today was fairly shitty. It was hard, and I hurt all day. It was hard to smile. It was an effort not to complain. It was a struggle to fight back tears, more than once. I feel awkward and graceless on my cane. I feel old to be struggling with pain, and mobility challenges. Did I mention what a shitty day it was? I was mired in it all day.

I endured. I mostly endured through successful application of a favorite very portable practice (and I’m pretty sure that this particular practice, in part, resulted in the better-than-average commute experience, just saying). It’s too simple. Please don’t laugh…

It’s hard to stay angry or be annoyed with life when I am experiencing gratitude. Just that. Feelings are tricky, though, and faking it doesn’t work. I start with things that seem obvious to appreciate – and I take a moment to appreciate them. Continue until I’m not in a bad mood. Repeat as needed. It’s not any more complicated than that, really, although it can take a bit of practice to get comfortable and easy with it; sometimes it feels like I really want to be mad about shit. That’s hard to let go of.

I start with something immediate and in-the-moment… some small comfortable detail that, by itself, isn’t crappy at all. Like… looking out the window at the office to the workers on the roof across the way; I’m not working outside in the wind and cold. Yeah, okay – I’m grateful for climate controlled indoor work, for sure. Oh, and indoor plumbing, and potable drinking water from a tap any time I want it. The rest room at the office stocks feminine hygiene supplies. I don’t need that stuff on this side of menopause, but I really appreciate that we provide such obvious basic necessities. I value the basic day-to-day courtesy and consideration of our work culture. I have a coworker who sits near me who good-naturedly lifts my spirits on the regular with light-hearted banter. I am grateful for the decency and humor of my colleagues. On it goes. I can continue to list things I am grateful for, until gratitude has filled me up entirely and I have no room for anger, irritation, or surly bullshit.

One note of caution; this is a positive thing, this gratitude thing. I find it more effective to focus on positives for that reason, so, while it is definitely worth being grateful that I don’t have malaria (and it’s amusing to say as much, in any number of contexts), it’s sort of askew from the point of the practice. More useful, perhaps, to note that I am grateful to have had anti-malarial drugs available when I did work in an area that put me at risk of getting it… an observation that tends to lead me down the path of other medical tools, practices, experiences, skills, and medications which I am grateful exist. Yay! More gratitude. That’s the thing with being grateful for the lack of something, or the negation of something else; it’s hard to build on a negative without slowly becoming more negative. Well… that’s my own experience. Your results may vary. Negativity definitely has more comedic potential, if that’s what you are going for. I just wanted to feel better, and enjoy my experience more easily while enduring so much pain.

I got home still managing my pain with little more than my positive attitude. Medication was a huge, if not immediate, relief. It’s an Rx pain reliever tonight. I feel grateful to have it available. I feel grateful that it works. I feel grateful that it ensures I can get some better quality rest (it’s hard to sleep through pain).

I’m grateful that tomorrow I can begin again.

So human.

This morning, I wrote, as I do, but to a dear friend, only. It met my own needs, and I considered no others this morning. Huh. Still human.

The other day, I got poked by a rose thorn, but thought nothing of it; roses have thorns, it’s a thing people know about. Today I am fussy and irritated by the discomfort of the thorn still lodged in the pad of my index finger, rather inconveniently precisely where my finger strikes the keys of my keyboard. I don’t actually do anything about the thorn, I just bitch about the discomfort. Still human.

I read the news, get caught up, feel annoyed with myself for wasting precious limited lifetime on media bullshit, again, knowing it messes with my head for hours, sometimes days. I sometimes do it anyway, even to the point of reading and rereading the same news, covered the same way, by nearly identical media outlets, multiple times…until I finally notice I’m learning nothing new, and don’t even actually care. Still human.

I make a cup of chamomile tea to enjoy as the evening winds down, and can’t quite enjoy it, either because it is still too hot to drink, or perhaps because now I don’t understand why I didn’t make coffee, which I’ve already had more than enough of today…but I don’t know which, and don’t move to change anything. Still human.

I distract myself from all of these things with thoughts of love, and loving, and feeling grateful to be so well-loved, and so thoroughly accepted – and then distract myself again with my disappointed recollection that my Traveling Partner still has not made it over to see my new place once… Which… well, he’s hundreds of miles away, and has only been within an hour’s driving time of this address for about 24 hours in the past 5 (6?) weeks, so it’s not really a realistic expectation. Still disappointed. Still human.

It’s a life. My life. It’s not the life I had 7 years ago. Hell, it’s not the life I had 3 years ago. It’s a pretty good life. I’m content – and this is true nearly all of my time, even moment-to-moment, generally. That’s… yeah, so much beyond what I could have hoped for a decade ago. Sure, it’s taken awhile, and I’m still so very human. Still have ups that are too far up. Still have downs that are scary far down. Still have many moments and emotions in between the extremes. It’s a life. My life. I’m very human.

Just one moment of many

Tomorrow, I’ll begin again.

I woke this morning, too early. My fitness tracker buzzed me; my Traveling Partner reached out in the wee hours, checking in, not feeling well. I drift in and out of a light sleep for another few minutes, simultaneously relieved and regretful that we’re not in this same space… I would do what I could to provide comfort and care (that’s the regret; I am too far away for that)… but… I’m also glad that my own rest was not disturbed through the night by his discomfort. Yep. Very human.

I’m not hard on myself about the regrets I have in life. I mean…. not anymore. I used to be the one boldly and firmly asserting I had no regrets. Well… snarling it, really, as if I had something to prove. Funny that “regret” is something we seem to look poorly upon, as if there were no opportunity to learn from our regrets. How do I offer a sincere and heartfelt apology if I am not able to acknowledge and regret my error? It’s an odd emotion to discourage, is it not?

No regrets? Really??

I frankly regret tons of stuff – mostly small things. I regret every time I’ve hurt someone’s feelings with careless words. That’s one of my most common regrets. I regret the pleasant moments I overlooked because I was more invested in pissing and moaning about something else, that mattered less. I regret every affectionate embrace I was too awkward to welcome, and all the ones I was too self-conscious to offer. I regret severed connections, and lost friendships – whether or not it was the wiser choice. Those are generally the sorts of things I do regret. I’m not the slightest bit uncomfortable with admitting to regret – if I didn’t regret those things, what would it say about who I am?

You know what I don’t “regret”? I don’t regret being human. I don’t regret that I have some quirks and limitations that may not be immediately obvious to the world, day-to-day. I don’t regret that it has taken many years (decades) and many relationships to find my way to this place in life where I am mostly pretty able to adult for myself with fair skill. I don’t regret not having it all. I don’t regret not being the prettiest, the smartest, the fittest, the sexiest, the richest… I don’t see those as things to regret. (How much misery in the world is caused by our creating a “best” characteristic, placing it on a pedestal, and saying “there can be only one!” Never even giving ourselves a chance to just be?)

Regret gives me a moment to appreciate a better path, and to calibrate my personal intent with my real-life actions, choices, and behavior. Regret reminds me to keep up on the housework (I definitely regret it when I find I’ve allowed things to become untidy). Regret reminds me to choose kinder words, and gentler behavior. Regret asks me to consider my choices with greater care. Regret nudges me to book a camping reservation, buy concert tickets, and make time for my friends – because the alternative is regretting that I have not lived my life.

This morning I pause for a moment of regret. I’m okay with that. 🙂 I also pause for a moment of appreciation, a moment of gratitude, a moment of joy. Life is rich with moments. It’s a lovely morning, and it’s enough. My moments of regret keep me focused on where I am headed as I begin again. 🙂

Sometimes life seems to have a bitter aftertaste, a hint of hurt, an edge to it – too much work, not enough rest, too much future, not enough in the way of resources; the challenges pile up faster than the solutions. Still… however fast the challenges pile up, life has its sweetness, too. It’s those sweet moments, those small pleasures, those brief interludes of delight that hold the power to wrap me in smiles even while I wade through knee-deep difficulties in one moment or another.

Sometimes even though the world appears to be on fire, it’s really just the sunrise.

We’re each having our own experience. We’re each walking our own mile, each focused on some short bit of the path ahead of us. We’re each telling our own tale, living inside our own narrative and barely able to fully consider what anyone else is going through. Our logarithmically curated personal internet bubbles suggest to each of us that the world is more of whatever we assume we think it is than it was the day before. Unless we try really really hard to find out what is going on elsewhere, we may never know another world, or any other “truth”. Awkward or angry conversations become more common as we are further separated from each other by the tools that purport to connect us. We end up divided and feeling powerless. It’s a very human experience.

A young neighbor, hearing me beyond the words when I described my irritation with anger about my bird feeder pole being wrecked, offered to try to fix it. He succeeded. It’s oriented quite differently now, and just behind my happy smile, I find myself wondering if the birds noticed that, too, and if that would matter to them…? A stranger on the train, on crutches, had difficulty getting a seat in the morning; I asked the person seated next to me to give up their seat for her. That same evening, I got on the crowded train heading home and she returned the favor, asking the young person sitting next to her to give up their seat for me; I felt relieved that I wouldn’t be awkwardly off-balance and standing precariously gripping my cane for the trip home.  I’m just saying; sometimes the world is scary, sometimes the world is human beings taking a moment to be kind to each other.

When the world feels unkind, I practice kindness, myself.

I’ve been making a point to savor life’s sweetness, too, not just lingering over the bitterness of the occasional unpleasant bite. I find it a bit odd, when I think about it, how much more practice it takes to remain aware of what works, what feels good, what supports me well… and how effortless it seems to become mired in sorrow, disappointment, resentment, or anger. Negativity bias is a deep lingering bit of woe that requires pretty continuous practice to mitigate. I meditate. I practice “taking in the good“. I practice being aware and present in the moment, I practice being kind, I practice feeling gratitude – it all matters, it all helps… and I’m still human. 🙂

It’s a journey. The destination is along the way, the way out is through, and the map is not the world. We each walk our own mile.

Today I head out into the world looking for “home”. Later, I’ll enjoy some time with my Traveling Partner, and hear a traveler’s tales. Today, I’ll wrap myself in smiles, and taste life’s sweetness. 🙂

Each sunrise is a moment to begin again, and a moment to pause for now.

 

My appointment with my therapist was a weird rollercoaster ride of shared moments that began well enough talking over recent weeks in a frank and vulnerable way; the break-in had happened only days after our last visit. We started there.

Over 3 years, I’ve come so far… I have a pleasant moment reflecting on how well I bounced back from the violation of a home invasion… then… well… He has this way of sifting through the tons of words and asking some innocuous question about some seemingly nothing bit of a something, and unraveling some long-standing self-deception, or startling me out of my complacent acceptance of some damaging bit of chaos or damage. There’s more work to do about all this chaos and damage, but this morning my head isn’t aching from hours of crying, and actually – I had a lovely quiet evening of reflection. At one point, I hopped online and took at look at computers – strangely, both my Traveling Partner and my therapist said things that pull my focus back to the missing laptop. My Traveling Partner more than once simply observing rather matter-of-factly that “we need to replace your computer”, in one context or another in which it becomes obvious that it is missed. I felt something I was calling “indifference” and would push back that I was “getting by” and “there’s really no rush”. My therapist looking into my face earnestly and attentively commenting instead how he could see the loss was very hard for me, and… the questions. I got home feeling the weight of my missing laptop more than usual, and understanding that however odd it may seem – its absence is related to the emotional void keeping me out of my studio (also my study, where my laptop lived). I rarely go in “there” at all since the break-in, even now.

I shopped with an open mind, finding myself pulled in the direction of my own best computer experiences. I sipped chamomile tea and compared holiday deals. I compared them by price. I compared them by features. I compared them to the list in my head of the things that I need most and didn’t have before, and the things that turned out not to matter – and the things that mattered greatly. I sent a link to my traveling partner of a laptop that was rather-the-same-a-bit-more-what-I-need-a-bit-less-what-I-have-previously-thought-I-like-but-appeals-to-me-now, and then immediately retracted it in a moment of anxious tension over money. I struggle to spend money on myself – it makes me uncomfortable to do so. Baggage.

I kept thinking about that laptop, and found myself “smiling back” at the idea of it, not quite yearning for it, not quite letting it go. I repeat a narrative I’ve been telling myself a lot; no new one, however perfect, actually replaces the old one. It’s not about the laptop; the content is lost. I finally let it go and pick up a book and read awhile before deciding to head to bed. In our exchanging of tender well-wishes for a restful night, my Traveling Partner comments on the good value in the laptop I’d linked, and said “you should go for it”. My heart thumped hard in my chest. I should go for it? His loving support and confident assurance that I am worth my own time, my own attention, my own affection and support, has endured all through the years we’ve enjoyed each other. Even my own money? For me? Why the hell do I still carry around so damned much pain about my own worthiness? I get up from having crawled into bed and put my glasses back on. I it is time to replace this tool that I use so much and rely on so heavily for many things in life. That’s practical. I recognize it (from a distance). My partner recognizes it. My therapist recognizes it. The IT manager at work recognized it. Why on earth would I hold myself at arm’s length when I reach out so readily to embrace the ones I love – and even those I simply hold in high regard?? That’s… madness. Madness built on a lifetime of practice. It’s time to practice something different.

It was exciting and frightening to click “add to cart”. Heart racing and breathless, I checked out. My new laptop is on her way, and I feel like the bestie of a dear friend who is lost to me is about to turn up on my doorstep seeking welcome… I’m excited… a little wary… mostly excited… but it’s a bit of an unknown. I love being my Traveling Partner’s Santa Claus. Really, it seems only proper that he would similarly be mine, even if the trip down the chimney is the nudge of a mouse hand. 🙂 I adult a bit more, sending the receipt over to the insurance company to document replacement of the lost laptop, and taking time to meditate and calm myself to that the excitement and anxiety don’t ruin my sleep. Will I really be able to sleep, I wonder, as I pull the covers over me…?

I woke with difficulty to an insistent beeping that seemed both familiar and peculiarly difficult to understand. Why the hell was there beeping at this hour? I sit up and frown, reaching for the alarm clock, puzzled. Right. It’s a Thursday. I have work. Actually, I have rather a lot of work. I get up. Yoga. Meditation. A shower. It’s in the shower that I recall ordering the laptop. I smile at the recollection with eagerness and a noteworthy lack of buyers remorse. The morning actually seems a fairly ordinary one, only… there’s a sense that something has been put right that feels quite comforting. My Traveling Partner was right. We needed to replace the laptop. I needed to replace my laptop. I needed to take care of the woman in the mirror. I feel a moment of gratitude to have so much help with that. 🙂

The point of this handful of words isn’t the laptop at all, of course, it’s the self-care. It’s the self-knowledge, and the self-acceptance. It’s the willingness to provide for myself as I would for others. It’s understanding that to practice something new also sometimes means to stop practicing something that doesn’t work so well. I’ll head to the office today and work my ass off supporting my employer’s agenda, and in return I will be paid. It’s reasonable and appropriate that a measure of that effort will provide for me, quite directly, and  it does: rent, groceries, utilities… I would buy a bed if I were sleeping on the floor (although I felt guilty about it when I did). I bought chairs when I needed someplace to sit (but I felt uncomfortable about the “luxury”), and a dining table when I needed someplace to serve meals (more for the comfort of others). The purchases make sense. The baggage doesn’t make so much sense. My smile this morning is for me. When I needed someplace to write, archive images of my art, my photos, my manuscripts, my memory, I bought a laptop (because I need this for me, and that’s totally okay). I feel another bit of baggage hit the floor with a thump.

Today is a good day for gratitude and appreciation that so many dear to me care so much. Today is a good day to be merry, and a good day to let go of some baggage.