Archives for posts with tag: gratitude

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.

This morning I woke to a powerful feeling of insecurity and fearfulness that points directly at the move I am making this very week. The timing is inconvenient – and quite probably not at all coincidental. Buried in the chaos and damage are ancient reminders that I “am not good enough” and “don’t deserve this” or “can’t make this work” or ‘know’ this will “all go very wrong soon enough”. The vague uneasiness and doubt escalate then recede again and again as I work through my morning routine. My eye falls on some detail that got missed in the housekeeping, like a used tissue that missed the small bathroom waste basket, but also got missed when I emptied the trash yesterday, and instead of simply resolving the matter and moving on without concern, there is a hint of inward beratement and impatience lurking there, waiting for me. It is unusual these days for me to be so hard on myself.

"Anxiety" 10" x 14" - and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

I almost skip my shower, as though taking the time for it somehow robs me of time I could otherwise use for… what… being anxious? I attempt to make a light moment of it, and although that fails, I find myself compliant with the self-care rituals so carefully maintained, standing in the shower, doing the showering thing. It’s a step. I make eye contact with myself in the small shaving mirror mounted in the shower, and take some deep calming breaths. Change comes with the challenges and disruption of change itself – and the change that is moving is pretty much going to touch every routine of my day, all the perspectives of each angle of view I am used to seeing, the placement of every object in my personal space, the ambient noises, and shadows – yep. Basically everything but the actual contents of my home, and me – the woman living within it. The magnitude and weight of it hits me fully for the first time… everything is changing.

…The nausea hit me unexpectedly, and without argument. It was likely that I didn’t drink enough water with my morning medication, but this makes twice in the past couple weeks and so rare these days that it is almost certainly telling me something… about something. In the moment, though, I take it as a living metaphor, and hold onto the perspective of puking up all the baggage, the anxiety, the fear, and letting it go. I don’t know that it was as effective as I’d like, but I feel some better. Could be that the anxiety was impending nausea all along, and that as human primates do, I gave it a root cause from deep within that was not actually causal at all, merely correlated. I return to my coffee, undeterred by the uncomfortable moment; there is much to do.

We've all got some baggage.

We’ve all got some baggage.

The anxiety and insecurity are common [for me] during experiences that involve a lot of change. The more change, the more fear, generally. I can feel how tight my chest is, and the coiled spring of anxiety that has taken hold of the place where my diaphragm once rested, relaxed and ready for all the breathing and such. I feel a certain moment of relief that my traveling partner isn’t sleeping in the other room this morning; my anxiety permeates the room in a palpable way, or so it seems to me. It isn’t a comfortable experience to live alongside, and is the big reason I didn’t reach out for his help with the move. “I’ve got this!” is the war cry of protecting my love from the bullshit I must still wade through, cope with – and perhaps someday master. There are so many things in life I rely on help with – but this one, the ‘managing change’ thing, I tend to rely most heavily on the woman in the mirror to get the job done, to circle back and find new comfort in new routines, to practice good practices, and to recognize stability and balance when the task is completed. I am eager to welcome him to a new home, with the same lovely calm energy, that feels similarly my own…but I try to protect him from how hard change hits me getting there.

So what if I am scared this morning? This is all happening quite fast – it was already January when I mentioned the observed vacancy to the apartment manager and found out about the remodeling. My original mention was as a passing fancy, only, and it was with my traveling partner’s encouragement that I considered it more seriously, eventually embracing the idea fully as a ‘next step’ on this journey, and a worthy improvement in quality of life at the expected price. I’m ready – I check again at how the budget works – but I feel this leaden dread resting in my belly.  “Bitch, what’s up with this fucking fear?” I think crossly to myself, almost immediately hearing my therapist’s voice gently pointing out the harsh tone I am taking with myself. Yes, yes, I know… I can (and these days generally do) treat myself better, and with greater kindness and compassion than this. I am irked with me; the insecurity would have been so much more easily managed a week ago, before the move was certain, would it not? I laugh out loud at myself; insecurity and doubt don’t work that way. I set aside my writing for meditation and self-care. Words can wait.

A helpful reminder; I apply it equally to how I speak to myself these days.

A helpful reminder; I apply it equally to how I speak to myself these days.

Enough is enough. I am enjoying a life of general contentment and sufficiency. One limitation all this time has been the challenges presented romantically by my partner’s allergies, and how those are affected by much-lived-upon apartment carpeting. We discussed often how much more easily and regularly we could and would hang out together were it not for his allergies. In no small part the entire motivation for the move is to reduce the allergens in my home. It’s that simple. I’m paying a high price to do so, were that the only benefit (a very fancy air filter might do as well at a lower cost over the course of a year…maybe…), but there are other quality of life gains being made that are specific to my own day-to-day joy: the view of the park from the patio, no windows looking into neighbors windows, no shared wall on the bedroom side of the apartment, all new appliances in the kitchen, a shower insert in the bathroom that is entirely undamaged and never-repaired without a hint of entrenched mold or mildew beneath sealant, more convenient to the little community garden, and with enough additional space to move my artistic endeavors out of the living room… which also ensures that when I am painting or writing, I am not distracted by the world, so common from the vantage point of the couch in the living room.

The fearfulness hit me this morning, perhaps because I suddenly worried I am not being ‘true to myself’ by making this move? If what I have here is enough – why do I ‘need’ more? The deep breath that followed put me right at long last. This move is not about what I ‘need‘ at any minimum level; I have enough right now. Hell, after spending most of a week with my traveling partner right here, I’m quite certain this, here, is enough for me. Sharing my experience with him feels wonderful – and I want to position myself comfortably to enjoy more of that. This move is about finding my way – and learning to navigate the distance in my life between ‘enough’ and ‘more’, and learning what I want versus what I need, and making good decisions about which sorts of ‘more’ keep me on the path of becoming the woman I most want to be, living well and mindfully, taking care of me, and taking care to love well. There is a peculiar balance to strike here; if I refuse to move because of the expense, explicitly in order to hold on to those dollars in the bank account, in order to maintain a specific quantity of cash flow, unspent each month, what am I buying with my labor? Numbers? In an account? To what end does this serve me when those same dollars can also add 300 sq ft of useful living space, of a more healthy quality?

At long last my brain gets to the point; is the money I will spend on the new place being spent on something that matters to me such that the price is worth it? Isn’t that the question at the ‘bottom-line’? Is there something more or different on which I would truly prefer to spend that money, right now, every month? Do I have more urgent needs to meet that are going unmet? No, not really – and saving it as numbers in an account would serve just one purpose for me right now; to make these same sorts of changes through purchasing a home sometime down the road. Since that can be done regardless whether I make this move now, but would ideally wait (I think) until the car is paid off, this unexpected intermediate quality of life improvement is a nice option. I embraced it eagerly for all these reasons, and more, and I’ve given it considerable thought…what more is there to do with the insecurity and anxiety now, except to breathe?

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

I’m ready. Fear is not calling my shots today. 🙂