Archives for posts with tag: have some tea

I am sipping my morning coffee, thinking about my afternoon tea. lol It’s a bit meta, isn’t it? I’m okay with that – I do some of my most personally useful thinking in this way.

This has been a good weekend of self-care and partnership. My Traveling Partner and I spent time in his shop together working on a project – the first “from nothing to something” project to come off this new CNC machine. Exciting! It’s a small thing – a trivet. I needed one in the kitchen, though, to avoid setting very hot pans on our countertops, which are not stone, or made from stone, just some ordinary enough surface that could be at risk of damage from excessive heat. I like to take care with things.

A useful reminder of my partner’s affection.

This morning, I slept in – like, properly actually slept-in later than I might ordinarily, and also quite late considering when I crashed for the evening (and without even reading for a few minutes!). I woke feeling not only “well-rested”, but also feeling that my “mental buffer” was entirely cleared out of things needing to be processed from recent events. Lovely. Self-care win. A big one. If the only reason I’m “sleeping in” is that I went to bed very late, or slept very poorly, it’s not particularly worthwhile – it’s just me trying to get enough rest. This time, I definitely got enough rest, and a little more than that. 😀

I see a sunny autumn day beyond the window. My coffee tastes good. I feel loved. There is a smile on my face.

My partner ducks in for a moment to see how my morning is going so far, and asks me to check my oxygen on a pulse oximeter. I use the one on my phone and quickly verify that my oxygen level is “in the green zone” – I’m breathing. Yay! 😀 When my anxiety flares up, even “in the background”, the resulting experience of “hyper vigilance” sometimes finds me “holding my breath” without intending to, after some in-breath or another, as if alert for a threat, waiting, watchful… for some reason, my partner is very sensitive to this detail in my experience, and at some point when a change in my chemistry or pheromones becomes detectable (this is our theory, not confirmed through convincing medical research, so please don’t change your life over it) and if we’re in the same room he’ll fairly reliably have an allergy attack over it. We’re ruled out other more obvious things, so this is where we’re at with that. It vexes us both. For me, it’s mostly an irritating circumstance that breaks my focus when I’m asked to check my oxygen, which is … annoying and also saddening (to potentially be a cause of my partner’s allergies). For him? For him it’s worse, I think; he suddenly, unexpectedly, can’t fucking breathe. Crazy. I hope we figure it out. I don’t talk about it much, but it’s one of our day-to-day challenges. People have those. lol

It’s the last day of a lovely long weekend. I’ve got some errands to run, and a plan to make baked ziti for dinner. Life being lived. Lovers loving. Time passing. There’s still time to get into the garden… to read a book… I’ve got a list of inspired work to get started on in the studio, too…

…It’s time to begin again. Pick something. Do the thing. Repeat.

There are so many tea-related metaphors. I’m more of a coffee drinker, frankly, which you probably know if you’ve read more than one or two of my blog posts. I do occasionally drink tea, though…

Proof I do drink tea. Sometimes.

Here’s a thing, though; tea has been around a very long time. It has ancient origins. The idea of having a cup of tea to relax, or as a pick-me-up, or as a shared moment among friends, or a celebratory or thoughtful ritual, is not new. (This is going somewhere…)

…I mean…damn. Have some tea. Think about how that connects you to your ancestors – and the world!

Life has been “busy”. My anxiety has pushed me back into therapy, because although I worked a long time to manage my anxiety generally (in the face of trauma, stress, and emotional pain), I haven’t actually done much to deal with my anxiety in the face of … success and contentment and a pretty good life. Turns out, that also massively aggravates my anxiety! Fuck. Seriously? Well, shit.

Even a lovely colorful pleasant life rich in love and joy can be a source of stress.

One of the things I had talked over with my therapist is this idea that I feel unprepared for things to go well, and as if I am constantly vigilant, waiting for “the other shoe to drop”, which is a weird source of anxiety, seems to me. I also gave voice to my frustration that I’m struggling to stay on track with my meditation practice – in spite of my awareness and direct experience that it is profoundly helpful for managing my anxiety. How is that even fair? lol

All through the summer, I explored area parks and nature areas with my camera. Thinking, walking, taking pictures of flowers, trees, and birds.

I zoomed in close-up to examine small details.

I developed favorite spots as the weeks passed. I switched up my routine to put me out on the trail with my camera almost every morning for a hour or so before work. It did a lot to inspire, soothe, and entertain me. It met real creative needs that I’d been struggling to meet well for rather a long while. I still do it most days, even though the sun rise is (much) later. I start my work day later, too, and stay closer to home on work mornings (saving the further away spots for weekend mornings). I’m grateful that I can.

Just this morning, at dawn, I had a realization…

I think I’ve been “getting too close” to the issue at hand, and as a result failing to find a thread that connects some of it in a useful way, with other things that are also going on with or around me…

It’s easy to get too close to something, and miss the important details I’d easily see if I took a step back.

I drink a lot of coffee in the mornings. I often write in the mornings. I do camera walks in the mornings. I feel fresh and wide-open to possibilities in the morning. Once my two coffees for the day are over, I’m generally pretty well wrapped up in work, or moving on with a list of things that need doing, or errands that want running. By nightfall, I’m exhausted, irritable, in pain, and struggling to find emotional balance. There’s a lot of time between the end of that second coffee and the end of my typical day. I’m going to start stopping for a cup of tea in the afternoon. 🙂 An easy moment from which to begin again, to reset, to reconsider, to reconnect with myself… I plan to make a commonplace ritual of it, as so many people do, and I will seek to be very mindful, and deliberate, and take advantage of the break in my routine each day to really pause, reflect, and appreciate my circumstances.

…If nothing else, it will use up the tea in my cupboards, and give me a reason to use the tea cups in my porcelain collection. Delightful. Self-reflection, a break in the afternoon, and delight?? Sign me up. (Oh, wait, I already did…) A new practice. Sometimes it takes a bit of new along with the routine to find my way along the path. Something with which to begin again. 🙂

“Lazy” Sunday morning sipping coffee, feeling the lift of recent inspiration, and contemplating a recent discussion with my Traveling Partner on the topic of “second hand stress”. It’s a thing, Google it. (I got 462 million hits on that search term, with the first page of links mostly being pretty useful and informative – at least as of October of 2022). Here’s one article. My partner shared this one with me. I found it decently informative, with some useful suggestions for observing and managing second hand stress. Cures? lol. No. There is no “cure” for stress, if by “cure” you mean “some reliable means to wholly and permanently eliminate the subjective experience of stress”. That’s not a thing. Stress, in general, is something we experience for reasons. It has a purpose. There is no “make it go away” approach that suits every need in every moment, there just isn’t. I definitely recommend letting go of that notion. It’s not helpful.

“Anxiety” 2011

Learning to differentiate between stress (and anxiety) that rises to the level of becoming disordered, from the useful experiences of stress or anxiety that could prompt us to make a change, follow through on circumstances, or move away from danger, is an important bit of growth and personal development. For those of us with already-identified anxiety disorders of one sort or another, it becomes doubly critical to be able to distinguish between needed, useful, “positive” stress, and the chronic disordered sort that creates so much chaos and unpleasantness. Saying so doesn’t make it easier. (Keep practicing.) It’s fucking hard.

Learning to skillfully practice non-attachment and to avoid becoming fused with the emotional states of those around us is another incredibly useful (necessary?) skill for managing stress and anxiety. This is definitely an area that I personally need improvement on (for real). The very same love that draws me to my Traveling Partner and fills me with such delight and warmth and affectionate regard also (sometimes) sucks me into the trap of becoming fused with his emotional state – and when that emotional state happens to be one of frustration, annoyance, anger, sadness, or other “negative” emotional experiences, it can result in my becoming mired in despair and sorrow, or fear, or feelings of inadequacy (when I find myself unable to “fix it” for him). That is the sort of thing that can quickly build a mood-wrecking spiral of emotions in our relationship, as we trigger each other, back and forth, our individual experiences of anxiety and stress feeding on each other and just making things so much worse. Becoming skilled at emotional non-attachment without having to “run away” from an uncomfortable experience has the added result of making us that much more able to support one another.

…I gotta work on that…

Listening deeply is a skill that can be helpful for sorting out whether an experience of stress and anxiety is entirely my own… or a mix of my own and my partner’s emotional experience, or actually just nothing to do with me at all. Sometimes it is hard to listen to someone (particularly my partner) tell me that I’m causing their unpleasant emotional experience – but that doesn’t take away from the truth of it. Sometimes that’s just real, and saying so has nothing to do with intention or blame-laying. On the other hand, it’s their emotional experience, and regardless of cause that’s theirs to manage.

Because love matters more. “Emotion and Reason” 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic details and glow 2012

We’re each having our own experience. We each have our own “emotional climate” and “emotional weather”. We each live our own life, alongside those we love. We are not the being others see us as; we’re who we are. Individual travelers on life’s sometimes-shared journey. The perceptions of others don’t necessarily align with our perceptions of our self. Similarly, those people so dear to us, that we love so much..? They aren’t who we think they are, or even who we see them as; they are their own unique self, independent of our impressions, experiences, assumptions, thoughts, or recollections. Funny how often we think we “know” someone “better than they know themselves” and funnier still how rarely that is actually true. Worth thinking about.

The tl;dr? “Second hand stress” is a real thing. Our partners deal with it. We deal with it. Our colleagues deal with it. We deal with it. Every one of us. All the time. Our results vary. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let it go.

Begin again.