This morning I woke feeling sad. Feeling angry. Feeling discontent and dissatisfied.  I woke seething. I woke on the edge of tears. I woke early and without any recollection of the content of my dreams.

My slowly waking consciousness flailed in the darkness for some event or offense to hang on to, to point toward and say ‘this, this is the thing that hurts me now’.  One or two likely items were obviously on the menu… and as new tools and skills kicked in, I recognized that making assumptions about my emotional state was likely to cause me further pain and unhappiness, and result in struggling with myself for hours. I took a few moments to observe the darkness around me, and within me. I took some deep breaths and found that my body was tense beyond explanation, and my heartsick feelings were side by side with significant physical pain – and a stuffy nose.  Another deep breath as I admitted silently in the darkness that pain and a stuffy nose, and unremembered bad dreams could easily result in waking with a feeling of discontent and sorrow. (It isn’t as if I am lacking a history of troubled sleep. )

It’s nice to sit here now, more contented, calmed, enjoying a morning coffee without tears and without festering rage waiting to explode unexpectedly in the face of any attempt to interact with me. I am choosing new practices, and building new skills. I am taking an active role in becoming.

In general, life feels much better than it did a year ago. I feel calmer, so often that it is tempting to say ‘always’ or affix some measure of awesomeness to the improvements. I’ve also learned that sometimes those measurements can lead to a desire to pursue accolades, recognition, and validation rather than simply enjoying growth and change. Sometimes defining progress and growth in a firm way even stalls further progress and growth by creating expectations or a sense of entitlement or a ‘deserved’ outcome.

Meditation this morning was an interestingly deep experience. Making room for the hurting, the sadness, the anger, and without insisting on explaining, or justifying them in my experience in the moment, feels strangely comforting and nurturing. The feelings dissipated and quiet compassionate tears slid down my face without shame or embarrassment.  I let go of feeling the lack of things so strongly, and found myself open to feeling the strength of what I’ve got now.  I felt the grief and sadness of what-is-no-more, and honored the memories of wonders and joys and loves of the past without resenting the absence of any one moment or experience that has gone before.  Having given myself the respect of honoring my experience, and feeling my feelings, the warmth of wonders and joys and loves in my now began to fill my awareness. It was a lovely and moving moment.

What woke me? I do wonder, then I let it go.

Yoga. Pain. More yoga – because it isn’t the yoga that hurts. It’s not that sort of pain. It’s just the pain of my arthritis. The headache of my TBI. These are long-time companions that accompany me so many days that for years I didn’t bother to tell people I was hurting. What was the point of bitching about something that was so everyday? The yoga does help.  Eventually I feel less stiff. I hurt some less, certainly enough to begin the day. Even the headache recedes a bit, although that is likely more about putting some distance between my difficult waking moment, and my right-now.

Thanksgiving tomorrow… a festive dinner with friends, baking, cooking, eating, talking… I look forward to it every year.  For me it isn’t even a little bit about Pilgrims and Indians. Why would it be? Hell, it isn’t even about turkeys, or childhood holiday crafts. It is a harvest feast, a celebratory moment shared with friends and family, a tradition of gratitude in a world that doesn’t appreciate very much, or very often. It is the start, for me, of ‘the winter holiday season’. Thanksgiving,  birthdays,  Hanukkah [the official WordPress spelling], the Winter Solstice, Yule, more birthdays, New Year’s, and sprinkled throughout there are parties and dinners, and occasions for merriment of all sorts*.  I love ‘the holiday season’.  I love celebrations! Something more significant than a party, something that supports a value larger than one person’s joy – these are some of what is best about who we are. We gather and share joy, memory, humanity, culture.. and cookies. 😀

This year I am baking cookies. lol. I didn’t last year, we were in the middle of moving, and the kitchen was not really in a reliably ‘baking-ready’ state. I spent some time last night tracking down my own personal favorite holiday cookie recipes, and finding traditional family favorites I remember from childhood.  I haven’t yet brought mindfulness to cookies…

Face to face with a piece of the past.

Face to face with a piece of the past.

Hunting down those cookie recipes brought me face to face with my past in the form of recipe cards of a series called My Greatest Recipes.  It was a mail order subscription, and not a great idea for someone on a tight budget; a cookbook would have been cheaper. I still love these recipe cards, though, and they were one of the few things I did ‘just for me’ at that tender age, long ago, when I was in my 20s. Texas? No, earlier. Virginia. I’ve long ago lost the clear plastic box they came with, and the cards follow me through life nestled in a plastic food storage container without a lid. They don’t fit in it well. lol. Some of the cards are stained, or the edges frayed. Some are written on in ball point pen, in most cases notes about favorite modifications, in one case a phone number. Most are recipes I’ve never tried. Some are recipes for dishes I prefer to prepare differently, and have a favorite recipe safely stored elsewhere, and then there are the recipes I love…those worn cards, those stained cards, cards I can hold in my hand and be reminded.  🙂

Funny that these recipes cards seem to be some sort of collectible now. lol. They were at one point a rather troubling experience for me, arriving faster and more frequently over time, billing me unexpectedly when I was short of funds already.  I still wanted to have them ‘all’, but like episodes of InuYasha, they seemed limitless and infinite in number.  I ended my subscription before I ever got close to having a complete set (and where the hell would I have stored a complete set?).  Probably a good thing, it was getting really expensive. lol.

There will be cookies this year, and recipes, and holidays, and celebrations, and perhaps more good days than difficult ones. This holiday season holds a lot more mystery than usual – new tools, new skills, new practices. For now it is enough to quietly contemplate whether my Russian Tea Balls will be preferred to my Cardamom Cookies, or if it is worth making the fairly everyday (but tasty) Broken Cookies instead of the more festive and elaborate Butter Horns that I first made in 2010 with a dear love by my side, using his Mother’s recipe. (What a precious memory.) I don’t yet know what cookies I’ll be baking, this year, but I do know there will be cookies. 🙂

Yes, there will be cookies. :-)

Yes, there will be cookies. 🙂

Today is a lovely day to consider recipes, and memories, and to celebrate what has been, and what may be.  Happy Thanksgiving.



*My list of holidays is not, and is not intended to be, inclusive of all possible winter holidays. It merely reflects the holidays I am most likely to be involved in celebrating, myself, at this time in my life, based on lifestyle, personal beliefs, the beliefs of loved ones, and calendared events I have accepted.  If I were to be invited to celebrate Kwanzaa, Diwali, or Ramadan (when it falls in winter), I would include them. 😉