Archives for posts with tag: home for the holidays

So. Yeah. Wow. Good things happen. It’s nice to be part of that. It’s powerful to learn more about creating that. It’s mostly built on choices, perspective, and sufficiency. There are verbs involved, and practice – a lot of practice.

I’m sitting in this quiet room, at my desk, fingers dancing rhythmically across my mechanical keyboard (still giggling that the burglar(s) didn’t take it, too, and I’m grateful; it’s very specific to my needs). My replacement laptop arrived ahead of delivery commitment, and before Giftmas. (Thanks, Santa!!) My Traveling Partner arrived yesterday and was already settling in, and got to be here for the fun – and the occasional moment of frustration or confusion – as I begin “moving in” to the new machine. She and I have a way to got together before we’re really comfortable together. All in good time. Funny thing; sitting with her in the living room, or at the dining room table just wasn’t feeling… “right”. I felt somehow out-of-place, mismatched for activities or circumstances, or… something. I was stalled. I got up for a break and walked around the apartment, tidying up here and there; it’s one of my little ways of gathering my thoughts. I stepped into the studio to set something down rather willy-nilly, and noticed with new eyes how much it was beginning to look like a storage space.

Choices. Verbs. Perspective. A few minutes later, my studio looked rather tidy, even welcoming. My desk, which had slowly gathered small stacks of miscellany to cover the emptiness, was tidying up, wiped down, and… ready. Ready to begin again. Ready to welcome me… home. I giggled at the thought – do I “live in” my laptop, more than my apartment? I suppose it could be a truth about my experience; it’s my “back up brain”, if nothing else.

So here I am. Writing in the morning, next to the window, looking out on the meadow. Here I am, enjoying my partner’s voice from the other room “Do you have more of my coffee?” I smile, feeling welcome in my own space, feeling warmed by love, comfortably wrapped in enough. I’m okay right now. Sometimes the disordered bits get away with more than they ought, simply because I don’t see them with clarity; in comparison to ancient pain and heavier baggage, it hasn’t been a big deal… but my Traveling Partner noticed. My therapist noticed. My close neighbor friends noticed. I mostly ignored it, because it could have been so much worse. Over time, though, the small failures to take care of me more fully would have worsened, perhaps spread – it’s best to handle things promptly, when possible, I suppose.

I do love Giftmas. “Merry” feels good. “Merry” has more than fun to it, it’s deeper than that. There’s a quality of appreciation, and awareness to this merry moment. I didn’t get here alone.

I sit soaking in the moment of contentment and stillness. Merry Giftmas, World. Today is a good day to enjoy the moment, to share merriment, to be there for a friend, to save the day, to lend a hand – as with any other, today is a very good day to change the world. ❤

My coffee is still too hot to drink. The alarm clock seemed very loud when it woke me. I feel a bit as if I am moving especially slowly this morning; the clock corrects my very subjective perception of time. It’s a Monday after a long weekend. As if on cue, my brain launches a salvo of small anxiety-provoking attacks about this or that detail at work; I quash them with a minute or two of mindfulness, breathing deeply, present in this moment here. Work can at least wait until I actually get to the office! 🙂

Summer is definitely over. Autumn nearly over, too. Thanksgiving is done. The holiday season – my idea of holiday season, I mean – has begun. It is a beginning I wait for, plan for, and cherish each year. I have my own traditions, built on my values, refined over an adult lifetime, added to by one partnership, then another, over the years. The specifics are less meaningful or shareworthy, I think, than that I do have my own, chosen with care, selected from the celebratory traditions of my childhood, and then made my own, quite willfully. I like the way I do the holidays. It is rare for me to be overcome by ennui or despair during (or over, or about) the holidays, and I’ve tended to attribute that to doing them my own way… though, I don’t have any cite-able proof of that; it is my subject experience, only. For me, that’s enough, at least on the topic of holidays. 🙂

As days go, today doesn’t stand out in any obvious way. The beginning of a new work week. The beginning of the holiday season. I like beginnings, although they usually follow endings, which I often tend to think I dislike (compared to beginnings), but again, I have no clear evidence of that impression, and find myself wondering if the words truly reflect my thinking, or only some moment in my thinking that will quickly dissipate when my attention turns to other things? Change is. Whether an ending, a beginning, or some transitional point on a spectrum between those moments, change is part of the scenery on life’s journey.

I think of my Traveling Partner and smile. We have different approaches to living life in the moment; I prefer to plan, and to maintain a high level of readiness for many likely outcomes, and to cultivate a benevolent tolerance of circumstances that fall outside my planning, with frequent “rest breaks” from the hectic pace of life when I can retreat to a quiet corner of the world to take it all in, before returning to the busy-ness of life’s default settings. He has the boldness required to freely take life utterly as it comes, seemingly fearlessly and without anxiety; embracing change with a spontaneity that awes me, and often leaves me feeling unsettled.  We handle our emotional lives quite differently, too, both very human, both capable of great depths of emotion, both embracing intimacy and connection, and yet such different people day-to-day, in spite of shared values, shared experiences, and sharing (to this day) our journey in life over years. He finds too much planning constricting, and expresses feeling pressured. I find too little planning chaotic, and feel… pressured. lol We are more similar than we are different. This is likely true of each and all of us; more similar than different. Any human being’s most basic needs are likely to be pretty much the same from one person to the next. So many arguments between human beings are about meeting the same basic need in different ways, informed by prejudices, filtered through individual experience, limited by individual perspective, and individual understandings of definitions of terms. We’re still more similar than we are different – right down to not listening very well when another one of what we are is talking to us about their own experience. 😉

Taking time for simple pleasures matters, too.

Taking time for simple pleasures matters.

My coffee is not so hot now. I drink it down and consider a second one… there is time for that. I look across the table, the holiday tablecloth, placemats, and centerpiece are happy reminders of the weekend spent immersed in a wonderland of holiday memories, colorful trinkets, and tiny lights. The entire room is transformed. The tree stands in the far corner, and canisters of freshly baked cookies beyond that, on the bookshelf in that corner. Everywhere some Yule detail catches my eye. I smile. The soft glow of the room feels like it sources from within me. Sure, I’ll have a second coffee. Today is a good day to take time to enjoy simple pleasures. I’ll go do that. 🙂

With fall really here, and the new job feeling very real as life settles into new routines, I take a moment to remind myself that “this too shall pass”. That’s neither good nor bad, and it’s neither the journey, nor is it an impediment to my forward progress; change is.

autumn leaf

autumn leaf, rain-soaked lawn

The holiday season nears. Life is settling down into a different normal, a new routine of quiet week nights at home, generally solo, sometimes out on an evening doing a thing. Evenings are so short now, it’s rare that I actually want to do something enough to do it on a weeknight. There’s a certain minimum time commitment on the self-care side that is non-negotiable, and most of that sort of thing (for me) I handle at home. I see my traveling partner on weekends, generally, and the time is well-spent, merry, and intimate. This week has been spent mostly, and rather unusually, on sleeping. lol No kidding, I get home, have a quick bite, have a long shower, some meditation, and then crash out. So tired. No idea why, really, and not too worried about it, since I am actually sleeping and getting the rest I clearly need.

autumn leaf

autumn leaf, park bench

Everything seems to fit. No wonder I am occasionally quite cross with myself over having to move! It does feel like “have to”; the commute is not particularly sustainable long-term. I think about that…. This commute is more or less the same length as the commute I made daily for 13 years to a very different job, in the context of a different relationship (an ex) – both of which were much less comfortable or pleasant than those I enjoy now. I guess that’s part of it, though; my own quality of life at home is far better than it was back then, and part of this commute experience is the awareness of the time I am losing neither at work, nor at home, but spent out in the world, on mass transit (where, trust me, humanity is not at its finest day-to-day). Well, “mystery” solved. lol

autumn leaf

autumn leaf, rocks

I find myself thinking over ways to make the commute itself more pleasant, or more productive. The rain hasn’t helped. I can take my Kindle along on the light rail, but on days when it is pouring down rain, I probably won’t pull it out of my waterproof bag. I would contentedly meditate on the train, but the sounds of voices sometimes makes that “difficult” isn’t quite the right word… “not possible” fits better.

autumn leaf

autumn leaves

I smile, sip my  coffee, and notice that I am… bitching to myself. It isn’t helpful or productive to do so, nor is it particularly interesting (to me, or anyone else), and it tends to reinforce negative thinking. I set all that aside, and take another sip of my coffee. I feel my shoulders relax. I let the quiet calm of this moment set in… and then notice I spelled “calm” as “clam”, so I re-read the sentence as letting the quiet clam set in. I have a good laugh over it. There is so much to enjoy in life, I remind myself. I’ll definitely make a point of doing that. 🙂

autumn leaf

autumn leaf, stone

Today is a good day for simple pleasures, moments of great delight, and finding joy in small things. Today is a good day to appreciate what’s right, more than grieving what’s wrong – and to do so at least as often, generally.

Yesterday definitely felt like a holiday sort of day, and I enjoyed it immensely. My leisurely morning became my afternoon trip out to the local Ikea, and really it’s every bit that ordinary…only… yeah. I finished the day feeling rather more than typically festive.

One choice I made for the holidays this year was to take a break from therapy and coast on (and deepen) existing progress. I had been feeling uncertain of how far I’ve come, and was finding it harder to appreciate the effort and outcome, while also revisiting old and new hurts over and over again seeking further improvement. I needed a rest, and a chance to really just enjoy some time with the woman in the mirror, as she is, and see what we’ve got going on these days. Yesterday? Yesterday was the icing on that cake – because it could have been a very different day.

I picked up the car and even knowing there would likely be holiday traffic, I followed the GPS and allowed myself to take all the highways and freeways – it’s been a long long time since that held any potential for fun, for me, especially on a rainy day. I made the trip out there and back without incident – and without stress! Wow. That’s a big deal. I haven’t been seeking any improvement on that specific thing – but there it is. Nice.

I picked up the table and chairs I went there for – they were in stock, which I had verified before I left to get them. I didn’t have trouble lifting or moving the boxes myself – also an improvement, although not anything to do with my stress level, it’s just nice to see I am closing in on my fitness goals, too. 🙂 I got home prepared to wrestle with directions, tools, angles, confusion, a headache… the usual. My regular end result is a completed project of adequate functional quality, maybe with a chip or hidden bit of damage incurred due to frustration with myself, or low blood sugar making me stupid or clumsy, and the invention of at least one truly novel swear, and some tears.

Yesterday wasn’t that way at all. After I turned in the car, I sat down and had a coffee and a bite of dinner while I read the instructions once, then twice – and then again while I laid out all the parts in an orderly way for convenience. The table and both chairs were easily assembled without issue – or swearing. I took my time with the work, and the relaxed approach gave me some extra thinking power – I noticed and took time to correct small defects in the manufacturing (holes that were not punched or drilled cleanly, edges that were rough) as I worked. The result on this project? A beautiful table and two cute durable chairs – I have a dining set that I actually like, and enjoyed a feeling of accomplishment to see it turn out so well. Taking care of myself and my basic needs for the win!

Comfort, joy, and enough.

Comfort, joy, and enough.

Once all that was completed, I realized I was tired, and at the end of the day. I spent awhile relaxing and meditating, and made a point to reach out to my traveling partner that I would want a couple of hours in the morning for housekeeping before he heads over for Giftmas Eve dinner… which I will serve on the new table! 😀 That expectation-setting has real value, too; it contributes to keeping my stress level low. Most of the housekeeping is done; all that’s left is one more time with the vacuum cleaner, taking out trash and recycling, and small finishing touches, like making sure the hearth is clear of anything that could be at risk with a merry fire going. No rush, no urgency, no pressure.

I’m smiling and noticing there’s nothing fancy about yesterday that made it so festive – I took care of myself, enjoyed my day, and got things done. Clearly that was enough. I keep using that word – ‘enough’. Sufficiency has grown to become a prominent characteristic in my every day life – and my path ahead; as a concept it serves well to prevent me from yearning for things I don’t truly want or need, simply because they are ‘more’ or even ‘better’. ‘Enough’ matters on this journey of mine, and I am less encumbered by what I don’t have, because ‘enough’ is all I want.

How do you know what is 'enough'?

What’s ‘enough’? Your results may vary.

Today? Today is Giftmas Eve. The tree is lit, and the holiday music in the background sets the mood as I sip my coffee – I have butterflies in my tummy like an excited child who really believes a magic man in a red suit edged in fur on a sleigh flying through the sky will squeeze down the chimney with a fat bag of fun… based on merit, but without actually requiring anyone truly achieve anything. lol It’s pretty silly, isn’t it? I still believe in ‘Santa’… but I believe in what I understand of Santa as an adult; once a year random people reach past their moment and resources to do something extra for someone else – sometimes a lot extra for many, sometimes a little extra for those nearest and dearest. I’ve been Santa so many times… that’s the adult experience of Giftmas; the doing. There are verbs involved in the magic moments (aren’t there always, with all of them?) There are things about this experience I hope to carry forward into the new year – into every year, and every moment – especially the comfort and joy. 🙂

Home for the holidays.

Home for the holidays.

Merry Giftmas, Humanity! Take care of yourself – take care of each other – be generous with your kindness and compassion, and stingy with your anger. Don’t forget to take care of the human in the mirror – that one does so much for you, every day! Today is a good day to show yourself some love, some encouragement, compassion, patience, and provide yourself luxury self-care. 🙂

“Just eat less.” Yep. Sounds super simple. [Is.] On the other hand…isn’t that a little bit like explaining meditation as ‘just breathe’ to someone who has never tried it? I mean… sure… sort of… but… yeah… there’s actually more to it than that, however simple a practice it actually is. There’s a certain something that exists before one begins… and during… and following up… a certain commitment, a will, and perhaps most importantly, an awareness.

“Just eat less.” A lack of awareness in-the-moment tends to be where I most regularly mistreat myself caloric-ly speaking; I get caught up in some other thing, and eat while I do that, watch that, read that, listen to that…I’m not eating, I’m merely allowing consumption to happen while I do something else. It’s a poor practice, and when I catch myself doing it, I sometimes struggle to make the needed course correction.  In the meantime, I’ve eaten more than I needed for the lifestyle I live. The other common pitfall for me, personally, is that one that crops up when I’m stressed out, blue, or fatigued; some sort of tasty treat can be a mood-lifter, a battery-recharger, or a stress-reducer – but it’s not really ‘taking care of me’ in the best possible way if I am focused on food specifically as a distraction from something that actually matters [to me] more, or taking in surplus calories to change my brain chemistry.

“Just eat less.” Yep. That’s the basic idea. So here I am, the end of a long day – and doing something that I know works for me; I am here, now, doing this. Just this. I’m not eating while I write, nor writing while I eat. Dinner will be ready shortly, and when it is; that’s what I’ll be doing, then. It’s a simple change. It does work very well; I eat less when I eat mindfully (probably because I notice sooner that I have eaten enough). It’s not ‘easy’ – practices require practice.

“Just eat less.” It’s a good idea, one that works, only… how much less? How much… at all? What do I really need to live on? How do I tell if I am eating that much… or more? (Or less?) Will I starve myself unintentionally and suddenly… something? (Doubtful.) One very cool thing about losing weight, though… there are a lot of ways to proceed. There are as many practices as there are people wanting to feel more comfortable in their body. I consider the strengths of the woman in the mirror and return to the very simple practices of strict portion control and mindful consumption. (Admittedly, for me there is a spreadsheet involved, and yes, I am actually planning my meals, and measuring out portions based on weight or volume, depending on the food item.) This works for me, I’ve been here before – by weight, I’ve literally been here before. lol

“Just eat less.” Okay, so… got it. Simple. (Not always easy.) Here’s another irksome detail to consider – and I do find that considering things (mindfully) is helpful – it matters what I eat, too. 1000 calories of potato chips isn’t going to satisfy for long, and I’m pretty sure that taken as a daily staple, my health would quickly fail in some fashion. So, the calories will ideally also meet my nutritional needs – and may need to be overall of consistently better nutritional quality (more nutrition per ounce of intake) to thrive on many fewer calories altogether. It’s doable. It is a practice.

“Just eat less.” It’s all so very simple – and like so many very simple things; it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are all these verbs, and all this practice… mindful eating? Seriously? (Yes.) As practices go, it’s not difficult, or uncomfortable – but there are verbs involved. I find it quite difficult to set all else aside to eat, particularly when I dine alone. I’m inclined to read, or to watch a show – harmless enough, I guess, but however educational or entertaining the programming, it does take my attention from this other very important practice – eating. In my case, it nearly always results in eating way too much, rather too fast – and weight gain seems to  happen so much more quickly than losing weight ever does. Weight gain, for me, does not require mindfulness at all. Weight loss does. The math does itself.

I break for dinner, enjoying each bite of my meal. I taste all the flavors, and enjoy the warmth and texture of the dinner I prepared so carefully, and I take my time enjoying the meal. Each element chosen, quite specifically, even measured for appropriate portion control. (The tablespoon portion of cream cheese on my half of a bagel made me giggle; I had clearly long since forgotten what a ‘serving’ of cream cheese actually looks like.) This is the more difficult bit; resetting my implicit understanding of serving sizes, ensuring I am mindful of quantities, and taking great care with my choices moment-to-moment. It’s easier to be thoughtlessly carelessly feeding myself tasty calories with my eyes closed, than to practice the simple practices that nourish my body, care for my health, and prolong my life.

Welcome home.

Welcome home.

“Just eat less.” That actually is what this is about, and it is what is required to reach my goals. What if I fail? There’s no real ‘failure’ here – and there’s no need to treat myself with such callousness; I’m human, if I want a bit of dessert, I assure you I’ll have it. lol Perhaps a smaller than common serving will satisfy? Or a different choice of sweet? Or both? Point being – it’s not an elimination diet for me, I don’t find that behavior sustainable. I choose instead to do what is simple, and hope to practice it until it is also easy – if I falter? I’ll begin again. That’s enough.