Archives for posts with tag: how can I help?

Yesterday was… quite a day. Complicated and stressful. On the whole not at all satisfying. No shortage of love, just with multiple side orders of stress and chaos. I don’t much want to consider it right now.

I woke feeling fairly rested, and I was really needing to get more than 5 hours of sleep. I’m grateful I did. The morning began well, although I could have done without my partner’s loud aggravated venting about how the shower was adjusted; I had precisely the same experience yesterday evening, myself, because he’d left it adjusted to meet his needs and I’d forgotten to be mindful he was the last person in the shower, and had similarly sprayed water all over the place. I didn’t yell about it or get pissed off because it’s not that sort of thing for me. I find myself irked that it is that sort of thing for him. We are each having our own experience. I breathe and let it go. I remind myself that yesterday’s health crisis will be likely to have outcomes of its own, because both medication and healing are their own experiences – processes with sensations, and emotions.

It’s a work day. I keep forgetting that detail, wanting so badly to stay home and relax. I’ve enjoyed my Traveling Partner being here. He arrived in crisis, though, and has remained so, although it morphed from an emotional crisis to a physical/medical one. Now things are likely to settle back into more normal routines. I’ll probably be home alone tonight, having served the purposes of nurturing and providing comfort skillfully. There may be an angry moment later, waiting to be had, I’m not always certain of seeing these things coming, but a tiny voice wants to ask “what about what I need? what about my health? what about my circumstances and the details of my experience?”  It sounds pretty selfish to see it written that way. There’s a balance to strike. It’s more difficult when we both have needs to be met more urgently than is usual. I am very likely to put my own aside. It’s what I learned to do. It’s part of why I live alone these days; it’s that much harder to undermine my own needs, and my own long-term self-care, when I am not faced with the constant presence of people so dear to me that I am risk of choosing to undermine my needs in their favor, full-time. Someday I hope to have become so strong and skillful at supporting and caring for the woman in the mirror that I have strength to share, 24/7. I keep practicing.

I’ve held my shit together and done some pretty excellent adulting this week. Tonight I’ll probably loosen my grip a bit, and cry it out. Having that unreservedly emotional moment without judgement or self-criticism, just letting go and feeling the feelings, is also important.

Today is still ahead of me. I’m focused on work. Tomorrow I’ll begin again.

Heading home in the cold last night, walking from the office to the light rail station, I crossed the square. As I walked toward the train platform, I passed a tall man carrying a flower-print duffel bag, wearing an expression of fatigue and sadness. I kept walking. I noticed the woman hurrying to catch up with him, a moment later. Then she started screaming. A plaintive wail, “no!”. “No! No no no!” She wailed. She screamed it at him, pulling what looked like a sleeping bag around her shoulders. She began to run after him, shrieking, wailing, crying into the night, and to all the passers-by “no!!!”. It was not anger that made her voice so distinctive and alarming, it was the pure raw grief and hurt and fear – real panic, the sort of thing one expects to hear in the midst of warfare, or violence. She sounded desperate, terrified, and bereft. The wails continued as she ran after the man. He walked on calmly without looking back. I turned and watched the scene move away from me, feeling helpless. There was no obvious action to take. The woman was blind to everyone and everything around her, except that man walking away. The only sign he was aware of her at all was that they had been sitting together, when I saw them from a distance, and also… a flower-print duffel bag is an odd thing for a man his age to be carrying, generally. Her screaming haunted my sleep. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how her story ends. I feel ashamed that I didn’t do more, but don’t know what I could have done under the circumstances. I feel puzzled by the seeming lack of awareness of everyone around, that evening… I saw no heads turn but my own.  Bystanders, each and all of us. What a shitty situation for a woman screaming “no”, alone in the night. I’d like to have been more helpful. It is still on my mind this morning.

I sip my coffee and think about how this experience is so telling of who I am now, where I am in life as a human being. I spend a few minutes noticing that I actually do care, even about the isolated distress of a stranger I passed in the night. I wasn’t always this person. I sip my coffee, and think about other times, when I was the one screaming and afraid, without help, alone in the darkness… I think about people who might have heard me, who may have wanted to do… something, but… what? I feel grateful that my life is calm and quiet these days. I take a moment to appreciate having survived some terrible dark nights. I make room to forgive the passing strangers who did not help, because they did not know how. That’s a step forward, for me. I feel the weight of a little more baggage drop to the floor. It hits with an imagined thud, and the realization that I can also forgive myself for being unable to figure out what to do last night, to help a stranger in distress.

It's okay to put some of that down, for now.

It’s okay to put some of that down, for now.

I take one more moment to wish a stranger well, after-the-fact, and to hope she found some peace, somehow, and some comfort. I hope she found a moment she could be okay in. “Not my circus, not my monkeys…” Well, sure… but… also… we’re all human beings. Each having our own experience. Separating myself, generally, from drama doesn’t have to also make me a dick to people, or insensitive, or callous, or cruel. Compassion, kindness, consideration are all still within reach, still important to cultivate, still matter. I’m no super hero – I barely adult adequately well to support my own life, some of the time – but I can still care, and still be kind, and still open my heart to listen deeply to another. Those still matter, even if I can’t save the world. Even if I can’t stop all of the screaming, everywhere.

Today is a good day to be awake, aware, and considerate. It’s a good place to begin. It could be enough to change the world… with some practice.


I crashed soon after arriving home last night, but still much later than I generally intend to on a work night. I was sound asleep soon after that. Mmm… sleep….

I woke abruptly some time later, in a ridiculous amount of pain, and panic; my calves (both) were cramping up and as any animal might, I woke with a sense of anxiety, the physical pain itself, and a moment of real panic trying to figure out what to do about it before I was quite awake enough to understand what was wrong. I still have no idea what the hell was going on, why I woke to leg cramps so unexpectedly, or really any sort of cause/effect information at all. I lurched onto my feet, pain and all, and instinctively used my body weight and upright posture to “make” my calves do something more like whatever I think I expect. A few minutes walking unsteadily, painfully, around the apartment, and eventually the urgency died away, and the cramps eased. I went back to bed, so fatigued I dropped immediately back into a deep sleep. My calves still ache like crazy this morning. What the hell was that about??

The wind blew like the sky was angry last night, a shouting match tree to tree, across the parking lots and park meadows, the wind chime nearly being launched from its hook, and the potted plants rocked with enough force to hear some of them knock against each other. The trip home from the salon I visited was longer than my commute, and the late hour resulted in two opportunities to stand in the darkness, in the rain, waiting for a bus, enjoying the wildness of the wind tossing my newly colored hair; I arrived home disheveled, to that sense of warmth, comfort, and relief that I associate with “feeling at home”. It was lovely.

I was too tired to be irked that it was too late to light a fire in the fireplace, and made a quick healthy meal, which I ate efficiently, but not especially attentively. I set a timer to be sure I didn’t rush to bed so quickly that might give myself heartburn because of the late meal.  I grabbed my self-care checklist, and quietly perused it for details I might have missed during the day, and took time to meditate. Sure, tired. Sure, a late evening. Definitely could use 15 minutes more sleep this morning… but… my meditation practice matters. From the vantage point of a groggy morning after a short night, I might think for a moment that I could have benefited from those minutes of meditation being sleep, instead, but by days end my opinion on that could be quite different; the long-term skillful management of day-to-day stress, for me, requires that I carefully ensure that I maintain my daily meditation practice. This is what works for me. Perhaps you have found another way? I have not. 😉 I’m very tired this morning, but I’m less likely to face a meltdown later on, for having maintained my dedication to this important self-care detail. It’s a practice, there are verbs, and it has been very much worth it over time.

Begin again. Again.

Begin again. Again.

Speaking of meditation… there’s still time this morning, too. I hear the blustery winds beating on the outside of the apartment. The heater has not yet taken the chill off the room. My coffee is hot, tasty, and the kitchen is clean… seems a good time, and a lovely wild morning for taking some chill time on the cushion by the patio door, watching the dawn develop and listening to the wind.

Today is a good day to take care of this rather tired being of light, wrapped in this peculiarly fragile vessel. Today is a good day for eye contact, and for smiles, and enjoying love songs. Let’s change the world – together. Let’s be our best selves today.  🙂


Simply enough, life is fairly unpredictable whether or not my assumptions and expectations are accurate.

What are your obstacles made of? How do you overcome them?

What are your obstacles made of? How do you overcome them?

Certainly, life is even more unpredictable if my expectations are wildly off the mark, and my assumptions are untested made up bullshit in my head. It’s easy enough for that to happen; most of what we ‘know’ amounts to the sum of a lot of internal expectation setting within ourselves, and assumptions we made about events, the expectations of others, their assumptions, and what things mean to other people (we generally assume they share our understanding and definitions of terms) – and based on observation in my own interactions alone, it’s fairly clear that few of us rigorously fact-check our assumptions, or share our expectations clearly in advance of disappointment or unexpected change, or ensure that we are working with a shared definition of terms. I’m just saying; set clear expectations explicitly, understand that life changes things without warning, and be sure to test your assumptions. Being wrong happens, it’s part of the human experience, refusing to change your position, and perspective, in the face of new information is kind of a dick move, and doesn’t do much for relationship building.

Being present on life's journey brings more into view.

Being present on life’s journey brings more into view.

Yesterday’s hike was lovely, and the rainy start to the day was no deterrent. It stopped raining long enough for a merry hike on unfamiliar muddy trails, and conversation with friend.  It was time well-spent. I arrived home feeling renewed, and able to provide my traveling partner the emotional support he needed for most of the remainder of the day, until my fatigue – and very human limitations – finally stopped me. I have more to learn about setting clear expectations when I see myself reaching my limits.

It's a journey. My journey. I am my own cartographer; it helps to be aware of the path.

It’s a journey. My journey. I am my own cartographer; it helps to be aware of the path.

Today is a good day to begin again.

One of the sweetest outcomes of the choice to live alone is how much more obviously precious time with my traveling partner is. There’s little to share about last night. It was an intimate connected evening spent having dinner, hanging out, and enjoying conversation…about life, about love, about the future of our shared and individual endeavors, about recent appointments with doctors…words, shared between lovers. It was a lovely evening, and ended gently with time left over to spend in the studio inking details on a landscape, still thinking about love.

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

One of the things I most value about a strong partnership is the mutual support for individual endeavors. So many conversations amount to “Can you…?” “Yes.”, and “Will you…?” “Sure.” – and we know that other person so dear to us isn’t just throwing empty words into the space between us; they’ll really be there, as indicated. We offer ourselves, our time, our thoughts, to each other. We nurture the best within ourselves – and the best within that person we so adore. It’s a rare and beautiful thing, and it involves a lot of choices, and a lot of verbs. Totally worth it. It also turned out to be less about finding some ideal human with whom to have such an experience, and a whole lot more about being a human with whom someone can have such an experience. (Thank you, Love. It’s a journey very worth sharing.)

Getting here was a journey - it is a journey to sustain love, too; there are verbs involved.

Getting here was a journey – it is a journey to sustain love, too; there are verbs involved.

I sip my coffee and continue to linger on the recollection of last evening. I consider where life is taking me, and what choices ahead could most benefit me while also supporting my partner’s long-term needs. I think about these things in the context of community, of enjoyment, of sustainability, and of lasting-value. Mostly, I think about love and loving. I think about retirement; timing that carefully might result in being able to step away from the corporate grind into a handful of years supporting my traveling partner’s business directly, before retiring in earnest to paint and write full time. Suddenly, the idea of buying a little place of my own – our own – takes on a new dimension for me; how best to also serve my partner’s long-term needs becomes an important question. It’s a lovely morning to think about love, to ponder a shared future with someone so dear, and to enjoy my coffee with no agenda but my own. My choices matter, and it feels very good indeed to be so well loved, so thoroughly considered, so completely respected and valued, so heard, to be dealt with so openly and with such compassion. I enjoy the reciprocity in our partnership; my needs are as important, and as thoroughly discussed and supported together, as my partner’s are.

I smile when I realize my writing this morning reads a bit like a love note to love… Seems reasonable, really. Isn’t love worth a few words? 🙂

As I near the end of my coffee, my thoughts turn towards more practical matters. I get no criticism about that from myself; there are tasks to handle, things on a to do list, and stuff to get done. I find all the fuss and bother of adulthood a bit more manageable if I organize my thoughts – and my activities. I consider my limited time, and the priorities of things needing to be done. What matters most? How important is it? Is there a matter of time or timing? I find myself less fearful and overloaded if there is more than one thing that just must get done in any one day than I used to be. (Many thanks, Google Calendar, Mint, and SuperBetter!) I even feel as if there is just a bit more time in each and every day… although… to be fair… I did move so close to work that I can walk there in less than half an hour, through a beautiful park, which cut my daily commute from a 3 hour+ round trip each day to less than a hour – I do have ‘more time in each and every day’. 🙂

Taking care of me has been a journey about choices and practices. As it turns out, taking care of love has been a similar sort of journey – fraught with choices and practices, growth and change – and enduring affection. It was the affection that was missing from my journey with the woman in the mirror, for far too long. How powerful it was to make that connection, to revitalize my experience of life with and for myself – and how delightful that the result has been how much more I am able to love, and enjoy being loved in return. 🙂

A thread in my tapestry, a color in my palette, so much of life is fueled by love.

A thread in my tapestry, a color in my palette, so much of life is fueled by love.

Today is a good day to love, to be loved, to share love – to choose love.