Archives for posts with tag: I am my own cartographer

I’m not sure what the hell happened… it’s a tattoo. Just a tattoo. Sure, emblematic of my political thinking. Possibly a bit more “meta” than that – even quintessentially “me” in some way I can’t quite describe with ease. I painted it more than a decade ago. It was intended to be the “other” piece – the left shoulder and the right shoulder – my softer side on the right shoulder, my harder side on the left… how I got where I am, versus why I made the journey, perhaps. Layers of meaning speaking volumes about the fundamentals of the woman I am.

Today is weird. I got the tattoo yesterday. I’m still enjoying an exceptional “whole body” experience of pain relief since then, which is quite wonderful, and rather unexpected…but… What the ever-loving-fuck is going on with my headspace??. I feel… cracked open… and somehow more complete. I feel… more myself for having the new tattoo there. But… I also feel less reserved, less restrained, less well-controlled… ah, but perhaps that makes sense; it’s an emblem of anarchy. A personal statement of who I am – a statement I have not made so boldly, firmly, or publicly, before. Permanent ink. This? This is me. This won’t wash off. It is inarguable. lol

I feel somehow freed. Unchained. I mentioned it to a friend, who suggested it sounded like a great idea for a blog. I don’t think I agree there; I already have so few filters and so little ability to be measured, careful, discreet, subtle, or diplomatic. I don’t really see that I do myself any favors by straight up embracing the disaster that would surely follow abandoning what little I do have. LOL So. No. But I can write about this peculiar morning, this strange moment, these odd conversations I have been having today that seem somehow to suggest that a few people are only now waking up to some of what I’ve been saying all along… and one of them may be… me. How extraordinary.

It is a day to listen deeply to the woman in the mirror, before she surprises me further. Apparently… we need to talk. πŸ™‚

The news? Pretty nearly all bad. The song in my heart? Pretty much, most of the time, all good. The way I get that done? I choose. You can too.

But wait – am I so cruel and clueless as to suggest that people struggling with mental illness can just “choose” to be okay? “Choose” a happier song? “Choose” to get over it? Omg – no. Not really. When we’re sick, we need care. We may need appropriate medicine to treat our illness or injury. We may need a visit with a doctor, or a stay in a hospital. We may be offered a treatment plan to follow… and a different one when that doesn’t quite work out… and another after that… and then… more verbs. Fuck. And results will vary. We each walk our own hard mile. It’s so not as easy as “pick a different song to sing“… except… It’d probably help though, and why would we not, if we can make the effort, choose to do the things that help?

So… I choose. I am, myself, among the “mentally ill”. PTSD is a real thing. My TBI on top of that (or underneath it, as it were) complicates things. I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with emotion, generally. I’m very human. This is a journey in progress. I have hard days. I also choose better practices than I once did. Meditation really works well for me, helping me find that chill space in my own head that prevents me descending into despair on some spiral of tears and rumination. Taking better physical care of this fragile vessel has been of value; I am less likely to quickly exhaust myself due to lack of sleep, or poor nutrition. I have fewer nightmares, and I have learned better “sleep hygiene”. Developing better emotional intelligence has incredibly worthwhile; my relationships are more fulfilling, and less fraught with confrontation, because I am more able to take time to listen deeply, to avoid becoming fused with someone else’s emotional experience, or to be manipulated by their expectations and assumptions. I am more able to avoid coloring my experience with an internal narrative built on my own untested assumptions or implicit expectations. These things have value. All of these improvements required making choices, and changing some behavior and thinking. Turns out that isn’t so hard, in most cases – although it also isn’t as easy as just saying words, either. There’s been quite a lot of practice involved – there always will be. Β I’m even okay with that. Incremental change over time is a real thing; we become what we practice.

It makes sense that choosing our practices in a willful way, understanding of our needs, and who we most want to be, would result in eventually getting to that place.Β It ends up also being very helpful, along the way, not getting overly attached to that vision. Outcomes don’t always look quite the way we planned them out in our heads. πŸ™‚

I have an appointment with my therapist next week. Yep. It’s a journey. I still make choices. I still practice practices. I am still walking my own hard mile. Sometimes I still need help. πŸ™‚ I’m okay with that too.

My “stay-cation” destination.

I sip my coffee and consider the short work shift ahead. Change is a thing. I’m back to Monday through Friday, but I have firm plans for today (at the start of the week, it was my day off), so the weekend begins at 11 am, and is a bit longer than usual. πŸ™‚ I hear sleeping in is nice – I’ll try that sometime. Maybe tomorrow. πŸ˜‰ The weekend unfolds ahead of me rather gently. It feels good to contemplate staying home, doing some more moving in stuff… maybe a walk to the Farmer’s Market (it’s time to start trying to put reals miles on these feet, again)… morning coffee in the garden on the deck… just generally saying “yes” to life.

I’m ready to begin again.

Crap. I’m stuck on finding a particular item, post-move, and it is most likely still packed in one of the few remaining boxes. I’ve been stuck on it since yesterday evening after work, and I woke with it nagging at it me. An old “day planner”…

Remember having a “day planner”?

It’s not what’s in that old day planner that I’m looking for, though. It’s the cover. I painted on the plain coarse fabric cover. I’m looking for that original piece. The ideas and inspiration behind it persist in my consciousness, even going on to become other pieces of work on those themes, using similar colors, similar compositions. Iconic. Metaphoric. Allegorical. I’d share a picture… but… that’s sort of the point just now; I can’t find it. LOL

Wait. Stop. I need “do over”! I haven’t found it yet. I will though. Or… I won’t. There’s always a slim chance that in some moment altered perspective, or left brain/right brain weirdness, I looked at it with new eyes, finding it lacking in value – being just an old day planner – and tossed it. Oh yeah. I totally do that shit. Regrettably often.

I keep looking in the same boxes hoping I over looked it. Fucking hilarious. It will take unpacking every one of the remaining boxes…but… I want it before Friday. I guess tonight I am at least opening those two boxes I just keep hoping I won’t have to open prematurely; breakables. It’s not time to unpack those. I may have to open those boxes nonetheless – just to quiet my mind. I’ll almost certainly be unable to refrain from unpacking the remaining boxes of books – in spite of the lack of shelves for them. Damn it.

“Stop it.” The sound of my voice in the stillness startles me. Right. Let it go.

I sip my coffee. Breathe. Relax. Let the music in my ears reach my attention. Remind myself that satisfying the compelling idea I’m stuck on is not actually the sole solution to this aggravation – and possibly only a second best solution. Letting go of attachment to finding that day planner is a first-rate solution, also, and doable. Meditation is the verb I could be reaching for there. Helpful. Yeah. I put myself on pause. I give myself that precious gift of time, my own awareness… and I let it go. Really let it go.

Maybe I find it.

Maybe I don’t.

Maybe I choose to open those boxes.

Maybe I don’t.

…And hey… Hasn’t the intention been, all along, to unpack all the fucking boxes, at some point? πŸ˜‰

Imperfect circumstances and impermanence are part of the experience. I breathe, relax, sip my coffee and begin the day again.

My schedule is suddenly Monday through Friday again. Less than ideal for me, personally, but I adapt to the changes as they come, as comfortably as I can. There will be amusing moments when colleagues offer expressions of appreciation, relief, or recognition of some ‘good fortune’ involved (“Well, at least you get weekends off…”), but for me, this is a shitty change. Sure, sure, “everyone” I know (not everyone at all; it’s a misperception) has weekends off. I like having weekdays off and working the quieter weekend days – and the commute on weekends is definitely more pleasant. Having days off that permit doctor’s appointments, errand-running, and provide more retail options is just a better fit for my lifestyle. I don’t find it helpful to miss work to go to therapy – it’s adding stress to the process of relieving stress. It’s inconvenient to be in the middle of a large painting and discover too late that I’ve run out of a particular color that I won’t be able to replace on the weekend. Stuff like that. Monday through Friday work schedules? Keep my share. But… it’s what I’ve got, starting yesterday. Yeah, I’m kind of bitching about it. Sorry. I’m cross over the whole mess. I’ll get past it. Find the good in it for myself – the good that matters most to me, personally.

(It’ll make visiting my Traveling Partner a bit easier. That’s something.)

The point, really, is that there is work to be done; this affects all my planning for the next… 4 months. Yep. I’ve got plans on the calendar – shared plans – 4 months in the future. Damn, I’m glad I hadn’t yet planned the winter holidays. lol Another point? It affects this coming weekend, and the weekend after that; both weekends I’d made firm plans. Well, shit. So… some plans will change, other plans will require changes to my time off planning… it’s a good think I enjoy planning. lol

Was there really a point to any of this? I take a sip of my coffee, brow furrowed, acutely aware that my attention was on something else as I made coffee this morning, and I considered not writing a blog post in favor of writing to a dear friend… then, this. How strange.

…I really want to find that day planner…

I head back to my meditation cushion to begin again.

…Funny thing about meditation…

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… I couldn’t quite let it go… but… I also found it.Β 

Tough day at the office.

I put on a new playlist, one with beats and edges and emotions – all of the emotions. I let it carry me from here to there. It covers a lot of emotional ground, highs and lows and inbetweens. I dance. I manage some housekeeping along the way. I medicate. I cry a few tears that weren’t at all about me.

I dislike endings, even though they are no more permanent than the beginnings are, and with few exceptions, generally precede beginnings. I take time to feel the weight of the truth of it. This too shall pass – a helpful thought. Change is. We don’t always choose it, sometimes it just shows up to the party uninvited.

I don’t mean to be vague-book-y at all here, truly I don’t. There were some organizational changes made at work. I lost a team member. Funny thing about that, though; I’ve grown. Some of my colleagues are my friends. He’s one such, and so – my heart loses nothing. I dig working alongside this guy. He’s sharp. Get’s it. He’s got a good heart, and a lot of commitment and skill. It will suck not seeing him already working when I get in each Tuesday. I will have to go digging each Monday for the information he always provided me in his hand-off each week. But, and this is real and so important, we’re friends. There’s nothing lost there. I’m still here. He’s still here. We’ve got each other’s numbers. lol There’s nothing to see Β here, besides change, and change is always with us.

I still cried. I did. Yep. (I’m grateful I didn’t have to break it to him. I had it easy.) Change is a thing, but fucking hell – we’re a fantastic team at this. I miss him already. I worry whether he’s okay. We are friends; I want to help. I smirk at myself in a moment of honesty; now I have to do verbs to maintain this friendship. I can’t just show up to the office.

Tomorrow will be different. It also won’t be the end of my work week. So much change for one week… I gotta get some rest, though. Soon I’ll have to begin again.

Yeah, our individual lives and experiences continue alongside the culture-storm of change going on around us. Well… mine does. Doesn’t yours?

I sip my coffee. Breathe, relax. I don’t avoid the awareness that cried myself to sleep last night. I keep my heart open to the awareness that I don’t fully “know why”. Sadness crept in. Tears spilled out. I’m no saint; I’m pretty sure my tears were “all about me“.

My Traveling Partner got into town sometime yesterday, busy with plans and no time for me. It’s an honest truth. My heart aches with it. This morning as I wake he is already far away. His route took him the closest he has been to my new place, since I moved; approximately just 1 mile away, passing by in the night, sometime after I had gone to bed. No drama. No storm of “if you loved me, you would…”. No conditional affection. This event has been planned on his calendar a long while. This makes only twice he’s been in town since he started his new job. Both times he was in town briefly. Both times for other purposes than seeing me. Neither time did we see each other. I’ve lived here now for one month; he has yet to see the place, though he has keys. I get through those thoughts, this time, without tears.

I sip my coffee, and move on with my own experience.

I keep an eye on the clock. There is an early morning meeting at the office, and I will make a point of being there, without resentment for the disruption in my schedule; it is a welcome distraction.

I let my thoughts coast through memories of other lovers, feeling grateful for this partnership I’ve got. It allows me to live (and thrive) on my own terms – even when those terms became “I need a place of my own”. Our choices reliably have consequences. Some of the consequences of our choices are not easily predictable for us, as individuals in the moment, sometimes because they can’t be predicted with ease, sometimes because we refrain from looking ahead with cool-headed clarity.

I find myself “listening for the rain”, thinking perhaps I heard drops on the windows or rooftop, but no rain is falling. No tears, either. I’m okay right now. I sip my coffee, and let contentment wash over me. Running from my feelings doesn’t get me here so quickly. Neither does wallowing in them, allowing myself to spiral downward into the darkness. It’s a peculiar thing to sit with my emotions. Make room for them as if for a fellow traveling on public transportation; sometimes quite reluctantly, but not wanting to be rude. Giving myself a comfortable moment to feel my feelings without taking action, to listen to my moment gently, and to allow myself to feel heard from within can make such a difference in emotional moments. Yeah… as always… verbs. Practice. Varying results. (See that subject line? Results vary!) I’m grateful for mornings; each one utterly new. A restart. A do over. A beginning.

Where does this path lead?

I miss my Traveling Partner. I feel the feeling of it. I allow myself to be wrapped in the love that makes missing him matter so much, and soak in that for some minutes, recalling things we have enjoyed together this year. I allow the mixed emotions to be what they are. There has been little of this so-precious time shared this year. Tears and a smile. I’m okay with that. I think ahead to the week to come. It feels a little empty knowing there won’t be a last-minute urgent message from him late on a Thursday suggesting I drive down to see him, followed by a message noting that he’d checked my calendar and sees I have plans… or a reply from me that I’m on my way, or… soon. We’ll see each other in September. We saw each other once in August. And in June we spent a weekend together for my birthday. Soon, autumn, the holiday season… more weekends together than not, perhaps. Perhaps not. I smile and let go of my expectations like airborne fluff from a cottonwood tree. It’s a journey, and what’s up ahead isn’t very clear. I’ll take it a day at a time. Each rung on the ladder individually climbed. Each step in the staircase individually tread. Each moment individually lived. Well… as much as possible. I’m quite human. lol

It’s time to begin again.