Archives for posts with tag: I’m okay

It’s after noon. I am making another cup of coffee; it’s a process that will go much faster once I actually turn on the stove to heat the water. ūüôā I have a ¬†headache, and a feeling of bone-deep fatigue that has crept over me since I woke some 5 hours ago.

Generally speaking, the errands setting up the new week are already behind me; I could just stop now, and relax if I choose, without any ill consequence being obviously predictable. Even the grocery shopping for the upcoming week, based on a definite shift in nutritional and calorie content, is completed – at least I think it is, from the vantage point of here, now, and not hungry. There are still things on my ‘to do list’ – but there always are. These days that’s generally a weekly versus daily list, and I pluck things from the list parked on Sunday’s calendar all week long. Figuring out how I use my time, idealized for my own needs living alone, is an ongoing process.

Healthier options include growing my own food to nourish my body and spirit, both.

Healthier options include growing some of my own food to nourish my body and spirit, both.

Figuring out food is an ongoing process too. I like to eat well, and have impulse control issues; it’s not an ideal combination for my longer term health and fitness. As a treat tonight, and to use the remainder of an open box of pasta, I plan to have a simple meal of pasta tossed with Greek seasoning, cubes of fresh goat cheddar, and delicious¬†ripe grape tomatoes and zucchini from my garden. The pantry is stocked with healthy things. The ingredients on hand do not easily support recipes for rich calorie-laden sweets. The ‘fruit bowl’ on the counter has just enough fruit to consume during the week, and durable veggies like onions, sweet potatoes, and not-yet-ripe avocados. Any attempt to over-indulge in sweets, desserts, or calorie-rich exotic meals will be thwarted by the lack of suitable ingredients on hand. ūüôā Additional effort as time-delay works well for me, and is a favored form of ‘positive self-sabotage’; if I have to go to the store for a bunch of stuff to make something ‘special’, I’m pretty likely to default to healthier options as I think it through during the ‘planning stage’.

Time spent in tending the patio garden means fresh herbs for cooking, and a fresh perspective on the day.

Time spent in tending the patio garden means fresh herbs for cooking, and a fresh perspective on the day.

These are pretty mundane sorts of observations, I know. The weekend winds down finding me feeling discontent with the outcome of a number of details, and rather than sink deeper into an irritable funk, I figured I’d just talk through some of the things that are going pretty well. ūüėČ

The headache finds me listening to much quieter music this afternoon. It is another way I am treating myself well, after a very late and somewhat disappointing night. The coffee helps with the headache, and I take time to review my self-care checklist and get on track with practices that I know support my day-to-day feeling of wellness and contentment: writing and meditation are the two big ones in this moment.

I am ever the beginner, practicing the simple practices.

I am ever the beginner, practicing the simple practices.

It is often the case if I am feeling discontent, disconnected, or dissatisfied, it is meditation that helps most, and most quickly. There’s some amusement in that for me; as little as 2 and a half years ago I would have said that meditation ‘doesn’t work for me’ and that ‘I’ve tried that’. I could not have been more mistaken. I was completely overlooking the varied sorts and styles of meditation that exist, and that they do not all achieve the same end, or function in the same way. I didn’t understand the nature of practicing the practices, or that meditation is a practice, not a task to complete with a goal of ‘mastery’ to achieve success. I held on to the understanding of meditation as a noun, and I was not yet acquainted with the understanding that it is most certainly very much a verb.

I meditate a lot. I don’t have a commitment to fancy guided meditations, or very particular structured routines dependent on a unique seating arrangement or location. I don’t follow¬†a set specific approach trademarked by one learned elder or another. I haven’t learned a foreign language to describe what I am doing or to receive profound teachings from an expert from afar. I don’t travel to a studio to meditate with a group, or spend any money on my meditation practice. I have not actually “progressed” beyond that simplest of meditations focused on breath, for my day-to-day anytime-I-need-it meditation. It’s that simple, honestly, and that effective – it is enough [for me]. Being present, seated comfortably, focused on my breath, just being, and allowing myself to become still within is so simple…it only requires practice, and also some practice, and perhaps beyond that a bit of an investment in practicing… It sounds so simple, as verbs go, ‘to meditate’… My mind wanders. I come back to my breath. Thoughts crowd in, and feelings build around them. I come back to my breath. I find myself fidgeting sometimes, like a child, I bring my focus back to my breath. At some point…there is no more struggle, and I simply am. It does require practice. It sounds ‘easier’ than it ‘is’…but it isn’t manual labor, and any frustration is itself simply another feeling coming up, and I return to my breath when it does. Does this all sound very ‘pointless’ or repetitive? That’s okay, too. It gets me what I need; stillness, and a calm within that builds emotional resilience over time, and slowly teaches me perspective while it somehow insulates my reactive nervous system from the effect of small things going awry. “Meditation works for me.” This is what I mean by that (if that’s vague or annoying grammatically, please imagine I have drawn a red arrow back to the start of the paragraph). ūüôā

Few things are more annoying that a venue filled with people on their phones while an artist is performing; I took this picture before the performance began, and decided to put my phone away and just be there, in the moment.

I took this picture before the performance began, then decided to put my phone away and be fully present in the moment.

I am tired and short on sleep today. The concert, itself, was a bit disappointing and I chose to leave before the band I went to see even played; I was in too much pain to wait through the tedium as the opening act continued to recycle tired beats for yet another hour (3 hours was enough). By midnight, it was no longer worth the time or discomfort to remain at the venue as it became progressively more crowded, and stifling hot on top of my own pain. Disappointed? Sure. Annoyed, mostly.¬†If there had been adequate expectation setting in the advertising that the headliner would not go on stage until after midnight I’d have planned accordingly and gone much later. ¬†Worse, the opening act spent the last hour repeatedly playing what sounded like the end of his set, and behaving as though he was wrapping things up…then continuing. That was actually having an emotional effect on many of the people around me, as well; no one was there to see the opening act, and we were all eager to see the headliner. Still, it was an evening out, and that was itself an adventure that was generally quite positive and fun. Tales for another time, perhaps.

Building contentment over a coffee in the garden.

Building contentment over a coffee in the garden.

The simplest practices that sustain and nurture me are often the ones I am most keenly aware of when I miss a step; this morning, waking with some eager enthusiasm for the day, I rushed off on errands without taking time for meditation, for writing, or even for a second cup of coffee. I’ve felt vaguely irritated and rushed ever since. There’s a lesson there, and it’s time to catch up – and slow down. ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

I am grooving to¬†a Petey Pablo track, waiting for water to boil, and thinking how very reasonable that there is rain in the forecast; my traveling partner is out-of-town for a few days, and it seems reasonable to me that the very skies would have an emotional meltdown over the lack of his good company. I’m okay, because he’s merely traveling, and love has no proximity requirement, or expiration date. The moody cloudy threat-of-rain skies seem mildly appropriate, is all – or at least, entirely understandable. ūüôā

I woke in the middle of my dreams, which isn’t my favorite experience. They seemed ‘relevant’ and potentially ‘insightful’ or ‘eye-opening’, but once my eyes did actually open they dissipated too quickly for further consideration…there were people…saying things…with emotional subtext…somewhere. Dreams are rarely urgently worthy of my attention, although it took me a lifetime to recognize that the headgames my conscious mind sometimes plays with me (to my detriment and disadvantage) are not off limits to my sleeping consciousness, and my demons dance regardless; it doesn’t¬†necessarily give them significance, or meaning that is useful.

My coffee is very nearly perfect this morning – and tempting, although too hot to drink. The cup is too hot to hold comfortably…I found that out the hard way. The coffee is too hot to drink, and the tempting cloud of whipped cream I topped it with as a treat this morning tempts me overmuch – my tongue and the roof of my mouth paid the price. Lesson learned? Well…maybe. I’m still a primate, doing my best, and in the mornings my decision-making is at its daily ‘quality low point’ until my brain is really fully awake. I give myself the courtesy of refraining from self-deprecatory hassling or mockery – I don’t need it from me, really, I already know my fingertips are a bit sore from trying to hold that cup, and my mouth is already scorched from trying to sip too-hot-coffee. I think I’m good there, no further berating needed. lol

A paragraph later, and some fun dancing to Gangnam Style – I love how random my morning playlist is – my coffee is finally¬†sipping temperature. I dance across the living room, coffee in hand, headed for the open patio blinds to watch the dawn…my neighbors probably think I’m mad. I don’t find value in self-consciousness or shame being a part of my daily experience – certainly, even being over 50, and not ‘dancer fit’ at all, I am disinclined to give one moment to whether a woman my age/weight ‘should’ be dancing where people can see me. That’s such obvious bullshit it was urgently necessary to put it aside as soon as I woke to the understanding that it is indeed bullshit. Dancing feels good. A quick exploration of dance styles and fads over the many decades of humanity will reveal that some of it is definitely more about how that must feel than what it looks like. ūüôā

A favorite Crystal Method track turns up – and I turn it up; I’m excited to see them live on Saturday. There’s definitely that moment considering the concert when a feeling of self-consciousness does arise; I feel it most when I consider how much younger ‘everyone else’ may be, how more easily they may move, how beautiful and sexy youth is… Youth, I remind myself gently, is very much its own thing, with its own fears and doubts. Nothing to be concerned about for me – over 50? I have a lifetime of experience and perspective, and I am having my own experience. For me, it’s sort of the point of that favorite track in the first place.

Detail from "Emotion and Reason" 2012

Letting emotion lead on life’s journey may not be ideal…

What if everything were suddenly quite different? What if my traveling partner didn’t make it back? What if I woke up utterly unable to dance because my arthritis had become so severe that my spine wouldn’t move at all? I live alone now; what if I have a stroke and there’s no one here to help me? What if my resources run out before my life time does? “What if”¬†is some nasty stuff – it quickly becomes anxiety if I give it a chance to grab onto something I can’t shake off. I’ve learned something sort of interesting about the emotional ‘what if’ scenarios, though; if I go ahead and allow myself to consider the extreme fully, frankly, and in a truly practical way – without the emotions that so urgently want to have their say being¬†the focus of attention, it usually becomes quite obviously both fictitious – like so much of what my mind offers up – and manageable if it played out in real life along the most likely trajectory. For example…what if my traveling partner didn’t make it back? I would grieve, no doubt there, I would grieve a long while. The fear of grief and grieving is what drives the anxiety, but the fear isn’t even¬†real¬†fear – it’s a projection of an emotional reaction to a situation that has not happened. So, I comfortably set the fear aside, along with the recognition that I would grieve. Then I take a look at what life would be without my traveling partner, and come up with… living. Outside the fear of grief, there’s little to cause stress…I would live my life, working, paying bills, painting, writing, gardening, investing in other aspects of my social life, eventually (most likely) cultivating another satisfying adult romantic sexual relationship with a worthy partner… Nothing could ever change what my traveling partner and I¬†have shared so far, and that would always be mine, and part of my experience. “What if” scenarios tend to be this way, for me, explored they are harmless – but there’s the¬†rather practical matter of refusing to allow the fear of my emotions to become the fear of my potential imagined circumstances.

"Emotion and Reason" lit differently - how we view emotions, and how we use reason, make a difference.

How I view emotions, and how I use reason, makes a difference in my experience.

Isn’t it strange that emotions can be so scary? It seems odd when I think about it; they have no more substance than my thoughts, although they are a more commanding experience in the moment. I find that my reactions and attention reliable turn toward my emotions first and more attentively, than to my reason. I try to be mindful of that, because they are also quite intense, and not particularly tied to ‘reality’. Emotions are often driven by assumptions, expectations – or¬†something I ate, or the ebb and flow of my hormones, or…nothing I can directly observe or be certain of. Sometimes they are more similar to the experience of taking a mind-altering substance than they are to ‘reality’ in any real sense. They are most certainly not to be trusted in life’s driver’s seat for long.

Perspective matters. "Emotion and Reason" acrylic on canvas w/ceramic and glow 2012

Perspective matters.
“Emotion and Reason” 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic and glow 2012

Today is a good day to breathe, to feel, and to be mindful of the content of my thoughts; they have only the substance I give them. Today is a good day to be present, to be okay right now, and to walk on – fear has trouble keeping up when I do. Today is a good day for love, and for living. Today is a good day to notice how very small the world actually is, and how little distance matters to love.

Starting the day thinking of love - it's a very good start.

Starting the day thinking of love – it’s a very good start.

Disclaimer: This post is about emotions. I sometimes work through them more easily with words, in text, that I can see reflecting the experience back at me. It is a way of getting perspective. This post, though, may be a¬†downer – I say that before I even write it, because I am having my own experience, and I feel what I feel in this moment. I am so very human. So…do yourself a huge favor, take a moment for ‘informed consent’; if you are in a place emotionally where someone else’s pain and struggling may wound you, throw off a good vibe you are enjoying, or change your experience for the worse, I recommend skipping this one. Hey, if nothing else, the writing is likely to be of poor quality, and angst-y, and rife with spelling errors and weird grammar fails – who needs that on a Friday morning? I’ll understand, I promise.

Still here? Okay…

Some other morning, a coffee.

Some other morning, a coffee.

I woke crying this morning. I fell asleep crying last night. In between, I found myself ambushed by Demons in The Nightmare City. This is not an emotional space I want to occupy. I am frustrated by my lack of resilience, my lack of emotional regulation, and my lack of perspective. I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel resentful and let down. I feel. Yeah. I definitely feel. I feel mistreated, and mislead. I feel set up and I feel sabotaged. I feel hurt.

“That’s a whole lot of feelings there, lady, what gives?” I’m a human primate. I am an emotional being more than a rational one – it’s a balance. Today it isn’t balancing as well as I’d like. Stress kicks my ass, being hurt kicks my ass, abrupt change kicks my ass – and it takes me a little time to recover, even with some support. Emotions are not criminal actions. Assaulting people with them is, I hear, avoidable. That sounds like fine thing to me, and I turned the little sign on my door this morning to ‘do not disturb’, meditated a while, had a shower, meditated some more… I still don’t want to be as disturbed as I feel, right now.¬†The sign didn’t do much to help with the feelings, but by design it may prevent anyone else from walking through the mess I woke to, within, this morning.

Meditation, mindfulness practices, good basic self-care are all going a long way to improve my experience of me, very nicely. I feel a momentary hurt, recalling with sadness how quickly encouragement turned to criticism, a few months after I began this journey. I was taking a moment to feel proud of my progress, and I was feeling pretty impressed with new tools and practices being effective at helping me on a level nothing else ever had… I got called ‘smug’. I was incredibly hurt. Admittedly, I had been foolishly trying to explain or share the experience with someone else… maybe they hadn’t asked? (I suck at that – put a person in front of me and I will probably just start talking. Are you aware that your executive function manages that for you?) It hurt, nonetheless, and since then I am self-conscious about feeling encouraged by progress, and reluctant to share positive feelings about it in conversations. (Sticks and stones? Fuck right off; words matter.)

I feel confused. “Emptied out”. I feel overburdened by unmet emotional needs piling up over time. I feel like I am not making the progress I could be, right now. It’ll be okay, I think – I hold on to that tightly. I’ve got the hotline number in my pocket, just in case it gets too hard. ¬†I lost a beautiful niece to suicide this year, and I see how it hurts my cousin every day she is without her daughter; I won’t put my traveling partner through that, and¬†I can take the steps to avoid it. Despair is a motherfucker – it is part of our human experience.

...and another...

…and another…

I can’t be certain that the intensity of my emotions this morning reflects something ‘real’ or necessary; they are only emotions. For all I know, this is a 100% bio-chemical experience with no grounding in events or experience. Does that matter in the moment? Well, sure. It matters the way anything true ‘matters’. One true thing is that my emotions are this intense, and unpredictably so. Another true thing is that my emotions, and lack of top-down control, are incredibly uncomfortable for some people to live with. (I don’t get a choice, myself; this is my experience and I live it.) Unfortunately, in a live and unscripted real-life environment, I also don’t get much compassion specific to the ‘invisible’ issues associated with my TBI or PTSD. I rarely fight for it; if it isn’t there to be offered, begging for it, pleading for it or wishing it were there will not make it appear. Compassion can be taught – but that phenomenon also requires an active learner. Change is, but forcing it on someone isn’t appropriate – and generally isn’t effective.

My traveling partner encourages and supports me – he frankly provides a level of emotional support that I can only describe as ‘super human’ – but the environment in the household, generally, is unhealthy for me. I feel aggravated and moody about looking for a place of my own, because I’d honestly prefer to continue living with my traveling partner – he’s wonderful to live with [for me]. I am painfully aware, though, that living with me can be hard on him. Right now so much of what I am working through touches on sexuality, gender, individual identity, boundary setting/management, and relationships with others that it’s harder to treat each other gently in moments when we need it most from each other. So…yeah. I need to be on my own a while – not a break up, not even a separation, just a different living arrangement. It still sucks to hurt over it. I hope by day’s end I am embracing it in good spirits.

I leave other household members out of this, generally; I am writing about my own experience and the other people in it are entitled to be free of public scrutiny of their values and choices filtered through my chaos and damage. But…I am not willing to continue to over-compromise my needs, or undercut my values to keep peace, and the time I spend in the arms of my loves is too precious to taint it with OPD, or games. As a population of individuals, we don’t want or need the same things, and at 52 I have no time to waste on fighting to get the most basic emotional needs met; we are not all equally committed to that endeavor. I don’t yet have the emotional resilience to hold enough in reserve to continue to take care of me when common place bullshit goes sideways, and often find myself without any emotional reserves left to care for me, myself, by the time I have a moment to do so. I feel positive about the choice to get my own place…and for the moment, sad that it is necessary at all.

You know what I don’t feel? I don’t feel guilt or shame over the choice to move out, it needs to happen; I don’t thrive in an environment in which my emotional quality of life is poor. Hell, right now in this moment… I’m okay. (Thanks, Dearheart!) My tears have dried. I’m not feeling social, but I’m not enthralled by Demons in The Nightmare City. ¬†(If I knew that I would have the kind of nightmares that I had last night, in nights to come, I’d never sleep again.) I don’t have the headache that followed me around all day yesterday, which is a huge improvement. ¬†My coffee tastes good – I feel a pang of sadness sweep over me when I realize I won’t have an espresso machine in my kitchen for some time to come after I move; it will be a frugal lifestyle, focused on painting, meditation, and love. Wow. Suddenly that sounds fucking amazing – and all over again I wonder why this hurts at all. I enjoy solitude. I dislike drama. I have musical and culinary tastes that are not shared in the household at large… and I miss a good French press in the morning; it’s a lovely ritual to prepare coffee that way, time it carefully, enjoy the outcome at leisure… I miss living a gentle life. (The most humorous thing about that is how little time I have ever spent living that kind of exceptional quality of life – across years and relationships, I can’t really pin down more than a total of about 18 months that qualify as ‘gentle living’ in 52 years!

I’ve already found my way to a better place. It’s nice. No rushing, either; I’ve made changes to my schedule, effective this week, intended to dial down some of the fatigue-related stress, and don’t have to rush off so soon on Friday mornings. Have you actually read this far? Are you okay? Thank you for being interested, curious, or concerned enough to come all this way with me – whether just this morning, or over these past couple years. I appreciate it. You help me feel heard.

Yeah. Some days, the nightmares win. Today they didn’t. ūüôā

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

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

Today is a good day to put down some baggage. Today is a good day to practice good self-care. Today is a good day for self-compassion – first, not last. Today is a good day to enjoy this amazing woman I am becoming without competition, dread, or games. Today is a good day to treat others well, and understand that they are walking their own path; their story, and experience, are not mine to endure, to manage, or to criticize – and participation is a choice.