Archives for posts with tag: incremental change over time

This morning I am reflecting on a moment I experienced while I was meditating, before my coffee. My perspective shifted abruptly while I was meditating, I’m not sure why, and I was suddenly very “self-focused”, while also seeming to be a distant, objective, potentially remote, observer of this self that I feel that I am. I’ve had this perspective shift before, and it wasn’t so unexpected or alien as to be frightening, I’m just thinking about it, after-the-fact, while I sip my coffee. It is the sort of experience that seems to want additional reflection, for some time afterward.

The perspective shift is the sort of thing that gives me a moment to really “consider myself” – not how I am experiencing my life, more how I am delivering the experience of myself experiencing life to others. A bit like looking at myself from an outsider’s perspective – if that “outsider” was also truly me. It’s an interesting moment to participate in. Am I the woman I most want to be? Am I living up to my human potential? How am I seen in the world, if the world looking back is also me, shares my values, shares my perspective on life, love, and humanity? I find myself really letting my guard down with myself; being human it is very easy to cast myself as the good guy in every tale of adventure. I’m not. I’m human. Just that. One human being, being human. This moment, on this morning, challenges those easy comfortable assumptions, and takes another, deeper, look.

…Nah. I’m not sharing more details. lol. Go find your own moment to reflect upon. πŸ˜‰ It’s your journey, and you’ve got to walk your own mile. πŸ˜€ I say this with kindness, and with a bit a frustration; it would be very hard to put my experience this morning into useful words. “Worthy moment of perspective” is accurate, but not useful in any practical “how to do this” way… and I’m not sure how it’s done. It seems to be a cheat to say “meditate, and eventually all will be revealed”, and I don’t know that that is actually true… it’s just sort of how it went for me. I “get there” sometimes unexpectedly. Like this morning. Perhaps with enough practice it will become something I could just do by specific choice?

I sip my coffee and continue to reflect… on reflections. Perspective shifts offer new perspective, and that’s generally helpful, I’ve found. πŸ™‚

The morning is, generally, a pleasant one. The sky lightens slowly, revealing a gray rainy morning. My arthritis reminds me how human I am; I am in pain. My coffee is warming and pleasant. There is a small amount of traffic going by. The rainy street alerts me of each passing car with a shhhhhh-shhhhhh as the car rolls by. The computer’s cpu fan spins up, then slows down, as I write, pause, and resume writing. I listen to the day begin. A robin nesting in the hedge out front begins to call and sing as soon as there is daylight. I think about moving to another place, and wonder briefly what mornings elsewhere would sound like, and I recall the sound of mornings in other places I have lived. My favorites? Probably the humid summer mornings of childhood visits to the Eastern Shore, or on my grandparents’ pier jutting out into Weems Creek… or maybe those early mornings on guard duty, deployed at Ft AP Hill for military exercises. Funny that I don’t actually think of myself as a “morning person”. I’m generally up very early, often before dawn, and it’s a choice I’ve made for a long while, so… how not a morning person? Well… I’m not generally cheerful, merry, or inclined to “deal with” people until much later, after I’ve been awake for quite a while. Just… leave me alone until after my coffee, okay? lol I’m more than “kind of a bitch” in the morning, and yeah, it’s generally best to give me some distance until my brain is completely back on line. I’m not proud of that limitation, just aware of it.

…I’ve come a long way as a human. I used to be so vile in the mornings I didn’t even like myself, let alone liking any other people, or being willing to tolerate a word being spoken. You can, actually, have a conversation with me in the morning, now. I often enjoy coffee with my Traveling Partner in the morning. It’s pleasant. We enjoy each other’s company. Here’s the thing, though; I’m quite content to be alone in the mornings, and generally prefer that. The progress I’ve made is that I no longer “punish the world for existing in my presence” first thing in the morning. I’m not hostile. I’m not angry. I’m not ferociously, aggressively, distant. I give myself some space when I need it, but I’m fairly approachable. πŸ™‚ Progress.

I’m not “a morning person” though. Given time, and no schedule, I slowly return to my “natural” sleep/wake cycle, which generally finds me staying up until some time after 2 am, and waking after 9 am or 10 am, depending on the quality of my sleep, and also napping almost every day. I end up on these early schedules largely as a byproduct of the work I do (or have done, in other jobs). Easier to simply maintain that than to bounce back and forth. Discipline becomes habit. We become what we practice. So, I tend to be an early bird – who is not actually a morning person. lol Being human is weird.

Well, damn. Here I’ve been just talking about me all this time… how are you? Are you happy where you are? Are you happy who you are? Maybe it’s time we begin again? πŸ™‚

A seed, planted in soil, isn’t much to look at. It takes a while to show itself as a seedling, longer still to amount to more. That’s the nature of growth, generally.

Given adequate growth, eventually, a flower.

I have my first sip of coffee. Still can’t drink it hot, but now that’s largely a matter of how cups work, because I’d prefer not to risk slopping hot coffee down the front of my shirt, and I’m still drinking with care, mouth partially open, avoiding the still-painful sensation any sort of suction causes. No longer forced to drink everything room temperature, I am enjoying it quite cold, and the coolness of the cold coffee feels nice against my wounded gum, at the edge of the hole where that molar used to be. I let my tongue very gently touch the edge of my gum… it’s not swollen, now, and doesn’t feel “hot” to the touch. Progress. Still quite tender, and I’m so over the constant eye on the clock, alert to the next interval at which to take still more Ibuprofen, to avoid more throbbing pain in my jaw. Any small miss on the self-care, and I pay for it in momentary misery. I’m grateful that I’ve already healed this much, so quickly, and so far it seems as if the perforation is going to heal, at least as far as I can tell, right now.

Healing processes take time. I have another soothing sip of ice cold coffee, grateful for the reminder that healing processes are also… not comfortable. Even painful. A timely reminder, coming so soon after my mother’s death. There, too, I have… “moments”. It comes and goes. I forget all about it, then, unexpectedly, I remember – and like this hole in my jaw that is not yet healed, I feel a vacancy that is tender, even painful, when I poke at it with my thoughts. Healing takes time, and it is not likely that I can “force the process”. It’s not even necessary. I smile at some fond recollection, taking comfort in that – like a sip of ice cold coffee coursing over my aching empty tooth socket.

“Why is it always about coffee with you? Damn.” I grin at myself. It isn’t, you know… sometimes I drink tea. Water. Occasionally some juice. More rare to have a small glass of something carbonated. Every now and then, a small glass of sherry or port. Mostly water. Mostly coffee. lol It’s not “about” any of that. Just a reliably handy metaphor suitable for this or that. πŸ˜‰

I was pretty cross by the end of the day, yesterday. I’m feeling better this morning. Each morning, this painful bit of dental work seems to feel some better. πŸ™‚ Reliably, at the end of the days, I am no longer at my best. It would be so easy to lose sight of real progress, just due to the experience of being fatigued at the end of the day, spoons all used up. So far, I’ve avoided any sort of major displays of ire. Having a supportive partnership, and a fairly satisfying life, generally, these days, helps a lot. I only mention that because there, too, there are choices involved. Choosing to remain in a shitty “partnership” with someone who is not in any authentic way a partner, would put me in a very different place in life. Struggling day-to-day just to meet basic survival and quality of life needs would likely jeopardize any sort of good recovery from illness or injury – if I could still afford to have such things taken care of at all. I sip my coffee and explore some moments of gratitude and appreciation for the life I have now. (There were choices, and good fortune and happenstance surely played a huge part in getting from “over there”, to “here, now”, too; it’s all worth appreciating.) So, I let being cross about discomfort fade, and sip my cold coffee, watching the sky lighten through the window of my recently-tidied-up studio, feeling grateful instead.

I notice the time, and stretch, and have another deep, long, drink of icy cold black coffee. Another day. More beginnings. A life to live. These small encouraging moments aren’t “world changing” in any notable way, I know. They have, however, changed my own experience of the world – and of life. That’s been worth it to me, and likely worth it to friends and loved ones who interact with me regularly (my deep enduring misery, bitterness, cynicism, anger, and pain, could be a massive buzzkill). Every time we lift ourselves out of our private hell, we make the whole world just that tiniest bit less mired in misery, overall. One less wounded soul, right? πŸ˜‰ I finish my coffee, and get ready to begin again.

No point. Just flowers. πŸ™‚

My coffee this morning is exceptional. No idea why, exactly, but it’s a damned good cup of coffee, and I am enjoying it. I’m tired, even groggy. (I didn’t sleep well.) It doesn’t matter; this cup of coffee is just that good. The espresso shots were quite lovely when I pulled them, with rich even crema. The steamed almond milk was dense, smooth, and even, and quite perfectly lovely as it swirled into the espresso, as if poured directly from my state of contentment into my coffee mug. Yep. Damned good cup of coffee. It’s a delicious moment on a pleasant morning.

It’s enough. One pleasant moment of leisure, enjoyed on my own terms, something pleasant over which to linger, to savor in the moment and in later recollection…definitely enough; I get a lot of mileage out of moments. I get a lot of enjoyment out of a simple cup of coffee.

Although a great many other mornings led to this one, and a great many other cups of coffee were involved in how well this particular one turned out, it’s not obvious how large the investment over time has been, in creating this one moment. It’s just a moment.Β Only a moment over coffee on a work day, early in the morning. It’s not fancier than that. I didn’t bring any special equipment or gain any particular epiphany. I didn’t work overly hard at this moment; I showed up. I made coffee. I am enjoying it.

There’s a point to pointing this out. I’ll leave that to you. I’m just going to enjoy this cup of coffee right here, now. πŸ™‚

…If your coffee isn’t exactly as you’d like it… Begin again. Practice. πŸ˜‰

 

What a week. Glad it’s behind me. Relieved to feel satisfied, pleased, and accomplished, instead of terrified, anxious and regretful. It could have gone differently. I am content with the outcome.

Stress is a weird thing, though, right? I mean… once I’m stressed about A, then it’s far more likely that unrelated experiences B, C, or D may also feel more stressful, or seem to be cause for concern. I crashed out last night feeling terribly blue, struggling in a sticky web of anxiety-lies and insecurities being launched at me from within, by an anxious, stressed, fatigued brain. I wept. For the world? It seemed so at moments. Other moments, I just felt “cracked open” and unable to hold anything back however small, however simple – even some lovely tender moments felt like pure heartbreak, and I cried, merely because there was too much emotion to hold back any longer. My executive function limitations hit me in my emotional life pretty hard. This week that was more obvious than most weeks in recent months. It’s been a peculiarly emotionally stable year.

I went to bed worried, even, about my relationship with my Traveling Partner. No reason for it, really. At least, nothing I could easily identify. I woke this morning without that insecurity or doubt, feeling rested, anxiety gone; I’m excited about the road trip ahead of me. 3 day weekend with my lover? Yes, please! Sign me up. πŸ™‚Β 

Fuck, I am so glad my “default setting” is no longer despair. I feel fortunate to have survived the first 50 years of my lifetime. Emotions come and go. Like weather. “Who we are” is less volatile, less mutable, and sometimes feels rather… permanent. It isn’t. It’s more like climate; tends to be what it is, but still changeable over time. We become what we practice. No kidding. It’s a slow thing to change the climate – but it can be done. Choose wisely. πŸ™‚

Are you unhappy? Make changes. There’s no map on this journey… it’s rather like setting off on a road trip to see someone you love, unclear of specifically where they are, but with a direction in mind… generally. lol This may help. πŸ™‚ It’s a favorite of mine for reinforcing healthy basics; do the opposite of everything it suggests. lol (Here’s a follow-up on that…)

Maybe something simple this morning? One thing that could be easily improved by one little change in your decision-making, habits, or actions? Start small – committing to a marathon, while breathless from walking across the street may be a bit unmanageable. It’s so easy to become discouraged. I’ve been there…

After years of frustration, despair, and inactivity, I decided to go to the Farmer’s Market, one year. My feet hurt all the time, stupefying medication and unmanaged pain had pretty much nailed me to my couch between work shifts. Doing so would mean a two block walk uphill (barely) from the light rail station. I look back astonished (because I regularly go to the Farmer’s Market quite easily and comfortably, now, and often walk miles, not just blocks) – it seemed hard then. It required effort. Commitment. Patience with myself.

I don’t look at it the same way now, at all. My perspective has changed with my experience over time. Incremental change over time; it wasn’t easy the first time, the second or third times, the fourth time… but eventually, it sure didn’t seem hard, and then… at some point… almost unnoticed, it became quite the natural thing to easily and comfortably do. (For my less physically able readers out there, I’m using an example familiar to me, only, and part of my personal experience, no intention of falling short of being inclusive, but I see where my example could be. I regret any aggravation, or sense of being left out of my consideration that this may cause. Start small, is all I’m saying. πŸ™‚ )

It’s a good reminder for me, too. There is further to go. There is more to do. I still struggle with my weight, health, and fitness. There are changes to make. There is future progress out there on the horizon to be experienced. Incremental change over time takes both time – and verbs. A lot of fucking verbs.

Oh hey, look at the time! It’s definitely time to begin again. This journey won’t make itself. πŸ˜‰

I woke up early. It makes sense. I went to bed early, too. I woke during the night. No surprise there, I often do. There’s no stress over any of that. My head is a jumble of random beginnings of thoughts seeking a narrative in which to play a role. My morning is a strange sequence of broken routines and randomness. I’m not concerned about that, either. Again and again, I pull myself back to this moment, here, now.

I sit down with my coffee, eventually, some two hours after waking (which is only one of many odd random bits of altered behavior that seems without cause or purpose).

The first track on my playlist right now is an old favorite. I want very much to play the bass line; I am not yet sufficiently skilled (and realistically, there is chance I never will be). I can try to play it, and fail. I could do that repeatedly. I could do that repeatedly until I am frustrated to the point of disliking what I am doing, although I am doing it because I enjoy it… a lot of people approaching learning something challenging in just that fashion.

I take another approach, instead of “trying”… I practice. That’s it. My approach to a lot of stuff I’m not good at, don’t yet know, haven’t yet found my way around, through, over, or into, or need to do and don’t quite “get”, yet. I practice. I practice the basic skills that would be required to do the thing. Too complicated? I break those things down further, to more elemental basics, until I can begin assembling simpler behavior or actions (or understandings) into more and more complex combinations, and – if all goes well – have learned to do the thing, have gained a new understanding, have completed some complicated task… whatever it is. Most things seem to work out pretty well this way, although it is not the fastest process by which to achieve success. It’s a bit like… a through hike on an unmarked trail, while all the way along observing what appears to be a freeway almost within reach, on the other side of a fence. I could waste time trying to reach that freeway, or I can walk on.

I still get where I’m going. That’s enough.

It may be an uphill climb, some days. I still practice taking time to enjoy the journey, and to look for beauty.

I enjoyed a strangely intimate and emotionally nurturing yesterday. I hung out with a dear friend of many years. We haven’t made time to hang out in about 4 years, and it was overdue, welcome, and comfortably intimate. She is someone I love, though we’ve never been lovers. We’re at very different places in life, and that has been an interesting characteristic of our friendship all along. She was the friend who said to me, so many years ago, “have you heard of ACT?”. Words that would later prove to be another piece to the puzzle of healing and learning to care for the woman in the mirror, because they would still be lingering in my consciousness on that grim December day when I began checking off my list of things to do before I would end my own life. That last item? Try therapy one more time. Her words were a hint at a new direction; “third wave cognitive behavior therapy”. There are several, some very rigid and formal, others less so.

Have we covered this before? Sure. It’s buried in the details, in much older posts. The eagerness of this new way to experience life, more authentically, with greater self-compassion, erupts in my words post after post after post. Life happens. I write about that too. Now and then I add something to The Reading List; my journey is paved with stepping-stones made of books, and practices, and the words of dear friends.

A current favorite track on my playlist feels timed for the moment. My heart fills with tenderness, and gratitude. I’m glad I stayed. Warm tears splash my glasses, and my shoulders shake with sobbing, and I’m just fucking crying now… I’m not unhappy. I’m relieved. I might have missed this precious moment right now. I might have missed yesterday… the lovely color work I got done on my hair… the phone call with my Traveling Partner later in the day… the conversations with friends. Fuck I am so glad I stayed around awhile longer… My heart aches with a powerful need to say “thank you” or.. “I’m sorry”… or… something. Β There are literally no words for this strange strong emotion of thankfulness I feel that I chose to live. I’m okay with that too. I’m not afraid to feel.

Another good morning on which to begin again. I don’t know that I’ve done anything that changes the world, but so much as changed about the woman in the mirror. πŸ™‚