Archives for posts with tag: just breathe

I’m inclined to consider “breathing” one of the things I do most naturally… and more or less continuously, while I do all the other sorts of things I am wont to do. I am incorrect in my assumption that “breathing” comes wholly naturally to me; I’m getting better at noticing when I am holding my breath. LOL

It’s not like it’s super obvious. I’m not taking a stance like a defiant child, cheeks inflated, eyes squeezed shut, forcibly holding my breath as long as I can… it’s a more subtle thing, and so I have missed it, for… how long? It’s more like a “long pause”… without air. It’s as if I stop paying attention and forget to breathe for a moment… or… several. This can’t be healthy. So… I keep practicing. I’m sure I’ll need a ton more practice…

…Last night I was focusing on my breathing and sort of… forgot to sleep. I mean… yeah. I noticed around 1:00 am that I had somehow simply overlooked actually falling asleep. Just… laying there awake, breathing. I mean… I guess that’s better than not breathing… and that’s sort of the point. I didn’t get 100% of the rest I really needed, but the day has gone okay, and being real? Some part of that may be due to actually breathing more. I think maybe? Could be. It’s worthwhile enough to keep practicing. 🙂

Every time I’ve had a break from work today, I’ve made a point to breath. Between meetings. Between tasks. As if I specifically must undertake it as a task to complete. Weird, but… I’m not hurting anyone with this, and maybe, just maybe, I’m helping myself move on past some old pain. That’s definitely worth some practice. 🙂

…Time to begin again? One sec, I need to take a couple breaths. 😀

Caught myself reading the news first thing this morning. I thought I’d broken that habit. I sip my coffee, put that aside, and sit quietly for some minutes, listening to the “shhhh-shhhh” of cars passing by, on the rain-slick road outside my window, at the end of the driveway. I start to fret about this or that challenge, or some other moment of difficulty; I let all that go, too. I sit with my coffee, relaxed and calm, aware of my arthritis pain, and aware of the rainy morning beyond my window. I was in pain yesterday, too, and there were stormy looking clouds on the horizon as yesterday’s sunny day ended, so neither the pain nor the sound of wet pavement are unexpected. Routine stuff. Most stuff is.

I take advantage of the morning’s solitude-in-shared-space to meet that personal need for such time that is so much a part of me. I sip my coffee. I breathe, exhale, and relax. I let minutes tick by without checking the clock. My fingers pause on the keyboard… waiting. I’m in no particular rush. There’s not much to say in this moment, right now. It is enough to simply be. So, I do more of that.

…Later will be busier. I’ll be okay with that, too. For now, I take care of me, and consider the needs of the woman in the mirror. Later on, there will be time enough for new beginnings and all the other things. For now, this is enough, this moment, this coffee, just as it is.

Well. That was a night of something other than rest. lol Nightmares woke me around 2 am. It was almost three before sleep caught up with me again. My dreams, thankfully, shifted gears, but… the content was strange (very) and fantastical… something about a church service breaking out into a raucous, violent, drunken party in the basement of a building in which corporate performance reviews were about to be given out under (for some reason) strict secrecy. There were Leprechauns in attendance (whether they were party-goers or work colleagues wasn’t at all clear), and for some reason, the professional folks were all wearing pajamas, and big screen tvs were showing Saturday morning cartoons. Very odd. Let’s never discuss it again. LOL

…Being awake, sipping a hot cup of coffee, seems a relief, and a clear return to normalcy. 🙂 It’s enough. I yawn through these first sips of coffee, tired after the 3rd (4th?) consecutive night of fairly bad sleep. These things often go in cycles, so I refrain from taking it at all personally, and figure, more than likely, the rough sleep is due to the injured shoulder; it is a pain that is disrupting my sleep. I feel it every time I try to turn over, every time I lay on my right side, and my sleep ends up interrupted, restless, and not very deep. Lots of opportunity for dreams, and yes, nightmares. I remind myself that I already have a doctor’s appointment scheduled, and look at my calendar. It’s not on my calendar, so I look it up online, and add it – and invite “my work self”, so it’ll be on my calendar in the office also. 🙂

Nothing to see here – all routine human stuff, the business of living life. 🙂 I’m okay with “average”, “routine”, and “normal”, and drama is not welcome here…so… yeah. I get back to sipping coffee, and feeling this shoulder ache. lol

My thoughts careen through memories and random stream-of-consciousness weirdness for a time.

I breathe, exhale, relax, and sit present with the pain in my shoulder, and the tinnitus in my ears. It’s some time before I realize some of what I’m hearing is traffic beyond the window, and some of it is the fan on my computer. Another sip of coffee, contemplating the day ahead, gently (work has been intense, lately). The cup returns to the stone coaster on the desk with an unexpectedly loud clunk, and I shoot a suspicious look at cup, coaster, and fingers still wrapped through and around the white porcelain handle, motionless – as though freezing for a brief instant somehow mitigates the loud noise in the quiet room. LOL

…I wonder, for the first time, why the hell I am using a stone coaster with a porcelain coffee mug, early in the mornings, in a very quiet environment, when I am specifically cultivating the quiet? This seems an inexplicably counter-productive choice. Shouldn’t I be using a soft, silent, coaster, perhaps of cork… or… fake fur…with googly eyes? I quake silently with mirth at the mental image of a fake fur coaster. (Omg, I need more sleep. lol)

Something about the mirthful moment is a reminder of recent inspiration; my Traveling Partner shared something artistic (a painting technique), and I found it inspiring, fascinating, and potentially very suited to my artistic approach. I’m excited about the weekend to come; maybe I will spend some of it in the studio? The idea becomes a smile, another sip of coffee, and a moment – it almost becomes a plan. My eye roams the room… paint… glitter… glow in the dark… canvases… Yeah, I’m overdue to get some creative work done. I think I screwed myself attempted to exorcise the toxic demon that is an X of mine by way of paint on canvas; an individual so utterly vile, so irredeemably poisonous, that even finishing the representation was hard to approach, and the likeness sits unfinished on my easel, holding me back. Maybe I should “finish” it with some quick machete work, instead? The idea amuses me, maybe enough to finish it properly, let go, and really, finally, completely move on.

…It’s the forgiveness that’s hard, isn’t it? Once we have been wounded badly enough, deeply enough, damaged thoroughly enough, the forgiveness becomes… difficult. It’s hard to stay with the awareness that the forgiveness isn’t about the person who hurt us, not really, it’s about us, ourselves, letting go. Forgiveness doesn’t absolve someone of the wrongs they have done. It’s not an excuse, and does not condone bad behavior. From my perspective, the forgiveness simply allows us to move on, to admit to our pain, to refuse someone who has injured us any further opportunity to command our attention through their hurtful acts; we can walk on, and leave them to deal with their own pain, their own chaos and damage. Not my circus, not my monkeys. It’s a letting go that mitigates some of the damage, releases us from the powerful hold someone who has hurt us can maintain, and lets us get on with our own lives. There is no lasting requirement to see the forgiven one again, ever, or interact with them, or pretend we were not hurt, or to allow any further damage. I think what makes forgiveness hard is that it is clearly more kind, and more compassionate, than vengeance or punishment – but even though either of those (or both) may be entirely deserved, they do a lot of damage to the person needing to deliver them. It’s a bother, and a weird puzzle.

I can’t have vengeance, and I can’t punish that X, ever, enough to “make things right” – there is no amount of punishment available that could do that work. It is what it is. (Maybe we’re all someone’s villain?) Forgiveness tastes bitter in my mouth, like unripe fruit; I haven’t been ready. That portrait has mocked me, now, for months. That X does not “deserve” forgiveness… then I remember; my X may not “deserve” the relief that forgiveness may bring… but I do. 🙂 Forgiveness is for the one forgiving. Forgiveness allows us to walk on. I guess it’s time. After all, what are they to me, now? Nothing and no one; it’s time to let them go in a proper and final way. I’ll feel so much better – and I’ll finish that damned painting. LOL

I glance into my empty coffee mug. Obviously. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

We all deal with occasional emotional “stormy weather”. I wish I could really help. I’d hand you an umbrella, or some wet weather gear, if it were, you know, properly weather. Instead, all I can really do is take time to listen. Give you a hug. Hand you a tissue. Frustratedly attempt to assure you it will pass.

…You won’t be letting it go until you’re ready.

Your perspective on the situation is your own, and you may not be ready to own any piece of your circumstances, or recognize any amount of personal accountability – and right now you’re hurting. I see it. My frustration sources with your choices, and your unreadiness to look yourself in the face and understand which of your choices may have contributed (or be contributing) to the situation quite directly. It’s hard to watch. I could tell you that some of this is made up nonsense in your own head, or that some of it actually just doesn’t “matter”, in fact, at all.

…You won’t be believing or accepting anything you aren’t ready for – how could you?

Your suffering is quite real. I wish I could help in a real way. I lack the tools. I’d offer you perspective, a quite moment over a cup of tea, perhaps some words over coffee and a moment to gather your thoughts… but the verbs are all yours, in the moment you choose to bring action to your experience and really do something about… whatever is going on.

I’ve found far too often that my own assumptions, expectations, and attachments, were precisely the thing causing me so much suffering, rather than the circumstances themselves. My very human insistence on attributing a “because” to some action taken by another, or words I’ve read or heard, and making it all exceedingly personal (whether it had any legitimate potential to be so, or not), often causes me much more pain than anything anyone actually did, regardless of their intention. Seriously. We make so much shit up in our heads. Yes, you too.

Then, “the hormone thing”. Yeah. Fucking hell. I get it. It’s hard. Hardest still is seeing how much choice there still is. We get used to “can’t help it” and we get so used to making excuses, apologies, and accepting sympathy, that we entirely overlook our opportunities to behave differently in the face of our hormonal challenges – and most of us could realistically do a lot better. No, I’m not going to take a step back from that, and I’ll point out the choice to do better is available both to those with the hormone challenges, and those who love those who have them. Then, how hard is it, sometimes, to even acknowledge “the hormone thing” at all, in some moment when we feel so righteous about our pain or anger? Everyone can win when we all simply treat each other well. No kidding. It’s about behavior, not emotions. Verbs. Choices.

Do better. You can. No kidding. However stressed and freaked out you are right now, you can choose so much of your experience – including how you deal with it. I need reminders too, sometimes. I’ll finish this, and drop the link in an email to myself with some alarming subject line like “I JUST CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!” all in caps, and tag it and archive it without thinking twice about it, and some future day when maybe I find myself lost in the deep end of emotional bullshit, I’ll go searching for emotional wounds to pick at from my email archives… and instead, find the link to this reminder that I have choices – and that I can do better. 🙂

A lot of the shit we allow to upset us most is of little real consequence. Let it go. Take a breath. Take another one. A proper deep breath. Let it out slowly. Have a cup of tea and just stop for a minute. Maybe take 10 minutes to meditate, or have a calming shower. Go for a walk and sift through your thoughts without judgment. Give yourself quiet time to process things. Get some perspective. Deal with your emotions without taking them personally. Take care of yourself – if you haven’t eaten, have some calories. Drink some water. It will pass.

Feasting on our anger or heartache by ceaselessly venting, again and again, about the same shit, tends to grow it larger in the garden of our hearts. Seriously. We become what we practice. Practice anger, you get good at being angry. Practice tears and tantrums, you get really good at crying and raging. Practice losing your shit and becoming hysterical and wrapped up in yourself, and, no kidding, you get good at that.  Maybe practice letting go of your attachment to your own bullshit, instead? Or practice building calm and emotional resilience? How about practicing contentment? You could even practice communicating your emotions without screaming them at people… I’m just saying, behavior is something we can change through choices and practices. It’s not about emotions, at all. Go right ahead and feel all of the things you are feeling. How are you behaving? It matters. 😉

You’ll most likely be okay, you know? How about right now? Are you okay right now? Start there. Begin again. ❤

“The Holiday Season” is almost upon us*. Well, my idea of ‘The Holiday Season” is almost upon me – I don’t know many people who celebrate quite as I do, quite so enthusiastically. It’s a thing with me. For me, the winter holidays begin with Thanksgiving and continue through to the new year, ending on New Year’s Day, with my personal “One Hour” celebration (a personal tradition that has endured decades through tough times and good times), spent reflecting on the year before, progress made, obstacles, new and old goals, and committing my intentions for the year to come. It’s a whole lot of holiday celebrating, connecting, sharing, and enjoying – and it’s my idea of how such a thing can be experienced.

Even the creatures of forest, meadow, and marsh are getting ready for winter.

Even the creatures of forest, meadow, and marsh are getting ready for winter.

I rarely experience ‘holiday blues’ and I am eager for the holidays this year, utterly unreservedly eager. It’s not about money, I’m stretched pretty thin these days, and I don’t expect to afford a lavish holiday. That’s irrelevant – it really is about the baking of cookies, and the sharing, and the letters, cards, and calls to far away friends and dear ones. It is about having cocoa or cider with friends, more than about presents – although I do love to see the colorful wrapping paper under the tree; I suspect it is the colorful paper more than the contents of the packages that delights me so. It is the meals and memories enjoyed and shared, not the dollar value of the money spent. Yes, I say “Merry Christmas” – and I also say “Happy Holidays”, and most importantly – “welcome to my home” and “I’m so glad to see you”. I am as likely to celebrate Chanukah with Jewish friends or loved ones, or Diwali when it falls ‘within the holiday season’ as to celebrate a holy observance in any other faith; it is the celebration that makes the occasion both special and holy, although my personal experience of Christmas began as the usual mostly secular sort. I would cram the season with observances of all the holidays I can value, honor, and welcome into my own experience – all of them that I know of, I make the attempt. These darker winter months, the metaphorical end of things, are a good time to welcome light and laughter into my home and my heart – and I do it every year, because life reminds me, every year, that there is an end to all things – by bringing winter to my experience.

This is my way of celebrating… so many things… all jumbled together, day over day, week after week. I take time to contemplate life, love, the nature of success, and how fortunate I am. It’s definitely a strong foundation to begin with gratitude and a holiday of giving thanks – and yes, that’s how I celebrate it, I am not hesitant to acknowledge the troubling origin of the holiday, and for me part of that Thanksgiving Holiday is a certain ‘spirit of hospitality’ and accord that sources with the tradition of indigenous Americans welcoming foreigners from across the ocean, helping them settle and survive – and sharing a harvest meal before winter sets in, in earnest. Many years ago, a stranger stranded with a flat tire (that was a thing back then, and not uncommon) stopped at my door to use the phone on Thanksgiving. I invited him in to use the phone. When I over heard him telling his family he would not be home in time for the holiday meal, I made room at my own table, and when he finished his call, invited him to join us. My partner-at-the-time helped the man change his tire while I finished getting dinner to the table. It was a joyous occasion. It seemed the right and proper thing to do, for a stranded traveler on a holiday. Why would I not? (If a list of reasons pops into your head, examine them with care – how many are about fear?)

This year, I’ve been content to look forward to a solitary Thanksgiving holiday. I have been surprised to find that I haven’t been at all blue about it; the menu will suit me perfectly, being entirely only things I enjoy myself. No compromises for tradition or taste. It turns out my traveling partner may be joining me for the holiday meal – which takes me from content and eager, to excited in the time it takes to understand the words. I’ve been smiling ever since. The remainder of the weekend, aside from the bit interrupted by work commitments for a couple of hours on Saturday, will be spent putting up my holiday tree, decorating the apartment, baking fruitcake, and picking out a wreath for the front door.

There’s this grin on my face just now, as I sip my coffee and realize that the winter holidays are something I’ve ‘gotten right’ for many years; I made them my own as soon as I turned 18, keeping what I valued and changing things that didn’t suit me, and have continued to build and enjoy my own traditions and deeper meaning to each feast, each ritual, each calendar date celebrated. At one time, it was the one time of year I took care of me, luxury self-care to the limit of the skills and knowledge I had at the time… once a year. This year, I am doing it with my eyes open, and that makes it all sparkle even more. 🙂

What will you be celebrating with your traditions this year? Something old? Something new? Something for others? Something for you? With enough twinkly lights the darkness can’t win. What a very good time of year to be enough. 🙂

*Almost upon us. I spared you the pictures of Christmas’s past – it’s a bit premature for all that. 😉