Archives for posts with tag: listening deeply

I woke unexpectedly breathless, heart pounding, unsure of where I was – and no art on the walls yet to pull me back from The Nightmare City. I told myself it was nothing. Got up. Took my morning medication. Had a big drink of cool, fresh, water. Took some deep breaths. I found myself wandering room to room, throwing open the windows, as if only the fresh morning air could calm me. It did feel good. I made coffee out of habit. I really just want more cold water, although… I’m not actually thirsty.

I stand in a cool shower for some minutes, coffee forgotten, trembling, heart still pounding, and feeling mildly weak and a little dizzy. I finally think to check in with myself more specifically. “Am I okay? Physically okay?” I give that some thought, becoming more aware, and more present, right now. I have no recollection of having had a nightmare, but aside from that, I feel very much as I do when I wake from a really bad one, abruptly.

After my shower, feeling some better, I drop some ice cubes in my now-tepid coffee (damn, how long was I standing in not-quite-cold water at 4 am?) and step out onto the deck “for some fresh air” (as if I hadn’t already thrown the house wide to the breezes as soon as I woke). I’m okay. Still feeling a little unsure of myself, actually, vulnerable, and filled with vague anxiety. It’s been awhile since I woke in the middle of a panic attack. Uncomfortable. It wasn’t helpful that I am in a new environment. I’m okay right now, though, and that’s enough to get by on.

I watch the sky lighten beyond the window of the studio, beyond the security door, beyond the hedge, a few tall trees silhouetted against the sliver of visible sky. There are streaks of clouds, low on the horizon, and clear pale sky overhead. I write a few more words about the weather, then delete them. I sit staring quizzically at my computer screen for some minutes, not just uncertain what to write about, but also simply… unsure. Too aware that I woke up a bit unhinged, still feeling… feelings. Sure, I’m okay, for most values of okay, and I’ll be fine, but right now, in this tender moment, I need something more from myself than small talk about the fucking weather. lol I need a connection.

I decide to begin again. I take my coffee, and head to the deck to enjoy watching the morning unfold its beauty in leaves and light to a soundtrack of birdsong, breezes, and morning traffic. My results vary. Of course. Sometimes there are verbs involved.

 

 

I woke from a deep sleep to some kind of noise…a persistent sound of some sort…a beeping, or chiming, or… and it wasn’t stopping… Oh. My phone was ringing. Only one number rings through my “Do Not Disturb” settings; my Traveling Partner. I quickly lurch from bed and careen through the apartment, stumbling on shit that doesn’t match my mental map of my apartment; there are stacks of boxes everywhere. I reach the phone and answer it, delighted to hear his voice. No emergency, he’s just back in town and wanted to hear my voice. πŸ™‚ It was a short call, and a quick return to sleep…

…only…

Nope. Not sleeping.

…I couldn’t so easily return to sleep. Β Just as I was about to drift off my brain decided to attack with a barrage of insecure doubt and anxiety and dread, and oh, just all the things available to keep me laying wakefully for some time. I did eventually return to a restless unsatisfying sleep. Nightmares of loss and loneliness occupied my sleeping mind until the alarm went off.

I woke feeling okay. Feeling thoughtful. Feeling… thought-filled. lol This too will pass. I make a point of reminding myself how pointless rumination is, and that anything of substance that truly needs to be considered will still need to be considered later… after I wake up, after meditation, after my morning coffee, and perhaps even just quite a lot later today – after work. Perspective is helpful. Context matters. Oh, and also – brains make shit up all the damned time. lol My imagination is just as likely to work against me as to delight me. So, I shrug off as much of the weird lingering insecurity, anxiety, and doubt as I am able to, and I push on with the morning.

I have a practice for this one, and although it works, it’s not to be undertaken lightly first thing in the morning by a sleep-addled brain. (I learned that the hard way!) My practice for dealing firmly with insecurity and anxiety is to look my fears in the face without flinching. Seriously – I consider as frankly as I can whatever bundle of fears and bullshit that is freaking me out, and I consider it as if it were simply a given and life is no kidding going to deliver on all of it as if it were a promise. Feeling insecure about my relationship? I consider life without it, no bullshit, no drama – what does that look like? Could I still be okay? What advantages might that bring? Is there a future from that point that may still be quite nice? Does it change who I am? What am I truly afraid of? Is there an opportunity for growth, here? This works for any sort of insecurity, doubt, and anxiety, really. Emotions are powerful. It’s a good idea to choose some moment when it feels truly safe to fully consider my deepest fears. Results vary. Scary, tense, anxious, insecure, doubtful emotions can go sideways so easily, plunging me into real despair… but, all the more reason to learn to face them unafraid of the emotions themselves, and there is so much to learn.Β They’re still only emotions; getting to know them well, becoming comfortable with emotion, generally, and working to develop a measure of emotional intelligence that supports good quality of life is not only completely achievable, I have found that improving my emotional intelligence improves my interactions with others, too, and sort of “tidies up my thinking”. πŸ™‚

So much of what goes on in our heads is actually completely made up bullshit going on in our heads. πŸ™‚ I am as likely to find my anxiety provoked by things that are delightful, or changes that suit me better than whatever had changed ever could, as I am by things that are legitimately worth being anxious about. Silly primates – given both emotion and reason (which work so nicely together), and yet time and again we keep trying to choose one over the other. lol

I sip my coffee and watch the dawn slowly becoming day. I consider my imminent move. Just two more work shifts before that actually becomes a thing happening in the moment…and one of those work shifts is today. This is happening!! πŸ˜€ My conversation with my partner last night opened some opportunities in the context of moving that I hadn’t considered, and although I spent some time wracked with anxiety (because changing plans sometimes causes me anxiety), the opportunities themselves are worth considering fully. Later.

The calm of the morning develops like a Polaroid. I feel settled and secure, and focused on changes that meet my needs over time. I feel content. I feel loved. Fears and doubts fade away as the sky lightens, and anything that lingers to day’s end can be fully considered at some later point, in a comfortable, practical way.

It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I woke to the alarm after a restless night. 4th of July, of course, is a noisy holiday. I’d enjoy it more if more other Americans enjoyed it more often at public fireworks events, rather than in their driveways, streets, and the park beyond my patio. It was well past 11 pm before the bangs, crackles, and booms died away. I let it go, and got what sleep I could.

There is a peculiar low-hanging mist on the meadow this morning. The day is forecasted for a high of 88 degrees. I’m dressed for the hot weather, and appreciative how little time I will have to spend in the heat (it’s a work day, the office is well air-conditioned). I try to avoid fussing and fretting about how hot this apartment will be when I return to it, and instead work on cooling it down now. To be relatively comfortable at day’s end, on a such a hot day, Β it needs to be below 70 degrees in here when I leave the house for work. I miss the tree that used to shade this place, keeping it comfortable even on very hot days. I feel my anger about the loss of the trees here surge, and begin to combine with other small irritants that have eroded my contentment here over time. I take a deep breath, and let that go, too.

I got to hang out with my Traveling Partner last night, and it was beautiful and connected and joyful…and…real. We really talked about a couple of things we’d been very careful about for some time. It was…needed. It was even tender. It was… worth having the conversation. I was able to say “I miss living with you…” and feel the tears start as my heart filled with the recollection of us two, living together, in our own place, for that one precious perfectly lovely year of deeply connected new relationship joy… and he didn’t resist, or become tense, or angry, or any of those things. He looked at me tenderly, with concern, and affection, and said something sane and wise… “You thrive living alone…” I don’t recall what else he said, or what came first, or what came after, just those words, and the somewhat puzzled look on his face, and the clear desire to “be there” for me, and to understand. I do thrive living alone, this is a true thing. He’s so right about that. Β I do miss living with him… but… I don’t miss cohabitation generally. I actually do thrive – really thrive – living alone. I am disinclined to easily recognize that, when I think about living with my Traveling Partner, no fault of his; I’d never lived so well with another person, ever, than with him. It was… the very next best thing to living alone (which I hadn’t really done previously for any length of time)! I’d probably feel uncomfortable saying it so boldly and firmly this morning, if we hadn’t had the conversation we had last night.

For him, it is a beautiful thing to see me thrive. For me, living alone is the first time I truly have (thrived, I mean). The conversation at least got to the real point; I would enjoy spending more time with him. πŸ™‚ We agree contentedly it has been a busy year for us both. He’s eager to see me in a more comfortable space, feeling safe again (I just haven’t since the burglary back in November). He steers my excitement about getting moved in such that I stay focused on what works for me, and don’t invest heavily in what might work for him in some abstract circumstance in which he lands on my doorstep for a long stay. He trusts my ability to create a beautiful home. I trust that he wants to spend time there with me. I let go of a little more baggage.

I got to reconnect briefly with another friend over the weekend. We exchanged birthday gifts. It was a fun moment. I smile and think of him every time I see the lovely pin he crafted, pinned on my hiking cap. My cap goes everywhere with me during the spring and summer, and often in autumn, and even sometimes in winter… a good all-purpose cap. It had been rather dull and unadorned. Now it seems to shout “you are loved” or “life has purpose” or… “damn I look good!” or something else positive and lovely, without undermining the practical nature of a good cap. I miss hanging out with him, too. A poignant moment of recognition of how much joy busy lives can rob us of… and I let that go, too. Busy, indeed, and legitimately so; there is no point grieving the positives in life. Are we each thriving? Is that not enough? πŸ™‚

A simple cap, a fancy pin, a life now built on contentment and sufficiency.

It is a lovely summer morning for consideration; this morning that consideration is from me, for me, to me. I consider my feelings. I consider the context. I provide myself perspective. I embrace change and consider the needful things. I consider the planning. I consider the future. This morning I allow myself to be aware that indeed I do thrive living alone. I consider the chaos and damage that brought me here in life, without anger, without frustration, and without judgement. I am here. This is who I am. Thriving. Wow. Thriving… that’s a big deal. πŸ™‚ It’s also very much “enough”.

One day in a life worth living…

The sun peeks over the horizon, tangerine and sparkling, turning the needle tips of the awkwardly place pine just beyond the window quite gold and glittery. There is a female duck at the edge of the meadow keeping a careful eye out for cats while having a look for tasty morsels in the grass. Day is beginning. Where will it take me?

 

I woke in a lot of pain this morning, and it feels like it is going to be a hot day. My device says 84 degrees (F), so manageably hot, I guess. It’s a “boxing day” today (packing things up to move), and a chance to get some laundry done, too. I smile and enjoy the awareness that in the new place I have my own washer and dryer in the house, saving both time and money.

It’s a nice morning for gratitude. Yesterday ended on a difficult note at work, not “bad” just… work. Real work. Work that matters. Work I am satisfied and rewarded by. Still work. Still requires working. However difficult the work at hand, I also felt valued and appreciated by my colleagues and my boss, which feels… amazing. So far a very healthy environment for me. I definitely seek to spend more time appreciating those good qualities than dwelling on one difficult day – that still ended very well, with work I am proud of.

Yesterday I also had the opportunity to “be there” for a friend who needed a moment to be heard. We all do, now and then, right? I was glad to be there when he needed someone, and it was good to reconnect.

Another friend is gathering his resources and harnessing his will, considering making a 750 mile drive north to see me, hang out, and help me move. I’m pretty blown away by his affectionate regard that he would do so. I smile every time I consider it – and will for a long while, whether he is able to make it or not. He really wants to. That’s awesome. πŸ™‚

Tonight I will get to hang out with other far away friends, in town visiting a friend who isn’t so far away, and who I enjoy but rarely break out of my routine to see. Yeah, that’s a thing – I’m very human. πŸ™‚ I’m eager to see them all, this evening. Maybe my Traveling Partner will accompany me, although probably not; he is still recovering from his recent surgery, and travel would likely be very awkward.

Life isn’t always easy. I got home last night still suffering the day. The time I spent hanging out with a friend helped. The time I spent meditating helped further. The sleep I got, deliciously restful, found me waking with the dawn and a smile, eager for a cup of coffee, having let go of any lingering stress from the prior day. This ability to bounce back developed over time, and I can’t provide any really sound expectations about “how soon” or “when”…because it is a slow, gradual thing that was an incremental change over time with so many setbacks and “will this never end?!” moments that it was a little like I simply woke one day… changed. I suppose it was sometime between when I began and yesterday, right? lol So… let’s go with an easier question, okay? “How many days from the day I first began “practicing the practices” has it been to achieve yesterday’s results?” That I can answer – after I choose a staring point. So… I think I have to look at two different starting points, and answer with a range. First starting point; when my Traveling Partner recommended that I read The Four Agreements (it’s linked on my Reading List), which puts me around 2,575 days (7.05 years – bit of a long haul, frankly). Okay, that sounds… long. Impossibly long. Second starting point, would be when I began with my current therapist, shortly after I started writing Evening Light, putting me at a more comfortable to contemplate 1,610 days (4.4 years). Soooo… it’s taken me, depending on how I look at where I began, between 4 and 7 years to get this far from where I began… that sounds like a long time to have to “wait”, but there have been verbs involved, so I haven’t exactly been “waiting”…

…It hasn’t seemed so long. The quality of life improvements over time began quickly with small things, and have been entirely worth the work, the verbs, the constant practice, the regular beginning again… It’s a lot to commit to, though. So… I haven’t. I’ve refrained from committing to a specific outcome, and focused mostly on moments, practices, and treating myself (and other people) with great consideration and compassionate understanding – neither of which came naturally to me, so, yeah – practice. A lot of practice.

…I’m not “there” yet. I don’t know that there is a “there” at all. I just know that this morning is quite lovely, even though yesterday was difficult in spots. I know I am well-loved, even though I am, myself, quite difficult in spots. I know that so much of my experience is within my ability to choose change, even though that sometimes feels difficult in spots. I know, too, that anytime things are difficult – I can begin again, right here, now, in this spot. πŸ™‚

It’s a good day to practice being the woman I most want to be. We become what we practice. ❀

Ever wake up to a lovely morning, resting contentedly in the context of a beautiful moment, begin your day and…

Change? Change. A change that literally “changes everything” – or least feels like it does – can rock my world, shake my foundation, and result in a surreal overload of mixed metaphors, mixed emotions, and general confusion that lasts…well, it used to last until well past whatever the crisis du jour happened to be, and there used to be a lot of them. So many changes and moments were overwhelming crises of circumstance that resulted in chaos, upheaval, and “too much to handle”.

Medical problems. Unexpected bills. Break ups. Lost jobs. Hell – new jobs. Good stuff can do it, too. Love? Love causes some major changes in life and decision-making about the future, I guess I’ve just tended to assume all that anxiety was “excitement”, or failed to notice it in the hormone storm of positive sex-charged emotion. I like to feel emotionally comfortable. I like to plan my life such that even the “unexpected delights” and surprises are not entirely unexpected, nor entirely surprising. I like to feel prepared.

Sometimes I’m not “prepared”. I’m very human. Life can be scary.

Context and perspective are helpful – change is still change. Soon this will no longer be a stopping point on my morning commute.

My anxiety flared up severely – and so did my anger – yesterday morning, as I left for work. I haven’t managed to fully resolve it, but I’m reached an equilibrium with my emotions that feels… manageable. It’s only over a rent increase, really. I’m angry about the circumstances, which seem sleazy, exploitative, and just… douche-baggery for profit. My anger started getting out of hand, my anxiety shot through the roof, and I still had to go to work. I talked things through with my Traveling Partner, gaining perspective as I vented my irritation, resentment, and anger as gently as I could Β (Seriously? He’s doing me a favor to be there for me, and isn’t at all involved or responsible, so “taking it out on him” would be inconsiderate and unkind.) So, I talked about it, over messaging, and stayed practical about it as much as I could. I wasn’t “looking for satisfaction” or confirmation that I am “right”, just a reality check, and some supportive understanding. He’s super good at those things, and our conversation ended as I reached the office, feeling… prepared, although still angry. I love feeling prepared!

I’m fortunate that I can fairly easily move, because now I don’t just want to – realistically, I have to (which is why I was feeling so angry, I was making very different plans). The suggested rent increase isn’t sustainable for me, and the circumstances of the increase are such that I certainly don’t care to rent from this landlord anymore, at all, and don’t feel valued as a tenant.

What a strange turn to yesterday’s lovely morning. Still, these days it’s such a mundane bit of adulting, writing about it almost wasn’t a thing… only… it’s still on my mind. I spent my lunch yesterday, and my evening, looking at available rentals, where they are located relevant to work, how much they cost, how soon they are available, and considering each in the context of real life concerns: features, amenities, utility costs, convenience to goods and services, nearness to public transportation (because now I have to move before we have second vehicle – one of the changes we discussed while we were hanging out night before last), nearness to green spaces, nearness to neighbors, and how quiet and safe the communities appear to be. It’s a lot to consider. It’s my life – and worthy of such consideration.

…I had other things on my mind, other things to write about…

I think back, smiling, to hearing my Traveling Partner remind me I already wanted to move (though I hate the process of moving), and that this – however poor the timing – is an opportunity to improve my quality of life through my choices. It’s true, too. The frantic panicked feelings all mixed up with my anger and my anxiety began to fade away as my options began to open up (through skillful Google-fu, and studious inquiry). The number of potential choices became a list of bookmarks in my browser, phone calls and emails to send inquiring about various rentals… houses…duplexes…apartments…condos…townhouses… My criteria stopped being based on “oh-my-fucking-god-what-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do-I’ve-got-to-find-somethingfast!!” and started being based on “wherever I move, the details need to improve, and can”. I struck everything from the list that didn’t achieve that – and still had a decent list of immediately available rentals to act on that shorten my commute, reduce my rent, and improve my day-to-day quality of life – and in one case appears to do so while also keeping me very near to green spaces, and increasing my quiet and my privacy. Nice.

I’m moving. I am okay with that. Change is. I sometimes wish it weren’t so much, so often, but… wishing is a child’s plaything, not a productive tool for managing change. So, I let that go. I confidently choose a move date. I’ll be somewhere new on August first. I don’t know where – but I know I’m moving.

Beginning again? And then some! πŸ™‚

…It’s a new dawn…it’s a new day… it’s a new life for me…Β