Archives for posts with tag: love and lovers

I am sipping my coffee, and taking a few moments for myself at the start of the day. Another work day. One of just 4 remaining at this job, which admittedly feels strange. At this point, it’s mostly meetings, and writing process documentation for things that simply must continue to get done, in spite of my departure, which has nothing at all to do with me. Right now, moments for me are rare. Purposefully winding things down at my job, while I am in the office, and, at home, committing most of my limited leisure time to listening to the tales of a traveler. 🙂

My Traveling Partner is moving in, and there is newness and adjustment to be had for us both. The first time we moved in together, I’m pretty sure I did most of the talking. I had a lot to say. I hadn’t been really listened to (and certainly did not “feel heard”) for what felt like years. I talked. He listened. I needed that consideration and moment of regard. I earnestly needed to feel heard. I’ll be real about it; the person who wasn’t listening with the most commitment to oppression and disregard was actually me. I didn’t understand that, and I would have no idea what to do about it, once I did. It’s been a journey.

We each have to walk our own hard mile. Along the way, I’ve learned how much listening deeply really matters. I’ve also learned that it is a skill that must be practiced, and takes time to develop. I’ve learned that I’m not “naturally good at it”, myself, and that means practice must be committed, and undertaken from a position of presence and self-awareness (otherwise, I just start talking again). At this point? I’m often pretty good at it. (Still takes practice, presence, and self-awareness, as well as consideration for another.)

This time, as my partner moves in, he talks. I listen. I’m learning a lot about this human being I hold in such high regard. My affection has deepened with the telling of the tales. I wrap my lover in listening. We all want to be heard – to feel heard. I do my best. The listening matters more than any observation or reply I could make. This is not the time for my words. I continue to listen, setting boundaries gently when I need stillness, or a distraction, or a break from an intense moment; listening deeply can be work (it’s a bit topic dependent). We set explicit ground rules together, as partners, about things like checking in and making sure it’s a good time before starting down the path of discussing childhood trauma, or very emotionally intense topics likely to evoke a visceral reaction. We check in with each other when we see a micro-expression suggesting emotional pain, discomfort, or something left urgently unspoken that perhaps could best be shared.

About listening deeply… deep listening, as a specific practice, is simple enough to describe, and I’ll spend a lifetime practicing, because practice is what is required to become skillful. Deep listening only requires that I set aside all else, and just listen. Only that. No “waiting for my turn to talk”. No impatiently fidgeting with a reply I just want to get out there. No interrupting to make “corrections”. No taking what I hear personally. Just listening, present, aware, and also non-judgmentally. Asking clarifying questions can be part of listening deeply, but I definitely have to be very aware, such that I am not interrupting in order to do so. Deep listening is not a passive process, and I have found myself unable to hold onto hostility or to be confrontational, while also listening deeply. There is compassion involved, gratitude, appreciation, awareness, and yes, even love, and certainly consideration.

So, yeah, in general, this change in my lifestyle is still feeling pretty… well, “effortless” is the wrong word here, because unpacking things, moving other things, doing housekeeping, fixing small broken things, moving stuff around, all that stuff that goes with moving, well it all amounts to effort, for sure. It’s just not “hard”, and feels pretty natural. Like having my best friend move in – which makes a lot of sense, since he’s been my bestie for close to a decade. 🙂

There will no doubt still be moments ahead of us when, perhaps, one or the other of us is taken over creatively by a moment of inspiration, with no bandwidth remaining, at least temporarily, to give over to our lover. There may be moments when tempers flare, or we’re cross with each other, purely as a product of being very much made entirely of human. It’s hard to worry about it; things are very excellent, deeply loving, and connected, right now. Right now is enough. 🙂 Still… it’s helpful to practice those practices (such as listening deeply) that nurture and connect us so deeply. It’s helpful to be mindful of my Big 5 (respect, reciprocity, consideration, compassion, and openness), which have stood so many tests, so well. I can always use more practice. 😀

It’s time to begin again.

Winter finally attempted to prove some point, yesterday, with a bit of snow, and a lot of cold. The furnace ran most of the day. The roads were icy. I worked from home.

It’s not a lot of snow, it is, however, more ice than it appears to be. I chose safety.

I have recollections that there was some past point at which an ex, with whom both my Traveling Partner and I had cohabited with (together), had chronically complained how difficult it was to work from home, when he was also at home. I do not find it so, and the day passed well and productively. It was pleasant to make conversation over a break, and to finish the day in the company of someone so dear to me. It was a quiet day. Have I grown? Has he? Are we different people than we were then?

An afternoon visitor on a snowy day.

Actually, those aren’t even hard questions. Sure, we’ve both grown. Both worked through some individual baggage and bullshit. We’re different people than we were, because we have grown. That growth, chosen or forced on us by circumstances, isn’t the whole of the matter, though; we’ve also made room in our hearts and our awareness to acknowledge both our own growth, and our partner’s growth, too. We didn’t just become different people than we each were, we also accept, appreciate, and acknowledge those changes. We enjoy each other now, every bit as much as we enjoyed each other when we met – in some cases for new reasons. Love evolves. Love deepens.

We take time with getting more deeply re-acquainted. Listening to each other talk. Connecting, sharing, and discussing the past and the future – and just loving each other. We spent happy minutes discussing a bird on the deck I didn’t recall seeing before. We cook for each other. Tidy up together. It feels good.

It’ll be days, even weeks of settling in together, sorting things out, moving things around, adding things, removing things, changing things that may suit one or the other of us, but that don’t suit us both, together, in a similarly pleasing way. It’ll be months of talking, planning, sharing, experiencing – and yeah, more growing. We are not nouns, to paraphrase R. Buckminster Fuller.

Here it is, already morning again, already a new day queued up, ready to be lived. So many choices to make, so many moments to experience. It’s hard to contemplate getting in the car to drive in to the office, but it looks pretty do-able, so… yeah. lol Another day. Another beginning. 🙂

 

Well… I’m home, again. The car is unloaded. There is a tidy stack of belongings to one side of the living room that are not mine. There are bright lime green sticky notes here and there, on walls, on bookcases, on drawers, marking spaces that could be pleasingly and functionally re-purposed for the needs of another. Oh sure, this is a comfortable space for two, has been, really, all along – I just choose to live a solitary life, these days. Or… I had been so doing. And, although it is a comfortable space for two, it’s not really outfitted for cohabitation in any long-term way.

Change is coming. Actually, according to the stack of boxes and things, and the handy list of stuff I would ideally like to get done ahead of time, it’s already here. He’s already here… well… on his way. Not a visit. Not a vacation. Not “coming and going”. Not wandering, or mostly traveling; my Traveling Partner is coming home for some while. 🙂 I’m excited, like a teenager, nesting, doing chores, moving things from here to there. I’m also… giving my inner teenager a lot of shit over it, in the background, and a hearty helping of side-eye, when the excitement becomes surreal. This is not a daydream of playing house. This is real life. Real people. Baggage, challenges, aspirations, changes, love, and all. All of it. Who we are now. Who we want to be. The journey between those destinations.

…No map.

I’m glad I got home ahead of him. There feels like so much to do to make him welcome, to make room for him to truly feel fully at home, and moved into this shared space. (Holy shit – I gotta share my space. lol) Then, too, I look at things I just haven’t gotten done, ever, because… reasons. (Some fairly lame reasons, some utterly understandable – some both. One reason, just being real, is all the back and forth travel to spend time with my Traveling Partner, elsewhere!) He knows me so well. His affection is deep, abiding – and accepting of who I am, while also supporting my growth. There is so much I won’t have to ask for help with, the help will be there. 🙂 It’s like another Giftmas, every time I come home to something nice he’s done to help out. He fixes things. He has an exceptional sense of placement that suits my aesthetic. He hangs paintings with skill and an eye for theme and beauty. He notices things that I don’t always spot, and takes care of what I can’t so easily do. It’s reciprocal; I help him with things that are “more in my area”, whether personally or professionally. That matters. We count on each other – and we comfortably can. I laugh when I realize that there are no surprises here, and that he is coming home to my familiar presence, because he wants to be here, with me, as I am. I relax. It feels warm and supportive and intimate, even from afar. Even before I hear his key in the lock on the front door, in some future moment, soon. There is a sense of eagerness, and belonging. I have missed him greatly, however much I enjoy living alone.

I hop up from my writing to add another sticky note for him to find, “this bookcase is entirely for your use”, it says. I sit down smiling. There is more to do, and I feel grateful to have time to get some of it done in advance, so that I’m not “underfoot” while he is trying to get settled in; a drawer in the dresser that I plan to relinquish, night stands to swap because he likes “the other side of the bed”. I frowned into the refrigerator earlier; I need to grocery shop, too. I’ve been living a bit like a bachelor, a bit more than I’d really like to. There is positive momentum in this change for both of us.

Sure, sure, eventually there will be some moment of miscommunication, hurt feelings, or anger, and we’ll deal with that the way we do – explicitly and affectionately, sometimes with clenched jaws, and terse, deliberate, careful communication, sometimes with tears – from a place of love, wanting only the best of, and for, each other, and always building this partnership. Fearless commitment to loving. Expectation-setting, clarifying questions, deep conversations, laughter – so much to add to my day-to-day experience, and I am so hungry for it, sitting here thinking it over.

I wasn’t in a good place for cohabitation 4 years ago. Am I now? Moving into my own place made so much sense, then… What about now?

I look out the window of my studio. It looks out onto the front stoop, and at the door into the garage. His space. Oh sure, still shared, but… shared like my studio is shared. It sort of has to be, small place, but, still my studio. Still his maker-space/workshop/whatever he makes of it, despite any wee bit of shared purpose in some fashion or another. (And yes, we do things like knock, check before we barge in, make sure we’re aware whether the other is in the throes of some creative endeavor that would suffer for being interrupted. Respect, reciprocity, consideration – they’re all part of my Big 5 relationship values, values that he both respects and shares. Boundaries set are boundaries respected, in this house.) I smile looking at that door. I earnestly want to put a sticky note on it, although it is not at all necessary… I do it anyway. My smile deepens with my feeling of contentment.

It seems a lovely way to begin again. 🙂

I was sipping my coffee between moments in the studio when I really noticed; there’s a tree missing from the view beyond my deck.

What I expected to see…

It’s not a great picture, and I warn you now, it isn’t from an identical perspective – and perhaps that’s why it nagged at me so much. Something is different, I spotted that right away, but figured, in the gloom of twilight, last night, that perhaps it was just more winter, fewer leaves, more lights in the distance… something.

…what I see today.

There’s a missing tangle of mostly-dead tree. Obvious as anything could be, once I allowed myself to really see it, absent my expectations. There’s something to be learned from that.

The healthy heart-wood of the stump left-behind, quite evenly cut, about 18 inches from the ground, tells me it was not lost to misadventure or high winds. Willful. Probably well-intended. I feel sad about it anyway, thinking about the owl that had been making her home there. The squirrels using it as a freeway ramp to the tree nearer the deck. The loss of privacy from neighbors beyond. Just… the loss of a tree. It’s painful. Oh, I’m sure a dead tree just hanging out there on the steep edge of the yard, where it suddenly drops off just past the fence, was a hazard of some sort, to something, but… fucking hell. I’m getting a little sick of people just taking my fucking trees away every-fucking-where that I move. Irksome.

There’s much to learn from contemplating this change. Trees fall. Trees are cut. Impermanence is. Non-attachment helps with the pain of circumstantial misfortunes. We have choices. Trees can be planted. Trees sprout. Trees grow.

I sip a delicious afternoon coffee – a perk of having a 3-day weekend, afternoon coffee always feels like luxury to me. 🙂 I contemplate impermanence, and change – and choices. I think about seeing. I mean, really seeing – eyes and mind both open to what may be new and changed. I contemplate acceptance; change can be hard. Recognizing what has changed is not without it’s own challenges. I breathe. Relax, and consider what I am practicing, and what I want to achieve. I think over conversations with my Traveling Partner; this last visit was rich with thought-provoking, inspiring, observations, and discussion. Connected. Insightful. Loving.

We become what we practice. (Remember, “trees take a long time” 😉 )

Once you “find your joy”, don’t forget to enjoy it. To explore it. To lavish yourself with the experience of it. Work toward it with purpose – fearless, guiltless, and without shame.

For me, it’s time to blur the line between art and self-reflection, and spend some time creatively, and in my own head (and heart).

This weekend I’ll be in the studio. Maybe I write, maybe I don’t. I’m feeling inspired by love, and deeply appreciative of a mature partnership that allows me to choose me, to choose us, to choose him; no wrong answers. We consider each other. We reciprocate. I feel more loved, and valued, than I’ve experienced in other intimate relationships, with the exception of a few rare very deep connected friendships of long-standing, and I want to celebrate this experience of being deeply loved. Love hasn’t always been my inspiration – I found love later in life.

Inspiration deserves action, and I certainly deserve to treat the woman in the mirror well, and nurture her creative side. 🙂 Choices.

I’ll see you right here, in a few days. There’s a canvas on my easel, and I earnestly need to begin again. 🙂