Archives for posts with tag: love matters most

I’m looking ahead at the year and sorting out time off plans. Yes, already. I am soooo “that” person. lol I find that doing so gives me a better idea of where I hope to spend my time, and on what activities. It gives me a chance to ensure that I’m also allowing enough opportunity to recover and rest between adventures, festivals, weekends away, and all of the busy things about living life.

There was a point in my life, not too long ago, when such attempts at planning was pure lasting frustration; my planning wasn’t respected by partners, even when the events were shared. It was… hard. For me. My subjective experience, and internal narrative, suggests that I “bent over backwards” to accommodate change, and to be flexible, but… here’s where honest self-reflection has some pay-off; I’m pretty sure I made everyone fairly miserable with noteworthy displays of disappointment, dissatisfaction, and frustration, as much as anything else. Unpleasant on all sides.

Last year was complicated. Lots of well-intended changes of carefully laid plans. Lots of life, and interrupted or changed plans following through on circumstances. Also, rather an enjoyable amount of things that were also planned, and enjoyed precisely as planned, with considerable satisfaction and merriment…so… there’s that. What got missed, often, last year (until near the end) was to also plan, skillfully, with real commitment, the time I needed to care for myself, too.

This year, I hope to improve on that. 😀 It’s not a resolution. It’s just a commitment to myself; I do so much to meet other needs, for myself, for other people, this year I also want to meet my own. Seems doable on paper. I’ve a quantity of time off to use. I’ve some key dates I reliable want to have off every year. I’ll start there. Request that time off now, and see what’s left. Check in with my Traveling Partner on some shared activities and interests. Secure that time off, next. It’s a system that works. This year, I’ll also be mindful that major events need major rest time, and ideally, no two consecutive weekends will have major plans – and definitely any two consecutive weekends of major events or activities needs a real weekend of rest (maybe with an extra day) between them, and anything else planned. Calendar filling up? I start saying “no, I can’t this year – next year?” and getting some variety in the rotation using alternating-year planning. 🙂 Will it work?

…I guess I have to begin again to find out. 😉

This morning I woke up to the sound of rain falling in the darkness. It was already 5:30 am – still dark? The season is already turning toward autumn. I’m grateful for the rain and stand in the soft cool air flowing in through the open patio door. I love the scent and sound of rain. 5:30 am? I don’t really need to be up so early… it was late when I called it a night. I smile and shrug in the darkness. The rain won’t mind my absence; I go back to bed for a couple more hours.

I woke later, smiling because it is still raining, content because I feel wrapped in love; it’s been a lovely weekend so far, most of it spent in the company of my Traveling Partner. We suit each other so entirely well. lol Even our most human failings tend to dovetail nicely with the quirks or baggage of the other. I smile through my morning, and even the returning recollection that there is no cold brew or iced coffee waiting for me in the fridge can’t budge the smile that I’m wearing this morning. I make a french press of coffee from fairly average (wholly adequate, but nothing special) coffee beans laying about on hand from… months ago (when I more or less completely switched to prepared cold brew in cans for the summer). It’s not awesome, but it is coffee, and it is enough. I was too eager, and added the water to the coffee while it was a bit too hot, and there is some additional bitterness to it that is less than ideal, but… whatever. It’s coffee. It’s adequate. The cup is delightfully warm in my hand in the chill of the raining morning. My contentment deepens to note that the timing feels quite right to return to hot coffee. 🙂

Rain drenched roses are a welcome sight.

This morning is about more than simple contentment over routine things; my experience is saturated with the awareness that I am loved. My awareness of everything else is colored by the love I feel, myself. I feel more complete and more present. It’s not an exaggeration when people comment that love is magical or transformative – that is also my own experience of love, and loving. 🙂 I contemplate my Big 5 relationship values and consider them in the context of the past couple days spent living with my Traveling Partner. Respect, reciprocity, consideration, compassion, and openness, really do cover the basics of enjoying a good relationship with another human being. Most of the other desirable behaviors, qualities, and characteristics spring forth fairly naturally given a relationship build on these things, in my experience.

I got handed an excellent reminder of the value of my Big 5 this weekend when I returned home from work Friday to a home that was tidier than I’d left it, and a partner comfortable, merry, and eager to see me, at the end of a day of “giving back” and helping out. Our time was unscripted, the visit was spontaneous, and I’d made no requests and set no expectations when I left for work that morning, aside from “enjoy the day”. Same thing on Saturday morning; I had plans that took me out of the house for a couple hours, and returned home to tidiness, order, and the presence of love. Quite wonderful. Understanding that a great deal of my own housekeeping and self-care time can get lost to traveling to spend time to see him, he invested some of his time in my comfort at home, himself. I didn’t have to ask. (I never do have to ask, actually; he is skilled at partnership.)

We spent our time together talking, planning, playing and just enjoying each other. We caught up on movies we wanted to see together. We worked out logistics for the upcoming autumn and winter. We talked about our eagerness to see each other more becoming so much easier with both of us having cars; it’s already true, and sort of goes without saying. We enjoyed saying it. We talked about love, partnership, and our enduring satisfaction with each other. We connected and caught up, and savored our shared time. I am still smiling. I’ll probably be smiling for days. It was, admittedly, both poignant and painful to see him pull out of the driveway, headed for other places once more. Still, I was soon smiling again; he’ll be back often. 😀

A big challenge with regard to hanging out with other friends, and doing other things socially, is that because I’ve undermined the time I have available to handle basic care and upkeep of this human being I see in the mirror each day, and the time I need for housekeeping and shopping, anything else I plan to do makes all that even tougher to catch up on, and I slowly fall way behind either on the housekeeping, or on maintaining adequate social contact with friends. Because keeping order at home is (for me) essential self-care, it’s often the social contact that gets left out. Having some help while my partner was here totally erased that challenge. Human beings are social creatures, and even though I enjoy living alone, I don’t thrive in the total absence of real in-life human interactions – I need that, too. It is a lovely experience to look around, see the house looking great, observing that I’m caught up on all the things, that I am well-rested, and also see that I have still more time and opportunity to enjoy more of the company of friends – the weekend is only half over. 😀

How is it that I can miss this one specific human being so intensely? lol I sigh out loud in the quiet room, and go refill my coffee.

I sip my coffee contentedly. It’s not really that bad. It’s a lovely morning, and I’m fortunate to have what I need in life to be comfortable, to be content, to be at peace, and even inspired. I’m fortunate – very fortunate – and the good fortune I enjoy in life seems tied to the love thing; the more love I invite into my life, the more skillfully I am able to share the love I feel myself, and enjoy the love expressed for me by others, the more I enjoy life itself. Love is not an inconvenience, or an add-on, it’s worth being studious and learning to love skillfully, it is worth investing my time and attention in love and loving. It is so worth sorting out where sex ends and love begins; they overlap so much, it’s sometimes easy to forget how different they really are. I glance at my calendar – I’m hanging out with an artist friend today – and I check the time.

A single exceptionally lovely weekend (rain and all) may not be enough to change the world – but it doesn’t have to; it’s enough that it change a moment, an experience, or some small piece of this long long journey. I’m content with that. It’s a place to start down the path of a grander vision, or simply a moment to enjoy in merry recollection for years to come. 🙂 It’s enough.

It’s time to begin again. ❤

Sometimes it’s not enough to reflect. Sometimes it helps to reach out and talk things over with a friend. That’s not always easy; our friends tend, as often as not, to support us as if we are reliably correct, and as if our choices, themselves, can’t be questioned. It feels good to be supported in a 100% accepting and encouraging way, even when we are indeed the person “in the wrong”, or in circumstances when our own explicit choices directed our path, but it may not be healthy. It’s complicated. Feeling supported still feels good, and has real value.

Sometimes, I find it helpful to merely have the words of a friend. Their thoughts, day-to-day, to present a counterpoint to my own, just… generally. My own words are plentiful, but sometimes not enough to gain perspective. I’ve got a couple other blogs bookmarked for that very purpose… I bet you do, too. 😉

I was recently introduced to a blog of far viewer words than mine. Sometimes I need that. Brief perspective. Like a mental coffee break. Strictly Minimal. No, no – I mean, that’s the name of the blog, “Strictly Minimal“. 🙂 Enjoy.

This morning I woke to the discovery that I’d allowed myself to run out of coffee. (What the hell??) It’s quite early, and I’m not yet at any particular risk of a headache later. Rather than panic (an old habit I’ve learned to let go of, generally), I more simply decide to get coffee on the way to work, and handle restocking as an errand on the way home. I’ll need to run a couple of errands anyway; it’s a camping weekend coming up. There are things to do in order to prepare. For me, it’s the first camping weekend of the year. 😀

It’s a lovely morning. Entirely suited to all manner of new beginnings. I’m smiling, rested, ready for the day, and feeling fairly prepared for life. Generally, in the past, this sensation and state of being have usually preceded some horrible turn for the worse. I shrug that off; each moment is its own moment, and the future is not written. I have a great many reasons to be smiling today – one of them is that it is my anniversary with my Traveling Partner, celebrating 7 years married, 8 as lovers, even longer as friends. It’s a wonderful journey, and fully worth celebrating. Celebrating more, together, will come later – for now, I sit smiling. It’s enough.

Day breaks gently, beyond the studio window. It’s time to begin again.

I woke with a headache. No arguing with that; it’s a headache, it hurts, I feel it. Being a positive person isn’t about pretending there is no headache. That’s silly game playing that lacks consistent results. It’s more about… being aware that the headache is a temporary thing, that it will pass, and that it is only a headache. My choices still matter more than the headache itself.

We can do a lot to predict outcomes of events and choices, given a willingness to be self-aware, honest, and true to the data. Our choices still matter; our choices change the outcomes. Predictably enough, predictable outcomes change over time, as our choices are made, and our will brought to action. There’s no reason being angry about an outcome we’ve chosen, ourselves, with our actions; we could have seen it coming, generally, as human primates are fairly predictable. Even the unpredictable ones, if you’ve observed their specific ways long enough. Hell, the predictable nature of unpredictable people is so predictable, in fact, that fairly realistic scripts can be written of such things, for our amusement.

I sip my coffee and wish my Traveling Partner well. Day break soon. It’s been a rough couple weeks as his Other’s mental health declined, and her behavior spiraled out of control; that shit gets ugly fast. It was also fairly predictable, taken in the full context of my own experience of her. I take a deep breath and relax. He’s okay. Our friends are okay. Material losses are just things. Hopefully all that ugliness and stress is behind them, and everyone can move on with healing. Done with that.

Emotional resilience in times of turmoil is a big deal. If I don’t have it, I don’t bounce back from stress, and if I am not easily able to bounce back from stress, it begins to wear me down over time, becoming harder and harder to deal with, and as smaller things begin to loom larger in my daily experience, I become raw, emotional, off-balance… and I start to take shit very very personally (and almost nothing at all in life is actually all that damned personal). It all spirals downward from there. How is it that emotional resilience isn’t a common every day emotional wellness talking point? Why is there not elementary level course curriculum in emotional health in public schools? Why has it been such a struggle to get health insurers to cover mental health care fully and without limits? Who the fuck came up with the idea that emotions are the bad guy? Our ignorance about our emotions is far worse than any single emotional experience ever could be. Our personal demons are less likely to be our actual emotions than our lack of emotional intelligence, our lack of cultivated emotional resilience – and the ensuing chaos as our intellect attempts (and fails) time and again to “cut to the front of the line” in every experience. Reliably, our emotions get there first. Visceral. Raw. Real. Felt. Unavoidably we feel our emotions. (That’s why we call them “feelings”.) What we do about them is a wholly separate matter.

…Emotions are still only emotions, though. A reaction to stimulus. Sometimes that stimulus isn’t a high quality of “real” at all. We react emotionally with equal intensity to actual events as we do to imagined ones. Our internal narrative drives our emotional experience every bit as much as actual events and interactions do (for some people, less tied to reality, more so). This is problematic when our own lack of emotional intelligence, or a lack of developed emotional resilience, results in being unable to discern the relative value of whatever is the source material of our emotional experience.

If I am thinking about my Traveling Partner, and imagine losing him… forever… and I evoke an emotional reaction in myself with that thought, I may briefly feel a terrible grief. (No kidding – it won’t be anything like the real deal, but I won’t discern that difference in the moment I am feeling my momentary emotion.) Is the grief not real? Oh hell yes, the emotions are real! That’s what often undermines our ability to maintain resilience in the face of storms of hormones, as women; our emotions are entirely “real”. What is questionable is the quality of the source material driving that experience. Our emotions are bio-chemical. We’re literally on drugs when we’re enraged. On drugs when we are euphoric, in love, experiencing “new relationship energy”. On drugs when we are sad, feeling low, and overcome by ennui. Emotional intelligence is the quality that allows us to understand ourselves sufficiently well to say “omg this sucks, I’m not myself today, I need some space (or I need some hugs) and I’m sorry in advance – I’m feeling a little less able to find my center today”… without laying waste to the experience of our loved ones in a shitty moment by weaponizing our emotions and attacking the world. Over time, “I’m sorry” isn’t enough, if you regularly treat your loved ones poorly. Eventually, too much damage is done, and no apology eases the hurt feelings, or restores the lost trust.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

We are creatures of emotion and reason. Understanding the complex interplay of intellect and feelings, of reaction and resilience, of emotional intelligence, cognitive skill, and intellect, goes a long way to making us seem more rational while we are also experiencing a rich and varied emotional life. Trying to tip the scales in favor of one or the other is an exercise in futility that weakens our ability to adapt to change and to overcome trauma. Avoid or shut down our emotions, and we become distant, tend toward callousness, prone to clueless insensitivity, unable to fully experience intimacy in relationships with others. Suppress our intellect, eschew a factual basis to life, and we find ourselves chaotic, reactive, and unable to gain perspective. Either of those results in our treating everyone around every bit as badly as we treat ourselves. (Well, yeah, because it’s a true thing that we do generally; we treat everyone as badly – or as well –  as we treat ourselves). Fuck all that – it is a more comfortable experience to walk my path mindfully as much as I am able, aware of my emotions, appreciative of my intellect and cognitive gifts, able to balance and use them both comfortably. I am able to bounce back from stress and trauma with greater ease. It does take practice. Yep. And, you guessed it, there are verbs involved. (And maybe a meditation cushion. lol)

Real is real. I still have choices. You do, too. 🙂

It’s time to begin again.

Some things are worth the effort to experience them.

(I should just stop there, perhaps; it is 100% of what I am meaning to say this morning…)

I sip my coffee, and contemplate the weekend behind me. It was definitely worth the drive down. I went to a good party. Met some cool people. Reconnected with people I know and cherish. I felt that warm welcome I love so well. It was an intimate connected weekend filled with fun – and strangely enough, also with sleep. Well, sleep did occur, and it was luscious and restful and was, itself, worth the drive down. You see, after basically 36 hours awake (just due to the way timing and my sleep worked out), I crashed out in my Traveling Partner’s bed, and in his arms, and we slept harmoniously together, quite soundly, for something like 12 hours. lol No regrets there; I’m quite delighted to make the drive down to enjoy that experience.

That’s what I’m saying, this morning, some experiences are worth an investment in effort, in intention, in awareness – they linger in memory, holding on to some magical quality about life or love, preserving it and bringing it back to life every time I recall it. I smile again, and sip my coffee.

I think about a cup of coffee my gracious and charming host (of the party I went to Saturday night) made for me in the wee hours on Sunday. I know, I know, small thing, right? Not really… big party, lots going on, and my host is a new friend – I would not have imposed. I was, rather naturally I think, as it was a bit after 5 am, starting to lose enthusiasm for partying (and starting to feel the sensation of “going without coffee” around the edges of my consciousness). In the context of the conversation, I admitted being a junkie for the stuff (coffee, People, coffee), and he very sweetly offered to make me a cup, himself, personally. It was a damned good cup of coffee, too. The sort of strong cup in the morning after partying all night that reaches into my brain from my tummy and sort of just punches me right in the fatigue, refreshing me and restoring my merry wit. 😀 Fuck – I hope I remembered to say “thank you”! 😀

It was worth the drive down to meet this new friend, and to enjoy that cup of coffee. 🙂

Now it is Tuesday. A work day. A different set of timing constraints, rules, limits, and obligations are in place for the week ahead. The coffee? Made it myself. The sleep? Solo. The morning? A new beginning.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂