Archives for posts with tag: love matters most

Heat wave. Already hot this morning. Slept well, woke refreshed. Felt… content. Balanced. Merry…

…Whole.

Off to a good start on a hot day. Things slide sideways, slipping gently, somehow inevitably tilting toward irritation in spite of a great starting point. Best efforts. Humans being human.

I put aside my coffee and go for a walk before the heat of the day might stop me, or just make the experience miserable.

A favorite park has finally re-opened after all the damage during that last winter storm.

Muggy warm air filled with the sound of mowers, small aircraft taking off from the nearby municipal airport, and swarming insects seemed to cling to me as I walked across the parking lot to the start of the one open trail. It doesn’t really go far enough to satisfy the need, but it has been a long while and I have missed this place. I walk the trail twice. I take note of the wild roses in bloom – there look to be three distinct species growing in this wooded area. I spot ripe thimbleberries, but none within reach – too fragile for commercial agriculture, they are a rare special treat, tiny, soft, and mild. The birds will get most of them. Piles of cut up trees give some insight into how much damage the storm caused. Every few feet, there’s a pile of logs and branches on either side of the trail. The forest is full of huckleberry bushes, but I don’t see flowers or berries, yet. On my way back down, before my second walk of the trail, I realize I haven’t stopped at a favorite bench… I never saw it! Weird… I begin to really look for that thing, that expected thing, as I head back up the trail. My focus results in missing other details. Something more to think about.

Oh. Reality is what it is. Expectations are shit we made up, and cling to.

It was a lovely morning for walking, in spite of the heat. In spite of the changes all around me. In spite of a less than picture-perfect lovely summer morning. Expectations and assumptions can so quickly undermine a potentially lovely experience. I mean… I even know that. It still trips me up more often than I care to count.

I put on some music. Sip my rather delicious iced coffee – I’ve been planning this iced coffee on a hot summer morning for days. Really looking forward to this moment. I made coffee ice cubes to go in it. I sip it thoughtfully, savoring the moment that is, instead of yearning for another. It may not be what I expected, but it’s quite pleasant, and that’s enough. Maybe I’ll finish it on the deck…

My Traveling Partner and I both hurt today. Pain sucks. Aging is a mixed bag of qualities, and pain is just one of many experiences… We both try to avoid taking it personally, or lashing out at each other in a short-tempered moment of our frustration with the limitations of these very human forms. He says “maybe you should just avoid me today” – right about when I was thinking of saying gently that I’d give him some space because I’m hurting that much today. lol It’s generally an exceptional partnership, even when one or both of us is in pain, or just generally not being our best selves, together.

I sip my coffee and reflect. I think about the walk, the summer morning, recalling the sights and scents, and the feel of the air around me.

Just because there’s sunshine where I’m sitting doesn’t mean I’ll find illumination.

I walked, reflected, observed, and gave myself that time I need to spend with the woman in the mirror. It’s good to get perspective. I mean… I find it so, myself. 🙂 I don’t always do a good job of making time for me, and for what I need from and for myself. I could do better there. More practice? Obviously. I know where I’ll start, too; a familiar place.

I am rereading the Four Agreements; a worthy starting point on any journey of self.

Funny thing about The Four Agreements? It was my Traveling Partner who first recommended it to me. Good basic practices to practice that tend to heal a lot of hurts and limit a lot of negative self-talk. That seems so long ago now.

Treating each other well has reliably tended to start with treating myself well, and as it turns out that has nothing whatsoever to do with buying things, and everything to do with reflection, perspective, and practices that build resilience and emotional wellness. Boundary-setting. Testing assumptions. Confirming expectations. Being flexible and adaptable in the face of change. Being there for myself. Being kind, and treating the world as gently as I am able to. Good self-care. Getting enough rest. It’s a lot to juggle, and I suspect that I half-ass a lot of it, just trying to do all of it… but…getting things ‘half right’ or ‘half finished’ is still a more useful result than never making an attempt to be my best self at all. Incremental change over time. I get better at something each time I attempt it… eventually. Learning is a process. Change is often a verb. I keep at it. Incremental change over time requires both time, and increments.

Feeling frustrated and challenged can sometimes mislead me into thinking I haven’t improved – a lot – on a lot of little things that had been far more problematic before this journey began. That’s a shame; it robs me of my chance to celebrate small wins. I think on that while I sip my coffee, gazing into the sunshine beyond the window.

I hear the A/C come on. Then I feel it. I recall the heat of the morning as I walked the wooded trail, and think about the apartment in which my partner and I first began sharing our lives… and that roasting, horribly hot all-drama-all-the-time summer some 11 years ago; no A/C. I feel grateful for the A/C, definitely… but the love matters most. We brought that with us, to this place, across years of shared challenges, growth, change, loving moments, and petty arguments – it’s a very human experience, and it’s hard to imagine spending life differently and still enjoying it as much. I sip my coffee thinking about my partner (my lover, my best friend), and the pain he’s in today. Maybe I’ll bake oatmeal cookies? Would that help? (I don’t know why it would, it just occurred to me to wonder – sometimes I have a mind like a child. LOL)

There’s enough of this coffee left to enjoy a few moments of summer morning on the deck before it gets to hot to enjoy… seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂

I can’t even string together enough swear words to adequately describe the pain I am in this morning. It’s just physical pain. It’s even mostly the “healthy pain” of spending a day working in the garden, stooping, bending, lifting, digging, kneeling, standing, reaching… all good stuff. Fuck I hurt though. That pain on top of my arthritis, on top of my [whatever the fuck is wrong with this bullshit] neck/headache pain – it’s a lot. I’m sipping a very good cup of coffee this morning, working on shrugging off the pain, to get started on the Sunday routine – housekeeping, chores, upkeep. The details of having good quality of life do not take care of themselves. (Note: if you think that the details of having good quality of life “just sort of happen”, then I suggest you look around for that person who is clearly caring for your clueless ass and say “thank you” once in a fucking while, and oh yeah – how about helping out?)

It was a lovely day in the garden, yesterday. There’s more to get done (I didn’t quite finish, even with my Traveling Partner’s help): there are yet a handful of dahlia tubers to plant, some final tidying up of beds (for this go ’round), and tools to put away. I enjoyed the work, and the effort. I am pleased with the results. I focus on those things, and turn my attention away from the pain I am in. That, and good self-care now, are the best I can do. Some yoga and pain management first thing when I woke, and hopefully once this coffee is done, I’ll be in fair shape for the chores ahead.

If you’re reading this as a healthy fit twenty-something, feeling immune to the aches and pains, and possibly just the tiniest bit dismissive or smug about your fitness, I have only this to say; your turn will come. 🙂 I don’t mean in a harsh way, I’m just saying that I understand that you “don’t get it” – we don’t know what we don’t know. I didn’t get it in my twenties, either. I couldn’t. It was outside my ability to truly understand. Enjoy ease and comfort and freedom of movement while they last you, my healthy fit friends of all ages. We’re all at risk of losing that fitness – whether through age or adversity – and once it is gone, it can be damnably difficult to get it back. (I keep working at that. Slow progress is still progress.)

Be kind to people. It’s unlikely that we know what someone else is really going through – even if they do try to tell us. Our own pain is typically the worst pain we know – and if it “isn’t that bad” we may not have a real reference with which to understand what someone else is going through. That’s as true for me as for anyone else. My partner tells me when he is in pain. I tell him. We hear each other. We earnestly seek to support each other with real care and consideration. We still can’t really know the pain the other one is experiencing. How bad is it, really? Well… I suspect it is always 100% “bad enough” that we do well to be kind to each other. I mean… that’s a small thing, isn’t it? So huge for the person we are being kind to, though. Oh, and when we’re in pain? When we’re suffering with it? Still, be kind. Sure, it’s an excuse one can offer for being a jerk to someone to say we are in pain. It’s even pretty real, right? Be kind, anyway. Pain hurts, for sure, and it can be a huge fucking challenge to muster one last shred of resilience to make that effort… but when we treat people poorly because we hurt, that person doesn’t feel our pain – only their own. From being hurt by being treated poorly. By us. Are you seeing how cyclical that can be? I’m just saying… it may be worth the effort all around, for all of us, every day, to be kind.

“I’m just being real.” I’m suggesting be kind instead. (Or, you know, in addition to being “real”… how about that?)

“I’m just giving helpful feedback.” I’m suggesting that if you must, that you do it in a kind way. Legitimately kind. If you can’t? Maybe don’t bother – especially if you weren’t asked for feedback.

“I’ve got my own shit to deal with.” Don’t we all? I’m just suggesting it may be less of a burden if you are also being kind to people you interact with.

“I’m all about ‘tough love’ and I’m only kind to people who deserve it.” It’s possible you’re missing the point of both “tough love” and kindness and I’m not sure what to say about that, at all. “Tough love” is about love. (It’s also about setting reasonable boundaries to avoid letting someone abuse your affection… seems like it would be possible to do so with kindness, too. I don’t know. I’m not walking your mile.)

Kindness may not save the world, but have you seen what the lack of it does to the world? It’s in the news a lot. Hate crimes. Road rage killings. Family violence. Kindness is a lot less news-worthy, generally… but the outcomes are far better.

I feel like I’m on a bit of a rant. 🙂 It’s just the pain I am in coloring my experience. That’s why I’m on about it; I expect to needs these words, myself, as soon as I interact with my partner, neighbors, or the community beyond. This is a blog post I’ll re-read a number of times, today, as pain wears me down and I fight back for one more shred of resolve to get one more task completed. 🙂

Take care of yourself today. Take care of those dear to you. Be kind. We all need more kindness, day-to-day. If we’re not willing to provide it, how will those around us understand to proceed, themselves? “Please be kind to me, I’m having a tough time today” are not easy words to say… maybe we would do well to practice, that, too? Anyway… practices need fewer words, and more practicing, and here it is, already time to begin again. 😉

Raindrops on a rose bud.

I woke to a misty Spring morning. I even slept in. I woke feeling rested, content, and calm. My Traveling Partner woke, expressing similar feelings of rested-ness, and a similar sense of having slept deeply through the night. A pleasant start to a misty Spring morning. The scents of imminent summer mornings are already being carried along on the Spring breezes. Birds are nesting in the trees beyond the deck; it may have been their morning chatter that woke me so gently.

Lovely Spring morning.

My writing cadence is somewhat diminished lately. I’m adjusting to new routines; Spring in this new place, the progressively less restrictive-seeming restrictions of the pandemic, the new job – new work hours, new workload, new expectations in a new work culture – the end result of it all is that there is so much to process, and so little time for living, that I’m just not crowding my writing into that space very often. lol

…Am I “here”? Finally “arrived” at that legendary mythical destination called “happily ever after”?… Um…No.

No. No, I am not “there yet” – because “happily ever after” is more fairytale than possibility. I’m okay with contentment, and joy, and occasional moments of happiness that linger in my recollection. That’s enough to demand of a good life. Certainly, it’s more than I would commonly expect for myself. 🙂

My Traveling Partner and I are both made of pure human. In most my fragile vulnerable emotional moments, my partner can sometimes seem a bit of an insensitive dick. Sometimes (often?) (whether I want it or not) I need his practical refusal to succumb to my emotional weather, although I’d prefer to see his more tender, kinder, more encouraging side (obviously). Realistically, neither of us reliably 100% has our best nature facing our partner when our partner needs it most; we’re each very human. I can be a bit much. I know this about me. I can be emotionally intense. I can be a ceaseless chatterbox. I can be excessively, cryptically, whimsical to a point that I become… hard to understand. It’s a bit as if we share our sense of humor, but occasionally just don’t get a particular joke… Oh, hey, that’s a real thing too, isn’t it? What matters, what works (for us), is that there is bountiful enduring love here; we “get” each other, and we both want to be here (as far as I know… I mean, that’s one of life’s scariest questions, is it not? “Do you really want to be here, with me, as I am, sharing this lifetime, loving me?”).

I’m smiling on a sunny Spring morning, sipping my coffee, writing a few words before I hop in the shower, before a second coffee, before running a couple errands. I think of faraway friends, overdue for an email from me… I’d been writing last weekend, but a sour moment, a wrong note in love’s symphony, put me off writing. I entirely lost interest. I’d been sharing joy, and didn’t care to share sorrows or aggravation. lol Instead, I dove headlong back into sorting things out and loving my partner with my whole being until our momentary sorrows began to ease. Why not? What matters more than love? (Ok, ok, to the practical out there, yes, breathable air, drinkable water, nutrition food, adequate rest… chances are good these things all “matter more” in the most practical way. LOL)

…My Traveling Partner pops into the studio to share a thought, another practical idea to solve a practical concern, and I feel my spirit lift in the way it does when I see him. Good idea, too. 🙂 It makes me eager to begin again. 😀

I haven’t been writing as often or as regularly. Are you missing me? I’m sorry. It’s Spring, you see, and this new job… life feels quite busy. Filled with tasks, meetings, conversations with my Traveling Partner about the perfect placement of “bass traps” and how best to fill the house with beautiful music. There are flowers blooming. There are others yet to be planted. Time ticks quickly by without me noticing, and days have gone by, again. 🙂

Primroses in the garden.

Maybe this is simply another step on this long journey? I sip my coffee and look around my studio, here, at home. It’s also my office, and the work day will begin shortly. I feel safe and content in this place – the space, yes, but also this time in my life. How odd. When did this contentment arrive? This odd little “oh, hey, yes, this is who I am” sort of feeling that also feels… okay? When did I find this loving good humor with which to face my relationships? This sense of loving kindness that says “it’s okay that we’re cross with each other right now – it hardly matters because there’s just so much love to be shared” feels new and enduring… has it always been within reach? Is it fragile or likely to fade in some moment of impatience? There’s part of me that wonders how one could ever be cross in the context of this much love… and I smile, remembering that “cross” isn’t really a “state of being” so much as a feeling. Emotional weather, not emotional climate – at least for me, personally, here, now.

…How much have I changed? How is it I still recognize myself at all? (And, how is it I can still make a cup of coffee this damned bad??? LOL)

I sip my coffee and sit with this contentment… contentedly. 🙂

Life is still pretty real. There is no “perfect” to attain. No A+ report card to receive. No ideal state of ease that never demands more of me. Shit breaks. Things need to be maintained. There’s always housekeeping to stay caught up on. Details. In fact, my Traveling Partner sticks his head in the door and gently pleads for assurance that I will “take care of the aquarium today, please?”; the pump is being a bit noisy, and one of the intakes is a bit blocked. I didn’t do my best work with upkeep tasks yesterday, sort of rushing through it between meetings during the work day. I assure him I’ll take care of it on my first break from work this morning; I know that sound grates on his nerves, and I also know that my fish rely on my attention to enjoy a good quality of life. So. No perfect here – and there’s always something that needs doing.

…It’s still important to take breaks, get rest, enjoy leisure, and really savor every lovely pleasant moment life and love offer. It’s a bit like an emotional savings account that is there for me “in case of emergencies” – funding, in a sense, the continued contentment and resilience when things do go sideways – and they will. I’m still very human. I don’t expect that to change.

It’s an utterly ordinary Thursday morning on a work day. This is a fairly ordinary suburban life in a small town in 21st century America. Nonetheless… there is much to do with the day ahead, and it wants a beginning. 🙂 Am I ready? Does that even matter? 😉 If I’m not – I can begin again.

More specifically, I mean to say that I find it pointlessly disruptive and uncomfortable to deal with the time changes twice yearly, and most particularly the change in Spring. I’m groggy this morning. I have this splitting headache (not the usual one, just the one that comes of messing with time/timing and circadian rhythms that I experience each year for a handful of mornings following the Spring change to DST). I’m more than ordinarily grateful for a good cup of strong coffee, and the mellow companionship of my Traveling Partner. But, yeah… Fuck Daylight Savings Time. For real. Damn. We ought to consider not doing this, as it serves literally no one. (Seriously, no one. Google it.)

The weekend is behind me. New job starts today. This morning. In fact, in a sense, it has begun; it’s Monday morning. The laptop in its neat factory packaging sits on the desk to my left, waiting to be opened. I’ve read over the instructions provided by the IT department, and those seem pretty clear. First onboarding item on my calendar is at 10:00 am. Last meeting of the day is at 3:00 pm. Between those events, my calendar is full of other meetings with other colleagues, “meet & greets” and onboarding sessions of various sorts. I’d be more excited, perhaps, if this were not also the first Monday following DST, with its associated headache and brain fog. :-\ I’ll get there; I am actually excited, I’m just not completely awake yet.

I glance at the clock and notice it is “7:04 am” (my body says that’s a lie, and that it is “really” 6:04 am, and while a perfectly reasonable time to be awake… it feels “too early”, because I woke up “too early”). I think about expectations and assumptions, and look out the window into the pre-dawn darkness. I know I’ll feel more awake when the sun rises. I take a couple Ibuprofen for the headache. I make my second coffee much earlier than usual (and consider whether to indulge in a third once I finish the second one).

Every year I go through this. I’d prefer not to. I’ve seen some encouraging news articles this year that suggest I am not alone in my desire to be done with this bullshit fairly arbitrary twice-yearly time change. Maybe we’ll do something about it instead of just pissing and moaning about how unpleasant it is? 🙂

I think about the weekend. Sip my coffee. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Pull myself fully upright, again, and smile; my Traveling Partner has been helping me improve the ergonomics of my workstation at home (for which I’m very grateful, since I’m less able to see where things are off, and it really matters since I now work full time from home). I’m delighted with the most recent changes. I still have to make the effort to maintain good posture, but the placement of my gear now makes that quite comfortable, almost effortless aside from needing to be aware of my body in the first place.

It was lovely to return home, yesterday. We enjoyed a splendid day together, relaxing, playing video games. The house looks amazing. Tidy. Welcoming. It was definitely worth putting in the effort to tidy up my spaces before I went to the coast, because on top of the work my partner did (before and after), the homecoming ended up being sooooo relaxed and comfortable. No housekeeping pressure. 😀 Worth it. I’m fortunate to have a partner who is also very committed to our quality of life, day-to-day. I already know I don’t have the energy reliably available to do it all myself. 🙂

…Damn this is good coffee. Definitely better than the utterly dreadful hotel coffee of yesterday. 🙂 A good start on a new beginning. I see daylight developing beyond the window. Looks like time to begin again. 😀