Archives for posts with tag: making myself welcome

This morning I woke to a powerful feeling of insecurity and fearfulness that points directly at the move I am making this very week. The timing is inconvenient – and quite probably not at all coincidental. Buried in the chaos and damage are ancient reminders that I “am not good enough” and “don’t deserve this” or “can’t make this work” or ‘know’ this will “all go very wrong soon enough”. The vague uneasiness and doubt escalate then recede again and again as I work through my morning routine. My eye falls on some detail that got missed in the housekeeping, like a used tissue that missed the small bathroom waste basket, but also got missed when I emptied the trash yesterday, and instead of simply resolving the matter and moving on without concern, there is a hint of inward beratement and impatience lurking there, waiting for me. It is unusual these days for me to be so hard on myself.

"Anxiety" 10" x 14" - and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

I almost skip my shower, as though taking the time for it somehow robs me of time I could otherwise use for… what… being anxious? I attempt to make a light moment of it, and although that fails, I find myself compliant with the self-care rituals so carefully maintained, standing in the shower, doing the showering thing. It’s a step. I make eye contact with myself in the small shaving mirror mounted in the shower, and take some deep calming breaths. Change comes with the challenges and disruption of change itself – and the change that is moving is pretty much going to touch every routine of my day, all the perspectives of each angle of view I am used to seeing, the placement of every object in my personal space, the ambient noises, and shadows – yep. Basically everything but the actual contents of my home, and me – the woman living within it. The magnitude and weight of it hits me fully for the first time… everything is changing.

…The nausea hit me unexpectedly, and without argument. It was likely that I didn’t drink enough water with my morning medication, but this makes twice in the past couple weeks and so rare these days that it is almost certainly telling me something… about something. In the moment, though, I take it as a living metaphor, and hold onto the perspective of puking up all the baggage, the anxiety, the fear, and letting it go. I don’t know that it was as effective as I’d like, but I feel some better. Could be that the anxiety was impending nausea all along, and that as human primates do, I gave it a root cause from deep within that was not actually causal at all, merely correlated. I return to my coffee, undeterred by the uncomfortable moment; there is much to do.

We've all got some baggage.

We’ve all got some baggage.

The anxiety and insecurity are common [for me] during experiences that involve a lot of change. The more change, the more fear, generally. I can feel how tight my chest is, and the coiled spring of anxiety that has taken hold of the place where my diaphragm once rested, relaxed and ready for all the breathing and such. I feel a certain moment of relief that my traveling partner isn’t sleeping in the other room this morning; my anxiety permeates the room in a palpable way, or so it seems to me. It isn’t a comfortable experience to live alongside, and is the big reason I didn’t reach out for his help with the move. “I’ve got this!” is the war cry of protecting my love from the bullshit I must still wade through, cope with – and perhaps someday master. There are so many things in life I rely on help with – but this one, the ‘managing change’ thing, I tend to rely most heavily on the woman in the mirror to get the job done, to circle back and find new comfort in new routines, to practice good practices, and to recognize stability and balance when the task is completed. I am eager to welcome him to a new home, with the same lovely calm energy, that feels similarly my own…but I try to protect him from how hard change hits me getting there.

So what if I am scared this morning? This is all happening quite fast – it was already January when I mentioned the observed vacancy to the apartment manager and found out about the remodeling. My original mention was as a passing fancy, only, and it was with my traveling partner’s encouragement that I considered it more seriously, eventually embracing the idea fully as a ‘next step’ on this journey, and a worthy improvement in quality of life at the expected price. I’m ready – I check again at how the budget works – but I feel this leaden dread resting in my belly.  “Bitch, what’s up with this fucking fear?” I think crossly to myself, almost immediately hearing my therapist’s voice gently pointing out the harsh tone I am taking with myself. Yes, yes, I know… I can (and these days generally do) treat myself better, and with greater kindness and compassion than this. I am irked with me; the insecurity would have been so much more easily managed a week ago, before the move was certain, would it not? I laugh out loud at myself; insecurity and doubt don’t work that way. I set aside my writing for meditation and self-care. Words can wait.

A helpful reminder; I apply it equally to how I speak to myself these days.

A helpful reminder; I apply it equally to how I speak to myself these days.

Enough is enough. I am enjoying a life of general contentment and sufficiency. One limitation all this time has been the challenges presented romantically by my partner’s allergies, and how those are affected by much-lived-upon apartment carpeting. We discussed often how much more easily and regularly we could and would hang out together were it not for his allergies. In no small part the entire motivation for the move is to reduce the allergens in my home. It’s that simple. I’m paying a high price to do so, were that the only benefit (a very fancy air filter might do as well at a lower cost over the course of a year…maybe…), but there are other quality of life gains being made that are specific to my own day-to-day joy: the view of the park from the patio, no windows looking into neighbors windows, no shared wall on the bedroom side of the apartment, all new appliances in the kitchen, a shower insert in the bathroom that is entirely undamaged and never-repaired without a hint of entrenched mold or mildew beneath sealant, more convenient to the little community garden, and with enough additional space to move my artistic endeavors out of the living room… which also ensures that when I am painting or writing, I am not distracted by the world, so common from the vantage point of the couch in the living room.

The fearfulness hit me this morning, perhaps because I suddenly worried I am not being ‘true to myself’ by making this move? If what I have here is enough – why do I ‘need’ more? The deep breath that followed put me right at long last. This move is not about what I ‘need‘ at any minimum level; I have enough right now. Hell, after spending most of a week with my traveling partner right here, I’m quite certain this, here, is enough for me. Sharing my experience with him feels wonderful – and I want to position myself comfortably to enjoy more of that. This move is about finding my way – and learning to navigate the distance in my life between ‘enough’ and ‘more’, and learning what I want versus what I need, and making good decisions about which sorts of ‘more’ keep me on the path of becoming the woman I most want to be, living well and mindfully, taking care of me, and taking care to love well. There is a peculiar balance to strike here; if I refuse to move because of the expense, explicitly in order to hold on to those dollars in the bank account, in order to maintain a specific quantity of cash flow, unspent each month, what am I buying with my labor? Numbers? In an account? To what end does this serve me when those same dollars can also add 300 sq ft of useful living space, of a more healthy quality?

At long last my brain gets to the point; is the money I will spend on the new place being spent on something that matters to me such that the price is worth it? Isn’t that the question at the ‘bottom-line’? Is there something more or different on which I would truly prefer to spend that money, right now, every month? Do I have more urgent needs to meet that are going unmet? No, not really – and saving it as numbers in an account would serve just one purpose for me right now; to make these same sorts of changes through purchasing a home sometime down the road. Since that can be done regardless whether I make this move now, but would ideally wait (I think) until the car is paid off, this unexpected intermediate quality of life improvement is a nice option. I embraced it eagerly for all these reasons, and more, and I’ve given it considerable thought…what more is there to do with the insecurity and anxiety now, except to breathe?

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

I’m ready. Fear is not calling my shots today. 🙂

A lovely holiday weekend so far, and having to work for a couple of hours in the morning today hasn’t seemed to be a significant downer, so far. My coffee is tasty, well-made, and hot – but also just the right temperature to drink. I’ve been sleeping well, and today woke with very little pain – a relief after yesterday’s more-than-usually painful morning.

I spent Thanksgiving alone; my traveling partner was in too much pain to cross town for the holiday meal. I was prepared for that, having planned the meal from a solitary perspective in the first place. It sucked more that he was in pain than any disappointment he wasn’t attending dinner, honestly. I have never experienced a solitary Thanksgiving meal, and eagerly embraced the spirit of the holiday, even enjoying the holiday cooking, and clean up very nearly as much as the meal itself – which turned out wonderfully. I had wondered if there would be something inescapably blue about Thanksgiving alone. There doesn’t seem to be anything inherently sad or blue about a solitary Thanksgiving. I invested in good self-care practices throughout the day, and treated myself well – I wholly enjoyed the holiday, and enjoyed a festive, celebratory meal. I have a lot to be grateful for in a life worth celebrating.

Before the cooking, a long walk in the chill autumn air.

Before the cooking, a long walk in the chill autumn air.

It was delightful to stay in contact with my traveling partner throughout the day, small conversations about the meal, about the day, about our experience together, sharing photographs and links to things we found relevant or amusing. There is so much technology available now that can connect us more closely, if we choose to use it that way.

Love, challenges, and sharing the journey; there are still verbs involved.

Love, challenges, and sharing the journey; there are still verbs involved.

I woke yesterday considering taking advantage of the beautiful day to take a long hike…then I tried to stand up. So. No hiking was going to happen yesterday – I’d feel fortunate at day’s end if I had been able to do dishes, and dress for the day. I definitely wasn’t going anywhere. I don’t do “Black Friday” shopping, so I wasn’t missing anything in that regard, but it sucked to hurt so badly I couldn’t even consider a hike, or a walk in the sunshine.

I took my time and I took care of myself with care. Yoga happened – slowly, a few minutes at a time, one posture, or another, carefully growing to two, three, more – by mid-day I was more flexible and in less pain. I happily undertook the holiday decorating; the tree fits my apartment! It ended up being a day spent wonderfully well, and ended with a state of contentment quite beyond any words I could share. It’s been a couple of years since I have been able to enjoy an utterly drama-free holiday – but it has been, so far, and it is quite wonderful. There’s been very little stress at all, and none of that at home. “Magical” seems a good description for the holiday season so far… although… it’s hardly fair to begin labeling things two days into it… only… perhaps going into it with wide-eyed wonder, and a perspective of joy, is the best start I could give it?

Choosing joy, and enjoying small pleasures.

Choosing joy, and enjoying small pleasures.

I’d throw more words at you about choices and perspective and verbs; I would be repeating myself. I will say I am reasonably certain, based on other prior life experiences, that I could have chosen to wallow in my insecurities and doubts all day on Thursday, and blown my Thanksgiving holiday experience invested in personal sorrow, mired in chaos and damage. I chose differently – and did so well before the holiday arrived, committing my planning and intention to enjoying the holiday from a new perspective, seeking the value in the differences with openness and enthusiasm. There were verbs involved. There was a requirement to let go of attachment to expectations built on other experiences, and there was also a need to reach for the pleasant qualities, the joy, the values, and to willfully savor the celebration. The outcome was a worthy and quite wonderful holiday. It was not relevant that I was alone; it was one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve been fortunate to enjoy. I learned some things about solitude – and about loneliness – from small adjustments to my perspective.

Today is another adventure, a new one. What will the day hold? I consider the hours of the day that will remain ahead of me when I leave the office… It is a Saturday, a holiday weekend, and there are some holiday touches that haven’t been handled. I need a new wreath for the front door. The one I had, until the move, was specifically selected for the house we all shared, and doesn’t at all suit my current decor, the aesthetic of the neighborhood, or the size of my entry way. This is such a small place – between the lack of storage and the likelihood of spiders moving into any wreath I might hang, I have already decided to put up a wreath of fresh materials that won’t be stored for re-use. A simple fragrant pine wreath of some sort seems ideal, and I find myself wondering if a trip to Saturday Market after work would be fun…

There will be a festive glow to welcome me home in the evening.

There will be a festive glow to welcome me home in the evening.

There are so many simple joys in life. When I am able to approach each day from the perspective of embracing those simple pleasures, simple experiences, and simple moments of beauty, rather than focusing on how to endure the challenges life may present, the joys seem to become more plentiful over time. Today is a good day for joy. Today is a good day to smile at strangers. Today is a good day to be kind, to show compassion, and to remember how very human we each are. Today is a good day to change the world.

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for me, although I don’t celebrate much ‘pilgrim vs indigenous people’ stuff.  For me, this is a holiday about feasting, gratitude, hospitality, welcoming, and acceptance. Today I’ll cook a fairly lavish meal compared to the day-to-day, as is traditional for so many. It’s a rare year that I don’t have a handful of others invited to join me for the holiday meal, and today the celebration is not dependent on a guest list at all. It’s still a holiday, still about gratitude, and still about being welcoming and thankful – and I care share all those things with the woman in the mirror, too. There have been far too many times I didn’t appreciate her, or even welcome her in her own experience. This is a year to celebrate how much I value the part I play, myself, in my experience, in my choices, and in my opportunities. It’s a year to be thankful, appreciative, and welcoming – of myself.

I begin the holiday season reflecting on gratitude, and good fortune.

I begin the holiday season reflecting on gratitude, and good fortune.

I am sipping my coffee, enjoying the slow encroachment of sunshine on carpet near the patio door, and planning the day’s cooking; small kitchen, small spaces, one oven, no microwave… I’ve had it far worse. Here all the burners work, I have a functioning dishwasher, and every surface is sparkling clean and available for food prep. I am grateful for my tiny kitchen, and all of its convenience – including the pantry almost as large as the kitchen itself, and having everything I’ll need within easy reach. I will happily spend the next hour or two making final recipe choices, smiling over the memories that surface with each recipe card, cookbook, or saved article from some ancient newspaper or magazine, handed down woman to woman over generations. I am grateful for the recollection of so many wonderful home-cooked meals over the years. I am grateful for this smile.

Planning the day has become organizing the cooking, and soon all the planning and organizing will become action – there will be verbs involved, and practices practiced. Safety with knives. Food-safe preparation, and clean-as-I-go practices. Proper food storage practices. Kindness and compassion will be practiced today, too. There’s not likely to be any drama on this holiday – but I could make choices that leave me feeling run down, blue, and angst-y later in the day. Being kind to myself, and compassionate with myself as a human being worthy of consideration and love will make just as much as much sense for me, solo, as it would for me entertaining a crowd. I will take time to treat myself well. I will pace myself, today, and remember that enjoying the day, the meal, and the moment, is the point – not the success of any one dish or the timing with which the meal is served. There’s nothing to be stressed about; this is a holiday about appreciation, sufficiency, and thanks – it’s not a competition, and there are no winners besides the people who put down their stress and agita and simply enjoy the day, present in the moment, and grateful for all that they have.

Facing the approach of winter, I feel fortunate in my cozy home.

Facing the approach of winter, I feel fortunate in my cozy home.

Today I take time to give thanks – I have more than enough.

I managed to hang on to the slower pace with which I started the day, yesterday. I found it a pleasant and worthwhile approach to the day, which finished well with a phone call from my traveling partner, safely returned home.

This morning I am ‘in no mood to be rushed’, but it’s not an unpleasant place to be; I’m simply taking the morning slowly. My coffee is hot, and tasty, the morning is quiet – it is still too early for birdsong, and traffic has not yet begun the harried pace that creates the background noise that is so familiar to modern life. For now, it is about as quiet as it gets, here. I sipped my coffee, relaxing on the love seat, away from screens, and monitors, and applications, and active digital information being shoved into my consciousness for some time. That, too, is lovely, quiet, calming…I embrace all of those qualities with gentle enthusiasm, not looking for relief from stress or worrisome emotions – I have none this morning. I’m just enjoying a chill morning, content over my coffee.

Enough.

Enough.

There’s often so much pressure to make more of things. I’m not sure where it comes from, I’m content to be content, myself, generally. Why would it need to be any fancier than that? I do like pretty language…sometimes it carries me too far, and I find myself looking for ‘more’, when all I actually need is ‘enough’. I find the example of books fitting; I love books, real books, bound books, and although I have a Kindle, I also still have quite a few books. I could have more – there are more to have – I did have more, once, and each relocation finds me sorting through the books and inevitably sending some along to someone else to read and to have, usually based on ‘does this book really represent some piece of who I have come to be?’. I like the books I have to be part of who I am. I’ve read every book I own. On the other hand, I sometimes find myself getting caught up in the excitement of discovering a first edition among my books…then I may find that I’m shopping for more books, fancy books, first edition books, rare books…more books!! I don’t need ‘more books’, though, and I know that I will only keep the ones that mean something to me…so…what the hell? If it remains fun, and doesn’t take over my experience obsessively, and doesn’t lead to financial ruin, why does it matter what I do with my time, or how many books I pile up in corners and on shelves? Well…it does matter, for me, because the obsessive quality of acquisition isn’t based in a mindful experience, lacks perspective, often results in having so much that none of it matters and there’s no time to appreciate the individual elements being collected; it becomes an experience that exceeds any sense of sufficiency to the point that over time I feel my good character and values being degraded. Over books? Over anything – I just used books as an example.

All the practices...

All the practices…

Sufficiency is peculiar. I have a small collection of very fine porcelain demi-tasse cups and saucers. I began collecting them when I lived in Europe. Many of the pieces I own are antiques. They were not expensive individual purchases, and the study of the manufacturers, the patterns, the history of porcelain, and the slow enthusiasm of shopping with great care over time for something precious (and affordable) creates a beautiful experience for me. It’s the slow process, the depth of explored knowledge, the appreciation of each individual cup and saucer, the worthiness and beauty of them – and the power of choice that went into ‘this versus that’; there’s only ever so much room to keep things. Of all the elements of my whole life experience over time, this one – my porcelain – is entirely representative of my own choices, unaffected by the will – or taste – of anyone else. It sprang to life as a thing for me during a time in my life when damned little seemed mine to choose, and life was frightening, chaotic, painful, secretive, and potentially not survivable at all. My little collection is not only ‘enough’, and built on the sufficiency, and luxury, of beauty, it represents the incredible strength of my will to go on, and to find something beautiful in a life filled with fear, grief, and trauma. I’ve always had trouble explaining why seeing them boxed up and put away for safety from life’s chaos and OPD has been so heartbreaking for me – they are more than just ‘breakables’, by far.

Whimsical porcelain figurine; Meissen on display at the Portland Art Museum.

Whimsical porcelain figurine; Meissen on display at the Portland Art Museum.

My life is taking on the shape of who I am. I’ve never seen me in this light before, unfolding over time as this particular being, with these particular qualities of character, living her life specifically as it suits her best, decorating with bound books on shelves, and antiques not only displayed but in every day use – and still, somehow, a life lacking in clutter or chaos…tidy…simple…lovely. Couldn’t I have made these choices in other environments, in shared experiences? It seems so… I didn’t find it a simple thing to do. The living metaphor when something precious is broken just destroys me, emotionally, for some small time, and seems far more common in shared living arrangements, than living alone. I find myself wondering, a bit puzzled, if one driver of moving into my own place was simply to reduce the potential for things being broken, carelessly, and finding myself content to accept that it could be adequate cause to move into my own place, from my perspective – then realizing that this small detail speaks volumes on who I am, and how far I have come to be the woman I most want to be, and how much farther there seems to go.

Beautiful things linger in memory and meaning long after they are gone from my physical experience.

Beautiful things linger in memory and meaning long after they are gone from my physical experience.

Is this all sounding very serious this morning? It’s not so much. Just thoughts, words… I am my own cartographer; perhaps I am simply updating the map, and enjoying the morning over a good cup of coffee?

Morning is here. The whoosh of commuter traffic makes itself heard, and the sky is light enough to see that the day is overcast, at least for now.  There is a squirrel sitting outside the patio door, looking in; he has uprooted the last remaining gladiolus bulb that I had potted when I moved…or perhaps something else, that he had planted there, himself, at some later point. I smile; it’s not a detail that distresses me, and I enjoy the antics of squirrels. I hear birdsong now, and in the distance a siren – someone else’s morning is not going very well at all.

The continued investment in contentment, in calm, in stillness, all add up over time. It’s necessary to keep practicing the practices that have that result – it’s not a permanent sort of thing that can be achieved and then put aside. There is a continuous, patient, investment in self required, there are verbs involved, being human there are opportunities to fail myself now and then  – and learn and grow from that, too. My results vary, regularly, and I sometimes find myself doubting my progress or success…then there is a morning like this one. Things fit. Things feel right. I feel content, relaxed, and self-assured – it’s not a report card, or a finish line, and it is not the achievement of some goal that can be checked off a to do list, or added to a spreadsheet. This is a continuous journey, its own ongoing thing, a process – a verb, a series of verbs, an experience happening now – always happening now. I smile over my coffee; life is worth slowing down for.