Archives for posts with tag: MBSR

I’m sipping coffee and listening to videos in the background. Pleasant Sunday morning. Housekeeping on the agenda, not much else. I expect it’ll be a hot summer day. I’m okay with a couple hours of chores and a few moments for myself, and some pleasant hours with my Traveling Partner.

Our path may not always be level, the day may not always be sunny.

…Love isn’t “perfect”. Life either. Nothing really is. (Maybe this cup of coffee…) I make a lot of choices, and some of those are compromises, and some are just poor choices…on the other hand, I’ve got a lot of very cool opportunities to choose from, and fascinating people with whom I can choose to associate. Kinda neat, actually. Even our most intimate relationships are filled with choices.

We choose our path, and we choose what we consider our choices to be.

I chose my Traveling Partner a long time ago (11 years)… on a commute, I think. There was a hug involved. Hours of conversation, over time. A friendship developed. I adore this human being. He is “flawed” (inasmuch as he is quite human), as I am myself. There are days when one or the other of us seriously aggravates the other. (Just being real, and let’s be frank, one thing I know I can count on in life is that life will be, generally, quite “real”. lol) I enjoy him, as a friend, as a human being, as a partner… I smile when I think of him, and he is the person most easily able to unintentionally hurt me emotionally with a harsh word in a difficult moment. I still choose him, and yeah, even when I’m crying over a moment of hurt feelings, I still choose him.

He’s very dear to me. 😀 (bad pun intentional)

Why bring it up? It’s been a lovely weekend. This is all pretty obvious practical shit, right here, and hardly bears pointing out. Don’t we all go through it? Some moment that contrasts the wonderful qualities with the very human, sometimes much less wonderful qualities? Again – pretty real. Pretty ordinary. I dunno. I was thinking about it as I walked yesterday… “What matters most?”… “What builds a firm enduring foundation for love?”… “What does a healthy relationship look like, over time?”… “How does healthy boundary and expectation-setting look and feel in the context of a healthy adult relationship?”… “What part do I, myself, play in ensuring I am treated well based on my own understanding of “good treatment” – and how I do ensure I am skillfully, authentically, ensuring I treat my partner well based on their understanding of “good treatment” – and my own?” Big questions. (Long walk.)

Growth isn’t about what’s easy or comfortable. It’s often about hard questions, and answers that require rather a lot of real work. “Is the effort worth it?” is one question that is easy to answer, for me, in the context of this relationship: yes.

Sometimes choices seem so limited… or complicated… those perceptions are also choices.

I’ve had 3 other “long term relationships” of any notable duration. Two ran far longer than the quality of the relationship warranted. (Okay, well, all three of those, actually, were far longer than what was healthy, but I did manage to cut that last one short before my life or mental health were in complete chaos.) I’ve often been that person working at it longer/harder and loyally clinging to the carcass of a relationship that did not at all rate such a ferocious commitment in the first place. “I didn’t know better” doesn’t describe the goings on so much as “brain damage”, honestly. Yikes. That feels “too real”, right there. I sigh, finish my coffee, and let it go. 🙂 I’m rather happily in a very different place these days, different relationship altogether. “Learned my lesson”? Possibly not – more than I’ve been fortunate, and this particular relationship grew and developed largely in the context of ongoing therapy and other positive life choices (and changes) that took me down a healthier path.

Choices.

Don’t sit around miserable, is what I’m saying. You have choices. You don’t have to wait for decades of your life to slip by – you can choose change. Any time. You can begin again. Oh, I know, it’s a difficult sort of choice to make, but truly, it is yours.

Maybe what looks like a dead-end just isn’t your path at all?

This particular blog post is about several things that are more than a little interconnected, but probably also entirely coincidental, and more likely still? I may not actually ever get around to mentioning any of those details in any specific way, because I’ve got this headache “peering over my shoulder” and distracting me. I sip ginger ale in a dark room. My tinnitus is louder than my computer, and I double-check to “see that it’s on” and laugh, immediately realizing how fucking dumb that actually is; I’m at the keyboard, writing. God damn this headache makes me fucking stupid. 0_o How annoying.

I’ve been very introspective these past few days. June 25th has some gravitas these days – the anniversary of my Mother’s death. It’s also got some serious joy – the anniversary of buying our home (we did not select the date). “Mixed emotions” doesn’t even come close to explaining where this put my head these last few days, as we approach the 1st anniversary of the date we actually moved into our home. So many boxes! Last year, all of the days between those dates were midst the COVID-19 pandemic, in the early months of “the lockdown”… strange to discuss it in months, but here we all are. I write a few more grim sentences, then remember I honestly don’t know enough to legitimately have an opinion of some of these things. I delete them, and let my mind wander.

It was hot this week. Like…intensely bold-red-text-heat-warning hot. No kidding. It was… Phoenix hot. Fresno hot. Death Valley hot.

I’m not even exaggerating.

Fortunately, it cooled off quite a bit day by day. It was so hot I couldn’t think. Writing would have put more heat into my studio, so I kept it to the minimum needed to work, and then shut everything down. My Traveling Partner and I mostly sat around bitching about the heat, keeping the things as cool as we could, in darkened rooms, drinking water. Is it weird that my recollection of those hot days is pretty pleasant? I enjoyed my partner’s company when I wasn’t working, and I’ve no memory of discord or fussing at each other. We were a team fighting a common “enemy” – the heat. We were armed with ice cream and humor. LOL Much fun was had by all. I mean… that’s how I remember it.

Memory is weird. I’d link a particular song that comes to mind…but I can’t remember the title… and then, when I do, I can’t find a link to it… I’m no longer sure I’m remembering it correctly, at all.

…On the other hand…I clearly remember exactly what a summer night in Maryland smells like, how it sounds, how the humid air clings relentlessly to sweat…

Memory is weird.

…I had forgotten how much I like ginger ale…

I sit quietly awhile, just listening to my tinnitus and sipping ginger ale. I could do without the headache that persists in hanging out with me. I rub my neck and remind myself it won’t last indefinitely – what ever does?

…Wow. That went downhill fast. LOL

Roses in my garden

It’s summer, I guess, for real. Hotter summers now, that seems clear. The summers definitely were not this hot 10 years ago (and more recently than that, Portlanders could be heard making jokes about “June-uary”, because summer didn’t really arrive until July). My garden didn’t die this year, when the heat came; my Traveling Partner set up a simple drip irrigation system for me. My tomatoes did not seem to suffer with the heat at all, quite the contrary; I think we’re going to have “too many tomatoes”. LOL Win. 🙂

This headache, though…

Time to begin again.

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’m sipping my coffee and frowning past my monitor, looking beyond the “view” outside the window. Nothing impressive, just the fence, the pear trees that rise above it, and the wall of the neighbor’s house beyond – I’m not really seeing it, right now, I am in my own head. I am ruminating over the bitch of an inconvenience that is the very real truth that however much someone loves us, however much someone cares, no matter the level of consideration, empathy, or understanding – we are each walking our own mile, having our own experience, and there will inevitably be some detail that is simply not visible, or not recognized for what it is, or not understood with any clarity, or seems wholly miscommunicated to the detriment of a pleasant moment. Have a brain injury? Ratchet that up a notch. Grieving? This one too; it’s progressively more invisible over time, and people eventually reach their “you’re not over this yet?” point – sooner than you will, yourself. It’s just real. We feel our own pain most intensely. We understand our own circumstances more than we can understand someone else’s, generally. We filter every interaction through who we are ourselves, and how we personally understand the world, with little regard for the demonstrable reality that it legitimately is not the same for someone else. Sometimes I feel completely fucked over by that whole entire messy business.

I’m not pissing and moaning about this while mired in self-pity. I’m actually more… a tad angry about it. I earnestly want to do better by my friends, family, and loved ones than that, myself. I still struggle with it, too. Maybe it just feels easier to bitch about what someone else is doing than it is to attend to what is within my personal control? I could stop doing that, and redirect that time and effort into personal growth and change… that sounds pretty positive.

I take a breath, and a sip of my coffee. When I got out of the shower, my Traveling Partner had already made his coffee. I generally make coffee for the both of us. It’s one way I say “I love you” and start the morning off pleasantly. I enjoy the routine. This morning, he did not wait on that, he took ownership of needs and made his coffee. I can’t fault him for that. Good self-care. He did not make my coffee. (I could take that personally – it could even be possible that it was intended to silently signal his irritation with me, more likely he just wasn’t sure I’d be out of the shower before it got cold.) I don’t give it much thought beyond observation, and let go of any concern about “sending me a message”, because, frankly, he uses his words. He’s not the sort who goes around being under-handed or passive-aggressive with communicating his needs or feelings; it’s a pretty unhealthy approach. I try to avoid that sort of thing, myself; it’s very imprecise, and not reliably clear. I’m not even certain I’d “get the message” – I tend (more often than not) to be very “face value” about those sorts of things, in my interactions, and it’s likely that that kind of thing would “go over my head” anyway. 🙂

I’m working on taking better care of myself, generally, which I also generally suck at. It’s a lot of work. I enjoy spending time with my partner to the point that I overlook taking time with myself. It doesn’t take long before my background stress is evident, and becoming unmanageable. So… I reset, begin again, and work on building better habits, and practicing the practices that I know support my emotional wellness, best. It is, however, still an ongoing, challenging, messy, aggravating, frustrating, endlessly fiddly bit of bullshit and effort that will no doubt plague me to the end of my days.

…It could be worse…

I sip my coffee. I’m writing on a pleasant summer morning. I’ve got a partner who loves me and does his best, reliably, to love me well. I could say “that’s enough”, but I’m aware how much more than “enough” that really is; I haven’t always had it like this. My good circumstances just don’t happen to alleviate me of my burdens in life. (Why did I expect that they might?) The work day peaks at me from the clock… it’s time to begin again.

The seasons sometimes seem to change so peculiarly. Like, nope, not summer yet… not yet… not yet… NOW! Summer! lol It’s definitely a summer morning, this morning. Warmer than it seems like it should be, shortly before dawn, and a big muggy – I still enjoyed my walk, before work. It’s a nice start to the work day. So far the day is pleasant and mild – I know the afternoon will be a scorcher. It’s been in the news.

I think about ripe summer strawberries fresh from the garden, and cherries on the neighbor’s cherry tree, one temptingly loaded down branch dangles over the fence, beckoning me to turn my attention to the bounty of summer. It’s a work day; it’ll have to wait. 🙂

I sip my coffee, grateful for the pleasant start to the day, grateful to be in minimal pain this morning, grateful for A/C and modern conveniences like refrigeration, potable drinking water, and indoor plumbing. It wasn’t that long ago that sweltering days in the weather forecast would mean days of pure misery, cold showers, and trying to drink enough water or eat enough frozen ice pops of one sort or another to stay “comfortable” (for some versions of comfort – some summers it was enough just to succeed in not falling over from heat stroke). I look out the window, over the fence, beyond the pear trees; the wall of my neighbor’s house is illuminated by the early morning sun as it climbs to it’s preferred summer vantage point. It’s very bright. I smile; I’m grateful to be sufficiently wise to refrain from looking directly at the sun – some people are not similarly fortunate. 🙂

So. Another day. Another week. Another summer. Another moment to reflect with gratitude on how fortunate I really am to have come so far. Another chance to begin again. To reflect. To grow. To do better.

…I’ll get right on that, as soon as I finish my coffee. 🙂