Archives for posts with tag: meditation

Change is. Taking some quiet time really mattered. Helped a lot.

Memorial Day weekend.

I’ll take weekend and try to s I rt myself out and soothe myself. Garden. Maybe paint. Get some trail time.

There are still verbs involved. My results still vary. I’ll keep practicing. Maybe get some sleep.

I’ll begin again.

I am sipping some iced tea with lemon. I didn’t make it. It is a canned commercial product. It’s okay. Mildly carbonated, which seems pretty unnecessary for iced tea, but it is available, it is cold, and it did not require me to make iced tea to have some. lol I am thinking about what that says about my desire for “ease” vs my desire for good quality of life. It seems the sort of thing worth thinking about.

As I made the drive in to the city this morning, I was also thinking. Mostly about “work life balance” and what that actually seems to mean, and what that can (or has)(or does) look like (for me). I have tended to mostly think about “work life balance” in terms of … a scale. Two opposites in equal measure, you know – balanced. It has not generally been the case that I have been able to make that work out quite that way. I mean… there are 7 days in a week. I work 5 of those, most of the time. The common assumption is 40 work hours in a week, divided more or less into 8-hour days (when we’re fortunate to enjoy working conditions that preserve an expectation of employee leisure being respected). That’s a pretty big chunk of our life time, so… where’s the “balance”?

Fairly often, in my own experience, any appearance of “work life balance” has been more like a pendulum swinging between extremes, some weeks mostly work, some weeks a bit more leisure than is typical, and back and forth pretty endlessly. There have been notable exceptions where the “routine” wasn’t routine at all, and finding any “balance” was more like a dance than a pendulum’s steady swing. In other cases, any hint of “work life balance” was purely linguistic, and not to be taken at all seriously by anyone involved. Those are commonly pretty toxic experiences, and I avoid those.

I continue to look for a better balance, though; more life, less work… it gets tricky when the conversation turns to pay. I definitely still want to get paid. LOL

I sip my tea and reflect. I think about how tricky it is to balance all the elements of a life well-lived… the living, the loving, the working, the resting… and I think about how often one or another detail feels “just right”, while literally everything else seems to be going to shit. lol How very human. Certainly it’s been those “just right” experiences that have often been what has “kept me going”, avoiding despair, keeping up practices, breathing through the emotions, and accepting that “this too will pass” – because it will, and it does, and it’s on to the next thing.

My Traveling Partner has got the truck set up for camping and off-roading and overland adventuring. Exciting. I’m expecting that any day now he will calmly advise me that he is going to “hit the road and check everything out” in preparation for camping together for my birthday. I’m super excited about the camping trip we have planned. I’m also excited to have a couple days home alone… by July we’ll have been in this little house for 3 years. I’ve never spent a night at home alone in all that time. I guess I’m fortunate to be able to say that, given the quality and good character of this love of ours. I’m still looking forward to it. 🙂

…And every time I think about being home alone, while my Traveling Partner travels, I miss him with an incredible ache in my heart that feels just a bit like… withdrawals. lol I’m pretty crazy about this particular other human being. Like a teenager with a first crush…

The minutes tick by. I sip my tea and think my thoughts. I breathe, exhale, relax… soon enough, I’ll also begin again. It’s a new day ahead. New options. New choices. New circumstances. There is room for improvement. Room for change and for growth. All it takes is a new beginning, and a handful of verbs.

I am sipping flavored water this morning. I had my coffee on the commute into the office. It’s a Monday, and these days I rarely go into the office on a Monday, but I woke to a reminder from the VA about an appointment today that I had managed to memorize correctly for the date, but somehow thought that would be on Wednesday. It is not. It is today. LOL So I quickly adjusted my intentions, and hit the road for the morning commute. I expected it would be tedious… but… apparently I’m not alone in not going into an office on Mondays; there was almost no traffic at all.

I am thinking about the weekend, and the time spent planning future getaways with my Traveling Partner. The truck has us both fired up and eager to explore corners of favorite places and new destinations previously unreachable in his sedan, or in my Mazda. We have hours long conversations about camp kitchens, roof-top tents, jet-boil stoves vs all the other sorts, the necessity or luxury of taking a portable toilet, and does it make sense to have a solar generator and a fridge, or is that just ridiculous? There are so many options to choose from, so many approaches to overlanding, camping, hiking, from the gear to the routes to take, to the destinations near and far that we might want to see. It’s a pleasant way to pass time together, talking about the options and our choices, and whether we can tackle them now, or whether they go on a list for future purchases – or is there some other way we can do that thing in a less costly more personalized way, using our skills, time, and materials on hand? I’m getting to know a whole new side of my Traveling Partner – it’s very exciting.

I spent much of my weekend in the garden. Planting alyssum for future mounds of fragrant ground-covering flowers. Putting up a trellis for the peas. “Encouraging” the blueberries and the roses with oohs and aahs of delight that they are doing so well, already. Checking to see if the neighbor’s cat is staying out of the vegetables now that I’ve put that cat-deterring spikey-matt down here and there. Weeding out dandelions from the flower beds and the small bit of lawn we’ve got. (So many dandelions!) It was a lovely weekend. Time well-spent.

The real point here isn’t that I had a great weekend spent in excellent company. The point is that I had choices. A lot of choices. I chose to enjoy the weekend in spite of the pain I was in on Friday evening, and much of Saturday. I chose to go hither and thither with my Traveling Partner for occasional errands (I could have stayed home). I chose to garden. Together we chose to put time into figuring out what we really want of our leisure time – and how we can make that happen most easily. Oh, for sure, sometimes I let myself bob around like a cork on the ocean, and circumstances or the whims of my partner made the decisions for me… nonetheless, even taking that approach is making a choice. There is so much that is truly within our control through our power to choose. 🙂

I think I’m saying “don’t choose to be miserable then wonder why you are miserable; choose differently if you want a different experience”. Misery is sometimes kind of an “easy way out”, isn’t it? There are verbs involved in escaping misery. Results will vary. We become what we practice, though… so… keeping practicing? Choose something different? Begin again?

Choices are not always “simple” or “easy”. Outcomes are not guaranteed. We do have an astonishing number of choices, though…

I guess I’ll begin again. 😀

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about how often it seems that the solution – or greatest likelihood for that potential – is found within some relatively simple practice or task, and that all that is required is to do that thing. In this instance, I am thinking about my anxiety, which has recently flared up pretty severely – enough to amount to a reduction in quality of life and even a cognitive impairment. Unpleasant, for sure. Wrecks my sleep. Causes stressful rumination and massive thinking errors. Renders me defensive and likely to take dumb shit personally. Kicks over a domino effect of other challenges associated with both emotional and physical health. What is the simple practice that relieves my anxiety, reduces my “second dart” suffering, and restores the joy in my experience? Meditation. Mostly. Self-care, generally.

In my case, this time around, the drivers of my anxiety and my background stress are generally to do with work. More specifically, employment (and the implied day-to-day details of working for a living) and being employed, and spending X portion of my days dedicated to someone else’s agenda in return for cash. So… I took a closer look at two details: my self-care practices as they are, and the conditions at work that drive my stress. I checked for mismatched self-care-to-stress and no surprise, I found it. So, I have room to improve on how I manage my stress. Okay. Good starting point. I began there, with the weekend. Then, I examined the work conditions that are causing the stress and asked myself some basic questions…

  1. Are the current stressful conditions likely temporary, or more likely to be chronic, long-term, or characteristic of the role I’m in?
  2. Do I have realistic expectations?
  3. Are there obvious steps I can take to improve conditions thus reducing my stress?
  4. Is this job my only option?
  5. Is this job truly what I want to be doing – just as it is – or am I committed to the paycheck more than the role?

You can see where this leads. So, I took the time to reflect, and found that it made things “feel less personal” – which is useful, because things of this sort are rarely personal, and getting mired in that feeling can make it so much tougher to practice good self-care, or make skillful decisions about what I do with my time.

Over the weekend, I updated my resume. Looked over some other opportunities. Every new adventure leads to new questions, and new knowledge, and we don’t know what we don’t know. It’s a path. The journey is the destination.

There’s always room for a new beginning. 🙂

I finish my coffee, and sit with my thoughts for a moment. Soon enough I’ll set up the work day. First, I think I’ll take time for meditation, and maybe enjoy a short walk. Then? I’ll begin again. 😀

Sluggish start to a new day, in spite of this good cup of coffee. I’d very much rather be sleeping. lol My reminder to take morning medication goes off, startling me; I’ve usually taken it and silenced the alarm before now. I chuckle quietly to myself – that’s the whole point of having an alarm, these days when I’m sluggish and not super alert. Purpose fulfilled.

I am musing contentedly about “things that bring joy”. Pretty subjective notion, there, but I am … entertained? Satisfied. It’s a reasonable bit of reflection for a slow morning. What brings you joy? It may be quite different in some regards to what brings me joy… although… human primates being what we are, there’s surely a lot of overlap? I think about it. While I reflect on what brings me joy, I also contemplate how to deliver that kind of joyful experience to someone else. What could be more delightful than the joy someone experiences through some little thing I may have done? I love that feeling. 😀

…The joy itself is a pretty splendid feeling all on its own, too, is it not?

I smile to myself and remember to update the budget to reflect changes, and feel a bit of background anxiety melt away. The anxiety wasn’t over the expenses themselves, or even the budgeting or the spreadsheet; it was the loose end, the awareness that the budget was not up-to-date. That’s the kind of shit that so easily can wreck a moment, a day, or an experience, so I pause my writing, hop over to Sheets and update my budget to reflect changes my Traveling Partner and I had discussed. Feels good that doing so doesn’t provoke any anxiety at all – it only eases it. That feel new(ish). I savor the moment with a contented sigh, and a sip of coffee.

I let the clock tick away without giving it much attention. I glance at my hands. I’ve torn them up lately, mostly over background anxiety and bullshit, wholly unnecessary and mostly completely unrelated to any real thing in my day-to-day experience. I’m okay… but my torn cuticles tell their own story. The other night, my Traveling Partner quietly, without prompting, and with a very serious concerned look on his face stepped over to where I was sitting and just handed me a bottle of lotion for my poor hands. lol I got the hint. So… I’m working on focusing more on joy than stress, and doing my mindful best to keep from tearing at my cuticles or biting my nails. It’s super hard. I keep practicing. It’s gotten so much better than it once was – still not where I’d like to be. I’ll just keep at it, patiently, building discipline through diligence and practice. We become what we practice.

…Sometimes it’s quite difficult to practice not doing something…

I breathe, exhale, relax. I find myself thinking about far away friends and “once upon a time” long ago moments of shared joy.

My eye lands on the clock. It’s already time to begin again…