Archives for posts with tag: mindful living

Sipping my coffee and thinking about the day and week ahead. Time to get my head out of the studio, and back in the office. Very different scenes. Very different language. It’s a bit of an adjustment. lol

I find myself thinking about “the future” just generally. I think about recent conversations with my Traveling Partner. I think about plans we’ve made to do things together in the year ahead. I think about choices already made, and choices yet to be considered. A substantial portion of “the future” is built on as-yet-unmade choices. The rest? Well, a hash of circumstances, and choices already made, and not yet seen to their conclusions, I suppose. It’s not a static image, like a picture, or a calendar page, though, “the future” – however modest or grand – continuously redevelops, as new choices are made against changes in circumstance. So… yeah.

What are you doing to build the future you want to live in? What are you choosing, in order to get to that place?

It can be frustrating having to accommodate, or adjust for, the circumstantial bits and pieces of a developing future. Same for choices made by other people that result in change for us, ourselves. Nonetheless, it’s part of the puzzle. The most complicated piece of the challenge of “planning for the future”, I think, is about the verbs in the present; our choices right now, our actions right now, our words right now, all become part of what our future is built on. What are you doing about it? I ask, because the literal only piece I directly affect, myself, is the piece built on my own actions, my choices, my words. I’d love to shout back “I’ve got this!”, but I’m not that certain, honestly. 🙂

It is sometimes difficult to hold onto awareness that my choices right now, here, in this moment, directly affect my future. It’s a pretty direct connection, too. I’ll give an example; yesterday I did laundry. I chose to defer the last load (white towels) to “maybe after work tomorrow”, when the hour grew later in the day than I cared to be doing laundry. No problem there. I can do it tonight after work. That was yesterday’s decision-making (made in the present, yesterday). This morning, I hopped out of the shower having forgotten about that decision-making, yesterday… no towel. That’s right. No clean, dry towel waiting for me when I finished my shower. lol Damn it. I was fortunate there was a clean dry towel in the hall bathroom. Still. My decision-making in the present, yesterday, directly affected my (near-term) future. That’s how it works. 😀

The awareness that my decision-making right now affects my experience of some future moment is also a potential anxiety-driver. “Over-thinking” can become indecision and dithering, and all of that just makes the anxiety worse. What the hell?? That hardly seems right… is this some sort of bug in the code, here? Huh. I chuckle and sip my coffee. “Not today, Demons.” I say to myself, contentedly. I breathe. Relax. Let go of my own bullshit – and begin again. New day. New choices. Each choice potentially inching me closer to being the woman I most want to be, living a future life that meets my needs over time. 🙂 Some choices, maybe not so much; my results will vary. lol

 

Getting ahead is easy! In just three easy steps, you too can get ahead!

  1. First, and this is key, be sure you are moving forward.
  2. Okay, once you are moving forward, keep doing that; keep moving forward. Maintain your momentum!
  3. Lastly, and this is critical; don’t fall behind.

Followed quite precisely, and this is true; you’ll get ahead. 😀

…It’d be nice if life were either that obvious, and that effortless, or even both. I mean, sure, at the most basic level, perhaps, this is what getting ahead could look like, only… it doesn’t. Not generally. Not spiritually. Not economically. Not with regard to wellness. It’s just a way of describing what our forward path could look like, absent all likely obstacles and challenges. lol Not helpful.

Are you down? You can choose to get back up. Doesn’t make it effortless, it’s just a starting point. Still, starting points are a positive. You can move forward from a starting point. That’s something.

Are you stalled in life, somehow, unsure of the path forward that will be best for you? Choose something. Do the thing. Note the outcome. Be present for the experience. Learn from it – whatever the lesson may be. Repeat. Regularly. At some point, you’ll either be in a very different place as a person, and no longer feeling stalled in life, or you’ll have done, and learned, some interesting things, and still be working all that out, over time. It’s not everything. It’s not a quick fix. Still. It’s something. It’s a place to continue from.

Do you feel as if you are literally falling behind in life? Failing? Experiencing setback after setback? (I’m there, now and then, lately – it’s not pleasant.) I’ll just say it; this is more commonly limited to our perception than being an actual part of our experience, and as experiences go, it can be so terrifying to deal with, that we find the mere perception that it might be our experience quite… terrifying? Humbling? Anxiety-provoking? All of that. Resolving this uncomfortable place to be is tricky, sometimes; if we’re really falling behind, our choices and actions would need to be different than if we only feel as if we are. So… sorting that out necessarily comes ahead of doing something about it, only… generally the things one might choose to do about the experience of falling behind are pretty powerfully positive choices and actions, regardless, and we may favor them all along life’s journey. 🙂 Things like… self-reflection, and understanding what matters most (to us), and practicing the qualities, behaviors, and skills, that support our vision of great quality of life. Things like… making good choices about our work, and recreation, that tend to be supported by our logistical and economic limitations, without undermining future goals. Things like… doing the humbling work of mindful service to our own needs, goals, and plans. Verbs. All verbs. Not effortless, but generally helpful in resolving that feeling of falling behind. That’s something.

More often than not, any of these experiences in life (being down, feeling stalled, or feeling as if I’m “falling behind”) have been supported by a combination of circumstances (which I’m always quite ready to blame, if I’m honest about it) and a lack of verbs (on my own part, actually, which I’d prefer to overlook, as doing the verbs is… work). I can’t always immediately change my circumstances for the better, but I can, almost always, change my choices – and the verbs. I can act. I can evoke change through living change, choosing change, and accepting change.

Sometimes changing things is as “easy” as the choices I make, and the verbs I put into action. “Easy” being understood, in this context, as… um… relative. Sorry. I wish “easy” were easier. 🙂 While some things may be, in fact, “easy”, this doesn’t imply “without effort”. There’s real work (and practice) involved in picking ourselves back up, in moving on from feeling stalled, and in stepping forward from feeling as if we are falling behind. Sometimes it’s only the work of realigning our very subjective perception of our experience with what reality offers us, but I don’t necessarily find that “easier” work than the work of learning a new skill, or the work of finishing that project I’ve been lazy about, or the work of saving money, or the work of day-to-day tedious task completion to maintain good quality of life. It’s all work.

Our effort matters to our success.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I was sipping my coffee between moments in the studio when I really noticed; there’s a tree missing from the view beyond my deck.

What I expected to see…

It’s not a great picture, and I warn you now, it isn’t from an identical perspective – and perhaps that’s why it nagged at me so much. Something is different, I spotted that right away, but figured, in the gloom of twilight, last night, that perhaps it was just more winter, fewer leaves, more lights in the distance… something.

…what I see today.

There’s a missing tangle of mostly-dead tree. Obvious as anything could be, once I allowed myself to really see it, absent my expectations. There’s something to be learned from that.

The healthy heart-wood of the stump left-behind, quite evenly cut, about 18 inches from the ground, tells me it was not lost to misadventure or high winds. Willful. Probably well-intended. I feel sad about it anyway, thinking about the owl that had been making her home there. The squirrels using it as a freeway ramp to the tree nearer the deck. The loss of privacy from neighbors beyond. Just… the loss of a tree. It’s painful. Oh, I’m sure a dead tree just hanging out there on the steep edge of the yard, where it suddenly drops off just past the fence, was a hazard of some sort, to something, but… fucking hell. I’m getting a little sick of people just taking my fucking trees away every-fucking-where that I move. Irksome.

There’s much to learn from contemplating this change. Trees fall. Trees are cut. Impermanence is. Non-attachment helps with the pain of circumstantial misfortunes. We have choices. Trees can be planted. Trees sprout. Trees grow.

I sip a delicious afternoon coffee – a perk of having a 3-day weekend, afternoon coffee always feels like luxury to me. 🙂 I contemplate impermanence, and change – and choices. I think about seeing. I mean, really seeing – eyes and mind both open to what may be new and changed. I contemplate acceptance; change can be hard. Recognizing what has changed is not without it’s own challenges. I breathe. Relax, and consider what I am practicing, and what I want to achieve. I think over conversations with my Traveling Partner; this last visit was rich with thought-provoking, inspiring, observations, and discussion. Connected. Insightful. Loving.

We become what we practice. (Remember, “trees take a long time” 😉 )

It’s an ordinary morning, before, most likely, an ordinary work day. My coffee is hot, and adequately tasty. The room is a comfortable temperature, a little cooler than I like it in the evenings. I hear the trickle of the aquarium in the other room, and remind myself that it is on my project list to change the water, replace the heater, re-settle the plants, and restock with something inexpensive and entertaining – guppies? More neon tetras? Just plants and shrimp, maybe? I love having the planted aquarium, and contemplating the planned project, I feel that pang of sadness over the fish that I lost last year over a weekend with a power outage. It sucked to come home to that. This morning, though, right here? So far it is a pleasant one, routine, ordinary, unexceptional… I have grown used to pleasantness (in spite of chronic pain, and this perpetual headache).

This is now. I’m enjoying it. How about you? 🙂

So… If you are not enjoying now, is it truly a byproduct of a very crappy right now experience (which can certainly be a thing, and we’ve all had those moments) – or are you fixated on some past (however recent) or future (however soon) moment of misery that is not actually now? If that’s the case, I would like to offer a suggestion (what you do about it belongs to you); very deliberately, and with great presence and attention to detail, come back to “now”. The real now. The true present moment. Breathe it in. Become aware of the details – even the smallest detail that feels comfortable, pleasant, and fills you with contentment or joy, is worth your attention. Find a comfortable seat. Be gentle and kind with yourself. Breathe it in. Breathe it out. Let go of the past moments. Let go of the future moments. Just sit with, and be here, right now. 🙂 No kidding. Practice that.

Practice it a lot.

I was thinking about something at work yesterday – a busy day, filled with meetings and interrupted practical task-processing workload of the sort that suffers for interruptions – and what I was thinking about is this; it’s actually fairly easy to make future-affecting decisions somewhat skillfully from the vantage point of the present, when I’m actually present, mindfully aware, and firmly in the moment…but it’s nearly impossible when I am stuck on some past moment, or mired in anxiety about a future moment that is not yet now. I gave that rather a lot of thought, actually, and used the thought to tickle my awareness of the need to pull myself back to the present moment, again and again. By the end of the day, I felt more firmly present, and in the office that’s sometimes hard to get to. Rigid processes, task processing, clear orders of operations in interlocking pieces of workload with dependencies on the pieces of work that lead up to it; while these things make work more efficient, faster, and get more done with fewer human beings, they also tend to rob me of awareness, keeping me part of a process, and less than a human being. So much less. Then, complicate that with the stress of those interruptions that fracture my focus, degrade my desired efficiency, while also directing my attention solely to that interrupted work – and specifically away from presence or self-care. Yeesh. It’s a very unpleasant experience.

By the end of my day, I had figured out being more human in an inhuman (and inhumane) scenario. That feels good – I’m hoping to improve on my presence, awareness, mindfulness – and humanity – in the office, today. How much better could work be? How much of my inhumane work experience is self-selected? What can I change or improve upon with my own will, awareness, and choices? Where will this path take me?

I glance at the time, and into the bottom of my empty coffee cup. I guess I can go ahead and get started… Now.

Sometimes self-care (or, just managing all the details of adulthood) is a bit like carrying all the groceries home without a bag, while riding a unicycle. Challenging, requiring extraordinary balance, and resulting in a lot of fucking juggling and shit being dropped. lol

There are dishes on my counter. 😦

My vanity is strewn with a couple days of earrings I’ve worn and not hung back up.

I haven’t  yet gotten on with my plan for re-organizing the studio to make room for my Traveling Partner’s music gear and whatnot.

The deck still looks like my landlord stacked all my potted plants willy-nilly against one wall (which is what he did do, and I have not yet restored order).

Well, shit. Still human. LOL

My nails need a touch up, the laundry needs done, the bed wants made (well, actually, it hasn’t said as much, I just prefer it made)… There are things to do, and at least for me, pretty much all of this tedious housekeeping and maintenance “bullshit” is part of my self-care; I do best in an orderly, tidy living space, that feels comfortable and cared for. It aggravates me and causes me stress when things slip, however briefly, and however inconsequentially. Few guests would look around and take note of the plate, coffee cup, and fork, rinsed and neatly sitting on the counter, waiting for me to empty the dishwasher of clean dishes. I do. That’s what matters; it nags at me. It reminds me of trauma, and past terror. Same with things like my unmade bed; who really fucking cares? Me. Laundry? Well, clean clothes are nice, and I’ve got weekend plans, and at least one item I’m thinking about wearing is in the laundry, so in a purely practical sense this is a chore that needs done, but…

I look around and allow myself to really see the untidiness as it is; not that bad. I allow myself to sit with both the acknowledgement that it isn’t that bad, and also the awareness that it is not as I prefer it. I allow myself to be aware that this feels like I’m letting myself down. While that’s uncomfortable, it’s also real – and okay. I breathe and let go of the stress over a neatly organized, rinsed, 1 meal stack of dishes on the counter. I’ve got this. Just needs some juggling, and attention to details.

Verbs. It also needs some verbs. Don’t forget the verbs.

Fucking hell, self-care is hard sometimes, yeah? Do the things. Do the stuff. Do the things and the stuff. Sort shit. Handle shit. Manage shit. Do tasks. Check in with self. Repeat. It’s a lot – and it sometimes feels like I’m doing battle just keeping myself on track with my self-care. Why the hell is this so hard? I get up and go to work every day like a fucking machine – how do I not also come home and relentlessly take care of me, also? (Easy answer? Not enough spoons.)

I’m still learning to “pace myself” in life. lol I am reminded of a humorous song, and pause myself to listen to it. Smiling I sip my coffee and remind myself that all of it takes practice, repetition, more practice, iterations of improvement over time, refinements based on what really works – and throughout all of it, I’ll still be quite human, quite prone to fatigue, totally likely to let something go another minute, or overlook something that in some other moment felt quite important to get done. All of it totally okay, and very very human. 🙂

I check the time. My coffee is done. It’s time to begin again. 🙂