Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness for beginners

I still struggle with deal with live with (cope with?) anxiety. My anxiety woke me this morning. Unpleasant way to wake up too early, although, I will say that anxiety and being groggy don’t co-exist – so I definitely woke up fully, all the way awake. lol The newly added acoustic treatment in the house (in my studio, in the echoing hallway, in the living room where we listen to music) has the added bonus of allowing my Traveling Partner to sleep through my wakefulness, so… win? It at least amounts to an improvement.

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

I sip my coffee feeling my anxiety begin to recede. What sparked it? I’m not sure, and it’s not always necessary to do a detailed “root cause analysis” – doing so often seems to prolong or increase the anxiety itself, rather than diminish it. It just doesn’t do to give anxiety too much “attention”. Anxiety is an attention whore. Anxiety is liar. Fuck anxiety. LOL I breathe, exhale, relax – and feel the physical details of my morning anxiety continue to dissipate. At this point, I suspect my waking anxiety was nothing more than a physical experience of attempting to sleep through the warning signs of mild gastro-intestinal discomfort. I similarly experience heightened anxiety if I wake feeling nauseous, unaware – at least initially – that I am potentially going to vomit. Anxiety reliably wakes me – and my brain certainly knows this.

Aside from my anxiety upon waking, it’s been a lovely morning. I woke, took care of biological needs, took time to meditate, dressed and went for my morning walk. I returned home from a lovely walk filled with birdsong, blooming roses, and rose-tinted clouds as the sun rose, had a shower, and made an excellent cup of coffee – with enough awareness still left over to notice that I probably would do well to get more coffee beans today (instead of tomorrow). I find myself wondering what would be nice for dinner, tonight? I think about the tomatoes I planted last week, and the irrigation my Traveling Partner provided them – he knows that the greatest risk to any garden of mine is that I will run out of energy on hot days, and fail to water them reliably. Problem solved.

Lately we’ve been working on a variety of household projects intended to improve our quality of life by addressing some personal needs – like noise sensitivity (so, acoustic treatments for that), and light/dark/shadow quirks and personal preferences for qualities of light that can influence emotional states (so, installing modern programmable, controllable lighting with features that reliably create suitably comfortable environments for the human primates living within). It’s pretty mind-blowing to have these options, instead of feeling limited to some dismal, single, bare, rather depressing yellow-y, overhead bulb in a dusty or broken fixture (honestly, it’s been a long damned time since I had that to deal with, but the memory lingers on in my emotions and sense of comfort). My partner gets something out of doing the projects – we both benefit from the results. I enjoy the almost magical fairytale experience of stepping out of my office on a break to discover some new wonder of quiet, or lighting.

…Today I’m trying out a style of wall switch, as I work…

…Work. Right. Another work day. I’m not fussing or discontented. I like this job. I enjoy working with this group of colleagues. I know it’s a good fit for me; it’s not easy. It’s a stretch for every skill, every day, though, and that’s cognitively fatiguing, leaving me pretty drained at the end of each week. It also finds me a bit more skilled and a bit more developed, at the start of each new week. So… another win? There’s certainly a bit of juggling involved in finding something like “work/life balance” right now… there are days that I suspect, left on my own, I’d just continue working long into the evening (so unlike me) because the work matters, and I find it engaging enough to be almost entertaining at some points. This is new for me. I explore it gently, finding ways to make use of this heightened emotional investment in doing well, without undermining my actual wellness.

The world continues to turn. Sometimes my stomach along with it; I am appalled, every day, at new reports of human cruelty, violence, and hate. I want to cry “where did this come from?!” – but I’m aware it’s been with us all along. It’s in our primate make-up. We are not truly domesticated. We are not as civilized as we would like to be seen to be. I take a breathe and exhale, reminding myself that I can do better, individually, at least – and take steps to be my best self, and to be the change I want to see in the world. If nothing else, I can at least do that. We’ve each got to begin somewhere.

Has it “all gone terribly wrong” for you? Been there. I suppose sooner or later I may be there again. I can only suggest that you begin again. Yes, and again after that if need be. Stop. Take stock. Breathe. And begin again. And again. And again. Incremental change over time will add up. Choosing, in some small way, to be and do better than the last time – it’ll add up. Like adding acoustic treatment to a noisy house – one room at a time. Or changing out old incandescent lighting for modern LEDs – one bulb at a time. Room after room. Change after change. Choice after choice. It adds up. It doesn’t always feel like progress when progress is slow… but seriously? We get to our goals in steps. One step at a time, one choice at a time, one new beginning at a time. πŸ™‚

It’s time to begin again. Today, I may not change the world, but maybe I can change the person I am, and become more the person I most want to be? One moment at a time.

It’s a mild Saturday morning. Not yet sunny. Also not raining. Just a morning. My coffee is hot, sitting mostly untouched in front of me. My Traveling Partner and I are “enjoying” our individual, somewhat overlapping, personal experiences of seasonal allergies. His, a lifetime struggle. Mine? Returning with a vengeance here in this new place, after decades mostly without allergies at all. I’ve minimized my allergies for years; they simply aren’t “anything” in comparison to what my Mom endured, or what my Traveling Partner goes through for so much of the calendar year that even suggesting those are “seasonal” could seem like a mockery. “I don’t have allergies” still seems mostly true for me… but this morning, my stuffy head and sneezes tell a story of Spring, and pollen (it’s the tree pollen that seems to be the issue; I can smell flowers all damned day without concern).

…And of course, my preferred walks each day? Forests. Trees. Shaded paths. Hilarious. 0_o (That’s a rare use of sarcasm; I’m not finding it all amusing really.)

It is a mild Saturday morning, suitable for gardening (I have a list of things to do), and relaxing. I’m eager to do a bit of gardening in this new place – gardening that won’t suddenly face the upheaval of moving away, gardening that can be planned for a future that exists. Maybe. I mean… the future is an uncertain thing, but at least here I can plan for some sort of permanence, as much as one ever can. No, I’m not feeling down or fatalistic, just disinclined to deceive myself with fanciful tales of “happily ever after” or “always”. Those are not helpful concepts, generally speaking. πŸ™‚

“Baby Love”, an early bloomer, will go into the ground this weekend. πŸ™‚

This cup of coffee is good. Not good enough to ease me past the morning frustration of dealing with allergies, perhaps, or to fix any of society’s ills, but it’s a nice moment on a pleasant morning, and that’s enough right now. I think of far away friends I’d like to take time to connect with, emails I’d like to write. Maybe pick up the damned phone now and then? (Does anyone actually answer the phone when it rings, any more? I rarely do… is that a “me thing”, or an “everyone thing”? Has the etiquette of a phone call changed since… before?)

At some point, after our anniversary was past, my Traveling Partner ever-so-gently brought up how much benefit I seem to get out of a weekend away, solo, and wondered aloud if I were, perhaps, due for one…? He admitted to having the thought on our anniversary, and shared that it seemed less than ideal to bring it up on that occasion. I appreciate his consideration… I’d had that thought, too, and felt like a complete jerk for it, considering the occasion. LOL He’s quite right, though; I’m definitely “feeling it”.

…And he definitely feels me feeling it…

I’m not sure why I’m feeling it so hard right now… the new job is intense (in good ways) and quite busy. I do spend nearly 100% of my waking time in the presence of at least one other human being, or on a call, or in a meeting (and yes, Zoom meetings are still every bit as “people-y” as in person, for me)… it gets fatiguing after a while. I enjoy solitude. I want to simply exist, free of social constraints or pressures to perform, conform, achieve, or relieve. I want to breathe my own breath. Think my own thoughts. Exist entirely in the context of my own experience. Make choices with little regard for other tastes, other needs, other timing. It’s complicated when people partner up who have very different needs in this area. I’m fairly certain that while I feel like I “never have a minute for my own thoughts”, my partner may feel that we “never get to spend any time together” – and both those experiences are legitimate perspectives on our individual experience as human primates. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership in which we recognize our differences and value them – and help each other find our best path forward.

Anyway. I’ve been vaccinated. I feel relatively comfortable making the short journey to the coast and taking a day for myself. Masked & distancing, yeah, that’s still a thing for sure. I’m okay with that, too. I got lucky on getting a pleasant ocean view room a few steps from the beach (131 actual stair steps, if reviews are to be believed) – next weekend. The weather is nice for painting. I’ll take my water colors and my camera along with me. My laptop. I’ll walk miles along the beach. Take some pictures. Meditate. Think. Write. Paint.

…I will miss my Traveling Partner so so much…

We benefit from a bit of time to miss each other. I sip my coffee and wonder what he’ll get up to while I’m away… besides missing me, I mean. πŸ™‚ I already look forward to sharing pictures and conversing about time we did not spend together.

…I’m already looking forward to beginning again. πŸ™‚

Some mornings every step is painful. Others not so much. Either way, I generally enjoy my morning walk on a weekday before work, and on weekends whenever the fancy strikes me. I enjoy being out among the trees, most especially, or alone on a wind swept meadow, or at the edge of the changing tide listening to the call of sea birds. There’s a lot to enjoy in life. I wasn’t always able to enjoy that, and there was a time when every step on every walk was punctuation for unspoken thoughts, and unhealed heartbreak, and each pause to snap a picture of a flower was an attempt to do something, anything at all, just a little differently than I had before. Every step, and every mile, on this journey has mattered. Every step, and every mile, matters still – and I’m still walking. The difference now, most mornings, is that I am walking, and smiling. πŸ™‚

…What I’m not doing nearly as much is writing

My morning walk is just as night becomes day. The world is quiet and filled with promise.

I started this blog back in 2013. Here it is, 2021. 8 years on, and I’m in a very different place as a human. Perfectly perfect? Nope. Happily ever after? Hardly. Content and well-cared-for? Generally speaking, yes, and it’s more than I could have imagined, honestly, and I’m fairly certain I don’t need more than this life, right here, as I am living it now. It’s enough. Which, if I’m honest about it, feels a little odd sometimes. What about all of the everything else? Don’t I want or need a piece of that, too? I don’t think I do, with regard to most of the “extras” life may tempt me with from afar. I’m blasted with advertising daily, but very little of any of it gets my interest, even for a moment. Occasionally, some practical something-or-other gets my attention but mostly I’m here at home, hanging out with my Traveling Partner listening to music or watching videos, or playing video games. I’m here at home, beginning the season’s gardening tasks and spending happy hours flipping through garden catalogs, eyes wide with wonder and delight at lovely flowers that have no business in this garden, but… damn, so pretty! My morning walk takes me past other houses, other gardens.

…We each walk our own mile. We each “tend our own garden”. We are each having our own experience. Sometimes it’s hard, and we need help, sometimes it’s a joy and the labor feels effortless. Where do you want to go? It matters for walking those miles, doesn’t it? And that garden? What are you planting in it? Can it thrive in your garden. Yes, obvious metaphors for growth, for self-care, for living life. I’m good with that; it gives me a way to understand myself, and my experience. πŸ™‚

There are sunrises…

I take a minute this morning to think about how far this journey has taken me, and how much joy my partnership brings me, and how much I have to be grateful for.

…there are sunsets.

I’ve been every bit as lax about staying in touch with friends and family, lately, as I have been at sitting down to write each day. It’s Spring here – my first in this place. πŸ™‚ I’m savoring each sunbeam and each raindrop and watching the season develop in the view beyond the deck.

Still taking pictures of flowers. πŸ™‚

I think about this journey to “home”, too… by this time last year, we were house hunting with some seriousness. By the end of May, we’d seen this house and made an offer on it. It’s been nearly a year of finally being home. That first couple of summer months were busy, laborious, and somewhat chaotic as we got moved and settled in and dealt with our first homeownership challenges (a hot tub needing repair, a leak in an exterior wall, figuring out where everything ended up). I’m eager to see the summer all over again – I don’t recall what it looks like. LOL

Life isn’t perfect. Whose is? I’m fortunate, though, and I am grateful. I sip my coffee and wonder if it is time to “wrap this up” and move on to other things… or simply trust that a new cadence will develop that feels natural? I’m starting to spend more time thinking, reading, and looking over creative projects. The garden calls to me. The trees beyond the deck beckon me into the forest to wander hidden trails, and camp under the stars. This life, here at home, is beginning to feel… properly real. I feel more comfortable with my developing routine… a walk in the morning, coffee with my Traveling Partner, a break a little later… Working from home feels natural now, and fits comfortably into my idea of living life well. Now to sort out when I like to write, in this gentle new way of living my life. πŸ™‚

…Incremental change over time… I remind myself to be patient…

It’s time to begin again.

I’m finishing my first coffee on a Saturday morning. The temperature dropped during the night, and I woke to a frosty morning. I share some time with my Traveling Partner, then head to my studio to read the news, write, and think about the day. I’ll walk a favorite trail when the morning warms up a bit. Run an errand. Do some laundry. Paint. Seems a good day for all those things. πŸ™‚

…I’ll bake cookies, too; I love the smell of freshly baked cookies filling the house on a weekend. I don’t find a cookie-scented candle to be an adequate substitute. lol

My neck hurts. My head aches… but I slept well, and deeply, and woke feeling rested and “well”, in spite of the pain. I mean… let’s be real, it’s a rare thing for me to be utterly free of pain. Clearly, letting “pain” be a defining quality of my experience, or day, generally would be a poor choice. I let it go, as much and as often as I can, and move on with other things. My attention can be better spent than wallowing in chronic pain. I acknowledge it, do what I can about it, and invest as little time in any of that as I reasonably can. Better to savor the delights the day has to offer. πŸ˜€

The head cold I was starting to develop became a definite nothing much at all. I was wholly over it within 2 days. This morning, I’d nearly forgotten it was part of my week until my partner asked me how I was feeling this morning. lol

The news this morning is peculiarly… fine. I mean, sure, there’s some sparks of drama here and there, and clearly the impact of the change in administration is only beginning to be felt, but… so far? I gotta say, it’s nice to wake up to fact-based news each morning. I appreciate real questions, frank, considered, answers – and an administration with an actual plan? Bonus! I find the return (in progress) of civility to be quite a relief from the savage chaos and disappointing ugliness of the national discourse over the prior four years. I hope it’s a trend, and that we can sustain it. I don’t feel vaguely sickened every time I read an article about what is going on in Washington D.C. There’s still so much work to do, to create a society in which we are all equal, we all have an opportunity to thrive, and no one is being held back because of their skin color, religion (or lack of one), gender, sexual preference, country of origin, or immigration status. It’s lovely to see us getting on with that, instead of walking back decades of progress to stand in the cesspool of our historical hatreds and pettiness.

A mile on a winter morning, walking, thinking.

Everything about this morning feels very much like the sunshine peeking through the window shade this morning; hinting at a sunnier day ahead. It’s a good time to assess my long-term goals, and refocus my attention on what matters most, and where this path leads. It’s certainly a good time to begin again. πŸ™‚

It’s been a few days of dealing with an “interesting” increase in my anxiety, recently. Like… a distracting, persistent, defiant amount of anxiety, of varying intensity… the sort of thing that surges back seemingly stronger than previously known (it isn’t, really), and difficult to manage. It’s been disrupting my sleep, and pulling my attention away from things that (truly) matter much more. Frustrating.

β€œAnxiety” 10β€³ x 14β€³ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

I woke early, pre-occupied with work, because that’s just the sort of thing Anxiety enjoys nibbling on before the day even begins. Any detail over which I’m less than entirely confident and comfortable with becomes fuel to her fire. Fuck Anxiety; she’s a liar. Anxiety forces me to view the world through a lens of fear, doubt, stress, and insecurity, and prevents me from embracing other qualities of my experience. I haven’t had to do such fierce battle with my anxiety in a long while. It’s fueled by the competing experiences of home-ownership and difficult (unpleasant) work-place relationships. The sense of obligation that comes of owning a home causes me to feel I “have to” endure more that is unreasonable, to set fewer clear boundaries, to be more reluctant to “draw a line in the sand” with higher ranking colleagues… all of which are uncomfortable, less than ideal, and probably also seriously bullshit. lol Anxiety, remember, is a liar.

I woke early, and spent my first minutes on meditation. It helps a lot. Coffee came later, because over the years I’ve learned too well that Anxiety likes a good cup of coffee every bit as much as I do, and not in a helpful way. lol Meditation first. Coffee later.

I looked over my work calendar, and quickly identified the source of my stress – it was really just one meeting on my calendar (that I own), and only due to a change of format being requested, for which I have had too little time to prepare. So… that’s not even “about” me. I reschedule the meeting to give myself (and another affected colleague) more time to make the requested changes. No harm done. Hell, it’s even a short week (after a Monday holiday) and so far it’s going very smoothly. Hard to argue with those results. πŸ™‚

I feel my tension ease, my Anxiety receding into the background, returning to being “anxiety” with a lower-case A. Nice. A good start to the work week… I mean… good enough. Amply adequate, for sure. πŸ˜€

The weekend that is now over was a lovely one. I sip my coffee, free of the crushing weight of the anxiety that had been nagging me earlier, and think about the lovely miles of trail walking, the scent of fresh baked cookies that filled the kitchen all weekend, and my Traveling Partner’s smiles. A good weekend.

Sometimes the obstacles along the way are small enough to just step over them. πŸ™‚

So, a new week, new beginnings – and new challenges. πŸ™‚ Sometimes the “new” challenges just happen to be old familiar ones – I just get to practice handling them, all over again. lol Didn’t think I needed to take that lesson one more time, but there it is – and we become what we practice. πŸ˜€

It’s time to begin again.

One step at a time, eventually measured in miles. One day at a time, eventually measured in years. One moment at a time eventually becomes a life well-lived, on a beautiful journey. ❀