Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness for beginners

My coffee this morning is exceptional. No idea why, exactly, but it’s a damned good cup of coffee, and I am enjoying it. I’m tired, even groggy. (I didn’t sleep well.) It doesn’t matter; this cup of coffee is just that good. The espresso shots were quite lovely when I pulled them, with rich even crema. The steamed almond milk was dense, smooth, and even, and quite perfectly lovely as it swirled into the espresso, as if poured directly from my state of contentment into my coffee mug. Yep. Damned good cup of coffee. It’s a delicious moment on a pleasant morning.

It’s enough. One pleasant moment of leisure, enjoyed on my own terms, something pleasant over which to linger, to savor in the moment and in later recollection…definitely enough; I get a lot of mileage out of moments. I get a lot of enjoyment out of a simple cup of coffee.

Although a great many other mornings led to this one, and a great many other cups of coffee were involved in how well this particular one turned out, it’s not obvious how large the investment over time has been, in creating this one moment. It’s just a moment.Β Only a moment over coffee on a work day, early in the morning. It’s not fancier than that. I didn’t bring any special equipment or gain any particular epiphany. I didn’t work overly hard at this moment; I showed up. I made coffee. I am enjoying it.

There’s a point to pointing this out. I’ll leave that to you. I’m just going to enjoy this cup of coffee right here, now. πŸ™‚

…If your coffee isn’t exactly as you’d like it… Begin again. Practice. πŸ˜‰

 

I was musing about the future, near term, specifically a concert I plan to see, which my Traveling Partner also has tickets for, but now lives quite far away and likely won’t drive 5 hours to attend it. It’s a poignant realization, to reflect on how unlikely it is that he’ll make the trip up this way casually, just to see a concert, go to dinner, or hang out. He’s never even seen this new place…

…My eyes begin to fill with tears. I take a funny little moment to “mentally hold my own hand” in a comforting sort of way (actually visualizing an adult-me, holding the hand of a tearful child-me); I need my sympathy, compassion, and support in such a moment. It’s only a moment, and without compounding it by additional needless self-inflicted suffering to force it to grow and linger, it quickly dissipates. We’re each having our own experience. Our most reasonable, rational, choices do not reliably also represent the most emotionally comfortable or satisfying choices for those dear to us. That’s something I’m glad I’ve come to understand, because I am also prone to rational, reasonable, choices, and also have loved ones dear to me who may be discomfited by them.

I had been, I admit, daydreaming about making a home here in this new place, in which my Traveling Partner would feel welcome and comfortable, and in which we would enjoy our lives together any time he blew through town. It doesn’t look likely at this point. His job down south quickly resulted in a permanent move. His other partner, having the means to do so, simply packed up her household, and moved also. I definitely feel more disconnected from my partner than I generally have; living alone wasn’t enough to cause that, it required a sense of greater distance and a sense of being less… something. The very fact this lessening is so very nameless, when I have so many words for so many emotions, suggests it is an illusion. My recollection of our conversations, and our time spent together recently, seems to confirm that my sense of our connection being somehow diminished is indeed an illusion.

…Daydreams don’t make much room for change. Daydreams can feel very threatened by change, by variance from the ideal, by realities that don’t match expectations, and by unspoken assumptions. Plans work differently. I smile when I think about planning my retirement. My Traveling Partner and I had discussed our plan for my retirement in detail. That planning touches nearly everything about our shared experience. I can look around this space, and see things that are “not yet according to plan”, that could be, and I find myself moved to action; it’s the action that gets me to my planned goal. Reflecting on that shared planning is less emotional, and less uncomfortable. Funny how my planning is not negatively affected by my emotions, the way my daydreams can be.

I have literally gone to pieces, and wept openly, when a vacant lot I daydreamed about building a home on for many years was sold to a developer and a condo was built there. Wasn’t my land. I didn’t have a plan. There was nothing real or solid there, just a daydream that lingered over years. It was unkind to treat myself so poorly, but I didn’t have any sort of understanding that my daydreams could do me any harm. I’m a big fan of daydreaming. It’s becoming attached to a daydream that gets me into emotional trouble. I don’t know that being attached to a plan would be any different… but I think generally, becoming committed to a plan usually resulted in achieving a goal! (I mean, so long as I am also flexible about rolling with the changes, prepared with a plan B, and willing to also not be attached to the outcome!)

Yes, and I’ve written more than 600 words this morning on the difference between daydreams and plans. lol I’m not sure this was necessary. I’m not even certain it can be fully understood by anyone who is not me, because our personal dictionaries matter so much here. It matters how you define “daydream” and “plan”, for me to be understood clearly. (How much does it matter that you understand my own specific point here, though, so long as you understand something and find some value in that for yourself that makes the time spent reading these words worthwhile?)

This morning I plan the visit down to see my Traveling Partner, while also daydreaming about it. I’ll get to see his new place! πŸ™‚ That matters to me. I enjoy having a good mental map of his physical experience when I think about him. I like knowing, first hand, that he is safe, comfortable, and living well. I am eager to get as many visits down as I can before icy weather sets in; I won’t want to drive when the roads are icy. (Note to self, be sure to verify your VPN connection to your work tools before winter weather sets in! You’ll want to work from home on snowy or icy days.)

My brain sneak attacks me once more, and I find myself wondering a bit sadly if he will still come for the holidays… Seriously? I sigh out loud, and let that go. We can talk about our holiday plans together in person this weekend. That makes more sense. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee, review my to do list, and consider my plans. There are verbs involved. I’m the only one here right now, so all that is up to me. It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€

 

It’s one of those Mondays after a long weekend that feels like I have “been away a long while”. It’s highly subjective, and an illusion. I often feel this way after a long weekend – or any weekend that I really succeed in “disconnecting” “letting go” or “recharging”. I almost always feel this way after a weekend in the studio. It’s like taking a step back from a life I love to rejoin a life-in-progress about which I’ve long had mixed feelings. lol It’s a feeling that will fade quickly, as I begin process routine Monday workload and start feeling “caught up”. I sip my coffee and spend a couple minutes contemplating the illusory nature of emotion, the made up nature of personal narrative, the mutability of life itself.

So far it’s a good beginning to a Monday. My coffee this morning is excellent, and I have refrained from looking at the news, or Facebook. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee a few minutes more, thinking about friends I saw, friends I didn’t see, friends I observed from a distance over Facebook. I think about the past (the weekend), the future (retirement), and notice that I have strayed rather far from this moment now, and pull myself back to the present with a smile, a sigh, and a sip of coffee.

Did I mention that my coffee this morning is excellent? Is it worth mentioning that if I let my consciousness wander to far from being present in this moment, I stop tasting it? That seems relevant. I consider only my coffee for a moment or two, savoring the smoothness of the steamed almond milk, the richness of the locally roasted Ethiopian beans. I take time to appreciate how quickly I’ve become more proficient with the espresso machine, again. I let my awareness become filled with this morning, right here. The coffee. The sound of traffic. My tinnitus. The trickle of the aquarium. The feel of this space I live within. Mmm…did I mention the coffee? πŸ™‚

What a lovely equinox weekend it was. I feel rested and well-cared-for. The world waits…

…I guess it is time to begin again. πŸ™‚

 

 

Inspiration is a funny thing. I am occasionally frustrated when Inspiration strikes, and I am “trapped” at work, or in life, in circumstances that undermine the moment from one of great power and motivation to something more like a cognitive itch I can’t scratch. Timing matters. Time matters. Location matters. Available resources with which to work – that matters, too. Any one element being a bit off, or out of reach, and the whole moment degrades, slips away, fades before I can dive into that delicious drenching sea for a quick swim, before inevitably returning to the sometimes tedious shores of a more staid reliably productive wholly limited reality.

Having a studio at home as been awesome, and exploring what that can be like definitely changed my approach to my living arrangements. Making a point to live in spaces in which I can have dedicated creative space has uncoupled any struggling to match inspiration with location from any of my relationships. That’s been wonderful. Managing my professional life (outside of art) such that I reliably have the resources to keep art supplies well-stocked has uncoupled any struggling to match inspiration with available resources. Β The only significant struggle that remains is to do with time, and timing.

I’m smiling this morning, and feeling fortunate that I’d already planned a long weekend for the equinox. When inspiration struck me with force, it was easy enough to roll with it, change my plans from coastal camping to a stay-cation in the studio, and happily move on with things. πŸ™‚ I arrived home yesterday and happily flipped an imagined “artist at work” sign in my head, made a coffee – because I’ve got 3+ days to play with, and no requirement to adhere to any particular routine unless I choose to do so, and no concern about late nights. Sometime after my 5th coffee of the day (and a bit past 4 pm) I admitted I’d probably had enough coffee. lol In the meantime, I had stepped into my studio, looked around, and agreed with my inner artist that a different arrangement of space, gear, and furnishings would be helpful…

…Somehow, I spent the evening rather energetically (hello 5 cups of coffee!!) “moving in more”, moving stored paintings around, discovering there were just too damned many stacked that I’d intended to be hanging, which lead to hanging more paintings (everywhere). I moved on to “those art cabinets are sort of in the way right there… which lead to moving furniture around. I got to that skinny box by the wall, and went ahead and finished setting up my workstation by putting the big desk monitor in its obvious place – on my desk. One by one, stacks of paintings, boxes of art supplies that had been “left for later”, art cabinets, supplies, blank canvases, books, gear, drop cloths… everything began to “sort itself out” (with my help, obviously – because no one is doing this shit for me!). By 7 pm, I was pretty much stalled. Finished. Done for the day. Not exactly tired, I remember thinking, but more just needing a bit of a break to consider next steps – with every intention of turning on appropriate lights and doing some “dark work” in glow colors.

Coffee or no coffee; I crashed at 8:30 pm, and slept deeply through the night. I woke briefly around 4 am, took my morning medication, peed, and went straight back to bed, and slept another 3 hours. It isn’t common for me to sleep so well, so deeply, or for so many hours. 11 hours of sleep? Brain-tired from an intense, however short, work week. I get it. It makes sense. I’m glad I didn’t make any attempt to force a routine on myself; I obviously needed the rest. πŸ™‚

This morning feels fresh and new and filled with wonder, color, music… and yeah, more coffee. LOL No idea what “next” looks like, yet. I linger over my coffee and my words; there’s no need to rush. This is a moment which is not enhanced by attempts at efficiency. Totally okay with that. The woman in the mirror is a different creature when she’s painting than when she’s 9-to-5-ing. I roll with the change happily, feeling transformed into some more natural state of being, relishing the freedom to be wholly myself, utterly without limitations or restrictions besides those I place on myself. Feels good. I let my soul stretch just as I would let myself stretch my body after a long time in one position; comfortable or uncomfortable, remaining in one position too long generally results in needing a good stretch, yeah? Same for my artist’s soul, I suppose. I feel my heart and my emotions reaching outside the day-to-day limitations of what is comfortable to display in public. Freedom to feel more, to explore myself more, to fully be. My home, my rules, my way. I look around my studio with a smile, and remind the world beyond “you don’t tell me“.

Maybe I write more this weekend. Maybe I don’t. Maybe I get all the sleep I need. Maybe I’m up all night painting. Maybe I paint a ton of tiny paintings. Maybe I work on just one canvas. Maybe I choose. Maybe I let Inspiration lead me gently. Maybe the work unfolds precisely as I envision it. Maybe everything I do ends up entirely different than I expected. Maybe all the housekeeping also gets done. Maybe the weekend ends with dishes in the sink.

That’s a lot of maybes. I’m sure about the coffee. LOL The rest? I’ll let you know on the other side of this vast Sea of Inspiration. It’s time to go for a swim. πŸ™‚

This is a story about coffee – sort of. πŸ˜‰

It’s a metaphor.

Small things sometimes stall me. I know I can, I have the experience, but lacking a clear recollection, I hesitate, stymied by nothing more than my lack of clear recollection. Hesitation becomes fear becomes inaction. It’s a thing. Today, it’s a thing about coffee. lol

At some point, living at #59 (my previous apartment), my Traveling Partner left some of his things with me, and one of those items was his espresso machine. Nice one. Too big for my space, so it was being stored in a closet. I have considerably more counter space in the kitchen, here in The House Where I Live (so much more delightful, it gets named instead of a number). I put the espresso machine on the counter, when I moved in, and have since sort of just… kept it clean, and “worked around it”. I hadn’t turned it on, or made use of it at all. Nothing stopping me but fear.

The fear started off simply enough; it isn’t actually my espresso machine and I didn’t want to “break it” (which, realistically, should not be such an easy thing to do, considering what it is built for). I put off re-reading the manual, or looking at a YouTube video for days. Well… for 60 days, actually. I smile realizing I’ve been here just two months (a whole two months!). Over the past 60 days, that hesitation to act became insecurity about acting, reluctance to follow through, and finally just a straight up failure to act that was at risk of persisting indefinitely, with the final result that I would have a rather large fancy paperweight on my kitchen counter serving no purpose. Silly.

I put “reboot espresso machine” on my to-do list days ago. I ignored that for a while, fearfully. This weekend, however, has been all about being present, being at home, and working down the list of tasks I had in front of me, many of which fell into this same “tread carefully” category of odds and ends I felt uncomfortable with. Like the sub-woofer. Like the espresso machine. So, yesterday I read the manual. I watched a manufacturer-sponsored video on using the machine. I bought almond milk made specifically for making espresso beverages (different texture than the usual sort). I had already emailed customer support and specifically inquired whether there would be gaskets needing to be replaced after 2 years in storage (there are not, they said). Finally – verb time. I filled the machine with water. Turned it on. Ran some out as hot water. Ran some out as steam. Checked the settings on each feature… and by the time I’d done all those things, it was much too late in the day for strong coffee, and I’d run out of courage. lol I talked myself out of making a coffee, and put that off for the morning.

I woke peculiarly early today. Like… seriously. 2:51 am. Somehow, I managed to be so entirely awake that getting up to pee did not naturally result in going back to bed, and I got up. Fuck it. It’s almost 3:00 am, and 3:00 am is “almost 4”, which is only half an hour from when the alarm would go off, so… Right. I’m up. Coffee time!

I hesitated, again, as I stood in front of the espresso machine, watching it heat up. My eye slid to the right; I could make a pour over… Then I glanced left; a cup of coffee made in the Keurig is drinkable, quiet, and efficient… I recalled the video, which had reminded me how easy it is to use this espresso machine (a semi-automatic), even first thing in the morning. I recalled how many times I have actually made coffee using this very same espresso machine, when it sat upon the counter in my ex’s house, where we all lived together. As the machine continued to heat, I recalled, too, that my Traveling Partner and I intend each other nothing but love, and share everything we have with great joy; there isn’t really any chance that I would willfully damage his espresso machine, nor is there any realistic chance that he would take it badly if something were to go wrong and it got damaged without ill intent. So… what’s the hold up? Well, at that point, just waiting for water to heat up. πŸ™‚

The beans were fresh. The grind may need some adjustment, but that’s fun for another day, preferably a day with plenty of time in it for drinking coffee. lol The puck was quite perfect, the smell of freshly ground coffee was enticing. The shot I pulled wasn’t my best – perhaps in another lifetime, I’d have poured it out and used the opportunity to begin again. At 3:15 am on a Monday morning, I found I was just as content to let it be, and embrace imperfection – and coffee. πŸ™‚ I steamed the milk, enjoying the ease of it far too much for the simple process it is, as enthusiastic as a toddler turned loose in the toy aisle. Β I took that first sip, of that first latte made by my hand in my own home in a bit more than 2 years (has it only been such a short time?). It was warm, and tasty, and seemed to me in that moment to be quite perfect – even as I recognized opportunities to improve my craft. There was no room for criticism in that moment; it was enough to be drinking a latte I made for myself. πŸ™‚

Contentment is something I have found I can build. I can craft it from fairly simple ingredients; moments that are enough, small successes, and letting go of attachment to outcomes and expectations. Finding that I can build contentment, and sustain it, has resulted in so many lovely moments – even actual genuinely happy ones that linger in memory and sustain me through tougher times. It’s nice. It’s a process. There are verbs involved. My results vary. Sometimes… yeah, I’m so human, sometimes I have to overcome my fears. Incremental change over time requires practice. πŸ™‚ We become what we practice.

I smile at the clock and sip my latte. I have plenty of time to begin again. πŸ™‚