Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness for beginners

I’m sipping my coffee on a Monday and turning over a metaphor in my head. I’ve been giving it thought all weekend, actually, well – if by “all weekend” I mean “since I started putting up the holiday tree”. 🙂

It began simply with the necessary (for me) task of untangling ornament hooks…

Like my thoughts, some things need to be untangled before they are really useful.

It’s really that simple metaphor that has me feeling thoughtful. I’ve had this same tangle of ornament hooks since… oh… for about 20 years. Here’s the thing, though; one year, I couldn’t find them. The only ones I could locate to purchase as a replacement that year were long hooks. (I use, generally, by preference, the short ones.) I turned up the others while decorating the tree – they were at the bottom of a fairly ordinary brown box. I combined the short hooks and long hooks, and put them all “conveniently” into a single small plastic container. Now, each year, I have to untangle ornament hooks before I can get started hanging ornaments. (If you suggest I simply toss these and buy new ones that are less tangled, I’ll point out , first, that some of my oldest ornaments have original hooks on them that are older than I am, which I have not discarded in spite of discoloration due to age, and also, this is a metaphor, so… perhaps the point was missed? 😉 )

Each year I carefully untangle and set free enough of the short hooks from the grasp of the long ones to decorate the tree. Each year I carefully put them all back into the container they share – even the long ones it was necessary to free from the tangled mass, in order to get to the short ones. Each year, I put them back in a more orderly state than I retrieved them in. Each year I open the container to find they are entirely tangled all together once more.

…There really is a metaphor here…

“What’s your point?”

It’s a good question, glad you asked. The point is, I think, that the content of my own thoughts can sometimes be fairly tangled up, with “long hooks” of ancient hurts, old baggage, new baggage, and a variety of expectations and assumptions, all sort of hooked into the “short hooks” of useful observations, clarity, real understanding, valuable perspective, and the present “here and now” sorts of things that create a well-lived life. The tangled mass can impede good communication, mess with my clarity of mind, and undermine my feeling of emotional well-being. It’s pretty important to sort things out, and untangle those long hooks to get to the useful short hooks, and really get on with living life.

It’s not that the long hooks are worthless; they’re hooks. They serve a function. I have some few ornaments that are most easily hung from those long hooks. Some of those are even quite beautiful – it’s just that nearly all the ornaments on my tree hang most pleasingly, easily, and conveniently from the short hooks. So, why the hell do I keep the long ones at all, though? I guess… as with the bullshit and baggage tangled in my thinking, and in my poorly processed lingering bits of baggage, I get started on that, and along the way I free up enough short hooks to meet my needs in the moment, and then just sort of … pack all the hooks back into their container… for… convenience.

Yeah. So. Giving that some thought has kept my mind occupied this weekend (a generally splendid holiday weekend). 🙂 There’s something to learn from this container of hooks. 😀

…List of chores. Yep. It certainly is a huge… list. Fuck. Am I really expecting myself to get all of this done, today? On this knee? With this arthritis pain? 0_o It seems… unreasonable.

…It’s actually not that bad.

I look over my list again. Routine housekeeping, all of it. Regular, commonplace tasks that need to be done with fair frequency. The image doesn’t show that above “Hearth & Home” sits “Self-Care”, and below the list in the image are also “Errands”… I do like an orderly list. lol

I put self-care first on my list these days, because it needs to be; if I don’t take care of myself, who is going to get all this shit done?? I put errands last because it’s pretty easy for a “quick trip to the store” to become a hours long distraction from everything on the list that needs to be done. lol Some things on the list are daily chores, they get checked off each day, and put back on the list the next day (looking your way “do the dishes”!). Other things are weekly, still other things are “occasional”, seasonal, or “as needed”. It’s just a list though; making the list doesn’t imply getting it done. There are definitely verbs involved. 🙂

I consider each task on the list. I move them around so they are more or less in the order I think I’ll want to get them done. I’m playing with my list and drinking my morning coffee, and writing, while also chatting with my Traveling Partner, who is eager to come home. I’m eager for him to come home, too… and I’d love to welcome him home with my list of shit to do fully completed. What a welcoming place to come home to! I smile to myself, recalling what it feels like to come home to order, to a well-cared for living space, and to a calm, peaceful environment. No drama. No work bullshit. No dishes in the sink, or shit in disarray. Just… home. The thought renews my commitment and my motivation to get it all done. Yesterday was mine, for me. Today is for mindful service to hearth and home. 😀

…It’s already past 8:00 am. I’ve finished this cup of coffee, with one last swallow of now-cold brew (nothing at all like actual “cold brew”, I assure you lol). I’ve got this list, and this day, and it is very much looking like time to begin again. 😀

After the chores, perhaps a hot mug of cider on the deck, or meditation by the fire? Something to look forward to, but first – verbs.

Time to get back to the office. I’m okay with that. My Traveling Partner is pre-occupied with work right now, and when I am at home working, focused on work, the day-to-day communication challenges associated with my brain injury can be a little more obvious, and, I guess, a little more frustrating. Neither of us need that headache right now.

…Having a TBI that affects how I communicate is more than annoying, sometimes, for everyone dealing with it (not just me). It’s doubly hard when so much about “me” makes it super easy to forget, most of the time, that I have some of these issues…then… fuck. There they are. “Issues”. Damn it. I’m not sure which thing is more frustrating… is it that I often ask for clarification because context is not enough to narrow down the meanings of words to just the one thing intended? (So many words have multiple, or nuanced, meanings, and I “hear them all” when people are talking.) Maybe it is that I sometimes “answer the wrong question” (Okay, I do this a lot, and it is super comical until it becomes super aggravating.) – meaning, that, if you ask me a “when” question, I may give you the “why” – and yes, if you humorously reply by asking me the “why” question, indeed, without skipping a beat, you’re likely to get the “when” of it, without me immediately noticing what I’ve done. :-\ I wish it always just stayed funny, though. It’s not like I’m “doing it on purpose”.

…Then there is the seeming “evasion” when asked a question, and I literally just… go blank. Overloaded trying to both understand and answer, usually in circumstances where there is a clear expectation that I will “get it right” because it is “easy” and “should be right there”. I catch up, sure, but by then I’ve somehow communicated a lack of trustworthiness that can seep into even those interactions with people familiar with me for a long time, and aware of my injury. Aggravating for all concerned. Super painful for me to deal with. Way too many opportunities for hurt feelings, all around.

…And how about those opposites? Omg, yeah. I work with numbers – and this particular challenge is painful, and common; I sometimes say the literal opposite of what I am actually thinking (positive vs. negative, yes vs no, even “opposite colors”, and concepts). Like a cruel prank on myself. Fuck that shit. At least this is one I commonly catch, in the moment, myself. It’s just so hard, sometimes. I want to be heard, valued, and accepted, and I want my words to do credit to my thinking. Realistically, I’m not going to get that any more often, or any more easily, than anyone else. Sometimes, it’s just not there for me. Real talk. Sometimes I sound like a complete dumb ass.

My head aches with trying to manage my headaches, on top of staying on top of all the cognitive disarray, get complicated, and although I do okay sitting here at a keyboard… if you’ve been paying close attention, you’ve probably seen it, too. :-\ It’s not getting better as I age, I assure you. In fact, in spite of continued rehabilitative work, specific to improving these sorts of things, I recognize that there are some indications some of this is getting worse, very slowly, over time. Certainly, that last transient ischemic attack (July? 2013? 2014?) was notable, and obvious, in my writing, and I still see it in “wrong endings” of words – a type of “spelling mistake” that isn’t about spelling at all, and cropped up immediately after that TIA, and persists, to a lesser degree, even now. Brain damage? Yeah. Brain damage. It is what it is.

…How long before the frustration of friends and loved ones isolates me completely, relegated to fond memories, and deliberately patient, tolerant, excuses for putting up with me… or… just… not. Just quiet sorrow, and regrets…

I sigh heavily in the quite room, listening to David Bowie, “I’m Afraid of Americans” (but only because it was next on this playlist, although… yeah). Glum thoughts over good coffee. Feeling a bit anxious about life, generally, and about aging, specifically, and what it may mean for my relationships. My brain attacks me immediately, and with real force, “he’s not going to love you forever, not like this, not if you can’t communicate; you’ve already lost your looks, what’s even left now…?” My brain whispers my worst fears and insecurities to me.

“Fuck. For real? Right now? I’ve got work you know.” I silently chastise my personal demons, and have another sip of coffee as the tears slide down my face. “I’m not having it, you vile bitch, just go ahead and head on back to The Nightmare City, I just don’t have time this morning.” I frown into my coffee, annoyed with myself, my insecurities, my vulnerabilities… my humanity.

I switch up my playlist to something lighter, and hope for the best as my tears dry. It’s a place to start…and it’s time to begin again. This morning, that’s got real meaning; it’s an opportunity to acknowledge my fears and insecurities, accept that these are experiences and feelings I need to address in an authentic, honest, and gentle way with myself. I take a couple of deep cleansing breaths, exhaling slowly and evenly after each, until it feels comfortable. I feel myself relax a bit. I make a point to fill my thoughts with recent positive interactions with my Traveling Partner, and the delight of a recent long email from a dear friend, and the recent triumphs and achievements at work… there’s a lot to be grateful for, to be satisfied with, and to enjoy.

I finish my coffee. I start my day.

Funniest thing about “easy” days for me; they’re not really different, in most respects, from “hard days”. Oh sure, maybe some different circumstances, and definitely a different “feel” to them, but often the routine details are quite similar to any other day, and all the days have the same number of hours, begin and end with a point in time, and require quite a lot of the same work, using the same assortment of verbs. So… what makes today so “easy”? Well… for starters, it’s only just now a few minutes before 6:00 am… so… truly it’s a bit early to make a judgment call about whether the day is difficult or easy, isn’t it? Talk about setting myself up for disappointment. LOL

Actually, any number of small choices may make this day as easy as the morning has been. 🙂 Aaaannnd… my Traveling Partner is back home and in my arms today! Well… almost today. Tonight. Likely shortly after midnight, so… almost tomorrow. lol By itself, his homecoming puts a shine on a day that it might otherwise lack. 😀

Other things add to the experience of ease. I kind of slept in, waking a short time ago to some random noise that was not my alarm clock. I took today off, specifically to avoid being exhausted or out of sorts when my partner gets home; I may nap in the afternoon, so that I can more easily stay up late enough to enjoy his homecoming. Small things make a big difference sometimes, too; I’ve kept the house tidy and cared for, so there need not be any sort of “I want to impress you” scramble to do housework at the last minute. (Good use of time and verbs by maintaining my space tidily – I do enjoy order and tidiness. lol) So, yeah, today already feels easy. It’s even a pay day, and I’m home, and I can take care of a few things in a relaxed way, and have more weekend time to spend with my partner, too!

Yep. Easy day. It’s a feeling. 🙂

I smile at my “to do list” – it’s short. Regular pay day sorts of things, and a short grocery list. I add “gas up the Mazda” to my list, and “sweaters?”. I double-check the grocery list and make sure that my Traveling Partner comes home to a well-stocked pantry; our tastes differ somewhat, and I enjoy taking a moment to consider his preferences.

Omg! He’s really home today! My enthusiasm for his homecoming is adoring – and potentially excessive. lol I laugh at myself out loud in the stillness of early morning, and sip my coffee, grinning. I know by the time he actually arrives, I’ll have burned through some of this energy working down my short list, and maybe, later, taking time out of the day for a lovely walk, if the weather is not rainy. (Maybe even if it is – it’s not really “about” that. lol)

I look around the house, adding a couple small tasks to my list, as I continue to sip my coffee. My face hurts from smiling, and noticing, I wonder if I had been smiling in my sleep, too. lol I feel rested and merry. Damn… Wednesday could have used some of this merriment!

My last sip of coffee is… sipless. Shit. Coffee is gone. Literally gone, too, in the sense that I used the last of the coffee beans just this morning. I guess that will fuel the start of my day in earnest, because I definitely want another cup of coffee! I will have to begin the day, and start working the list, to get there… I’m not bitching, though, I mean… I don’t have to cultivate the land, grow the coffee plant, harvest and clean the beans, roast them… I can just “swing by the store for some coffee, be right back”, and my own simple needs are met. 😀 Although… 6:14 am feels just a bit early for grocery shopping. lol Plenty of time for other moments, and other verbs – and more smiling. 😀

I smile before I write it…

It’s time to begin again. 😀

Sipping my coffee, rather late in the morning compared to a typical Monday. My last day of this brief “vacation”. I’m not bitching, it’s been lovely, and I’m ready to go back to the routine of routines, and the ordinariness of ordinary days. 🙂

Long nights of sleep have made clear what no number of short nights could; I am sleeping very lightly lately, and the result is that it is more difficult to get “enough” rest. I don’t know if it is simply a change, or perhaps only a temporary state of things, or part of a cycle. It is, however, what it is. I’ll need to make a point to get to bed “on time” with more care, if I’m hoping to get adequate rest. Good to know. 🙂

My coffee is tasty. Hot. Warming. I sip it and listen to the commuter traffic beyond the studio window. I take a moment to appreciate not being in it. This morning that’s enough to spark real joy. lol Tomorrow will come soon enough for new beginnings. Right now? This moment is worth savoring, worth being present for with my whole attention, worth fully living. It’s enough. 🙂