Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness for beginners

Well, today is properly “the day”. The computers will be shut off, packed in their boxes, and prepared for the move. The last of the significant packing and boxing will be done, in preparation for the moving truck (that’s tomorrow). We took a day to rest up and hang out, yesterday, and got to bed “at a decent hour” to ensure we have taken care of these fragile vessels to be at maximum readiness for a couple days of significant manual labor. I slept restlessly. I’m not surprised. I won’t be surprised if my Traveling Partner’s sleep was also restless; we’re both excited, and eager to get the move done and start this new chapter in our lives.

I woke early. It was an attack of vertigo that woke me, the room seeming to spin like madness, in spite of my closed eyes. I opened them and attempted to hold back my nausea by grabbing the edge of the sofa, where I was sleeping, when I woke. I straightened my body with great care, and stifled the panic that comes with the vertigo, reminding myself it is only a sensation, not representative of any sort of “reality” outside my own impaired sense of balance. I breathed through the panic. Exhaled, relaxed, double-checking with each breath that my spine was straight, and that my muscles were relaxed. I waited it out, reminding myself to make a note for my next doctor’s appointment. I already know better than to attempt to get up and walk when I have vertigo. lol

Once my vertigo passed, I got up and made coffee. I have an early morning errand, then back to the house to pack things into boxes, alongside my Traveling Partner. He may not even be up when I leave. I find myself hoping he rests deeply, and maybe even sleeps in. We can have coffee together when I get back. 🙂 Tomorrow feels peculiarly far away, and also almost upon us. Funny how my sense of time and timing works, and how subjective, and even abstract, it can be. Even the vertigo seems to simply add a surrealist twist to the already peculiar moment-between-moments. I sip my coffee contentedly, and with some caution; if the vertigo isn’t entirely and completely cleared up 100%, I can’t safely risk driving, at all. That would fuck up any number of details of our careful planning; my morning errand involves letting contractors into the house to do some “before we move in” things we’d like to have done. 🙂

Receiving the house keys was a pleasant moment… I somehow managed to return to the rental (definitely no longer feels like “home”) without taking even one “share-worthy” photo of our new home… just pictures of smoke detectors, appliances, the fuse box, the FiOS box… basically just detail photos of things that need batteries, or that we’d want to know what the model numbers are, and those sorts of very practical details. lol I took one selfie for my Traveling Partner of my big big smile with the forest beyond our deck in the background, and sent that to him before I got in the car for the return trip. With the Independence Day weekend just ahead, there feels like more pressure to get things done “on schedule” than truly exists. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I sip my morning coffee. I smile, and glance at the time.

Move out priorities often differ from move in priorities. We’ve held back from packing the things we reliably use every day, because we’re still using them. At some point, all that has to be packed, too. The moving in needs also revolve around what we need first, but the needs change a bit. I don’t think our computers will be a high priority until after our bedroom is ready for sleep, our kitchen ready for cooking, and our bathrooms ready for personal care. Entertaining ourselves has mattered greatly leading up to the move out. The move in, though, is more than a little entertaining (as well as laborious), without connectivity, without computers, without videos, music, or games. I find myself feeling far more relaxed that with previous moves, and prepared to be comfortably flexible with the different approach we each take to the move. My Traveling Partner has a plan for the move. I have a plan for the move. Our plans overlap in spots, but emphasize different details. I work consciously on “staying in my lane” and trusting he has details handled, just as he does for the details I’m handling. It feels fun, and emotionally safe, and secure. Team work. I sit smiling quietly, sipping coffee, grateful for this partnership, and this (so far) easy move.

I’m finding it a bit hard to finish my writing this morning…but it’s most definitely time to wrap it up, and begin again. 🙂

I was sipping my coffee on a morning after my Traveling Partner had returned home from some trip or another. It was quiet in the room, and in our home, and even out on the street beyond. I woke ahead of the alarm by quite a bit, and there was no hint of dawn-to-come in the sky. Not at that point. My coffee was too hot to easily drink. Based on a couple hesitant, testing, sips, it was also not very good. I pondered the variables in a cup of coffee, mystified and still groggy; how is one cup so crappy, and another so sublime? Don’t I make them all the same way? Do the tiniest subtle differences in timing or process make that much difference? (Are the differences, perhaps, not with the coffee, itself, at all?)

I sighed quietly, a measured, careful, observed exhalation, slowly released following a deep breath. I felt my chest expand as I inhaled, contracting as I exhaled. A cough interrupted the quiet. Another sip of coffee. That moment was okay, and I remained with it, centered and calm, for a while.

(This particular moment was almost a year ago – a blog post written, never published. It finishes thusly…)

It was an okay homecoming. I knew, when I arrived home, that my partner was wholly exhausted, having driven 1800 miles straight on home, then on arriving, unable to actually sleep (coffee is an excellent tool to keep one awake for a long drive, and the risk to our sleep, later, is often one we find acceptable at the time), until much later – shortly before I went to bed, myself. I made dinner. We ate it. Shared a couple of anecdotes. Managed to be contentious and at odds with each other for a moment, and got over that. We are, unavoidably, quite different people, and also quite similar. Neither of those things is an assurance of always being comfortable together, or always being in genial shared space, or even holding the same opinion about literally anything. We’re individuals.

The evening passed gently after dinner. We entertained ourselves with conversation and videos. Eventually, he called it a night, and later so did I.

I woke easily, and well-rested. I’ve already forgotten some useful habits for shared space. lol I think about the commonplace usefulness of any basic tool, whether it is a screwdriver or a habit; lacking the most appropriate tool for any given task is likely to result in greater than average difficulty, increased task complexity, frustration, and time lost to struggling with pieces that don’t fit. In the same way a screwdriver isn’t the correct tool to fit a pipe, good self-care practices are not likely to also be good communication practices (although good communication is a part of good self-care, when it comes to boundaries and expectations). It has been a common (and way too real) experience on this healing path that my own wellness does not change the general state of wellness for any one other person – and they still live their life, and see things through the lens of, their own perspective on life, on circumstances – and on the relationship we share. We are each having our own experience – and we’re not all using the same tools to get any given job done. It’s pretty complicated stuff, and a lot of human beings are barely managing their own bullshit; it’s a lot to ask that people also be kind, compassionate, patient with one another, assuming positive intent… it starts to feel more like juggling than living, at some points. It’s still worth making that attempt, in my own experience.

…It also takes practice. As with using any unfamiliar tool, it definitely takes practice, and some basic knowledge. Your results may vary – particularly where relationship skills go! (You’re not doing that job alone, and even such things as “getting along” and “communicating” and “sharing” require practice, and a commitment to learning and growing, and you can only do your own.) It can be seriously frustrating, however familiar and commonplace a task seems, to grab that screwdriver, and once already frustrated, realize that the damned thing is a Phillips-head screwdriver not a flat-head. Well, shit. That got complicated fast. True in life, love, and home repairs. LOL

So… I guess I keep practicing. 🙂 Honestly, in every practical way, I only need to practice my own practices, and handle my own self-care. The relationship stuff works out much more easily when I give other people room to be themselves, care for themselves, and we’re open to both the differences, and the things we share – while still understanding that however close we are, or may become, we are nonetheless quite individual. I smile and drink my coffee; nothing new here. I struggle, mostly, when I forget to let go. Attachment to assumptions, expectations, or internal narrative can quickly sabotage an otherwise good time.

…Strangely timely as we two individuals prepare to move. I found it “by mistake” (or at least not looking for it) moments ago, as I considered writing something that, oddly, feels pretty well-covered by the draft I opened with an errant mouse-click. Helpful circumstance. One that puts me gently “back on the path” feeling I’ve understood myself just a bit better in this moment right here, right now… I settle myself into work, and begin again. 🙂

I woke early. I laid awake awhile, content and not in any hurry to start the day. Maybe I could drift off again, I thought, several times. I didn’t. I got up a few minutes ahead of the alarm, made coffee, and got the day going.

I spent yesterday, Father’s Day, with my Traveling Partner, relaxing together – what else? I mean, seriously? The pandemic isn’t a hoax, and there is still a lot of risk out there in the world, although many places are beginning to open. I went out, briefly, for a walk. Getting to the unpopular trail I’d selected (because it is unpopular), I passed several local restaurants, now open for dine-in service. The parking lots were packed. Father’s Day. I get it. I also don’t get it. Do people think the virus will take a holiday? I found myself wondering how many days it would be, following Father’s Day, before the next spike in new cases?

I sip my coffee and let all that go, this morning. Just another morning living life in the time of pandemic. 🙂

I’m tired, but not groggy. I’m in pain, but it is manageable. I struggle with that juxtaposition of circumstances that is the collision of inspiration… and the lack of ability to act on it; the studio is packed for the move. I shrug it off; the feeling of inspiration, at least for now, is not unpleasant. Soon enough, there is a new studio to set up. New work to plan. I’m excited about the move, and my excitement stokes my inspiration. Plein air watercolors of roses painted from on the deck, perhaps? 🙂

I breathe, exhale, relax, and sit quietly sipping my coffee after taking time for meditation and a bit of exercise. I look over my “to do list” from the weekend. Most of the items are related to the upcoming move. I got quite a few things done, and I make sure each completed task is struck through. 🙂 Satisfying. Another week begins. The wheel continues to turn. The path ahead unfolds, ready to be walked. I let the morning unfold gently as I sip my coffee. So much to do…

…I guess I’ll go ahead and begin again. 🙂

The sun is up. I slept in a bit. Sipping coffee, barefooted, on a weekend morning, late in the spring. It’s a lovely moment. I’ve got nothing to bitch about. Nothing nagging at my consciousness. No drama. No baggage (in this moment). No chaos. The morning is quiet. My mood is calm. My outlook on life is merry. I’m okay, right, in every sense of the word that matters. 🙂 My coffee tastes good. My roses have begun to bloom. My aquariums are thriving. The computer my Traveling Partner built for me while we share Life in the Time of Pandemic, together, is working beautifully – and by that, I mean it is both a wonderful upgrade in performance, and also a beautiful technological piece, aesthetically. I smile every time I sit down at my desk, feeling very loved. I feel content.

“Baby Love” blooming in a pot on the deck. 🙂

Let’s be super real on this notion of contentment and ease; I’ve worked years to get here, and there have been many verbs involved, and many tears shed, over time. My outlook matters more than material details. I could live this life, identical in all practical details, and be mired in misery. PTSD has that power. Healthy emotional wellness practices really matter that much.

No click bait here, no “secret practice your therapist doesn’t want you to know about” in an eye-catching thumbnail. I’m not about that. I’m just saying, perspective matters. How I treat myself matters. How I treat others, and how reciprocal those interactions are, matters. It’s been a long journey, and I’ve often felt I was stumbling haphazardly through the darkness, quite alone. I’ve known despair, and futility and frustration and sorrow and, yes, madness. I’m not alone in that – and that’s why I write. Reminders for me, and maybe, just maybe, a light in the seemingly endless darkness for someone else. Someone that I’ll likely never meet. There have been so many such souls on my journey… human beings on their own journey, helpful co-travelers, sometimes unrecognized until much later, because I simply wasn’t ready to hear what they were saying to me, then. We all walk our own hard mile. (You too.)

Life is pretty good these days, even in spite of the pandemic. It’s not about material success (I’m not wealthy), or finding one true love (I’m fortunate to enjoy a great relationship with someone I love very much, but in dark times love does not “cure” our sorrows, or ease the weight of our baggage). Life is pretty good these days because more of my choices take me in that direction, than choices which don’t. Verbs. Choices. Beginnings. Perspective. Sufficiency. These are only words, but the words represent concepts I’ve found key to making my way, a bit at a time, to a life that feels, generally, characterized by contentment, and joy.

I’ve put in many hours of therapy and study. Reading books isn’t enough; the ideas have to become changes in behavior and thinking. The epiphanies and “ah-ha moments” have to become new practices. Practices that work have to be sustained over time. There is a commitment to treating oneself well involved – this may be the biggest challenge (it has been for me).

Where this really started, back in 2010, and a moment of gratitude for the love of the man who shared it with me, then, and remains with me, still.

I think I’m just saying… “you’ve got this!”. Unhappy with life? Choose change. Rethink your most basic assumptions. Re-examine your expectations of life, of people, of yourself. Try a new combination of real kindness and firm boundary-setting. Ask the hard questions. Consider all the options. Take care of yourself – because you matter to you. No reason to expect it to be easy, or that you’ll never cry again, or that “the world” will ever be “fair”. Be your own best friend – and your own best self, because you can make that choice from moment to moment, and when you fail (and you will, I promise you that), begin again. Just begin again. Don’t beat yourself up over your fundamental humanity – examine your errors with some emotional distance, gain understanding of yourself (and others) from your mistakes, learn, grow, and move on with increased perspective. Accept that you are human – then also accept that everyone else is, too. Make room in your thinking for what you can’t know, or don’t understand; there’s nearly always something new to learn. Check your assumptions.

There’s a lot of baggage to put down. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go of. It’s easier to give yourself closure than to seek it elsewhere. Don’t drink the poison. Tame your own barking dog. Consider your outlook on life, generally. Yes, it’s a lot of work, I know. It probably seems so much easier to get a prescription for some boldly advertised new drug. I’ve tried that, myself. It didn’t work reliably well for me, which is how I found myself at 50, filled with despair, trying one more therapist, one more time, unconvinced that life was worth living. A huge stack of books and a few years later, life looks (and feels) very different to me. I’ve made a lot of changes – to practices, jobs, relationships; I rebuilt basically my entire life (and lifestyle) to better support becoming the woman I most wanted to be, living a life of contentment and joy. Worth it. So worth it. (Not infallibly perfect – that’s not on life’s menu, right?)

So… what do you say? Are you ready to begin again?

Sometimes it is a thing; we are creatures of emotion and reason. Just like that sentence, emotion generally arrives to the party first. Reason shows up later. I’m super grumpy today. I don’t have any sort of reason for that, it’s simply how I am feeling, at this moment (and for several hours worth of moments since shortly after my work day began). There is nothing specifically “wrong”. I’m just… grumpy. Correction. I feel grumpy. I feel cross. I feel irritable. I feel prone to taking things personally. I feel “out of sorts” and generally aggravated. I feel impatient. These are how I am feeling.

…Still, they’re just feelings

Emotions are funny things. We can argue the factual basis of a subject. We can disagree with each other regarding our understanding of circumstances, and our recollections of details; we are each having our own experience. We’re not seeing the world from identical perspectives. We can’t actually argue against an emotion, though. Those are our own. Not subject to disagreement. Period. I feel grumpy. No one actually gets to tell me that’s “incorrect” as an emotional experience. (People may try, but as arguments go, an argument against someone’s emotional experience is rife with thought-errors, fallacies, and a peculiar assumption of entitlement, inasmuch as it presupposes that other person’s emotional experience is somehow superior or has more substance or value.) I’m mostly not even letting my grumpiness “be a thing”, generally, but it is still there in the background.

…I would have been camping next week. All week. Out under the trees. No other people. Only my own agenda. Quietly sitting. Hiking. Cooking out under the sky. Sipping coffee in the morning chill. Watching the leaves unfold, and the spring flowers bobbing and swaying in the spring breezes. Content, relaxed, and face-to-face with the woman in the mirror for a few days of solitude. Pandemic life being what it is, the location where I would have been camping closed, and canceled all pending reservations, some weeks ago. So, not going is not a surprise. Hell, I’m not unhappy to have the opportunity to still enjoy a couple of those days off, in the good company of my Traveling Partner…but…

Today, right now, for no obvious reason, I feel exceedingly put out by every tiny inconvenience. I feel prone toward anger, over shit I’m not generally angry about. I really “want to rest” – but I’m not talking about physically resting this meat puppet. I need cognitive rest. I need time with myself.

It may be awhile, for all of us, before we get some needs easily met. For some folks, solitude is hard to come by right now. For others, what’s hard to come by is community. Whether we call time spent alone “solitude” or “loneliness” is largely a matter of perspective. The emotions involved belong to each of us as individuals. I sigh and alternate between sips of cold coffee left from this morning, and fizzy water that has gone flat. I don’t care for – or about – either one. It’s almost reflexive, as if I am seeking to satisfy a craving, but doing so quite incorrectly for the craving that it is. So… now what?

Eventually the emotional weather will shift, and “this too shall pass”. I could take the mood, and the moment, very personally, blowing it way out of proportion, catastrophizing it, creating monsters out of miniatures. Or… I could let this shit go. Again.

…And then again, if necessary. And again after that. Yep, again once more if I have to. Maybe another time after that. Just keeping putting it down, letting it go, and beginning again. No reason to vilify the emotions themselves; they are not the bad guy here. Far more valuable to look them over tenderly, honestly, and with as much self-compassion as I know how to practice. Then try again if I miss that mark. There is no limit on the new beginnings I can offer myself.

So… I do.

My Traveling Partner comes in for a moment, and glances at the page in front of me. “I’m sorry you’re grumpy.” He says it tenderly. Kindly. Honestly. This, too, is a moment. A pretty nice one, actually. He gets back to what he was doing. I get back to what I am doing, while taking some time for me – to savor this moment. Far too easy to become mired in my less pleasant ones, even though the lovely ones are so much more worthy of my attention. Human primates and their negativity bias. I shake my head, smiling at myself. So human.

…It helps to take a moment, for myself. Some quiet. Some solitude. A moment to begin again.