Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness matters

There’s this place in life’s wilderness that we sometimes wander into, a deep mire of negativity, doubt, and conviction. The mire of our heart. Few of us would choose to live there, once we understand we don’t have to.

The weather in the mire is a permanent, sullen, bitter gray.

At the edge of the mire is a sunny meadow. The woman who lives in the meadow wears a smile. She has worked hard. She works still. It isn’t about wanting to work so hard, or enjoying the effort, or being without pain and fatigue, but she knows that this is her life, and the enjoyment to be had living in the sunshine, among the meadow flowers, is so much nicer than stagnating in the mire. She knows too well; she used to live deep in the mire, well beyond any place that sunshine could reach. The way out was tedious, the path stony and uncomfortable, the distance was great, and the decision to trudge on down that path one uncomfortable step at a time was its own torment. Her constant companions were doubt and despair, but life in the mire had already made those her companions…so… what was there to lose along the way? She was at least moving.

She slowly exchanged “can’t” for “can”. She began noticing sunrises. She began to consider whether she could feel better, more often, and began choosing to do so, unsure (at least initially) whether it really was a choice. (It is.)

Sunrises came and went and as she reached the edge of the mire, more often “can” than “can’t”, more often saying something uplifting to a passer-by than offering criticism, sarcasm, or a pessimistic observation, and even learning to treat herself more gently. It took years to get to the edge of the mire. It took years to see that indeed there is a meadow beyond the mire, and sunrises for days, and flowers in the garden of her heart. She smelled the flowers, gathered seeds, and began to tend her garden.

She looked back into the mire and saw a friend standing there, mired. Deeply committed to the muck, and the pain, and the disappointment, and the sorrow… only… none of those things were really there. From her vantage point, having stepped into the meadow and looking back into the darkness, it was so clear – there was nothing holding him back from leaving the mire at all. There never had been. Sure, there was a short distance of path to trudge across (how had that felt so infernally long?), and the way never had seemed so clear as looking back across it, but… it was the simplest of journey’s, once the journey had begun.

She called to her friend from the meadow, throwing armloads of flowers into the sunshine, casting their petals and fragrance into the breeze, but the breeze doesn’t reach the mire. “Come this way!” she called to her friend. He stood there, ever so motionless. “Look,” he replied “I can’t.” She sighed. Puzzled. “Oh hey!”, she called back “I thought I couldn’t, too – but I did, so I could, which means you can… if you do.” He looked frustrated, bitter and annoyed. “I said I can’t!” he confirmed rather angrily. “Nothing works for me. I have nothing and no one will help me. No one cares. No one will talk to me. Nothing works out.” She wept to discover she was “no one” and paced awhile back and forth along the edge of the mire, feeling sad in the sunshine.

Another sunrise came. Other sunrises will come. The woman in the meadow lives in the flowers she planted, smiling among the breezes and the birdsong. There is work involved in tending the garden of her heart. There are weeds to pull. There is always work maintaining all the sunshine. It’s not artificial light, and even the work puts a smile on her face. The mire grows more distant, and she plants more flowers hoping to make the path from the mire to the meadow easier to follow. Maybe someday the man in the mire will walk a different path.

She can see him there in the mire, any day she chooses to look back. He swears she has always lived in a meadow, and that her life has always been this flower-filled lovely garden. She shakes her head, frustrated and sad that he doesn’t see her pulling weeds, planting seeds, and laboring to create this beautiful meadow from the edges of the mire where she once lived. He refuses even to come to the edge, to see what she has done. He accuses her of luck, and she does not argue that she hasn’t been lucky, because she has; she got out of the mire, didn’t she?

Every mire can become a meadow. It requires only all of the verbs, most of the time, and incremental change. It requires effort and will, and a willingness to care. It requires walking on, and beginning again. It requires practice. It requires that we plant our own flowers along our own way, and also pause to appreciate them when they bloom.

A man who says “I’ll never amount to anything”, doesn’t. Most particularly if he truly believes that, and practices the practices it takes to hold himself back. We become what we practice. Mire or meadow, we make our choice, and harvest from the garden we plant.

Yesterday? Work, home, dinner, some chill time, and positioning bookcases. The day felt comfortably normal, comfortably routine. I still can’t quite find my way around in the dark here. The dimensions of the spaces are different (like the width of the hallway), in addition to the very different floorplan, generally. I struggled to fall asleep, still learning “new noises” – some of which sound very much as though they are inside the house (they aren’t, I checked). Β Feeling really settled comes with time, and the unpacking of books, and the hanging of paintings, and the mental cataloging of noises. I remind myself there is no rush; I live here.

My commute was pleasant, yesterday. It’s an improvement over the old one, even if I take public transportation, which I did. There is a nearby-ish “park and ride”, and I am taking advantage of it to continue to let my foot heal. The bus I take is a straight shot to the office, no transfers, no delays, frequent service. Convenient. Shorter than the old commute, if measured in minutes. I am grateful to have the car, and can choose to use it.

I smile, thinking of my Traveling Partner, and his assurances that I certainly need the car more than he does, right now, and letting me have it for some while. The sky lightens beyond my window, and I wonder where he is this morning, and whether he is also looking at the morning sky.

This morning is the start of another day of “the new normal”. The morning traffic just outside my window, is the start of noisy, busy, Tuesday morning commuter traffic. I chuckle thinking about how much I bitched about the ceaseless quiet roar of distant traffic at #59… somehow it still managed to wear on my nerves more than the louder, nearer, traffic does here. Was it the broad expanse of meadow and marsh that made it such an affront to my senses? Or was it the lack of pauses, the lack of quiet even in the wee hours? I feel generally calmer here (so far). Planes overhead. Cars. Trucks. Buses. Cement mixers. Delivery vans. None of that drowns out the peeping tree frogs, chirping and singing of the birds in the trees alongside the deck, or the vocalizations of the squirrels and chipmunks. It’s lovely here, in spite of the traffic, in spite of the aircraft occasionally overhead, and even in spite of not being entirely moved in quite yet. (I’m down to the bit I can take my time with, and I’ll be more satisfied with the aesthetic outcome if I do take my time with it.)

Tuesday, huh? Precedes Wednesdays, generally. This week, that means another work day. I’ve grown rather accustomed to 3 day work days and 4 day weekends. lol Definitely a schedule I could enjoy long-term. πŸ™‚ This week it’s back to full length work weeks, and Thursday feels rather far away.

A new normal will ideally include all of the best self-care practices that nurture this fragile vessel, and support an active life. It’ll need continuation of the practices that support my emotional and mental wellness, too. I guess I’ll get on with that… it’s a lovely morning to take a seat on my meditation cushion, looking out a different window, into a different morning view.

Taking care of me. I see changes to make based on the aesthetics of the view.

It’s a lovely morning to begin again.

I woke around 3 am, and made a point of not getting up. I eventually fell asleep again, and slept in until almost 6 am! I woke slowly in the stillness and quiet of a pre-dawn Thursday. Another day of moving in, but planning to make a final visit to the old place, sweep up, vacuum, and hand over the keys.

I live here now. This new place. My aches and pains are here. My joyful moments will be here too. My peace and contentment are already here… I unpacked those yesterday, I suppose. πŸ™‚ My coffee is definitely here. My restless rather disorganized approach to housekeeping is here, too. My baggage and limitations are here… pretty sure I just saw those a minute ago…but in the calm of a lovely morning, I’ve misplaced them.

Yesterday I finished moving into the kitchen, which really needed to happen quickly; frequent meals out, delivered, or taken home from elsewhere are not sustainable indefinitely. This morning I woke to a minimum balance reminder I’d previously set to protect myself from over-spending during the move. Well, shit. That snuck up on me. My inner dialogue this morning is all to do with money, and budgets, and being attentive to details… less chastising than reinforcing.

4 years ago, I’d have probably been in hysterics for hours, freaked completely out both by seeing that reminder, and also simply because I was having to think about money. Particularly first thing in the morning (or right before bed, or at any time that wasn’t planned in advance, or … ) This time? I rolled over, and before I was even quite awake, calmly moved some money into that account in quite a routine way, and moved on with my morning with a firm thought in mind that I’ve exhausted my moving budget, and life moves on with the regular day-to-day budgeting in mind. Things will be tight this week. I’m not particularly concerned, because I specifically prepared for this. πŸ™‚ It’s a nice feeling.

…I manage to be mildly irked with myself, and realize I’d been betting I could “bring this project to a close on time and under budget”… and I missed. On time, sure, easily… if I only count the moving out bit. lol Under budget? Nope. My skills at anticipating costs and making a budget have grown over time, it wasn’t likely I was going to spend less on this move – I was accurate about what it would cost me. I’ve been pretty accurate about how much time it would all take me, too. lol I sip my coffee thoughtfully and decide to celebrate that I budgeted and planned so accurately, instead of celebrating how much less I was able to spend that I expected I might. πŸ˜€ Win!! πŸ˜‰

I take time to care for the stressed out roses, and also to appreciate “Fireworks”, which arrived and immediately burst into bloom. What needs my attention no longer prevents me from appreciating what can be enjoyed.

On a more serious note, when I allow myself to become attached to an outcome, I may as well also plan to be quite frustrated, disappointed, and chronically unhappy, because those will likely be common experiences. Over time I have continued to practice letting go of being attached to outcomes, simply because my “crystal ball” tends to be sort of smudgy and vague, and I am often incorrect about the direction life may go, or the outcome of one choice or set of circumstances or another. Being willing to embrace change, and able to enjoy what is, even when it isn’t what I wanted, or what I was going for, results in a fairly frequent opportunity to simply enjoy myself, enjoy my life, enjoy my circumstances. It’s nice. Non-attachment is a pretty big deal for me. Effective.

I live here, now.

I guess I call this move done, at this point. I live here, rather than there. There’s more to do to move in, but it’s all right here. The “moving budget” is exhausted. Life moves on from moving to… whatever is next, I guess. Laundry probably. lol Β Housekeeping. The moving in, itself, becomes part of… life. Hell, friends have already begun making plans to come around. I definitely live here, now. I slept in. I sleep deeply and wake gently, even in the night. I can find my way around the place, in the dark, mostly. I’ve done dishes here, and cooked a proper meal. The pantry is stocked. My clothes hang in the closet. The miscellaneous crap currently strewn on the bathroom counter is mine. This is home. My new “drama-free zone”.

There’s more to do. More time to do it. There will be verbs involved. My results may vary. I live here, though, and this is my place. I am content. This is enough. πŸ™‚

I’m off for a couple days to get all moved in. I woke this morning too early (earlier than needed, earlier than desired, earlier than I’d planned on) and I am sipping my coffee distractedly, exchanging words with friends who are also awake, preparing for their work days. This is a “work day” for me as well, just work done here at home, in mindful service of home and hearth, taking care of the woman in the mirror. I pause to appreciate having the time off hours available to do so.

I look out the window, through the security door, and smile at the decorative stake that will soon support my hummingbird feeders. It is the one that used to hold the bird seed bell and suet feeder next to the patio at my old place. It makes me feel pleasantly at home to see it here. It’s taken me days to decide where to place it; I wanted to be easily able to see it, from inside the house, which didn’t actually leave many options. I like the placement I selected. I take a moment to fill up on that feeling of satisfaction and contentment. Really pausing to savor those small pleasing moments helps build a substantial reservoir of emotional resilience, as well as – over time – shifting my baseline implicit experience of life in a positive long-term way. It doesn’t happen fast. Β It does require practice. There are verbs involved. My results often vary. Still totally worth it. πŸ™‚

What works in one place or circumstance may not be quite the thing in another.

I sip my coffee with a similar experience of contentment and quiet joy. Fresh coffee beans of excellent quality, freshly ground, and a carefully prepared pour over instead of the effortless lower quality mass-prepared machine-brewed single-serve drip coffee I’ve allowed myself to become accustomed to for convenience. I have missed this measure of quality and self-indulgence more than I understood. Why should I rush myself on a day off? πŸ™‚

I’d have slept in… only… I woke up. LOL It is, apparently, a day I am eager to enjoy. πŸ™‚

My ankle has been aching fiercely, more than usual I felt, and the foot (same one as the ankle) on which I’d dropped my (very small) safe still feels terribly bruised, more than I expect it too after several days, and it has slowly been turning a strange shade of blue as the bruising continues to develop. I stopped by Urgent Care on my way home to have it seen to. I wasn’t too surprised to be told I’d cracked a metatarsal bone. So… less about the ankle, actually, and more about the foot, which explains why my ankle brace was giving me so much less relief than it usually does. My foot is now wrapped up a bit differently, but no cast, and I’m still moving around with relative ease using my cane. Nothing much has changed for having a doctor take an x-ray and give me a diagnosis, honestly, but I know why I hurt, and that lets me make better self-care choices. I’m doubly appreciative to have time off for moving in; I’ll have to do it with great care, and more slowly. Totally fine. I’ve got this… after coffee. πŸ™‚

I love it here, so far…

…I can’t find anything here, yet.

So much more to do!

There is more work to be done restoring order from chaos. More verbs. More moments. More lists. More practices. My coffee is finished, and the sky has lightened from dawn to morning. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

 

This is probably my last blog post until after the FiOS is connected at the new place. Although I can write a post from my phone, I generally find it more difficult, and that increased difficulty affects the flow of my thoughts and how easily I put them in rows of words between capital letters and periods. lol So… a break in the writing, probably until Sunday morning, before I head to work on a very new commute. πŸ˜€

Getting the keys was exciting. The landlord was there waiting for me. The house is adorable, incredibly clean inside and out, and the environment seems to suit me. I sat for a few moments getting the feel of it, measured rooms and spaces more carefully. Accepted small details that “aren’t perfect” while also understanding that “perfect” isn’t a real thing in the first place, and sufficiency is, by definition, enough. I get comfortable with the simple truth that in spite of the spaciousness of the master bedroom, the king size bed will fit in only one location, only one orientation… and it isn’t where I actually want it. It’s the sort of small detail that could once sending me spinning, or to which I might once have reacted by resentfully insisting on placing the bed differently, in spite of poor fit, awkwardness, or reduced livability…just to make a point about agency.

The living room puzzles me when I consider the bookshelves, the stereo, and the placement of the sliding glass door to the deck, the fireplace, and the connecting dining room space. What seemed obvious at first glance requires more careful thought; where does everything go? It’s not about “feng shui” unless by that I am meaning to suggest that I am seeking the most natural (to me) comfortable (for me) placement of things and objects. In which case, it is; the less I have to struggle with figuring out the layout, or struggling to overcome placement that later “doesn’t make sense” and requires repetition and memorization, the more comfortable I will be long-term.

What about the aquarium?

After some discussion with my Traveling Partner, the second bedroom becomes a creative space, by intent, that can be a guest space when needed. I’ll get to test that concept too soon; I already have a guest. LOL

Everything has to move. Even my routines, and all my practices.Β 

It’ll be a busy few days. I still make a point to start the morning with meditation. I’ll end each day that way. I’ll be careful to drink enough water, and to manage meal timing, nutritional content, and calories. Exercise is pretty well-built into the activities of the next few days. lol Fatigue hasn’t gotten to me yet, but wear and tear on my busted up ankle halted my moving efforts yesterday; it just needed rest, so I stopped for the day and rested it. Skillful adulting right there! I make a point to observe it, to appreciate myself for taking good care of this fragile vessel, and to notice that it made a difference; this morning the ankle doesn’t hurt. πŸ˜€

It’s time to begin again. See you on the other side, writing from a new location. Please take the very best care of Β you while I am away – I’ll miss you while I’m gone. πŸ™‚