Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness matters

I have spent “too much” of my lifetime feeling “irritated” about one thing or another. lol This morning I woke from a restless-but-deep sleep filled with bad dreams from which I could not wake. They were not specifically “nightmares” and I was not frightened, just… irritated. Bad dreams. I woke still feeling rather unspecifically irked, just generally, at no specific thing, or moment. I feel… annoyed. No idea why. I feel aggravated in advance of any obvious cause. Fussy. Irritable. Cross. Cranky. Rather disinclined to be at all social, and facing a day ahead of me filled with people. Shit. That’s annoying. (To be fair, emotions require no defense, no justification, and take no argument; they are simply feelings. Responses. Reactions. They are what they are.)

How do I figure it’s “too much” over the course of a lifetime? lol Totally subjective; as it turns out, I really dislike these emotional experiences of being aggravated, irritated, fussy, or annoyed. Any particular amount of time spent feeling this way just feels like “too much”, however little it is. πŸ™‚ My life. My experience. My definitions. πŸ˜‰

I sip my coffee and reflect on irritation… and on pearls. Pearls are lovely. Vaguely luminous in appearance, iridescent, sleek, precious… and they begin their existence as an irritant. Literally, in some cases, a grain of sand in an oyster starts the whole process. The pearl itself? A coping mechanism. The cause? Irritation. It gets me thinking about transformations, generally. How best to turn this morning’s irritation into one of life’s pearls? No idea, just now, but I do find it a lovely promising thought. (So many are!)

This whole TBI-PTSD journey from chaos and damage to manageable wellness is very much about transforming disadvantages to advantages, chaos to order, madness to reason, and hell yes – irritants into pearls. Metaphorical pearls, in this instance, but pearls of great value nonetheless. It’s not something that happens “automatically”. As with many things, there are verbs involved, an effort of will required, and an intention that must be formed before that process even begins – and so much practice!! Omg. So much practice. Incremental change over time is a given, we become what we practice, but it is a notoriously slow process and it often feels as though nothing is changing at all. It’s easy to become frustrated with that, to give up on myself, to give up on change, to give up on eventual actual manageable sustainable emotional wellness… but… change is legitimately a thing that is going to happen, and it will be wrapped in my choices, and my practices. Over time, my irritants may become pearls. (Or, they may not. My results vary.)

It’s a nice thought over my coffee. I pause on another thought, “this too will pass”. Also totally true. This morning’s irritability is what it is – but only that, and nothing more. It’s not sustainable. Emotional weather comes and goes. The climate in this life is pretty mild, much of the time. Contentment is fairly practical, as emotional goals go, sustainable, and something that can be “crafted” from components available in a great many lives, lifetimes, and experiences. Have you had a go at contentment, yet? It’s rather lovely. It lacks many of the dizzying highs of “happiness” – there is no euphoria – it also lacks the deep lows that go with chasing happiness, too. It is more a walk through a pleasant urban green space than a through hike on an unmarked wilderness trail; it is predictably level and comfortable. I find myself smiling past my irritability as my day-to-day contentment becomes a wellspring for more of the same, and slowly my heart fills up on that softer, sweeter, more satisfying emotional content.

My dreams were pretty shitty. They begin to fade from my recollection as my irritation recedes.

It feels, generally, fairly effortless to “begin again” when I feel pretty good. Harder when I feel irritable, angry, or strange. It’s still a choice, and even still a choice entirely available to me – it’s just a bit harder to choose it. Still an option, though. Needing a cognitive reset just to get to that place presents its own challenge. This morning, I find it useful to focus on a metaphor (those pearls) and gratitude (that I’ve come so far, already). It’s super hard to remain irritated (or angry) while feeling grateful or appreciative of something. πŸ˜€ (Nice trick, Brain, thanks!) Gratitude is an extraordinary way to hit the reset button on a moment, and find a new beginning – I definitely recommend it.

…And this morning, having begun again, I feel more than usually motivated to get a couple things done before I leave for work. Useful. I finish my coffee, and check my list. πŸ™‚

The concert Friday night was amazing. My ears were still ringing well into the afternoon, yesterday.

I’d had plans to hang out with a friend in the afternoon, yesterday. He messaged considerately early and alerted me he had a conflict. That worked out well; I had quite a bit of housekeeping I wanted to get done, and the result of the uninterrupted time to play house was that I nearly wiped out my list, and even had time to do a bit of grocery shopping. πŸ™‚

The world lost a major chunk of what moved me during my high school years; I read that Malcolm Young of AC/DC had died. I didn’t weep, but I sat a long while listening to the songs I loved then, first several AC/DC tracks that had been my own favorites, then as the morning wore on, random tracks that I loved from those years. It was more fun than tragic, more nurturing than grieving. I enjoyed those songs then, they generally still appeal to me now, though I listen to very different stuff these days, most of the time.

The Thanksgiving holiday ahead of me continues to take shape. I contentedly plan and act on plans, and move through time moment by moment.

I only now notice that I didn’t write yesterday. I smile at the thought of a day so rich in moments that there seemed no suitable moment – or need – to write at all.

A misty autumn morning

It is another day. There are more moments. I woke to a misty autumn morning after a restless night. I slept in. I woke surprised at the lateness of the hour, when I finally woke. I opened the curtains, surprised again to see the sliver of forest adjacent to the deck filled with mist. There are fewer bright autumn leaves clinging to the trees, and more of them on the deck itself. I remind myself to sweep them off, again. The bird bath on the deck rail was partially frozen over; winter is near.

A partially frozen bird bath

It’s time to live in these next moments ahead. I wonder what they hold? I know there are at least opportunities to begin again, and to practice being the human being I most want to be. πŸ™‚ I think I’ll go do those things…

The holiday season is just at the edge of “now”. Thanksgiving is next weekend and I’m excited about welcoming my Traveling Partner “home” – to this home – for a few days of his good company, shared at leisure. I’ve been daydreaming about it since July – literallyΒ  since I moved into this space. lol Dreaming doesn’t get me far, though, it just feels nice.

I shifted gears from dreaming to planning once he had confirmed confirmingly that he would indeed, no fooling, actually be coming up, and that he had a plan to do so. πŸ™‚ This morning, I sat down with my coffee and made my weekend “to do” list, and extended my planning from thinking over the holiday menu, and how best to stock the pantry for his stay, to also putting the house in order for having a guest, and adding little touches like specifically stocking the bathrooms with his brands, preferred products, and common OTC remedies I know he favors, and “detailing” my space. This doesn’t send me into a frantic flurry of panicked task completion, because that isn’t who I am. What it does is give me some structure to hang onto while I tidy up my corner of the world, and prevents me from losing track of what I intend to get done. I won’t finish all of it. That’s absolutely a given; I will want to do more than is possible to do. What is also a given is that I am okay with that. πŸ™‚ The weekend is about love and celebration and gratitude, and at no point has my Traveling Partner suggested that my real value lies in my ability to wash a dish, vacuum a carpet, or do a load of laundry. lol I do like order, and I enjoy being a relaxed hostess – tidying up a bit makes me feel more relaxed, and… prepared.

So, this weekend is the point at which I shift gears again, going from planning the weekend to being prepared for it – which has to include also be ready for all that is not/was not/could have been planned. πŸ˜€ Yep. You read that right; I plan for spontaneity, then attempt to be prepared for it. LOL πŸ˜€

A low stress, relatively simple holiday meal for two, and a weekend in my partner’s good company sounds like a lovely way to spend a couple days away from the office. I’m looking forward to it. Hell, I’m looking forward to the weekend of tidying up, too! Sure, there are verbs involved, and I’m not suggesting that I specifically enjoy doing dishes, vacuuming, breaking down boxes for recycling, or doing laundry, but I very much enjoy the outcome of doing those things, and doing them with care, because the outcome matters to me personally and supports the quality of life I enjoy. I have learned to embrace the doing of them as both necessary and precious. Every dish I wash is something I worked hard for. Caring for them makes a lot of good sense. The way I feel when I see how tidy my kitchen is, recognizing that this is something I have done for me, because I like it, feels satisfying and nurturing. I feel cared for. It doesn’t detract from that feeling that I am the one caring for me day-to-day – shouldn’t I be? πŸ™‚

Don’t get me wrong – I am not a “neat freak”. Being tidy and orderly doesn’t “come naturally” to me, nor is it a compulsion. I have to work at it. The outcome feels wonderful, and I do love living in a very tidy orderly environment, but omg – the verbs. This is what makes it possible to use my own environment, cared for by me, to gauge my emotional and mental wellness in the moment; everything goes to shit when I am descending into disorder, having a rough time of things, or losing my damned mind. When I’m sick, I struggle to stay caught up on every day basic housekeeping – which means whether I am fully aware of it or not, I am also likely failing to care for myself well, and since I can see the housekeeping more easily than I can see whether or not I am taking care of myself, it’s an effective early warning system to simply look around and “see how I’m doing”, based on the housekeeping. Little things can say a lot. (Sometimes they just say I need to get more rest, because I’m too tired to care for myself, sometimes they say I am over-committed to other activities and need to spend more time at home.)

…I’m pretty sure that a horribly messy crowded disorganized insufficiently clean unsafe or unhealthy household actually literally “makes me crazy” – or, at a minimum, crazier.

Looking around, it feels good to see that I’m generally well-prepared for life, for guests, for friends to drop by. There are some things I’d like to get done. There are some small improvements I can make that function as reminders to take time for me. I’m eager for the work day to end, for the weekend to begin. I’ve got concert tickets for tonight… then… sleeping in sounds nice… then… chores! LOL I am every bit as eager to get started on the housekeeping as I am to go to the concert tonight. πŸ™‚

…So many verbs.

My coffee is finished. I make a second cup and get started on a grocery list. Thanksgiving won’t prepare itself!

This morning I had to admit it; I’ve hit a wall. I’m stalled. I sat for almost an hour staring into the text editor of my blog, fingers – and mind – motionless. What the hell?

I scrolled through Facebook rather mindlessly. I put that aside, aggravated with myself. I tried to read the news, but I don’t actually want to fill my thoughts with that garbage, either. lol I put on music, which satisfies me and fills that cognitive void, but doesn’t “fix” anything. I update my “to do list” – rescheduling all the crap I could have done yesterday to be things I intend to do today. Then I move them to tomorrow. Omg. Seriously?

I pause everything for meditation. No timer. No agenda. Just a few moments of alone time with the woman in the mirror, breathing. Shifting gears from thinking to practicing awareness, only, is what got my attention more clearly focused on this bit of stalled progress. More awareness of the underlying fatigue, the yearning in the background, the loneliness competing with the delights of solitude, the world in fierce competition for my attention with the things that truly matter most to me, personally. It’s a puzzle. How do I snatch my attention, energy, and effort back from the agendas of the media, my employer, and the world?

…With great commitment and a lot of practice, I suppose… there are verbs involved. So many verbs. lol

I get back to my “to do list” and my coffee. I consider the one or two tasks that keep being reliably postponed, rescheduled, pushed off for another day, and wonder if I am allowing those, and my reluctance to deal with them, to derail me generally…? Or… Am I “just being lazy”? (Whose words are those, I wonder?) When I examine the tasks on my list that I’d like to finish up, I can see there isn’t even 2 hours of real work involved… I just… yeah. I just haven’t been doing those things. This is a less than ideally productive approach. lol

Tonight won’t be the time for all that, and it feels inconvenient to want to wipe that list clean now. I smile into my coffee, aware my impatience is one more way my primate brain seeks to distract me from simply doing;Β I can lead with my frustration and annoyance, become invested in the emotional experience and … not do anything about the things that create the experience. Uh-huh. Well… okay, so I specifically don’t want to do things quite that way, so I get up from my chair, in the middle of my writing and do one thing, and cross it off the list. I sit down smiling, and continue to sip my coffee.

Did you know that checking things off the list gives me a boost? It does. Fairly similar to the feeling of reward and satisfaction I feel when I receive a like on a post, or when I get a notification that someone has messaged me. It’s a very real chemical reward, but does require the bit of effort needed to go from seeing the item on the list, to completing it, to checking it off. I’ve noticed just checking off shit I haven’t done does not produce the same effect – although adding something to the list that wasn’t listed, but got completed, in order to simply check it off is every bit as rewarding as checking off something that has lingered on the list for ages. Do you keep a list? Have you noticed that little jolt of good feeling chemistry, and a sense of accomplishment, when you check things off that list?

Here’s where the verbs pile up, though, like rush hour traffic; I know these things about my experience, and still find myself stalled sometimes, and not doing the verbs. Very human. How to get past that? Push on. I don’t have a better answer. Do one thing. Then do another. Make a point of it. Turn off the TV. Turn off YouTube. Disconnect. Do the thing. Then do another. Make a point of it. Check it off the list. Did something not listed? Add it to the list. Check it off. Repeat. See something else that needs doing? Add it to the list. Do it. Check it off. Repeat. There is a path to completion – it is paved with verbs. lol These chores are not going to do themselves!

Time to begin again. πŸ™‚ I’ve got this list, and a bit of time before work…

I woke up with some effort this morning, after a deep and satisfying night’s sleep. I needed that. πŸ™‚ Sipping my coffee now, noting the effort involved in waking up fully, mind wandering, I find myself already yearning for the weekend – and a chance to sleep very deeply, and also to sleep many hours. That would be lovely. I slept well and deeply last night, once I was able to sleep. lol That, unfortunately, happened quite a bit later into the night than I’d expected. The alarm went off “too soon”.

I yawn and sip my coffee. I notice my work laptop still just sitting off to the side from working a few hours at home yesterday afternoon. I know the likely outcome if I take no immediate action; I’ll find myself arriving at my desk in the office without it, and have to waste 90 minutes on the round trip to go get it and return. No thank you. I slip it into its case, and place the case against the front door. No chance at forgetting it, now.

Yeah, okay. This is a “take care of me” sort of morning, apparently… I need to begin again. lol