Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness still matters

It’s the day. The majority of Americans are dreading it (the actual mathematical majority of voting citizens). Today I’ll commute through throngs of Portlanders making their voices here in public spaces, and finding solidarity in outrage and anger. I’ll be focused on getting to and from work today. I’m no less outraged, no less concerned about our future, and I am also taking action. I’ve chosen different actions, for myself.

I’ll be phoning and writing to Congress. I’ve got a couple handy links:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/

https://www.senate.gov/

Postcards are inexpensive, and have the added value of making their message clear to all who handle them. In an age of tweets and texts and slogans, keeping it brief also has the advantage of being something that can be read at a glance. Short, powerful statements uncomplicated by rhetoric, written at roughly a 4th grade level will be the win on postcards. Instead of a long detailed letter seeking to persuade, giving ideas the ‘ad slogan’ treatment and getting as many into the mail as possible is the idea. I mean, I could write something long, insightful, honest, vulnerable, and real about why I personally don’t want to see the minimum retirement age for Social Security raised… I mean… holy shit, I so don’t want to still be having to work for a living when I’m fucking 70!!! Instead of 5 pages that won’t get read, I’ll go with something like “Lower the Retirement Age for the Well-being of Seniors!”, and other postcards that say “Remove the Income Cap on Social Security Withholdings; Everyone Pays, Everyone Wins”… And I’ll just keep at it. For four years. Longer.

Anyway. You have your own path to walk, your own voice to raise, your own concerns to share and to act on. Do it. There are verbs involved. Find your way. If everyone takes just one action and makes it their own, with commitment, and reliably beginning again – and again – whenever they feel beat down. Well… change is. Making change is where the power is.

My day-to-day writing isn’t about American politics, or even American life. Certainly it isn’t about our crap-tacular failure as a culture to take care of our citizens in a civilized way, or how ruinously stupid and corrupt our government appears to be becoming, so I won’t bitch about it much. It’s scary, though, isn’t it?

Today is a good day to be the change.

Today might be too much, I feel it already. Rare these days, so the feelings really stand out –  helpful, more than aggravating, and I could use more of it. I can’t put my finger on something specific right now, or be certain things will go sideways at some point, but the potential for it exists as a distinct recognizable set of physical sensations that add up to an experience I recognize. It’s been a difficult day or two, and although I’ve adulted through it with considerable skill, generally, I’m quite human and there’s simply the possibility – leaning toward likelihood – that today it may all catch up with me. Can I make use of this awareness to treat myself well and gently, still get the day done, and perhaps dodge a meltdown, too? I guess I’ll find out as the day unfolds.

Well, sure. This.

Well, sure. This.

“Too much” is sometimes a thing to deal with. It’s not any more real than a lot of what I find myself mired in. “Too much” often reflects an unhealthy attachment to an outcome, or expectations that are unreasonable, or assumptions that are incorrect, piling up with circumstances that don’t bear that sort of emotional weight well. It’s that way today. A date with an acquaintance became a disappointment. The new job felt like a certainty, but fell through. A routine visit to a doctor becomes a referral to a specialist to rule out cancer – first. Disappointment adds to insecurity, which adds to worry, which adds to fear, which slowly becomes a soup of darker emotions, and a high risk of an emotional moment…or two…or some sort of meltdown. All very real. All very human. I could cash in my ticket for “a good cry” – haven’t done that, yet. As is so often said, it would probably do me good to just let go…once I can. Making a clear distinction between ‘balance’ (and treating myself well) and ‘repression’ (just sort of squashing everything down into a manageable presentation that seems appropriate to others) has huge value; hiding from my hurts doesn’t really work for me. “The way out is through” is real and meaningful today.

I have my ‘to do list’ for the day. I have events on my calendar. Purpose. A plan. I’ve also got this fragile vessel of flesh and bone to tend, and that’s rather non-negotiable for general wellness. I reconsider my list, move some things around, ensure that I keep a compassionate eye on myself today. I decide to trust my judgement – who knows me better than I do? – a meltdown today, you say? I think I have an opening on my calendar for that… if I must. lol Maybe later? Sometime after lunch? (Maybe not – that would be quite nice.) Either way, it won’t be necessary or useful to take it personally; I’m here for me.

Storms pass.

Storms pass.

Looking my concerns in the face eases them somewhat, at least for now. I sip my coffee, and start going down the list of things to do today. Today is a good day to be, and to do. 🙂

Another new morning, another new beginning, another great cup of coffee after a good night’s sleep; it’s a lovely morning so far. I sip my coffee and think about choices.

Each day shows me a new horizon. Each morning I see it with new eyes.

Each day shows me a new horizon. Each morning I see it with new eyes.

Each morning I wake to choices. I choose whether to turn on the aquarium, or go straight for the bathroom first. I choose whether to put on music – and what music it will be. I choose whether to start the water boiling for my coffee before or after my yoga…and before or after my shower…and before or after I dress; now that I am using an electric kettle, there is no risk of boiling over or leaving a burner on. I chose that too.

When I first see my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I choose how I treat myself, and what observations I focus on, or make time for. This morning I found myself so adorable I made a point of trying to get a picture of how approachably sexy my tousled hair and sleepy smile strike me, myself. I choose whether to enjoy the experience of who I am, or to change it, or to wallow in the misery of ‘I can’t help it!’ – all choices.

When I roll out my yoga mat, I choose whether to take my time or to choose a shorter sequence. I choose whether to focus on the pain and what I can’t do, or to focus on how good movement feels and what I can do. Each morning I choose whether to take an opiate painkiller, even after giving them up completely; this will be a necessary choice to make until I am “completely over it”, and I respect and value myself enough to make it willful, and part of an authentic experience of life, struggle, and change. Each morning I choose, and each morning I move on from that choice content with other options; medical cannabis is enough. That too is a choice.

Pain isn’t a choice, how I deal with it is. Emotions often work that way too; the immediate reactive emotion of the moment may not be fully chosen, but whether and how I express it most assuredly is. I’ve come a long way, in very small increments, from being that woman crying “I can’t choose how I feel!!” to having the understanding that I can choose how I manage my emotions, how I treat other people when I am emotional, and I can choose practices that over time help me become less reactive. Nice choices…and yeah… my results have varied, and there have been verbs involved. Still are.

I choose the clothes I wear. I choose the name I use. I choose where I live, and where I work. I choose whether I smile, and whether I am cross when an unfamiliar man in a public place tells me too smile on a difficult day – I even choose whether I understand that stranger to be ‘encouraging’ or ‘an inappropriately demanding asshole trying to force me into some cultural role comfortable for him’. So many choices. I chuckle thinking about the upcoming election; there’s choice there too, and yes my vote ‘counts’ – if not because someone will be elected, then because it is an expression of who I am, through my choice. Choice, I realize, isn’t exclusively about the outcome that results – it is a statement of self. Well, damn…that makes choosing well, and in accordance with my values, kind of a big deal; it makes a statement about who I am. 🙂

You, too. Unavoidably. Even in the refusal to choose, or the desire to stop others from choosing.

I know, I know, “it isn’t that simple” (isn’t it?); we don’t always get what we choose! Actually…we don’t always get what we want. Choice isn’t a getting, it’s a more active process, and because my own will and my own choices are not the only will and choice in action moment to moment in my experience of life, sometimes… things don’t go as desired, intended, or planned. I chose to move to this bigger apartment – but the landlady chose to approve that change and allow me to do so. Clearly my own choice was not the only choice involved…but…in fairness, reaching back in time all the way to moving into Number 27 in May, every action as a rent-paying tenant from that point built the landlady’s likelihood of approving me to move into the bigger unit less than a year later, didn’t it? That’s a lot of intermediate choices, and I certainly didn’t make them with a future move in mind; I lived my life. From my own perspective, that’s where the future exists – in the choices I make every day, along this journey; when my choices are consistent with my values, and my values support and nurture the woman I most want to be, the resulting life… is mine. It’s mine regardless, but I like to suppose that when I live it authentically, based on values that have served me well and represent the best woman I am capable of being, the life I live on that basis will suit me and I will have a sense of ‘things going my way’ – even when they don’t. 🙂 So far, things seems to be working out pretty much that way.

Bad days are bad days. I have some. Being a human primate comes with some challenges, some difficult moments, emotions on tap, and frequent puzzles and frustrations. Being a human being comes with some amazing opportunities to grow, and to transcend the petty bullshit I could choose instead. The choices are a constant in the midst of continuous change.

How beautiful that each new day I can choose to begin again!

How beautiful that each new day I can choose to begin again!

Today is a good day to choose.

 

I woke early this morning, but refreshed and rested. I started the morning with meditation and a longer than usual hot shower. I am thinking about a particularly personal ‘math problem’ this morning, while I wait for hot water to become coffee. I am, in fact, thinking about a ‘math problem’ a lot of people deal with, in a lot of different ways, and hoping that being in this healthier place puts me on the path to a healthier solution. I am heavier than I’d like to be, and it affects my health, my fitness, my comfort with myself, my comfort with my appearance, and silly small things like whether or not my favorite jeans fit. (Wake up call: they do not.)

I moved into Number 27 as a size 14. I’m a size 16 now – and I’ve been much bigger in years past – and much smaller in years still further in the past than that. I’m kind enough to myself these days to refrain from tearing myself down over gaining some weight, but I’m also done making any sort of excuses about it, because that’s not one of the steps on the path to meeting my fitness goals, or taking care of me. It’s honestly not a complicated process to lose the weight; I need far fewer calories than I am consuming, and consuming fewer calories, over time, will result in weight loss. Boom! Math homework finished! Now on to the biology, and physics of the thing – which require verbs – and the psychology of it, too (yes, still more verbs). Actual self-restraint, actual commitment to practices being practiced, and following a plan, a path, and making that journey… Sounds so easy as words  on a page… It’s still pretty simple stuff in the abstract, but whole industries exist because humans are poor at these simple practices, and good at reaching for shortcuts.

After my long hot shower I resumed a practice I had dropped without noticing, one I find helpful with regard to maintaining a healthy weight; I spent time looking at my body. Not berating myself for being fat, no criticism, no hostility, I just took a few minutes to really see myself – curves, fat, lines, silhouette, shape, where things are tighter, where things still sag from losing weight over time – just a few very real minutes, while also acknowledging how well this body serves me, and how much I have put it through over the years. I run my hands over curves that please me most, and those that please me least. I make a point of being grateful for how much I get done in this body, and how far I have come with it – in some cases, real mileage, on feet. I take time to ensure I feel loved by the woman in the mirror – and she feels loved by me. (No, we’re not separate people; it’s allegorical of the mind-body separation we so often seem to experience, that’s all.)

I’ve missed the day-to-day encouragement and reinforcement I got living with my traveling partner; when we met we were both working very hard to get fit and lose some weight, and it was a joy to share that journey, because we treat each other well, and with consideration and respect. We took time every day to notice progress and offer loving encouragement, and compliment each other’s physical beauty as we experienced it; encouragement is a far less damaging form of motivation than criticism. I do miss that, but it doesn’t make sense to let the pounds pile up waiting for more. So, before a size 16 becomes a size 18, it seems worthy to stop waiting around and grab some verbs.

I’m eating too much for the effort I exert day-to-day. I’m gaining weight so that’s a given. “Eat less and exercise.” There it is – the one sure fire path to weight loss. Fitness requires a bit more – and by fitness I don’t mean ‘big muscles’ or ‘super lean’ or ‘ready for a marathon’; any of those things may require fitness, but fitness does not require that those things be among my goals. 🙂  ‘Fitness‘ for the purposes of my discussion here means being at a comfortable healthy weight at which my pain is more easily managed, I feel good, am not prone to weight-related health concerns, I fit in my clothes well, breath and move more easily, and am likely to reach or exceed my maximum actuarial lifespan without suffering from diet/poor nutrition-related ailments. So. More simply? In good health and feeling comfortable with my appearance. There’s no one ‘right’ answer to that math problem.  A good starting point is basic good nutrition.

I am fortunate that I was quite slim for many years, and have a good idea what that looks like on me, and at what weight, and other sizes in between; for now I am shooting for getting my weight below 150 lbs, and being quite comfortable in a size 12. Some of you will read that and think I am not being sufficiently ambitious – others may find that to be a pretty aggressive goal – I am, myself, hoping to get there by my birthday in June. It’s achievable – but it’s also quite fail-able; there are verbs involved, and some practices, a lot of commitment, and the will to begin again is likely going to be necessary at several points – almost a certainty because I am approaching this endeavor during the holiday season. lol (Did you wonder sooner why I’m not waiting until the new year to start on this? Because life isn’t going to wait with me; I’d keep gaining weight and have to start from an even less comfortable place with myself!)

I am sipping my coffee black, and appreciating the awareness that there is presently no cream, no half-n-half, and no whipping cream on hand; it’s back to black coffee not only in the mornings (when I always drink it black these days) but also when I am enjoying a coffee in the evening (when I often add cream to my decaf…because it’s decaf). It’ll be awhile before that treat turns up in the fridge again. lol It’s those small things – and being consistent with them – that works best for me. My injury is a hurdle here, and saying ‘no’ to food-related impulses requires something more, for me – it requires mindfulness. I allow myself a moment of good-natured humor at myself on this one, and pause to appreciate how many lovely creamy coffee beverages I have enjoyed ever so mindfully…after quickly skipping past the moment of mindfulness that would have halted me having it at all, because it was more than I really needed, from the perspective of calories (and sufficiency). Oh, hell yes this path is strewn with debris to step over and around – and life always has more curriculum ready. lol I am still a student, and clearly on this one I need to begin again. Again. 🙂

So it’s back to some basics that ease this process for me; simple morning calories (a small serving of yogurt with a handful of nuts – measured – or oatmeal, similarly portioned out with great care), and no letting myself skip breakfast – the consistency is helpful for me, and also manages my blood sugar more efficiently. This small detail is important – and complicated by not being able to have food for about an hour after my morning medication. Mindfulness really matters. (Setting an alarm as a reminder helps, too.) Measured calories from that point each day, focusing on whole healthy foods, limiting dairy and sugar, and serving with a generous helping of mindfulness, even encouraging myself to stop eating sooner and avoiding the sensation of ‘feeling full’. It gets harder in the evening, after work. I find myself relaxing and munching more often than is healthy for the amount of physical work I do each day. There’s really only one answer to this one for me, generally; “no”. Mindfulness is the win here, too; being awake and aware and able to refrain from taking that next step to the kitchen takes practice, mindful practice, committed practice, and a connection between this moment now, and the actions needed to meet my needs over time. So…still easier on paper, and as a thought-exercise, than in practice…which requires practice. 🙂

Time isn't waiting for me on this one. :-)

Time isn’t waiting for me on this one. 🙂

Today is a good day to begin again. Today is a good day to love the woman in the mirror, at any weight. Today is a good day to be real – and be okay with reality, too. Today is a good day to walk another mile in my own shoes, and enjoy the journey; it has no destination other than to take the damned journey. 😀 I’m ready to walk on.

 

I woke with a stuffy head this morning – a cold? No, just a stuffy head. Allergies? I guess…maybe…or maybe my head is just stuffy? The morning I feel slow, unproductive, distracted, sluggish. How human! My attempt at iced coffee doesn’t have enough ice…the coffee ice cubes melt down, and the result? A tepid coffee…taller than usual. Not really the desired outcome…but it was an after thought, midway through making coffee. As is often the case with whims, the lack of planning, the inadequate preparation, and the lack of focus result in the sort of hit or miss outcome that, in this instance, is clearly farther along the ‘miss’ end of the spectrum. I’m having to invest in a positive state of being a bit more actively than usual.

I put on music that keeps me moving and puts a smile on my face. My sleep wasn’t especially restful. In addition to the stuffy head, I woke feeling sort of… desiccated, and headache-y. My traveling partner has indeed been traveling, and we hung out last night, it’s possible I got exposed to a head cold virus…but it doesn’t really feel quite like that… Why am I fussing over it? There’s more value in the awareness, the acceptance, and dealing with it – the why is sort of pointless, isn’t it?

Needing a moment of joy in the temple of my heart.

Needing a moment of joy in the temple of my heart.

I am thinking about the evening, hanging out with my dear love. Emotions come and go – my volatility is off the charts this morning, and I don’t understand that, either. Cuddling together on the love seat, hanging out, talking, and just being together, it was wonderful celebrating the profound connection we share; I miss living with him. I don’t miss the niggling little bullshit arguments that crop up when we live together, and seem oddly important in the moment – those I am happily doing without. I don’t miss the two of us tripping over each other’s baggage, and aggravating each other’s issues. I don’t miss those peculiar moments of doubt when I look into his eyes and wonder, just for a moment, if I actually understand what’s going on at all…or the look of doubt in his when some moment is seriously affected by my injury, and he wonders whether he can make love work with that.  (Yes, I can see it.) I definitely don’t miss the challenges around living with the mismatched assorted others in our experience that aren’t a good fit for one or the other of us; I definitely find not living with the OPD an improvement. I miss living with his smile, though, and his touch, and his everyday utterly inappropriate humor. I miss his scent, and his aesthetic, and I miss his conversation. It’s hard to ‘get enough’ of any of that without living together…on the other hand… I’m enjoying me so much more comfortably without the constant self-consciousness, and self-doubt that crops up so much more when I live with other people.

It looks like we’ll be seeing more of each other; I’m really settled in now, and this is a comfortable space to hang out, to be, and to enjoy each other. It’s a drama free zone. I look over my shoulder at the fireplace and imagine a crackling fire in autumn, feet up, arms around each other… Yes, Love, I am happy here. This works for me. This is my home.

Home.

Home.

This morning, though…I’m moody, irritable, and potentially a walking negative outcome waiting for the wrong moment to become real. What’s up with that? Freaking moody human primates! Who needs this bullshit? This morning I am working at the task of ‘defusing the bomb’; it’s less than desirable to go into the office teetering on the edge of having my temper flare up unexpectedly – at work it wouldn’t matter whether the context seemed ‘reasonable’ or the reaction ‘understandable’ for the circumstances. People are uncomfortable with strong emotion in the work environment, generally. This morning, I practice the practices intended to boost my emotional resilience – also those that tend to reduce it. This morning I am taking time to meditate. Then more time. Then another time. Then some time while I boil water for coffee. And after my shower. And when I got up. And a few minutes from now… yeah. It’s like that today; chasing stillness while the worst of my volatility simmers in the background, likely to go off without warning.

So much of life is about love and loving.

So much of life is about love and loving.

Al Green begins to sing to me about sexual healing – a light bulb goes off in my head – is that all this is? Am I a bitch in heat, grumpy and frustrated, and without a ready outlet to meet that need? I chuckle with gentle sympathy for myself, out loud, shaking my head – it’s a lifelong challenge managing my libido and my injury. Together they add up to a sex drive that no partnership but one has ever satisfied, and even that only survived the endless need for about a year. I am learning to go without more graciously. I am learning to accept love’s delights less demandingly. I kind of have to – real life, in this area, doesn’t manage to feel like ‘enough’. I am at least learning to accept that I will be drowned in enthusiastic hyperbole in every new relationship as potential lovers assure me they can easily meet my needs, and assurances that they too have a crazy high sex drive… It’s almost impossible to communicate successfully that we’re talking about very different magnitudes of drive; the disappointment each time I face that moment in a partnership when the truth of it becomes clear is always a bitch to deal with.

My thoughts stray to the approval of flibanserin – a drug intended to boost female desire – and I gotta wonder, if a person doesn’t want sex, how is that ‘disordered’? If level of desire can be a disorder… then what about women such as myself, where my level of day-to-day desire creates problems because it seems – to my partner(s) – excessive? I assure you, if feels perfectly normal to me.  Am I to be expected to take a drug to make me want sex less? I could see taking an appropriate medication if my body’s response to desire wasn’t consistent with my psychological or emotional experience of wanting… but… to make me want, if I don’t? I don’t get that. It is, however, a very hard conversation to have to have with someone when they are not desired…particularly if the relationship has a sexual component. It happens. It’s even happened to me – which is damned awkward. Still… I think having the honest conversation makes more sense [to me] than taking a mind-altering anti-depressant class of drug to force oneself to feel desire, when desire doesn’t exist. Maybe those honest conversations could result in people taking steps to create desire through action (the Big 5 is super helpful there)… or move on to a relationship in which their needs are more easily met? Seriously. If the sex matters that much (it does for me), and I can’t get what I need in a relationship, there are other choices than ‘going without’ (or ‘enduring what is not desired’), or ‘taking a mind altering drug to become more what the partnership requires’…but a lot of those options do involve investing in additional relationships of some sort. Inconvenient. Time-consuming.

Yeah. I’m feeling cross and bitchy today. I’m feeling critical of myself, my mood, my writing… and I’m betting that if I do something as small as just easing up on myself this morning, it’ll be a much better morning straight away. I’ll just set this one aside right here, today, and move on with the morning, taking the very best care of me that I can.

Stick with the basics - it's a great place to start.

Stick with the basics – it’s a great place to start.

Today is a good day to avoid taking my own bullshit too personally. Today is a good day to treat myself gently. Today is a good day to remember that we’re each dealing with our own bullshit – and we’re all very very human. Today is a good day to invest heavily in kindness – it’s free, and there’s an endless supply – and it might change the world.