Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness

Are you rushing to get to work? Rushing through waking up, showering, dressing? Rushing to be out the door “on time”? Breathless with anxiety before you even start the car? Already thinking about the day ahead in such specific detail that you’ve “borrowed trouble” to fret about before you even have any in the moment?

I used to do that. I don’t now. It was a good change to make, to slow down in the mornings. 🙂 Maybe not life-saving, but certainly life-changing. I went from a fairly tightly timed morning routine that took 17 minutes from the alarm clock to the click of the front door closing behind me, and reliably got me on the bus heading into town 3 minutes later (the stop was just across the street from my apartment). Any deviation from my routine put me at risk of being late to work, and I had huge issues with time, timeliness, and time management, at that time in my life (I wasn’t bad at it, just really tense and weird about it on this whole unnecessary level). Being late – or thinking I might be – was a fast track to temper tantrums and treating people poorly (myself included). It was a shitty way to live, and it didn’t make me more efficient, or even on time more often.

What do I do now? It’s pretty low tech, honestly; I get up earlier. Like, I get up a lot earlier. I get up “earlier than I need to” by quite a bit. Most variations in desired arrival time at work don’t require me to change when I get up in the morning, that’s how much earlier I get up. Right now, it’s easily 90 minutes after my alarm goes off before I need to leave, and I could as easily leave the house fully 3 hours after I wake up and still be “on time” from the perspective of a salaried employee, and I sometimes do. It’s lovely, really, to be genuinely awake when I leave for work, to be able to write at leisure even on work days, to have adequate time to dress, shower, do some yoga, and even meditate before work – and still have time to write. It puts me on the path to being my best self each day.

I got home last night tired and frustrated by feeling the cold I thought I was over trying to make a comeback. I really don’t need the hassle or inconvenience, and I sat quietly frustrated, tears of exhausted aggravation coursing down my face for some minutes. Just… tired. I skipped the company summer block party over it, too. Came directly home. No chores. No video entertainment. No music. Hell, I didn’t even pick up a book. Just sat, staring rather blankly, sipping chicken broth or tea, until I was “sleepy enough” to just go lay the fuck down and rest. I was asleep early. I slept hard. Deeply. Uninterrupted. I was irritated by the weird repetitive noise that woke me – my alarm. It took nearly a full minute to figure that out and shut it off. I turned the lamp on and off a couple times, puzzled why the noise was not stopping. lol Usually I am awakened by the subtle “click” sound that immediately precedes the alarm actually going off. lol

I definitely needed the restful night. I woke feeling more myself. Still cross about this cold trying to come back – and of course, immediately as the fucking weekend begins. That’s becoming a source of real frustration for me, lately; the weekend is my one real opportunity each week to get some legit downtime, and it’s so rare any more to just enjoy one. I’m sick. Or traveling. Or moving. Or I’m sick. Or I have tons of shit that just must get done, non-negotiable. Or I’m doing something for someone. Or I’m sick again. Or I’ve gotten injured. Or I’m traveling. Or… I need to slow down. Again. And maybe not just in the mornings. Mornings? I’ve got those down at this point. 🙂

It’s a journey. No single change, no one practice, solves for X in every one of life’s equations. There are more verbs. More opportunity to do more/better, while also practicing skillful self-care, and figuring out what is actually worth doing well and more often. Being and becoming are a massively challenging jigsaw puzzle, and the pieces not yet fit into the puzzle are all jumbled up together in an untidy pile; sometimes it isn’t clear which pieces are most valuable in any particular moment. I’m still such a beginner at this being human thing!

I finish my coffee. Take a deep breath, look at the clock, and exhale slowly. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

My coffee is tasty. The house is comfortable in the pre-dawn chill of a summer morning. The air quality is still pretty poor as smoke collects in the air from distant fires. My mind is more or less… blank. I’m not quite awake yet, at all. I take another sip of my coffee and stare at the screen. It too remains “a blank page” for some minutes before I finally just drop that into the title field, and sit quietly, drinking coffee, aware.

This is not an unsatisfying moment. I am not feeling frustrated. (I chuckle as I write those words, immediately hearing my Traveling Partner’s voice replying in my head “Well, how are you feeling?”) I am feeling content. Just that. This moment does not seem to require more.

We create our experience with our choices, and our understanding of it is a carefully crafted narrative we make up ourselves, that may or may not accurately reflect the details of our experience (or any other – we’re seriously really good at making shit up and convincing ourselves it is real). This particular experience, here, now, is built on my choice to relax and accept that I may not have anything noteworthy to write about this morning, and to fall back gently on “just putting words on a page”, “thinking out loud”, in real-time, unedited and uncensored. I smirk at myself using the word “uncensored” in the context of this particular morning; there’s nothing about the morning thus far that would require, or benefit from, censorship anyway. 🙂

I’ve caused myself so much stress, anxiety, suffering, and heartache, just by insisting that I do more, faster, so often. The arbitrary performance standards we set for ourselves (and each other) often have no basis in what works, or what matters most. Sometimes they are just numbers pulled out of thin air. Why let life become stressful over made up shit? Seriously. Same with our internal narrative; we often make up a story about our experience that is based on untested assumptions, unvoiced expectations, and wholly unrealistic fantastical details that are in no way factual – then we let it stress us out. (Note: consider not doing that!)

This morning begins another work day. One more after that, and it’s the weekend again. 😀 I’m ready for it… but first, I have to live today, in this moment, present and engaged, and doing both things and stuff. lol Have to? Get to.

…It’s already time to begin, again. 😀

I woke this morning both puzzled and amused. I don’t remember my dreams, and wonder for some minutes what they were about to result in waking with such a feeling. There was a phrase stuck in my head, my only clue, “illusions of permanence”. I am grateful that I woke feeling some amusement, recognizing that phrasing such as that could easily be associated with some far more negative experience.

My coffee is cold and tasty. My consciousness is still not quite entirely awake. The morning is quiet. I sit for a moment, taking it in.

A bit more than a year ago, I moved in here. A year ago, about, my Traveling Partner gave me his car to use, rather than have me continue my practice of using public transit. Longer ago than one year, my life was quite different. I had a different view, different neighbors, a different commute, a different routine, and even a different experience of life. Things change. Even when I’m not making a point to choose change, sometimes change chooses me. There doesn’t really seem to be an option not to choose change, or to choose not to experience change. Change is. Impermanence is. Those are sort of non-negotiables in life. We can, however, choose whether to become very attached, or to let go of attachment. We can choose whether or not to surf the waves of change, or be overwhelmed by them.

We do have choices. Our choices are not always what we recognize them to be.

I continue to sip my coffee and contemplate change. This is a lovely moment right here, right now. It, too, will pass. The next moment may or may not be so entirely characterized by contentment. It would be rather foolhardy to expect each moment that follows to be similarly filled with contentment. Sooner or later… there’d be a wholly different sort of moment. Change is. I try not to cling. 🙂

The morning feels pretty good. I decide on a second coffee, and to wrap this up still smiling, ready to move on with the day, from this moment, and on to the next – whatever it holds. I mean, seriously? I can begin again, any time. 🙂

My commute for the last couple days, this week, and the end of last week, have been… pleasant. I’m not sure why, exactly. Planning ahead for heavy traffic due to construction detours, just in case, seemed wise, and I’ve been leaving a bit earlier – on both ends of my work day. The adjustment to my shift did result in an apparent modest reduction in traffic… maybe. People are still people. All the other cars are still driven by those. (People, I mean.) Still, it’s been not at all unpleasant, generally, and this amounts to an improvement in my experience day-to-day – but is it what I think it is (the apparent reduction in traffic) or… is it me?

Is it a change in the facts of my experience, or a change in perspective?

See, around the same time, I also had a conversation with a friend that, although fairly one-sided (it was legitimately more just me talking at them on my way by, pausing for a joyful moment to share an anecdote – about traffic), ended with the realization that I was genuinely struggling with anger while commuting. A proper recognition, fully aware, that ended with a clear statement of acknowledgement, “…and that’s not who I most want to be”. Oh. Oh shit. There are going to be verbs involved, right? I went on with things, in the usual way, at the time…but… it sat with me, then, and still lingers in my thoughts.

The awareness changed my perspective.

My change in perspective changed my behavior.

I’ve been getting into the car since then, calmly aware that traffic is, and that I’m going to have to deal with it. The commute is not a fucking race, there is no specific time that I firmly must arrive at my destination – and when there is, the wiser thing is to plan the time it actually takes, of course, not fuss about how much less time that should be, or try to force the universe to comply with my expectations of that. I suspect it may not actually have been the traffic that changed all that much, although one bit of construction finally wrapped up that was going on along my route. (Actually, to be fair, I only suspect that; I altered my route days ago to avoid that mess, and don’t really know.) I’ve also grabbed hold of some perspective, and slowed down a bit; there’s no sense at all being aggravated by traffic if what is aggravating me is the “slow” progress – at the posted speed limit. That just seems fairly silly, given some thought. (I’ll thank my Traveling Partner for that reminder, next time I see him.)

Perspective is an amazing cognitive tool. A favorite. Why? Because it does not matter one bit whether the traffic is actually reduced, or my emotional resilience is improved through a shift in perspective – not at all. Our experience of life is not always about “objective truth” or “facts” or “reality”, and sometimes what needs a change is our experience, itself. What matters most is that, by shifting my perspective, I’m closer to being that human being I most want to be, enjoying my experience more, treating others well, and discharging less unwarranted rage or hate into the world.  Those are both emotions that poison the one feeling them, and they often seem to result from nothing more than frustration – and lost perspective. Ick. I don’t need that in my life.

Now to apply the amazing power of perspective to all of the everything else in life…

…It’s time to begin again. 😀

I’m “taking a media break” from news feeds, streaming contact, social media – pretty much most of the digital distractions available have been paused, logged off, or shut down for the weekend. I suck at this, so it is a constant effort to be vigilant about the potential time and bandwidth drains, and to choose wisely – and consistently. This? This right here is part of who I am. If I were not writing this blog post, I would be perched on a sofa, chair, or rock somewhere, with a hardbound blank book in my lap, still writing. Probably about the same number of words. This is a thing I do – and have done so since I was quite young (12?13?).  No point, really, in trying to halt the flow of words, entirely; it would be an endeavor with (historically) limited success. 😉 Gnothi seauton.

Today I’m spending the day (and likely the weekend) in my studio. Painting. Sorting through years of stacked canvases to select inventory for sale. Giving thought, too, to the installation at the gallery where I am presently showing my work. I could rotate something out, put up something different… or… not. 🙂 I could paint all day, instead.

In the studio, I’ve got a couple larger, time-consuming works that I am working on slowly, with care, but today “feels like” new work…

I sometimes find it tougher to get started on new work than I expect to. I have an idea in my head of where the work should finish, what I want to see, but the “point A to point B” of that journey rarely seems to straightforward. Do I begin with a finished background, already painted? Will I “ruin it”? (Which really only amounts to painting something different than I’d planned on – which happens a lot. 🙂 ) Truth is, like any beginning on any journey that seems to have a fixed destination, but an uncertain route, getting started sometimes feels… hard. So, I put a fresh canvas on my easel, much the same way I’d write an observational first sentence when I’m unsure what to write, and grab a big brush, a tube of glow in the dark, and a bunch of glitter. “My first sentence” on this weekend’s journey isn’t written in words – it’s done on canvas, in glow-in-the-dark and glitter. 🙂 Just a bit of fun, loosely inspired by summer mornings, and fireworks shows, and a chill, happy place within myself that is purely okay with who I am. It’s an excellent beginning, lacking in performance pressure, crafted of coffee, birdsong, and personal delight.

…a beginning has to start somewhere… (an unfinished work of glitter and glow, begins the day).

What makes your day – or your life – “sparkle” for you? What do you yearn to make, build, or do? What do you resent your job over, that you wish you “had more time for”? I get it… we’ve got to get out there in the world and hustle, make some motherfucking money, pay the bills, “get ahead”… but… what about what matters most? What about your passion? What about that spark in your soul? Write a novel? Poetry? Paint? Sketch? Sculpt? Craft? Build? Create? Restore? Grow? What excites you about life? Who are you when you are not at work? There’s time for that, too – there has to be, otherwise, what’s the point of living? The thing is – sometimes we have to set a firm boundary, snatch our time back from those who would have it in service of their agenda, instead of our own. Don’t forget that person in the mirror – you matter. Take care of you. Live some tiny fragment of even your boldest dreams!

“All that glitters” is most definitely not gold – some of it? Some of it is actually, literally, “just” glitter… but glitter has its place, too.  (My Traveling Partner calls it faerie scabies, and some days its “place” does seem to be… everywhere. lol) 🙂

Enjoy life’s sparkle!

Start somewhere. Begin again. 🙂