Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about a question. “How do I actually change my perspective?” The colleague who asked the question wasn’t being flippant or obtuse, and the context was work we were doing together. Sincere question. I was stalled for a moment, because for me the answer is ludicrously practical; make a literal change in the angle of view, or distance from which something is observed, or… I think you get it? Something as simple as standing on a chair to see something a different way, or looking out a different window to capture a different view… right?

Looking out one window of the office, onto a city I’ve known for 42 years.

We continued the conversation as we walked to the break area for coffee. We looked out other windows, still talking about how to shift perspective, metaphorically and for real.

Maybe it’s only been 22 years? Depends on what years “count”, doesn’t it?

Different window, different views… same city. So, different perspectives on this one place. Handy to have a real-life demonstration available. Lovely morning for it. We get pretty easily locked into a point of view, or some very specific limited understanding of the world or our circumstances based on our perspective. Being able to shift our perspective and “see things another way” really matters for things like communicating with others, being compassionate, and effective problem-solving that presents an inclusive solution to a problem that affects many different groups. We’re not a homogenous mass of flesh all of one mind; we’re individuals.

There are so many ways to look at something.

I sip my coffee and consider my perspective – then and now. Even those differences can provide new perspective. I certainly don’t see the world quite the same way I did when I was a woman in my 20s, 30s, or 40s. Time passed. I experienced more of what the world had to offer, and learned and grew through my experiences and decision-making. It doesn’t take standing on a chair, or looking out a 10th floor window, to take advantage of this mortal lifetime to reflect on changes in perspective. It’s hard not to change one’s perspective. How much effort do people have to put into to clinging to a poor understanding of an event, or a mistaken assumption, or limited perspective to “stand still” and “never change”?

It may be as easy as a chair or looking out a different window, or asking a new question of the person in the mirror. Change is. Our perspective easily shifts with our changes – if we allow it, and take notice. The trickier bit, I guess, is constructively changing our perspective to give us a “better angle of view” on something we don’t necessarily experience or understand from our own circumstances.

I think on it for a while, sipping my coffee on a rainy chilly winter morning. Would my thoughts be different on a summer day?

My eye falls on my to-do list. I smile; I’ve worked the list down to just one or two inconsequential tasks, and an errand. Not bad. It won’t stay that way; I’m always adding to it and working it. It’s just a list of reminders to change something. My coffee is cold now, and I could use a manicure. It’s far too early in the morning to get a manicure; it goes onto the list. That’s how it works. LOL

…I could use another cup of coffee. It must be time to begin again.

Note: this is a long one (>1500 words), figured you might want to know that before you get started. LOL

I’m on the coast with my camera for a couple days solo. I definitely need this sort of break from the day-to-day relatively frequently – one of my most easily identified regrets in life as an adult is that I waited so long to begin making a point to take this time for myself. I’m fortunate that my Traveling Partner recognizes the need, too, and supports me taking care of myself. The change in my medications has been a good thing, generally, but it also seemed to have accelerated my need to “take a couple days” to pause and reflect deeply on my experience, and to indulge in some time spent alone with my thoughts.

My timing is a bit awkward for this getaway; it’s the weekend before Giftmas. My Traveling Partner’s planned work while I am away was almost immediately derailed by a fulfillment error in a part shipped for his CNC machine; it’s the wrong part, which stalls the build entirely while he waits for that to be replaced. Fuck. Furthering his frustration, a recently added (and carefully measured & placed) outlet turns out to be in a less than ideal location (even after taking tremendous care with measuring) and has to be moved. The end result? Well, I potentially should have planned ahead for a couple days after the fucking holidays, if nothing else. …But…I really was seriously struggling to get acclimated to the new medications (and change in timing of existing medications), and I was feeling very short-tempered and cross with… just every-damned-thing, honestly, and wanted to be well away from people in general. So… good timing? Poor timing? Hard to be certain.

I visited some interesting places. The gulls at Boiler Bay were happy to pose for me.

I am certain my partner misses me. I feel very loved. His attentiveness at a time when we both expected minimal contact with each other for reasons isn’t unwelcome – and it forces me to explicitly practice reasonable boundary setting with the one human being in my life with whom I most definitely struggle to do so; my partner. He can’t see what I’m up to when I’m away, so it’s entirely on me to choose to take a look at a message, or to set my “do not disturb” setting on my phone, or set expectations that I am – or am not – available to chat. That’s not even unexpected or unreasonable; it’s part of skillful adulting. Just happens that some of the emotional debris of my trauma history results in some fairly poor boundary-setting with those closest to me, and it’s something I need to practice. Kind of a lot.

Here’s one way this matters, as an example. I won’t text while I’m driving (it’s very dangerous), so if he messages me while I’m in motion, I often find myself parking the car to respond without even checking in with myself whether the conversation even needs to happen in real-time (most often it does not, and frankly when it does he calls me so we can just talk hands-free). It can add a crazy amount of “travel time” to a short errand if I fail to communicate that I’m driving and he’s not aware that I am; he will just go on having a conversation with me that feels reasonable to him, while I seek out a parking spot every couple minutes like I’m lost or something. LOL I even know this is neither necessary nor practical; it’s something I need to work on. Just one example of why the expectation and boundary setting can matter so much. There are for sure others.

…I’m working on it…

When I am reading, writing, painting – all of which require focus – I sometimes get exceedingly frustrated with interruptions. Same when I’m “at work”, at home. Interruptions wreck my focus. This is not “a me thing”, it’s true for a lot of people (including my partner, when he’s reading, or doing complex calculations, or taking measurements). Interruptions break focus. Well… who “owns” that? I think if a clear boundary and clear expectations have been set, the person doing the interrupting owns that shit, and it’s pretty rude (if there’s no actual emergency). More often than not, though, I find that I’m the one who has erred in some way, by failing to ensure that I have set a clear expectation that I’m not available, along with a reasonable explicit boundary established with regard to interruptions of specific sorts of things. It’s for sure not reasonable to be irked with someone who did not know I was engaged in focused work, or needing to be left alone awhile, if they interrupt me unaware of those details.

In more succinct terms, if I don’t silence my ringer it’s not fair to be annoyed with a person who calls me at a bad time; I had another option that would have preserved my focus!

My earliest beach walk began at “first light”.

Yesterday, in the morning, I left for the coast before dawn. I arrived far earlier than “early check-in” for my hotel room (because the prior night’s guest hadn’t even checked-out yet). I spent the morning walking beaches and taking pictures, and in between I drank coffee while warming up in my car. Chilly morning. I drank 3x as much coffee as I generally do, and I expected I’d most likely messed up my sleep, later, but… nope. I checked into my room before 1 p.m., and managed to crash twice for longish naps, and then still went to bed early (like, for real early – around 7:30 p.m.). I slept deeply, waking around 3 a.m. to pee and immediately went back to sleep.

I made a point of snapping a picture of the holiday lights on the restaurant near the hotel during the wee hours. (It’s not a great picture; I was half asleep and never put on my glasses!)

I woke feeling quite rested, around 7 a.m. or a little after, around the time my Traveling Partner woke and pinged me a greeting. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised by how much I slept if I had felt that I was exhausted, or had felt deeply fatigued. Lacking those sensations, it caught me a bit by surprise to sleep so much. Still… it’s my time, my hotel room, I guess I can do what I like (within reason), including sleep the day away, which I definitely feel like I did, although my fitness tracker logged almost 7 miles of walking before noon. LOL

It’s been exceedingly pleasant (even luxurious) to have so little contact with other people for a couple days. The loudest sound in this hotel room is my fingers on this mechanical keyboard. (My tinnitus is infernally loud, too, but no one else would ever hear that.) The hotel staff go about their business. We don’t exchange words, just smiles; I’ve come here before and they are very respectful (and friendly if approached). I’ve managed to enjoy this trip to the coast without conversation beyond “can you fill it with regular please” or “16 oz Americano, please”. Yesterday was sunny. Today is gray and overcast. I spent yesterday sleeping (and walking and taking pictures). I’ve spent today meditating and writing (and walking and taking pictures). Time well spent all around, and mission mostly accomplished.

…I miss “home” (already), and take a few minutes to reflect with immense gratitude that I experience that feeling when I am away from the house I now live in. It’s already very much “home” – and filled with love, and memories of love, and the presence of this other human being who is so incredibly dear to me. I feel my heart fill up with my affection for my partner and spill over as “happy tears”. I am struck by how easily even the thought of this human being I love so deeply can move me with just the recollection of the love we share. That’s powerful. I miss him greatly any time we are apart – even when we are apart specifically because I just need to be alone for a while. It’s part of who I am. I am grateful that I’ve learned how to meet that need, and grateful to have a partner who “gets it”. I chuckle when I consider how often I do return home earlier than I had planned to, when I have gone, simply because I am so eager to be in the good company of my partner again. How very human. 🙂

Same location, different visit.

I watch the tides rise and fall on each of these trips to the coast. I am amazed by how much the view changes with each visit. The seasons change. The sunrise and sunset changes. The hour of the day for the high or low tide varies. The weather, too. Each detail paints the picture anew. I sip my now-cold coffee and think about that. So many variables. So many small details. I keep expecting to become bored with a single view or perspective. It hasn’t happened yet. I return to some locations with every visit just to see the view with “new eyes” on a different day. There’s something here worth understanding more deeply. I make a note on the notepad I’ve kept with me on this trip, and let my thoughts wander on.

I reflect awhile on the things that have held me back in life. Some of these were pure circumstance, others clearly my own doing or decision-making, few of them were the sort of non-negotiables that were unavoidable or immutable. I’ve had an enormous part to play in where I’ve landed in life. When I’ve chosen wisely, I’ve done well. When I’ve chosen poorly, I’ve often paid the price in consequences. This seems reasonable and “proper”, but when I reflect with care, deeply and honestly, and quite thoroughly, there have also been situations in which my good fortune “over-compensated” for my poor decision-making, and I’ve found my life improved thereby, anyway. Other times, seemingly good decision-making and actions that could be viewed as necessary, appropriate, or “right”, nonetheless resulted in… consequences of a wholly problematic sort. I have had an “enormous part to play” in where I’ve landed in life…but it’s also been a matter of “luck” more often than I can count, and some cases it’s been the help of friends or associates, or… just a coincidence that I’ve done as well as I have. Sometimes I’ve found myself standing in some unexpected moment in life struck by how unprepared I am to be there. Other times, extraordinary happenstance still manages to feel quite… ordinary. It’s hard to know in the moment which events are truly significant and meaningful, and which are simply future memories. Sometimes, when I’ve thought I was being “held back”, the passage of time has revealed how fortunate I really was to follow the path I did. Perspective has proven its worth more than once.

…My mind wanders on…

When I sat down with my notes this morning, I had some specific things I wanted to consider. I walked the beach with my camera and my little notepad, thinking, walking, pausing now and then for a tidepool, a bird, or an interesting rock. I don’t know that I “got anywhere” specific – but I wasn’t following a map, or hiking a trail with a destination, or running an errand. I was, frankly, as much as anything, just giving myself the space and time to really “hear myself think”. Was I successful? In every way I that I needed to be, sure, I think so. Is this bit of writing the outcome of all that? Mmm. Doubtful. Not in any clear cause & effect practical sense. I wasn’t seeking to develop a plan of action, or practice a specific practice, or write an essay on a topic. I just needed, rather earnestly, some solitary time to hear myself and to just be, quite as I am, without any sense of needing to chase a change or measure up to a standard. In that sense, it’s been a wildly successful bit of time away. Would a get away of this kind do wonders for you? No idea, honestly, and I’m sure it kind of depends on how well (or poorly) you are able to enjoy some solitary time – maybe that’s not your thing? Maybe you hate being absolutely alone? Your results would surely vary. Hell, my results vary and I greatly enjoy my solo time away, any chance I get make.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I check my oxygen. 99%. Nice. I take a moment to “feel where I’m at”, physically. Headache? It’s there, but not distracting. Arthritis pain? Managed. Posture? Yeah, okay. I notice it’s not great and “pull myself upright”. I gaze out the window across the mud flats of Siletz Bay – the tide is pretty low. There are a variety of water birds enjoying that, including a couple of larger birds – some kind of crane, and a heron. The gulls have taken their fun elsewhere for now. The water is flat, smooth, and very calm (what I can see), though I know if I step to the patio door and look out toward the ocean, I would see the waves gently kissing the shore.

I take a moment to reflect on a past that no longer wholly defines me (or holds me back) and to wonder what the future may hold, without becoming stranded in either. I sit quietly with my thoughts, poised in this “now” moment feeling fairly prepared to just “go with it” – whatever “it” may turn out to be. It’s a nice alternative to catastrophe, chaos, and despair. I breathe. In, then out. Then again. Some minutes later, I realize I slipped into meditation, fingers still poised carefully on the home row of the keyboard, expectantly. I’ve got a book (a couple, actually) that I also want to spend some time (reading)…

…Seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂

The sun rises later these days than it did back in June. The Autumnal Equinox is tomorrow. It’s quite early and I am at a local trailhead adjacent to a meadow, not far from home. I am waiting for the sunrise, drinking coffee, yawning, and wishing I had slept in. I’ve got my camera ready for my morning walk.

My morning camera walks serve a purpose; they get me out of the house with my camera for a bit of fun, exercise, and “me time”, and they also give my partner a shot at some deep sleep. (When I am asleep I sometimes snore, and when I am awake I am often a bit clumsy and noisy at least until I am fully awake). This approach works for us, but tends to be a seasonal solution. Already I have begun to resist waking up so early, where in past weeks I struggled to sleep during these early hours. The later sunrise is the culprit.

…The early hours betwixt day and night are a good time for meditation and reflection.

An orange glow begins as a thread on the horizon, becoming a sort of messy smudge as minutes pass. Still not enough light for my lens, and the trail alongside the park and meadow, which passes through a vineyard, is still quite dark. I wait. I yawn. I tried to snatch a few minutes of nap time for myself, but the mornings are now also too chilly and I don’t even doze off for a moment – I just yawn. lol

Waiting for the sunrise.

…I think about work and routines and future mornings and finish my coffee. I develop a cramp in my right foot and shift in my seat until I can easily massage it until the cramp eases. The western sky takes on hints of ultramarine and dark lavender. The eastern horizon becomes more peach and tangerine, with swaths of gray-blue clouds sweeping across the sky. This is not wasted time; I love watching the sun rise.

The dawn of a new day.

The sun is up. The coffee is gone. I’ve gotten a good walk in and snapped some pictures. My Traveling Partner sends me a message; he is awake. The day begins in earnest. I have no idea what today will bring… looks like it’s time to get started and find out. 😁

It’s a Winter Sunday. Cold. Clear. My coffee is hot. My playlist is bumpin’ as I sip and write. I started the morning with a hot shower. I’ve been writing notes and emails to distant friends. Thank you cards to family who sent holiday cards (I never got my shit together enough to send cards this year, lol).

I sip my coffee and think about places I’ve been, and people I’ve met. I think about moments. Connections. Things still unfinished – or never started. I think about places I’ve yet to travel, that still sound interesting and worth a visit. I think about people I haven’t seen in years, and wonder how they are. It’s that sort of moment. I just go with it. No tears, no sorrow. It’s just a moment to appreciate other moments. Later, it’ll be a different moment, with other qualities. It’s a Sunday. Probably housekeeping. Maybe art. 🙂

I think about my Traveling Partner, and those precious moments. This isn’t a fancy morning. I don’t have any grand plans. I’m in a bit of pain. I’m feeling okay anyway. It’s a pleasant, rather ordinary Winter morning with nothing much going on. I’m okay with that; it’s a moment worth embracing. (Honestly, most of them are.)

I read that Thich Nhat Hanh died. I don’t know that I have much to add. He gave me so much. We never met. I continue to read and appreciate his words.

As with most things – even moments – this too shall pass. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Some mornings every step is painful. Others not so much. Either way, I generally enjoy my morning walk on a weekday before work, and on weekends whenever the fancy strikes me. I enjoy being out among the trees, most especially, or alone on a wind swept meadow, or at the edge of the changing tide listening to the call of sea birds. There’s a lot to enjoy in life. I wasn’t always able to enjoy that, and there was a time when every step on every walk was punctuation for unspoken thoughts, and unhealed heartbreak, and each pause to snap a picture of a flower was an attempt to do something, anything at all, just a little differently than I had before. Every step, and every mile, on this journey has mattered. Every step, and every mile, matters still – and I’m still walking. The difference now, most mornings, is that I am walking, and smiling. 🙂

…What I’m not doing nearly as much is writing

My morning walk is just as night becomes day. The world is quiet and filled with promise.

I started this blog back in 2013. Here it is, 2021. 8 years on, and I’m in a very different place as a human. Perfectly perfect? Nope. Happily ever after? Hardly. Content and well-cared-for? Generally speaking, yes, and it’s more than I could have imagined, honestly, and I’m fairly certain I don’t need more than this life, right here, as I am living it now. It’s enough. Which, if I’m honest about it, feels a little odd sometimes. What about all of the everything else? Don’t I want or need a piece of that, too? I don’t think I do, with regard to most of the “extras” life may tempt me with from afar. I’m blasted with advertising daily, but very little of any of it gets my interest, even for a moment. Occasionally, some practical something-or-other gets my attention but mostly I’m here at home, hanging out with my Traveling Partner listening to music or watching videos, or playing video games. I’m here at home, beginning the season’s gardening tasks and spending happy hours flipping through garden catalogs, eyes wide with wonder and delight at lovely flowers that have no business in this garden, but… damn, so pretty! My morning walk takes me past other houses, other gardens.

…We each walk our own mile. We each “tend our own garden”. We are each having our own experience. Sometimes it’s hard, and we need help, sometimes it’s a joy and the labor feels effortless. Where do you want to go? It matters for walking those miles, doesn’t it? And that garden? What are you planting in it? Can it thrive in your garden. Yes, obvious metaphors for growth, for self-care, for living life. I’m good with that; it gives me a way to understand myself, and my experience. 🙂

There are sunrises…

I take a minute this morning to think about how far this journey has taken me, and how much joy my partnership brings me, and how much I have to be grateful for.

…there are sunsets.

I’ve been every bit as lax about staying in touch with friends and family, lately, as I have been at sitting down to write each day. It’s Spring here – my first in this place. 🙂 I’m savoring each sunbeam and each raindrop and watching the season develop in the view beyond the deck.

Still taking pictures of flowers. 🙂

I think about this journey to “home”, too… by this time last year, we were house hunting with some seriousness. By the end of May, we’d seen this house and made an offer on it. It’s been nearly a year of finally being home. That first couple of summer months were busy, laborious, and somewhat chaotic as we got moved and settled in and dealt with our first homeownership challenges (a hot tub needing repair, a leak in an exterior wall, figuring out where everything ended up). I’m eager to see the summer all over again – I don’t recall what it looks like. LOL

Life isn’t perfect. Whose is? I’m fortunate, though, and I am grateful. I sip my coffee and wonder if it is time to “wrap this up” and move on to other things… or simply trust that a new cadence will develop that feels natural? I’m starting to spend more time thinking, reading, and looking over creative projects. The garden calls to me. The trees beyond the deck beckon me into the forest to wander hidden trails, and camp under the stars. This life, here at home, is beginning to feel… properly real. I feel more comfortable with my developing routine… a walk in the morning, coffee with my Traveling Partner, a break a little later… Working from home feels natural now, and fits comfortably into my idea of living life well. Now to sort out when I like to write, in this gentle new way of living my life. 🙂

…Incremental change over time… I remind myself to be patient…

It’s time to begin again.