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I’m sipping room temperature canned coffee, this morning. It’s adequate, not fantastic. Satisfactory, without being delightful. “Enough” – sufficient to meet the need, without frills. I’m grateful for the almost-overlooked luxury of coffee, ready made, in cans, neither hot, nor cold.

…Seriously? This? Now?

 

I had a crown fall out, evening before last, during dinner. Scrambled eggs. Seriously? It was too much for me, after the day I’d had, and I wept… although… the day, itself, was frankly fine. More “win and good” than not. I couldn’t feel any win, and very little good. That lasted even through yesterday; the bright spots of the day were dim, the highs didn’t seem particularly different than the lows, and every small hurdle felt nearly insurmountable, however skillfully every detail of the day was managed. It’s been the whole week, honestly. I feel cursed by bad fortune, and a plague of small things going wrong – but when I pause to examine, as dispassionately as I am able to do, the facts of my experience…? Things are, actually, just fine. My experience is colored by grief. I’m okay, though, and life is okay. Grief is a powerful emotional experience of yielding to what I can’t change, letting go of what is no more, and going on. It’s fucking hard though, and a lot of it happens “in the background” in this peculiar fog of misfortune that seems to wrap me, this week.

The roses are still blooming in my garden.

…Realistically, I know my life is as it was, but for this singular loss. Each loss has it’s own shade of gray, it’s own particular flavor, it’s own… shadow. The shadows diminish with the return of light. I know this, intellectually. My heart has a bit more difficulty letting go – and in the negotiation between heart and mind, I find myself experiencing this peculiar sense of accursedness, that I’m also aware is not actually legitimately my experience. Weird and difficult. I spend time in my garden. I take time away from work. I get out in the sunshine and walk trails I’d not yet walked before. I take time to tidy up my studio and get it into working order once again. I am “chasing the light” without making a point of saying so, generally. “This too shall pass.” Of course it will; everything does. πŸ™‚

I look for the sunny moments, everywhere, seeking “enlightenment”, of a sort.

This hole in my mouth, where that back molar was, feels weird. It’s not uncomfortable, particularly, in spite of the living tooth stump sitting in there; an urgent-care visit to the dentist got that covered with some sort of glue or something of that kind, to keep it protected for a couple of days until… extraction. That bonded porcelain crown was expected to last nearly a lifetime. I got 4 years out of it. My new dentist was fairly irked that the work had been done such that there just isn’t actually enough tooth left to secure the crown properly, at all. I’ve got just the one “bad tooth” – and I’m grateful, at 56, to have all my original teeth, and other than this one problematic tooth, no dental concerns. Now I’ve got to have it removed, altogether, and… I’m frankly terrified. I’m also surprised by this. Where did this fear come from? I was never “scared of the dentist” before facing this extraction. I poke at the fear in much the same way I ever-so-carefully touch the stump of this tooth with my tongue, curious, a bit nervous, and wondering “what to do about it”.

Practical solutions aren’t always obvious.

Complex PTSD is strange where the potential for new trauma is concerned. I breathe, exhale, relax. Pull myself back into “now” again. Long-past surgeries were, in some cases, very traumatic (look, there’s really no describing what it is like to be awakened during spinal surgery so that the doctor can check for reflexes and sensations, and ask questions… because there are indeed “sensations”, and some of them are not experiences I’d recommend having; the trauma of being aware of surgical goings-on, in the moment, is pretty horrific stuff). I allow myself the awareness. I let the feelings go, and come back to “now”. It’s not happening now, is the thing, it’s just a memory. I catch myself projecting forward, to the upcoming tooth extraction. It’s a novel experience. I’ve never had one done. I have literally no emotional experience of my own to draw upon, and can choose to visualize it in a variety of ways. Anything I imagine is utterly lacking in substance; it’s not real. I could imagine it being going smoothly, being nearly effortless, and done in a moment by a skilled professional, with no lasting consequences of note. Why would I choose to visualize it in any other way? I breathe, exhale, relax. I left the fear go. That moment ahead is not now.

…I recall my Traveling Partner reminding me yesterday, that my world and perspective are still colored by grief. I don’t remember what made the observation necessary. I’m still glad he has the presence to be aware of it, and the consideration to share that reminder, so gently. He’s been “here for me” all week, present, loving, warm.Β  Talking about the extraction, and my anxiety about it, he shared his own experience of such things, and observed that it “wasn’t that bad”. Even recalling our calming conversation renews my anxiety. Feeling my whole body suddenly get warm, I breathe through that surge of stress, I exhale, and let the anxiety go it’s own way. I relax again, and sip my room-temperature coffee. The tooth doesn’t tolerate hot or cold well, and I’m avoiding sticky foods, sweet foods, sharp foods… treating the wounded tooth with great care, until it can be pulled, next week.Β  How do I treat my grieving heart similarly well? It’s not like I can pull it out and move on…

However uncomfortable, grief is not a weed to pluck out of the garden of my heart; it has a purpose to fulfill. My emotions are not my enemy.

…I continue to sip my coffee, watching the sun rise beyond my studio window, as daylight arrives, and begins to overcome the shadows. There’s something to learn here – a way to understand things differently. This moment, right here? I’m not in pain. “Now” is just fine. Sure, there’s pain ahead of me in life (isn’t there always?) – and there’s certainly been pain in my past – right now, though? Right now, I’m okay. Right now, the morning is lovely. Right now, I’ve got an adequate glass of coffee to sip that isn’t aggravating this tooth. Right now, I’ve got a lifetime of memories of my Mother, on which I can rely whenever I want to feel her presence. “Now” seems a good time… for most things.

“Now” seems a good time to walk in the sunshine, away from the darkness, and into the light.

Incremental change is. Practicing the practices works. I’ll just stay on this path right here…one step at a time is enough.

I have a wee garden. It’s a container garden on a decently large deck. I currently have no new pictures of it, although I spent much of the weekend in the garden, doing Spring sorts of things. There’s not yet much to see.

In the same moment that I consider the words “nothing to see here” as I sit down to write, and enjoy my morning coffee, it occurs to me that it is a matter of perspective whether that is really the case. There are containers large and small that have been filled with soil. Older containers have been carefully weeded. Rose branches that died back last year have been pruned away. The thyme and the oregano are looking very fresh and healthy. Containers have been moved into their Spring-Summer-Autumn locations, here and there and on deck rails. From the base of one of the “dead” miniature roses, a couple new shoots prove me wrong. So much to see! I just didn’t take any pictures. Too engaged in the moments spent living to think to take a picture. There are metaphors here. πŸ™‚

It’s already Monday, and already time to return to work, for another week. I don’t feel hassled, or regretful, just ready for it. πŸ™‚

Quite a bit of the weekend was spent in the company of friends. The smile on my face lingers from a weekend of jovial connection, and contented intimacy. Hearing rain beyond the window, I decide to ride the light rail today, and find myself – still smiling – appreciating the options.

A life well-lived isn’t necessarily about Lamborghini’s, mansions, jewelry, or money; it’s about moments. πŸ™‚ That’s at least my own perspective on the matter. Of course, I don’t have a Lamborghini… so… what do I know about that? (Aside from enough to avoid getting hung up on expensive things I don’t actually want or need. lol) My genial contentment in life definitely finds some basis in sufficiency and non-attachment. πŸ˜€

Well… my coffee is gone. It’s already time to leave for the train, to do work things, in work places. πŸ™‚ It’s enough. It’s also time to begin again. πŸ˜‰

It’s all well and good to talk about beginning again, starting things over, letting go, moving on… incremental change over time is so slow… and… there are so many choices. So many voices with opinions. So much room for doubt, for confusion, for uncertainty… for fear. Where, I might ask, does one start on some new beginning? What does it mean, really, to “begin again”?

…Have you asked that question, felt stalled, and just… wondered, in helpless frustration? I don’t have all the answers. I’m mostly about questions, actually, but… sure. I’ll try to provide an answer – one, mine (it’s the one I’ve got handy) – and if it is helpful perspective for you, it’s enough, right? πŸ™‚ There are, for sure, other, different answers. As many as there are other voices. This is mine (right now, at least, one of them, based on what I know now).

What does it mean to me to “begin again”? In simple terms, it means pausing in this present moment long enough to truly be fully present, in this moment, and really just this moment. It means being aware, and present, and seeking to be those things nonjudgmentally, and without lingering attachment to some specific future outcome, or past pain (or joy). Just… here. Now. To begin again, from that place of being fully present, observant, and aware, all that separates me from moving forward afresh, and with new perspective, is really nothing more than a breath. I take that breath, and make a choice, take an action, head to a destination – verbs. That’s it. Pause. Be present. Breathe. Move on. A new beginning becomes what it is to be. That’s my idea of beginning again.

Simple, right? Seems easy enough. The subtleties are the challenge; sometimes it is harder to be present. Sometimes very difficult to let go of past pain. Sometimes I am overly invested in a future outcome. Sometimes I just feel stalled. It is effective, though, and with sufficient practice, becomes such a natural moment along my path that it doesn’t feel like any sort of interruption, at all. It’s just a moment of clarity, of commitment to purpose – but without attachment to outcome – and a chance to pause to become, again, truly present in my experience. The benefits are obvious, although more so over time, with repetition. I feel, generally, more centered in my experience. More sure of myself. More aligned with my values. More capable of being goal-focused, and purposeful. It also seems to tend to leave me more open to inspiration, and more accepting of change, and adaptable in the face of turmoil. A worthy practice in a busy life.

Yes… it does amount to slowing down, taking a moment, and merely taking the time to “figure things out”. Call it what you like. I call it “beginning again”. πŸ˜‰

I talk a lot about making choices. I remind myself to make a new beginning, regularly. I practice non-attachment with commitment and discipline. I let things go. I move on. There is a serious reason why these are important practices for me; I have survived a lot through these practices. These are not practices for small circumstances, though it is the mundane petty things that provide the opportunities to practice regularly. These are the practices for the big shit in life.

Marriages that dissolve – with small children involved; sometimes people have to literally choose to walk away from their children to save their own lives. That’s hard. I can’t at all imagine what that must feel like, although I’ve had friends and loved ones go through it.

Jobs that end unexpectedly – with no opportunity to continue in a field of expertise or passion; sometimes people have to choose to undertake something entirely different, from the very beginning, without wanting to at all. Been there a couple of times, myself.

Abusive relationships – sometimes with real love involved; sometimes people have to walk away (in spite of love) to save their own lives – from violence, mental illness, or a narcissistic, petty, spoiled, unremorsefully callous loved-one unable or unwilling to make changes. Too many of us go through some version of this experience, sadly.

Sometimes life throws some very adult shit our way, seemingly forcing us to choose between our life and well-being, and what we think we want, or think we have, or think we need. It’s not easy. Sometimes the better, saner, choice is to just let it go. Begin again. Choose differently.

To escape violence in my first marriage, I had to reach a point where I was willing to walk away from everything. My home. My “stuff”. My existing social network. My career. My community. It was a matter of literally saving my life. I didn’t have much in the way of good practices for such circumstances then; I got lucky and made some choices that favored my survival. I’m grateful for that – and every day that my arthritis pain reminds me how mortal I am, it also reminds me that I have survived hell, and I am okay right now. Powerful lessons.

It’s tempting to work at things we’ve invested our hearts in, well beyond any useful point in making that effort. It’s tempting to excuse, explain, troubleshoot, or try again (and again, and again…). Sometimes those aren’t our best choices. It’s hard to be sure when that is the case, in advance, and we can be easily stalled by doubt. It’s emotionally difficult to choose differently, to select “self-care” from life’s menu, and “quality of life”, and to walk on from something we earnestly value, even when it is wrapped in misery. A good starting point is a realistic look at whether the thing we are valuing, whether it is a job, a relationship, a circumstance, or a possession, is truly all we think it to be. Is it just a “soap bubble”? What matters most? Have that and be controlled by it? Let it go and be free? It’s a choice. A really fucking hard one.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Letting go doesn’t necessarily mean there is no later follow-up, and there may be other actions to be taken… ending a marriage likely requires a divorce, for example – that’s a process that has a beginning and (hopefully) an end, but the process follows the decision to let go. The choice to act precedes the actions. Lost jobs are generally followed by new jobs – or some other new option for living life. Abusive relationships are… complicated. The ending of such things can be filled with further trauma; it’s rare that an abuser wants that relationship to end, themselves, they are invested because they specifically benefit from it. Things can get ugly. Scary. Filled with fear. Filled with sorrow. Filled with panic. Letting go – non-attachment- is a broad and well-lit path to emotional freedom. We can’t be controlled by what we are willing to let go.

It’s not easy. I’m having to let go of a specific, warm, and charming retirement that seemed so real and imminent, in favor of… no idea yet, but realistically I have to be willing to acknowledge that it won’t be that. I’m having to let go of a promising-seeming relationship (less difficult that it might have been, because the person involved made a specific point of burning bridges by way of mistreatment) – always painful. The worst? I’m having to let go of 42 original works of (my) art that I have not yet been able to recover, and may actually be destroyed (39 small works on paper, 3 canvases). It’s fucking hard, but even to continue to pursue recovering them (which may require litigation), I need to let them go, at least inasmuch as I have to allow myself to move on from grieving the loss, or being attached to a specific outcome. Still fucking hard. This? This is why I practice some of the practices I do, though; when I need them, they are here for me, reliably.

The sky is still blue. πŸ™‚

I had a lovely weekend, in spite of the possible loss of 42 precious original works of art. No small feat, and I am smiling over my coffee, feeling wrapped in love and supported and cared for. (Seriously? It was like a vacation, crammed into one delicious day and night.) I am relaxed and ready for the work week. I’m grateful for my Traveling Partner. Grateful to have such wonderful friends. Grateful to be okay right now.Β  It’s a nice beginning to the week, whatever it holds.

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™‚