Archives for posts with tag: One Hour

How do you know who you are, specifically? Is it a question you easily ask and answer, or does the “who are you, really?” question mess with your head? I suppose I revisit this question rather frequently, and with little stress, these days, and sometimes with some surprise (as in “Is this who I am?”). I’ve changed a lot as a human being over a lifetime. (You’ve probably changed some, too – haven’t you?)

When I think about who I am, who I have been, and the journey between those points (and, frankly, extending well beyond my current understanding of self, into the murky unknown of the future), I prefer to rest comfortably on what I know of myself, personally, understood in the context of my own values, my own experience, and my own understanding of the world. There is value in hearing the perspective of others, and honest self-reflection on the words and impressions of others can be an eye-opener worthy of deep listening and consideration…but… at the end of the day (any day), the greater value is in self-knowledge, self-awareness, and an internal dialogue that is frank without cruelty, I find. It is a literal truth that no one knows me like I know myself.

How do I know if my internal dialogue is sufficiently honest? I guess only by being honest with myself about that, too. There are choices involved. Awareness is a good starting point on any journey.

Why does this matter today? Well, I guess because (to me) it matters every day…but… tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day will (if all goes well) follow it fairly closely. ūüôā I celebrate New Year’s as a simple enough turning of a calendar page, and I celebrate it as the end of the winter holiday season, and also as another opportunity to begin again. No “resolutions” – change doesn’t work for me quite that way. I’ll sit down with myself, reflect on the year that has ended, consider the year to come, and look at the journey I’ve made in life so far. I’ll look ahead to destinations I hope to reach, successes I hope to achieve (larger or small, it’s not really about scale, more about trajectory), and changes I hope to make for myself to improve my quality of life, or to be more the woman I most want to be. I’ll consider the things I didn’t reach along last year’s journey, without diminishing myself or treating myself poorly. I’ll give myself the opportunity to learn and grow from both my successes and my failures. No shortcuts. No self-deception. No looking away from the harder moments, or less pleasant truths, and also willfully and eagerly embracing the lovely moments, the delights, the wonders, and the joys.

I use an assortment of tools, tasks, and practices to consider and reconsider the year behind me, the year to come, and the woman in the mirror poised between them. I spend time writing. I update my “Life in Weeks” calendar and reflect on how I have spent my time, and what I can do differently to better meet my long-term needs in life. I meditate. I meditate on questions I may not previously have thought to ask… sometimes it helps to have a tool for that. I take a walk along one path or another, sometimes new, sometimes more familiar. More than anything else, though, it is a matter of taking the time for constructive self-reflection, and placing enough value on that time to fully respect it, to set boundaries, and to take care of the woman in the mirror. Once a year? I definitely have time for me once a year. ūüôā Over time it has proven to be a worthy investment in self, and so I continue the tradition year after year.

Today I will get the housekeeping out of the way for the weekend, run errands, do chores. I’ll treat myself exceptionally well by preparing in advance for deeply satisfying celebratory self-reflection and leisure to come. No discomfort, no guilt, no reluctance; I enjoy this time I spend with myself each year, and invest some effort in making it a moment worth savoring. Other people, other celebrations, this is me, doing New Year’s my way. I’m okay with that; it’s enough. 2017? Bring it!

A new year begins today. The winter sun hits the glass of the patio door and fills the room with light and warmth. My feet are extended into the rays of sunshine spreading across the carpet. I wiggle my toes, feeling them warmed in the filtered winter sunlight. The remainder of my second cup of coffee has grown cold; I continue to sip it, content with the exceptional flavor which is undiminished by the cooling. I am smiling.

New beginnings are quite variable, every experience, each perspective, just a bit different from another. I am not the woman I was on the first day of 2015. That woman was stressed to a breaking point, yet again, mistreated in one relationship, insecure in another, restlessly contemplating where a third might take her, given the difficult circumstances generally.

The path ahead wasn't obvious sometimes.

The path ahead wasn’t obvious.

It was a complicated year. An abusive relationship was creating roadblocks to progress in therapy through behaviors that seemed willful or¬†deliberate at times – it would prove irrelevant whether they were deliberate; the outcome was damaging. The future of my¬†relationship with my traveling partner¬†seemed insecure, and despair crept into my experience a number of times. I felt frustrated, held back, and uncertain where my path would lead me, but committed to continuing the journey. I continued to practice new practices that were definitely doing good things for my resilience, improving my ability to maintain a neutral, honest, and healthy perspective, and helping me manage stress. I wasn’t sure it would be enough to thrive on…and I wasn’t sure that the positive changes I could see developing would be enough, soon enough, to hold on to what I valued most in life – or love.

When 2015 began, I was struggling with attachment, afraid to let go and just be. I struggled with blaming myself for things¬†going on that weren’t¬†about me at all, and I struggled with feeling responsible for making a¬†relationship work, in which it had become clear the other¬†didn’t actually want things to work and was not invested in building a functional relationship¬†with me. Accepting that was painful (rejection hurts) and it was hard to just breathe and let it go without ‘closure’, or honest communication, or even basic civility. The pain diminished in the instant I remembered that the character and behavior of that other human being is no reflection on me whatsoever; she is her own human being, and all the consequences of her choices are entirely her own (as mine belong entirely to me). ¬†That was an important lesson¬†and turning point.

It has been a year¬†full of important lessons in taking care of myself, in emotional self-sufficiency, and in learning to love well, and without unhealthy attachment – with the result that my relationship with my traveling partner has grown and deepened wonderfully, and I am so much more able to love well, generally, and to listen deeply. I ended the other,¬†abusive, relationship (keeping a promise I made to myself long ago), and I declined to pursue a relationship with characteristics suggesting high risk in a number of areas of life in which I’m not inclined to compromise. I’ve stopped trying to meet needs for connection and intimacy through sex, with result that sex is improved; I have sex¬†only¬†in relationships in which there is already intimacy and connection. 2015 taught me a lot about who I am, and what I really need to thrive. In 2015, I learned a lot about ‘enough’, and began investing in lasting contentment, instead of chasing more/better.

2016 begins well. I could stop there. I have, a number of times already. No map. I don’t really know where this new year will take me, what I may learn, gain, or lose. I don’t know what’s up ahead on this journey, and I am feeling tranquil and unconcerned about that – making it hard to write, honestly. ūüôā

Today, though, is a good one for contemplation. I will take time to consider the year-to-come, to wonder, to dream, to plan, to question – it’s the questioning that is perhaps most relevant to where I may find myself a year from today. I’ll think it over, and ¬†make some notes; I find it helpful to look back with some context. I’ll write in my private journal, and send myself an email ‘from the past’, as I did last year – it was¬†a special moment this morning when I got¬†that email from myself. Being able to read my own stern warning to end an abusive relationship with the comfortable knowledge¬†that it was done months ago was validating; I am learning to take better care of myself, and my heart.

The view of 2015 is very different from this perspective. The path ahead seems a bit more clear, now.

The view of 2016; the path ahead seems a bit more clear, now.

Today is a good day to take care of me. Today is a good day to begin again. Today is a good day to be my own cartographer, on this journey of my own making. Happy New Year! Are you ready? Let’s change the world!

No rain today. It’s not a holiday. Today is simply a weekend day wedged between one holiday and another. I am not working, and it isn’t raining; I walk a few miles. It’s a good day to walk (from my own perspective most of them are). After considering many trails within easy reach on such a day, I decide in favor of the closest paved trails through forest and meadow (only recently passable on foot) and head out with my camera and my thoughts, and commit to walking farther on foot, versus traveling¬†farther to walk fewer miles in the same time.

Some of it is about what is in the distance, on the horizon, possible or probable; there will be verbs involved.

Some of it is about what is in the distance, on the horizon, possible or probable; there will be verbs involved.

It’s the end of one year, the beginning of another, and consistent with my tendency towards organized hierarchical thinking (as a human primate – it’s a thing we favor) the ‘new year’, as arbitrary as it really is, seems a fine time to wrap things up that no longer have value, or have reached a natural end, to¬†reach out to initiate new things, shore up works in progress that need a boost or re-commitment of will, or to take a deep breath and re-calibrate this whole experience in some way through reflection, consideration, or discussion. In short, it’s a time of year I often spend on self-reflection.

(I re-read that last paragraph¬†and I am reminded of my traveling partner’s observation that there is room for brevity in life, in poetry, in text messaging – and surely in my own use of language as well? Fair enough, Dear One, you are quite correct. I’ll reflect on that, too; it’s a lovely moment to reach out for healthy changes, and to refresh my thinking on all manner of things – even language.)

Today I just walked. Footsteps over miles. Miles of mud. Miles of pavement. Miles under clouds. Miles alongside small local waterways. Miles of trees, squirrels, crows, ducks, geese, and the sound of nearby traffic and all of the busy-ness mankind has created to occupy time. Miles of musing about things I have seen, things I have heard, and things that I wonder. I wander. Miles. Miles of tiny mushrooms in a variety of shapes and sizes and habits of growth. Miles of opportunities to pause. Miles measured in moments, one after the other, each so very precious – each now only a memory. I reflect on the miles, and I reflect on the moments. I reflect on what is behind me, and how far I’ve yet to go.

Sometimes it is a matter of details, perspective, and a willingness to be aware, without judgment or interpretation.

Some of it is a matter of details, perspective, and a willingness to be aware, without judgment or interpretation.

Today is a good day for reflection.

I am sipping my coffee and thinking about sweaters. Well, actually, I am thinking about a particular sweater I like very much that just doesn’t go with the rest of what I am wearing at all, and immediately after finding myself wishfully thinking it would be nice to have this particular sweater in a number of other colors, I realized all I’d have to do to have that is learn to knit or crochet and get to work on it. That’s not my most likely choice in this instance, but it got me thinking about life’s vast menu of possible choices, and how little of that vast unlimited potential I actually consider day-to-day, myself.

When I dine out, I expect generally I will be choosing my meal from a menu – the restaurant prepares¬†the menu, and it is the nature of menus to limit the choices presented. It is a system that works out pretty well. They tell me what they offer, and I choose from that list. If I don’t like the choices, I can go eat elsewhere and choose from their menu.

When I go grocery shopping, I may not have a menu, but I will nonetheless choose from the limited selection the grocery store offers me, and if I need or want things they do not supply, I can take my shopping elsewhere, and choose from the products offered by some other merchant.

When I attend classes, I choose from a list of available courses. It is clearly not a complete list of all possible knowledge I could choose to study.

Simple or fancy, the menu is a limited list.

Simple or fancy, the menu is a limited list.

Choices seem to generally work in the observed fashion; we are presented with some limited selection and we choose from that, or go elsewhere in search of something we want that is not offered there. I don’t often stop to think about the implied limiting factor: whatever is on the menu, or on the shop shelves, it is but a small sample of ‘all the possible foods’ or ‘all the things to buy’. Life is like that, too, only… I’m the person I generally find to be responsible for limiting my own choices; I am writing the menu, myself.

That sweater isn’t going to knit itself – and, by the way, I’m not likely to be the one knitting it either. I don’t know how to knit. I could choose to learn…if I chose to… Learning to knit doesn’t seem to appear on ‘my menu’ of things to do in life. I could make excuses about being thumb-fingered, or having tried before, or any number of lame reasons why I don’t choose to learn to knit, although I really love sweaters and could learn to make my own. On the other hand, when I first began playing around with watercolors on paper, painting wasn’t just ‘on my menu’ – it was akin to ‘the special of the day’ in that¬†moment in my life; I chose it before I could consider choosing it, and it is a natural part of me. Who wrote the menu? This internal list of what my options are in life – where did it come from? Who maintains it? When I feel as though I ‘have no other choice’ that¬†isn’t likely to be the literal truth of it – and even recognizing this is often not enough to immediately open my eyes to the impossibly unimaginably vast potential array of choices truly in front of me.

Be love.

Be love.

The year is ending, and it is a season of contemplation and of questions for me. Where now? This has been a remarkable year for change, for growth, for love to blossom as though new – and I have so many choices possible in the year to come…but…what are they? Am I open to all of them, and equipped to choose what will tend to support my needs most over time? Will I choose to be a better human being than I was yesterday? Have I limited my menu too much by rejecting very promising opportunities, projects, or adventures because I don’t see myself as that person – or because I think I ‘can’t’ or ‘shouldn’t’?

It’s funny – when I was a kid there was a lot of push to send the message to children that they could do or be ‘anything’ they might wish to do or be. It’s even sort of true. Then there was a swing in the other direction, to refrain from encouraging children in an unrealistic way, and more in favor of being ‘practical’ and ‘real’ with children about their potential and abilities and and to avoid¬†‘setting them up for failure’ with overly high expectations. That’s even sort of sensible. Both approaches touch on real things; it is rare that we really understand the vastness of our potential, and we are able to overcome so much to achieve what we desire! On the other hand – there are obstacles in life, verbs involved, and some things may not be so simply done. I hesitate to say ‘impossible’ about any particular human achievement, myself: moon landing, space shuttle, space station, solar power, tunnel bridges, The Beatles, eggs fertilized outside of wombs, women on the Supreme Court, the internet,¬†Google, Microsoft, Tesla, and all within my lifetime! How many of these things seemed impossible at some earlier point? So, when a little girl wants to be president – why not? On the other hand, it sure isn’t going to be easy to get there – and success won’t be a given.

Even Santa has a list...

Even Santa has a list…

I am sipping my coffee in the glow of holiday lights, and listening to the heater click and pop as it begins to take the morning chill off the room. I am wondering if I might like to learn to knit, although I had once attempted it without much success perhaps I have changed? I smile, and let other choices and options I might not generally consider drift past my awareness: encaustic? through-hiking? remote travel? exotic cuisine? a martial art? disc-golf? a musical instrument? another language? a silent retreat? a cruise? As I list options something strange happens just at the edge of my awareness and I pause to consider it; the longer I go on, the more similar to things I already do, or have done, or are very like my existing interests each thing becomes – I have to almost fight myself to allow experiences or events significantly outside my norm to reach my awareness and hold my attention for a moment. That’s something to consider further.

I choose even my perspective; I am my own cartographer on this journey.

I am able to choose even my perspective when I am aware that choice exists.

If I am writing the menu for myself, then even the choices regarding how I filter or limit my choices is mine to choose.¬†What will I choose today? What will I choose tomorrow? What matters most – what I choose, or that I choose? Today is a good day to consider ‘all the options’ – and what that means, and how I am limiting myself in life by limiting my choices. Today is a good day to update the menu.

I woke early this morning, filled with a sense of purpose, and slightly concerned I might have ‘overslept’. It was 6:00 am. I didn’t feel rushed, but I also didn’t want to, so I remained committed to the purposeful moment, and moved through my morning routine contentedly. It was the start of an excellent Monday… only… today is Sunday.

I’m still contented; early mornings don’t distress me. I slept well after a couple difficult nights, and a day of illness, and feeling both well-rested and ‘well’, it is a lovely morning thus far.

I took time to meditate, and my yoga practice felt relaxed and deep, and I was patient with myself. I enjoyed the satisfaction of doing a couple new asanas with fluidity and grace, having practiced them enough now to be able to do them without refreshing my memory immediately before doing them. ¬†One of my partners had been pointing out how much bad posture was also causing elevated stress (through physical discomfort) and I added a couple of asanas to my yoga sequence specifically to help improve my posture, overall. It’s been helping. I also got my eyes checked – because by far the most common scenario for my bad posture is ‘hunched over the computer/my laptop’. ¬†I did indeed need new glasses. ¬†Just knowing my eyesight is a factor in my posture, and thus my pain and stress levels, I adjusted my settings on my laptop so that everything is a tad bigger and easier to read. 5 years ago, having to take such an action would have peeved me for days, and caused me to feel very blue over ‘aging’. This year, it was really a pretty matter-of-fact thing, without stress. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of the user preference settings in my own computer to suit my current needs? Anything else would be…ridiculous. I’m eager to have my new glasses, too.

Somewhen during this morning’s meditation, thoughts of road signs [on life’s journey] and highlight reels [of life’s important moments] drifted through my consciousness. I observed them, as words and ideas, and let them drift on by. They lingered in the background, wanting to be considered later, and here I am considering them.

It would be pretty convenient if life did have ‘road signs’, wouldn’t it? “Abrupt Change Ahead” for life’s unexpected challenges, perhaps, or “Caution: Slow Self ” for those groggy mornings? We try so hard to benefit from the wisdom of others, and with such limited success, sometimes. Is that a lack of trust? Is it a lack of understanding that the experiences of others may be truly relevant to our own? Is it a misplaced sense of our uniqueness to the detriment of our similarities? Is it a lack of will competing with the possibility that even those acts or qualities that do not serve us well, may serve us somehow? I find myself wondering if I can somehow imagine those ‘missing road signs’ as I experience my now – by inserting a gentle “Yield” sign in those moments of stress before escalation, or a bold “Stop” sign in that breath before saying just the wrong thing? If I could, would I mind them or disregard them? That got me wondering… am I a ‘good citizen’ in my own experience? I suspect that last one could easily amount to an entire day’s thinking…

Highlight Reels are something totally different, but still somehow potentially instructive and cautionary. I often explore a montage of relevant memories when I tackle life’s curriculum. New lessons often prove to be significantly less ‘new’ than I experience them to be initially, and there is value in considering prior opportunities to have applied the lesson facing me, as well as considering what future opportunities there may be. ¬†There is also value in contemplating past successes – with precisely what I am learning, and things that are quite different in some way.

When do those ‘road signs’ become paralyzing anxiety? When do ‘highlight reels’ become self-deprecatory or punishing rumination full of futility and despair? ¬†If the most useful question is not ‘when?’… what is it?

Not even a thousand words, and no pictures, and I notice the morning wearing on gently. It’s 8:00 am, and although it is a Sunday, I hear a partner making coffee in the kitchen. This morning’s words are more words in a recreational way than words with any urgently serious intention. Casual words. Reflective words. Neither road signs nor highlights – just words. ¬†I will set them aside, and return to the immediate and beautiful ‘now’. ūüôā

Today I am compassionate. Today I am content. Today I am changing the world. Sundays are good days for change.