Archives for posts with tag: one step at a time

It’s been a few days of dealing with an “interesting” increase in my anxiety, recently. Like… a distracting, persistent, defiant amount of anxiety, of varying intensity… the sort of thing that surges back seemingly stronger than previously known (it isn’t, really), and difficult to manage. It’s been disrupting my sleep, and pulling my attention away from things that (truly) matter much more. Frustrating.

β€œAnxiety” 10β€³ x 14β€³ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

I woke early, pre-occupied with work, because that’s just the sort of thing Anxiety enjoys nibbling on before the day even begins. Any detail over which I’m less than entirely confident and comfortable with becomes fuel to her fire. Fuck Anxiety; she’s a liar. Anxiety forces me to view the world through a lens of fear, doubt, stress, and insecurity, and prevents me from embracing other qualities of my experience. I haven’t had to do such fierce battle with my anxiety in a long while. It’s fueled by the competing experiences of home-ownership and difficult (unpleasant) work-place relationships. The sense of obligation that comes of owning a home causes me to feel I “have to” endure more that is unreasonable, to set fewer clear boundaries, to be more reluctant to “draw a line in the sand” with higher ranking colleagues… all of which are uncomfortable, less than ideal, and probably also seriously bullshit. lol Anxiety, remember, is a liar.

I woke early, and spent my first minutes on meditation. It helps a lot. Coffee came later, because over the years I’ve learned too well that Anxiety likes a good cup of coffee every bit as much as I do, and not in a helpful way. lol Meditation first. Coffee later.

I looked over my work calendar, and quickly identified the source of my stress – it was really just one meeting on my calendar (that I own), and only due to a change of format being requested, for which I have had too little time to prepare. So… that’s not even “about” me. I reschedule the meeting to give myself (and another affected colleague) more time to make the requested changes. No harm done. Hell, it’s even a short week (after a Monday holiday) and so far it’s going very smoothly. Hard to argue with those results. πŸ™‚

I feel my tension ease, my Anxiety receding into the background, returning to being “anxiety” with a lower-case A. Nice. A good start to the work week… I mean… good enough. Amply adequate, for sure. πŸ˜€

The weekend that is now over was a lovely one. I sip my coffee, free of the crushing weight of the anxiety that had been nagging me earlier, and think about the lovely miles of trail walking, the scent of fresh baked cookies that filled the kitchen all weekend, and my Traveling Partner’s smiles. A good weekend.

Sometimes the obstacles along the way are small enough to just step over them. πŸ™‚

So, a new week, new beginnings – and new challenges. πŸ™‚ Sometimes the “new” challenges just happen to be old familiar ones – I just get to practice handling them, all over again. lol Didn’t think I needed to take that lesson one more time, but there it is – and we become what we practice. πŸ˜€

It’s time to begin again.

One step at a time, eventually measured in miles. One day at a time, eventually measured in years. One moment at a time eventually becomes a life well-lived, on a beautiful journey. ❀

Where am I headed? Easy enough to know where I began, I suppose, or where I begin, now. Here? Over there? Somewhere near at hand, if the journey is to be successful; it’s difficult to go from “here” to “there”, if my understanding of what “here” is, is at odds with the practical of matter of where here is, in fact. lol That’s one major detail that presents each of us with a unique-feeling challenge; if our understanding of reality is notably different than what reality actually seems to be, it’s hard to navigate reality in an effective way, right? Definitely harder to communicate with those around us who don’t share our view.

Unavoidably, while some of what we understand of the world around us is demonstrably “real”… some of it is bullshit we made up in our heads, without any kind of validation, fact-checking, or even a quick look at the world around us. Less than ideally useful, I think. We can do better. We probably ought to consider other options than storming the fucking capitol or hitting someone when we’re angry; there are better choices that map more accurately to the real world, and the needs of our communities, families, and selves. πŸ˜‰

Near or far, we don’t see what is beyond our horizon.

Any way, I’m just saying… every morning we each get a new start, if we choose to accept it. We stand in some moment, on a new day (with or without coffee), and we take that next step along our path. Choose your path. Consider it with care. Where are you headed? Will this path even take you there? I sip my coffee thinking about the day and weekend ahead. Thinking about “my path”, and this strange journey through my chaos and damage, seeking a sense of well-being, seeking “wholeness”, seeking to more fully understand and more skillfully make use of agency, to embrace accountability and responsibility, to serve family, and community, and to be the woman (the human being) I most want to be. It’s January 8th. 8 Years ago, I started this blog, and started down this path…

The path isn’t straight, the destination isn’t obvious, but the journey must continue.

I reflect on this journey, thus far. I’ve come a long way from that despairing woman, exhausted by her personal demons, worn down by years of poor self-care and less-than-ideal mental health – and problematic relationships. I was not even certain I wanted to go on living. (Despair is ugly shit.) I had choices to make. I still expected clear answers to existential questions. I still wanted certainty about the outcome… or the point. The first steps on this peculiar new path didn’t take me very far. I wasn’t sure I was moving at all. No sense of “forward momentum” and some of the days felt “sticky” and gummed up with years and years of baggage and bullshit, that had festered for so long it seemed to much to process, at all. More than once, that first year, I just wanted to give up… or destroy something. Anything. I needed so desperately to feel that some kind of progress was being made. Incremental change over time is often an almost imperceptibly slow thing.

It may not be the shortest path – but this journey isn’t a race, or a contest – I’ll just keep walking.

These are such personal journeys, these human lives we lead. Each step our own… whether we choose it or are forced upon it, these are still our steps, our miles… our choices. Don’t like where you seem to be headed? Choose another path.

Change is a verb – and also an outcome. Where does the path lead?

So many steps, miles, verbs, choices, practices… and so much change over 8 years time. If I’d had to know, then, that it would be 8 years to “now” – this now – I’m not sure I could have endured the journey. It’s felt very “now” all this time, looking back on the path now and then, looking ahead on the path stretching before me, for as far as I could see… and walking on. Breathing. Exhaling. Reflecting. Finding those moments to be truly the woman I most want to be, and really enjoying those. Being.

Building the path as I walk it.

Sometimes the way ahead in life doesn’t appear to be an easy journey at all. We spend our lives becoming. Finding our way. Wandering. Questioning. What if – just hear me out on this – what if that’s really the point of it? To become. To discover. To learn. To ask. To wonder. It’s a question I find worth considering now and then.

Coffee’s finished. The day ahead unfolds gently. There’s an easy smile hovering at the corners of my mouth in spite of the pointlessly serious expression I feel on my face. There’s this day – and this journey – ahead of me, and it’s already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Where does this path lead? I guess that’s always a question. πŸ™‚

Stay on the path. We become what we practice.

Sipping my coffee this morning, and giving thought to yesterday. A good day at work. A weird, fairly alarming commute home by light rail (lots of feral humans, acting out, it was a bit scary at times). I think about how productive I felt, in the new location. I think about how many colleagues were smiling, that I don’t recall seeing smile so much, before. The thought has me smiling, now. πŸ™‚

…Sometimes a change of perspective makes a real difference. Walk a new path. Take a different approach. View things through a different lens. Ask new questions. Hell, just step from here, to over there, and take another look. Perspective can change how things look, so much. πŸ™‚

I think about the weekend, and the fresh bit of trail walking I’ve been doing. Where to, next? I’m eager to tackle a certain “loop” I have in mind (it is not particularly loop shaped, it simply does not require me to double back to get home). It will test my renewed endurance, although it is approximately the same length as the longest walk I’ve recently taken, at 3 miles. Nonetheless, it has one daunting feature, due to the lay of the land; it is very hilly, with several steep bits that mock the hill in front of the house (well… one of the steep bits is the hill in front of the house). Am I up to it? Regardless which direction I start off in, I’m facing serious inclines, or declines, and throughout the walk, an assortment of both. lol I’m still excited to give it a try.

…No expectation of “easy”. I just have it in mind to take this lovely walk I’ve never taken before. πŸ™‚ That’s enough.

I sip my coffee and think about walks, and paths, and journeys, and trails, and hikes… and realize I am ready, so ready, to begin again. πŸ˜€

Where does this path lead?

I woke earlier than I needed to, this morning. No reason. Maybe I’d gotten enough sleep? My anxiety started to increase a few minutes after I woke. Yesterday morning was like this, too. There are steps to take, and they do work pretty well. The key detail is that I have to actually practice those practices. Reliably. Thinking about it isn’t particularly effective; however well I know that there are practices that help reduce my anxiety, doing them is what is required. Verbs. Action. Practice.

What works? Probably a lot of things. I started here. And here. And here.

What works for me, may not be what works for you – but that may not be an obvious certainty until you’ve tried them. So… what worked (for me) yesterday? Meditation. Good self-care. Positive self-encouragement. Taking a walk. And (for me) a bonus; my Traveling Partner was out of the house for a couple hours hanging out with a friend, and I got some much needed solo time (actual solitude, spent actually at home) in which to meditate (more), read, and find an hour of real ‘cognitive stillness” (no TV, no music, no notifications, no conversation, no other human presence…just… quiet). I recognize that the profound desire for “cognitive stillness” and solitude, isn’t a thing for which we all have a uniform need. Some people would definitely not enjoy that kind of deep, stark, uninterrupted stillness, and some people find solitude, itself, quite terrifying. Finding the practices that truly support our individual needs, and our own emotional wellness, is complicated. Try a lot of things. Stick with what works. Be mindful and compassionate with others; what works for you may not work for them. We are each having our own experience. πŸ™‚

Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a minute, and sort things out.

I suspect that a considerable portion of my anxiety, right now, isn’t properly my own. I’m picking it up from relationships and circumstances, from the media news, and sort of “inheriting” the anxiety of people dear to me, as they work through their own baggage, and deal with their own deal. Nothing about that results in the anxiety being less real; it is what it is. I’m feeling feelings. The feelings are uncomfortable, and mess with my mind, and my emotional comfort. No reason to take it personally. I have practices to help with that. Practicing those works. (Talking or thinking about them, as practices, without practicing them, does not work at all. lol Just being real. There are verbs involved.)

Once I noticed the anxiety creeping in around the edges of my awareness again this morning, I immediately began taking steps. Breathing. Meditation. Checking my email. (Um, no. Not that last one. lol) A quiet cup of tea. A bit of reading. I look out the window thinking about taking a walk. The sun isn’t even up yet. It’s quite dark. So… too soon. lol Instead, I reflect on how meaningful and appreciated that few minutes walking yesterday really was.

It was a beautiful day for it. Clear, and chilly without being cold.

It felt good to be out on the trail. I was grateful for the paved path, and that I remembered my cane, which I am definitely needing for longer walks.

Blue skies and trees illuminated by sunshine became a smile on my face.

I found the walk challenging enough, between slippery bridges still wet from recent rain, and my aching ankle, and popping knee, that I only managed a (fairly gentle) 1.22 miles. It still felt great to be out there, just walking, alone with my thoughts.

Gnothi Seauton. I wisely choose not to walk a distance or paths I am not ready for, today.

The distance was shorter than I could easily cover, fairly recently, but I didn’t take the setback personally. I just enjoyed the walk I actually took. πŸ™‚

It was enough to walk in the sunshine, smiling, watching the squirrels.

I find myself glancing through the blinds, now and then, while I write, this morning, hoping for another good day to take a walk. It looks rainy. My ankle and knee (opposite sides) ache. Letting that stop me is counterproductive for several reasons, so I maintain the intention of “getting out there” for at least a mile. I may try to do this every day…

How else will I see all the squirrels? lol

Weird night. I woke repeatedly to answer a question someone asked me – in my dreams. Different dreams. Different questions? No idea, I was confounded each time my attempt to answer (out loud) woke me, because I could not actually recall the question I had tried to answer. My sleep cycled through this strange sequence some 5 times, to my puzzlement when I finally woke, to enjoy the day ahead. No nightmares, although my urgent desire to answer this single question was really frustrating to wake from feeling so incredibly unsatisfied.

I make my coffee. Answer a couple messages. Still feeling sort of weirdly out of step with the day, the time, my experience, I rather randomly (it felt) threw open the patio door and took my coffee with me to my meditation cushion, and restarted my day. Bare feet extending over the door sill, sipping my coffee, feeling the hints of mist-not-quite-rain tickling my skin and dampening the edges of my pajama pants, I sat a while, smiling to myself, enjoying the chill of the autumn morning with the warmth of the house at my back. One of the squirrels began to approach, but realizing the peanuts were really quite near me, without any door between us, he retreated to the deck rail to flip his tail at me rather aggressively, and chitter his annoyance in whatever passes for language among squirrels. I presume it must be a similar experience as arriving to a breakfast destination only to realize there’s a wait. lol Not meaning to be a buzz kill, I move back a bit and close the patio door, so my squirrel neighbor can enjoy breakfast in comfort.

A rainy day, a squirrel.

I sit quietly a while longer, thinking about spring camping. (You may recall, I’ve said I’m “a planner” by tendency? It’s a true thing; I’m planning my spring camping weekends as “now” as I can; it’s less than 6 months away! I frankly feel a bit rushed. LOL) This past year, my camping plans were almost entirely derailed by the regular weekend trips down to see my Traveling Partner; gas money, and time, that in other years would have been camping trips, and the usual recovery weekends between such things were spent recovering from commuting back and forth to be in my lovers arms for just a day or a few hours. My nail-biting as I review maps and details is less about nights out in forests, and more about days out on trails; I need the exercise, and trail hiking is my favorite way to get it.

Ultimately, we each choose our own path…

I figure, maybe if I put more planning under my hopes and dreams for 2019, I can enjoy more of all the things. πŸ™‚ Other things sort of got in the way this year. Break ups, moves, career changes, lifestyle changes, resource changes, business organization changes… all these sorts of things are incredibly disruptive for people, when they come up. For us (together), we handled at least one of each of those in 2018. It was an expensive, and emotionally taxing, year. In some ways inconvenient, unpleasant, and painful. Disappointing. Hard. In other ways, though, it has been a healing journey, a bit of progress, finding some better ways, forging stronger healthier connections as we end relationships and associations that were toxic or overly costly in human or social currency (or, yeah, financially). We’ve all had our own hard mile to walk this year. You, too? Probably, right? πŸ™‚ We’re all in this together, so it’s a fairly safe assumption we’ve each had our challenges.

The year is quickly winding down. There will be no elaborate “punch line” or “finish” to the end of 2018, I suspect, just a fatigued sigh and a moment of relief that it is over, that love wins, that I made it through from one crazy blow out rager of a New Year’s party at one end, to… what? What will New Year’s Eve be this year? Will I be home alone quietly, spending the holiday as is generally my practice, in meditation, contemplation of the year past, and the year ahead? Will I find myself surrounded by friends (or strangers) at some massively loud banger this year, celebrating full on with a crowd of other people, also celebrating, and all the over-stimulation that provides? Fuck – I’m still blown away by the house party I attended last New Year’s. It was… intense. lol The delicious illusion of inclusion and hopefulness that night really set the tone for what it seemed the year would become… of course, it didn’t. Because that’s how illusions work; all show, no substance. The hopes we fostered that night became the disappointments in the year ahead, but of course, we did not see or acknowledge that, then. lol Why would we? It was as if casting a spell, shared by all of us, over all of us, hoping for something much better than we’d previously had. Or… maybe it was just a party? πŸ˜‰

Mt McLoughlin, Oregon

This year I expect to be a tad more studious about my New Year, whatever I do with it. It’s always a great time to begin again. πŸ™‚ We can’t really know where our journey leads, but we’ve still got to make the journey. Sometimes what looks like a destination, turns out to be nothing more than scenery along the way. It doesn’t change the worthiness of the journey itself, to discover that our path leads past something beautiful in the distance, rather than directly to it; what we see from our own limited perspective in one singular moment may not be as real (or attainable, or desirable, or as near at hand) as we’d like to make it. πŸ™‚ There are so many more options on life’s menu than we can see from the perspective of one moment.

The map is not the world. The fantasy is not the reality.

I look over maps of trails and camps nearer to where my Traveling Partner currently resides… there are some choice locations that are wilderness, in spite of their nearness. There are choices that are very near, indeed, and so manicured, maintained, and resourced, they would be more glamping than camping. Some cool opportunities to be “near enough” that he could pop over to my campsite, or I could pop over for a few hours of partying and music, and we could still generally be doing our own thing… this is a solution that appeals to me greatly. πŸ˜€

I sip my coffee and daydream, as the gray sky shifts in tone and hue from “why are you even up already?” to “why are you still lounging around in jammies?”. Looks like it is time for another coffee…