Archives for posts with tag: one step at a time

I still struggle with deal with live with (cope with?) anxiety. My anxiety woke me this morning. Unpleasant way to wake up too early, although, I will say that anxiety and being groggy don’t co-exist – so I definitely woke up fully, all the way awake. lol The newly added acoustic treatment in the house (in my studio, in the echoing hallway, in the living room where we listen to music) has the added bonus of allowing my Traveling Partner to sleep through my wakefulness, so… win? It at least amounts to an improvement.

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ – and she feels much bigger than that, generally.

I sip my coffee feeling my anxiety begin to recede. What sparked it? I’m not sure, and it’s not always necessary to do a detailed “root cause analysis” – doing so often seems to prolong or increase the anxiety itself, rather than diminish it. It just doesn’t do to give anxiety too much “attention”. Anxiety is an attention whore. Anxiety is liar. Fuck anxiety. LOL I breathe, exhale, relax – and feel the physical details of my morning anxiety continue to dissipate. At this point, I suspect my waking anxiety was nothing more than a physical experience of attempting to sleep through the warning signs of mild gastro-intestinal discomfort. I similarly experience heightened anxiety if I wake feeling nauseous, unaware – at least initially – that I am potentially going to vomit. Anxiety reliably wakes me – and my brain certainly knows this.

Aside from my anxiety upon waking, it’s been a lovely morning. I woke, took care of biological needs, took time to meditate, dressed and went for my morning walk. I returned home from a lovely walk filled with birdsong, blooming roses, and rose-tinted clouds as the sun rose, had a shower, and made an excellent cup of coffee – with enough awareness still left over to notice that I probably would do well to get more coffee beans today (instead of tomorrow). I find myself wondering what would be nice for dinner, tonight? I think about the tomatoes I planted last week, and the irrigation my Traveling Partner provided them – he knows that the greatest risk to any garden of mine is that I will run out of energy on hot days, and fail to water them reliably. Problem solved.

Lately we’ve been working on a variety of household projects intended to improve our quality of life by addressing some personal needs – like noise sensitivity (so, acoustic treatments for that), and light/dark/shadow quirks and personal preferences for qualities of light that can influence emotional states (so, installing modern programmable, controllable lighting with features that reliably create suitably comfortable environments for the human primates living within). It’s pretty mind-blowing to have these options, instead of feeling limited to some dismal, single, bare, rather depressing yellow-y, overhead bulb in a dusty or broken fixture (honestly, it’s been a long damned time since I had that to deal with, but the memory lingers on in my emotions and sense of comfort). My partner gets something out of doing the projects – we both benefit from the results. I enjoy the almost magical fairytale experience of stepping out of my office on a break to discover some new wonder of quiet, or lighting.

…Today I’m trying out a style of wall switch, as I work…

…Work. Right. Another work day. I’m not fussing or discontented. I like this job. I enjoy working with this group of colleagues. I know it’s a good fit for me; it’s not easy. It’s a stretch for every skill, every day, though, and that’s cognitively fatiguing, leaving me pretty drained at the end of each week. It also finds me a bit more skilled and a bit more developed, at the start of each new week. So… another win? There’s certainly a bit of juggling involved in finding something like “work/life balance” right now… there are days that I suspect, left on my own, I’d just continue working long into the evening (so unlike me) because the work matters, and I find it engaging enough to be almost entertaining at some points. This is new for me. I explore it gently, finding ways to make use of this heightened emotional investment in doing well, without undermining my actual wellness.

The world continues to turn. Sometimes my stomach along with it; I am appalled, every day, at new reports of human cruelty, violence, and hate. I want to cry “where did this come from?!” – but I’m aware it’s been with us all along. It’s in our primate make-up. We are not truly domesticated. We are not as civilized as we would like to be seen to be. I take a breathe and exhale, reminding myself that I can do better, individually, at least – and take steps to be my best self, and to be the change I want to see in the world. If nothing else, I can at least do that. We’ve each got to begin somewhere.

Has it “all gone terribly wrong” for you? Been there. I suppose sooner or later I may be there again. I can only suggest that you begin again. Yes, and again after that if need be. Stop. Take stock. Breathe. And begin again. And again. And again. Incremental change over time will add up. Choosing, in some small way, to be and do better than the last time – it’ll add up. Like adding acoustic treatment to a noisy house – one room at a time. Or changing out old incandescent lighting for modern LEDs – one bulb at a time. Room after room. Change after change. Choice after choice. It adds up. It doesn’t always feel like progress when progress is slow… but seriously? We get to our goals in steps. One step at a time, one choice at a time, one new beginning at a time. πŸ™‚

It’s time to begin again. Today, I may not change the world, but maybe I can change the person I am, and become more the person I most want to be? One moment 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