Archives for posts with tag: order from chaos

I slept well and deeply, but woke very early (more than an hour ahead of my alarm clock). Pain woke me. Nothing acute or new, just arthritis, but pain is pain, and pain hurts. I mean, that’s literally it’s defining quality… so… yeah. Some yoga eases me into the morning, before I ease myself into my work clothes. Another day, another new beginning. 😉

I have some interesting perfume samples to try; gifts from my Traveling Partner. I choose one. Try it. It has a very familiar scent (not necessarily perfume-related familiarity). I can’t place it. This one quickly goes from “this is interesting”, moving quickly through “this is nice” and settling, before I even make it to the office, somewhere in the vicinity of “well, this is regrettable”. lol Okay. Sampled.

I sip my coffee, and wonder if my keyboarding is “too loud”. It’s early, and the world feels quiet. At this hour, everything sounds “too loud”. I make an effort to lighten my keystrokes, to minimize the noise. Another sip of coffee. I smile with the satisfaction of it; it’s a great cup of coffee.

This isn’t a fancy moment, nor wildly joyful, and it’s generally uncomfortable (physically), and this perfume is now… annoying. But, it is, nonetheless, a pleasant moment, and needs nothing from me besides to be noticed, savored, and appreciated long enough to become a memory of a pleasant moment. (Or I could focus mostly on the arthritis pain, and allow it to become a literally painful memory, but I’m honestly not inclined to do that; I already have quite a few of those. 😉 )

I look around my studio. The house, everywhere else, looks holiday ready and thoroughly tidy. My studio, as a result, looks even more chaotic and… well… not tidy, than usual. I think about the weekend ahead, suitable for laundry and tidying up, for sure. 😀 I make a silent commitment to myself, and decide to begin again in here. 🙂

This morning, I am sipping my coffee and contemplating the new “view” in my studio. My Traveling Partner installed some lovely acrylic shelves for me, and my space is more organized, which has altered the view – and in some sense, also my perspective. I am enjoying the expectation-defying moment greatly; I had forgotten about the change during the night, and it struck me as surprising and delightful when I saw it this morning. 🙂

I head into the office after four very pleasant days away, spent taking care of myself, and enjoying the company of my partner. It’s been deliciously restful, and wonderfully satisfying. There’s not much else to say about it, it wasn’t fancy or particularly noteworthy, nor was the time spent in a remarkable or novel way; it was time spent wrapped in love, at home, and it was lovely. I allow myself a moment to notice that I just commented that time spent wrapped in love is not novel (for me, now), and I smile. It was a long journey to this place, paved with verbs and uncomfortable moments. A worthy journey. 🙂

I don’t know what the day ahead holds. I’m okay with that amount of uncertainty. 🙂 (Took some time to get here, too. lol) It is what it is. I’ll try not to let the verbs pile up unnecessarily. 🙂

…It’s already time to begin again. I guess I’m okay with that, too. 😀

Tomorrow I go back to work. That isn’t today. Today, however, is a good day to prepare, to make myself ready, to review plans and expectations, to jot down questions, to plot a new commute with care, and plan out new routines that take into account my return to the workforce, as well as the likelihood that I’ll be seeing a great deal more of my traveling partner as the weather turns from festival summer to fireside fall.

The end of a chilly rainy autumn day.

Yesterday ended well, although chilly.

Who am I? It seems a day for such questions. Rainy. Mild. More yellow and amber tones in the leaves of the trees on the far side of the park than there were yesterday. Evidence of time passing, and of seasons changing. I feel transformed, myself, and able to face the prospect of working with quite a bit more contentment, and in much less day-to-day pain, even with the chill of autumn approaching. Has it really meant so much to take this time to care for myself, to live on my own terms, to follow my own agenda? Just six months? Worth it. Totally worth it. I’ll even be taking understandings gained and this perspective on the healing power of leisure into the workplace with me; I’ve learned a lot that has value to long-term workforce management strategies. Am I this person, this analyst-manager, this workforce management professional, this corporate employee? Is this who I am? No. Not really. I am not my work.

I look around the studio, very tidy – even projects in progress are cleaned up, for now, and put neatly aside. I’ll have a guest for some days, soon. Is this who I am? Hostess? Family member, local matriarch, devoted servant of home and hearth? Or am I the artist who has so accommodatingly set everything aside to welcome friends in need, lovers in distress, a traveler returning home, or family visiting from afar? Am I the frustrated citizen, attempting to dot i’s, cross t’s, and jump through hoops of paperwork on fire to comply with some requirement or another? Am I the disabled veteran, committed to my wellness, frustrated by “the system”, still doing what I can to meet my own needs over time, through diet, exercise, and careful management of my health? Am I the woman on the meditation cushion in the window, content, calm, relaxed? (Occasionally distracted with childlike delight to see a squirrel dart past, or a woodpecker stop at the suet feeder, sending both bird and feeder spinning crazily, to my great amusement.)

Who am I? Am I all these – or none? When I cling to some singular potentially defining quality, like my appearance, or an attitude, or a characteristic, or some detail singled out, change becomes such a frightening destructive force, with the potential to rob me of who I am. “Who am I?” is a question that quite honestly used to terrify me – not because I didn’t have a sense of self, but because I didn’t know what “the right answer” was, and that, by itself, was quite terrifying. Follow that with finding myself unclear on precisely what is required to prove the answer. Yep. Terrifying to feel so… unidentified.

There is no “right” answer. There may be quite a few… not “wrong” exactly… “incorrect”? Inaccurate. There may be quite a few inaccurate answers. I take time to consider the difference between “accurate” and “honest”. Truthful fits in there, somewhere, too. I’m not sure that accuracy in the details that describe this being of light wrapped in this fragile vessel made of meat actually answers the question “who am I?” at all well.

It’s a pleasant enough autumn morning, on the edge of a major life change. It seems a good time to give a moment of thought and consideration to the woman in the mirror. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or deep, or complicated; I’ll pick out work clothes for tomorrow at some point later, and likely find myself contemplating the woman in the mirror, who she has become, where she is headed, and how she hopes to share herself in this new context. That’s enough for now. 🙂

A cloudy autumn day suitable for hiking. A good day to walk on; the journey isn't about the destination.

Today begins well, a cloudy autumn day suitable for hiking. The season is changing.

Today is a good day to consider the journey. Today is a good day to walk on. Change is. Perhaps it’s just the season for it? 🙂

Today is a good day for tidying up, and taking care of small things. I keep a list. I lose track if I don’t, and it doesn’t take long for some avalanche of little things to suddenly feel very big, and very overwhelming. So I have my list. Wobbly table? I put it on the list when I notice it (or when my traveling partner points it out!),  and practice staying on track with the moment I am in, without being distracted by minutiae. Some things just don’t ‘go on the list’ – a sticky spill, for example, or something that is a health or safety hazard, but most other sorts of small tasks that catch my attention go on my list to be undertaken in a thought out way, on a day that makes sense, perhaps grouped with other similar tasks. It is my way of getting as much done as I do. I can’t ‘recommend it’ – we’re different people. You likely have your own way.

Today it has been a rainy day of chores off the list: laundry, fix a wobbly table, build a lamp (some assembly required), empty a bookcase to straighten it, sort out some of the books, and a few other assorted household tasks that tend to seem ordered and fulfilling. I am sometimes surprised by how much difference a handful of small quality of life improvements can make in an increased sense of living well and treating myself well. These sorts of small tasks seem most pleasant and satisfying when I don’t feel rushed, compelled, or obligated, and I really dislike forgetting one of them completely for some prolonged period of time. They aren’t generally the sorts of things that improve for being overlooked longer, and I so easily forget them… and sometimes I… just can’t. Living alone there is no one else reminding me. When I live with other people, the observations (theirs and my own) come at me too quickly to keep track, and I certainly can’t keep up in the here-and-now trying to complete them immediately. “The Way of the List” works for me, and today I am working off the list. 🙂

Simple and enough.

Simple and enough.

Little things can make such a big difference. A tender word in a difficult moment, an unexpected smile, a sweet romantic kiss, a new solution, another point of view, a great cup of coffee, a word of praise, overcoming something I’ve struggled with, recognition of new skills, or appreciating a moment of insight, a shared moment – quiet, connected, intimate – and the little things love has to offer are every bit as big a deal as the little things I might do to treat myself particularly well. I think about my ‘to do’ list, and the way it sort of ‘holds on to my intentions’ so that I can take care of them later. How do I ‘hold on to’ all the little things I want to do to show my affection, my love, my appreciation… all the best of who I am, who I am inspired to be…so that when I am struggling with some other thing, feeling I am letting myself down, or failing someone dear to me, I can ‘check my list’ and do the things that I know matter most and say ‘I love you’ most clearly?  This isn’t about damage control, this is about growth and building on a good foundation. 🙂

Interesting thoughts on a rainy Saturday. I move through my space gently, practicing mindful awareness as I dust, straighten, and tidy up. Often playing a fun game with myself of ‘can I step so gently moment to moment that the water in the aquarium never moves?’ I’m not very good at it yet. I practice. I have left the weekend open, free of plans, giving myself time to really rest. The morning with my traveling partner was lovely, chill, and intimate. The afternoon has been productive, merry, and satisfying. I’ve no idea what the evening holds; I may be alone, but it’s not a given, so I keep working down the list, taking breaks to write, to have some water or a piece of fruit, or to chill quietly and relax for a moment and enjoy the day.

I find myself yawning. Coffee time or nap time? Looking out over the marsh I see the egret relaxing, and the ducks sitting, seeming quite content with their lot. I decide on a coffee; by the time I finished folding all the clothes (tossed unsorted on the clean comforter) so I could take a nap, I’ll have forgotten that’s what I was interested in. May as well have the coffee. 🙂

This morning I am relaxed and alert after a good night’s sleep. I woke too early to a distant peculiar high-pitched whine; the train in the distance crawling slowly through the night, sometimes loud, sometimes noisy, doesn’t often wake me but in the wee hours this morning it did. It wasn’t relevant to the overall quality of my sleep, or this lovely quiet morning over coffee.

I enjoyed quite a nice weekend, and although I started it having to deal with my challenges it was skillfully done, generally, productive, emotionally nourishing, fun, relaxing, and fairly entertaining. I spent much of it at home in this beautiful space I am creating for myself, and a lot of it painting. I’ve been needing this so much – over the years of adult creative lifetime I have yearned for adequate space to paint. I’ve done some amazing work perched on the edge of couches, crouched on the floor in a corner, spread out across kitchen counters, dining tables, or on an easel of good quality and sturdiness wedged into a corner of one room or another, cautious about paint being flung thoughtlessly here or there… attentive to immediately clean up, every day, every time… I’ve gotten close to have real studio space once or twice, only to see it jerked out of reach at the last minute. I was well into my 40’s – almost 50 – when I understood how much I yearned for dedicated creative space to work. I put it aside as a fantasy. I put it aside as unreachable – so many times. (If this isn’t obvious; it was often my own choices that put fulfillment of this desire out of my reach.)

Most of my partners and lovers have respected my artistic side, some of have truly loved my work; I feel certain that had it been commonly understood how badly I needed more room to work – understood by me, myself, too – I’d have been ‘here’ sooner. One of life’s many missed details – handled. I smile thinking about how many conversations with my traveling partner over the years have come back to making a viable solution to the need for room to paint become a reality for me – even our very first conversations as friends often wound around back to quality of life matters being needfully inclusive of this thing I did not have at that time; he recognized it as a ‘need’ when I still thought of it as a daydream without substance, forever out of reach. Over the course of our 5 years together, he has regularly pointed out potential solutions – and when it was clear that there was profound value for me (and us) in my living quite separately day-to-day, it was the artistic space that sold the idea first, healing was a bit of an afterthought (for me). I’ve been well-supported in this partnership – as an artist, as a woman, as a human being, and as a friend. How the hell do I say ‘thank you’ for all that?? Well… by painting, I guess, and making the choice to live alone have value beyond the separateness of it. 🙂

One of the faces of Love, and another way to take care of me.

One of the faces of love, and another way to take care of me.

I spent the weekend in my studio. I love the way that sounds. I spent it getting it set up, and using that time of making order out of chaos to ‘get my head right’ on Saturday morning (Friday afternoon and evening I wasn’t really good for much, dealing with a flare up of my PTSD and focused on very basic self-care). By midday Saturday I was painting. Sunday I was painting. Monday I was painting. Somewhere in the midst of all that, I found time to read, to eat, to shower, to love – the love matters most, perhaps, but without all that other stuff, who is here to be loved? I enjoyed the time I spent with my traveling partner Sunday – and there was no awkwardness in his departure. “What would you be doing if I left now?” he asked pleasantly after hanging out a while. I smiled and gave it some thought, the answer was an easy one, “I’d be in the studio, sitting with the new colors and the canvases I am working on, thinking about that”. He smiled back at me and observed that the timing seemed good. No stress, no emotional weirdness – an easy (for both of us) comfortable (for both of us) departure, freeing us (both) to move on with the day quite naturally. It was quite lovely, both the time together, and the time apart. What more could I ask of love?

There are now four canvases in various stages of completion in my studio, and they are not a frenzy of similarly themed work using a similar palette for economy. They are not being rushed through to avoid inconveniencing a household starting a new work week. Each is an entirely unique experience with color, texture, subject; I am able to slow my pace to a moment by moment approach that feels completely different – and worth exploring. Mindful painting? Is this a thing? The path veers in a new direction…

…I walk on, enjoying the view as I begin again. Today is a good day for art, for music, for words – a good day to feed my heart and my soul, not just this fragile vessel. 🙂