Archives for posts with tag: planning ahead

I’m still getting over being sick. It’s not COVID, though, so… there’s that. I figure I’ve got a good chance at getting fully over this with some summertime left for camping and hiking. I don’t think I’ll be up for it as soon as week after next – which is when I’d been planning on going. I wept some pointless childish tears over that, then re-planned my getaway.

Knowing I’m awfully sick, at least for now, I made two alternate plans. One of these is fully a month away (a bit more), well-past when I can expect to be over this and in fair shape for something as demanding as a decent hike… but… I couldn’t get my remote-ish wilderness-y spot that I favor for those dates. I could get a pretty good “plan B” tent site, though, so I booked it. I noticed that my favored location did have availability just 3 weeks from now, though… although I’m not nearly so certain I’ll really be ready for that level of exertion so soon… but… I booked that too. Greed? Selfishness? Maybe just yearning for that bit of solo time out in the trees, and the inescapable awareness that the “plan B” option is far less likely to really meet that need well. “Car camping” – more “glamping” really – and surrounded by others doing the same. My first choice favored site is quite a bit more remote, sufficiently so that on weekdays I’d likely be utterly alone save for the once daily drive through by the park rangers.

Sometimes “luxury” is just being close enough to the car to bring a giant cooler full of icy cold beverages!

My thinking is that if I’m up for it in 3 weeks, I go with the more demanding bit of hiking and camping, and the thrill of taking along my new camera for that experience. If I’m not quite good-to-go, I’ll cancel a few days in advance, giving someone else a shot at that choice campsite, and take advantage of the later date, easier location, two weeks later, and rely on hiking to choice locations for taking pictures, instead of being surrounded by it continuously.

The safety of a managed state park, the solitude of a remote hike-in camp. Me, the birds, the breezes, and the occasional chipmunk visitor.

I’m listening to rain falling. A drenching tropical rain, falling quite steadily. It’s a video, and I enjoy the sound of it. It’s not likely that I’ll be dealing with any rain on my camping trip, in August. More likely the afternoons will be quite hot, and the sunshine-drenched hiking will be miles of sweat and toil, and an occasional biting or stinging insect. Won’t stop me. Won’t make the coffee any less welcome at the start and end of each day. I do find myself thinking over my gear with great care; what I bring depends very much on which campsite I end up going to. A half-mile trek (each way) from car to camp that seems to be a steep uphill in both directions doesn’t allow for large coolers filled with icy beverages. I’m just not that young/strong/foolish these days. lol On the other hand, I don’t enjoy the car camping nearly as much since it reliably means I’ll be surrounded by other people, and the entire (100%) point of these excursions is getting some solitude to listen to my own thoughts for a while. So, I make two gear lists. Most of it is the same, and the differences are about balancing weight and convenience. I do like some luxury in my camping (really don’t like sleeping directly on the ground, is one good example; I generally take a cot).

I entertain myself while I’m still ill by thinking about the camping trip ahead – when I (hopefully) won’t be ill, and will benefit from having done so much careful planning. (I’m far less likely to get such well-considered planning done ahead of a trip happening with nothing but weeks of robust health and busy-ness in the days leading up to the departure.) So, I think very carefully about that long hike to the favorite camp site…

The signage says it’s 1/3 of a mile, but that appears to be “as the crow flies” – not overland, in steps. LOL

What can I comfortably carry on those steep hills? What do I really expect to need? What can I definitely leave behind (because I just haven’t ever used it if I did take it along)? What will I forget, and regret having done so? How many trips will I have to make to carry everything to camp? Can I reasonably expect to walk that many miles on a hot summer afternoon? Will I over-extend myself and end up forced to rest in camp most of the next day (I’ve got priors). Will I fail to prepare for some predictable misadventure that I knew better than to be unprepared for (looking your way blisters, water, fire management, toilet paper…)?

I chuckle quietly to myself as I listen to the rain fall over my headphones, gazing out my window onto the sunny boards of the fence between houses. Each new trail is a new lesson. Each mile is its own teacher. Each step I get to begin again.

I didn’t get as much sleep last night as I’d have liked, but the sleep I got was restful. No nightmares. I’ve wrestled a bit with anxiety, this morning, which prevented me sleeping longer, or more deeply. I finally just got up.

I spent some time meditating, before I made coffee. Feels good to be restoring a reliable meditation practice, and letting go of the vague feelings of shame or guilt that had occasionally been surfacing as a result of letting a valuable effective practice fall behind. I know how effective it is; just a couple days into a “New Year’s” commitment to meditate more reliably, my Traveling Partner commented, last night, that I “seem so much less stressed”. 🙂

I think about the “you’re not lazy, bored, or unmotivated…” video. I sip my coffee and consider my fears. What holds me back? I leaf through an old day planner. Remember those?

I relied on this planner to hold my life together for a few years, but it wasn’t the solution to everything.

New Year’s resolutions come and go. Dreams become goals, become plans, become actions, and eventually become outcomes of one sort or another… or disappointments through lack of action. I know I am not the only human being who struggles with the fears that hold me back. I watch the video again. There are things I’d like to do with my life… there is limited time to do them in.

I breathe, exhale, relax, and feel the anxiety that surged when I thought about the many things I also “need” to do, begin to recede. It’s an interesting exercise. I think about the thing I could undertake to start, do, or finish, my anxiety goes crazy; I breathe deeply, acknowledging the part I play in my own decision-making, and what I do with my time. I exhale, relaxing again, with a measure of self-directed kindness, and understanding that “things can feel so difficult, sometimes”, and the anxiety falls away. Back and forth. (Am I seriously playing with my anxiety?? Wtf?) Like wiggling a loose tooth; it is uncomfortable, but hard to resist doing.

Life can feel so overwhelming at times; the dreams, the goals, the chores, the errands, the tasks, the resolutions, the commitments, the projects, the responsibilities… they all pile up and compete for attention, and for limited bandwidth. Some are my own, others are imposed upon me externally. Some have some urgency. Others are deceptively lacking in apparent urgency, but more important things rely on them, in the future. Some I earnestly want for myself, but lacking encouragement, I give up on them. Others meet needs expressed by other people, and I vacillate wildly whether to do them at all. I guess I’m not surprised how often I find myself stalled, and at a standstill, just… not doing things. Realistically, I also don’t feel physically able to “do things” continuously throughout the entirety of the portion of the day during which I am awake; fatigue and pain are limiting factors that require some care…which becomes a handy excuse all its own.

About that… pain does not make getting shit done any easier. No surprise there. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a whole new year, or not. Pain sucks. I have another sip of my coffee and really think that over. Pain is pain, for sure, but… I’m not the only human being fighting to live a good life in spite of the pain I live with. Hell, I’m fairly fortunate that physical pain is my greatest day-to-day challenge, actually – things could be much more complicated than that. I let that go, and consider what I can do with my day, today, to support the quality of life I most want, in the most skillful way, with the time and resources I’ve got, while still feeling as well as I am able to, and enjoying the best possible self-care I can offer myself. It seems a worthy goal. (This approach is often where my “to do lists” begin, honestly. Very “tactical”. Not especially strategic.)

I push myself to “think farther out”, beyond this one day. What can I do with my day, today, that builds that quality of life farther out in the future, not just here, and now? Building blocks. Getting to those is fairly easy, and it is quickly apparent that most of those also have “building blocks” of their own; tasks that need to be completed in order to complete another more complex task, in order to further a project along its way, in order to get something done that may, at some point, result in a goal being achieved, or quality of life being improved. Fuuuuuuck. It all seems so messy, and chaotic, and human, and… omg, so many verbs!! Merely lobbing verbs at tasks isn’t ideally suited to bringing dreams to life, or achieving goals. Organizing my thoughts is worthwhile, having a plan is helpful… neither reduce the number of verbs or the amount of effort involved in making a great life, or reaching those far off goals, I guess, but the clarity of mind is useful, and often, within the planning and consideration, there are new observations to be made regarding how various goals and plans dovetail with each other. Small changes in timing or resources or “order of operations” can result in amazing things… Every journey feels easier with a map. (This is driving my thoughts towards day planners and project management applications. lol)

…”Every journey feels easier with a map”…

…I start thinking things over differently… How will I draw this map? I am my own cartographer… and it’s time to begin again. 🙂

I am home for the day, preparing for the long holiday weekend ahead. Having a quiet cup of tea, vaping something pleasant tasting, and watching the vapor curl in wisps as the cloud breaks up as I exhale. “Vaping” is a verb now. I ponder the way language changes with the times. I wonder if things are still “on fleek” and if “fam” is still “lit”. I smile, breathe, relax; this is my time, my moment, and I am content with it just as it is, wedged between the shhh-shhh of commuter traffic at the edge of the driveway, and the chug-chug of the washing machine, down the hall. The noise doesn’t matter, this evening, and it is not disturbing this somehow-still-quiet moment.

I am thinking of “is” and of “isn’t”, and the year just finishing up, as I peer cautiously ahead to the year that is imminent. I am thinking rather carefully of “essence” and “essentials”, and hoping to stay on the path of sufficiency. Right now, at least, it is rather easy not being tempted by excess. I just don’t have the resources for that, and 2019 looks like a year that I will spend rebuilding reserves, planning with care, and being most particular to avoid wastefulness.

I catch my thoughts on a hook as they brush past a word – “essence”. Fancy. What is “essence”, really?

…I love the future. 😀

So… yeah… “the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character”. Essence. Got it. I ponder the word, and the idea of it for some minutes.

What “is” my “essence”? Is that a thing that I am? Have? Is it a state of being? A verb? An experience of self? A defining characteristic identified by others? Do I choose it? Chase it? Live it? Question it?

Is “what is my essence” simply a fancier, wordier, version of the lingering question “who am I”?

How would my “essence” influence my experience of life – or of self?

Are these questions that need asking, and answering, or is this a game?

Just questions tonight, I suspect, as I close in on the New Year. It’s a season of change, and of reflection. It is a season of choices, memories, and moments.

…the new year is a blank page…

I put questions aside, and make time for gratitude. The house is comfortable, tidy, and warm. The bills are paid. I have what I need, generally; I am fortunate. I reflect on good fortune, and the temptation to feel “deserving” or that this life is entirely “earned” on my own effort. Both the notion of being “deserving” and the notion of having gotten here “on my own” are illusions, nothing more, and I turn away from the thinking errors that bring me to those ideas. I’m fortunate. I’ve had a lot of lucky breaks. I’ve had help, encouragement, support – and all of that matters. I would not be “here”, had I been less fortunate, or if I had had to make this journey entirely without friend, or aid, all alone. I’d be somewhere quite different, and, perhaps, however grateful to be in that place, I might also be an entirely different human being, with a different understanding of myself, and different dreams, walking a different path, toward a different future.

That, too, I let go, as the twilight of winter evening slowly fades to the darkness of nightfall. No reason to become attached to notions in the darkness. Grateful and inquisitive – these seem worthy of being some part of my essence. Contentment, too. I smile, and make room to appreciate the journey, and the woman I have become over time.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. There is further to go. 🙂

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. 🙂 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? 🙂 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? 😉

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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. 😀

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…

 

It’s been an interesting weekend of pain and contentment. It’s not a combination that comes to mind when I think of how I’d like to spend a weekend, but generally it’s been okay. Momentary tears today, just small frustrations that overwhelm me briefly, and they don’t linger the way the rain did, yesterday. The pain is what it is, and it could be quite a lot worse. I am learning to be with my physical pain just in this moment here, rather than pulling together all the threads of pain in the past, and anticipated (dreaded) pain in the future; I don’t hurt less, objectively, but the shift in perspective limited to pain-right-now seems to result in more ability to manage the pain I have, and endure the pain I can’t ease.

I spent most of yesterday relaxing and listening to the rain fall, no music, no video, no book…just the rain falling, patio door open to the sound of it. I love the rain. I enjoyed a nice hike in the morning, yesterday, too, before the drizzle became rain showers that lasted the rest of the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

A photograph does not convey the feeling of the experience.

A photograph does not convey the feeling of the experience.

While enjoying the rain, I noticed some of my roses still blooming, and cut them to put in a small vase before the rain did them in. It’s a small thing, but I enjoy my roses greatly, and seeing the wee bud vase filled with miniature roses from my patio garden makes me smile every time I see them. I make a point of looking at them often.

The last autumn roses from my patio garden.

The last autumn roses from my patio garden.

Today the sunshine has broken through the clouds. Other than a trip for groceries, I haven’t been particularly productive today; it’s the pain. I’m okay with slowing down and taking care of me, and after giving the matter some thought, I adjust my thinking and plan ahead to have brunch with a friend, and get help moving the one heavy item that I need to put into storage before the holidays. I walk over to the storage unit with a tape measure and figure out what/where and picked up some hooks for hanging some things in the storage unit, while I was out for groceries. I’m excited to bring even more order and beauty to my wee home by moving things into storage that I don’t need day-to-day (the A/C in the winter months, for example). Order – and room; I measured. I lose about 10 sq ft of floor space just to paintings stacked against the wall here and there! This is not a big enough place to waste space that way.

Yesterday was so different. I hurt, but the focus of the day was most definitely on the rain, and the serene contentment and joy of listening to the rain fall. Today, it’s hard to tear my attention away from my pain. My traveling partner and I had planned to hang out this weekend; it didn’t work out. Pain sucks. There will be other opportunities, of course…but not one of them is ‘now’. lol I’m not moping over it. I take time to distract myself with one thing and another.

I find myself wrapped in gratitude; things could be so much worse. I spent some minutes considering the many ways in which I can clearly recognize specifically how things are better right now than they once would have been, under similar circumstances, in similar pain. I am not really surprised how often thoughts of my traveling partner or something we shared surfaced in my recollection; this extraordinary love we share is a thread that glitters brightly in my life’s tapestry, and our love has certainly been part of this healing journey. I’m a big fan of love, as a result, and ferociously loyal to this particular human being who is my traveling partner; I’m not always sure how good that is for me, and I occasionally lose perspective. lol

See, here’s the thing about love; I hurt, and it matters less than being able to also say “I love”.

Be love.

Be love.