Archives for posts with tag: practicing pays off

I slept very deeply through the night, and woke to the insistent beeping of the alarm in a state of serious confusion. First, I wasn’t sure what the beeping was. I also thought it was Saturday. Oh, right – Friday. No…wait… I started to get up, and wobbled with a moment of vertigo, and the awareness of arthritis pain. I sat down abruptly, dizzy, and waited a moment before trying the whole thing again – and now pretty sure it wasn’t Saturday, or Friday, but not sure what day it actually is as I lurch toward the bathroom stiffly.

Minutes later, I’m at least pretty sure it is a work day, and although I am sorting through things and getting my bearings, it is some additional time later before I am clear that it is Wednesday, definitely a work day, and I start to feel more or less actually awake. I have the nagging feeling I am still not on track…a certain sense that something is missing… a shower, yoga, meditation…what could be missing? I wander sort of randomly through my small apartment, puzzled. Standing in the open patio doorway, feeling the morning air filter in from the pre-dawn darkness, just breathing and taking it all in is when I notice… no coffee. I mean, not yet. I haven’t made it, is what I’m saying.

I haven’t been awake all that long, it’s entirely reasonable that I don’t have coffee in front of me, at the moment I realize the lack. It is nonetheless reassuring to put that ‘something’s missing’ feeling to rest. The last couple mornings I have felt a bit more sluggish and slow to wake than usual. This morning was more intense still. I wonder for a moment what’s up with that, and wonder about the changing season and day length, and how much it may affect such things. Over time I have learned that one good response to confusion, particularly upon waking, is to slow down and take my time getting my bearings – avoiding making important decisions that require immediate action is a good idea, too. lol I eventually sort things out, given the time, and patience with myself. (I’m a bit disappointed it isn’t already Friday…but since I have plans after work, I’m also quite pleased not to have missed out on Wednesday!)

Last night was quite a treat. I sip my coffee (now prepared, and in front of me) and linger over my recollections of the cherished time spent with my traveling partner. He will indeed be traveling soon, and I won’t see him for days – may not hear much from him either, knowing he will be quite busy seeing the world from another vantage point. I don’t tend to take that personally, or worry overmuch when he is away. He’s a grown, capable man with a great deal of experience, prepared for most things. I could while away some unpleasant hours stressed out about the statistical chances of plane crashes, or violent crime, but it’s not a healthy pass time, and quite unproductive; whatever the far-reaching odds of misfortune, in real life generally it is more likely than not that everything will be just fine. He’s very considerate, when he travels, about things like notes letting me know he arrived here or there safely, so there’s not much to worry about. Hell – in any worst case scenario, I always come back to the awareness that for each of us our mortal time is too brief, anyway, and known to be finite. I let my mind be at ease, and welcome him home with joy every time he is away. There are verbs involved, and I prefer to choose other verbs than ‘panicking’ ‘worrying’ or ‘creating needless drama’.

Did I mention last night was lovely? It was. Quite. I am still smiling and wrapped in love. In the background, my thoughts continue to linger over the time we spent together.

Autumn rose hips.

Autumn rose hips.

Autumn is quickly approaching. There are early sightings all around, already: rose hips turning orange and red, leaves here and there beginning to yellow, fall-flowering wild flowers beginning to bloom, and small forest creatures working to pack on the winter weight for the coming colder seasons. Fall is my favorite, the crisp cold mornings wake me so completely, and the scent of fireplace smoke mingling with late season barbecue grilling is a delight on an autumn afternoon that begins warm, but quickly cools to an uncomfortable chill. Office conversations and meeting openers will soon shift from camping trips to football season…

I continue to sip my coffee. It’s very good this morning, and I am enjoying it before it can grow cold. I’ve got an Usher song stuck in my head this morning, but with the patio door open so early I am not inclined to put on the stereo; waking my neighbors to Usher before 6:00 am seems more than a little inconsiderate, so I won’t be doing that. It does not change the music in my head to enjoy the quiet of morning quietly. I can listen to the stereo at a pleasantly loud volume after work, dancing through whatever chores remain to be done this evening, and that will be enough.

Enough.

Enough.

It is, in fact, a morning of ‘enough’ – enough sleep, enough time to really wake up, enough of the simple resources of adult life that put hot coffee in front of me with such ease, enough to smile about, enough to begin the day with contentment and joy… simply and entirely enough. [Your results may vary.] The morning seems so saturated with sufficiency that it seems enough to mention that it is enough to be here, now, smiling. Additional words might be superfluous, as with the excess of buying ‘one more of those..’ when more can neither be used, nor enjoyed.

Today is a good day for ‘enough’, and as is so often the case with moments of confusion, the confusion I began with didn’t last – which, as it turns out, is also enough. Today is a good day to use my words, and also to embrace the quiet when the words run out. Today is a good day to enjoy things as they are. Today is a good day for love, and lovers, and a good day to connect with friends. Today is a good day to breathe deeply, and take great delight in small moments that feel wonderful, filling up on what feels good in each moment, however fleeting. Savoring this life, these moments, is sort of the point of having them. Certainly, enjoying them changes my experience of the world.

The time comes when practices and tools and new skills aren’t just convenient, or a nice quality of life improvement, or appreciated growth and self-improvement; they aren’t about that, and never were. The time comes, sooner or later, almost inevitably, when practices, tools, and skills are what I am counting on to maintain not just balance, or contentment, or comfort dealing with others – they save me from myself, they put boundaries on a surreal recurring waking nightmare that is the result of my PTSD flaring up. Over time, when the time comes, they become something I can (hopefully) count on to give me a moment to change a reaction to a response, when my PTSD and my disinhibiting brain injury cross paths in a moment of stress.

The time will come…does come…when I will find myself facing me, facing a challenge – that much I know, from a lifetime of experience; “this too shall pass” applies equally to the moments of calm and joy, as it applies to the moments of panic, and terror.

These practices I write so much about, talk so much about, and frankly practice so much for many minutes of this finite mortal life are not just conveniences or cool things to do – they saved my life. This morning they proved their worth, and I proved that I am not wasting my time learning to practice the practices.

There’s not much more to say about this morning, in any specific way. I have PTSD. My symptoms are sometimes triggered by very specific domestic scenarios; one of the lasting effects of domestic violence decades ago (so don’t act violently toward people you say you love, okay?). I also have a brain injury that severely limits the ‘inhibiting’ and regulatory executive functions that most people can count on to avoid saying the wrong thing, or acting on impulse – or releasing the full visceral power of their emotional experience in the moment. This morning I found myself disadvantaged by those characteristics of my experience, and leaning heavily on new practices, new understandings of mind and practical emotional neuroscience, and the love and good-heartedness of my traveling partner, who handled things – and me – so tenderly. This morning, it was enough. (Huge win there, frankly.) The hours of study, meditation, practicing good self-care, more meditation, getting more exercise, taking better care of my physical health, and still more meditation, the hiking, the talk therapy, learning cognitive practices that improve implicit memory, more meditation still…and the miles and miles of walking, and being; every bit of it is worth the effort, the life-force spent, the time taken just to have it pay off this one time, this morning.

You know, it isn’t even about ‘proof of concept’ in any especially grown up way – it’s more like the scene in Harry Potter “Prisoner of Azkaban” when Harry realizes he can cast the Patronus charm – because he already had (nothing like time travel to get a leg up on the future, I guess…). I am hopeful I can go forward more easily able to take advantage of new practices to manage my PTSD and my TBI…because this morning, I did. Oh, wait…That’s exactly what ‘proof of concept’ actually is. LOL Go, Brain. Proof of concept…but ‘in a Harry Potter way’; I may never actually be a proper grown up. 🙂

Sometimes this can feel a very lonely journey; we are not alone. <3 Detail of "Communion" 24" x 36" acrylic on canvas w/ceramic, 2011

Sometimes this can feel a very lonely journey; we are not alone. ❤
Detail of “Communion” 24″ x 36″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic, 2011

So…it’s another day to treat myself and others well, and a good day to stay aware of how easily a comfortable seeming recovery from a bad moment can go awry without continuing to practice the practices. Today is a good day for self-compassion, and acceptance that these are called ‘invisible injuries’ for a reason. Today is a good day to trust love. Today is a good day to enjoy a better outcome, and to say ‘thank you’ – because better outcomes are rarely a solo endeavor.