Archives for posts with tag: practicing the practices

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. ❀

Another day, another mile… and another cup of coffee, on a new morning. πŸ™‚ Yesterday’s hike was lovely, although the most recent heavy rains left behind reminders in the form of broken and fallen branches, evidence of erosion, and very muddy trails. Still lovely.

I find new perspective every time I walk the trail.

Yesterday was a good one. An excellent hike, an afternoon of baking, some reading, some writing, some time spent hanging out with my Traveling Partner.. a day well-spent. There were enough delightful options for what to do with the time that I could easily have faced some sort of joy-threatening decision-paralyzing moment that could so easily evolve into a not-at-all-grown-up tantrum, but we passed on that “opportunity”, and just enjoyed the day, instead. Doing what I felt like, that day, and not worrying about what I could not get to, or chose not to do was a productive choice that felt good all day. I felt free. Free, too, to give my partner a hand now and then on his project, when asked, without feeling at all imposed upon. Nice. πŸ˜€

I’ll walk a mile of trail again today. Haven’t decided where, yet. Same trail, maybe; it’s my current favorite local trail, and even has a challenging bit here and there. Another day. Another mile. I just keep at it. Pain? Yep – my “constant companion” – or seems so. If I let pain stop me, I’d wouldn’t go far. No shaming coming from me, though, if your pain does stop you in your tracks. I get it; pain sucks, and your results vary. Mine, too. I shake an angry fist at my pain all the time, I remind myself not to let it stop me – and I’m 100% made of human. Sometimes pain stops me. I definitely fight it, though. I worry about “use it or lose it” limitations of human experience – if I stop walking for some unspecified time, will I stop being able to? That’s one of the “big fears”, for me. So… I get back out on the trail again, soon, after every bit of bad weather, after every injury, every illness, every distraction that takes my attention from getting back out there, on my feet, one step after another. That mile isn’t going to walk itself. I’ll walk it while I can. πŸ™‚

Sometimes there are obstacles along the path. I make a point to be aware, to be safe, and also… to have some perspective. πŸ˜‰

If the weather is sufficiently mild, I’ll throw my sketchbook and some pencils in my drawstring pack and stop along the trail, make some notes, sketch some details, and spend the afternoon in the studio. (That sounds like a “summertime” idea maybe, and sure, then too, but… the trails are generally more crowded, which for me is less pleasant, in summertime…and the views are very different in that season, also. Doable in winter so long as the weather is not so chilly that I can’t use a pencil comfortably.) There are a lot of cute tables and benches along this particular trail – well-suited to leisure moments. πŸ˜€

…I enjoy leisure moments…

…It’s already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

New day? Check! Hot cup of coffee? Delicious! Rested? Generally – good enough. πŸ™‚ I’m feeling merry and eager to begin the day.

Even a familiar trail has new things to see, new potential obstacles, and new moments.

I’ve got my day sort of planned, very loosely, but it feels pretty satisfying. It’ll begin with this coffee, and these words, and proceed to a lovely trail walk. I don’t know where it will end. It’s for sure a promising beginning after a crushingly busy work week.

Sometimes good (needed) self-care takes real planning, and a commitment to the time and effort involved. I’m worth that. πŸ™‚ (Aren’t you?)

I’ve made a commitment to myself for this weekend; take care of myself. Walk. Eat nutritious meals. Read. Paint. Hang out with my Traveling Partner between things, and enjoy our precious, limited, mortal time together. The basics. πŸ˜€ It’s more than “enough”.

It’s already time to begin again. πŸ˜‰

I’m sipping the last of my second cup of coffee. It’s a Friday; I might have a third, later. I’m in pain, mostly managing it. I’ve felt the tiniest bit “under the weather” since yesterday, as if fighting off a head cold. I feel… tired. Bone-deep fatigue unrelieved by a good night’s sleep. Rested – still tired. I struggle to fully engage routine tasks. I don’t feel wholly alert. I struggle to resist distractions.

I find myself becoming annoyed with myself over my “lack of motivation” at the end of what has been a ridiculously busy work week. My inner dialogue begins to become aggressive and adversarial, and a tad “punishing” and disrespectful. I could take time to try to sort out where all that garbage and mess comes from… or I can take the break I so clearly need, and do a good job of that, instead. I mean, clearly I learned this self-abusive unproductive bullshit somewhere, but those sorts of ugly relationship dynamics are not a regular part of my everyday life now. I can just “let all that go”, and make a point to willfully treat myself with more kindness and understanding. To embrace my own “Big 5″ relationship values – even in my relationship with myself.

I’ve got a long weekend coming up. I feel my shoulders relax when I think about spending time in the studio painting. As I imagine the moment, and anticipate the feeling of “treating myself” to that creative time, I feel my shoulders relax, and a smile begin at the edge of my mouth. I imagine hiking my new favorite local trail, again, and doing some sketches there, and returning to canvas and paint at home. I imagine sleeping in, and waking slowly. I imagine waffles for brunch, and little breakfast sausages, piping hot, fat crackling and popping in the pan. I imagine putting my feet up with a new book, and sipping a glass of sherry as twilight becomes nightfall. I imagine spending quiet time with my Traveling Partner, and long leisure hours discussing one plan or project or another. Rest and art and love seem like good things to spend the weekend on…

…I straighten my posture, and look over this spreadsheet, feeling just a bit less beat down, and ready to finish this week… One more way to begin again. πŸ™‚

I’m sipping my coffee, and starting my work day. It’s pretty ordinary in most respects. The rain continues to fall. By itself, the fact of rain falling is insignificant on a winter morning in the Pacific Northwest. Rain falls. It’s a thing people know about. πŸ™‚ We are powerless to stop the rain falling. (I’m sure there’s a metaphor there, somewhere…)

It’s actually been raining, specifically here, where I am, for days. There are flood warnings. It’s a legitimate concern.

The “creek” beyond the retaining wall is generally just a trickle.

Rain. Floods. Storms. Weather exists. It comes and goes. I sip my coffee grateful that I’m not also dealing with a major power outage, as some colleagues just a few miles north happen to be, this morning.

…Few experiences define “feeling powerless” the way being without power can… I mean… for obvious reasons.

An anxious younger colleague reaches out for suggestions on coping with the lack of electricity. I share tips, practices, and perspective gained over years. Most of those are fairly practical, some of them are not helpful unless available in advance… still, it’s often helpful simply to “be there” for someone feeling anxious, so I did my best. πŸ™‚ Then, I found myself reflecting on my own general “preparedness” for such emergencies in life…

  1. Big bag of tea lights for lighting the darkness? Yep. I’ve got those.
  2. A supply of safe drinking water? Yep. Just in case.
  3. Non-perishable snacks and camping food that can be prepared without cooking (or just boiling water)? Definitely; I try to stay “ready to camp”.
  4. Some way to boil water safely? Yep. Jet-Boil is handy. There are others. (And it won’t matter, anyway, if there’s no fuel for that stove…)
  5. Adequate canned fuel for the camping stove. (I’ve got that, too.)
  6. A lighter can be very handy. I have a couple around. (Matches, too.)
  7. Something to do besides doomscrolling and feed-checking? Books, board games, decks of cards… yep. On hand, always. πŸ˜€ (And it’s a good thing, too, since batteries have a finite charge!)
  8. Back up power? This one is tricky… an assortment of power bricks, charged, are available, so we’re good for sufficient power to check email, make phone calls, and provide limited connectivity for a short while. Better than nothing. Having a small generator would be cool… that’s a very different level of preparedness, and I’m not there yet. lol

Now… all that is well and good and super helpful… but only if I can find it in the dark. Can I? Hmmm… generally, yes. We moved recently, though, and I realize when I think it over as a potential crisis scenario; I can’t find the camping food/gear in my head with the specificity I’d need to go directly to it in the darkness. I know it is “in the garage” – which is my Traveling Partner’s wood shop, also (and which has an ever-changing purpose-driven arrangement of tools and work space, by design). Daylight means I would not need to stress over this detail; I can just open the garage door and see what I’m doing… but if I had to find my Jet-Boil stove in the darkness? I don’t think I could, right now. It’s a small detail, but one that reminds me that moving in, for me, is a fairly lasting process of many weeks – and I’m not “there” yet. I can’t find everything in the dark, yet.

I sip my coffee and think about power, powerlessness, and feeling prepared for life, generally. I could do better, I can see that. πŸ™‚ I make some notes to myself.

It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜€