Archives for posts with tag: self-care best practices

I am sipping my coffee contentedly as the sun rise leaks through the partially opened blinds. I forget to dodge the orange sliver of light that momentarily blinds me. There is no aggravation in that moment. I am well-rested, and in no more than the usual amount of pain. I’ve seen new images of my spine…I’m no longer the slightest bit surprised by the amount of day-to-day pain I am in. What’s left now is managing it, and learning what else, if anything, can be done to ease it long-term. The morning begins pleasantly, and the pain – being a fairly unremarkable routine thing, generally – doesn’t change that.

I was stressed and tired yesterday, by the time I got home. I planted some tomato plants in my garden, and hung out with my traveling partner awhile. My anxiety coming and going in the background of our experience isn’t a comfortable thing for him. Eventually, I decided I’d try a very old-fashioned remedy indeed; I ‘laid down for a little while’. It turned into a night’s sleep, rather unexpectedly. I must have needed it. I slept 12 hours, waking only long enough to get up to pee once, and then later upon hearing the sound of someone moving through the house, and forgetting I am not living alone, I got up and crossed paths pleasantly enough with my partner, who was up during the night, himself. I definitely needed the sleep, and returning to slumber was fairly effortless. 12 hours, though? How tired was I? How fatiguing is stress?

This morning I sat quietly, meditating, for some while before I made coffee. The moment felt rich and fulfilling. How are some such simple moments so joyful and uplifting, where other more elaborate ploys to soothe or entertain oneself sometimes fall so short? Lasting contentment is not built on (and does not require) piles of money, or a 24-hour party atmosphere, or the satisfaction of every craving imagined…’enough’ seems quite ample, even ‘more than necessary’ some days (which seems almost nonsensical). What is “enough”? It matters too much [to me] to let it remain so poorly defined…although…maybe there is room in my experience for that, too. I sip my coffee and think about it; what is enough?

This morning, it is enough that I am safe, well-rested, clothed, fed, and have a good cup of coffee. The headphones my partner shared with me (“until you buy ones you like better” he says with a smile) are enough, too. I smile noticing how much more than ‘enough’ it feels, to me, that he reads my writing and hears me; it feels like the face of love smiling directly at me. It is enough to share some portion of life’s journey – with friends, with loved ones, with family  – and with a partner who returns that love, many times over. It is enough to have options, choices, and decision-making opportunities that offer me course corrections on life’s journey, in any direction I may choose.

Flowers and moments are enough.

Flowers and moments are enough.

It is spring. I am home. This is enough.

 

This morning I really want to listen to The Beastie Boys. I have a particular track stuck in my head that fits my mood this morning. It’s not really the sort of thing for a quiet morning, and with my partner sleeping in the other room I find myself feeling the lack of a good pair of headphones. How is it that I don’t have headphones? lol I didn’t need them before. It’s simple. I’m not complaining; I have a well-developed wish list of odds and ends and quality of life improvements. I add headphones to the list, for mornings. 🙂

I spent a quiet evening of study and meditation last night, time well-spent. I didn’t realize I had gotten so far behind on planned reading, and important [to me] study material. This morning, I meditate, things I read creep in and I find my thoughts again and again turning away from the woman in the mirror, to the reflection of her experience I so often see in the reaction and words of my partner. A different perspective on ‘who I am’, sometimes distorted in strange unexpected ways. We are both so different than we once were… Change is. There is still room for surprise, for wonder, for joy – and also for frustration, for misunderstanding, and even for anger (it is my least favorite of the emotions I know best), sometimes sadness; we continue to love and to learn – about each other, from each other, with each other. Partnership. He’s got his broken bits, and I’ve got mine. I am quite attached to the idea that we both do our best to care for each other and treat each other well, and like to believe that it is true; I don’t test it very rigorously, and simply accept that it is so. Funny how that sort of things works. 🙂

I open my everyday ‘to do list’ and add some housework tasks to it. (I may forget them far too long, otherwise.) I move on to other things.

I’ve benefited greatly from the additional time meditating the past couple of days. I find myself more invested in myself, and in this safe space that I’ve built to live within, and less focused on the stray agita and stress of humans being human that can be so easy to become mired in, otherwise. I consider what I can be doing (or doing with greater skill or consistency) to support and nurture my partner…and wonder whether he is aware of the things he could be doing to support and nurture me in turn? For the time being this is a shared journey, and in my certainty that I can take better care of myself, I am aware I can also take better care of him, without doing myself harm; it is a journey that requires steps, and covers distance. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there…

Sharing the journey? A good opportunity to be love.

Sharing the journey? A good opportunity to be love.

Today is a good day to be love.

 

 

 

This morning was lovely. It’s enough to enjoy the moments, and linger on them in my recollection, later. The day begins well, and that is also enough for the moment I find myself in. Later will be here soon enough to matter when it gets here. Days old irritation with work is, for the moment, eased. It’s a comfortable moment, this one, characterized by contentment, and a certain comfort with the routine of the work day, modified by an early finish for a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, and by having completed a significant task with a few minutes in the day for writing a handful of words before moving on to the next significant task.  There’s not much more I would ask of this moment, it is quite enough.

This lovely morning, every moment enough.

This lovely morning, every moment enough.

I read an article this morning that tells readers somewhat alarmingly that ‘CBT is a scam!’. I move past the irritation with some humor, but I am irked by the tone of the article, which suggests that unscrupulous unnamed individuals have put one over on governments, care-providers, and patients with the suggestion that CBT (specifically) and other 3rd wave cognitive therapies (implied) are bullshit scams that don’t help anyone, leaving vulnerable people to continue to struggle with symptoms a couple of years down the road, no differently than similarly disordered peers who didn’t get any treatment at all. I’m annoyed because what is not being discussed is a fairly transparent thing, left unaddressed by the article; there are verbs involved. As with ‘dieting’ to lose weight; mental health treatment, however promising, requires practicing some practices. There are verbs involved. Stop doing the things that help, discontinue the practices that resulted in treatment efficacy, halt the growth and change initially being pursued when treatment began, and sure – the human being seeking wellness loses ground, potentially resulting in a return of all symptoms (and then some). That sucks. It sucks even more that a professional in the mental health care industry would overlook one potential root cause for treatment failure after two years; failure to continue practicing the practices that the patient found effective, initially. We do, however ill we may be, have some accountability for our growth and progress (unless we are so disordered that our impairments put choice and action out of our reach)! The suggestion that CBT itself is a wholesale failure without examining the effects of compliance/non-compliance is a little silly – as with switching from diet to diet to diet, without actually sticking with what worked long enough to see and hold onto the desired changes, it completely ignores the free agency of the person receiving treatment. There are verbs involved. There are choices to be made. Period. Do the verbs. (Reminder: the excuses we choose also communicate our choices –  to do, or not do, the necessary verbs involved in what we say we want from life.)

Better to pause for flowers than be immersed in borrowed stress.

Better to pause for flowers than be immersed in borrowed stress.

I finally shrug off my irritation; we each walk our own path, make our own choices, live our own experience, write our own narrative – my words are filtered through my own experiences, breaking like waves on distant conscious shores, sometimes soaking into the sand, sometimes splashing against the rocks. 😉

Isn't it enough to find balance?

Isn’t it enough to find balance?

Love, too, needs an investment in doing the verbs. Love isn’t a passive thing. This morning, I chose love over words, and a shared experience over solitary time writing. It was a worthy choice, and my mood is enhanced by the love I feel. I am carried through the morning on soft wings of enduring affection. There’s nothing much more to say about it for the moment; the experience is still very much ‘now’.  There will be time to contemplate it with broader perspective much later. Today, ‘now’ is more a doing than a thinking. This, too, is enough.

 

I woke this morning from a deep sleep. It took me some seconds longer than is typical to understand the sound that woke me, to find the alarm clock by feel in the darkness, to understand that electric lights exist…and to wake up. I went to bed fairly early last night, unsure whether sleep would come easily, but very much aware that an investment in healthy rest and quality sleep would be needed after the interrupted night of poor quality sleep the night before. A leisurely fun evening of South Park, pizza, and good company provided quiet entertainment between the end of the work day, and my early bedtime, and I enjoyed it in the good company of my traveling partner. Good communication and self-care practices for the win, yesterday! I woke with some effort this morning, in good spirits, and well-rested.

The day-to-day investment in exceptional self-care matters a lot for my continued well-being. There are verbs involved, and continued practice. Yesterday, The Big 5 was relevant; I communicated my fatigue openly, considerate of the possibility he may have also been short-changed on sleep. He demonstrated consideration, respect, and compassion regarding my fatigue. I made choices regarding my self-care and the shared evening to come that leveraged respect for his time, consideration of his tastes and needs, expressing appreciation for his support. Our conversation set clear expectations, the support offered was reciprocal, and the affection demonstrated was unreserved and without conditions. We had a lovely evening together, and ended it pleasantly. I crashed out early, and got up early with the alarm clock. He was, I’m certain, up later – and at least so far, I have managed not to wake him prematurely this morning. 🙂

I have missed this day-to-day intimacy and his presence in my everyday experience. I enjoy living alone – I may even, perhaps, prefer it – but I have missed this man’s presence, his scent, his humor, his warmth, his good-natured concern that I treat myself sufficiently well, his support for my endeavors, his willingness to share his own with me, his strength, his vulnerability, his sense of honor and consideration. I have missed having love by my side in moments of ‘bad weather’ emotionally. I have missed having the chance to share the lovely ‘climate’ of my great wilderness within, as I have improved my quality of life, understanding and awareness of myself, and skill at enjoying this amazing journey. I am making a point, every day, of taking time to appreciate what I am enjoying now, that I have been missing, hoping to fill up on love’s delights and wonders while circumstances are such. I suspect I am a far better lover than I once was, and hope that this is true. I keep practicing. 🙂

Speak with love. Act with love. Be love.

Speak with love. Act with love. Be love.

Today is a good day for love, for loving, for all the verbs that doing so implies. There is surely ‘time enough for love’, but I don’t think there is sufficient time to waste on choosing not to.

I woke up in pain this morning, more pain than most mornings, and particularly more so than recent mornings.  A morning with an unusual amount of pain kicks over some self-care dominoes pretty quickly, and I found myself clumsy, slow, and emotional before I’d even finished my first coffee.

Clumsy with pain, and not my best cup of coffee. One morning, one moment, of many.

Clumsy with pain, and not my best cup of coffee. One morning, one moment, of many.

I’m okay, really. At this point, I am struggling more with the un-eased stiffness of my arthritic spine than with the pain itself. Coffee #2 is quite excellent, and I’m finding a bit of yogurt with some oats and dried fruit mixed in quite satisfying for a late bite of breakfast. The morning is a good one, pleasantly relaxed and without stress…aside from the pain, the stiffness, and the coming and going of emotions associated with those experiences. I am in enough pain to evoke tears, each time the pain resurfaces. The stiffness of my joints makes me ‘feel old’ more than the pain itself does, but the pain is what moves me to tears. Now and then I contemplate just going back to bed, although it was likely some characteristic of how I was sleeping that finds me here this morning. I feel frustrated and annoyed.

I checked in with my traveling partner online between coffees. I miss him greatly, and we had discussed hanging out today. I am a lot less fun when I hurt this much. I feel the frustration in the background, and a yearning to ‘force myself’ through ‘whatever it takes’ to ease my pain – not because I hurt, but because I want so much to hang out with my traveling partner and enjoy that time together wholly undistracted by pain. Punishing myself because I am trapped in this fragile vessel, limited by mortal limitations, isn’t really a good way to treat myself – or to get the results I’d like, either, and tends to put me in a bad mood over time. I stop myself long enough to recognize that I am doing my best, and remind myself that it is enough.

I put myself on pause to meditate. I take time to do some yoga. Both these things offer some measure of relief of both the pain, and the emotionality. I sit quietly, and enjoy my coffee while watching the rain fall just beyond the patio door. I’m okay right now. Pain is what it is, and I am dealing with that today, but what I’m not having to deal with is treating myself poorly for a condition in life that is not worthy of blame, or punishment. I’ll enjoy the day, in spite of the pain I am in – because it isn’t the pain that determines the quality of my experience, it’s just something I have to deal with.

I take some good deep breaths, sip my coffee, and pay attention to my posture as I write; it is an easy enough bit of mindfulness to bring to my experience and relieves considerable discomfort. I lose sight of it repeatedly and, as with any bit of mindfulness, that’s to be expected. I begin again. And yet again. I keep practicing. Over time, I relax more comfortably with better posture, slowly encouraging muscles that may not have been doing their part to become stronger and more involved. Incremental change over time is a powerful thing. With the yoga too, postures that were too difficult upon waking are now within reach, and later today I will achieve others that offer still more relief. The toughest of the practices on a morning like this one is simply being patient with myself, and giving myself the time and consideration to get results more slowly than I might on another day.

I smile thinking of my traveling partner, and hope that his morning is going well, and that his coffee is excellent, also. Today is a good day to smile, and enjoy what each moment offers; the moments themselves are so few in a mortal lifetime. Today is a good day to appreciate what is working out well, and any improvements that develop over time. Today is a good day to appreciate the woman in the mirror and to treat myself well, rather than criticizing my best efforts on a difficult day. Today is a good day to enjoy my coffee and listen to the rain fall. It’s enough.