Archives for posts with tag: sharing the journey

Sipping my coffee on a Friday off. Enjoying the sound of my Traveling Partner in the other room, reflecting aloud on content that resonates with him, as he enjoys his morning coffee over some study material. We are individuals, sharing a journey (and an experience of life). It feels good to share this space with him. His appreciation of, and delight in, various details warms me and fills me with joy. I feel accepted, valued, and loved.

I sip my coffee and consider my calendar and budget, and wonder how I ever figured I could make my way in life without both of those things; I need a plan. Doesn’t mean that the plan is always executed precisely as laid out – in fact, that’s rare. Change is. Circumstances occur. Still, having a plan gives me a comfortable framework from which I can more easily adapt to change, and account for circumstances, still moving toward my destination. I take time to look ahead many weeks. I consider the date on which one paycheck ends, and the next begins. I consider the gap between them, and how that will affect my cash flow. I plot out the expenses against the income. I ask the hard questions, as each bill is considered in sequence; is it covered? Groceries too? What about some fun? Is there wiggle room for some discretionary funds? Am I still working toward getting ahead, and recovering from what has been, admittedly, a difficult year financially? What accounts can be – and should be – closed out, now that my Traveling Partner has moved in, here? When can that occur? How does that timing affect this plan?

Detail by detail I work down my list. It’s not easy to remind myself that this is still a fairly tightly planned budget, with little room for error. I breath. Relax. I feel my smile return; I’ve got this. I’ve grown decently good at it over the past couple years and feel safe in my own care. Wow. That’s actually huge. This used to be The Money Thing. Very scary. Literally one of the most significant drivers of day-to-day stress in my experience, chronically. Now? It’s a process. A set of tasks that are part of my everyday planning and attention – and part of my self-care. I still experience occasional anxiety about financial matters; this past year was peculiarly challenging, particularly the latter half. Still, here I am. I’m okay. It feels good. 🙂

I move on to considering more near-term plans, and wonder if I need to grocery shop today, versus later in the weekend. Perhaps a list? Making a list sounds very satisfying, and I decide to move on to that, feeling gently supported by my own endeavors. Very satisfying. 🙂

…Then I pause, realizing yet again that my Traveling Partner is actually here, right now. A wave of love and contented joy washes over me, still thinking about mundanities, like dishes, and groceries, and vacuuming, and cleaning things. Life being lived.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I was sipping my coffee between moments in the studio when I really noticed; there’s a tree missing from the view beyond my deck.

What I expected to see…

It’s not a great picture, and I warn you now, it isn’t from an identical perspective – and perhaps that’s why it nagged at me so much. Something is different, I spotted that right away, but figured, in the gloom of twilight, last night, that perhaps it was just more winter, fewer leaves, more lights in the distance… something.

…what I see today.

There’s a missing tangle of mostly-dead tree. Obvious as anything could be, once I allowed myself to really see it, absent my expectations. There’s something to be learned from that.

The healthy heart-wood of the stump left-behind, quite evenly cut, about 18 inches from the ground, tells me it was not lost to misadventure or high winds. Willful. Probably well-intended. I feel sad about it anyway, thinking about the owl that had been making her home there. The squirrels using it as a freeway ramp to the tree nearer the deck. The loss of privacy from neighbors beyond. Just… the loss of a tree. It’s painful. Oh, I’m sure a dead tree just hanging out there on the steep edge of the yard, where it suddenly drops off just past the fence, was a hazard of some sort, to something, but… fucking hell. I’m getting a little sick of people just taking my fucking trees away every-fucking-where that I move. Irksome.

There’s much to learn from contemplating this change. Trees fall. Trees are cut. Impermanence is. Non-attachment helps with the pain of circumstantial misfortunes. We have choices. Trees can be planted. Trees sprout. Trees grow.

I sip a delicious afternoon coffee – a perk of having a 3-day weekend, afternoon coffee always feels like luxury to me. 🙂 I contemplate impermanence, and change – and choices. I think about seeing. I mean, really seeing – eyes and mind both open to what may be new and changed. I contemplate acceptance; change can be hard. Recognizing what has changed is not without it’s own challenges. I breathe. Relax, and consider what I am practicing, and what I want to achieve. I think over conversations with my Traveling Partner; this last visit was rich with thought-provoking, inspiring, observations, and discussion. Connected. Insightful. Loving.

We become what we practice. (Remember, “trees take a long time” 😉 )

Oh hey, it’s one of those days… Today is National Coming Out Day. Are you “out”? If you are, that’s pretty special. If you’re out, and wrapped in acceptance and love, that’s wonderful. If you’re out, and struggling to be accepted, that’s hard – and worth it, and… hard. Hang in there. Take care of you.

I have so many friends who are not living post-war fantasy lives in modest nuclear families with two cars, a garage, an ideal number of children by ratio to income, a stay at home female, a working male, hetero-likely-not-that-sexual-love. It’s someone else’s fantasy. Not mine. Not the fantasy of my friends or loves – hell, it’s pretty uncommon to find people living that life these days. Life – and love – tend to be messier, more complicated, less precise, less rigid, more open to change than some ancient white patriarchal politician’s fantasy of human relationships. Let us love as we will, my friends; love matters more than rules about love ever will! I sip my coffee and smile.

I think about other sorts of being “out”. I think about sexual assault survivors outing themselves all over America (and the world) this week in response to a presidential candidate’s asinine, inflammatory bragging about violating women’s consent on the regular. So many of us reacted to that – and I am so proud of each and every woman who said to herself “my secrecy isn’t worth allowing this bullshit to continue”. I am also moved by compassion (and understanding) for women still so very damaged that they are not yet able to share their story, out of fear, out of hurt, out of shame; I understand.

Out isn’t an easy choice. It’s raw, vulnerable, revealing – it’s a spotlight on a dark corner on a pitch black night in an unfamiliar neighborhood we’ve heard terrible things about. Out is powerful, beautiful… but yeah, not easy.

Love matters most.

Love matters most.

Today is a good day to step into the light. Today is a good day to come out. (Today is also a good day to take care of you – perhaps the time is not now? It’s your journey, and your choice.) Today is a good day to be our most human, vulnerable selves, and to see past the masks we wear, and accept that this other person is also human. Today is a good day to share the journey as travelers, and maybe even make it just a little easier for everyone else sharing the path by being our kindest selves, our most compassionate selves; love matters most. ❤

I’m sipping my morning coffee later than usual, after sleeping in a bit, unexpectedly. It’s too hot to drink. I’m okay sipping it carefully, “testing it” for future, safer, drinking. There’s no rush. The sun is up, the morning is unfolding into a new day. I feel rested… and eager. It’s Thursday! (Date Night) Magical.

Just a cup of coffee and some lens flare; we bring the whimsy, the poetry, the music. Magic moments are created by our perception, and acceptance.

Just a cup of coffee and some lens flare; I bring the whimsy, the poetry, the music. the joie de vivre. 

When I first met my traveling partner, I already understood my role in making the magic of things like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and after many years, I still happily and enthusiastically throw myself into the whimsy and fun of making that magic happen. I didn’t recognize, strangely enough, how much went into the magic of love and loving, and still held onto expectations that somehow it just happens. I over-invested pretty heavily in peace-keeping endeavors any time there was any hint of conflict or difference, fearfully driven by old baggage, chaos, and damage. I was generous, hospitable, and kind (if rather cluelessly so), but those behaviors were interspersed with some frightful (sometimes symptomatic, sometimes just nastiness born of having been permitted to continue with bullshit) bad behavior. Chaos. Volatility. Tantrums. I’m a fucking adult. It had to be hard for people loving me. Hell, it was hard; I was there.

Today, I make magic. Small magic, but nonetheless, magic. I’ll tidy up, and make a point to do some things I know matter more to my partner than they do to me, just because they do matter to him. I’ll put extra time and care into how I feel, myself, and how I look – it is ‘date night’, after all. 🙂 I’ll make a quick trip to the store for a handful of things I just don’t keep in the house, generally, that I know he very much enjoys, so those things are here for him, and I’ll double-check for pantry and medicine cabinet items he might need, and ensure I haven’t run low. All very practical stuff. I’ve learned some excellent practices for nurturing love’s logistical needs.

I still have so much to learn about love! There’s magic in intimacy, in connection, in touch… those are trickier, and rely on verbs with real nuance, requiring greater awareness, more sensitivity… I am regularly challenged to the limits of my current understanding of love, and still eager to take another step, love more deeply, love more intently, love with more skill… and we’re not even talking about the sex piece, yet. LOL So much to learn to love truly well.  There’s patience, and perspective, and listening deeply, and speaking gently, and making room for strong emotion, and surrender, and honoring the sacred ‘other’ that is my partner’s tender heart… So much to learn. I stay it’s a lot to learn less as a statement of frustration, and more like an eager student, opening an enormous text-book for the first time, and looking at the table of contents in awe. Every lesson is worthy. Every lesson builds on the lessons already learned, in anticipation of lessons to come. It’s big, “the book of love“, and I don’t expect to finish it cover to cover even in a lifetime.

Tears slide down my face – the weird happy/sad tears of profound joy experienced fully and also in the context of how fleeting joy must be, just to be joy. (Tears that actually become tears, because my TBI can be a major impediment to the sort of emotional regulation most people take for granted.) Then I laugh at myself – tears in the sunshine. I have this powerful love for this singular human being, without any real understanding why I feel the way I do, or whether it will outlast this fragile vessel, or even if the feelings I feel are ‘real’ – I mean, as real as this table top, or this sunny morning. We’re both so very human, dragging our own customized baggage all about everywhere we go, and sometimes sharing the load. Are the things that fill me up from the inside as real as the struggles that impinge on my joy from external sources? Maybe? Probably? Does it even matter? Maybe love is a placebo… would I suddenly stop loving if it were? (No. No, I wouldn’t…I’d probably use the powers of the mind to intensify the experience. lol) The tears don’t last – they’re more a moment of appreciation that became too visceral. 🙂

I sit smiling, sunshine spilling over my hands on the keyboard. I sip my coffee contentedly. It’s a lovely day – and a good one for love and loving. A good one for sex, too, sure, but that’s not the point – and as much as I want all that, too, I want to be clear (even with myself) that it isn’t ‘about’ sex. I conflated sex and love for much of a lifetime, and it’s hard to sort out all the baggage from that mess, but it’s a worthy project; the love matters most. Real love. Adult love. Romantic love. Sexual love. It’s just that the intimacy leads – not the other way round, that much I’ve learned. Without a foundation in intimacy, and an emotional connection (of some kind), sex seems (to me, at this point in life) repetitive, physical, distant, and somewhat peculiarly unsatisfying, however good the sex is technically, and suitable only for breeding. A bit annoying, really – I used to be good at sex. lol In my twenties I wasn’t even emotionally capable of actual intimacy, embarrassingly, obviously so, when I recall key moments when one lover or another with a deeper understanding attempted to get more from my heart that I knew to offer; I was still too broken for any of that.

I listen to love songs in the sunshine. I let the smile on my face become a slow groove that sends love-chills up my spine and butterflies to my tummy. I love Love. 🙂 I have a near infinite capacity for it (you probably do, too) – I’d happily love everyone good and decent and loving with all the infinite moments of love my heart has to offer… if only I knew how to connect deeply with each one, on their own terms (and mine), in an authentic and intimate way. I’ll keep practicing – there’s too little love in the world as it is. Practicing love more often is a goodness. Every moment we practice to treat those we love just a bit better than we did before really matters; from there we can learn to love the world. 🙂

Today is a good day to practice loving. There are verbs involved. Today is a good day to be love. I think I’ll grab some verbs…

 

My morning began quite gently with the rare treat of sleeping in. I emptied the dishwasher while water boiled for coffee. I made a wee celebration of turning the page on the notepad I use for my ‘to do’ list each day, flipping the page over boldly, fully disregarding anything remaining on yesterday’s page (at least for now), and then cheerily walking away from it without writing a single thing on the blank the page. Yesterday wasn’t a bad day at all – it’s still over. Entirely past. Done. Behind me. I’ve turned the page. 🙂

What's left of yesterday? Photographs, memories, and change.

What’s left of yesterday? Photographs, memories, and change.

Today my intention is to keep things simple and enjoy the day. I have committed to some general tidying up, studying, and sorting through my thoughts on a topic that inspires me both as an artist and as a writer. It may be days or weeks in the making, which feels… amazing. It is a topic that pushes me to think differently about connection, intimacy, individuality, identity, interdependence, image, authenticity, and where my value as a being truly lies.

What exactly is an 'individual', anyway?

What exactly is an ‘individual’, anyway?

This seems a nice morning for thinking thoughts, taking notes, making observations, and for balancing presence with insight gleaned from experience over time. (Caution: there are no fewer verbs involved when the work we do is within ourselves!) I enjoy intimacy, connection, communion with others; I am a social creature. I am also an emotionally injured human being. Emotional injuries are those that, whether they are also physical injuries or not, hit us in the deep down places where our being resides, seemingly safe. The result? Mental illness. Post traumatic stress. “Anger management issues.” Difficulties connecting, attaching, and being intimate. Difficulties being comfortable, trusting, being social, sharing, cohabiting. Hurt feelings. Drama. Weirdness. Strange negative assumptions and expectations. Fear. I mean…maybe not all of those, for everyone, every time, but… yeah.  The effort to clean up the chaos and damage, find a better way to live, maybe even find a way to actually thrive in life… it’s slow going, not easy, requires practice – a lot of it – and verbs – too many. (Totally worth it.) The point I think I’d like to make is that sometimes it feels as lonely and distancing to be working on cleaning up the chaos and damage, as it does to have it in the first place. That’s okay – it’s a bit of a solo hike, sometimes. It sort of has to be. 🙂

Look closer. How many individuals are in this picture?

Look closer. How many individuals are in this picture?

It’s reassuring to consider that I’m not really in this alone. I’ve felt so alone sometimes. But… Really? I’m not – it’s an illusion, one that is, itself, part of the chaos and damage, isolating me and suggesting I am too broken to be accepted as a human being, too broken even, perhaps, to be loved. My results vary, and there are verbs involved, and sometimes it seems damned slow going – but I’m learning to go beyond being warily, passively open to connection (hoping for the best, certain no good can come of it), to being willing to reach out, to actually being open. It’s a very different thing. To be open requires a measure of vulnerability and authenticity that can feel pretty scary… What if it isn’t reciprocated?? I find some solace and security in the awareness that individuality, however defined, isn’t sufficient to fully undermine how interconnected we also are as creatures; we are not alone. I’m okay with that. Sometimes it’s nice to share the journey – it’s a long one.

I am my own cartographer, keeper of the list, and adult-in-charge, in this life that is mine.

I am my own cartographer, keeper of the list, and adult-in-charge, in this life that is mine.

This morning, I am alone with my time and my chores. Later? So not alone. 🙂 It’s ‘date night’, and I’ll spend the evening in the charming company of my traveling partner, filling my moments with love and laughter. The time has come to set aside the morning in favor of the day… Today is a good day to pause and enjoy progress over time, and to appreciate and enjoy the woman in the mirror.