Archives for posts with tag: simple pleasures

My coffee is still too hot to drink. The alarm clock seemed very loud when it woke me. I feel a bit as if I am moving especially slowly this morning; the clock corrects my very subjective perception of time. It’s a Monday after a long weekend. As if on cue, my brain launches a salvo of small anxiety-provoking attacks about this or that detail at work; I quash them with a minute or two of mindfulness, breathing deeply, present in this moment here. Work can at least wait until I actually get to the office! 🙂

Summer is definitely over. Autumn nearly over, too. Thanksgiving is done. The holiday season – my idea of holiday season, I mean – has begun. It is a beginning I wait for, plan for, and cherish each year. I have my own traditions, built on my values, refined over an adult lifetime, added to by one partnership, then another, over the years. The specifics are less meaningful or shareworthy, I think, than that I do have my own, chosen with care, selected from the celebratory traditions of my childhood, and then made my own, quite willfully. I like the way I do the holidays. It is rare for me to be overcome by ennui or despair during (or over, or about) the holidays, and I’ve tended to attribute that to doing them my own way… though, I don’t have any cite-able proof of that; it is my subject experience, only. For me, that’s enough, at least on the topic of holidays. 🙂

As days go, today doesn’t stand out in any obvious way. The beginning of a new work week. The beginning of the holiday season. I like beginnings, although they usually follow endings, which I often tend to think I dislike (compared to beginnings), but again, I have no clear evidence of that impression, and find myself wondering if the words truly reflect my thinking, or only some moment in my thinking that will quickly dissipate when my attention turns to other things? Change is. Whether an ending, a beginning, or some transitional point on a spectrum between those moments, change is part of the scenery on life’s journey.

I think of my Traveling Partner and smile. We have different approaches to living life in the moment; I prefer to plan, and to maintain a high level of readiness for many likely outcomes, and to cultivate a benevolent tolerance of circumstances that fall outside my planning, with frequent “rest breaks” from the hectic pace of life when I can retreat to a quiet corner of the world to take it all in, before returning to the busy-ness of life’s default settings. He has the boldness required to freely take life utterly as it comes, seemingly fearlessly and without anxiety; embracing change with a spontaneity that awes me, and often leaves me feeling unsettled.  We handle our emotional lives quite differently, too, both very human, both capable of great depths of emotion, both embracing intimacy and connection, and yet such different people day-to-day, in spite of shared values, shared experiences, and sharing (to this day) our journey in life over years. He finds too much planning constricting, and expresses feeling pressured. I find too little planning chaotic, and feel… pressured. lol We are more similar than we are different. This is likely true of each and all of us; more similar than different. Any human being’s most basic needs are likely to be pretty much the same from one person to the next. So many arguments between human beings are about meeting the same basic need in different ways, informed by prejudices, filtered through individual experience, limited by individual perspective, and individual understandings of definitions of terms. We’re still more similar than we are different – right down to not listening very well when another one of what we are is talking to us about their own experience. 😉

Taking time for simple pleasures matters, too.

Taking time for simple pleasures matters.

My coffee is not so hot now. I drink it down and consider a second one… there is time for that. I look across the table, the holiday tablecloth, placemats, and centerpiece are happy reminders of the weekend spent immersed in a wonderland of holiday memories, colorful trinkets, and tiny lights. The entire room is transformed. The tree stands in the far corner, and canisters of freshly baked cookies beyond that, on the bookshelf in that corner. Everywhere some Yule detail catches my eye. I smile. The soft glow of the room feels like it sources from within me. Sure, I’ll have a second coffee. Today is a good day to take time to enjoy simple pleasures. I’ll go do that. 🙂

With fall really here, and the new job feeling very real as life settles into new routines, I take a moment to remind myself that “this too shall pass”. That’s neither good nor bad, and it’s neither the journey, nor is it an impediment to my forward progress; change is.

autumn leaf

autumn leaf, rain-soaked lawn

The holiday season nears. Life is settling down into a different normal, a new routine of quiet week nights at home, generally solo, sometimes out on an evening doing a thing. Evenings are so short now, it’s rare that I actually want to do something enough to do it on a weeknight. There’s a certain minimum time commitment on the self-care side that is non-negotiable, and most of that sort of thing (for me) I handle at home. I see my traveling partner on weekends, generally, and the time is well-spent, merry, and intimate. This week has been spent mostly, and rather unusually, on sleeping. lol No kidding, I get home, have a quick bite, have a long shower, some meditation, and then crash out. So tired. No idea why, really, and not too worried about it, since I am actually sleeping and getting the rest I clearly need.

autumn leaf

autumn leaf, park bench

Everything seems to fit. No wonder I am occasionally quite cross with myself over having to move! It does feel like “have to”; the commute is not particularly sustainable long-term. I think about that…. This commute is more or less the same length as the commute I made daily for 13 years to a very different job, in the context of a different relationship (an ex) – both of which were much less comfortable or pleasant than those I enjoy now. I guess that’s part of it, though; my own quality of life at home is far better than it was back then, and part of this commute experience is the awareness of the time I am losing neither at work, nor at home, but spent out in the world, on mass transit (where, trust me, humanity is not at its finest day-to-day). Well, “mystery” solved. lol

autumn leaf

autumn leaf, rocks

I find myself thinking over ways to make the commute itself more pleasant, or more productive. The rain hasn’t helped. I can take my Kindle along on the light rail, but on days when it is pouring down rain, I probably won’t pull it out of my waterproof bag. I would contentedly meditate on the train, but the sounds of voices sometimes makes that “difficult” isn’t quite the right word… “not possible” fits better.

autumn leaf

autumn leaves

I smile, sip my  coffee, and notice that I am… bitching to myself. It isn’t helpful or productive to do so, nor is it particularly interesting (to me, or anyone else), and it tends to reinforce negative thinking. I set all that aside, and take another sip of my coffee. I feel my shoulders relax. I let the quiet calm of this moment set in… and then notice I spelled “calm” as “clam”, so I re-read the sentence as letting the quiet clam set in. I have a good laugh over it. There is so much to enjoy in life, I remind myself. I’ll definitely make a point of doing that. 🙂

autumn leaf

autumn leaf, stone

Today is a good day for simple pleasures, moments of great delight, and finding joy in small things. Today is a good day to appreciate what’s right, more than grieving what’s wrong – and to do so at least as often, generally.

It’s a quiet stormy evening. I’ve gotten most of my laundry done, bringing it in warm and dry from the laundry room between rain showers. Between loads of laundry I’ve spent time meditating, as storm clouds and passing showers crossed the view out the patio window. I enjoy seeing the sky, a horizon, a view, and so placed my favorite cushion for meditating just there, where my view of the park beyond the patio is unobstructed.

Potted miniature roses drenched by passing showers don't seem to mind the rain at all.

Potted miniature roses drenched by passing showers don’t seem to mind the rain at all.

Tonight had been planned for love and loving, but love had other needs, elsewhere, tonight. Love isn’t always easy, and needs considerable investment in respect, in consideration, in compassion, and yes, even openness and reciprocity. I’m sure I’ve never felt truly loved in their absence. (That’s why they are my Big 5 relationship values!) Still, I don’t feel any lack of love for love’s lack of proximity tonight. I feel heard, cared for, respected, valued – I feel wrapped in the comfort and warmth of a strong partnership, signal boosted with clear communication and explicit expectation setting. I find myself feeling compassion (his are complicated circumstances), and hoping very much that the evening goes well for my tested traveling partner; his relationship building skills are considerable – love still requires that everyone involved make an equal investment of heart, and will, and effort. No one human being can hold an entire relationship together alone. There are so many verbs involved…mindful loving uses many more of them than I had imagined (and I still have so much to learn). Listening deeply is a practice worthy of practicing – and then practicing more; I’ve learned so much more about love in the silence between my words that gives my lover room to be heard, than I ever did in one moment of something I said myself. Still; verbs. It isn’t enough to wait to talk. It’s the listening that counts, and doing it skillfully requires more than a little practice.

Listening deeply is like looking at something distant, requiring attention, focus, engagement and presence; this is not a picture of branches.

Listening deeply is like looking at something distant; it requires attention, focus, engagement and presence. (This is not a picture of branches.)

The television is off. No background slide show, no cartoons or animation, no favorite series or new hilarious YouTube video, science documentary, or nature show to pull my focus from the quiet evening. I am giving myself my time and attention. There is music playing, but that too is subdued; jazz (‘fusion’) tonight, bass heavy, relaxed, complex, rich, and joyous, and turned down low enough to feel the quiet of evening nonetheless – the sort of easy, inspiring sounds that apparently compel considerable overuse of adjectives and adverbs – the musical equivalent of poetry, but the sort of uplifting simple thing easily remembered and happily shared.

Too many words. This is too many – isn’t it? Is it? I’m not sure. I think I’ve gone a tad overboard here, just now, but I feel content and filled with warm joy and a feeling of security. It’s pleasant – and I don’t feel quite this way very often at all. It’s the security, I think – a sort of calm strength just beneath the surface of the contentment and joy. It’s nice. I’m sure I ‘worked’ to get ‘here’…but I didn’t plan it, or seek it out, I’ve been busy on other practices, other verbs, other concerns in life. Maybe that’s the point of what I am saying tonight; I didn’t chase this down as an outcome. I simply arrived here. Practicing good basic self-care, treating myself truly well, practicing practices that build emotional resilience and self-sufficiency, learning skills that support my emotional balance – whether I am home alone, out in the world, or faced with a moment of someone else’s drama – each incremental change over time has been a step on a journey that brought me here. ‘Here’ is very nice, I must say…and it’s enough.

One moment of many. I am here. I am okay. This is enough.

One moment of many. I am here. I am okay. This is enough.

Today is a good day to enjoy what is – whatever it is, however much it can be enjoyed. Today is a good day to learn from what hurts. Today is a good day to watch storms pass over head, and to recognize the difference between ‘climate’ and ‘weather’. Today is a good day to take a step back from the world, and listen deeply in a quiet moment.

I am awake. Showered. I’ve meditated. I’ve done some yoga. It is morning, and the start of a new day. I am waiting for coffee, listening to the ticks, pings, and pops of the electric burner heating the goose-neck kettle, and the water within. There is nothing much else going on in this moment right here. I hear a freight train, some distance away, and the woosh of traffic on the main road, nearer by, and the percussive chiming of raindrops on the chimney cover – sounds of morning. I am here, listening, and waiting for coffee.

Sometimes it's a metaphor - sometimes it is just a cup of coffee. :-)

Sometimes it’s a metaphor – sometimes it is just a cup of coffee. 🙂

My coffee this morning is hot, still to hot to drink. The cup warms my hands – I type a few words, stop and hold the cup awhile, and return to this page, fingers poised over the keyboard…still this feeling of waiting… I am also waiting to see my traveling partner, a thread of loving woven into the fabric of my experience, even when we are separated by distance and a head cold. I am also gently waiting for new ideas and changed thinking to settled into all the corners of my consciousness; the meditation, study, and reading over the weekend, and the conversation with my therapist yesterday, are now all mixed together. I know that waiting will end, in each one of these cases, with time – it is the only thing that ends waiting, besides choosing not to wait.

I am pleased that the rain has returned. I enjoy rain. My walk to work is temporarily detoured along the main thoroughfare while a bridge across the creek that runs through the park is replaced. It is no great inconvenience to make the change, but the result is a far less naturally lovely walk. The current commute takes me through a parking lot, then down a long length of sidewalk between commuter traffic, and signs of humankind’s careless (I am puzzled that people litter, honestly), then I turn back to the remainder of the usual walk through the business park, with landscaped beauty that changes with the seasons thanks to the labors of a vast crew of landscapers who rip out all the flowers in the flower beds 2 times a  year to replace them with other ones. It strikes me as both cruel and wasteful – but the flower beds are always lovely and well-kept. I’m sure there’s a metaphor there, among the flowers or the between the raindrops. I realize it would serve me well to get my raincoat out today, for the walk to work, and wonder if the traffic will be close enough to risk being splashed as I walk along.

On chilly mornings I see bumblebees sleeping among the flowers.

On chilly mornings I see bumblebees sleeping among the flowers.

This morning is a quiet pleasant morning. I am entirely okay with that; it is enough.

Today is a good day to enjoy each moment as is it is. Today is a good day to savor the beauty in the ordinary, and savor even those moments that seem wholly unremarkable. Today is a good day to share a smile and be uplifted by those simple things I love the most – even if only a good cup of coffee, on a rainy morning.

 

When I worry, it’s nearly always about something that is a potential consequence of something or other already seemingly set in motion by an action or choice made sometime previously. I rarely feel anxiety, or find myself worrying, about the moment right now. At least for me, that isn’t how worrying works. I wonder, though, if whatever it is that is causing my stress hasn’t happened yet, why am I worried? If the action or choice made that has the potential to result in the worrisome outcome hasn’t yet – why, again, am I bothering to worry? Worry seems mostly pretty pointless, and of less real value than good planning, being engaged in the moment, and making the best choices I know to make, moment to moment.

I woke this morning feeling very groggy, and haven’t quite shaken it off. Interestingly, after some minutes of consideration of the blank page in front of me, the paragraph above is what came of it. No particular reason why, although I have been contemplating some experiences relevant to decision-making, free will, and choices in the past few days.

Wednesday morning flowers, a lovely metaphor for a moment of illumination.

Wednesday morning flowers, a lovely metaphor for a moment of illumination.

Yesterday was a good Wednesday. Better still, it was a good appointment day. Circumstances seem, generally, to be unfolding in a comfortable way. It’s a pleasantly comfortable feeling, and although I woke feeling groggy, I am enjoying the morning’s calm greatly. It feels like a morning to be practical, and to deal with practical things. It feels like a morning to continue good self-care practices, and to handle day-to-day tasks with efficiency. There’s no loss of pleasantness over any of that; the practical things are as much of life as the whimsical ones, and have their purpose and their place in my experience.

Each choice I make does have consequences, some good, some less so, some having no specific quality along that spectrum. I make my choices based on what I anticipate the consequences will likely be; I live my life from the perspective of what the outcomes of my choices actually are [from my perspective]. Expectations are what arise when I am so focused on an anticipated outcome that I don’t notice the unintended consequence that may have also occurred, or the very different outcome that resulted altogether, instead. Attachment is that bit of nastiness when having noticed that the outcome wasn’t what I expected, I don’t let go of the expectation and I create struggle within myself, and the burden of the resulting discontent. All that makes it every so clear how important this ‘now’ moment truly is; I can be awake, aware, engaged in this now moment, observing the developing consequence of previous actions, continue to adjust my perspective, adapt my understanding to the moments in motion, and walk a brighter path altogether – perhaps not entirely free of attachment, nor immune to the power of expectations, but more easily able to recognize my own humanity, treat myself with compassion, and make needed course-corrections in my decision-making, based on best meeting my needs over time. Incremental change – incremental decision-making – and practice.

I’ve spent too many years bullying myself. I finally took notice of how much that hurts me, and how much it tends to reinforce old damage, bad bits of out-dated programming, and how much it interferes with growth and progress. I think I can easily take the time to treat myself well – not just good physical self-care, but really truly appreciate myself, the work I’ve put in so far, the wonderful qualities of mind that I value in myself, and show myself a little self-compassion and simple kindness day-to-day. I’ve been pretty hard on me.

Wednesday afternoon flowers, ending a day filled with light.

Wednesday afternoon flowers, ending a day filled with light.

Today is a good day to be kind – to myself, too. Today is a good day to let worries go; they either haven’t happened yet, or they are already behind me. Today is a good day to appreciate the powerful beauty of a sunrise – or a daydream. Today is a good day to enjoy myself, enjoying my self, enjoying the world.