Archives for posts with tag: slow down

…It’ll be another. 🙂

In this case, it’s a lovely sunny Spring morning, a Friday. I took the day off because I’ll be on a plane heading to a work conference late tomorrow evening, sleeping thousands of feet overhead as I wing my way to the conference location. I’m not exactly excited about it… I’m not exactly not excited about it. I spent so many years as the partner staying behind, staying home, venturing out seldom, that this still has some novelty and interest – especially after two years of pandemic life. But, whether I am excited or not, I definitely do want and need time to chill, to plan into it, to prepare with care – because when I give up that time and don’t do those things, my experience feels frenetic, chaotic, and stressful. Besides all that, a Saturday departure makes a short weekend with my Traveling Partner (who is the more likely of the two of us to be staying at home, these days). I didn’t want to undermine those limited precious minutes we share, so taking the day off results in something more or less like a normal weekend, at least in duration.

I’m sipping my coffee contentedly. Just finished off the payday stuff – that’s a pretty low stress endeavor these days, and I feel that. The lack of stress, I mean. It’s pretty splendid that the mere mention of a payday, or a bill, or indebtedness, or budgeting doesn’t send me into a massive anxiety attack of some kind, or trigger my PTSD. A lifetime ago, being even a penny off on the painful process of balancing a checkbook with my first husband would almost guarantee I’d have terrible dark painful new bruises afterward. Literal violence, over pennies. What a lot of horrible bullshit. I can look back now and see that I should have walked away much sooner, but it wasn’t so obvious at the time. Understanding now that I was also viewing life through the lens of a fairly serious brain injury that was not actually rehabilitated (and that I was not, at the time, aware of), I am much more compassionate with that younger version of me.

Have you ever thought about that? How easy it actually could be to cut your younger self some fucking slack? Bad decisions are pretty commonplace when we’re young; we have limited life experience, and we’re the sort of creatures that commonly learn best through our mistakes. So… yeah. Every one of us has fucked something up, probably pretty badly. The world is going to make a point of ensuring we get a proper reckoning, more often than not. We could at least be there for ourselves, after the fact, right? We could bring our wiser perspective to our recollection of events, be kind to that younger self who just didn’t have all the tools or knowledge to do things much differently, and be just a bit more nurturing of ourselves on that look back – couldn’t we? And why not? The events of the past are past. Treat yourself more gently now and then. It’s okay to be your own best friend.

I’m not saying ignore warning signs that you need real help – definitely seek out and get the help you need. Think your mind “doesn’t work right”? Get therapy. Just like you would if you had a broken bone, or a terrible case of flu – get qualified help. Get treatment. Embrace change. Don’t like who you are? Make other choices. Change your thinking. Change your practices. Walk away from a situation that you are not thriving in. Jobs? There are plenty. Find one that you enjoy and doesn’t entirely drain away your joy in life! Relationships? Yeah, I know, we get attached, we feel that connection, we hope… But a bad situation is a bad situation. You could walk away. Maybe you should? Don’t like where you live? Move! Okay, resources are limited, so maybe that feels out of reach – but setting a goal is within reach. Making a plan is within reach. Exploring options is within reach. Steps. Incremental change over time adds up.

Anyway. It’s a lovely day, in spite of this being a world filled with violence and chaos, and threats to our freedoms, and shitty entitled ass-clowns seemingly just every-fucking-where… it’s okay to choose joy, and to live life. Savor what feels good. Seek to change what isn’t working so well. It’s okay to look back on yourself with kindness, and with respect for what you have endured so far, and how far you’ve come to get where you are now.

…It’s okay to begin again. 😀

Sometimes I have to remind myself (yeah, and this at 57) that most uncomfortable or unpleasant situations I may find myself in, and very nearly all difficult interactions with other people, have within them an opportunity to learn and grow… if I can sort out what exactly the lesson is. Sometimes I find it less than ideally obvious what could be learned from some challenging moment.

I take a break from working to reflect on how conversations flow. I have a long-standing personal challenge with interrupting people. I’m sure it is a byproduct of impaired executive function, one of many pieces of my TBI puzzle. I’m not saying that to excuse it, I’m just pointing out that it persists for reasons that seem likely to be associated with the underlying nature of the issue. I continue to work on it. I continue to interrupt people. It continues to be unpleasant for those who are being interrupted – I know that with certainty, because I myself also dislike being interrupted (and as a woman in America often speaking with, among, or to, men, I experience it regularly, I promise you, but it’s not the topic today).

…I continue to work on it.

…I continue to interrupt people.

Fucking hell. I know that it’s necessary to begin again. Practice deep listening. Slow down. Find the balance point between considering what I’ve heard for so long that I’ve forgotten to reply at all… and jumping in to respond before someone has actually finished their thought. Make a point of really noticing, observing, when I “get it right”, and a conversation flows naturally, everyone feels heard, talking is in turns… savor the successes, to build an implicit comfort with that timing and cadence, generally. Breathe more. Speak in a measured, comfortable pace that allows me to continue to breathe.

…So much to practice…

I rather expect I’ll be working on this one until my actual last breath… but my results have been known to vary. I do begin again, pretty reliably, and we do become what we practice… eventually. 🙂 Consider this one a bit of self-nagging on the way to beginning again. 😉

We become what we practice. Now to practice not interrupting… 😀

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

The house is quiet. Cool jazz plays in the background, softly. I sip a small glass of sherry, sweet, smooth, and deliciously raisin-y; it tastes of luxury, and satisfying moments. I look back on a gentle, fulfilling day of celebration, utterly lacking in any hint of drama, stress, or conflict. The day was spent harmoniously, in the good company of my Traveling Partner. It’s been a memorable Thanksgiving Day, peaceful and connected. Intimate. Romantic. Fun.

Dinner for two was effortless; we went out. We went to dinner sharply dressed in our best “going out to dinner on a holiday” clothes, subtly coordinated with each other’s choices. There was no particular wait; we made reservations well in advance. There was no traffic, really, most people were already at home, in their kitchens, or with their families, making merry their own way. It was an easy evening out. The meal was quite pleasant: good food, great service, worth the price paid. The drive home? Similarly pleasant. It was, in the simplest terms, an easy, delightful, holiday spent wrapped in love. My Traveling Partner looked fantastic. My mirror suggested to me that I looked pretty wonderful, too. The mingled scents of his cologne and my perfume complimented each other well, and were applied with care so as not to overwhelm dinner.

…I don’t know what else to say… this was my experience, this year. I’ve had others. My results, over a lifetime, have varied. This was one exceptionally pleasant, relaxed, and satisfying- an intimate holiday.

…I’ve much to be thankful for. Not just this grand date out with my love; also, just generally. Here in the quiet, sipping my sherry, I consider my life in context. I consider all the many unspoken “thank you’s” due here, or there, or again, just generally. Not all of life’s lessons are “easy”, and sometimes, the cost to learn them is pretty fucking high. Still, close attention to the curriculum, and learning (and growing), and becoming more this woman I want to be is worth it, so far, and the payout seems to be lovely moments (or days) such as this. It’s enough.

…This too shall pass. lol Just being real; clinging to this moment wouldn’t serve me well. As with clinging to any other moment (or notion, or assumption, or expectation), clinging to this charming here-and-now experience would set me up for failure in some other moment. So, I sip my sherry in the quiet of evening, content with what is, and not much concerned with anything else. There is time for this, here, now. It’s certainly worth savoring.

For me, Thanksgiving kicks off “the winter holiday season”, which will last through New Year’s Day. There’s much to enjoy, to explore, to wonder upon… It is a “season of gratitude”, and also of contemplation, consideration, and change. It is a season to be most generous, and also a season to let go of ego, and share the journey for a little while, to reach across the strange chasms that separate “us” and “them” to become “we” for awhile. It is a season to receive gifts graciously, and to forgive with an open heart (and open mind), aware that we’re all in this together, although we are each having our own experience.

…This can be an amazing life. Slow down. Enjoy some of it. Stop yelling for a minute. Hug someone you love. Care about your loved ones more than you care about being right. Laugh – yes, and even at yourself. Is any moment of anger really worth sacrificing the beautiful lives we could have instead, so easily? I’m just saying… use your words, not your weapons. (It should go without saying that well-mannered, reasonable, people do not take up arms against their loved ones in a moment of anger, for fuck’s sake. …And killing them? Just… no. Do not do that. Ever. Just… no. That’s not love. Ever. At all. Shouldn’t have to say that… unfortunately, it’s clear from the news that some folks did not get that memo. 😦 )

…I sip my sherry and dispel the grim thought that one thing I am truly grateful for is that I survived my first marriage…

I’m definitely grateful I didn’t spend the day cleaning and cooking, and then find myself also having to clean up afterward. Been there (fuck that). Today was unreservedly joyful, and so emotionally rich and satisfying, I hesitate to mention it for fear it may burst like a soap bubble. I needn’t worry so. It’s already so quiet now…

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful warm Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe you didn’t, this year? In that case, there’s still some good news; you can let this one go, and simply begin again. 😉

I woke up sort of cross and stupid, and bumbled clumsily through my morning routine, until I sat down with my coffee. Most of my ideas, at that moment, were half-formed, vaguely annoyed, and wholly human. I considered unpacking my complex relationship with anger – and traffic – or bitching about some other mundanity a great many of us struggle with daily, and lost interest before the ideas even began to take shape. You see, there’s a small bird in the hedge just beyond the stoop, outside my studio window, and this bird is singing, chirping, and generally really making itself heard. First, a “distraction”, now the soundtrack of the morning; I pause, and listen.

I am now enjoying a quiet morning, with a nice cup of coffee, and the sounds of early morning traffic, and birdsong. It’s a better-than-average start to a morning. I refrain from contemplating the day ahead; I’ve got an entire commute for that. Instead, I think about my garden, and consider the weekend for a moment, and quickly return to sipping coffee, and listening to this wee bird chirping and singing, beyond the window. I wonder what woke the little bird so early, this morning?

I give myself a moment or two, to fully wake, to be more prepared for the day ahead (any day ahead, really, not just this one). I sip my coffee, feeling quite content, and at ease. I consider how I want to approach my commute, this morning… knowing it likely won’t matter what I “decide” to do; I’ll find out what I’m doing about that as I drive along, just at that moment when a decision-making turn is necessary, and I see what I did about that, in fact. lol

I guess the point, today, is fairly simple; slow down. Let go. Exist for a moment without demanding so much of yourself, or your time. Just be.

Begin again. 🙂

…Sometimes tears. Sometimes life is a party… sometimes it’s a sadder song. Today I practice because practicing is what it takes, sometimes more than others.

Sad songs ring truer tonight, and not for any obvious reason worthy of such moody bullshit. I sigh aloud in the quiet of my studio. No music playing; I have been yearning for quiet, and recognizing that the stillness I seek has to come from within, I continue to yearn, restless and weary, distracted and discontent. It’s a place. A state of being. One version of now, now and then. In every practical way I am okay right now, even mired in this feeling, stranded just on the edge of tears that have not yet begun to fall.

...What? All I said was "cry me a river"!

…What? All I said was “cry me a river”!

It’s a nothing much type of emotional trap; I feel terribly lonely, but having been thrown back into a lifestyle in which I spend 50+ hours a week surrounded by and interacting with multitudes of other human beings very much live and real-time, I am also feeling desperate to be entirely alone for at least a little while. I miss my traveling partner in a wholly discontented and irritable way, but find myself wondering with what’s left of a meager supply of wry amusement whether I would even be able to enjoy him if he were here right now. I’m irked with the whole mess, and feeling frustrated with myself, with circumstances, with life rather generally – which is entirely so much complete bullshit; I have what I need in life, and a good measure more. I’ve got very little to bitch about, frankly. Small shit… like emotional splinters; I can feel the irritation, the pain, the annoyance – but I can’t quite get a hold of the real issue to put it to rest. Rest. Maybe that’s the thing. I haven’t been sleeping well…

It's always a good time to begin again.

It’s always a good time to begin again.

Fuck the bitching. I’m constantly on about choices and practices and incremental change over time. Some tiny bitter corner within mutters “don’t hold your breath…” I’m in no mood for back chat from the woman in the mirror, tonight. I put on some music, apropos and gentle, and start down my list of crisis management practicesbefore I find myself in crisis.

[passage of time… no handy metaphor comes to mind]

It’s much later. Healthy calories, a tall drink of water, a luxurious shower with a favorite fragrance, warm dry clothes on a cold damp day, some yoga, meditation, a few minutes gathering my thoughts without any other agenda besides me, now, here. Stillness. A lack of distraction. A setting-aside of burdens – however small, however large, however urgent-seeming. Life moves so much faster now that I am back in the workforce. There is a lot about that which doesn’t suit me at all. It is, as they say, what it is. Making time for me is non-negotiable – when I don’t do it, I will pay a price.

I take some time to (be aware of and) respect my own feelings – that’s harder that it seems it could be, sometimes – tonight, for example. I’m frustrated by how easily “other people” (any other people) can change my experience “on a whim” – lack of planning, tantrums, coercive emotional bullshit, changes of plans… Circumstances or will; it doesn’t matter whether the intention is deliberate or even anything to do with me at all, sometimes the outcome affects me without regard to anyone’s specific will or intention. (…And now you know why “consideration” is one of my Big 5 relationship values; because without consideration the damage we do to those around us is frequent, unmanaged, unmitigated, unnoticed, and likely far more significant than we know.)

Closing in on my core needs with real awareness isn’t a comfortable process; some of what I need presents logistical challenges, emotional challenges, and definitely a big scary unsteady pile of verbs. I took time to give further thought to the cornerstones of this life I build for me: mindfulness, perspective, and sufficiency. I’m not sure I’m any closer. It’ll be a lifelong journey. Feeling the feeling of disappointed frustration, tears well up, my chest gets tight, and I feel stiff, as if resisting my feelings – or myself. I breathe deeply. Relax. Several more times. I pace around the apartment a bit, warm coffee mug in my hands. Thinking. Thoughts. The restlessness grows, the mindfulness pales. Shit. Begin again, I think.

Well, sure. This.

Well, sure. This.

Tonight is hard. Some nights are. My accounting of the facts of the day and evening indicate there is nothing really wrong, at all. I am okay right now. Life is pretty good right now. I’m not even in much pain right now. Last night I got the rest I needed. What is there to bitch about? “I feel trapped and pushed around” a tired voice in my thoughts calls back softly, and the tears come. Real or not, valid or not, support by facts or not… feelings. I am alone and safe here, and it is okay to admit that I feel. Sometimes the feelings are not the pleasant lovely ones. This too will pass. Pretty much everything pretty much nearly always does. 🙂

Eventually my tears stop falling. I sigh, and take note of my breathing. I nudge myself back onto healthy practices, and good self-care. I have more awareness of self, and a sense of the “real issues”; my autonomy and sense of emotional safety is feeling threatened by OPD (Other People’s Drama) in relationships that are not my own, and also a little overwhelmed by the amount of time I am having to spend “on my best behavior”, surrounded by people who are relative strangers in the work environment, and on top of that working purposefully to get back on track with a major life goal – a place of my own. (Really my own. Mine. As in – a homeowner. I want the safety and security of having my own place, no landlord, no tenant restrictions, no limitations on design, form, and function – artistically, aesthetically, and practically, actually my own home. A place to retire. To live. To thrive on my own terms.) It’s a lot to juggle to “be there” for people who are dear to me, also take care of myself, also go to work every day and do the things… So much going on. It’s daunting, and I guess I’m not surprised that I’ve hit a wall. I’m very human.

Today is a good day to slow down, listen deeply to my own voice, and take care of me. Today is a good day to love – and make sure some of that love is for the woman in the mirror. Today is a good day to be purposeful about the future, without letting it pull me away from this moment, now. There are verbs involved – and clearly, my results vary. 🙂 Tomorrow will be a good day to begin again.