Archives for posts with tag: slow down

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.

I don’t move through life as quickly as I once did. In my twenties life felt a bit like free-falling through chaos: breath-taking, unpredictable, and obviously accelerating…until… Eventually real-life ‘checks our fall’ and often not in a pleasant or gentle way. Tonight I am taking things slowly, and not because I can’t do more faster, but because slowing things down, being patient with myself and with the world, and being aware of my experience as an actual living breathing emotional conscious being is a better way to treat myself. I don’t need to justify that, or excuse it; how I treat myself is mine to decide upon, to practice, and to live with.

mushroom

Why rush living?

My routine is disrupted by adjusting my work hours to cover a colleague’s vacation time. I don’t mind that – what better reason could there be to adjust my schedule than time off? Anyone’s time off, really. I think most of us probably spend way too much time ‘at work’; I’m a big fan of human beings investing in their leisure, savoring their lives, and living their experience awake and aware, and well-rested. Humanity has so much more to offer than servitude. The change in schedule is hard on me, though, and I found it peculiarly difficult to figure out my day’s workload – as though a Monday is somehow different because it started at a different hour. lol Work was the least of my day, today, and that’s as it should be. Although I was too busy during the day for anything but tasks related to work, I arrived home from the chilly walk home to a cozy apartment, warm, and glowing with friendly, welcoming light. I did more than the usual amount of Monday housekeeping this morning, and forgot all about it during the workday. Home isn’t just welcoming and warm tonight – it’s neat, and orderly, and there’s really nothing much to do this evening besides relax and enjoy the woman in the mirror.

It’s been long overdue, most of a lifetime; I am finally at a place in life where taking care of me is a very high priority. Today I definitely followed through. It’s a lovely evening to enjoy it. I miss my traveling partner, and find that I sometimes strangely feel as if he’s ‘just in the other room’ – that persistent deep and enduring connection is with me, even when he is not.  It’s nice.

I am my own cartographer.

I am my own cartographer.

It isn’t a fancy or complicated evening…but then…it doesn’t have to be. I can choose something different. I can choose to be patient with myself. I can choose to be kind to myself. I can choose to slow down and enjoy the journey.

I enjoyed my beach trip yesterday, and arrived home quite late and very tired. I didn’t rush off to bed once I got home. It was a pleasant opportunity to relax and take my time taking care of my basic needs, in spite of the hour. There’s something about not rushing that feels very satisfying and…something. A word for a saturating self-care goodness that is emotionally nourishing, and joyful…is there a word for that?

When I rush through my life I can't really see what's going on around me.

When I rush through my life I can’t really see what’s going on around me.

I took my time all day – and that was part of the whole point of the day I had planned. I sent one last email to my traveling partner on my way, and use my “phone” as a camera for the rest of the day. (I’m not sure why anyone would call them ‘phones’ now, anyway – I rarely use mine for that, at all, and it spends most of its time as a camera.) I relaxed, walked the beach, walked the town and enjoyed the entire day on foot. I split my time between solitary reflection walking on the beach, and interacting with actual live humans. Real ones. Using words. I spent more time listening than actually talking. I made a point of making eye-contact, and asking fairly ordinary social small-talk questions – but slowing myself down enough to let people really just talk. I was definitely ready for the quiet bus ride home, but I finished the day feeling visible, valued, heard, appreciated…a lot of very emotionally nourishing experiences packed into one day. I guess next I work on figuring out how to be sufficiently open to these interactions moment-to-moment to enjoy them more, and more often.

Yesterday's beach trip was more about the horizon than the beach.

Yesterday’s beach trip was more about the horizon than the beach.

The weather on the coast was common enough for autumn; it was misty, cloudy, chilly and hazy. Somehow the photos look backlit from every direction. I don’t mind; if I get even one really good picture I am delighted.

More about a feeling, than a view.

More about a feeling, than a view.

I walked miles and miles up and down the beach. Any time I needed to rest there seemed to be a big driftwood log handy to sit on for a while. At one point I sat awhile meditating. Something got my attention out of the corner of my eye, off to the side. Ankle deep in the ocean was a woman with a friend and a camera…trying to get a yoga picture. I watched her awhile. She was attempting an asana I can’t yet do, and I am curious how people get those awesome yoga pictures. I watched, and it slowly became clear that this particular woman doesn’t actually do yoga; she’s just trying to get a cool yoga picture to turn out. It was more than a little weird, and I found myself thinking words like ‘sham’ and ‘fraud’.  Yoga pictures are pretty cool though… I look at them and think ‘wow, someday…’ It’s easy to understand wanting to be that. There are still verbs involved. It was a strange moment and I found myself uncomfortable with making a judgment about it one way or another, but feeling sad for the woman wanting to have that picture so badly she didn’t want to do the work to get there.

A fisherman, actually fishing.

A fisherman, actually fishing.

I had interesting conversations and a couple of great coffees, and saw art that inspires me as an artist. I watched clouds cross the sky. I slowed things down until I could hear myself think, and then took more time to listen. Listening is a very good practice, even if I am practicing listening to me.

A day spent well, listening to the wind, the waves, and my heart.

A day spent well, listening to the wind, the waves, and my heart.