Archives for posts with tag: stay on the path

It’s been a few days of dealing with an “interesting” increase in my anxiety, recently. Like… a distracting, persistent, defiant amount of anxiety, of varying intensity… the sort of thing that surges back seemingly stronger than previously known (it isn’t, really), and difficult to manage. It’s been disrupting my sleep, and pulling my attention away from things that (truly) matter much more. Frustrating.

β€œAnxiety” 10β€³ x 14β€³ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

I woke early, pre-occupied with work, because that’s just the sort of thing Anxiety enjoys nibbling on before the day even begins. Any detail over which I’m less than entirely confident and comfortable with becomes fuel to her fire. Fuck Anxiety; she’s a liar. Anxiety forces me to view the world through a lens of fear, doubt, stress, and insecurity, and prevents me from embracing other qualities of my experience. I haven’t had to do such fierce battle with my anxiety in a long while. It’s fueled by the competing experiences of home-ownership and difficult (unpleasant) work-place relationships. The sense of obligation that comes of owning a home causes me to feel I “have to” endure more that is unreasonable, to set fewer clear boundaries, to be more reluctant to “draw a line in the sand” with higher ranking colleagues… all of which are uncomfortable, less than ideal, and probably also seriously bullshit. lol Anxiety, remember, is a liar.

I woke early, and spent my first minutes on meditation. It helps a lot. Coffee came later, because over the years I’ve learned too well that Anxiety likes a good cup of coffee every bit as much as I do, and not in a helpful way. lol Meditation first. Coffee later.

I looked over my work calendar, and quickly identified the source of my stress – it was really just one meeting on my calendar (that I own), and only due to a change of format being requested, for which I have had too little time to prepare. So… that’s not even “about” me. I reschedule the meeting to give myself (and another affected colleague) more time to make the requested changes. No harm done. Hell, it’s even a short week (after a Monday holiday) and so far it’s going very smoothly. Hard to argue with those results. πŸ™‚

I feel my tension ease, my Anxiety receding into the background, returning to being “anxiety” with a lower-case A. Nice. A good start to the work week… I mean… good enough. Amply adequate, for sure. πŸ˜€

The weekend that is now over was a lovely one. I sip my coffee, free of the crushing weight of the anxiety that had been nagging me earlier, and think about the lovely miles of trail walking, the scent of fresh baked cookies that filled the kitchen all weekend, and my Traveling Partner’s smiles. A good weekend.

Sometimes the obstacles along the way are small enough to just step over them. πŸ™‚

So, a new week, new beginnings – and new challenges. πŸ™‚ Sometimes the “new” challenges just happen to be old familiar ones – I just get to practice handling them, all over again. lol Didn’t think I needed to take that lesson one more time, but there it is – and we become what we practice. πŸ˜€

It’s time to begin again.

One step at a time, eventually measured in miles. One day at a time, eventually measured in years. One moment at a time eventually becomes a life well-lived, on a beautiful journey. ❀

Another day, another mile… and another cup of coffee, on a new morning. πŸ™‚ Yesterday’s hike was lovely, although the most recent heavy rains left behind reminders in the form of broken and fallen branches, evidence of erosion, and very muddy trails. Still lovely.

I find new perspective every time I walk the trail.

Yesterday was a good one. An excellent hike, an afternoon of baking, some reading, some writing, some time spent hanging out with my Traveling Partner.. a day well-spent. There were enough delightful options for what to do with the time that I could easily have faced some sort of joy-threatening decision-paralyzing moment that could so easily evolve into a not-at-all-grown-up tantrum, but we passed on that “opportunity”, and just enjoyed the day, instead. Doing what I felt like, that day, and not worrying about what I could not get to, or chose not to do was a productive choice that felt good all day. I felt free. Free, too, to give my partner a hand now and then on his project, when asked, without feeling at all imposed upon. Nice. πŸ˜€

I’ll walk a mile of trail again today. Haven’t decided where, yet. Same trail, maybe; it’s my current favorite local trail, and even has a challenging bit here and there. Another day. Another mile. I just keep at it. Pain? Yep – my “constant companion” – or seems so. If I let pain stop me, I’d wouldn’t go far. No shaming coming from me, though, if your pain does stop you in your tracks. I get it; pain sucks, and your results vary. Mine, too. I shake an angry fist at my pain all the time, I remind myself not to let it stop me – and I’m 100% made of human. Sometimes pain stops me. I definitely fight it, though. I worry about “use it or lose it” limitations of human experience – if I stop walking for some unspecified time, will I stop being able to? That’s one of the “big fears”, for me. So… I get back out on the trail again, soon, after every bit of bad weather, after every injury, every illness, every distraction that takes my attention from getting back out there, on my feet, one step after another. That mile isn’t going to walk itself. I’ll walk it while I can. πŸ™‚

Sometimes there are obstacles along the path. I make a point to be aware, to be safe, and also… to have some perspective. πŸ˜‰

If the weather is sufficiently mild, I’ll throw my sketchbook and some pencils in my drawstring pack and stop along the trail, make some notes, sketch some details, and spend the afternoon in the studio. (That sounds like a “summertime” idea maybe, and sure, then too, but… the trails are generally more crowded, which for me is less pleasant, in summertime…and the views are very different in that season, also. Doable in winter so long as the weather is not so chilly that I can’t use a pencil comfortably.) There are a lot of cute tables and benches along this particular trail – well-suited to leisure moments. πŸ˜€

…I enjoy leisure moments…

…It’s already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Where am I headed? Easy enough to know where I began, I suppose, or where I begin, now. Here? Over there? Somewhere near at hand, if the journey is to be successful; it’s difficult to go from “here” to “there”, if my understanding of what “here” is, is at odds with the practical of matter of where here is, in fact. lol That’s one major detail that presents each of us with a unique-feeling challenge; if our understanding of reality is notably different than what reality actually seems to be, it’s hard to navigate reality in an effective way, right? Definitely harder to communicate with those around us who don’t share our view.

Unavoidably, while some of what we understand of the world around us is demonstrably “real”… some of it is bullshit we made up in our heads, without any kind of validation, fact-checking, or even a quick look at the world around us. Less than ideally useful, I think. We can do better. We probably ought to consider other options than storming the fucking capitol or hitting someone when we’re angry; there are better choices that map more accurately to the real world, and the needs of our communities, families, and selves. πŸ˜‰

Near or far, we don’t see what is beyond our horizon.

Any way, I’m just saying… every morning we each get a new start, if we choose to accept it. We stand in some moment, on a new day (with or without coffee), and we take that next step along our path. Choose your path. Consider it with care. Where are you headed? Will this path even take you there? I sip my coffee thinking about the day and weekend ahead. Thinking about “my path”, and this strange journey through my chaos and damage, seeking a sense of well-being, seeking “wholeness”, seeking to more fully understand and more skillfully make use of agency, to embrace accountability and responsibility, to serve family, and community, and to be the woman (the human being) I most want to be. It’s January 8th. 8 Years ago, I started this blog, and started down this path…

The path isn’t straight, the destination isn’t obvious, but the journey must continue.

I reflect on this journey, thus far. I’ve come a long way from that despairing woman, exhausted by her personal demons, worn down by years of poor self-care and less-than-ideal mental health – and problematic relationships. I was not even certain I wanted to go on living. (Despair is ugly shit.) I had choices to make. I still expected clear answers to existential questions. I still wanted certainty about the outcome… or the point. The first steps on this peculiar new path didn’t take me very far. I wasn’t sure I was moving at all. No sense of “forward momentum” and some of the days felt “sticky” and gummed up with years and years of baggage and bullshit, that had festered for so long it seemed to much to process, at all. More than once, that first year, I just wanted to give up… or destroy something. Anything. I needed so desperately to feel that some kind of progress was being made. Incremental change over time is often an almost imperceptibly slow thing.

It may not be the shortest path – but this journey isn’t a race, or a contest – I’ll just keep walking.

These are such personal journeys, these human lives we lead. Each step our own… whether we choose it or are forced upon it, these are still our steps, our miles… our choices. Don’t like where you seem to be headed? Choose another path.

Change is a verb – and also an outcome. Where does the path lead?

So many steps, miles, verbs, choices, practices… and so much change over 8 years time. If I’d had to know, then, that it would be 8 years to “now” – this now – I’m not sure I could have endured the journey. It’s felt very “now” all this time, looking back on the path now and then, looking ahead on the path stretching before me, for as far as I could see… and walking on. Breathing. Exhaling. Reflecting. Finding those moments to be truly the woman I most want to be, and really enjoying those. Being.

Building the path as I walk it.

Sometimes the way ahead in life doesn’t appear to be an easy journey at all. We spend our lives becoming. Finding our way. Wandering. Questioning. What if – just hear me out on this – what if that’s really the point of it? To become. To discover. To learn. To ask. To wonder. It’s a question I find worth considering now and then.

Coffee’s finished. The day ahead unfolds gently. There’s an easy smile hovering at the corners of my mouth in spite of the pointlessly serious expression I feel on my face. There’s this day – and this journey – ahead of me, and it’s already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Where does this path lead? I guess that’s always a question. πŸ™‚

Stay on the path. We become what we practice.

The rain comes down. It’s been raining now for a couple days, with the one lovely break on Sunday, suitable for a long walk on a trail I’d not previously explored.

The view from the house was pretty nice, too. πŸ™‚

I walked the muddy trails filled with delight. No particular reason. I like walking forest trails. πŸ™‚

There’s something about walking a new path…

I breathed the forest air. Listened to the birdsong and breezes… and the aircraft. These trails skirt the runway of a local municipal airport. lol

It’s a big sky. There’s plenty of room for an airplane or two. πŸ˜‰

Today isn’t that day. It’s this one. It’s not bad… but it’s no walk in the forest. lol The rain continues to fall. The twilight of a winter afternoon begins to descend, already. I don’t mind either of those things. I smile, recalling the gentle delight of taking a break with my Traveling Partner (who considerately asked me to join him, noticing I’d not taken a break in a long while). An unexpected, warmed up, slice of leftover pizza was a good lunch bite, as I headed back to work.

Now it’s me, this spreadsheet, this rain-spattered window onto a tiny slice of the world outside, and some time. One more meeting.

I feel the tension of a busy workday beginning to twist my neck and shoulder into knots. My back has begun to ache. I stand, stretch, and resume working only after I feel things “really start to relax”. Self-care is so… continuous. I slept poorly last night, but have been sleeping well generally, of late, so I’m not much feeling the fatigue yet. It’s a trap; I may feel it later, when I’ve forgotten my short-night. I make a mental note to be patient with myself, and mindful of my long day, and to be honest and self-aware about my fatigue when it begins to build.

I sigh out loud. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Begin again. πŸ™‚

Stay on the path, yes, and also remember to take breaks! πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ Consider this one a bit of self-nagging on the way to beginning again. πŸ˜‰

We become what we practice. Now to practice not interrupting… πŸ˜€

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.