Archives for posts with tag: switching off the auto pilot

Today is a unique new perspective, a new start, a fresh beginning – and a Monday. Mondays get a raw deal. It’s not the fault of the day that it is the beginning of most work week’s, the hangover after the party that was the weekend, and the perpetual every-seven-day buzzkill. We made most of that up. We could do Monday differently, with some practice. 🙂 True on a Monday, true of a great many other circumstances, too. I sip my coffee, hearing jazz through the walls; my Traveling Partner is enjoying a Monday.

My work day will start soon. For now, it’s me, this cup of coffee, and this pleasant Monday morning. I enjoyed a walk through the neighborhood before dawn, getting some exercise, and appreciating again how much variety there is in the houses. I pass by one or two neighbors preparing to leave for work happening elsewhere. It’s been more than a year since I’ve had to commute to an office. I marvel at that, as I walk along; the walk in the mornings feels a bit like “heading to work” each day, although it’s a loop around the neighborhood of about a mile before returning home. Safe, convenient, but very predictable. I’m grateful for the walk on level pavement, though. It may be “predictable”, but it puts me at little risk of injury, which is a win, and I’m still in cell phone range (so my Traveling Partner needn’t worry).

This particular Monday begins with a lovely sunrise.

The gentle start to the day seems promising. I sip my coffee thinking about the day ahead. An errand to run. A task to complete. The work involved in the work day, itself. I think about “fueling the machine” – maybe a midday break, and a nice scramble for lunch? My thoughts drift back to the weekend. If I had finished my writing yesterday morning, I’d be posting something very different. It was a morning with some challenges, but the day was splendid. The entire weekend was a pleasant one, in my recollection. The sour notes in the music are lost in the beauty of the larger symphony. I’m okay with that. (There has to be some upside to having memory issues! 😀 )

The pandemic has prevented us from socializing much. We’ve been very strict with ourselves about it. Only two friends (and our son) had been to the new house before this past weekend (other than some socially distant contractors) – and in one case, we ended up catching colds from the visit, which discouraged any further visiting with people, frankly. Being sick sucks enough to practice social distancing if it means not having head colds. That’s my thought, anyway. My Traveling Partner invited friends up for dinner and hanging out. It was lovely – and I do miss entertaining. I was pretty emotionally exhausted from the surplus of human contact by the end of the evening, but it was a lot of fun, and a good night’s rest readied me for a new week.

I guess what I’m making a point of going on about is that sometimes it’s necessary to explicitly make room to succeed – perhaps differently than I planned. A challenging morning can become a splendid day, and lingering pleasant memories. “Monday” doesn’t have to be predictably awful. We have a crazy number of choices to make, every day, and the ones we leave “on autopilot” sometimes don’t leave room for new, better, outcomes. I remind myself to put myself on “pause” long enough, often enough, to consider my choices with care, and to leave room for success. I remind myself to consider what matters most, more often, and to choose my actions more deliberately, with greater care, eyes wide open, and a beginner’s mind.

Paths, moments, beginnings, journeys; choose your metaphor.

…So…here it is…Monday. 🙂 It’s time to begin again.

This morning I have been gently plagued by a subtle sensation of having overlooked something, or that ‘something is missing’ or forgotten. After some moments, I realized I hadn’t made coffee. Later on, I notice I have forgotten to switch off the burner on the stove. Later still I notice that I was distracted while dressing – and have one fuzzy spa sock on, and one sturdy warm hiking sock. I know one thing with certainty; I have not been starting my day from a mindful place. Fortunately, the solution is both simple and low-cost.. there are, of course, verbs involved. 🙂

Loving begins with the woman in the mirror.

Loving begins with the woman in the mirror.

I slow myself down, taking time to breathe – really breathe, without being distracted by things other than this moment, this breath. I notice the tension in my shoulders, and the eagerness in my approach to beginning the day – sloppy, inattentive, but enthusiastic. I let the tension fall away, breathing, and letting the sensation and experience of breathing be enough to fill this moment. I let my awareness extend and expand, embracing the coziness of my wee home, and the warmth and joy of the beats playing on the stereo – K-Lab “Out the Door” starts the day with energy and movement. Movement becomes dance, and I stay engaged in this moment, allowing my sense of self and place to be fluid, feeling stiff joints begin to move more easily, pain begins to ease, the smile on my face settles into something soft, without edges, fearless and joyful. Dance is another sort of meditation altogether – and I smile, thinking of dancers other than I – ‘real ones’, professionals, committed amateurs of great skill, passionate performers of public art, I am awed by that kind of devotion to an art form – the sort whereby ones entire physical being is transformed almost into another sort of creature entirely. I am not that sort of dancer – I’m the 52-year-old version of a teenager dancing in front of her mirror; I enjoy the way dancing feels and any appearance of skill in any one moment is pure coincidence, and that’s totally okay.

I dance through all manner of small chores: dishes, making up the bed, tidying this and that, cleaning the bathroom. The morning no longer feels like something has been overlooked, and between meditation, and dancing, I find myself feeling ‘reconnected’ to myself, to my own experience, and no longer on auto-pilot. It is a cold morning (outside) and my bones seem to know it, they crack and pop as I move, but the aching isn’t bad today, and I am in less pain than on many other mornings. I consider the matter of ‘auto pilot’ for some minutes, wondering at the balance between needing/using it – and allowing life to slip by on programming that is reliably adequate to pass time but hardly counts as ‘living’. I very much prefer to live life, mistakes and all. It’s taken a while to be certain of that, and there have certainly been some moments when it has been frightening to let go of some long-standing habit I have relied on in order to embrace a truly unscripted authentic experience of living life. Totally worth it.

I sit back for a moment and consider how positive and… good…things have been lately. I find myself wondering a tad insecurely whether I am less interesting without the day-to-day struggling and suffering – followed by a moment of puzzlement afterward that such a worry could even be a thing. I sometimes worry that I may stray into bragging, or smugness, or complacency, or a feeling of superiority – or a sense of having finished this journey prematurely somehow. This quantity of good days is unfamiliar, new territory on this journey of mine – I am unlikely to take it for granted, but words are devilishly subtle, often giving away what seems hidden from the writer’s view. I know that I want to communicate that incremental change over time is a real thing, that we can improve our individual experience of our circumstances – and even our circumstances themselves – and that it is possible to wade through all the chaos and damage to reach another place entirely… but… I very much want to do so in a way that is inclusive, and reaches beyond my own limited mortal experience to some distant point out there, where you are – or someone else – reading these words, looking for something to hold on to, whatever that might be. I want to say ‘You can do this! See? I did… which surely means it is doable!”… I most specifically do not intend a message of  ‘ha ha, look where I got and you aren’t here’ – a message which would be both very cruel, and also a serious indication I hadn’t gotten very far at all, really. I maintain a certain tender concern that I not cause harm through carelessly communicating effortlessness, or ease – there really are verbs involved – but I earnestly also want to shout from the roof tops “you can do this! we all can do this!” hoping someone might feel just a little less alone or discouraged, out there on their own journey through the chaos and damage.

Every morning a new start, every horizon a new destination, and every moment a new experience.

Every morning a new start, every horizon a new destination, and every moment a new experience.

…And, let’s be real, I’m both pleased and grateful to be in this better place than I’ve ever been before. Celebrating that is a worthy thing. I am taking those steps that move life from surviving to thriving – one at a time, with plenty of practice, and pausing to return to mindfulness when I notice that feeling that something is missing. 🙂

Sometimes it is the smallest details that teach me so much, and so often some choice that is a win, or generally awesome, comes with some interesting opportunities to lose balance, or lose my way. I didn’t last night, and I so easily could have. [envision me, high-fiving myself, here] New practices making a difference.

Under the right conditions, growth happens.

Under the right conditions, growth happens.

Changes, even good ones, can be disruptive for me. I have a frontal lobe brain injury that gets in my way a bit. I build a lot on a handful of habits that ensure I take care of me, and take care of what I am responsible for, and changes sometimes disrupt those habits, and my emotional balance. I won’t add ‘unexpectedly’ because although it once was, it no longer is; I know the risk is there, these days, and I watch for the effects in my experience that are the byproduct of change, and make time to shore up good practices, and get re-balanced. Moving my creative endeavors to the loft doesn’t just provide me with active studio space… it also resulted in the household media and networking infrastructure being in ‘my room’…in a place regularly occupied by someone not wishing to be disturbed, and it was easy for my partners to anticipate that might be inconvenient at some future point – though like a generous child I said “I will share with you!” not understanding that it would inevitably lead to discord. Rather than wait for all that, a wiser choice was made – one that changes my environment, and some small routines. (Oops…changes small routines? Right. I’m on it! Autopilot switched off, and I’m compassionate with myself as small changes swirl around me, probably over days or weeks, and when things settle down I will have new routines to rely on in that space. )

…It will probably be months before I feel like I know how to use the stereo again. lol

It’s a lovely morning. My traveling partner stayed up late with new – and moved – technology; it’s ‘his thing’, and although I expected him to sleep in, he is moving about the house restlessly – he is excited by change, stimulated, and enjoys the fun of it. My generally-at-home partner is readying herself for another work day, and these are not changes that result in turmoil for her. Life and love feel… pleasant. I enjoy this. I don’t need exotic destinations, expensive goods, or exciting tales of adventure to be content, to be happy, to be loved… or to enjoy a quiet morning. Sufficiency. I like ‘enough’.

It’s such a lovely quiet morning I am already well beyond any effect of poor sleep last night, although I didn’t really find good sleep until sometime past 1:29 am, the last time I looked at the clock. My coffee is tasty and hot, and although I am in pain I already know this is the least of it today; I take a moment to reflect on that, and enjoy how little pain I am in right now.

I’m hopeful that the small changes, the ripple effect of taking on the loft as studio space, don’t result in some shit-tastic childish tantrum on another day… so far so good.  I recently read some fairly eye-opening material on child development, discussing toddlers and tantrums. Apparently frontal lobe development and function is a big deal for emotional balance and control; my TBI [frontal lobe] is a big deal in the area of emotional balance and resilience. Yeah. Ahem. [awkward moment with myself reading that and reflecting on what life might be like for the partners of a 51-year-old some-time ‘toddler’ with PTSD… it does not sound like fun to me]. I find myself very grateful that love makes me desirable enough to tolerate my bullshit – and I hope I work through the worst of it in some more or less permanent way before they decide I’m not!

So…a lovely morning. A hot coffee. A good hair day. A day to remember to take the recycling to the curb – and hey; I remembered without a note! (I call that a success!) Some time hanging out with my loves before the work day. Today is a very good day for this to be enough. 🙂