Archives for posts with tag: taking care of the woman in the mirror

One moment of many.

Time shrank, stretched, and snapped back, today. I got home feeling I had simultaneously done much more and much less than I had planned to do – more than I expected to get done, less than I urgently needed to get done, and certainly enough actually got done. Time can be peculiarly malleable, and sometimes I think I’ve almost got the hang of doing it at will. (That would be quite amazing.) 🙂

At some point, I realized I needed a couple things from myself. I was feeling fairly pressed for time, pretty frazzled, and I was overwhelming myself with details, and small frustrations. When I started getting close to that very special moment – you know the one? That moment just at which not having some sort of horrific tantrum or untoward meltdown would just no longer be possible? That fairly strained moment of longing and regret-in-advance? (Is that just me?) I could see it there, just ahead of me… the snarled remark, perhaps, got my attention – and a moment of appreciation that although I’d spoken aloud, I was seated alone. I paused, and listened for just a precious second of limited time – really listened – to me – and I recognized unmet needs. Simply that. I heard me. I needed recognition that I’ve been sick. I needed better self-care. I needed to slow down a bit, really focus, and be patient with myself. I needed a healthy meal – a real, actual, cooked-with-care, meal, prepared from fresh ingredients that meet all of my dietary needs. (I’ve been sick, right? Cooking takes some effort, more than I could manage for a couple days, so it’s been… broth. lol Mostly just broth. And coffee. Tea. Fizzy water. Cold medicine.) I looked at the clock and acknowledged to myself how very human I am. I reset my expectations, and moved my workload around a bit. I reset the expectations of others, with consideration, with care, and as firmly as I know how to do graciously. I finished the day with a plan.

The commute was okay. Rainy. I was pre-occupied with my own thoughts, so less frustrated with the shenanigans of other, less skilled, drivers (I know they are less skilled, because… did you see that shit?? You did not. I did, though. lol). I picked up some healthy ingredients on the way home and made myself a small London broil (although I rarely eat beef, if I am at all a risk of anemia, or have recently been ill, it definitely perks me up to have it), some steamed broccoli, and homemade yam steak fries. I cooked. I enjoyed a solitary evening meal, listening to music, thinking my thoughts. First day back to work is tough on me after being sick, so I take things pretty easy this evening. I want to do more, and look at my “to do list” with a certain purposeful yearning, although I definitely do not have the energy for all that (or even most of it, or… yeah… none of it at all, actually, not tonight). An early night will be the thing, then. Maybe some quiet time reading? Meditation. I’ll write (hello!). I’ll meditate. I’ll call it a night.

Of course, the internet grabbed my attention pretty quickly – it was hard to tear myself away. A couple rounds of being annoyed with myself, followed by a reminder, again, of how human I am… the evening continues.

Self-care does not come naturally to me, in any way I can tell. I really work at it. I sometimes seriously suck at it, but it needs to be handled, and generally, it needs to be handled skillfully – or I am doing little more than hastening my own demise through neglect. :-\ So, tonight I practice self-care practices. Gentle verbs. Verbs that nurture. Verbs that heal. Verbs that soothe and tend and care for.

Tomorrow is soon enough to begin again on all the other verbs. 🙂

I slept like crap last night. I mean… according to my fitness tracker I was at least recognizably making the attempt at sleep for more than 7 hours. That’s something. My sleep was fitful, restless, broken into small pieces interrupted by moments of wakefulness, and dreaming that I was awake. I woke wanting very much to continue sleeping, sometime around 7 am. I call that “sleeping in” today, and drag myself from my bed to face the day, which seems already very much in progress, being quite a bit past dawn.

I put on music first thing. I’m really hung up on a track I first heard yesterday. The words fit my playlist,  “Sit down. Be Humble.” A reminder. A great groove. I start there. Sunday. A good day for contemplation and reminders to be the best human being I can. I dance into the kitchen and make coffee. Music carries me into the studio with my coffee. More reminders.  It’s a morning for fun and love and… dancing? Who knew. 🙂 The smile on my face feels like part of how my face is made, this morning. I move things around on my playlist to put the best beats and bass and yes, even reminders, at the top. Later will be soon enough for anything more structured or serious. Right now? Music, movement, and smiles. This is about feeling good. 🙂

In case it hasn’t come up before… I am not a dancer. I’m also carry a few more pounds than I find comfortable (or aesthetically pleasing). I have physical limitations due to old injuries, and hell let’s acknowledge that aging has its say as well. Doesn’t matter. I’m not dancing for contest judges. I’m not dancing to show off. I’m not dancing to be good at anything or to demonstrate a skillful execution of some particular choreography. I simply like the way it feels to hear music and be moved. So this is all for me. It feels good to dance. It eases some of my arthritis pain. It slows the creeping inevitability of the passage of time. It is an experience. These are verbs I enjoy. 🙂

I move on in the playlist as I head for coffee number two… favorites new and oldsongs that fill me with hope… and I dance on with the day, thinking about love.

Today is a good day to enjoy the moments that feel the best whenever they turn up. Savor the hell out of that delightful moment, right now, however brief. Save the recollection for later. Enjoy the experience as though it is the only moment. Wallow in it. Appreciate it fully. Be here, now. Then…

Begin again.

I woke rested this morning. I slept in. I opened my eyes slowly, thinking about love. My dreams were precious and lovely, sweet, and emotional. Tears slid down my face, not bad tears, just memories and perspective. I woke smiling. I remind myself that my emotions are not madness, nor are they a mistake. I feel. I am human.

I make coffee, and put on the stereo. I shuffled my playlist with great care recently (I occasionally do) and the song I start my mornings with is pretty close to being… a hymn. There just doesn’t happen to be a church involved. It’s just a beautiful song, and a reminder to self to be the best person I know how to be, as I start the day. It’s Saturday. I start the day with music and a smile.

Life isn’t perfect, for me either. All the practicing, all the growth, every moment of contentment reached, every moment of joy, and each new “level” unlocked, it’s still a very human experience. I struggle with my weight. I struggle not to take things personally in life. I struggle to love the woman in the mirror and the people all around me. I endure pain. I also learn and grow and love. It’s a very mixed experience, and very human. I practice. I fail. I begin again. I find myself, sometime further down the road, changed – and generally for the better (with all  the practicing of practices that nurture and support growth and change). Clinging to expectations of this or that, or some very specific standard of beauty, success, intellect or achievement is a set up for heartbreak and failure on this whole other level, in comparison to letting go of attachment to the outcome, and simply doing and being the best of the human being I am able to be.

Anyway. I’m just saying… there’s some falling down. I follow it with getting back up. The journey is mine. The destination is mine. The goals are mine. It’s not about money for me. It’s about great art, great love, and being a genuine, kind, compassionate, reasoning human being capable of managing the intensity of deep emotion with wisdom and graciousness. It’s about healing ancient pain, and embracing love right now. The success, while also mine, gets results that benefit all of us. When we are our best selves, the entire world is transformed by it.

Emotion and reason. Practice. Begin again. Be the change you wish to see in yourself. You are enough. ❤

My appointment with my therapist was a weird rollercoaster ride of shared moments that began well enough talking over recent weeks in a frank and vulnerable way; the break-in had happened only days after our last visit. We started there.

Over 3 years, I’ve come so far… I have a pleasant moment reflecting on how well I bounced back from the violation of a home invasion… then… well… He has this way of sifting through the tons of words and asking some innocuous question about some seemingly nothing bit of a something, and unraveling some long-standing self-deception, or startling me out of my complacent acceptance of some damaging bit of chaos or damage. There’s more work to do about all this chaos and damage, but this morning my head isn’t aching from hours of crying, and actually – I had a lovely quiet evening of reflection. At one point, I hopped online and took at look at computers – strangely, both my Traveling Partner and my therapist said things that pull my focus back to the missing laptop. My Traveling Partner more than once simply observing rather matter-of-factly that “we need to replace your computer”, in one context or another in which it becomes obvious that it is missed. I felt something I was calling “indifference” and would push back that I was “getting by” and “there’s really no rush”. My therapist looking into my face earnestly and attentively commenting instead how he could see the loss was very hard for me, and… the questions. I got home feeling the weight of my missing laptop more than usual, and understanding that however odd it may seem – its absence is related to the emotional void keeping me out of my studio (also my study, where my laptop lived). I rarely go in “there” at all since the break-in, even now.

I shopped with an open mind, finding myself pulled in the direction of my own best computer experiences. I sipped chamomile tea and compared holiday deals. I compared them by price. I compared them by features. I compared them to the list in my head of the things that I need most and didn’t have before, and the things that turned out not to matter – and the things that mattered greatly. I sent a link to my traveling partner of a laptop that was rather-the-same-a-bit-more-what-I-need-a-bit-less-what-I-have-previously-thought-I-like-but-appeals-to-me-now, and then immediately retracted it in a moment of anxious tension over money. I struggle to spend money on myself – it makes me uncomfortable to do so. Baggage.

I kept thinking about that laptop, and found myself “smiling back” at the idea of it, not quite yearning for it, not quite letting it go. I repeat a narrative I’ve been telling myself a lot; no new one, however perfect, actually replaces the old one. It’s not about the laptop; the content is lost. I finally let it go and pick up a book and read awhile before deciding to head to bed. In our exchanging of tender well-wishes for a restful night, my Traveling Partner comments on the good value in the laptop I’d linked, and said “you should go for it”. My heart thumped hard in my chest. I should go for it? His loving support and confident assurance that I am worth my own time, my own attention, my own affection and support, has endured all through the years we’ve enjoyed each other. Even my own money? For me? Why the hell do I still carry around so damned much pain about my own worthiness? I get up from having crawled into bed and put my glasses back on. I it is time to replace this tool that I use so much and rely on so heavily for many things in life. That’s practical. I recognize it (from a distance). My partner recognizes it. My therapist recognizes it. The IT manager at work recognized it. Why on earth would I hold myself at arm’s length when I reach out so readily to embrace the ones I love – and even those I simply hold in high regard?? That’s… madness. Madness built on a lifetime of practice. It’s time to practice something different.

It was exciting and frightening to click “add to cart”. Heart racing and breathless, I checked out. My new laptop is on her way, and I feel like the bestie of a dear friend who is lost to me is about to turn up on my doorstep seeking welcome… I’m excited… a little wary… mostly excited… but it’s a bit of an unknown. I love being my Traveling Partner’s Santa Claus. Really, it seems only proper that he would similarly be mine, even if the trip down the chimney is the nudge of a mouse hand. 🙂 I adult a bit more, sending the receipt over to the insurance company to document replacement of the lost laptop, and taking time to meditate and calm myself to that the excitement and anxiety don’t ruin my sleep. Will I really be able to sleep, I wonder, as I pull the covers over me…?

I woke with difficulty to an insistent beeping that seemed both familiar and peculiarly difficult to understand. Why the hell was there beeping at this hour? I sit up and frown, reaching for the alarm clock, puzzled. Right. It’s a Thursday. I have work. Actually, I have rather a lot of work. I get up. Yoga. Meditation. A shower. It’s in the shower that I recall ordering the laptop. I smile at the recollection with eagerness and a noteworthy lack of buyers remorse. The morning actually seems a fairly ordinary one, only… there’s a sense that something has been put right that feels quite comforting. My Traveling Partner was right. We needed to replace the laptop. I needed to replace my laptop. I needed to take care of the woman in the mirror. I feel a moment of gratitude to have so much help with that. 🙂

The point of this handful of words isn’t the laptop at all, of course, it’s the self-care. It’s the self-knowledge, and the self-acceptance. It’s the willingness to provide for myself as I would for others. It’s understanding that to practice something new also sometimes means to stop practicing something that doesn’t work so well. I’ll head to the office today and work my ass off supporting my employer’s agenda, and in return I will be paid. It’s reasonable and appropriate that a measure of that effort will provide for me, quite directly, and  it does: rent, groceries, utilities… I would buy a bed if I were sleeping on the floor (although I felt guilty about it when I did). I bought chairs when I needed someplace to sit (but I felt uncomfortable about the “luxury”), and a dining table when I needed someplace to serve meals (more for the comfort of others). The purchases make sense. The baggage doesn’t make so much sense. My smile this morning is for me. When I needed someplace to write, archive images of my art, my photos, my manuscripts, my memory, I bought a laptop (because I need this for me, and that’s totally okay). I feel another bit of baggage hit the floor with a thump.

Today is a good day for gratitude and appreciation that so many dear to me care so much. Today is a good day to be merry, and a good day to let go of some baggage.

Happy Easter! Well, or whatever you are celebrating this morning that may or may not be identified in that fashion. As a youngster, I loved Easter – the egg hunt, the hidden (and very fancy) basket of generally wonderful chocolates and confections, the decorated eggs (which were sometimes quite lavish and exotic at our house, as my Mother was willing to blow eggs, and decorate them as fictional characters, and such, and we would often enjoy coloring eggs the evening before hand – a celebration of its own). Many years as an adult, I continued to celebrate the splendor of spring with Easter baskets, Easter eggs, Easter chocolates. It didn’t matter one bit to me that the aspects of the Easter celebration commonly associated with Christian faiths was often so culturally prominent, leaving the heartfelt earthy practical symbols of spring and fertility to wonder if anyone remembered them; I remembered, and celebrated, and that was enough.

Many years into adulthood, sometime well past 40, I gave up celebrating Easter; the celebrations I love most are pretty calorie-rich, costly, and labor intensive, and I had gained a lot of weight over the years. It had become an insincere celebration, too, unshared, solitary, and unhealthy. I couldn’t afford the rich artisan-crafted exotic chocolates I wanted for fancy baskets I yearned for but had no room to store. The hand-crafted ceramic eggs I had made for myself years before remained wrapped up and put away for many years. My enthusiasm for life was muted by prescription drugs intended to dull only my symptoms, but in fact pretty much just shut me down in all but those moments when nothing could. Easter was lost to me, and the feeble stirrings of interest in some years, more than others, didn’t really bring it back.

Set aside but not forgotten.

Set aside and forgotten… for a time.

This morning I woke thinking about Easter. I woke thinking about spring, beginnings, verbs, ancient rites performed by superstitious primates, earnest rituals performed by true believers, and ceramic Easter eggs, carefully put away, that have no calories at all – only loveliness. I woke with a smile. There is no hurting here this morning, beyond the usual morning stiffness and aching of my arthritis. I feel a mild sensation of regret looking out over the park, beyond the tall grasses to the playground; I could have hidden Easter eggs for the children this year. So fun. I might have filled some with jelly beans, others with coins, some with comforting or thought-provoking aphorisms. I didn’t; Easter had been put away for so long I had forgotten it entirely, until this morning, even though sentences using the word had certainly fallen from my lips in recent weeks. How strange.

There is no moment of bitter disappointment or any particular sadness this morning. Actually, I feel rather hopeful, and eager to see Easter coming up on next year’s calendar. I find myself contemplating ‘being true’ to the woman in the mirror, all her facets, all her joys. I realize that ‘authenticity’ and ‘being true’ to oneself have a connection – noun and verb – and as is so often the case, the verbs involved really matter if that elusive noun is to be achieved, lived, and cherished.

A chilly bumble bee, tired and cold and waiting on the warmth of the day.

A chilly bumblebee, tired and cold and waiting for the sun.

Happy Easter. Today is a good day to be true to my vision of the best woman I can be. There are verbs involved, sure, and my results will vary. Every one of life’s Easter eggs is a moment of potential wonder and immense joy. Everyone of life’s moments is a potential Easter egg. 🙂