Archives for posts with tag: taking time for me

It is the Sunday before a Monday – the Monday that I return to work, after taking time off to move, actually. I woke peculiarly early on a day I could have slept in. My Traveling Partner was also up early. We enjoyed our coffee together, listening to jazz, and discussing politics in a genial, civil way. We disagree about some things, small details mostly, and it’s rather pleasant to share, discuss, and acknowledge those differences without a shit-storm of drama or ire. Reasonable people, discussing things in a reasonable way. 🙂 Nice start to a Sunday.

In most regards, today, specifically, is a day I’ll use to “get back on track” with various routine matters of home-care and quality of life management. I’ll do some basics that generally “feel like” Sunday to me, personally. I’ll take out the trash (making a point to empty all the little waste baskets that sit conveniently in every room), and the recycling (making a point to break down any recent boxes that have arrived in the past day or two, preventing those from piling up unattractively). I’ll double-check that the pantry is well-stocked, and make a list of things that are running low or gone; I may not go to the store on a Sunday, but I like to have a list ready. Today, on this particular Sunday, I’ll also log into all my work tools, here in my new studio/office, and make sure that I have reliable connectivity, and that my tools and equipment are wholly set up and ready-to-go for what will likely be a very busy week. I’ve made little notes for myself, too, and these I’ll add to my Sunday “to do list”, too, there are various small useful errands on little notes in my notebook (we did not have connectivity for nearly two weeks, so a lot got written down on paper). One of those notes reminds me “write a blog post”, and so, of course, I do… 🙂

Most of my lists are simply practical reminders of what I’d like to get done. I carry a wee Rite in the Rain notebook, tucked in my purse, or a pocket, for convenience. 🙂

I sip my coffee, eyeing the worn rather old etched slate coaster on my desk. It’s been thoroughly cleaned since the move, but looks perpetually dirty. The worn inelegant surface hints at many years of use. The thin crack that runs across the surface suggests it has been kept for some reason beyond function or aesthetics. I smile. It reminds me of my Granny. It came from her kitchen. “Can I have this one?” I’d asked, on a visit to her home on Frenchtown Rd, many years ago (1997?). “Sure, Sweetie.” She’d replied with an indulgent smile. I didn’t expect it to be my last visit. I’m sure she didn’t either. We are mortal creatures, and our lives are finite, each moment precious. I find myself tearing up a bit, wishing sentimentally she had lived to see my Traveling Partner and I moved into our home together. She would have been so pleased for us. There’s even room for her to have visited, quite comfortably…

A souvenir of “home” – or, at least, of the places I come from.

The open window beyond my desk doesn’t have much of a “view”, and I already love the view it does have. It functions a bit as a “blank page” for writing, and has few “distractions” or features to draw my eye inadvertently. The two rather poorly pruned pear trees dangle fruit-laden branches over the new fence. I smile, even at the less-than-ideally leveled fence boards. Our neighbors replaced the falling down fence between our yards the very week we moved in. It’s clear they had not built a fence before. Funny that the quirks of this new fence provide more kind humor than irritation, for me. The neighbors are pleasant kind people, and the community is very welcoming. This new place already feels like home. In short, I like it here, and I love this house. 🙂 I expect I’ll spend many contented hours writing, and painting. (The closet in my studio is filled with stored art. I chuckle to myself at the possibility that what stops me painting, often, is more to do with having so many laying about than any lack of inspiration in the moment. LOL)

A closet full of paintings, neatly stacked by size. Some will hang, some will sell, some will linger waiting for their moment.

I finish the last sip of my now-cold coffee, and think over the day ahead. I hear my Traveling Partner call my name from somewhere else in the house; we’re still not used to having the extra bit of room that makes trying to talk to each other from different spaces sort of silly. I smile. It’s time to begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee on a quiet Sunday morning. I slept in, some. I woke feeling rested, mostly. My day has a purposeful outing planned in it, one stop, out and back. My Traveling Partner and I will go together. This is still hours away. My partner is still sleeping. (My notion of “sleeping in” still finds me awake ahead of many people, on a Sunday. lol) Meditation. Yoga. Then, writing, right? That’s the routine, generally.

…This morning I sit sipping coffee, and for quite some time definitely not writing. Just sitting. Contemplating change. Contemplating the day ahead. Noodling around in my own head, lacking focus or intention – just here, being this moment. Reflecting on life. Sipping coffee. I’m not giving myself any shit about it; it’s enough for this moment to be what it is, right now. I don’t need more. There is no pressure on me in this moment to do more, or be anything different than this human being I have become over time. I feel fairly contented, through and through, and exist in this precious rare moment utterly without anxiety, without agenda, without worry. I’m just sitting here drinking coffee on a Sunday morning in the springtime, thinking thoughts. The sky hints at a sunny day ahead, after a rainy night.

I smile in anticipation of the pleasure in a shared drive in the countryside, later. “Enough”? More than enough. Delightful. I find myself greatly appreciating the errand that takes us out of the house today. It’s been far too rare, for what seems like a very long time (really, it’s only been about 8 weeks, I think…, but that is a long time to just “stay home”; we’re busier creatures than we knew, and it turns out staying home just indefinitely is really challenging). My mind runs down the list of “things to have when one leaves the house” these days: mask, nitrile gloves, hand sanitizer – and a positive attitude is always handy, too. What a weird time the pandemic is.

I give myself yet another moment, just relaxing and drinking coffee. No pressure. I remind myself to clean the bathroom, dust and vacuum later. Regular weekend chores. A long soak in a hot bath sounds lovely, too (I frown a moment, at the simultaneous recollection of how small our bathtub is, in this rental, still – it is sufficient, and I make room to be grateful we have indoor plumbing, hot running water, and fragrant bath products).

Today is a day. This moment is one moment. There will be others. Soon it will be time to begin again. Right now? It’s enough to enjoy this cup of coffee, on this quiet Sunday morning.

I woke before dawn. As daylight began to shift the darkness to light, a foggy damp morning begins to reveal itself. Colder than yesterday, but not icy, probably a good one for an early walk, I think to myself, rather unenthusiastically, as it happens.

I consider the morning, and the moment.

I sip my coffee, dressed for walking. Yesterday it took a peculiarly long time to “talk myself into it”, and strangely, I was still halfheartedly trying to excuse myself from not going for a walk, although I feel better, and enjoy my day more, when I hit the trail for a couple of miles. That time alone with my thoughts, free of media inputs and other consciousnesses, is more than valued; it is part of what keeps me mentally and emotionally well. Dodging the effort is not a helpful thing. So, out I went. I returned home feeling sated, refreshed, and accomplished; 3 miles felt comfortable. The hill is no longer daunting, it’s just a hill.

This morning, I know I’ll go. Soon. I’ll finish this coffee, and lace up my boots, grab my cane, and go. I may drive up to the path along the Columbia river, this morning. Seems a lovely morning for it.

The morning continues to lighten, as the day develops, quietly.

There is so much disappointing chaos, corruption, and madness, in the world right now. I sometimes find it terrifying. I nearly always find it disheartening. I walk in the mornings, listening to bird song and breezes, and the sound of my footsteps, and let all of that go for at least a couple miles, and a handful of pleasant moments. The weekends feel shorter without the walks. Funny how this time spent with – and for – myself can seem to “stretch time”. I breath, exhale, and relax. I feel the hint of a smile on my face.

…Nice morning for walking…

My mind wanders pleasantly to the Spring ahead. Is it too soon to plan that first camping trip? Where would I go? The coast? The forest? Will the end of March (specifically, the Vernal Equinox) be too soon? (I don’t much like camping if the evenings/nights are cold; it makes my bones ache.) The winter has been strangely mild, perhaps the Spring will be unusually warm? (It may be unusually cold…) I smile at my own eagerness, sipping my coffee and delaying the start of my walk, to consider walking elsewhere, weeks from now. I am amused, without irritation, at the implied internal conflict. This morning, I am gentle with myself, uncritical, and unhurried. There is time for meditation. Time for coffee. Time for the outside temperature to warm up another degree or two. There is even time to recharge my wearable device, so handy for tracking my mileage.

I contentedly dilly-dally over my morning coffee, savoring the morning quiet. I appreciate it, and it is enough.

Mindfulness, perspective, & sufficiency: ingredients for a lovely morning.

I finish my coffee and lace my boots. It’s time to begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee, before dawn, on a Spring morning. Well-past Winter, and headed for Summer, the morning is mild, and the patio door is open to the cool morning air. I haven’t written a word in days… unless a letter to my Mother, for Mother’s Day, counts. I suppose it does… but…

…I’ve spent lovely hours in the garden…

…I seem to have broken my writing habit. lol Yep. It’s entirely possible to break a habit, however long-standing, however well-favored, and even when that habit is relied upon, enjoyed, and cultivated until it becomes a plot point in one’s life, and an element of character. Still breakable.

Just stop doing it.

Stop a habitual behavior one time, and it has little impact. Stop it again, and it becomes a repeated behavior. Continue stopping it ( as in, don’t do it) and, over time, it becomes part of who you are that you don’t do this thing. We become what we practice, it is that simple.

This is a technique, a practice, that works. It works very well; practice something long enough and changes occur. Practice a desirable behavior. Practice something tedious. Practice something useful. Practice something foolish. We become what we practice.

I broke my writing habit by taking a day from writing, now and then, which grew to amused tolerance of not writing, even for a couple days, which slowly became a small kernel of doubt; do I even want to write? I took a vacation for a few days, to focus on Love, and found myself just… not writing. At all. Good times. Challenges. Adventure. Drama. Practice? Well, one thing I was not practicing? Writing. It’s been interesting to live life without it.

The last day or two I have tended to be somewhat irritable, and easily hurt. At that same time, there’s been something “a bit off” every now and then, between my Traveling Partner and I, in spite of how delightfully well we get along, and how much love exists in this relationship. It struck me as I fell asleep last night that, in some small way, my writing is not only part of who I am… it is part of who we are. When I don’t write, not only do I lose “my mirror”, and regular moment taken for self-reflection, and reinforcement of those practices that tend to make me more the woman I most want to be… it also removes a handy window into who I am, and how I’m doing, that my Traveling Partner is quite used to having available. I wonder if that’s something he counts on? I remind myself to ask, some other time.

This is not to say I sense any obligation among all these words; my choices are my own. I miss writing every day. There is a longing that exists alongside the tempting freedom from this habit of sitting down each morning, over my coffee, reflecting on my thoughts, my actions, my experience… and frankly the longing won. 🙂 That’s okay, too.

I listen to a little bird outside my window, and my neighbor’s car warming up in the driveway. I sip my coffee, and feel the cool morning air fill the house. I think of the happy happenstance of running into a former coworker (current friend) yesterday, that I hadn’t seen in a while. I exist in this vaguely merry pre-dawn state, drinking coffee. I love this “place”, this particular moment and state of being. How is it that even this habit is so easily broken? How is it so easily resumed?

We get to choose. 

Imagine the insane power our freedom of choice actually implies – and what it says, really, about who we each are (and who we are choosing to be). Raw power.

…And…yeah… it means that it matters who we each choose to be, and that who we are is a product of a great many choices we willfully make, each day. We can choose differently, and better, than we often do – and once we notice that? We sort of have an obligation to ourselves – to that person we most want to be – to step up, and walk a path we choose with care, and make those choices that make us more fully who we do want to be, until, over time, that’s who we actually are.

…So… There’s that. I check the time, and begin again. 🙂

How do you know who you are, specifically? Is it a question you easily ask and answer, or does the “who are you, really?” question mess with your head? I suppose I revisit this question rather frequently, and with little stress, these days, and sometimes with some surprise (as in “Is this who I am?”). I’ve changed a lot as a human being over a lifetime. (You’ve probably changed some, too – haven’t you?)

When I think about who I am, who I have been, and the journey between those points (and, frankly, extending well beyond my current understanding of self, into the murky unknown of the future), I prefer to rest comfortably on what I know of myself, personally, understood in the context of my own values, my own experience, and my own understanding of the world. There is value in hearing the perspective of others, and honest self-reflection on the words and impressions of others can be an eye-opener worthy of deep listening and consideration…but… at the end of the day (any day), the greater value is in self-knowledge, self-awareness, and an internal dialogue that is frank without cruelty, I find. It is a literal truth that no one knows me like I know myself.

How do I know if my internal dialogue is sufficiently honest? I guess only by being honest with myself about that, too. There are choices involved. Awareness is a good starting point on any journey.

Why does this matter today? Well, I guess because (to me) it matters every day…but… tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day will (if all goes well) follow it fairly closely. 🙂 I celebrate New Year’s as a simple enough turning of a calendar page, and I celebrate it as the end of the winter holiday season, and also as another opportunity to begin again. No “resolutions” – change doesn’t work for me quite that way. I’ll sit down with myself, reflect on the year that has ended, consider the year to come, and look at the journey I’ve made in life so far. I’ll look ahead to destinations I hope to reach, successes I hope to achieve (larger or small, it’s not really about scale, more about trajectory), and changes I hope to make for myself to improve my quality of life, or to be more the woman I most want to be. I’ll consider the things I didn’t reach along last year’s journey, without diminishing myself or treating myself poorly. I’ll give myself the opportunity to learn and grow from both my successes and my failures. No shortcuts. No self-deception. No looking away from the harder moments, or less pleasant truths, and also willfully and eagerly embracing the lovely moments, the delights, the wonders, and the joys.

I use an assortment of tools, tasks, and practices to consider and reconsider the year behind me, the year to come, and the woman in the mirror poised between them. I spend time writing. I update my “Life in Weeks” calendar and reflect on how I have spent my time, and what I can do differently to better meet my long-term needs in life. I meditate. I meditate on questions I may not previously have thought to ask… sometimes it helps to have a tool for that. I take a walk along one path or another, sometimes new, sometimes more familiar. More than anything else, though, it is a matter of taking the time for constructive self-reflection, and placing enough value on that time to fully respect it, to set boundaries, and to take care of the woman in the mirror. Once a year? I definitely have time for me once a year. 🙂 Over time it has proven to be a worthy investment in self, and so I continue the tradition year after year.

Today I will get the housekeeping out of the way for the weekend, run errands, do chores. I’ll treat myself exceptionally well by preparing in advance for deeply satisfying celebratory self-reflection and leisure to come. No discomfort, no guilt, no reluctance; I enjoy this time I spend with myself each year, and invest some effort in making it a moment worth savoring. Other people, other celebrations, this is me, doing New Year’s my way. I’m okay with that; it’s enough. 2017? Bring it!