Archives for posts with tag: taking time for me

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!

This morning is Saturday. I woke to the alarm. I’ve got a seminar all weekend. This is a treat for me on several levels: it is taught by a neuroscientist whose work has been important for me over the past almost 3 years, it is on the topic of positive neuroplasticity, I enrolled because I wanted to myself, it has been planned for many weeks, and learning feels amazing. 3 entire days of education – for me! Well… my original plan had been to attend all three days of live stream, and when I returned to the workforce I had planned (and requested) the day off… but… turns out I actually really enjoy my job, so day 3 (which is a Monday) I’ll catch up with on the replay. I don’t want to miss Monday in the office.

Raindrops on roses; I make time for thoughts of love.

Raindrops on roses; I make time for thoughts of love.

…When did I become this person? When did words like “committed”, “thoughtful”, “compassionate”, “positive”, and “dedicated” become part of who I am? When did I become comfortable seeing myself this way? Using these words? I mean, over time, sure, change happens…and choosing to practice new practices, embrace new ideas, and walk on from what doesn’t work is sure to lead to change (and growth too) … but… when did I become the woman facing me in the mirror today? I feel differently about her than I felt about her in years past. I smile when I think so, because aside from understanding her a bit more, and practicing very different practices from a practical perspective… I still feel her presence solidly as “me”, without any particular sense of some sort of “growth and development timeline”. 🙂

I think about the “on-boarding process” in the context of professional life; our personal lives are much messier, less organized, but I suspect it is more a matter of not writing it all down with hyperlinks, in bite-sized pieces, that can be copied over and over again and shared with each new human being, more than it is that no process exists. It strikes me now what a wonderful thing it is that life doesn’t really work that way; no handy rule book, no map, no Sherpa – not really, though over a lifetime haven’t I had many guides? Strangers, friends, lovers, family, teachers, casual passers-by, great books… hell, even the moments themselves and the metaphors I so delight in, end up being part of this whole being and becoming process.

Practices matter. Choices matter. Words, too, our words matter. How we present ourselves, and the assumptions we make, matter. How we treat ourselves matters. How life feels and how we treat others, builds on all of that. 🙂

Letting the rain fall without fretting about it.

Letting the rain fall without fretting about it.

It’s a rainy day. A good day to enjoy the weather from the other side of window glass. A good day for a third coffee. A good day to study, to learn, to write. A good day for casual grammar, and a positive outlook. A good day for art, for science, for love. A good day to let the rain fall. Well… it’s a good day for all those things for me; we are each having our own experience.

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This weekend I will study. I will be a student. I will see the world through a beginner’s eyes. I hope to learn more about what matters most. Then… I will practice. 🙂

 

This morning I slept a bit later than usual, and the sun was making her way into the sky and spilling like gold into the living room, through the open patio door. I’d been up much earlier, very briefly, and only long enough to remember to open the patio door to cool pre-dawn breezes, before returning to sleep. I’m glad I did, and not so much because it’s going to be a hot day, but more because it was a moment of great delight to see the very air around me transformed into gold, when I woke later. Beautiful!

The golden dawn enticed me out onto the lawn to meditate. It was still quite early, and there was neither foot traffic, nor sounds of neighbors starting their own days; it was entirely quiet but for the sounds of distant traffic and birdsong. Dew tickled my toes. A chorus of small birds landed in the tops of the tall meadow grass separating the community from the park and trees beyond.  A cat stalked slowly along the edge of the grass. A large blue jay landed nearby and walked toward me, curiously, cocking his head from side to side and checking me out thoroughly before taking off. I wasn’t facing the playground and didn’t see it begin to fill with children and early morning parenting, although I heard the laughter. Meditation ended when I was tumbled from my cushion by something fairly large, hairy, and playful; someone’s “puppy” got away from them and took off across the meadow. A rather large puppy. A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, according the to panting Mom who’d sprinted behind him (I assume; she arrived almost on top of him, breathless) yelling “he’s friendly! he’s friendly!”. She was apologetic for breaking the peace of my morning, I was all laughter, as I’d somehow ended up with a lapful of large puppy, as well as a toddler and another somewhat older child, who arrived shortly after pup and mother, all childlike eagerness to share tales of their puppies adventures, and to assure me he’s friendly. lol No regrets here; how else does one pack so much laughter and pure unreserved joy into less than 10 minutes? 🙂 (I’m grateful I’ve entered this later stage of life appearing approachably friendly, instead of landing on ‘mean lady down the block’ – it was a legitimate risk, frankly. 🙂 )

There was still time to water the patio garden before the sun begins to beat down on it. Time to water the vegetable garden. I took out the trash. The recycling went to the bin, too. I cleaned the bathroom, humming a happy tune. I had just finished thoroughly (contentedly, happily) vacuuming the apartment, contemplating “Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?“, which I am reading, when I realized it’s not even 7 am… and I haven’t had my coffee. lol Are puppies and children all it takes to completely wreck what there is to my morning routine? I laugh at myself, and feel a moment of greater understanding (and sympathy) for what unruly lives full-time parents must have, and double-check that I remembered to take morning medication. I still haven’t had my coffee

Mmmm... Life is good.

Mmmm… Life is good.

I hadn’t expected to spend yesterday evening with my traveling partner, until the moment he said he’d be over later. It was a lovely evening, well-spent in every way. The time spent in the company of shared friends felt warm and nurturing. The time spent alone was close, connected, intimate and easy. It was so nearly the perfect evening, the ideal moment spent wrapped in love, that I can’t even complain about how beastly hot it was; I don’t remember it that way. Love matters more.

So, I start the day routine already in tatters, unconcerned about any of that so long as I am able to take care of the woman in the mirror with some skill, and enjoy my experience without creating chaos or misery in the world. I’m okay with that – over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten more skilled at spontaneity. 🙂  It’s not so scary.

A new day like an anticipated gift; I may know it's coming, but I don't know what's in it until it arrives.

A new day like an anticipated gift; I may know it’s coming, but I don’t know what’s in it until it arrives.

I’ve no idea what today holds, beyond the morning so far… and I don’t feel any urgency driving a need to know more sooner; I’m cool with gently coasting from moment to moment, living life, experiencing experiences, and converting life time into memories. I haven’t taken much time of this extraordinary quality over a lifetime. I sit contentedly sipping my coffee, grateful to have taken the opportunity, and appreciating having the partnership that allows me to comfortably do so. Until I took the time for myself, I didn’t understand how badly I needed it, or what value it would have to have given this gift to myself; a healing journey takes some time, and it’s slow going when progress is saved for long weekends, the rare quiet evening solo, and ‘vacations’. This has been a worthwhile choice.

I became more aware (yesterday? a day or two ago?) recently that I feel actually ready to return to work. It’s an interesting feeling. I also find that I have new respect (and appreciation) for businesses that specifically give employees a hiatus from work on occasion. It makes sense, and strikes me now as a really beautiful way to prevent/heal burn out, or ensure valued employees actually do have some life to experience outside the workplace, for real. This morning, I sit down to job search tasks with contentment and enthusiasm. It feels good – and different. It makes sense to get back to work at the end of the summer… Funny how that rhythm of life left behind in childhood still lingers in my sense of what makes sense to me as an adult. 🙂

Today is a good day for being… and becoming.

It’s earlier than necessary. I’ve been awake since 3 am. Returning to sleep wasn’t successful this morning; I was too wrapped up in the discomfort of scratching at fleas. Oh, not actual real insect fleas one might encounter at home if the family dog, cat, or other pet potentially interesting to fleas brought them indoors. I mean metaphorical fleas of the sort that nag and irritate and bite at my consciousness in the background, until the background becomes the greater portion of my thinking, and rest is no longer easily within reach.

I enjoyed a pleasant weekend with my traveling partner, and a great deal of it was spent simply enjoying that time together in a positive connected way. Some of it was spent being a supportive partner, providing a listening ear, maintaining my individual perspective based on my own experiences, ensuring he felt heard and cared for nonetheless… I find myself thinking I spent a lot less time than usual on the things that generally fill my weekends these days: long walks, yoga, meditation, reading, writing, relaxing lost in thought over a hot coffee and gazing out at the clouds passing by over the park, painting, drawing, taking photographs, cooking, keeping my place orderly…only… I did those things. I think, actually, I did all those things this weekend…so…why this nagging feeling that something is missing, or didn’t get handled, or… and why the hell am I so cross this morning now that Monday has come?

I’m scratching at fleas, that’s why. It doesn’t need more thought or fancy language or additional analysis. Some of the things my partner is going through with his Other are just that fucking aggravating to even hear about. From afar, some human being I no longer have a direct connection with of any sort has managed – likely without any awareness or intent, let’s be rational – reached across time and distant through the magic of relationship drama and primate behavior to successfully get under my skin without even being here. Ick. As with real fleas, the temptation is to take immediate action – flea by flea initially, until it becomes clear there is ‘a real problem’. The larger mistake is allowing any such assumption that there is ‘a real problem’ to stand on its own merits; it’s mostly likely emotional bullshit and baggage, safe to let go of without further attention, the better choice being to continue to practice emotionally healthy practices moment by moment.

Some of life’s fleas come in the form of well-meaning loved ones suffering with the bad behavior of others slowly starting to demonstrate extreme reactivity to those sorts of things – or more unfortunate still, doing those actual very things that have hurt them so much, in interactions with other people. It’s very human, and pretty sad, and hard to endure, and very unpleasant. I am pretty sure it’s one of those so very human things that few are immune to it – I’ve been there myself, and I’m still scratching at a few that hang on so doggedly (lol) that I can point to the relationship they came from with certainty.

It was a bite from a metaphorical flea that messed with my sleep this morning. I woke in the wee hours, got up to pee and returned to bed. I noticed my throat was dry and my head was stuffy, and had a drink of water on the way back to bed. Just as I dozed off, I recalled a conversation the night before; my traveling partner expressed concern about my snoring, and my weight (they are related; I don’t snore much at all unless I am carry extra pounds). The conversation wasn’t an attack of any sort, and was clearly well-intended. It was practical, and also gentle. I don’t know that how the conversation was handled has anything at all to do with it holding my attention and keeping me from sleeping at 3 am… but I felt sufficiently self-conscious about the possibility I might snore that I couldn’t go back to sleep (even though no such thought prevented me from sleeping when I went to bed).  So, I am up early, writing, and wondering which of many practices for building perspective and finding balance are the ideal fit for flea bites… Because I do want my partner(s) to be easily able to come to me with their concerns, and I want to be comfortable hearing what they have to say, as well as able to sort out what matters most, and whether there is any need to take action, without that process being disruptive… or keeping me awake.

I managed to prevent my fleas from taking over my morning, which is nice, although I ended up missing out on 2 hours of sleep I might otherwise have enjoyed. My thoughts tried to get me to become invested in scratching those fleas on a whole other level. I found myself feeling cross about how much time was spent discussing his other relationship – I restored balance with gentle awareness of how much time he spent listening when I went through a bad break up, myself.

Reciprocity isn’t a ‘tit for tat’ thing like a tennis game where moment by moment everyone gets a ‘turn’; reciprocity trends over time with day-to-day shared consideration, deep listening, participation in shared activities – like folding the laundry together and talking, playing a video game together, figuring out dinner together and sharing the cooking and clean up. Reciprocity isn’t “I made this coffee, now you make that one” as much as it is a commonplace exchange that results in coffee reliably being made – by someone – and cleaned up – by someone – and everyone involved satisfied that the arrangement is comfortable, perhaps because even if I am generally the one making coffee, you are the one generally making tea; and we share both experiences. That very loose and easy notion of reciprocity only works in practice, as it turns out, when all participants are equally investing in equanimity, balance, and mutual support. It breaks down quickly if anyone involved feels entitled, deserving, superior, or ‘in charge’; reciprocity requires a lot of boundary setting, compromise, and ground rules in relationships that are not between (among?) adult equals. People who are in crisis, emotionally injured, or suffering great pain or grief are sometimes not easily able to reciprocate emotional support moment-to-moment; like a marathon runner with a broken leg, they may be very skilled at what’s needed, in principle, in training, in experience – but in that moment that they are working to heal a broken leg, they are not running any marathons, and it may be some time before the reciprocal nature of the relationship is fully restored live-in-real-time. It’s a reciprocal relationship, if everyone can count on each other ‘down the road’ as much as right now – that marathon running is a recurring or ongoing experience, and one day I may be the one with the broken leg, myself. Is this metaphor played out? Probably – I’m still scratching at fleas this morning.

Begin again? I think I shall.

Begin again? I think I shall.

I hear my partner up early, too; we are sensitive to each other’s moods beyond what seems common (or necessary, frankly). It may be that my wakefulness has messed with his sleep in turn. We’re very fancy primates, emotionally complicated, very responsive to our environment and our tribe. I hear him make coffee, and find myself distracted from my writing. I feel it as eagerness to share his company, and a subtle concern in the background. I remind myself to continue my best practices, regardless of his considerable charm; if I don’t take care of the woman in the mirror, and this fragile vessel, I am not so easily able to provide him with support and care when he needs it, too. Balance, perspective, and love – a good salve for flea bites.  🙂

Still… today is a nice day to begin the morning with love. 🙂