Archives for posts with tag: tell me of your home world

I sip my coffee quietly, considering the day ahead. I think for a brief moment that I have no plans, but realize it isn’t so. I dither, wondering if accepting an invitation to hike this morning would have been a better choice, instead of being here. Right now, here doesn’t feel very good…and I’ve no idea why. Humans being human. It happens.

Words are powerful tools for love. They are not always used that way. I try to use mine gently, wisely, well – with consideration. I try to use them a little more skillfully, and with greater care every day. I hold on to the hope that in doing so, I improve my own experience of myself, of the world I live in, and my relationships. It isn’t always a notably successful effort – still human – and I’m not certain sometimes that anyone else notices or cares much – they are still human, too. Each having our own experience.

Something has gone wrong with the morning. I don’t know what, and I examine my expectations, first; have I somehow crafted this experience with assumptions and expectations? I do a ‘self inventory’ with considerable tenderness, looking for where I may be struggling with something else in the background, or a missed self-care detail more important than I recognized. I feel myself earnestly wanting to connect with my traveling partner pleasantly, merrily, intimately; there is so much potential for joy in who we are together. Somehow, now is not the time. My gentlest approach this morning is met with a frown. I escape to my studio, hoping his morning gets better over his coffee. I contemplate going back to bed, which feels like a childish over-reaction to something that isn’t about me. I work on letting it go, and staying in the headspace I woke in; calm, rested, curious what the day holds, eager to enjoy the companionship of my partner, when he finds himself ready, too.

Expectations and assumptions are the Boss bad guys of relationships, aren’t they? I can’t know what someone is assuming (about me, about us, about the circumstances) but it quickly becomes clear that assumptions are being made when conversation lacks understanding. I sometimes find myself holding onto expectations, unstated, that later detonate and turn my pleasant moment into an emotional blast zone, when my unnoticed expectations are not met by real life.

Last night I expected to arrive home to my partner’s smile and a hug and some time hanging out; he’d already called it a night. I felt disappointed, but understanding – it’s not personal, or tragic, when someone takes care of themselves. I woke this morning looking forward to enjoying his company, talking about my evening, hanging out over morning coffee. He wasn’t yet up, and that didn’t bother me at all. Hell, it’s not personal that the morning is difficult now – we’re neither of us actually ‘morning people’. I find myself feeling rather lonely in this particular moment – also not personal, and definitely more ‘weather’ than ‘climate’. Difficult in the moment. Moments pass. This one, in fact, passes as soon as my traveling partner steps into the studio, shares a few words about his evening, and asks about mine.

Take the time to enjoy the moment.

Take the time to enjoy the moment. Be kind. Be gentle.

Today will likely be quite a nice day, most especially if I am willing to set aside expectations, refrain from making assumptions, and refuse to take things personally. Today is a good day to use some verbs.

Words or pictures? I have both. I have observations and thoughts. I have anecdotes and memories. I have moments of incredible heart, of epiphany, of transcendent serenity and wholeness, of unexpected tears. My day at the beach was an important day of self-care, characterized by free will, and pure experience of undefined identity; seeing those words in text I find myself doubting they can be ‘understood’. Sort of a ‘you had to be there’ thing, perhaps – but maybe you have been there?

Dawn came before I departed. I left my devices behind, except my smart-phone, which I shut down and put away.  I reached my downtown transfer point and realized that stopping for a coffee was suddenly a bit risky – how would I know the time??  I dispelled the moment of panic with laughter, remembering how many watches I used to own, and how incredibly tied to time I once was, long ago.  My recollection was that the ‘local drugstore’ would have cheap watches… up and down the aisles, no luck… the man at the counter, when asked, pointed a surly finger toward a lonely small carousel of reasonably priced time pieces.  I grabbed a simple one that did not offend my eye and went on my way, finding myself actually quite delighted with its simplicity, and my freedom.

The bus trip was quite pleasant, and at this time of year predictably uncrowded.  I spent the time in meditation, and found myself enveloped in the warmth of my own real regard and compassion for my experience, soothed and loved and feeling very safe.  I arrived at my destination and felt as if I stepped off the bus into a new world; I was at the beach, and on my own.

Like a whisper, a horizon more implied than visible.

Like a whisper, a horizon more implied than visible.

I found the misty, foggy morning quite appropriate to my mood and my mission; to take on the day fully mindfully, to spend it in meditation and consideration of ‘where I am and where I am going’, and to use the solo time to take care of me.  The gray sky blotted out the prominent local features on the coastline: the large rocks, the lighthouse, hotels and houses along the shore in the distance. There were a small handful of people along the beach, and plentiful footprints in the sand to remind me that no one of us is every truly alone.

...and I walked...

…and I walked…

As if every morning’s commute and every evening’s return home were in preparation for this, I walked along the beach in silent contemplation and soft awe. I walked the beach up and down from where Ecola Creek pours into the sea, to a place called Silver Point, a couple of times over the course of the day.  The map gives the impression the distance between those points is about 3 miles, when I look at it now, but at the time I had no sense of distance.

As seen on a map, 'my beach' on this day.

As seen on a map, ‘my beach’ on this day.

As the day unfolded, the mist began to lift (in the late afternoon it would even be sunny and clear).  The pictures reconnect me to my thoughts in-the-moment.  I have long counted on pictures to do that for me.

As the mist lifts...

As the mist lifts…

...and I continue to walk...

…and I continue to walk…

...the looming dark features of Haystack Rock are revealed.

…the looming dark features of Haystack Rock are revealed.

The day was more than the sum of my pictures, though, and as I walked, I observed the waves crashing in, on the shore, and the understandings evolving within as well.  I was open to my own heart, my own understanding, and feeling myself awaken as I walked on.

I took a seat on a big driftwood log for a time, to meditate, and breath deep of the sea breezes.

I took a seat on a big driftwood log for a time, to meditate, and breath deep of the sea breezes.

This guy joined me for a while, just standing there, next to me, gazing out to the sea with me.

This guy joined me for a while, just standing there, next to me, gazing out to the sea with me.

Watching the waves crash in, one by one. Hearing the sounds and feeling the grandeur of it.

Watching the waves crash in, one by one. Hearing the sounds and feeling the grandeur of it.

...Watching...observing my own thoughts as waves, themselves...

…Watching…observing my own thoughts as waves, themselves… after another...peace and contentment settling in.

…one after another…peace and contentment settling in.

The waves gave the appearance of surging forth directly from the sky, or the horizon.  Rested, I resumed my walking, and began to consider things; applying new understanding to old hurts, testing time-worn assumptions that have not served me well, nurturing my will and my intention – and my good heart.

The tide recedes, as tides do; forces of nature are difficult to deny.

The tide recedes, as tides do; forces of nature are difficult to deny.

I realize I am hungry. A bite of lunch becomes more than an intention, it becomes a plan. I walk up from the beach to the street above via a beautiful staircase, chuckling at the tsunami route warning sign. Realistically, if I had to run up those stairs to be safe from a tsunami, I would probably drop dead from the effort before reaching the goal; I am not yet quite that fit, and running up a long staircase doesn’t sound likely to ‘save my life’. lol

Sometimes getting from 'here' to 'there' requires a climb.

Sometimes getting from ‘here’ to ‘there’ requires a climb.

A bite of lunch and a cup of tea later, and I headed back to the beach.  The sun had broken through the morning fog, and the landscape had changed.

Changed by the afternoon sun.

Changed by the afternoon sun.

I found a staircase down to the beach; an unlikely surprise, itself, whimsically mysterious.

Strangely mysterious...

Strangely mysterious…

...I descend...

…I descend…

...the descent becomes a gentle meditation of its own...

…the descent becomes a gentle meditation of its own…

...a metaphor about journeys and transitions... and becoming.

…a metaphor about journeys and transitions… and becoming.

I look back from the beach, and as with so many mysteries, it seems to have disappeared.

I look back from the beach, and as with so many mysteries, it seems to have disappeared.

I repeated the journey of the morning, up and down the beach, returning to the joy and moments of unexpected emotional depth as I walked.

The day continued, and evolved. I met people, and spoke only honest heartfelt words. I shared myself freely. I met love, in person; she was grieving her loss with grace. I met terror and rage wearing some face other than my own, but contained within a heart that knows some of the pain I know, myself, and in our meeting there was calm and healing. I watched children play in tide pools, utterly without fear.  I spoke with artisans and artists who were also war veterans, and I met aged beatniks, who had lived, loved, and played with great heroes of intellect of another time. I heard words spoken that were worth hearing. I saw great beauty, both natural and crafted, and I felt healing happening within myself – because I allowed it, and accepted it.  It was a tremendous day. There are so many more pictures… so many more words. The thing is, though…

I can share a picture of an object of great beauty...

I can share a picture of an object of great beauty…

...or a photograph of a moment of inspiration...

…or a photograph of a moment of inspiration…

...I can share my experience in great detail...

…I can share my experience in great detail…

...or consider it in the context of much bigger things...

…or consider it in the context of much bigger things…

...but I am having my own experience, and walking my own path.

…but I am having my own experience, and walking my own path.

I can only share with you as much as you are open to, and not a word of it, not a single image, has more value than you take from it, yourself, by choice.  It isn’t about ‘being right’ or convincing, or persuading.

There’s still so much to feel, to experience, to choose or not choose. But…

A walk on the beach doesn't last 'forever', however timeless it feels.

A walk on the beach doesn’t last ‘forever’, however timeless it feels.

Evening did eventually call to me.

I take a last look at the beach.

I take a last look at the beach.

The wait for the bus heading home was interesting on its own. I shared the time and space with a woman, probably about my age, and it was a strange happenstance.  A sort of fun house mirror of selves staring back at each other across a strange gulf in values, and mismatched appearances. Me, the middle-class looking middle-aged woman in a beige trench coat over a practical black hoodie, emblazoned with the name of my corporate overlord, and she, more timeless, yet strangely stern of visage, wearing the uniform of hippies and flower-children, with just the most vague hint of affluence peeking round the edges and seams; we surprised each other. Our conversation lead here and there and ended with an understanding that we were not at all who we appeared to be. Me, the seeker, the student, a work in progress, a kitten in a strange house… She, convinced, certain, unyielding, and subtly disapproving.  That’s okay with me; I already knew how deceiving appearances can be.

The night bus ride was uneventful and quiet. I was tired, and eager to be home. I wanted more than anything at that moment to be welcomed home into the warmth and light of home and heart by my loves, imagining them to be eager to hang on my every excited word. After a day alone I yearned for intimacy and connection, feeling very much like I would somehow be so much better at it for having had the day at the beach…

I arrived home, tired. The house was quiet. One partner awake to greet me, another lost in sleep and dreams.  A pleasant enough homecoming, although truly I was too tired by that time for any real enthusiasm for it, and more emotional than I realized. My TBI occasionally fucks me over on those sorts of moments, happening as they often do at the end of an arduous or tiring experience, or simply a very long day. My fatigue results in more volatility, less understanding, more confusion, less resilience.  It was time to rest.  I’m grateful that I have partners who understand.  First one, then the other (who had wakened to greet me), slipped off to bed and I was again… alone.  I gave in to exhaustion, hormones, and emotion, and quietly wept for a while, not really understanding why, and not finding any real need to investigate or inquire. They were harmless tears, heartfelt tears, gentle tears, that told only of fatigue and tender humanity, and no great despair or pain. I felt clean and whole, and simply capable of feeling powerful emotions, beyond what I could contain, and so, they spilled out from my eyes, slipping down my cheeks, past the smile that sill lingered from the power of the day.

That’s really it… my day at the beach.  I’m still turning it over in my thoughts, finding my way to greater understanding, cherishing the moments.  I doubt my words or pictures have any hope of doing the experience real justice. I’m okay with that. You are having your own experience, too, and you will find meaning where you do, and take it as having value if you will, and if it serves you. I’m delighted with this morning, with the writing, with looking again and again at all the pictures; choosing just the right ones to share.

Today is quiet. The house is sleeping. I woke, unexpectedly, ahead of my alarm clock – which wasn’t turned on at all. lol.  The dawn unfolded unnoticed as I wrote, content within my own thoughts.  My latte grew cold. It is the weekend, and for me, the end of that – tomorrow is a work day, and today is committed in advance to making ready for another week.  Whatever the day holds, I hope to find contentment, and to treat myself and others well, with consideration, kindness, and compassion. They are also having their own experience.

Today I hope to choose wisely, to love well, and to build rather than to destroy.  😀

It is a pretty morning, and Dave Matthews sings songs of love and life while I sip my morning coffee. My loved ones are home from their weekend getaway, and returning with them, the tension and stress of everyday life, notably absent while they were away. I am considering that, and perspective, this morning.

Much of my PTSD is related to family and romantic relationships, and associated with trauma over time, and small ‘inconsequential’ things that somehow destroy my sense of balance and calm very suddenly.  Fears that overcome me are often based on some historical detail that results in my utter uncertainty about whether or not I am still ‘rational’, whether my here-and-now experience is ‘real’.  The rapid swings between paralyzing panic and trapped-animal rage result in wildly unpredictable behavior – most of it  unpleasant.  One of my highest priorities right now is really getting that under control.  Strangely…’getting it under control’ is turning out to mean ‘accepting myself’, and my feelings, and not exerting so much control; giving up on forcing myself to comply with some arbitrary standard of performance in the face of my own suffering.  In the past, the ferocity applied to ‘forcing myself to be okay’ resulted in splitting headaches, problems with my blood pressure, anxiety and panic attacks, and fits of uncontrollable crying that would sweep up out of nowhere, leaving me feeling like I had, on top of everything else, failed to ‘control myself’.

“Myself”. My self. My self. My self.  Damn. Who am I? Where does my experience begin, where does it end? What is the boundary between what is me, and what is someone else? You’d think an adult would have this one mastered by 50.  Well, sometimes the answers to my questions, the understanding I seek, the resolution to a challenging problem, are inconveniently buried in the basics.   So, this weekend, in addition to being about ‘perspective’, is about applying an understanding of perspective, an experience of perspective, to the question ‘who am I?’

Sorting out the difference between what stresses me, and me stressing over other people’s stress, turns out to be more complicated than I expect.  I’m learning to ‘make room’ for my feelings, and learning to accept myself.  I’m also having to learn to take those new tools, and accept my loved ones, and ‘make room’ for them to have their experience, without that urgent need to intervene, ‘make it right’, ‘force it to work’, or ‘fix things’ sweeping aside the very things that make us individuals sharing a relationship – our unique and individual experiences that we are having, and choosing.

Sometimes words by themselves are not enough for me to gain real clarity.  Maybe I don’t have the right words, or enough words, or maybe I don’t choose them well, or define them with sufficient clarity.  I have painted a number of self-portraits over the years, and studies of my state of being in the abstract.  This morning it occurred to me to take a look at them all, as a body of work with a story to tell – a story to tell me.

"Portrait of the Artist's Tears" 1984?

“Portrait of the Artist’s Tears” 1984?

My shoddy bookkeeping tends to indicate this is my oldest surviving self-portrait.  A small work on watercolor, my recollection is that I was hesitant to make my unhappiness with life too obvious, for fear of making it a great deal worse.  The cries for help just kept coming…

"All I Am" 1985

“All I Am” 1985

Slipped between sheets of rice paper, stored in a box, shoved into the back of a closet for many years, “All I Am” stayed quietly hidden, along with my truths.  i struggled with myself, with my experience, with my PTSD – although I didn’t know then, what I struggled with.  I knew I wanted something else, and I knew my relationships were a core concern…

unfinished "Brownie" 1986

unfinished “Brownie” 1986

I clung fiercely to the illusions I loved most, hoping that somehow wishing hard enough would be enough…

"Waiting for Morning" 1986

“Waiting for Morning” 1986

It wasn’t enough, and I didn’t yet have the tools I needed to find peace, or clarity, and my cynicism and ancient pain overwhelmed me.  Futility became an everyday experience, and romantic love did not exist in my experience in any recognizable form…

"Marriage" 1987

“Marriage” 1987

Grim, bleak landscapes figured prominently in much of my work by 1987, and expansive vistas of far away places. I wanted to get away, but I lacked certainty about what I was running from, or to.  It wasn’t all tears and trauma, and even our worst trials may be interrupted by some wonderful moments.  Marriage didn’t treat me well, and love was pure fiction as far as I could tell, then, but…

"Lovers" 1991

“Lovers” 1991

I found love for the first time, later on. It, too, was a momentary interruption on a very scary ride through life, then.  It was something to hold onto for later, and that would mean so much…

"Joy" 1995

“Joy” 1995

“Joy” is still my singular favorite self-portrait, because it speaks to me of that moment of wondrous realization that love exists.  It was a mundane enough moment, at the dining table, watercolors out, painting simple sketches of moments and feelings, and suddenly… joy, desire, love, passion, and a feeling of being filled with something powerful, something beyond me, and something that was – and is – profoundly positive and transcendent of pain, and chaos and damage.  If I had any thought I could ‘take it with me’, this is a painting I’d want buried with me – it is the best of all that I have within me.

Life is complicated stuff, and I have rarely been able to ‘hang on to’ the best bits.  I struggled for years, and did what I could to ‘keep it to myself’, even suppressing as much pain as I could through Rx psych meds. The next self-portrait I painted was from within an altered state so profound that I got lost, all the pieces of me separating as mists and fogs, dissipating and leaving me alone, and naked with who I had become…

"Separated from Self"

“Separated from Self” 2010

I began making profound changes to, well, almost everything, shortly after that point. Life as it was couldn’t be borne much longer, and it was obvious, even to me.  I can’t take credit for being a willful adult being making reasoned changes… I’ve got to be as honest as I can on that one. I began grabbing any foothold and laying waste to my moment, to my status quo, hanging on to what felt like a change for the better with real ferocity, and discarding anything that hurt… and of course, circumstances, life, and the free will of others in my life threw assorted changes into the mix, too.

"Communion" 2010

“Communion” 2010

I experienced profound love – that magical, amazing, wondrous sort of love often promised, rarely found.   Of course, life rarely limits our unexpected circumstances to the ‘magical, wondrous’ variety…

"A Ratio of 13 to 1" 2011

“A Ratio of 13 to 1” 2011

A sudden, unexpected, unsought career change resulted in anger, insecurity, and… freedom. I was suddenly free to make radical new choices about that pesky ‘who am I?’ question, free to redefine myself, willfully, as I came off the psych meds and regained my soul, and my intellect, and began to develop a sense of self that didn’t rely on any evaluation but my own.  Damn, that sounds awesome when I read it.  Actually, it sucked.  It sucked a lot, and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve undertaken, and more than 2 years later I am still working on it – although it is now as much a joy and delight, as a challenge.  There will never be enough ‘thank you’s’ to give to the dear ones who have been there for me throughout this incredible period of growth.

"Taking Another Look at Me" 2011

“Taking Another Look at Me” 2011

I have re-examined myself from a number of angles since then…

"His Bitch II" 2012

“His Bitch II” 2012

Who am I as a lover? As a partner? What is sex to me, now? Can I  put my demons to rest?

"Agent of Chaos" 2012

“Agent of Chaos” 2012

Can I ‘get it under control’? Can I ‘figure it all out’? What’s wrong with me? I continued to struggle, and somehow the things I expected would help me… data… analysis… writing in my journal… seemed to be making it all so much worse.  I was ‘spinning my wheels’ and not getting anywhere… I stopped writing. I stopped painting. My soul seemed to be stalled. Hormones. Relationship challenges.  Choices and actions that didn’t align to values I thought I had.  The chaos and damage were taking over, the wreckage in my head was becoming the experience in my life… I felt utterly lost.

"Broken" 2012

“Broken” 2012

At the end of 2012 I painted “Broken”. I was trying to say… something. Trying to explain what it felt like on the inside, to communicate something I couldn’t quite seem to put my finger on… and as 2012 became 2013, I found out about the brain injury I had received as a tween.  (I still don’t remember it in any concrete ‘this is my experience’ sort of way… but the crack in my forehead refutes any desire to wish it away now.)  The new information, and beginning therapy more appropriate to my experiences and needs, kick started 2013 as a year of growth – and real healing.

These are who I have been.  I am somewhere new, now, getting to know this amazing being that i am… facing my world, my life, my experience with real hope, and real healing… I look at these self-portraits now, and it is tempting to be frustrated that I wasn’t listening to me, but I am done punishing myself for what has been, and waltzing endlessly with my demons.

I painted “Perspective” this weekend.  It isn’t as much a self-portrait as a meditation, a reflection on a bigger picture, a useful skill, a necessary step in the process of ‘knowing’ – or unknowing – what is, and what is not, and what may be.  I am 50 this year, and there is a lot to celebrate, to observe, to experience.  Soon… a new self-portrait.

I am learning that ‘who I am?’ is not a question to be answered with words.  🙂