Archives for posts with tag: The Art of Being

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.

Well, today is properly “the day”. The computers will be shut off, packed in their boxes, and prepared for the move. The last of the significant packing and boxing will be done, in preparation for the moving truck (that’s tomorrow). We took a day to rest up and hang out, yesterday, and got to bed “at a decent hour” to ensure we have taken care of these fragile vessels to be at maximum readiness for a couple days of significant manual labor. I slept restlessly. I’m not surprised. I won’t be surprised if my Traveling Partner’s sleep was also restless; we’re both excited, and eager to get the move done and start this new chapter in our lives.

I woke early. It was an attack of vertigo that woke me, the room seeming to spin like madness, in spite of my closed eyes. I opened them and attempted to hold back my nausea by grabbing the edge of the sofa, where I was sleeping, when I woke. I straightened my body with great care, and stifled the panic that comes with the vertigo, reminding myself it is only a sensation, not representative of any sort of “reality” outside my own impaired sense of balance. I breathed through the panic. Exhaled, relaxed, double-checking with each breath that my spine was straight, and that my muscles were relaxed. I waited it out, reminding myself to make a note for my next doctor’s appointment. I already know better than to attempt to get up and walk when I have vertigo. lol

Once my vertigo passed, I got up and made coffee. I have an early morning errand, then back to the house to pack things into boxes, alongside my Traveling Partner. He may not even be up when I leave. I find myself hoping he rests deeply, and maybe even sleeps in. We can have coffee together when I get back. 🙂 Tomorrow feels peculiarly far away, and also almost upon us. Funny how my sense of time and timing works, and how subjective, and even abstract, it can be. Even the vertigo seems to simply add a surrealist twist to the already peculiar moment-between-moments. I sip my coffee contentedly, and with some caution; if the vertigo isn’t entirely and completely cleared up 100%, I can’t safely risk driving, at all. That would fuck up any number of details of our careful planning; my morning errand involves letting contractors into the house to do some “before we move in” things we’d like to have done. 🙂

Receiving the house keys was a pleasant moment… I somehow managed to return to the rental (definitely no longer feels like “home”) without taking even one “share-worthy” photo of our new home… just pictures of smoke detectors, appliances, the fuse box, the FiOS box… basically just detail photos of things that need batteries, or that we’d want to know what the model numbers are, and those sorts of very practical details. lol I took one selfie for my Traveling Partner of my big big smile with the forest beyond our deck in the background, and sent that to him before I got in the car for the return trip. With the Independence Day weekend just ahead, there feels like more pressure to get things done “on schedule” than truly exists. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I sip my morning coffee. I smile, and glance at the time.

Move out priorities often differ from move in priorities. We’ve held back from packing the things we reliably use every day, because we’re still using them. At some point, all that has to be packed, too. The moving in needs also revolve around what we need first, but the needs change a bit. I don’t think our computers will be a high priority until after our bedroom is ready for sleep, our kitchen ready for cooking, and our bathrooms ready for personal care. Entertaining ourselves has mattered greatly leading up to the move out. The move in, though, is more than a little entertaining (as well as laborious), without connectivity, without computers, without videos, music, or games. I find myself feeling far more relaxed that with previous moves, and prepared to be comfortably flexible with the different approach we each take to the move. My Traveling Partner has a plan for the move. I have a plan for the move. Our plans overlap in spots, but emphasize different details. I work consciously on “staying in my lane” and trusting he has details handled, just as he does for the details I’m handling. It feels fun, and emotionally safe, and secure. Team work. I sit smiling quietly, sipping coffee, grateful for this partnership, and this (so far) easy move.

I’m finding it a bit hard to finish my writing this morning…but it’s most definitely time to wrap it up, and begin again. 🙂

I’m awake. I’m groggy. I’m drinking coffee. My calendar is full. My list of things to do seems as long as it has been for days. We’re definitely moving. In past moves, this is the part of moving when the self-care tasks fall by the wayside, and I typically find myself trapped in a cycle of “overdrive” and exhaustion, working unrelentingly until I collapse for minutes or hours, then back at it for every minute I can squeeze out of this fragile meat-based machinery, until fatigue finally nails me to a bed, a couch, or the floor, and I sleep for a few hours, and repeat the process day after day until the move is completed. Then, I spend days feeling disrupted, moody, bewildered, and overwhelmed, as I get used to a new place. Bleh. It’s not fun, but it’s “worked okay” for me, for many values of “okay”, generally. It’s often simply what I’ve had to work with, or perhaps I just didn’t understand it could be done very differently?

New day, new move, and a very different plan. My Traveling Partner keeps me self-care focused (“Hey, you’ve been out here working in the sun for awhile, are you drinking enough water? Have you taken a break?””Have you eaten something today?”). We each work on the things we’ve committed to with real purpose. We take time together to chill, to play, to laugh, to consume comfortable amounts of media content, and to enjoy each other. Hell, I even slept restfully last night, and woke at a fairly normal time this morning! He woke in a good mood, himself (we’re both fairly grumpy, many mornings, until we sort ourselves out and are properly awake). This move doesn’t just feel “different” – it feels good. 😀

I sip my coffee and look at my list. Nodding to myself, I double-check the details (“when does the donation drop-off open, today?”). My Traveling Partner comes into the studio, and says something pleasant, and rubs my neck for a few minutes, and reminds me about my posture without nagging. He puts on music in the other room, and I feel myself beginning to really wake up for the day ahead. There’s so much to do, and in a practical sense, with all the paperwork out of the way, the real work “begins” – building on the real work we’ve been doing for weeks, boxing and packing things. I smile to myself. There are certainly a lot of verbs involved, and this time? This time, those include self-care verbs, and verbs to do with love and loving, and shared verbs – so many shared verbs. It feels good to have my Traveling Partner’s help with this move. The last couple had some fairly poignant lonely moments (his, for him, too, I know). This feels very different.

My smile turns to a grin, and I feel filled with joy. It’s already time to begin again. 😀

Moving day gets closer every day. The boxes neatly stacked in the garage continue to multiply. Working together on move details is creating a fun distraction from the routine, and minimizing stress, for both of us, it seems. It’s certainly the easiest, and most pleasant, move I’ve undertaken in the past decade. 😀 I’m grateful to have the driveway space to park my car; using the garage to “stage” the move was an excellent idea (my Traveling Partner has had several great ideas upon which this move is built, and I’m grateful for that, too).

So many boxes, all neatly labeled and ready to move. There’s still more to pack.

We spend some time every day packing things, moving what we don’t use every day into a convenient position to move it to a truck, and from the truck into our home. Keys in hand, we’ll be standing in our own home this weekend! I smile every time I think about reaching this milestone, with my partner.

Yesterday I was grumpy as hell. Not moving related, just having a rough day, and dealing with a lot of pain. My Traveling Partner was patient with me, supportive, and good-natured. I crashed hard a little earlier than usual, and slept deeply through the night, waking once for a drink of water after a parching nightmare, and finally rising to begin a new day only moments before the alarm went off. So far, so good. 🙂 New day.

The kitchen is packed. All the books are packed. My studio is (mostly) packed. Our computers continue to entertain us, but the moment for packing those will be “now” quite soon. I’m impatient to move through the days. A couple more work shifts, and then… moving. Understanding more about how my PTSD and my TBI affect me as a whole human being (than I once did), I’ve planned to take enough time off to get entirely moved in, and also to get acclimated to new noises and new shadows, a new route to travel from bed to bathroom, a new view from new windows… everything new. I’ll no doubt “get lost” in the new house more than once before I have the “map” in my head right. My Traveling Partner assures me with much love that it won’t take long, and encourages me to return to work earlier, if I want to. 🙂 I don’t expect to sit around the house feeling bored, in any case – there’s so much to do! 😀

…I’m looking forward to coffee on the deck on a summer morning…

…And the squirrels. The squirrels are here on my deck. 🙂

Change can be so terrifying and disruptive, most especially when it is unexpected, or perceived as a challenge, limitation, or unpleasant whim of circumstance. This move could have felt much different… the limitations presented by the pandemic, on top of my landlord telling me he would be asking me to vacate as soon after pandemic restrictions on doing so were lifted (so he could, himself, move in to this duplex), on top of the realities of finite resources… it could have been incredibly scary. My move from #59 to this duplex felt rushed, forced, aggravating, and very stressful (even though I chose it). I was unhappy to have to leave, I would have been unhappy to stay, and I was very grateful to find this lovely alternative in a seemingly quiet neighborhood (turned out to be much noisier than my initial impression led me to believe). It’s been a good place to live, in general. This move, though? This feels like a great move, and the timing feels pretty good, too. 🙂 I sip my coffee feeling grateful and contented.

I listen to the traffic beyond the window. Busy street. I won’t miss that. Noisy house. I won’t miss that, either. Listening to my neighbors on the other side of the duplex wall? Not going to miss it. My Traveling Partner? I sure won’t have to miss him – we’re moving together (and into a home that is more suited to our shared needs). 😀 I sip my coffee. It’s gone cold, and I don’t mind; it’s a good cup of coffee. A pleasant Thursday morning, a routine work shift ahead of me, and one more tomorrow… then… moving day. It’s coming. There may be a break in the cadence of my writing, as I shift from one residence to another, new routines, new floor plan, new timing. I’ll get back to the routine with new inspiration. 😀

A gray dawn lights the room slowly. I finish this cup of coffee. It’s time to begin again.

 

I was sipping my coffee on a morning after my Traveling Partner had returned home from some trip or another. It was quiet in the room, and in our home, and even out on the street beyond. I woke ahead of the alarm by quite a bit, and there was no hint of dawn-to-come in the sky. Not at that point. My coffee was too hot to easily drink. Based on a couple hesitant, testing, sips, it was also not very good. I pondered the variables in a cup of coffee, mystified and still groggy; how is one cup so crappy, and another so sublime? Don’t I make them all the same way? Do the tiniest subtle differences in timing or process make that much difference? (Are the differences, perhaps, not with the coffee, itself, at all?)

I sighed quietly, a measured, careful, observed exhalation, slowly released following a deep breath. I felt my chest expand as I inhaled, contracting as I exhaled. A cough interrupted the quiet. Another sip of coffee. That moment was okay, and I remained with it, centered and calm, for a while.

(This particular moment was almost a year ago – a blog post written, never published. It finishes thusly…)

It was an okay homecoming. I knew, when I arrived home, that my partner was wholly exhausted, having driven 1800 miles straight on home, then on arriving, unable to actually sleep (coffee is an excellent tool to keep one awake for a long drive, and the risk to our sleep, later, is often one we find acceptable at the time), until much later – shortly before I went to bed, myself. I made dinner. We ate it. Shared a couple of anecdotes. Managed to be contentious and at odds with each other for a moment, and got over that. We are, unavoidably, quite different people, and also quite similar. Neither of those things is an assurance of always being comfortable together, or always being in genial shared space, or even holding the same opinion about literally anything. We’re individuals.

The evening passed gently after dinner. We entertained ourselves with conversation and videos. Eventually, he called it a night, and later so did I.

I woke easily, and well-rested. I’ve already forgotten some useful habits for shared space. lol I think about the commonplace usefulness of any basic tool, whether it is a screwdriver or a habit; lacking the most appropriate tool for any given task is likely to result in greater than average difficulty, increased task complexity, frustration, and time lost to struggling with pieces that don’t fit. In the same way a screwdriver isn’t the correct tool to fit a pipe, good self-care practices are not likely to also be good communication practices (although good communication is a part of good self-care, when it comes to boundaries and expectations). It has been a common (and way too real) experience on this healing path that my own wellness does not change the general state of wellness for any one other person – and they still live their life, and see things through the lens of, their own perspective on life, on circumstances – and on the relationship we share. We are each having our own experience – and we’re not all using the same tools to get any given job done. It’s pretty complicated stuff, and a lot of human beings are barely managing their own bullshit; it’s a lot to ask that people also be kind, compassionate, patient with one another, assuming positive intent… it starts to feel more like juggling than living, at some points. It’s still worth making that attempt, in my own experience.

…It also takes practice. As with using any unfamiliar tool, it definitely takes practice, and some basic knowledge. Your results may vary – particularly where relationship skills go! (You’re not doing that job alone, and even such things as “getting along” and “communicating” and “sharing” require practice, and a commitment to learning and growing, and you can only do your own.) It can be seriously frustrating, however familiar and commonplace a task seems, to grab that screwdriver, and once already frustrated, realize that the damned thing is a Phillips-head screwdriver not a flat-head. Well, shit. That got complicated fast. True in life, love, and home repairs. LOL

So… I guess I keep practicing. 🙂 Honestly, in every practical way, I only need to practice my own practices, and handle my own self-care. The relationship stuff works out much more easily when I give other people room to be themselves, care for themselves, and we’re open to both the differences, and the things we share – while still understanding that however close we are, or may become, we are nonetheless quite individual. I smile and drink my coffee; nothing new here. I struggle, mostly, when I forget to let go. Attachment to assumptions, expectations, or internal narrative can quickly sabotage an otherwise good time.

…Strangely timely as we two individuals prepare to move. I found it “by mistake” (or at least not looking for it) moments ago, as I considered writing something that, oddly, feels pretty well-covered by the draft I opened with an errant mouse-click. Helpful circumstance. One that puts me gently “back on the path” feeling I’ve understood myself just a bit better in this moment right here, right now… I settle myself into work, and begin again. 🙂