Archives for posts with tag: The Art of Being

Well damn. I guess I’m a real grown-up… 6 days to my 60th birthday. Wild. In spite of some hard living, some hardships, some trauma, some misadventure… I am standing in this place, considering this milestone birthday ahead of me. Wow. I mean, I legitimately did not expect that making it this far was ever a given. Wasn’t at all sure I would… but here I am. 😀

My Traveling Partner and I have plans to camp for a few days. Really getting away, out into the trees, away from the traffic, the stress, the work, the world… the people. I know that I, personally, really need a break from “everything”. Just for a minute. A few quiet hours. Some distance. A different view. A new perspective. A moment of my life that isn’t in any way whatsoever about working, earning a living, maintaining a household… just fresh air, soft breezes, sunshine, and birdsong. Maybe the occasional passing shower. 🙂 I already know my results will vary, and that the plan is not the experience, and neither is the map the world. So. There’s that.

…No idea what the days ahead will really be like, I just know I’m looking forward to logging out of my work tools, and locking the door of the house behind us as we leave for a few days. 😀 (Will I write? Maybe, but I won’t have a cell signal, and my words will be ink on paper, for later – I’m also going equipped to paint in watercolor, and I’m taking my camera of course. My Traveling Partner is taking along a couple of good books, and his fishing tackle.)

Slow days ahead. I’m eager to embrace that, without giving a thought to what may be “on the other side” – we’ll see when we get there, eh?

In the meantime, there are flowers in the garden, and sunny days in the forecast. The weather is lovely and mild, summery and warm without being unpleasantly scorching hot, generally. Life (and love) feel good. I’m not rushing through that feeling, either; I’m making a point to slow down and savor it, as much as I can, as often as I notice how very pleasant things seem to be, presently. Quiet reflection is a worthwhile use of my time, particularly when my thoughts feel infused with soft joy and contentment. I smile thinking of my Traveling Partner; he’s also eager to get out on the road. The truck is already packed of all but a handful of last minute items (my camera bag, food…).

I catch myself in a fit of sneezing – seasonal allergies. Fucking hell, where are those tissues…?? It reminds me to check the tracking on my inbound prescription refills… will they be here in time…? Looks like they will, and I find myself feeling relieved about that. One less thing that could cause background stress while I’m earnestly working to rest my busy mind. 😀

Well, damn… looks like time to begin again. 😀 If I don’t talk to you before I leave… I’ll drop a note right here when I get back. 😀

Summer is approaching. Mornings, here, are sometimes still chilly. Night time temperatures still fall well below 50 F/10 C. Things cool off before the sun warms them once more. Some afternoons barely hit 70 F/21 C. Pretty comfortable weather, generally, and very good for sleeping… I wake with the sun a lot of mornings in spite of that. Like this morning. It’s nice quiet time for reflection, though, if I wake thoroughly and don’t find myself stumbling groggily through the first hours of the day.

This particular morning I am sipping my coffee and watching the sky beyond the windows change color, hints of pale grays and strange blues give way to peach, lavender, pink, and hints of orange as the sun rises. Pretty. I think about the flowers in the garden. I think about my upcoming birthday (11 days away, now) and our planned camping trip (5 days!). I think about pain, and pain management, and these stiff contrary bones. I think about recent delicious meals, and how much I appreciate my Traveling Partner’s cooking, and how nice it is that he’s been doing more of that lately. Good times, shared. I think about that, too. No misery here. It’s a pleasant morning. I think about the weekend ahead. I think about spending time in the studio… which competes for my attention, alongside “time in the garden”, “time on the trail”, and “time off-roading with my partner”.

Planted these last fall, and I’ve already forgotten what they are, other than “pretty”.

I pause my musings long enough to really appreciate how fortunate I am to enjoy so much of this life, so thoroughly. “This too shall pass.” Good times are wonderful. Savoring them, and reflecting on them, is delightful and healthy. Healing. Still, part of the point in doing so is to ensure they become part of my implicit memory as well, and a well-spring of future resilience upon which I can call when times are darker, and life feels less rich and satisfying. Just keeping it real; my results vary. I have some rough moments here and there. You too? We all do.

I write less often these days. Not because there’s nothing to say, nor because I am wrapped in joy 100% of my time, nor am I, contrariwise, wrapped in misery. I’m just over here living life. I write less because, honestly, I spent much less time in solitary reflection, and less time forcing myself through practices to pull myself out of some messy emotional quagmire. I live. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Succeed. Fail. Begin again. I try. I explore. I set boundaries. I yield to circumstances. It’s life. It’s not perfect, but it’s also quite a lot better than “just okay”. I sometimes feel I am on the edge of “thriving full-time”, which is pretty remarkable, considering the entirety of my experience.

I sip my coffee feeling my moment shift gears from “quiet reflection” to feeling filled with gratitude and love. It’s a nice start to a new day. I smile and think about my partner, at home, still sleeping. My heart beats with love.

It’s time to begin again.

Memorial Day is sometimes a hard one (for me). The days leading up to it this year were particularly difficult, though I don’t really have a reason why. I’ve lost a few folks over the years. That will never not be true in my life; once we lose the first one, it’s all “more” from there. Spent some time over the weekend reflecting on those losses, and those people. I spent the time with my Traveling Partner, and it was a very healing time we managed to share. I’m grateful.

Losses are hard. We feel our own pain most (and worst, generally). Running from it doesn’t change it – the way out is through. The challenge is not getting stalled in the momentary misery of grief.

The weekend was summery, and fairly mild. We got out among the trees. I got out into the garden. We drove beautiful miles and shared deep conversations. I needed that. We both did, I guess, and we’re better for it.

I’m sipping my morning coffee a bit surprised at how poorly I slept last night after a couple days of extraordinarily good sleep, deep and restful… last night my anxiety flared up with the recollection that today is a work day. Silly, but real. I woke numerous times to double-check that my “sunrise alarm” was actually set. It was. Every time I checked. lol It remains true that a few days of healing and emotionally gentle and nourishing time don’t “fix” anxiety. It comes and goes. My results vary. This morning I got up and managed to start the day without taking it personally or escalating it beyond the obvious; it’s disordered, and there is no reason to feed it and give it more energy.

I smile when I think about the weekend, and my Traveling Partner. Good times.

…Time to begin again…

I’m sipping my coffee, early, in the co-work space. It’s hours before the work day will begin. I am reflecting on emotional reactions and what sorts of things I react to. My inclination is to think that my reactions are reliably to the real-world events going on around me. You, too? Something happens, and I react to that, right? Only… I have to point out that it’s quite clear that human primates don’t really seem to “work that way” – we react to a lot of things, don’t we? We react to events. We react to things we hear other people say. We react to things we read. We react to the reactions of other human primates. We react to our own emotions. We react to our assumptions.

…Wait… Do we really react to things that lack any substantial reality at all? That seems likely to go very wrong, very easily… But we sure do. News stories (whether fact-checked or not). Books (both fiction and non-fiction). Conversations about future potential events that have not yet come to pass (and maybe never will). Opinions of people we have never met (even if they have no direct influence on our own experience). Our own assumptions even trip us up; we react to things we assume are going on, without a reality check of any kind. How fucking dumb are we? This is an instant short-cut to full-on drama. The map is not the world. Our assumptions are not reality. I don’t really know what to say about that… don’t do that? Maybe check yourself (and your assumptions) and slow down before you lash out at someone over something that isn’t real, isn’t true, or didn’t happen the way you assume that it did.

This isn’t unusual stuff; humans make assumptions. Humans have emotions. Humans react to their assumptions with emotions. Funny that our big brains don’t really help us out with this one. I sit here with my coffee thinking about it. Asking myself “how can I best ensure that I’m not reacting to fictions of various sorts and inflicting my reaction on people who don’t share my assumptions?” It’s a worthwhile question. Another worthwhile question is “how can I make a point of avoiding making assumptions in the first place?”

I stare into my half-finished half-cold cup of coffee. Maybe you assume I could just go make another, if I am discontent with this one? Could I, though? Is there even coffee here in this place? Water to make it with? A cup to use? Some kind of coffee machine? Any actual need or desire to do so? The unknown details begin to pile up… undermining the assumption that I could just go make a fresh cup to address a need that may or may not exist in the first place. Some of our most common assumptions day-to-day are resting on very little actual information. I often find that when I begin checking the details about an assumption I’ve made, I’m quite wrong about it – regardless how commonplace it may be, or how firm my convictions are about what is fundamentally just my imagination going to work, until/unless confirmed through questions and observation.

Assumption making is one of the most common thinking errors. It’s so prevalent and problematic, it’s got it’s own place of honor in The Four Agreements. Untested assumptions cause all kinds of chaos and miscommunication.

My morning began early, this morning. It began with a reaction to an untested assumption (that was likely completely and entirely incorrect). There is a lot of potential to derail a (potentially lovely) new day over that kind of bullshit, so I chose instead to let it go, to just drop it entirely, and move on from that moment. I let go of my assumption(s) (that’s not always easy or effortless, but do-able). I made the choice to begin the day differently and hope for a good outcome.

Here I am. New day. New beginning. New opportunities to be the woman I most want to be.

I’m admittedly still a bit cross. Another cup of coffee might be nice, though. (Yes, there’s coffee here, and a coffee machine, and potable water from a tap, and a clean mug if I don’t want to re-use the one I’ve got at my desk.) It’s time to begin (again).

Here we are. Another opportunity to live life with intention. Sounds pretty cool, a little trendy. Modern buzzwords amuse me. I sip my (iced) coffee, and make room for a moment of gratitude; I didn’t sleep well, and my Traveling Partner also missed out on good sleep last night – we still shared a few pleasant minutes over morning coffee together. That’s precious time – it’s not a given that we’ll always be here together. Change is. Misfortunes and tragedies do occur. Life does throw some curveballs. We face our circumstances, and make our choices – our results are going to vary. Maybe a lot. Maybe not in good ways.

…How well we deal with misfortune, adversity, and change, are a large part of our success (or failure) at living well (and just maybe finding happiness). It’s not about the successes and joys so much as it is “how do I deal with this terrible shit??”

So this morning, I’m taking my time really waking up and starting the day. Sipping my coffee happy that I have coffee to sip, and pausing to wonder if I’m making the best choice of coffee beans – can I make choices that are less likely to support a corrupt or exploitative system in which profiteering prevents farmers and workers from living their best lives? Small choices can make big differences. Our choices matter. Even the small ones.

I breathe, exhale, and find myself – instead of relaxing – fighting the pain of my arthritis on a sunny morning. I repeat the exercise: breathe, exhale, relax. I do it again. I keep at it until my first thought/sensation following that exhalation is anything at all other than pain. Small successes matter. I’m still in pain, but now I’m actually breathing comfortably instead of taking shallow breaths stiffened against the pain I’m in. That’s something.

…60 is approaching quickly. I keep finding myself thinking about family, friends and comrades-at-arms with whom I won’t be celebrating – because they’re gone. Just, like, for real gone. Dead. The permanent kind of gone. More than a few missing faces. Gloomy. I don’t know why my mind keeps wandering this path. Feeling my years, maybe? It’s been an interesting life thus far… I’ve seen some things. Done some things. Experienced some things. Some of it good. A lot of it. More good than not.

…I hold on to that thought, “more good than not”…

It’s time to begin again.