Archives for posts with tag: The Big 5

I love this holiday season. I love giving gifts. Before I understood the challenges my TBI can sometimes present me, I regularly spent myself into negative numbers every year; I didn’t really care about that as much as I wanted to give, just a little more. Small gifts. Big gifts. Unexpected gifts. Handcrafted gifts. Funny thing… I didn’t at all recognize the importance (to me) of giving, at that time. I didn’t recognize the annual yearning to shop – in order to give. It’s fairly specific to gifts. I don’t consider myself charitable in a noteworthy way. I really really like giving a moment of delight to someone dear to me, most of all.

Tonight, I had a couple such moments, myself. I’m still smiling.

First, I arrived home to a rather large package on the stoop. Like… can’t get the door open large. Push it off the stoop to get the door open, because it’s both large and also too heavy to properly lift with ease, large. Large. It’s not for me. It’s for someone else. I laughed and laughed as I struggled with it in the blustery cold autumn evening. I don’t know why it tickled me so much that the physical size of the packaging was so much larger than I expected it to be. Expectations. Man. Damn. Avoid those if you can. lol They can be so misleading.

Then, I remembered to grab the mail on the way in. So much to do this evening… I almost forgot to check the mail. There was just one large-ish plain white envelope in the mailbox. I opened absent-mindedly as I returned to the house, thinking it to be something from the VA, or something of that sort. It turns out instead to be a sweet and wholly unexpected gift – even a tad exotic. I’m still smiling.

So, laundry, dishes, chores generally – and a smile in every direction. I’ll see my Traveling Partner this weekend, and celebrate holidays, birthdays, and friendships under a starring winter sky. The thought reminds me to add a couple things to the morning to do list. There are gifts for birthdays going with me, and I am too excited to give them (although they are wee and of no great consequence) to let myself forget them. πŸ˜€ I smile again, thinking of giving a friend a ride to the party. That verb. Give. πŸ™‚ There’s a feeling to it.

The evening begins to wind down. Evenings seem more about finishing things, don’t they, and less about beginnings. I’m okay with that. Things end. It’s not an idea worth fighting. lol

Well, it’s not yet “officially” winter, but it is clear that my arthritis finds it season enough to deliver the full measure of winter-level arthritis pain. I woke with it during the night, 3 or 4 times, only to return to a restless sleep after discontentedly struggling with pain for some little while. My quality of restful sleep was… meh. I don’t know. Not enough. Fuck pain. I want to “lol” about it and move on from the moment, but it’s got me feeling angry with the world and just generally fairly aggravated just now. It’ll pass. I remind myself, again and again, it will pass.

A quiet evening in late autumn, spent quietly.

Last night I relaxed quietly after work, just sitting, enjoying the fireplace. I left the Giftmas tree dark, and without the merry colored lights it seemed a more somber, still, and serene moment of calm contentment, aside from the pain I’d spent the day in, and which lingered through the night. I took medication for that, even took an Rx pain reliever. It helped some.

I sit here staring at my monitor, still feeling sort of put out and aggravated by being in pain. Shitty start to the day…

…I can’t help notice that I’m not improving things by focusing on the pain, itself, and letting it lead the morning. I had unrolled my yoga mat and taken advantage of a few reliable postures to ease stiff joints before my shower, and I left my mat out because yoga actually helps, and maybe I would want to do more of that healthy stuff to cope with my pain…? Maybe…? I chuckle quietly to myself, aware of all the many verbs, and how much effort life requires to live it skillfully…

I head for my yoga mat, to begin the day again. πŸ™‚

Sleeping in was nice this morning. Sipping my coffee, sitting in the open doorway to the deck on a rainy Friday morning felt luxurious. Today is mine. For me. I’ve got a long weekend.

A perspective on an autumn morning from an open doorway.

I can’t help but think about the many hundreds of thousands (millions?) of retail workers who will not get this long weekend with their families, or to get some downtime for themselves, or the opportunity so many of us get to do our own thing for a few days after a holiday purportedly about gratitude. They are indentured servants to American Greed. Their employers force them back onto the clock (or they risk losing their jobs) in order to staff shops that Americans visit with a frenzy – a fury – that puts Greed on display for all the world to see. It is a purely American phenomenon as far as I am aware. I find it, personally, rather grotesque. I don’t participate. I don’t shop. I stay home, or go hiking. I stay out of retail spaces, and I stay off the city streets. It’s scary dangerous out there; shoppers have finished with all that “being grateful” stuff, and now it is open warfare to secure the goods for their family holiday (or, let’s be honest, themselves). No thank you.

I can’t hold it against people who are among the poor or working poor that they pull hard-earned limited funds together to do their holiday shopping on this one day of the year; retailers exploit that honest vulnerable yearning to give their families a little something more, to have something nice, to improve their quality of life. It sickens me to see people who can afford to quite properly shop on just any day, and comfortably afford sufficient holiday luxuries for their loved ones and safely avoid this horrible festival of exploitation and greed, getting out there rampaging through shops and malls showing off the worst of who they can be in order to save money they could have afforded to spend. Most particularly I object to this spectacle because it is the participation, in the first place, that makes it a thing at all.Β  I find it uncomfortable that it falls on the day after Thanksgiving. Seriously? For fuck’s sake, the timing could not put our greed on higher contrast if we’d carefully selected the timing for that very purpose. It tends to call our gratitude into question.

So… I just don’t.

I’m not walking your mile, and I can’t point fingers or judge you as an individual for shopping on Black Friday. I just also feel sad that the very existence of Black Friday as a thing means that retail workers, specifically, some of the least adequately paid workers in America, get completely fucked out of enjoying a long holiday weekend with their families that many of us get to take for granted – and also don’t get to shop. It’s like an extra helping of “fuck you” for those workers. (How can I not show solidarity, myself, when this is my awareness, and my perspective?) Since I can’t actually change it, and I do actually object, I therefore do not participate, that’s all. πŸ™‚

I guess I’m just saying – if this is a “holiday”, it’s celebrating something pretty horrible, and just maybe we should take another look at what we’re celebrating.

…a short stack of books…an entire day off…

I make another coffee. I consider the day ahead, here at home. It’s a nice one for a hike, mild and only somewhat drizzly. I could stay in and paint without interruption, or relax and read one of the books in the wee stack that has built up since last year, that I continue to promise myself I’ll get around to. I could commit to mindful service to hearth and home, break out that “to do list” and get to work on it. It is a day suitable for beginning again. πŸ™‚

 

What a difference it makes to get a good night’s sleep. How different from each other can two mornings be? I am making a point of savoring my mood and my experience of morning, this morning, because it is mild, pleasant, quietly joyful, and a total departure from yesterday’s crossness and irritability. I lived a great many years thinking every moment of my life was misery, and finding out that some portion of that was entirely a matter of perspective (and choice) wasn’t just an eye-opener, not merely a good-to-know insight, but wholly useful. I also now know to take time to savor, appreciate, and linger in these lovely quiet moments, and to allow them to become memorable.

(If the only emotional experiences you linger over, invest in, dredge up for later discussion again and again, are the painful and unpleasant ones, the whole of life eventually may feel painful and unpleasant; we become what we practice.)

I find, as with breathing, a hidden gem of a practice within the simplest experiences of pleasure, contentment, and joy – simply that of taking time to experience them fully, to linger over them in my recollection, to “share the story” (however silly it may seem to say aloud “I am having such a nice morning!” to someone else). Allowing our quiet moments of joy and our incidental experiences of pleasant living to become memories, by investing our time and attention in them, ensures that our implicit memory of life in general doesn’t become wholly negative, and instead, supports a steady sense of self, over time, that feels generally quite positive. That’s what I did to become “a positive person” by the way; I took the slow route through practicing “taking in the good” and over time shifted my implicit memory in a more positive direction. Incremental change over time is a thing that happens; we become what we practice.

…Think that over, though, “we become what we practice” – that’s all of it. Everything we practice routinely becomes part of who we “are”. Over time, anything we practice regularly, whether we like it or not about ourselves, becomes who we are. Good and bad.Β  Choose wisely. πŸ™‚

Thanksgiving is almost here. There was a momentary thought in the background, something like “Oh no – what if I forget the ____?!”, and then I grinned at myself as it slipped away. I’m not especially spontaneous, as people go, but I am adaptable AF. lol I have options. Life’s menu is vast. This matter of living it is not like riding a train; it isn’t on rails, I have choices, plans change with circumstances. Missing ingredients become opportunities to explore new recipes, that’s all. It seems doubtful that anything could really “go wrong” with the holiday weekend ahead. I will cook a holiday meal, it will involve food – tasty and nourishing – and the excellent company of my Traveling Partner. We’ll hang out and enjoy each other for a couple days. Perfect! lol Sufficiency for the win. πŸ™‚

Toward the end of the long weekend, after my partner has departed, I’ll get started on putting up the holiday tree. πŸ˜€

Quite a few folks in my network, and community, find Thanksgiving somewhat distasteful, these days, and there is little talk of pilgrims. I find there is definitely room on my calendar for a repurposed harvest season holiday build around a feast, and a feeling of gratitude and community, with which to kick off the winter holiday season. I continue to celebrate Thanksgiving as the holiday it is named to be; a celebration of gratitude, appreciation, and simple joys, a good meal shared in good company, and a long weekend with which to prepare for winter. It is also a season for charity, for giving to others, for reaching out and helping those in need, for doing a little more for people who are not me. It seems a wholesome and well-intended holiday, and I cherish it in that spirit, myself.

I wish you well this Thanksgiving – and I hope you have much to be thankful for. If it is hard times, I hope that you find sufficiency and contentment (and prosperity at some point, too). If you have plenty, I hope you share it. If you have little, I hope you enjoy what you have without guilt or shame. I hope we all find a moment that matters, and take a good opportunity to begin again. πŸ™‚

The holiday season is just at the edge of “now”. Thanksgiving is next weekend and I’m excited about welcoming my Traveling Partner “home” – to this home – for a few days of his good company, shared at leisure. I’ve been daydreaming about it since July – literallyΒ  since I moved into this space. lol Dreaming doesn’t get me far, though, it just feels nice.

I shifted gears from dreaming to planning once he had confirmed confirmingly that he would indeed, no fooling, actually be coming up, and that he had a plan to do so. πŸ™‚ This morning, I sat down with my coffee and made my weekend “to do” list, and extended my planning from thinking over the holiday menu, and how best to stock the pantry for his stay, to also putting the house in order for having a guest, and adding little touches like specifically stocking the bathrooms with his brands, preferred products, and common OTC remedies I know he favors, and “detailing” my space. This doesn’t send me into a frantic flurry of panicked task completion, because that isn’t who I am. What it does is give me some structure to hang onto while I tidy up my corner of the world, and prevents me from losing track of what I intend to get done. I won’t finish all of it. That’s absolutely a given; I will want to do more than is possible to do. What is also a given is that I am okay with that. πŸ™‚ The weekend is about love and celebration and gratitude, and at no point has my Traveling Partner suggested that my real value lies in my ability to wash a dish, vacuum a carpet, or do a load of laundry. lol I do like order, and I enjoy being a relaxed hostess – tidying up a bit makes me feel more relaxed, and… prepared.

So, this weekend is the point at which I shift gears again, going from planning the weekend to being prepared for it – which has to include also be ready for all that is not/was not/could have been planned. πŸ˜€ Yep. You read that right; I plan for spontaneity, then attempt to be prepared for it. LOL πŸ˜€

A low stress, relatively simple holiday meal for two, and a weekend in my partner’s good company sounds like a lovely way to spend a couple days away from the office. I’m looking forward to it. Hell, I’m looking forward to the weekend of tidying up, too! Sure, there are verbs involved, and I’m not suggesting that I specifically enjoy doing dishes, vacuuming, breaking down boxes for recycling, or doing laundry, but I very much enjoy the outcome of doing those things, and doing them with care, because the outcome matters to me personally and supports the quality of life I enjoy. I have learned to embrace the doing of them as both necessary and precious. Every dish I wash is something I worked hard for. Caring for them makes a lot of good sense. The way I feel when I see how tidy my kitchen is, recognizing that this is something I have done for me, because I like it, feels satisfying and nurturing. I feel cared for. It doesn’t detract from that feeling that I am the one caring for me day-to-day – shouldn’t I be? πŸ™‚

Don’t get me wrong – I am not a “neat freak”. Being tidy and orderly doesn’t “come naturally” to me, nor is it a compulsion. I have to work at it. The outcome feels wonderful, and I do love living in a very tidy orderly environment, but omg – the verbs. This is what makes it possible to use my own environment, cared for by me, to gauge my emotional and mental wellness in the moment; everything goes to shit when I am descending into disorder, having a rough time of things, or losing my damned mind. When I’m sick, I struggle to stay caught up on every day basic housekeeping – which means whether I am fully aware of it or not, I am also likely failing to care for myself well, and since I can see the housekeeping more easily than I can see whether or not I am taking care of myself, it’s an effective early warning system to simply look around and “see how I’m doing”, based on the housekeeping. Little things can say a lot. (Sometimes they just say I need to get more rest, because I’m too tired to care for myself, sometimes they say I am over-committed to other activities and need to spend more time at home.)

…I’m pretty sure that a horribly messy crowded disorganized insufficiently clean unsafe or unhealthy household actually literally “makes me crazy” – or, at a minimum, crazier.

Looking around, it feels good to see that I’m generally well-prepared for life, for guests, for friends to drop by. There are some things I’d like to get done. There are some small improvements I can make that function as reminders to take time for me. I’m eager for the work day to end, for the weekend to begin. I’ve got concert tickets for tonight… then… sleeping in sounds nice… then… chores! LOL I am every bit as eager to get started on the housekeeping as I am to go to the concert tonight. πŸ™‚

…So many verbs.

My coffee is finished. I make a second cup and get started on a grocery list. Thanksgiving won’t prepare itself!