Archives for posts with tag: use your words

It’s been a few days of dealing with an “interesting” increase in my anxiety, recently. Like… a distracting, persistent, defiant amount of anxiety, of varying intensity… the sort of thing that surges back seemingly stronger than previously known (it isn’t, really), and difficult to manage. It’s been disrupting my sleep, and pulling my attention away from things that (truly) matter much more. Frustrating.

β€œAnxiety” 10β€³ x 14β€³ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

I woke early, pre-occupied with work, because that’s just the sort of thing Anxiety enjoys nibbling on before the day even begins. Any detail over which I’m less than entirely confident and comfortable with becomes fuel to her fire. Fuck Anxiety; she’s a liar. Anxiety forces me to view the world through a lens of fear, doubt, stress, and insecurity, and prevents me from embracing other qualities of my experience. I haven’t had to do such fierce battle with my anxiety in a long while. It’s fueled by the competing experiences of home-ownership and difficult (unpleasant) work-place relationships. The sense of obligation that comes of owning a home causes me to feel I “have to” endure more that is unreasonable, to set fewer clear boundaries, to be more reluctant to “draw a line in the sand” with higher ranking colleagues… all of which are uncomfortable, less than ideal, and probably also seriously bullshit. lol Anxiety, remember, is a liar.

I woke early, and spent my first minutes on meditation. It helps a lot. Coffee came later, because over the years I’ve learned too well that Anxiety likes a good cup of coffee every bit as much as I do, and not in a helpful way. lol Meditation first. Coffee later.

I looked over my work calendar, and quickly identified the source of my stress – it was really just one meeting on my calendar (that I own), and only due to a change of format being requested, for which I have had too little time to prepare. So… that’s not even “about” me. I reschedule the meeting to give myself (and another affected colleague) more time to make the requested changes. No harm done. Hell, it’s even a short week (after a Monday holiday) and so far it’s going very smoothly. Hard to argue with those results. πŸ™‚

I feel my tension ease, my Anxiety receding into the background, returning to being “anxiety” with a lower-case A. Nice. A good start to the work week… I mean… good enough. Amply adequate, for sure. πŸ˜€

The weekend that is now over was a lovely one. I sip my coffee, free of the crushing weight of the anxiety that had been nagging me earlier, and think about the lovely miles of trail walking, the scent of fresh baked cookies that filled the kitchen all weekend, and my Traveling Partner’s smiles. A good weekend.

Sometimes the obstacles along the way are small enough to just step over them. πŸ™‚

So, a new week, new beginnings – and new challenges. πŸ™‚ Sometimes the “new” challenges just happen to be old familiar ones – I just get to practice handling them, all over again. lol Didn’t think I needed to take that lesson one more time, but there it is – and we become what we practice. πŸ˜€

It’s time to begin again.

One step at a time, eventually measured in miles. One day at a time, eventually measured in years. One moment at a time eventually becomes a life well-lived, on a beautiful journey. ❀

It’s funny how a long-held dream or goal sometimes unfolds very differently than I imagined it might. House in the country? Check. Well… I mean… it’s well away from the city, and there is a large-ish farm across the road… The house itself? It’s in a small suburban neighborhood at the edge of a small town. lol It’s not exactly “rural” in m most respects, and quite convenient – even rather “walkable” (although the country lane that runs between our neighborhood and the farm on the other side is perhaps less than ideal for walking; it’s a busy road, and narrow in spots).

I’m not complaining. I love this little house. I love the view from the deck. The house manages to be both larger than I thought I could afford, and much smaller than I thought I might want. lol There’s a lot of that sort of thing cropping up as dreams become realities. It’s a bit like a chapter in Alice in Wonderland. How lovely, though, that generally the translations of my dreams into reality have been so much more likely to be a pleasant surprise instead of a disappointment, these days. (I’ll note that I don’t think this reflects a change in “the way things turn out” as much as it reflects a change in my perspective on things and ways, generally.)

That gets me thinking about books I got over the Giftmas holiday that I haven’t yet finished, and other books I’d also like to read. I think about a favorite bookstore, and wonder when the pandemic will really end? I do miss a bit of proper shopping. πŸ™‚ Today will be a good day to read, too.

Similarly, my anticipated “regular local mile” – which I figured would likely be right here in my own neighborhood (and that has been a frequent walk) – turns out to be nearby, but still about a 10-minute drive or so… and about 5 miles away. It’s a lovely forested walk. There is a 1-mile loop, and a 1/2-mile loop. It’s the sort of lush bit of forest that I love, and the trail carries me up and down the hills, and over a creek a couple times, and around and through the forest until it returns to the trailhead. It’s quite lovely. I’ll probably go there often. I went yesterday. I’m planning to go today – I may do both loops (I like it that much).

Yesterday the approach to the trailhead was quite foggy when I got started.

It’s a good season for walking and reflecting, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, in this area where winter’s are generally relatively mild. (Maybe snow or ice later in January, or in February?) I enjoy the walking for more than fitness; I find that it “clears my head” and gives me literal “breathing room” for sorting things out and “gazing inward” while I enjoy the scenery along the trail. Taking pictures helps keep me grounded and anchored to “now”, as I walk. (I don’t do well stuck in my head.)

It was a beautiful misty morning for a walk.

I remind myself to run an errand on the way back from my walk this morning. I mean… for sure, that’s convenient, why not? I hope I still remember when the time comes… lol

The Vine Maples and Big Leaf Maples extend their bare branches, but without their leaves, I can see almost all the way across the park from a high vantage point on one side.

The muddy trails don’t fret me. They are still passable and fairly safe, and I always bring my cane for trail walking or hiking. I love the tangles of branches, the morning mist, and the puddles reflecting the sky.

Lovely little city park. It’s enough. πŸ™‚ More than enough.

I sip my coffee and look over yesterday’s pictures. They distract me from the pain in my neck, which is quite a feat. I smile and sip my coffee, feeling wholly content and satisfied with this moment, right here. I think of my Traveling Partner, hearing him move about in the other room. I’ll invite him to go walking with me. He’ll look out at the chilly gray rather rainy looking day, and smile and say “No, thank you.”

My partner appears in the doorway as if I’d called to him, just as I begin to turn my chair to go ask if he’d like to go walking with me. He looks apologetic, kind, and very serious. “You may want to just avoid me today,” he says in that loving apologetic tone I know so well, “I just hurt that much, and I don’t want to treat you badly or take it out on you at all.” I nod. I let him know I understand and that I’m okay with that; I hurt too. It’s not an ideal combination of humans-in-pain, sometimes. We take our best care of each other, some days, by alerting the other we’re not fit companionship, at all, and making room to love each other with a little space between us. It’s a much better practice than some I’ve seen, and it works for us. No hurt feelings. Clear expectations.

So…a quiet Sunday, a walk, some housekeeping, laundry, and I’ll probably bake cookies and bars for the week, too. Before any of that? I’ll have to begin again. πŸ˜€

Sometimes I have to remind myself (yeah, and this at 57) that most uncomfortable or unpleasant situations I may find myself in, and very nearly all difficult interactions with other people, have within them an opportunity to learn and grow… if I can sort out what exactly the lesson is. Sometimes I find it less than ideally obvious what could be learned from some challenging moment.

I take a break from working to reflect on how conversations flow. I have a long-standing personal challenge with interrupting people. I’m sure it is a byproduct of impaired executive function, one of many pieces of my TBI puzzle. I’m not saying that to excuse it, I’m just pointing out that it persists for reasons that seem likely to be associated with the underlying nature of the issue. I continue to work on it. I continue to interrupt people. It continues to be unpleasant for those who are being interrupted – I know that with certainty, because I myself also dislike being interrupted (and as a woman in America often speaking with, among, or to, men, I experience it regularly, I promise you, but it’s not the topic today).

…I continue to work on it.

…I continue to interrupt people.

Fucking hell. I know that it’s necessary to begin again. Practice deep listening. Slow down. Find the balance point between considering what I’ve heard for so long that I’ve forgotten to reply at all… and jumping in to respond before someone has actually finished their thought. Make a point of really noticing, observing, when I “get it right”, and a conversation flows naturally, everyone feels heard, talking is in turns… savor the successes, to build an implicit comfort with that timing and cadence, generally. Breathe more. Speak in a measured, comfortable pace that allows me to continue to breathe.

…So much to practice…

I rather expect I’ll be working on this one until my actual last breath… but my results have been known to vary. I do begin again, pretty reliably, and we do become what we practice… eventually. πŸ™‚ Consider this one a bit of self-nagging on the way to beginning again. πŸ˜‰

We become what we practice. Now to practice not interrupting… πŸ˜€

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

Today has been as delightful as yesterday was difficult. I never did really figure out what was up with me, yesterday, or if it was me, at all. I let all that go. My Traveling Partner and I had several rather difficult, frank, conversations, that required greater-than-typical willingness to be vulnerable, and a level of “real talk” that pushed boundaries on both sides. The level of heartfelt consideration and and love involved made it possible. I wouldn’t call it pleasant, but the day was emotional wreckage (for me) anyway, why hold anything back?

(In practical terms, yesterday was a good day, we both got things done, worked productively, and got some leisure time. Stepping aside from the emotional baggage, personal hand-crafted bullshit, and narrative-editing foolishness human primates are prone to, it was actually a pretty good day. I just felt crappy, emotionally, as if I’d consumed emotional poison.)

We got to a place where we were both just being frank and real, just talking, not mean, not confrontational – honest clarifying questions, a straight forward exchange of information, no game playing – and it sorted some things out. Somehow, this morning, things are quite lovely, and life is as good as it is, and we’ve enjoyed each other all day. It’s lovely. πŸ™‚ It’s hard to understand how yesterday was the thing it was. I gaslight myself wondering if I imagined the shitty day I had, until I give up on it, distracted by something in my periphery.

Dahlias

There are flowers on my makeshift workstation. Dahlias. I enjoy them. A neighbor brought them down and took a moment to say hello. She had a chance to meet my Traveling Partner. I could hear them chatting briefly in the front door way. I heard my partner “…working from home…” I looked up and saw our neighbor. “Hi!” I called. She cheerily replied “Don’t you get up!” and waved. A few minutes later, my partner presents me with the lovely handful of purple, white, and pale yellow blossoms atop sturdy green stems. From our neighbor’s garden? She has a lovely cottage garden thing going at her place. (I remind myself to take a mask when I go to check the mail and stop by to say thank you… from a distance, of course.)

I sip on a glass of cold water and consider my neighbor’s thoughtfulness. She also brought fresh-picked ears of corn. (Does she have room for corn??) (How much room does corn really take…?) I find myself wondering which gift is most meaningful to me, and whether the flowers or the corn could compare with the gift of her simple thoughtfulness and consideration, at all.

My thoughts wander. I think about words and meaning, and how something as simple as the sight of a facial expression or the sound of a tone of voice can completely alter the way we are understood, and what we are thought to have “said”. I find myself listening to “Schism” with new ears. Consideration matters. Listening deeply matters. Finding the discipline to refrain from interrupting matters. Taking a kind tone matters. So many things that matter… so many verbs. lol

Lovely evening… I think I’ll begin again.

It’s an “eat a bag of dicks, Tuesday”, sort of morning, so far. My coffee is half-cold, somewhat bitter, and vaguely annoying. My interactions with my Traveling Partner have been unpleasant. The day begins poorly. (I mean, it could be worse, for sure, and for most values of “how are things?”, “things” are “fine”.) I’ve already had an assortment of “what the fuck?” moments, a handful of “for fucks’ sake, seriously??” moments, and one definite “I don’t want to be around you right now” moment. Shitty. Seriously unpleasant.

…Meditation did occur… it mostly sort of helped… some…

It’s not at all clear to me “why this morning?”, and I take another deep breath, exhale, and try again to let that shit go. Humans being human, there’s a reasonable likelihood that there is no clear resolvable root-cause to dissect, that would leave behind only heartfelt appreciation and simple actions to take (then we all live happily ever after). We’re each having our own experience – which works out just fine, generally, unless people get hung up on insisting their singular individual experience is The One True Truth and sole description of all observable phenomena. That’s notΒ likely to be the case, regardless who you are and what your vast perspective may encompass. We only “know” what we know, and can’t even approach knowing what that other person “knows”. Even if we’re told, what we end up with is often only an approximate understanding of that other person’s perspective. Complicating things comically (for some values of “funny”), we’re often very certain of things we’re totally incorrect about, factually. Fuck. Humans are weird.

…At least no one was yelling. I find raised voices triggering (I’m pretty sure my partner does, too), and I definitely don’t need that today (no one does). Obviously.

…Is it “obvious”? What’s “obvious” about it at all? Pretty subjective shit there. Hell, what’s “obvious” about anything, where human beings are concerned? I pause to reflect on the subjective nature of reality, while I sip this shit-tastic cup of “coffee”. Fucking hell. I made this?? (…And now I’m forcing myself to actually drink it? Good grief.) I snarl quietly at myself for not managing to be a better human being when it’s such an easy thing to do. I could for sure do better. (Couldn’t you?)

Stare at something long enough it may appear to be more significant than it is

…Doing better is definitely on my agenda for today. And dusting. Dusting is also on my list of things to do today (I forgot to do it yesterday, although I’d planned to). (“Be a better human being/partner” is on my agenda every day, but it’s a big ask some days, more than others.) I remind myself to take time to dust. And be a better person.

Getting here was a journey – it is a journey to sustain love, too; there are verbs involved.

Some time later, my Traveling Partner approaches me with considerable care. We converse calmly for a few moments. He looks sad. I feel sad. The morning feels “broken”. It would be painfully easy to extrapolate that the relationship itself is also “broken”. Catastrophizing small moments is easy for human primates. Almost convenient. Another breath. Another exhalation. Another letting go of “it”. Another chance to begin again. (Fuck this is hard sometimes!) I remind myself that love matters most. I pause to reflect on how very loved I am, and to feel the love that fills my heart when I think of my partner. I “listen again” to the things he’s said that tell truths about how to love him well: needs, limitations, boundaries, common misunderstandings, fears, heartfelt yearnings, desires, obstacles, frustrations small and large… all the things. I’ve got plenty to work with, and a lot to think about.

I set a reminder for (more) meditation, for later. (Today clearly calls for as much time spent on that as I can spare.) I glare at my work calendar. The routine of work is calming, but feels like a “cheat”. Calm is good, though, and has lasting value that could improve the day.

I stare unenthusiastically at my calendars – work and personal – one full, the other empty (of planned activity). I look over my “to do list”. “Acts of service” are one of the ways I show love…but admittedly, I’m not feeling very knowledgeable in the ways of love and loving, this morning, and find myself fretful and concerned that I’m “on the wrong path”. My head aches with the effort involved in emotional control as I stare into work tools. There’s an entire day ahead of me. This morning an entire day of new beginnings ahead feels sort of bleak and repetitive.

…Fucking hell, I’ve got to get past this shit…

Sometimes it seems a lot of work, and I’m not sure I’m on the right path…

…This too will pass. I remind myself to be aware of the differences between emotional weather, and emotional climate.

My Traveling Partner approaches again with some observations about his computer monitor, a new simulation that he’s interested in, and what is frustrating him about those experiences. I listen carefully, empathize and commiserate. We connect. He returns to his planned day, I return to mine.

It’s time to begin again. It’s tough to end a difficult moment without beginning a new one. It’s helpful to stay open to the possibility of success, and let go of as much baggage as I can. My results are going to vary – it’s a very human experience. It’s going to require practice. πŸ™‚