Archives for posts with tag: walk on

Yesterday was hard. Very. The day before that was easy. A exceptional day. I didn’t write on either day. I don’t recall the reasons, now, but by the end of yesterday I was feeling very much like it was a massive self-care fail that I hadn’t been writing. The whole day was drenched in similar fail-sauce. Communication breakdowns. Loss of emotional balance. Taking shit personally. Mild frustration in one moment or another becoming, over the day, a sort of chronic feeling of being “over-extended”, with too much to do, too little time, and everyone wanting “a piece of me”, leaving nothing at all left of me for me. It was entirely subjective. It was shitty, as experiences go, and the result was an abyss of internal chaos that spilled out into real interactions with others – most especially my Traveling Partner.

Sometimes apologies don’t cut it. (A very unhelpful observation.)

Since the move, we’ve done a lot to improve how we’re set up in the house, how well things work, and continue to make repairs and small quality of life improvements. Since the AC leak and associated water damage have kicked me out of my studio temporarily, I feel even more displaced than I did from moving – while I’m trying to get settled in, and build new healthy routines that support my mental health and emotional wellness in a new place. Yesterday was clear evidence that I’m struggling with the “getting settled in” process. I’m finding very little traction as I work toward building new healthy routines for living my life; every fucking thing is constantly changing, even moment to moment. Mostly good changes. Still changes. I can’t seem to “get used to” anything. I’m overwhelmed and feeling the instability in my environment in a very visceral way.

“This too shall pass.” Still true. Doesn’t make this shit “easy”. (No one said it would be.)

The days are mostly good days. This life is a good life. I focus on the observation that I feel generally okay, and things are generally good… This experience is not about how things are, though, it is a very personal experience of how I feel, which may not even be tied to reality in any direct way. (Doesn’t serve to make the experience of those feelings any easier.)

The solitude I woke to this morning lasts very few minutes. My Traveling Partner wakes early. I make him coffee and return to my writing. A minute or two later he asks “What are you doing?” I reply “I’m writing.” His surly, mildly sarcastic reply, “wonderful”, is followed by “I’ll be somewhere else”. As he leaves the room, I feel my anxiety level rise in the background. Is my typing extra loud? Am I hitting the keys super hard, or very fast? Does my typing convey my emotions (or suggest an emotional experience I may or may not be having but is uncomfortable to listen to)? Yesterday was hard on both of us. I don’t resent his irritation, or take it personally. He’s having his own experience, too.

Damn I want my studio back. I can’t paint. My gaming computer is in there, too. I generally write in there; it’s also my “office”. My studio is a haven where I can experience and explore strong emotion without interfering with other people (and similarly they would not be interacting with me). I feel, subjectively, like I “can’t get a minute to myself” or “can’t hear myself think” or “can’t get any cognitive down time”. I’m not sure those things are objectively true at all. I suspect they are not. I do know the chaos is incredibly uncomfortable, and I’m not dealing with it well (or wasn’t, yesterday). In spite of decently restful sleep, I don’t feel “rested”.

…The pandemic isn’t helping. My Traveling Partner and I, aside from a small number of errands that get run by necessity, are together 24/7 and take “the lockdown” very seriously. I do enjoy his company. I also very much enjoy solitude. I feel a need for both. Without my studio to retreat to, I struggle to set healthy boundaries, and yesterday’s meltdown makes it clear this is not a sustainable set of conditions. Looking back on yesterday, I can see how the day started as a poor mix of me working from home, and his enjoyment of my presence prompting him to seek out more interaction with me, in spite of my (clearly inadequate) boundary setting and expectation setting about my work day. It could have been a lovely day, in spite of any of that, but at some point I lost my grip, and my perspective. “Everything” felt like “too much” at some point, and things spiraled out of control for me from there.

I can tell from my partner’s tone this morning that he is still feeling hurt by yesterday’s chaos and I feel that sad lingering concern that “I’ll never get any better than this”. Probably a common feeling for trauma survivors still struggling with their chaos and damage over time. I remind myself that context, perspective, and self-talk matter. I remind myself that my partner and I are indeed “separate people”, and to avoid fusing with his emotional experience, and seek instead to tend to my own, and care for myself more skillfully. Sitting down to write is part of that. Even in the dining room. Even when I don’t feel encouraged. Even when time is short.

…I remind myself how loved I am, and how much love I feel for this other human being who is now more or less forced to deal with me without a break…

I breathe, exhale, and relax. I let go of the persisting anxiety about how my partner is/may be feeling, what he is thinking, and remind myself that we are each having our own experience – that’s not only unavoidable, it’s okay. Nothing to fix. I focus on the day ahead. How do I get back on my path, make wise choices, care for myself well, and be the person I most want to be? What practices will matter most, today? I look at the time… and my half empty cup of coffee. I have time to take a walk before work. I check my work calendar. I’ll have a good opportunity to soak in the hot tub a bit later. Another errand to run. I look for a good time and put that on my calendar, too. What about meditation? Where will that fit in…? And household chores…? The work day? I start feeling the anxiety rise up, again. I breathe, exhale, relax… definitely need that walk.

…It’s time to begin again.

It’s a Friday morning. A busy morning. A mostly sort of routine-ish morning. I’ve got my coffee (#2), and a day of work ahead of me. I’ve got errands to run and a reminder on my calendar. I’m okay with all of that, and feeling mostly sort of relaxed, and generally fairly organized.

The noise of contractors here at the house is a bit much to take. Calls and meetings would be affected. I’m fortunate to be able to easily reschedule all but one. I focus on work, then catch myself holding my breath – too focused. I take a break.

Take breaks. Mean it when you do; really step away, and take a minute to “just breathe” and maybe even let your mind wander! When I returned to work, I felt fresh and comfortably focused without stress or anxiety. It’s enough to notably improve what is already a decent morning. I sip my cold coffee, content and relaxed. It’s enough.

Before the work day began, this morning, I embarked on what I hope becomes a regular element of my new normal, my new morning routine; I went for a walk. It was only a mile, and really just around and about my local neighborhood, brisk, cane in hand, smiling and waving to neighbors getting their day started. It was pleasant. I felt energized for the day ahead by the time I returned home. It’s not a hike in the forest or anything, but it’s a nice contribution to my general wellness and fitness.

I discover a pleasantly inaccessible bit of green space within the neighborhood.

It’s a nicely level walk, on suburban sidewalks, nestled in the countryside, tucked between a local highway and the “old” version of that route. Since I sometimes walk very early, as early as those last dark pre-dawn minutes, straying from the pavement would present needless hazards for my messed up ankle. I take my cane, and my patience with myself (and my middle-aged, less-than-ideally-fit-but-working-on-it limitations), and enjoy the journey for what it is. A gentle moment with the woman in the mirror as the way ahead becomes steps fading behind me. I see things I missed before, each time I make the trip around the neighborhood; it’s still very new.

I stop near where the creek that runs behind the house becomes a mere trickle, and wonder what is holding back the flow?

I walk on, wondering what “holds back my flow’ in life, love, and art… just… you know, “along the way”, and how can I “do more, better” without exhausting myself, or finding myself mired in resentment or resistance? I think about the need for healthy breaks, and how that improves my productivity at work… There’s something to learn here.

…I drink some water, and begin again. πŸ™‚

 

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™‚

 

 

I talk a fair bit about journeys, paths, traveling, my Traveling Partner… these are literal experiences, and also metaphors. I figure mentioning that is worthwhile, now and then. I use these concepts to give context to bigger questions. “Journey” is pretty vague… by intent. There are so many sorts of experiences of journeys, you see, everything from paved freeways with plentiful amenities along the way, and handy GPS, to unmarked trails through wild spaces, no map, no milestones, no safety net – you need something, you better bring it. The options are numerous, as are the choices.

How we prepare, and what we bring – as tools or baggage – matter to every journey we take, and ever day we live life.

Maps are handy… definitely bring one of those along on any journey… if one exists, at all. Sometimes, some journeys, there is no map and we’re utterly on our own, blazing our own trail through life’s wild spaces. It often feels that way, even when we have an actual usefully accurate map in our hands. Think that one over. How often has someone given you useful worthwhile truly helpful advice, or recommendations, that you disregarded… discovering too late that it really was just the thing to have done, to get the result you were seeking? πŸ™‚

Sometimes I over-do the planning, packing, and preparation, and get part way along my travels heavily encumbered by a ton of crap I did not need to drag along with me. Baggage comes in a lot of forms. I definitely try to set as much of that down as I possibly can. “Traveling light” has this tendency to make long miles feel shorter. Everything we carry with us feels heavier over time. We become fatigued with the weight of what we carry, particularly if it does not serve an immediate necessary purpose.

The nature of the journey we set ourselves upon matters, too…

Sometimes the journey is a rough trail, steep, muddy, and treacherous…

…Sometimes the way ahead is obvious, the journey level, and paved…

I’m just saying, as metaphors go, journeys offer a nice assortment of meaningful options to reflect upon. πŸ™‚ Where will yours take you? Do you know where you’re headed?

It looks like a good time to begin again… “Don’t forget to bring a towel!”

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. πŸ™‚ 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… πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ 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.