Archives for posts with tag: walking a new path

“Success” is a funny thing; it is defined quite differently from individual to individual, from task to task, from moment to moment, and exists on a slippery gradient that shifts just when it seems to be “obvious”. When we chase it ferociously, it’s often not our effort that determines our outcome, it’s more about our focus… or our willingness to learn, to grow, and to begin again. There is, unquestionably, effort involved, and that varies, too… with preparedness, with good fortune, with circumstance, with how much help we are likely to receive, with how relatively difficult our own notion of success actually is (for us, individually). It’s weird to me when I see people pin all their hopes and sense of self on a single idea of success. Personally, I like my success to stay fairly manageable, and not keep me up at night. So… small stuff generally. 🙂 It adds up.

A flower seen along yesterday’s walk.

Why am I on about this, on an easy Sunday morning? Simple; I walked 3 miles yesterday, hitting a tiny milestone, a modest goal, and finding a small bit of success on my fitness journey. It’s such a small thing. All the driving last year, and the lack of trail miles that resulted from the lost leisure time spent on the road, resulted in starting this year struggling to make 2 continuous walking miles with any ease. I like ease. I embrace ease. I strive for ease. Which means… I need more time walking. My scale agrees. lol I’ve been at it this year, a bit at a time. I’ve been slowly and steadily losing the weight I’d accumulated (in part due to diet, and definitely due to not walking – see the pattern?). I had been approaching things rather unproductively, for some time, pushing too hard and struggling across my imagined finish line, and ending up so exhausted (or injured) that I’d need days and days (weeks) of much lower intensity work to recover… and… um… walking is pretty low intensity as it is. lol I changed my approach; it helps to study and learn, and reinforce practices that have proven to work.

I’ve put in some study time. Consulted a dietitian. Gotten more serious (again) and more focused (again), and returned to seeking and accepting – and celebrating – smaller successes. They do add up. Yesterday’s three miles will join the three miles I’ll walk later today, and next week getting an easy two miles in over my lunch break won’t break a sweat. It bodes well for my camping trip, and how much fun that will be, hiking out in the trees, with so much more ease. 😀

I’ve got my favorite site reserved. 🙂

When my practice fails me (because I am allowing myself the choice to fail myself), I begin again. Knowing what matters most to me, myself, helps with that; practicing things that have no value, no positive outcome, or which contribute nothing positive to my life can be added to that long list of things to let go. Recognizing successes is dependent on understanding success… my idea of success is pretty definitive if I’m hoping to recognize my successes. It took me awhile to get here. It’s easy to let an externally imposed notion of success drive our choices and our behavior… education, marriage, offspring, career, address, social status, wealth… none of that is specifically, explicitly, characteristic of “success”. Seriously. You get to choose for yourself what your success looks like. Is an unwed PhD-holding carpenter living in a small town successful, or not successful? Hard to say, isn’t it, unless you know what they want from their life. Is an accountant of limited means, living luxuriously, resources stretched to the breaking point, losing sleep to panic attacks, while impressing colleagues and neighbors, a “success”? Well… “At what, exactly?”, would be my question. (I tend to think not, but again; I would need to understand their idea of success to have any reasonable thoughts on that.)

So…yeah. My idea of success really only applies to me. I’m more successful, professionally, than I ever imagined I would be; it wasn’t what I was focused on in life, generally. I’m more emotionally well, and enjoying better mental health than I have at any previous point in my life – that feels incredibly successful, to me. I worked to get here, and it’s been a slow, often quite difficult journey. Worth it. Am I wealthy? Nope. I don’t expect I ever will be. I’m content with knowing the bills are paid, and that “getting ahead” is within reach. It’s enough. I’ve already wasted too many years on someone else’s idea of success (a parent, a partner, a teacher, an employer… lots of folks out there ready to suggest that we are not successful because we have not yet achieved something significant to them). What gets me out of bed with a smile every day may not be the thing that satisfies you. Do you. Definitely a better choice, day to day. 🙂

Still… I do put time and thought and effort into being a better me today than I was yesterday. Every day. There is no “finish line”. No completed product. No final goal. No level of mastery such that I can’t continue to make that single, purposeful effort to be my best self, as I understand the woman I most want to be, here, now. There’s always another mile I could walk. Sometimes I’ll falter. Sometimes I’ll fail. That’s okay too; I can begin again.

I smile into my fairly dreadful cup of coffee and consider my morning walk. It’s early, and not yet hot. The trail I intend to walk is level, and paved, and not likely to be crowded at this time of morning. I’m eager to get started, but also aware that I didn’t think to grab socks when I slipped out of the bedroom with the rest of my clothes; going back in risks disturbing my sleeping partner. I really don’t like messing with people’s sleep; a byproduct of my own sleep difficulties coloring my thinking about sleep, generally, and my tendency toward (perhaps excessive) consideration. I catch myself mindlessly scratching at a mosquito bite from yesterday’s walk, stop myself, and add “bug wipes” to my camping list, still smiling. The moment also serves as a useful reminder that I would do well to walk in my hiking boots today (not wear sandals) – if only because mosquito bites on feet just suck so much. lol

I think over my approach to getting socks without waking my partner, smiling, and grateful for the lovely start to the day. So far? Very successful. 😀

 

 

It’s funny the way we so easily (and so often) attempt to divide some facet or another of our experience into two neat, tidy, categories, some simple dichotomy. How often does life actually work that way? No, seriously, think that over – is the political spectrum really a simple division between left and right? (C’mon now, you know that’s not even a thing.) Is each life choice really an either/or? (That seems wildly unlikely.) Is the option generally “everything” or “nothing at all”? (I can’t actually find one moment in my life when that was a literal truth.)

Why do we do that?

I don’t have any answers on that one, I’m just calling out what seems rather obvious to me in this moment right here; it isn’t true. It’s not real. A false dichotomy is… most dichotomies, actually. It’s not even easier to choose between just two options – it’s just easier to think about. Easier to piss and moan about the outcome, too. Easier to build a narrative that suggests we are forced to one or pushed to the other, “without any choice” – even though all of it is about choices.

It’s just something I noticed and started thinking over.

The weekend is just hours away. I have plans. I have choices. I have a full calendar. I have a routine… that doesn’t fit. lol It’s not an either/or situation. I am not faced with the simple choice of doing this, versus doing that; there are many more details. Hell, it’s not even “a spectrum” (that tends to imply a linear direction or sequence that must be followed in one clear way – or the opposite clear way – how often does life actually work that way?). I am faced with a busy weekend and I am choosing… to choose. In the moment, on the fly, perhaps doing things quite differently than usual.

My most spontaneous friends (and my darling Traveling Partner) probably recognize this (to me) very strange (not to them) bit of circumstance as “living”. lol I face it as defiance to routines that tend to stabilize and comfort me, and there is some risk involved there…but… I know there is value in a bit of disorder now and then, and there are both lessons to be learned, and life to live, and that sometimes routine is not helpful. So. This weekend? Planned but unscripted. Tickets purchased. Reservations made. Appointments booked. Brunch agreed upon with friends. Adventure ahead! Fair warning to you, dear Readers, I may not write… because… choices. lol I may write at very different times, or even not at all. I don’t even know.

How does this go? I know people do this spontaneous thing all the damned time (less common for me)… and, hell, how far out of my comfort zone will I really be? I do have plans, tickets, reservations, appointments… all those things provide some structure to the weekend ahead. lol Hardly a fair test, my most adventurous free-living spontaneous unplanned and unplannable feral friends might observe. I know, too, that they are right; I’ve still got that calendar locked down tight, time well-managed… but… far less so for me than I typically do, and it feels a little unsettling to embrace the uncertainty this way – but uncertainty is a big part of life, and the choices that fall between and all around all of my favorite false dichotomies are so easily lost or forgotten or overlooked because my time is so structured, generally, in favor of a great deal of certainty.

This weekend? I’m uncertain. LOL I’m even okay with that.

Last night I finally got some real rest after several days of existing on what amounted to naps during the night, and long hours of quiet solitude that ideally would have been spent sleeping. Fuck I needed the sleep. lol I don’t recall quite when I crashed (it was very early), and I woke once, maybe twice, long enough to groggily flip on a light, realize it was night, and go back to sleep. I woke with the alarm. The emotional disarray that (for me) is definitely part of the sleep deprivation experience is now behind me, and I am finding that calm centered place so much more easily once again. I’m glad.

I have no clear idea of the path ahead, and as I embrace the weekend of uncertainty, I remember that really… I never actually do. 🙂 It’s a journey without a map. The journey itself is the destination. It’s a journey paved with choices and changes. It’s time to walk on…

It’s time to begin again.

I didn’t get anything like enough sleep last night.

I saw a great little duplex early in the morning. I got home feeling hopeful and eager, but without any cause to make assumptions about the outcome. The unexpected phone call late in the afternoon, letting me know the unit is mine, and gently inquiring if I am still interested… well, sleep just didn’t come easily on the level of excitement that resulted. I still needed to get up early this morning to return the Zipcar I’d reserved. (From the perspective of going to and from the new place from this place it seemed practical to use a car, instead of public transit.)

Today, I’ll meet up at… holy cow… my new place (wow, I’m still so excited!) to pay the deposit. I’ll take public transit out from downtown (near the office) to the house and try out the commute for ease and travel time on a day when neither is critical.

It’s funny… my move before last, bringing me to the apartment community I currently live in, was a product of months of searching, looking at units, exploring the communities near work, and emotional uncertainty reinforced by Other People’s Drama (well… and mine, too, let’s be real). The choice never felt like it was really mine; it was the choice I ultimately had in front of me when the time came that moving was no longer optional. This current experience began with a similarly forced feel to it, then… it cracked open and changed completely when I met my new landlords yesterday morning, and got my first look at what will be home for the next year (and perhaps as much beyond that as life carries me before I purchase a place truly my own). I walked away feeling yearning and wistful to have the little duplex be my own, before a decision was made; I actually really like it. My landlords strike me as delightful people, and we connected over morning conversation, finding each other more alike than different, really wanting there to be a connection – and creating that experience together, over a common experience; we like that little duplex. 🙂

So, the move is on! It’s real. I have a new place, an old place, and a journey to make between them. Aaaaaand… the move date is sooner than I expected, and a comfortably negotiated compromise for both them and for me. I’d have liked to make the move later, to amass greater resources. They’d like to avoid having it vacant. They are, themselves, moving to another place, in another community. I’m scrambling… and yesterday the excitement caught up with me and wrecked my sleep utterly.

An unexpected visit late in the evening by my Traveling Partner, on his way from one moment in life to another, was an emotional salve and then some. He’s a very calming influence in stormy emotional seas. I wasn’t having tantrums, or meltdowns, or raging – but I was “over excited” like a little kid, and just couldn’t seem to soothe myself or achieve the sort of calm that promotes sleep. He knows me well. He knew just what to do about it to be helpful, and when he left I put out the lights, and called it a night. There really wasn’t anything “wrong” – I’d just had too much of all sorts of good things. 🙂

It’ll be some days before the move properly begins to show signs of actual movement between places, but I’ve got boxes ready, and a to do list, and a lot of experience. The excitement of it lingering in my memory woke me ahead of the alarm clock. I get the morning started, yoga, shower, writing and coffee, and…

…The anxiety hits me like a wall. What if I’m wrong? What if this is a terrible idea? What if this all goes horrible awry? What if it is too good to be true? I pause and stare across the meadow for a while; this won’t be my view much longer. Lingering dew sparkles on the grass and the points of the needles of the pine that seems so poorly placed, just beyond the patio. I sip my tepid coffee. I breathe. I relax. Change is. Sometimes that’s scary. It’s hard to trust myself – harder than I’d like. Second-guessing and anxiety about the move is going to come and go – because I’m human – and that’s got to be okay, too. I consider other moves, other experiences in life. My coffee is finished. I’m smiling.

It’s time to begin again.

…It’s a new dawn…it’s a new day… it’s a new life for me…

 

Seriously. Give this some thought; all it takes to make the world better is that we each take steps to do so. No kidding. Just don’t be a dick to other people. Be kind. Be giving. Be open. Love. Treat all people well. Be genuine. Relax. Enjoy life without ruining it for other people. Be inclusive. Be curious. Assume positive intent. Set clear boundaries and take good care of yourself. Did I mention being kind? Yeah, do a lot more of that. Be patient. Be compassionate. Just be. Be here. Be present. Listen deeply. Recognize there is much you do not know. Clean as you go. Respect boundaries. Get consent. Be kind. Be kinder than that. Let go of assumptions and expectations. Be mindful that people are not property.

Remember the part about being kind? Do even more of that. Yep. Verbs. Omg – and all the practice? Yeah, that goes on indefinitely. Easy? Well… easy-ish. Do your best. Do that better tomorrow. Keep at it; we become what we practice.

We can begin again together, this morning, right now. One thing at a time. Start with the person in the mirror. Be kind to that person too. 🙂

…Please don’t tell me this won’t change the world. We can’t know that until we’ve actually tried. 😉

Events unfold as they will, and I can raise my level of acceptance instead of my level of frustration (or despair, or…) – with some effort, and commitment – or I can stand idly by while my frustration increases, until… well, there’s the thing. The ‘until…’ part is somewhat individual, isn’t it? Some people lash out at others, some people turn on themselves, and being so very human there is the unpredictable complication of what limits any one of us has on resources to manage our intense emotions; we haven’t all got the same tools in our toolbox.  Frustration, fear, anxiety, rage, grief, despair…these are all every bit as human as delight, joy, love, contentment, and bliss. I spend more time attempting to manage the negative ones; I often don’t accept them in myself, and my own disappointment piles on top, and then I sometimes add insecurity about how someone else might also be disappointed – or ‘worse’ – and self-criticism that I am ‘indulging’ in such a pointless negative waste of precious time. Ouch. I’ve been pretty hard on myself, and too often. Emotions are part of the journey; making room in my heart to have my experience without judgment gives me room to grow, and a chance to more easily move on.

Perspective offers a chance to make changes.

Perspective offers a chance to make changes.

Have you ever stopped to consider that in the privacy of your own heart, your own thoughts, you can be as kind and compassionate with yourself as you choose – and that ‘no one is watching’, or able to change how you treat yourself within? That’s yours, 100%. Make it as luxurious, as loving, as kind, as wholesome, or as deep as you like; it is all yours. With that in mind…why would any one of us treat ourselves poorly?

Realistically, I am finding I can nearly always change something. That seems simple enough. I forget it sometimes. The biochemical elements of emotions, the challenges I specifically have as an individual, and the fundamental reality of the nature of will are such that it isn’t always easy to choose to feel differently than I do; it is still an option, and still possible. Now if I can learn to do it without experiencing ‘struggle’…

We choose our path.

We choose our path.

…But is the difficult path difficult because it is difficult, or is it difficult because it appears so, and I have adopted the assumption that it will be so for that reason alone? My traveling partner said something yesterday that has been lurking in the background, keeping me thinking about this idea of what we perceive to be, becoming our experience because we choose the experience based on the assumptions we make due to our perception – whether that perception is accurate or not, whether it is an experience that can be communicated, even whether we are ‘really’ having that experience we perceive ourselves to be having at all. There’s a lot of free will muddling up the everyday distinction between ‘real’ and whatever else the options are.

Storms pass.

Storms pass.

Today is a good day to make choices about how I experience my experience. Today is a good day to be awake, aware, and open to the possibility that the world is not entirely as I see it – and that others see it differently than I do, either way. Today is a good day to treat myself with kindness – why wouldn’t I do at least that for me, today? Today is a good day to change my perspective on the world.