Archives for posts with tag: walking my own mile

It’s raining this morning. I slept deeply through the night. It’s been a painful couple of days, but the pain has been just that physical experience of arthritis and of aging. I could feel the rain coming.

This morning, I sip my coffee and welcome the rain. The window of my studio is open to the sound of it, the smell of it, and the coolness of the fresh damp air that has begun to the fill the room. Refreshing. The cadence of it varies; sometimes falling quite heavily, a momentary drenching downpour, other times a soft quiet spattering of smaller drops, sometimes stopping briefly. I could listen to the rain for hours, doing nothing else but enjoying the sound of rain falling.

I sip my coffee and think about how the garden flowers will appreciate this rain. I think about taking my walk in the rain after so much dry summer weather. A bird begins to carry on rather loudly, somewhere in the pear tree beyond the fence, outside the window, disturbed by something I don’t see. Today I’ll run an errand or two, which will take me down the road, on this rainy day. I smile at the thought. It’s not raining hard enough to cause me any stress over the driving, and I realize as I consider that… well, it’s been a long-ish time since I experienced any stress about driving in the rain. 🙂 Progress. Trauma does heal over time – given a chance. That’s nice to experience, and to recognize, firsthand.

…Let’s be real, though, y’all… The event that caused the trauma that drove the driving stress specific to driving in the rain? That happened back in… 1997? It’s now 2021. We’re talking about 24 years here. 24 years to heal from a single traumatic incident. Of that 24 years, I didn’t drive at all for about 14 years. I even let my license lapse and just replaced it with an ID card. Circumstances rather unforgivingly nudged me in the direction of needing to get over my anxiety about driving and just fucking deal with it, about 7 years ago. The first 6 months were sometimes challenging, and for a handful of years after I got my license renewed, I drove when I had to, and it wasn’t something I enjoyed at all. That changed when my Traveling Partner more or less insisted that I go ahead and buy a car for myself, that I would really enjoy driving, when he needed his car back (he’d loaned it to me while I was moving, and it suited us both for me to keep and maintain it for awhile). I enjoyed shopping for a car for myself, on my own, with very little input from anyone else. It was fun. I found something affordable that I really liked, for me, and went for it. I still love my car. I’ll probably replace it, one day, with another just like it – only newer.

Am I rambling? I’ll blame the rain, and this good cup of coffee, and this very relaxed morning. 🙂

I guess what I’m saying is that healing takes the time it takes. Yeah, we can (and do) make choices that may slow that progress (or seek to rush it through), but none of that truly matters – it still takes the time it takes to heal. Physical hurts, emotional injuries, mental health trauma: all of it takes the time it takes, to heal. Seriously. Give yourself enough compassion and kindness and general decency to understand that it’ll take time to “get over” something that has wounded you. The time it takes you, versus the time it takes me, or someone else? Those things don’t compare directly; we’re each having our own experience. If I resist being open to healing, I’ll for sure slow the progress I can make toward wellness – I’ll say that again – If I am not open to healing, or unwilling to let go of my pain, and my chaos, and my damage, healing will definitely take longer. Let’s not quibble, and just accept this for a minute; sometimes we are “not ready” to get well from emotional injuries. Anger or resentment that still needs acceptance and soothing, and authentic understanding and love can really get in the way of emotional wellness, however sincerely we weep that we wish to be well and whole again. It’s complicated, isn’t it?

I sip my coffee thinking about the many days and years of this journey, behind me. I listen to the rain fall and consider the path ahead. I still have flare ups of my PTSD. The chaos and damage may be, to an extent, a permanent part of the emotional landscape (although things have improved so much over the years!). I give myself a moment of kindness as I consider that. My cognitive quirks, and eccentricities resulting from head injuries, are part of who I am – some of them I would not trade for an opportunity to be “normal”, ever. This? This life now, these moments, here? Pretty splendid, generally. I can recall a very different life, mired in misery, anxiety, chaos, anger, and pure effort spent hiding as much of who I am from everyone as I comfortably could – even from myself. I was deeply unhappy, and doing not much at all about that. I was consumed with resignation and a sense of utter futility.

I stare out the window, watching the rain fall, thinking about that life, and that woman and her deep deep suffering. I sip my coffee, silently acknowledging how much of my pain was actually self-inflicted, and how many verbs were involved in getting from there, to here. So many new beginnings. So many “failures” along the way. So many opportunities to inch a little bit closer to the woman I most wanted to be, living that beautiful life I could envision, and somehow could not achieve. I wish I could reach back and assure her we got here, and how good it is. Enough. More than enough.

There’s still a journey ahead. That’s living life, is it not? One moment after another, and always time to begin again. 🙂

What a lovely Saturday it is, here. I mean… yeah. Gorgeous sunny mild morning, no agenda, no “heavy lifting”, emotional or otherwise, just a pretty day. My Traveling Partner has been in good spirits all morning. Me, too. Coffee was decent – neither my best nor my worst – and we enjoyed it together before moving on to our own tasks. I spent considerable time entertaining myself watching the new “bamboo shrimp” in the aquarium, and doing some maintenance (mostly to do with removing some algae, being careful not to disturb the Blue Velvet shrimp who also live in this community tank). I’ve got a grocery list for a quick trip to the store a bit later, and a plan to make some oatmeal cookies.

Looks like a relaxed day ahead, and I honestly can’t thank me enough for it. 🙂 That’s right. It’s on me to make sure I get the downtime I need. It’s up to me to set clear boundaries, and to know my limits. It’s up to me to “budget my energy” (and my time), and to choose my tasks and the things that occupy my attention. Today, I think I’ve chosen wisely. 🙂 I plan to enjoy this with my whole self, too.

From my walk, yesterday.

I’ve been having to be more intentional about getting my walks in, lately. It’s become too dim in the early morning to walk entirely safely in forested places (both due to the risk of tripping over a hazard, and also the potential for predatory wildlife). So… I told myself “no problem, I’ll walk on my lunch break”. That sounded completely reasonable, but I underestimated my lack of enthusiasm for suburban neighborhood sidewalk “hikes”. As it turns out, by midday, many of the places I do enjoy walking regularly are also filled with moms & kids, school outings and groups of kids, trail runners, dog walkers… and loud conversations. Not at all what I’m going for. It’s been challenging me to think differently about where and when I get my walk in. I really don’t want to overlook it, though; walking has started to feel like it has the potential to be a “use it or lose it” scenario, and I really don’t want to find myself permanently off my feet at some future point solely due to lack of effort now, while effort-making is relatively “easy”. So here I am. Thinking about walking, which is just a bit amusing to me.

Forward momentum doesn’t have to be fast. It often isn’t. Progress. Achievement. Things that have steps, require effort, include task-processing, or have verbs involved are often found in a slower pace than I’d ideally like. You too? Incremental change over time can be ridiculously slow to the point of being imperceptible without really really looking for it. So… look for it. You’ve come so far – even if there is further to go, you’re here, now. Celebrate that. Why not? Some work went into this place you stand right now. It’s not where you’re headed? Not where you want to be? Yeah, okay, I get that – me, too. There are things I know I want to understand more. I keep studying. There are places I want to get to. I keep walking. There are goals I want to achieve. I keep working at them. Each step, each task, each moment – hopefully – taking me closer to those experiences and destinations. 🙂 Sometimes “slow” has to be enough.

My coffee is finished. The morning moves on. I’ve got my recipe picked out, and I’ve got my shopping list, and I’ve got this day ahead of me – and it’s mine to enjoy as I choose, in this place I call home, with this human being who is my partner, on this lovely mild sunny Saturday on the edge of autumn. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Today’s emotional weather forecast seemed sunny, clear, and breezy. Forecasts are not always accurate. Reality is not always according to plan. Moments are what they are. This moment? Me, now? Partly cloudy with hints of storm clouds on the horizon, which is to say, I’m in kind of a shitty mood. What is most aggravating about that, at present, is that there is no real reason for that to be the case, that is at all obvious to me. I’m feeling rather cross, and I’m not up for bullshit, today. :-\

I had a lovely walk. It was hard, though, to focus on the surroundings; the trail was rather crowded, and with a lot of families and children. So, while the healthy exercise was… healthy… it was also unfortunately very “people-y”, as well, and thus not at all what I was going there for. My ankle ached the entire distance. My headache joined me about midway, and has been loyal to a fault ever since.

Yeah, buddy, I get it, I really do.

I arrived home after some errands, and my walk, and enjoyed a bite of lunch with my Traveling Partner. He didn’t hang out with me very long, and although I “feel fine” in every practical respect (aside from this aching ankle, and my persistent headache), I guess something about my vibe just feels off, from the vantage point of trying to hang out with me. I didn’t fight it. He headed to his shop. I ran another errand, came home, and had a pleasant shower. Still have this headache. Ankle still aches. Back has started to ache, too. All quite “within specifications” for my day-to-day experience of wellness and relative comfort, and there’s nothing much to do about any of that. I take a handful of ibuprofen and assure myself it’s got to do something. My partner had pointed out that I sounded “stuffy”, so I take some allergy medication, too. Whatever. Maybe something will help somehow.

…I honestly just want to relax…

Tears well up in my eyes. I don’t know why. I’m suddenly hit hard by a surprisingly visceral awareness of loss… the people who are gone… why now?? I am, for a moment, too aware that I’ll never send my mother a birthday card again. Never pick up the phone and talk to my father, or grandfather. Never grab a beer on a weekend with old buddies, now long gone. Never “get closure”… oh, so many fucked up things fit in that bucket. What a weird, hard, sharp, fierce, painful emotional moment this one happens to be. What the fuck?? Tears begin streaming down my face. This would feel like “hormones” if I were not 8 years past menopause. What kind of problematic nonsense is this shit??

I get it. I’m grieving. It’s been in my dreams, too. I don’t really know what to do with it, honestly. The timing is most peculiar, and detached from any relevant experience now. Maybe the pandemic and it’s weird vast isolation and distancing is working on my mind – maybe I just feel “lonely” in spite of being so fortunate as to spend the pandemic with my partner, loved and loving? It could be that. Wouldn’t that be enough?

…I don’t even like spending time around people all that much, so…um… whatever this shit is? Not okay.

I sigh out loud in this quiet room. I really just want to sit down and write my Mom or my Granny a long letter about oh so many things, and maybe even tucking in some photographs (remember when those were a physical thing, to hold in one’s hand?), or some small sketch or trinket or pressed flower. There’s no one to receive that letter…

And it’s time to begin again.

…Unexpectedly, just at the point of typing that period, my Traveling Partner calls to me through the closed door, “You should come out to the shop!” I reply “Okay”, and as I open the door, we meet in the hallway. His warm brown eyes scan my face attentively. I don’t recall if he explicitly asked how I was doing, but I do remember saying “I’m in pain, and I have a sad” and a handful more words, and a few tears, tumbled out. I remember saying something about “my bullshit” and “please just ignore it” (I’m too familiar with how it can spiral out of control with any measure of authentic kindness being shown, and I’m really not going for that.). I remember his hug. His reassuring presence. He shows me his finished work, and how well the CNC is working. It’s pretty cool, and a definite mood-lifter. After all… what are new beginnings for, if not to connect, to share, and to find real joy? So… yeah. I’m trying to put my bullshit aside, and enjoy these moments. There really isn’t any reason not to, and so many reasons to embrace every bit of joy life provides. I’ll guess I’ll go do that. 😉

My Traveling Partner is quite human, but he’s also right about a great many things. 🙂 I definitely needed this break! He was right about that. My boss must have agreed, because he encouraged me to head out even a bit earlier than I’d planned to do, on Friday. It was a lovely extra, too; I spent the morning with my Traveling Partner, instead of working, before I headed for the coast for the weekend. We enjoyed our morning coffee together. Talked about garden plans, home improvement plans, and how much we would miss each other. 🙂

…I have greatly enjoyed missing my partner for a couple days. I do miss him, though, with my whole heart – he’s rarely more than a heartbeat from my thoughts – and I am ready to return home, to his welcoming embrace… to my own bed… my own shower… our pleasantly comfortable little home… the merry wave of a neighbor… and, omg, the mild lovely Spring weather. LOL (It’s been rather uniformly gray at the beach, this weekend, amusingly enough.)

The Alchymist finally in the ground (it’s been almost 10 years in a container).

…I wonder if The Alchymist finished opening up the blooms on the long graceful bud covered cane I’ve been watching with such delight? I wonder how my tomatoes (planted just last week) are doing? I sip my coffee and think about love… and lunch. For all the ordinary things I miss, right now, there’s also this awareness that I was missing out on a lot of the joy in them, because my brain was just so fucking fatigued, and my “buffers” so overloaded I could not process new information easily, or even just “find my joy” in simple pleasures. Too tired. It wasn’t a physical thing at all. My partner’s well-wishes as I prepared for the weekend away had included something very telling – he said “have fun being bored!” He gets it; I just needed to put shit on pause. Like, for real, just “stop everything” and chill. Walk. Nap. Write – maybe. Paint? Maybe. I came prepared with watercolor gear and sketchbooks… I never touched any of it, nor opened my Kindle to read. LOL

…As it turned out, I mostly just walked, and napped. LOL I meditated, sitting on the shore, listening to the waves approach and recede. Listening to the wind in my ears. I sat on the balcony of my hotel room, watching the ocean be an ocean, and listening to the passing seagulls ask about my day. I gazed into the milky gray cloudy sky for hours. Now and then I ventured out to walk along the beach again. Mostly, I spent time with my own thoughts, my own feelings, my own experience, without judgement or attachment or assumptions or expectations or inflicting any sort of demands upon myself. It was time I needed.

Chilly, windy, and gray

You know what I didn’t do? I didn’t write. I didn’t read. I didn’t paint. I didn’t sketch. I didn’t go out for fancy meals or explorations of the retail scene. I didn’t interact with many people. I didn’t have much cause to use words aloud or hear the sound of my own voice, aside from a couple welcome phone calls with my partner. I simply did the thing I needed most; I embraced the solitude and quiet, and let myself “catch up” mentally, and get some cognitive rest. Funny thing, although I was initially a bit disappointed about the gray coastal weather, I realize looking at it now that it was quite perfect for the need; almost featureless unexciting skies, and the ceaseless somewhat uniform sound of wind and waves didn’t add any “excitement” or eye-catching wonder to the vista beyond the balcony. 🙂 It was as a neutral canvas, blank, and ready to be painted upon with my choices.

…I say that, though, about the skies and the weather, as if it is “true”, solidly real, and “final”. It isn’t a complete picture at all; it’s subjective, and quite selective, as far as recollections go. It’s equally true that yesterday the afternoon was quite sunny (although the massive cloud bank that had wrapped the shoreline Friday – and again this morning – appeared only to “pull back a bit”, and never wholly dissipated). 🙂 Funny how that works. I am reminded how much of my individual experience is created within my own head – and how real that still feels. It’s worth being aware of that; it gives me so much power to change my experience of my life. That’s a lot of power.

What is also true.

I’ve finished my coffee. It’s still quite early. There is ample time for another walk along the beach before I return home. Time, even for another coffee. 🙂 There is, too, time to begin again. 🙂 I feel much more ready for that than I have in awhile. 🙂

I’m finishing my first coffee on a Saturday morning. The temperature dropped during the night, and I woke to a frosty morning. I share some time with my Traveling Partner, then head to my studio to read the news, write, and think about the day. I’ll walk a favorite trail when the morning warms up a bit. Run an errand. Do some laundry. Paint. Seems a good day for all those things. 🙂

…I’ll bake cookies, too; I love the smell of freshly baked cookies filling the house on a weekend. I don’t find a cookie-scented candle to be an adequate substitute. lol

My neck hurts. My head aches… but I slept well, and deeply, and woke feeling rested and “well”, in spite of the pain. I mean… let’s be real, it’s a rare thing for me to be utterly free of pain. Clearly, letting “pain” be a defining quality of my experience, or day, generally would be a poor choice. I let it go, as much and as often as I can, and move on with other things. My attention can be better spent than wallowing in chronic pain. I acknowledge it, do what I can about it, and invest as little time in any of that as I reasonably can. Better to savor the delights the day has to offer. 😀

The head cold I was starting to develop became a definite nothing much at all. I was wholly over it within 2 days. This morning, I’d nearly forgotten it was part of my week until my partner asked me how I was feeling this morning. lol

The news this morning is peculiarly… fine. I mean, sure, there’s some sparks of drama here and there, and clearly the impact of the change in administration is only beginning to be felt, but… so far? I gotta say, it’s nice to wake up to fact-based news each morning. I appreciate real questions, frank, considered, answers – and an administration with an actual plan? Bonus! I find the return (in progress) of civility to be quite a relief from the savage chaos and disappointing ugliness of the national discourse over the prior four years. I hope it’s a trend, and that we can sustain it. I don’t feel vaguely sickened every time I read an article about what is going on in Washington D.C. There’s still so much work to do, to create a society in which we are all equal, we all have an opportunity to thrive, and no one is being held back because of their skin color, religion (or lack of one), gender, sexual preference, country of origin, or immigration status. It’s lovely to see us getting on with that, instead of walking back decades of progress to stand in the cesspool of our historical hatreds and pettiness.

A mile on a winter morning, walking, thinking.

Everything about this morning feels very much like the sunshine peeking through the window shade this morning; hinting at a sunnier day ahead. It’s a good time to assess my long-term goals, and refocus my attention on what matters most, and where this path leads. It’s certainly a good time to begin again. 🙂