Archives for posts with tag: walking my own mile

I woke earlier than I needed to, this morning. No reason. Maybe I’d gotten enough sleep? My anxiety started to increase a few minutes after I woke. Yesterday morning was like this, too. There are steps to take, and they do work pretty well. The key detail is that I have to actually practice those practices. Reliably. Thinking about it isn’t particularly effective; however well I know that there are practices that help reduce my anxiety, doing them is what is required. Verbs. Action. Practice.

What works? Probably a lot of things. I started here. And here. And here.

What works for me, may not be what works for you – but that may not be an obvious certainty until you’ve tried them. So… what worked (for me) yesterday? Meditation. Good self-care. Positive self-encouragement. Taking a walk. And (for me) a bonus; my Traveling Partner was out of the house for a couple hours hanging out with a friend, and I got some much needed solo time (actual solitude, spent actually at home) in which to meditate (more), read, and find an hour of real ‘cognitive stillness” (no TV, no music, no notifications, no conversation, no other human presence…just… quiet). I recognize that the profound desire for “cognitive stillness” and solitude, isn’t a thing for which we all have a uniform need. Some people would definitely not enjoy that kind of deep, stark, uninterrupted stillness, and some people find solitude, itself, quite terrifying. Finding the practices that truly support our individual needs, and our own emotional wellness, is complicated. Try a lot of things. Stick with what works. Be mindful and compassionate with others; what works for you may not work for them. We are each having our own experience. πŸ™‚

Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a minute, and sort things out.

I suspect that a considerable portion of my anxiety, right now, isn’t properly my own. I’m picking it up from relationships and circumstances, from the media news, and sort of “inheriting” the anxiety of people dear to me, as they work through their own baggage, and deal with their own deal. Nothing about that results in the anxiety being less real; it is what it is. I’m feeling feelings. The feelings are uncomfortable, and mess with my mind, and my emotional comfort. No reason to take it personally. I have practices to help with that. Practicing those works. (Talking or thinking about them, as practices, without practicing them, does not work at all. lol Just being real. There are verbs involved.)

Once I noticed the anxiety creeping in around the edges of my awareness again this morning, I immediately began taking steps. Breathing. Meditation. Checking my email. (Um, no. Not that last one. lol) A quiet cup of tea. A bit of reading. I look out the window thinking about taking a walk. The sun isn’t even up yet. It’s quite dark. So… too soon. lol Instead, I reflect on how meaningful and appreciated that few minutes walking yesterday really was.

It was a beautiful day for it. Clear, and chilly without being cold.

It felt good to be out on the trail. I was grateful for the paved path, and that I remembered my cane, which I am definitely needing for longer walks.

Blue skies and trees illuminated by sunshine became a smile on my face.

I found the walk challenging enough, between slippery bridges still wet from recent rain, and my aching ankle, and popping knee, that I only managed a (fairly gentle) 1.22 miles. It still felt great to be out there, just walking, alone with my thoughts.

Gnothi Seauton. I wisely choose not to walk a distance or paths I am not ready for, today.

The distance was shorter than I could easily cover, fairly recently, but I didn’t take the setback personally. I just enjoyed the walk I actually took. πŸ™‚

It was enough to walk in the sunshine, smiling, watching the squirrels.

I find myself glancing through the blinds, now and then, while I write, this morning, hoping for another good day to take a walk. It looks rainy. My ankle and knee (opposite sides) ache. Letting that stop me is counterproductive for several reasons, so I maintain the intention of “getting out there” for at least a mile. I may try to do this every day…

How else will I see all the squirrels? lol

I enjoyed my recent days of camping quite a lot. I went alone into the forest, and I spent my hours and days in solitude. It was lovely. I went out figuring that the primary activity would be, with fair certainty, a lot of hiking. I was so wrong about what I needed (and possibly, also about “who I am” in some sense). I spent by far the majority of my time simply sitting in quiet meditation – no real “activity”, at all – gazing into the leaves, and into the sky, and through the forest, into the trees.

The perspective I had been seeking turned out to be, generally, very near where I had pitched my tent.

I mean, sure, I put some miles on these boots, no question, more than 5 miles a day, on lovely trails, some shaded, some sunny, and enjoyed each step, and each new observation.

Each step along this path has been worthy in it’s own distinct way, although I don’t always see it at the time I take the step, and the way ahead is not always obvious.

I returned home aware that in any practical regard, what I was seeking turned out to be something I took into the forest with me. It’s built on my every day meditation practice. It was much more obvious, after a few days of any-time-at-all-no-timer-no-clock meditation practice that what I was feeling in the weeks leading up to my camping trip was, perhaps more than anything else, simply that my practice had become inconsistent day-to-day, and I had begun choosing to use my time quite differently, while allowing myself to feel I was “still practicing” (well, sure, in a hit or miss, “only most days, sort of, but not always” sort of way) – and the practical reality was, in fact, that I wasn’t practicing with the consistency that is very much a feature of practice, itself. Well, damn.

…I’d love to enthusiastically chime in, right about here, with something wholly encouraging about “beginning again”, and while, yes, sure, that’s a thing I have going for me, any time, the truth is also that I rather annoyingly allowed myself to be bamboozled by my monkey-mind, always so eager to embrace the next distraction. A “simple” course-correction on this path still requires a healthy dose of verbs, something beyond intention, real decision-making, commitment, and oh, right, following that? Action. Repetition. Practice. (You know, the doing kind of practice!) I smile with some patience and familiarity; I’ve been here before. I’m entirely made of human. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee contentedly, this morning. Meditation wasn’t “easy”, this morning; getting up from the cushion was difficult with my right arm still partially impaired by my recent injury. It was a weird and irritating counterpoint to the pleasantness of meditation, itself, and a reminder of the value of self-awareness for practical purposes. Life lesson? Succinctly? “Slow down. Take the time you need. Approach each task mindfully, committed to, and present in, this moment.” Yep. This is me; learning as I go, repeating each lesson as needed. LOL

I take a moment for gratitude, and thoughts of blue skies, green forests, and summer sunrises – because the value in such moments goes beyond what I can capture in a photograph. πŸ™‚

I take a last swallow of my coffee, as I consider how best to make room for 10 minutes of meditation during my work day, too. I’m certain of the value in it, although I’ve been less than skilled about making the time materialize in my day. I return to the office with a measure of commitment to it that I’ve previously lacked, and thoughts of opening the idea up to my team; we’d likely all benefit from a moment to collect our thoughts, each day, if nothing else.

…And…oh, hey… already time to begin again. πŸ˜€

Sipping coffee, planning for camping, and feeling contented; it’s a pleasant start to the morning. πŸ™‚ I’m excited about my camping trip – and it’s almost here! Next week. Whether I write or not, I’ve no idea, I do know there’s no cell signal available through much of that large beautiful hike-able acreage. Just… none. If my recollection is correct, there’s a hint of a bit of a signal now and then, but only at this one particular spot, and it’s a trek of a couple miles (uphill) to reach it, and it’s not reliable…so… I most likely won’t be posting during that time, regardless whether or not I do write. πŸ™‚

Honestly… lots of past posts to explore, and it’s not as if I’m truly writing wholly original content, is it, since I generally write the same things, most days… drinking coffee… breathing… good self-care… choices, verbs, practicing practices, and beginning again… right? πŸ˜‰ Don’t let yourself down on my account; I’ll be right back. πŸ˜€

There are paths yet to be explored – where will yours take you?

I’m eager for the break in routine, and for the days and nights among the trees. I’m eager to hear bird song, and not traffic, and the loud peeps and chirps and calls of chipmunks and squirrels, instead of the conversation of commuters and random human beings out in the world. I’m eager to read the weather, the actual weather, instead of the news. πŸ™‚

I remind myself not to forget coffee!

I have a list of gear I need to either double-check that I do still have it, or pick it up before I go. I keep adding things to it, and crossing things off. I enjoy camping much more when I am prepared…and I also enjoy traveling light, and without excessive weight or baggage dragging me down. I’ve got a list that makes sense. It’s an observation that doesn’t last long when the next question hits me…

…What if it rains?

I laugh so hard I snort coffee, which is less than pleasant, but now I’m giggling; I literally haven’t made any specific effort to plan for any sort of significant rain. It’s August. Why would it rain? Only… it may, and it could, and it’s been known to happen, and… it’s in the forecast. lol So…?

Like a lot of life’s circumstances, preparedness makes an easier journey, for sure. Also like life, and circumstances, it’s not particularly easy to be prepared for all of everything that could be part of my experience than I might want to… while also traveling light, and keeping baggage to a minimum. The more I am inclined to carry, the more verbs (and effort) will be involved in the journey, itself, and the more there will be to manage, deal with, juggle, find space for, when I arrive at my destination. There are choices to be made. Some circumstances are best accepted, than prepared for in advance in any notable way. (I’m not actually saying rainfall is one of those, I mean… it’s possible to shove rain gear into my backpack without adding a ton of weight to my gear!)

Don’t let a little rain stop you. πŸ™‚

Anyway. Rain is a thing that happens, even in August. I’m giggling because I enjoy the rain… but… I also dislike being soaked to the skin, catching a chill, and miserable because all my gear is soaked. lol There are definitely choices to make, and planning is a useful tool for making them. I give some thought to the rain, and my list, and make some adjustments to also account for chilly nights, and dewy cold mornings. Will I be warm enough? Cool enough? Dry enough? Will I have coffee for the mornings? Will I want paper books, or digital books? Don’t forget to bring a towel! What about tea? Broth? It’s nice to have something hot to sip on that isn’t loaded with caffeine – or sugar. What about sleep…? Do I want my cot, or an inflatable something or other? (I already know I don’t much feel like sleeping directly on the ground, on a thin sleeping mat; I’ll be out there for 4 nights.)

Everything I take on this journey, I’ll have to carry, myself.Β That’s a hell of a metaphor, right there.

I look at the time. Yeah. Already. I smile, and finish my coffee, and put aside my list. Same path, different day. I smile, and grab my keys, and my backpack, and get ready to begin again. πŸ˜€

I slept decently well, and more or less through the night. My coffee is delicious, mild, and the mug comfortingly warm in my hands. I make a point to let go of a small, fairly petty, moment of resentment that attempts to develop; I changed the grinder settings for the coffee grinder at my partner’s suggestion, and my coffee this morning is better. I wasn’t resenting his suggestion, only the lack of understanding that I hadn’t set the grinder as it was with any deliberate intention; it had gotten jostled, and since then I haven’t gotten the settings quite as I like them. I’m pleased with the current settings. The resentment is irrelevant, and lingers only because there was no moment of explicit understanding to satisfy them, when I spoke up. It’s silly to hold on to that, and not at all helpful. πŸ™‚

It was a good weekend. Short. Well, the same length as usual, but feels short. It was a weekend well-spent. I got good rest. I enjoyed a couple great trail walks. I enjoyed the company of my Traveling Partner. It was pleasant.

I woke in a weird place. Maybe it was my dreams? I just feel vaguely… out of step, or as if there is “something going on” that I’m not actually noticing. I know from experience that it doesn’t do to invest time and emotion into such things; they are often illusions, and where they are not wholly imagined, they will be revealed or sort themselves out, in due time. So… I let that go too.

I think about the honeysuckle blooming along the trail I walked this weekend; it reminded me of childhood and “back home”.

I take a breath, exhale slowly, relax, and sip my coffee. I repeat this a handful of times, until I find myself feeling strangely silly; the inclusion of the coffee makes me giggle, although, for me, it is quite common on a Monday morning. The weather report forecasts a very hot day. I’m grateful for air conditioning – although, and this is true, I’m also grateful for blue skies, and sunny days. πŸ˜€ Gratitude to spare.

The vague unsettled feeling I woke with begins to dissipate.

It’s another work week, and already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

“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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜€

I’ve got my favorite site reserved. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜€