Archives for posts with tag: walking my own path

Some mornings every step is painful. Others not so much. Either way, I generally enjoy my morning walk on a weekday before work, and on weekends whenever the fancy strikes me. I enjoy being out among the trees, most especially, or alone on a wind swept meadow, or at the edge of the changing tide listening to the call of sea birds. There’s a lot to enjoy in life. I wasn’t always able to enjoy that, and there was a time when every step on every walk was punctuation for unspoken thoughts, and unhealed heartbreak, and each pause to snap a picture of a flower was an attempt to do something, anything at all, just a little differently than I had before. Every step, and every mile, on this journey has mattered. Every step, and every mile, matters still – and I’m still walking. The difference now, most mornings, is that I am walking, and smiling. 🙂

…What I’m not doing nearly as much is writing

My morning walk is just as night becomes day. The world is quiet and filled with promise.

I started this blog back in 2013. Here it is, 2021. 8 years on, and I’m in a very different place as a human. Perfectly perfect? Nope. Happily ever after? Hardly. Content and well-cared-for? Generally speaking, yes, and it’s more than I could have imagined, honestly, and I’m fairly certain I don’t need more than this life, right here, as I am living it now. It’s enough. Which, if I’m honest about it, feels a little odd sometimes. What about all of the everything else? Don’t I want or need a piece of that, too? I don’t think I do, with regard to most of the “extras” life may tempt me with from afar. I’m blasted with advertising daily, but very little of any of it gets my interest, even for a moment. Occasionally, some practical something-or-other gets my attention but mostly I’m here at home, hanging out with my Traveling Partner listening to music or watching videos, or playing video games. I’m here at home, beginning the season’s gardening tasks and spending happy hours flipping through garden catalogs, eyes wide with wonder and delight at lovely flowers that have no business in this garden, but… damn, so pretty! My morning walk takes me past other houses, other gardens.

…We each walk our own mile. We each “tend our own garden”. We are each having our own experience. Sometimes it’s hard, and we need help, sometimes it’s a joy and the labor feels effortless. Where do you want to go? It matters for walking those miles, doesn’t it? And that garden? What are you planting in it? Can it thrive in your garden. Yes, obvious metaphors for growth, for self-care, for living life. I’m good with that; it gives me a way to understand myself, and my experience. 🙂

There are sunrises…

I take a minute this morning to think about how far this journey has taken me, and how much joy my partnership brings me, and how much I have to be grateful for.

…there are sunsets.

I’ve been every bit as lax about staying in touch with friends and family, lately, as I have been at sitting down to write each day. It’s Spring here – my first in this place. 🙂 I’m savoring each sunbeam and each raindrop and watching the season develop in the view beyond the deck.

Still taking pictures of flowers. 🙂

I think about this journey to “home”, too… by this time last year, we were house hunting with some seriousness. By the end of May, we’d seen this house and made an offer on it. It’s been nearly a year of finally being home. That first couple of summer months were busy, laborious, and somewhat chaotic as we got moved and settled in and dealt with our first homeownership challenges (a hot tub needing repair, a leak in an exterior wall, figuring out where everything ended up). I’m eager to see the summer all over again – I don’t recall what it looks like. LOL

Life isn’t perfect. Whose is? I’m fortunate, though, and I am grateful. I sip my coffee and wonder if it is time to “wrap this up” and move on to other things… or simply trust that a new cadence will develop that feels natural? I’m starting to spend more time thinking, reading, and looking over creative projects. The garden calls to me. The trees beyond the deck beckon me into the forest to wander hidden trails, and camp under the stars. This life, here at home, is beginning to feel… properly real. I feel more comfortable with my developing routine… a walk in the morning, coffee with my Traveling Partner, a break a little later… Working from home feels natural now, and fits comfortably into my idea of living life well. Now to sort out when I like to write, in this gentle new way of living my life. 🙂

…Incremental change over time… I remind myself to be patient…

It’s time to begin again.

I haven’t been writing as often or as regularly. Are you missing me? I’m sorry. It’s Spring, you see, and this new job… life feels quite busy. Filled with tasks, meetings, conversations with my Traveling Partner about the perfect placement of “bass traps” and how best to fill the house with beautiful music. There are flowers blooming. There are others yet to be planted. Time ticks quickly by without me noticing, and days have gone by, again. 🙂

Primroses in the garden.

Maybe this is simply another step on this long journey? I sip my coffee and look around my studio, here, at home. It’s also my office, and the work day will begin shortly. I feel safe and content in this place – the space, yes, but also this time in my life. How odd. When did this contentment arrive? This odd little “oh, hey, yes, this is who I am” sort of feeling that also feels… okay? When did I find this loving good humor with which to face my relationships? This sense of loving kindness that says “it’s okay that we’re cross with each other right now – it hardly matters because there’s just so much love to be shared” feels new and enduring… has it always been within reach? Is it fragile or likely to fade in some moment of impatience? There’s part of me that wonders how one could ever be cross in the context of this much love… and I smile, remembering that “cross” isn’t really a “state of being” so much as a feeling. Emotional weather, not emotional climate – at least for me, personally, here, now.

…How much have I changed? How is it I still recognize myself at all? (And, how is it I can still make a cup of coffee this damned bad??? LOL)

I sip my coffee and sit with this contentment… contentedly. 🙂

Life is still pretty real. There is no “perfect” to attain. No A+ report card to receive. No ideal state of ease that never demands more of me. Shit breaks. Things need to be maintained. There’s always housekeeping to stay caught up on. Details. In fact, my Traveling Partner sticks his head in the door and gently pleads for assurance that I will “take care of the aquarium today, please?”; the pump is being a bit noisy, and one of the intakes is a bit blocked. I didn’t do my best work with upkeep tasks yesterday, sort of rushing through it between meetings during the work day. I assure him I’ll take care of it on my first break from work this morning; I know that sound grates on his nerves, and I also know that my fish rely on my attention to enjoy a good quality of life. So. No perfect here – and there’s always something that needs doing.

…It’s still important to take breaks, get rest, enjoy leisure, and really savor every lovely pleasant moment life and love offer. It’s a bit like an emotional savings account that is there for me “in case of emergencies” – funding, in a sense, the continued contentment and resilience when things do go sideways – and they will. I’m still very human. I don’t expect that to change.

It’s an utterly ordinary Thursday morning on a work day. This is a fairly ordinary suburban life in a small town in 21st century America. Nonetheless… there is much to do with the day ahead, and it wants a beginning. 🙂 Am I ready? Does that even matter? 😉 If I’m not – I can begin again.

Time for a reset! It’s the last day at this job. There are a handful of days before the new one begins. Between now and then… new glasses… a vaccine (yay! my turn!)… then… what? How can I clearly and distinctly separate the one from the other, put down any stray baggage picked up along the way, and get some much needed “real down time”? I ask my Traveling Partner for his thoughts… he says out loud the words I am thinking in my own head, “Why not get a room at the coast, spend some time walking on the beach?” For real… why not, indeed? Caution + mask + social distancing + vaccinated…? Sign me up!

I make the reservation… beach view. I find my “weekend bag”. Camera. Tri-Pod. Sketchbook. Watercolors. Brushes. I start powering up my power brick, my laptop… and second-guessing all of it. Maybe I just go without all that fuss and bother and just… sit watching the waves, listening to the sea birds and the breezes, breathing along with the tempo of the world… Maybe. It’s a chance to embrace change.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I woke with a headache and a stuffy head. A cold? Allergies? I’m not certain. Already there is uncertainty creeping into the day. I’m dealing with arthritis pain today, too, but… I’m not sure whether it is because the weather is chilly, or for some other reason. More uncertainty. I’m working through the final week at this job, ready to step into a role in a new place – there’s certainly (lol) no certainty about what that future experience will hold. Perspective matters; my sense of “certainty” is quite often simply a choice to favor one way of viewing circumstances over another, not really anything to do with what I do or don’t actually know. What do I even actually “know” with legitimate certainty? What do you “know”? How did you test and verify that knowledge? Or… did you simply sip it up with a cognitive straw based on what someone else said they “know”, and you’ve chosen to be fine with that? I mean… I can’t judge harshly on that. We all do it. Might be good to do that less, though…

I sit in a rainy forest, along a wet dirt road, near a puddle, listening to the rain fall, thinking things over… Well, not really… it’s a video, and a moment of reflection over coffee, is all. It’s “not real”… I mean, in the sense that I am not actually there. It’s quite real, inasmuch as it is a video of a real place and time. So… Moving on with the uncertainties…

I’d planned to walk the trail, but the park is still closed after the recent storms.

There’s a work day ahead. I also need to run to the store. These things feel “certain”. I mean, they’ll definitely happen, right? There are still a ton of assumptions that go into that carefully crafted feeling of certainty. I turn it over in my head, admiring my handiwork; that’s some careful craftwork, there. I feel comfortable with it, as “reality” goes. I’ll likely make choices and take actions that lead to those things coming to pass, more or less as expected.

…Expectations… Assumptions…

I breathe with the timer on my desktop, listening to the rain fall. In spite of my stuffy head, and in spite of my pain, and in spite of “life’s uncertainties” – which is, like, everything to do with living life – I feel pretty okay right now. That is a reality I can definitely embrace.

…Of course, I’ve still got to begin again. My results will continue to vary. All of that is okay, too. I’m just practicing. 😉

I’m sipping my Sunday morning coffee in solitude. Best that I do so. I’m in a lot of pain after a long walk on a windy winter beach, yesterday, which, while it provided wonderful time to reflect and listen to my own thoughts, was also physically taxing. I’m definitely glad I wore base layers, too; it was chilly!!

Windy, rainy, cold, and the tide coming in. There’s no stopping the tide.

Things went seriously sideways Friday night, and Saturday’s walk on the beach was moody and bleak. It felt wholly necessary, but there was little joy in the moment. This saddens me, even now. It is, at this point, just something I’m adding to the recollection. I breathe, exhale, and let that go.

…I got some great pictures…

Friday might not have turned into the emotional shitstorm it did if I had been paying more attention… or… if I were altogether someone else, I suppose. My Traveling Partner woke in pain Friday morning, and was in an absolutely foul mood as a result (not unlike where I find myself this morning). He made a point of saying so, and was very kind and careful in our interactions all day, although he was cross and irritable. I finally ended my work day and … the whole delicate considerate assembled-with-care framework crumbled. I’m still sipping my first coffee, right now, this morning, and my brain is not yet entirely “on line”; I struggle to recall specifically what went wrong. Something I said, or my reaction to something he said, and suddenly we were lobbing raw emotions at each other in the form of angry words. I wept. We took turns shouting. We both ended up triggered – and triggering each other – and just fucking mired in our individual pain and heartache. To call it “unpleasant” seems insufficient. To make more of it than that seems simultaneously disrespectful of any underlying legitimate concerns that ought be addressed with love and consideration – but also seems likely to elevate those painful hours to something more important than what they were. Chaos fueled by emotions. Emotions that had less to do with the moments we found ourselves in than other moments, in other relationships, that left us scarred. Both unpleasant and unfair. How is it “unfair”? Isn’t it always unfair to ask love to sweep up the mess left behind by circumstances that had little, if any, actual love in them?

Friday morning became a painting, instead of an argument. 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas, untitled.

Yesterday was strained and awkward. This morning I woke up in pain, and found myself saying so, much in the same manner that he had on Friday morning. A cold chill rolls up my spine, and my mouth goes dry, and my anxiety spikes over fear that today will be another Friday, and end poorly. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I do it again. Then another breath. Followed by another. I keep at the breathing until the hinted-at-future-but-not-now feelings of anxiety recede. I definitely don’t need to invite or cultivate that shit.

I sit with my coffee this morning, thinking about my walk, my work, my relationships… I consider how my TBI affects the way I communicate, not just the part where I talk (a lot), or interrupt (too much), but also the part that is the step beyond listening; my ability to make sense of what I am hearing, and to correctly reply to what has actually been said. I do pretty well, generally, but… when I am tired, or in pain, or distracted, I’m not just “less good at that”, I’m pretty horrible – and when I look at that, and also consider the “performance pressure” I tend to feel that pushes me to answer any question very quickly, I see how easily this can go very wrong, leaving someone trying to have a conversation with me feeling perhaps I am not listening at all. It’s rough. It can go a bit like this:

“Did you hear from your friend about that painting?” someone asks.

“No.” I say, “Well, they texted me. I didn’t feel up to talking right then, so I said I would call back today after work,” I add, followed by “They did say they really like the painting, in their message to me.”

(no shit, a real conversation I had)

So… yeah. What the hell?? When I see it written down, I totally get why that would be not just incredibly frustrating to wade through to get a simple “Yes, they liked it.” It also tends to seem potentially … dishonest? Misleading? Manipulative? Crafty? Vague? Withholding? Dissembling? A whole bunch of adjectives could apply. It’s not actually about any of that, though. I started answering the question I was asked before I actually understood the question at all. Along the way, my brain mixed up “hear from” with “speak to” – similar but quite different – and entirely missed the point of the fucking question until I’d provided a bunch of utterly unsolicited other information. So… slow down? Fuck yes. Easy, right? Well… maybe? It’ll take practice. I’ll say very bluntly that I’ve had “reply immediately” literally beaten into me (first marriage was a domestic violence nightmare I’m lucky to have survived). It’s hard to change behaviors that were heavily reinforced with violence or trauma. It takes more work and practice and commitment and awareness and encouragement and kindness and support than I can describe. It can be done. My results vary, though, and every failure is heart-breaking for at least a moment of pure distilled disappointment with myself.

…This isn’t “all about me” though. This particular challenge is very specifically the sort that commonly affects the people interacting with me, most. I’m kind, honest, open, and well-intentioned, but I’ve also got PTSD… and I’ve got brain damage. That’s going to present a combinations of characteristics some people just aren’t going to be willing to deal with long-term. So far my Traveling Partner still chooses to share this complicated journey with me. I’m very fortunate, and very grateful. I know it isn’t easy.

Caution.

So, yesterday, I walked on the beach alone, reflecting on my challenges, my abilities, love, and life, and work, and gave some thought to life’s curriculum on the topics of boundaries, and of communication. I was missing my partner long before I noticed my knees were aching, and headed home when the rain began to fall heavily.

I find myself, now, bringing my thinking “back to basics”: breathing, listening deeply, my “Big 5” relationship values (Respect, Reciprocity, Consideration, Compassion, Openness), and the book my own beloved recommended to me, early in our relationship…

It’s hard to go wrong with good basics…

Yep. I am re-reading The Four Agreements, again. Sometimes beginning again is simply a step forward, with new thinking. Sometimes beginning again means a new commitment to something that is proven to work well, when applied consistently. Now there is a day ahead of me… I see sunshine through the window shade. The aquarium needs maintenance. There is housework to be done. In spite of aching knees, I’d enjoy a walk in the forest, now that the storm damage from the recent ice storm is cleared away. All of that, and Love to nurture besides… looks like a busy day ahead.

…I guess it’s time to begin again…