Archives for posts with tag: walking my own path

I have spent “too much” of my lifetime feeling “irritated” about one thing or another. lol This morning I woke from a restless-but-deep sleep filled with bad dreams from which I could not wake. They were not specifically “nightmares” and I was not frightened, just… irritated. Bad dreams. I woke still feeling rather unspecifically irked, just generally, at no specific thing, or moment. I feel… annoyed. No idea why. I feel aggravated in advance of any obvious cause. Fussy. Irritable. Cross. Cranky. Rather disinclined to be at all social, and facing a day ahead of me filled with people. Shit. That’s annoying. (To be fair, emotions require no defense, no justification, and take no argument; they are simply feelings. Responses. Reactions. They are what they are.)

How do I figure it’s “too much” over the course of a lifetime? lol Totally subjective; as it turns out, I really dislike these emotional experiences of being aggravated, irritated, fussy, or annoyed. Any particular amount of time spent feeling this way just feels like “too much”, however little it is. 🙂 My life. My experience. My definitions. 😉

I sip my coffee and reflect on irritation… and on pearls. Pearls are lovely. Vaguely luminous in appearance, iridescent, sleek, precious… and they begin their existence as an irritant. Literally, in some cases, a grain of sand in an oyster starts the whole process. The pearl itself? A coping mechanism. The cause? Irritation. It gets me thinking about transformations, generally. How best to turn this morning’s irritation into one of life’s pearls? No idea, just now, but I do find it a lovely promising thought. (So many are!)

This whole TBI-PTSD journey from chaos and damage to manageable wellness is very much about transforming disadvantages to advantages, chaos to order, madness to reason, and hell yes – irritants into pearls. Metaphorical pearls, in this instance, but pearls of great value nonetheless. It’s not something that happens “automatically”. As with many things, there are verbs involved, an effort of will required, and an intention that must be formed before that process even begins – and so much practice!! Omg. So much practice. Incremental change over time is a given, we become what we practice, but it is a notoriously slow process and it often feels as though nothing is changing at all. It’s easy to become frustrated with that, to give up on myself, to give up on change, to give up on eventual actual manageable sustainable emotional wellness… but… change is legitimately a thing that is going to happen, and it will be wrapped in my choices, and my practices. Over time, my irritants may become pearls. (Or, they may not. My results vary.)

It’s a nice thought over my coffee. I pause on another thought, “this too will pass”. Also totally true. This morning’s irritability is what it is – but only that, and nothing more. It’s not sustainable. Emotional weather comes and goes. The climate in this life is pretty mild, much of the time. Contentment is fairly practical, as emotional goals go, sustainable, and something that can be “crafted” from components available in a great many lives, lifetimes, and experiences. Have you had a go at contentment, yet? It’s rather lovely. It lacks many of the dizzying highs of “happiness” – there is no euphoria – it also lacks the deep lows that go with chasing happiness, too. It is more a walk through a pleasant urban green space than a through hike on an unmarked wilderness trail; it is predictably level and comfortable. I find myself smiling past my irritability as my day-to-day contentment becomes a wellspring for more of the same, and slowly my heart fills up on that softer, sweeter, more satisfying emotional content.

My dreams were pretty shitty. They begin to fade from my recollection as my irritation recedes.

It feels, generally, fairly effortless to “begin again” when I feel pretty good. Harder when I feel irritable, angry, or strange. It’s still a choice, and even still a choice entirely available to me – it’s just a bit harder to choose it. Still an option, though. Needing a cognitive reset just to get to that place presents its own challenge. This morning, I find it useful to focus on a metaphor (those pearls) and gratitude (that I’ve come so far, already). It’s super hard to remain irritated (or angry) while feeling grateful or appreciative of something. 😀 (Nice trick, Brain, thanks!) Gratitude is an extraordinary way to hit the reset button on a moment, and find a new beginning – I definitely recommend it.

…And this morning, having begun again, I feel more than usually motivated to get a couple things done before I leave for work. Useful. I finish my coffee, and check my list. 🙂

The concert Friday night was amazing. My ears were still ringing well into the afternoon, yesterday.

I’d had plans to hang out with a friend in the afternoon, yesterday. He messaged considerately early and alerted me he had a conflict. That worked out well; I had quite a bit of housekeeping I wanted to get done, and the result of the uninterrupted time to play house was that I nearly wiped out my list, and even had time to do a bit of grocery shopping. 🙂

The world lost a major chunk of what moved me during my high school years; I read that Malcolm Young of AC/DC had died. I didn’t weep, but I sat a long while listening to the songs I loved then, first several AC/DC tracks that had been my own favorites, then as the morning wore on, random tracks that I loved from those years. It was more fun than tragic, more nurturing than grieving. I enjoyed those songs then, they generally still appeal to me now, though I listen to very different stuff these days, most of the time.

The Thanksgiving holiday ahead of me continues to take shape. I contentedly plan and act on plans, and move through time moment by moment.

I only now notice that I didn’t write yesterday. I smile at the thought of a day so rich in moments that there seemed no suitable moment – or need – to write at all.

A misty autumn morning

It is another day. There are more moments. I woke to a misty autumn morning after a restless night. I slept in. I woke surprised at the lateness of the hour, when I finally woke. I opened the curtains, surprised again to see the sliver of forest adjacent to the deck filled with mist. There are fewer bright autumn leaves clinging to the trees, and more of them on the deck itself. I remind myself to sweep them off, again. The bird bath on the deck rail was partially frozen over; winter is near.

A partially frozen bird bath

It’s time to live in these next moments ahead. I wonder what they hold? I know there are at least opportunities to begin again, and to practice being the human being I most want to be. 🙂 I think I’ll go do those things…

The menu of options in life is… vast. There is so much to choose from, so many directions one could take life, generally. A nearly unlimited array of choices in a complex choose-your-own-adventure experience that layers the consequences of our actions and decision making over a strange randomized mesh of other people’s free will and a sprinkling of circumstances builds our perceivable context, sometimes bamboozling us into thinking we lack control… or at least influence, and choice. Choice. I keep using that word. It’s a good word. It is a word with a lot of power.

Last night I saw The Hip Hop Nutcracker and enjoyed a rather comfortably adult night on the town that included a relaxed walk through a foggy, rainy, urban nightscape, a pleasant dinner, and a little pre-holiday window shopping. It was a lovely evening. Those were my choices.

This morning, I am contentedly grooving to a DJ’s mix that I adore (the DJ? the mix? both? 🙂 I’m just saying this is a good way to start my morning…or end my evening… or fill my time. lol). Another choice.

We don’t hesitate when we make choices about the music we listen to. That’s a pretty easy one, isn’t it? I like this. You like that. We share some experiences. We don’t “get it” sometimes. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal to like music other people don’t care for, or to acknowledge it when I don’t like some particular band, sound, genre, or track.

Music. Clothes. Style of furniture and decor. Colors. TV shows. Foods. Times of day. Our internal “preferences” settings are by far more complicated than any software. We spend a lifetime “building our profile” as human beings. We spend more time becoming who we are than we do being who we are… It seems useful to be aware of that, and to choose. I don’t mean fall into, and then accept, what we are and what we do – I mean think it over, seriously, and choose, willfully.

Who are you? What do you like? What have you chosen? What experiences and choices are a core part of your “profile” in life? Which ones are “just a test drive”? We grow and learn and change (if only the tiniest bit) every day – how much of that are you considering, selecting, guiding, and living with your eyes wide open?

You know this life is yours, right? What are you doing about that? I mean, like, today? 🙂

I listen to the music, grooving and enjoying my coffee, thinking over life and love and choices, and feeling content on a Thursday morning. It’s enough. Hell – more than enough – I may even be… happy. Wow.

This too will pass. lol No kidding, that’s a given. There will be blue days ahead, some headaches, challenges… maybe I will fail myself – or you – or maybe I will fall short of expectations in a less meaningful way, but still feel dissatisfied? Ups and downs and incremental change over time; however far we come, there is farther to go. Choose wisely. Choose willfully. Be the verbs. (It’s sounds easy, but there are verbs involved. lol)

I look at the clock, and into my empty coffee cup. The music plays on… “…keep it moving…keep it moving… keep it moving…

It’s already time to begin again.

This morning I had to admit it; I’ve hit a wall. I’m stalled. I sat for almost an hour staring into the text editor of my blog, fingers – and mind – motionless. What the hell?

I scrolled through Facebook rather mindlessly. I put that aside, aggravated with myself. I tried to read the news, but I don’t actually want to fill my thoughts with that garbage, either. lol I put on music, which satisfies me and fills that cognitive void, but doesn’t “fix” anything. I update my “to do list” – rescheduling all the crap I could have done yesterday to be things I intend to do today. Then I move them to tomorrow. Omg. Seriously?

I pause everything for meditation. No timer. No agenda. Just a few moments of alone time with the woman in the mirror, breathing. Shifting gears from thinking to practicing awareness, only, is what got my attention more clearly focused on this bit of stalled progress. More awareness of the underlying fatigue, the yearning in the background, the loneliness competing with the delights of solitude, the world in fierce competition for my attention with the things that truly matter most to me, personally. It’s a puzzle. How do I snatch my attention, energy, and effort back from the agendas of the media, my employer, and the world?

…With great commitment and a lot of practice, I suppose… there are verbs involved. So many verbs. lol

I get back to my “to do list” and my coffee. I consider the one or two tasks that keep being reliably postponed, rescheduled, pushed off for another day, and wonder if I am allowing those, and my reluctance to deal with them, to derail me generally…? Or… Am I “just being lazy”? (Whose words are those, I wonder?) When I examine the tasks on my list that I’d like to finish up, I can see there isn’t even 2 hours of real work involved… I just… yeah. I just haven’t been doing those things. This is a less than ideally productive approach. lol

Tonight won’t be the time for all that, and it feels inconvenient to want to wipe that list clean now. I smile into my coffee, aware my impatience is one more way my primate brain seeks to distract me from simply doing; I can lead with my frustration and annoyance, become invested in the emotional experience and … not do anything about the things that create the experience. Uh-huh. Well… okay, so I specifically don’t want to do things quite that way, so I get up from my chair, in the middle of my writing and do one thing, and cross it off the list. I sit down smiling, and continue to sip my coffee.

Did you know that checking things off the list gives me a boost? It does. Fairly similar to the feeling of reward and satisfaction I feel when I receive a like on a post, or when I get a notification that someone has messaged me. It’s a very real chemical reward, but does require the bit of effort needed to go from seeing the item on the list, to completing it, to checking it off. I’ve noticed just checking off shit I haven’t done does not produce the same effect – although adding something to the list that wasn’t listed, but got completed, in order to simply check it off is every bit as rewarding as checking off something that has lingered on the list for ages. Do you keep a list? Have you noticed that little jolt of good feeling chemistry, and a sense of accomplishment, when you check things off that list?

Here’s where the verbs pile up, though, like rush hour traffic; I know these things about my experience, and still find myself stalled sometimes, and not doing the verbs. Very human. How to get past that? Push on. I don’t have a better answer. Do one thing. Then do another. Make a point of it. Turn off the TV. Turn off YouTube. Disconnect. Do the thing. Then do another. Make a point of it. Check it off the list. Did something not listed? Add it to the list. Check it off. Repeat. See something else that needs doing? Add it to the list. Do it. Check it off. Repeat. There is a path to completion – it is paved with verbs. lol These chores are not going to do themselves!

Time to begin again. 🙂 I’ve got this list, and a bit of time before work…

…I still got the invitation to join the fun under the big top. That’s sort of how OPD (Other People’s Drama) works; it’s not your own, but nonetheless, it draws you in, consumes your attention, your time, your resources… if you choose to allow that. The alternative, which is to say, choosing to avoid, or depart from, the local circus of human drama means accepting, first, that you can.

Some people cultivate drama, relish it, and insist you sample it with them.

You don’t get those minutes (hours, days, weeks… whatever) of your life spent on drama back. Ever. You likely also don’t recoup any more tangible losses, should you have been so foolhardy as to waste your literal resources on Other People’s Drama. Most often, our compelling, seemingly unavoidable (it isn’t) drama is that of family members, and friends. We may feel “invested”, or obligated to do something about for… reasons. We may think we can “help” (unlikely; drama is chosen by those who love it, and they aren’t going to relinquish all that attention any time soon).

The drama isn’t “real”…

My weekend was weird. I cherish the time I spent with my Traveling Partner. The unexpected drama swirling around an unexpected couch-surfing house guest staying with his other partner was… both unexpected, and dramatic. It was also utterly willful, built on the narrative in said house guest’s head, and entirely untethered from any obvious connection to reality. Chosen. Emotionally invested in. Shared with persistent enthusiasm. I excused myself several times to be away from it altogether. No advice I could offer will alleviate self-selected willful suffering.

…like a mushroom, what is on the surface of most drama is only the outward expression of something far more vast …

Then there was the alternate undercurrent of drama that is simply the ebb and flow of change as my Traveling Partner and his Other get settled into the new location, and adjust to nearer and farther away friendships also adjusting to those changes. Getting to know new neighbors. The welcoming of deepening associations among now-local friends. The boundary-setting and limitations on resources that must sometimes be placed on friends lacking recognition that generosity has limits, that resources are not unlimited, that circumstances change. Learning to live well in an entirely new context. It’s lovely out in the country on their acreage – it is also not city living, at all. Change is a thing. What works when one can just pop down to the big box chain at the large shopping megaplex down the street isn’t necessarily an effective strategy when the nearest neighbor is a drive away, the corner market doesn’t have all the essentials because it is only the size of a storage shed, and “town” is miles down the highway – and more of a village than a town. I’m not being critical of country living – I’m eager to retire and embrace it – it is simply quite a lot different, and requires altogether different strategies to maintain good quality of life. It definitely drove the point home to be part of the experience of shopping for more complete first aid and emergency care gear; there is no chance an ambulance could arrive to deal with a first aid emergency in less than 45 minutes or so out there, at best.

…like raindrops clinging to surfaces after a storm, tears fall, tears linger, tears eventually dry…

The drive home was… surprisingly restful. lol No traffic and no drama. My timing was excellent. I left after enjoying morning coffee with my partner. I got home in the early afternoon, with plenty of time to grocery shop (didn’t need to, didn’t bother), do some tidying up (didn’t feel like it, didn’t bother), and prepare for the week ahead (didn’t need to, already was). I spent the evening meditating, reading, and enjoying the changes in the shadows as afternoon became twilight, and then night.

…there is value in perspective, and looking beyond the storm of the moment…

I still did not wholly escape the whopping helping of OPD that I “enjoyed” over the weekend; more drama when I got home. I (rather humorously, actually) was “unfriended” by a friend – over the other friends we had mutually shared (who, apparently, he also unfriended). I noticed though (while briefly catching up with the world), and, yep, invited drama rather thoughtlessly by asking him what was up with the unfriending? So… he told me. lol Fuuuuuuuuck. Okay, okay. That one’s on me. But – we’re still friends, I think. I even think that matters, since the entire mess was a reaction to an online exchange which I was no part of, and I actually like the guy. I even enjoyed spending some minutes in conversation with him, once we’d moved on from the drama, itself.

…storms pass.

Seriously, though? What is up with all the fucking drama? I mean, I’m not really surprised. We elected drama. We gobble up drama in our feeds every damned day. We make more if we run out. It’s pretty gross, actually; we are not ready to be content, or even to enjoy a moment of quiet. I mean, as a species, or a culture. Me personally? So ready. In fact, I spend much of my time utterly without drama. It’s pleasant. I plan to do more of that. 😀 I’ve even gotten pretty good at it. (If you read my blog regularly, you are probably getting pretty good at it, too. 🙂 )

There’s more to life than drama. Seasons change.

I woke at 2:32 am, this morning, when the power here went out in the strong wind and stormy rainy night. I might have slept through it (most of my neighbors likely did), but the back up power on the aquarium beeps in a friendly but hard to ignore fashion, about every 30 seconds, until shortly before it has done all it can, at which point it beeps rather more aggressively before becoming silent. Once it was silent, I went back to sleep for an hour. The power came back on minutes after the back up power to the aquarium was exhausted (just about perfect, and I remind myself to thank my Traveling Partner, who suggested it), about an hour and a half after the power went out. I dragged myself out of bed earlier than I meant to when my phone, carelessly left on my nightstand, buzzed when morning emails and message notifications began to arrive.

What we contribute to our experience ripples outward into the experience shared with others.

A new day, a new week – hopefully no new drama. lol It’s time to begin again. 😀