Archives for posts with tag: walking the walk

I will soon be measuring self-care in miles kilometers… or maybe pounds kilograms. I’m looking forward to my camping trip. Excited about the location. Excited about the downtime. Giving my gear a little side-eye. There is real effort involved in packing my gear to the site, and then packing it back out. I’m not even bitching – a lot of things require a handful of verbs and some real effort. Sweat.

The forecast is for some sunny summer weather. Not horrifically hot (or I’d cancel and stay home), and definitely summer. There is a small chance of rain showers about mid-way through my trip. My Traveling Partner teases me about the potential I may give up on it and come home early. I often do. About 40% of my camping plans face some sort of significant change between plan and execution. I don’t take that personally about myself – it’s not a lack of commitment to the adventure. It’s more a firm commitment to skillfully taking care of myself. I’m okay with that. ūüėÄ

I still haven’t found my Kindle. My Traveling Partner gently suggests, perhaps, maybe, there is some limited potential that I may have, inadvertently, tossed it out in some careless or absent-minded moment? I can’t eliminate that possibility. I’ll no doubt have to replace it at some point. In the meantime, it’s not a high priority, and I’ve got plenty of bound books. I pick a couple for the trip. My partner buys me a book he thinks I’d enjoy and I add that to my items to be packed.

Looks like an interesting selection. Where to begin? Feynman.

I am looking forward to this handful of hot days with a light heart. A few miles on the trail and a couple days in the trees with my camera sounds really good, and I am ready to go. ūüôā One more night of good sleep here at home, and coffee with this human being I hold so dear, and then… some time listening to myself think. ūüėÄ

It’s time to begin again.

I’ve got my dark moments, and certainly I have occasional doubts that ‘it’ is ‘worth it’ at all; it is the struggle that still fuels so much of my writing. Emotions can be intense, unexpected, and they cover a grand spectrum of human experience, so having a few that are unpleasant seems a given. While those things are what they are, I appreciate life, generally, and actually hope to live a very long time; I’ve often said I’d like to be around for 2083…I’d be 120. That’s a lot of living. Years and years of living in fact, surely qualifying as ‘a long time’. It seems doable, given ideal conditions; the oldest person living today is getting pretty close to that 120 mark, herself, and reportedly people have lived longer. As goals go, it’s hard to beat ‘live a long time’.

With potentially another 70 or so years to go, it changes the face of my perspective on living…I spent about a decade as a child, and another 10¬†years honing my skills to be recognizably adult (although lacking in life experience)…finally reaching 21, which wasn’t of particular value or legitimate significance; I was already a soldier, already unhappily married, already able to drink, already owned a car and a house, already voting – and still just as likely to be discouraged from using, or prohibited¬†from having,¬†the decision-making power of autonomy over reproduction and sexual values – because that’s how women are often treated, regardless of age, but most especially as young adult women. I spent my 20s rather wastefully racking up experiences of a variety of sorts without any particular reflection or personal growth. I took a lot of damage. I inflicted some of it on myself.

"Broken" 14" x 18" acrylic and mixed media with glow.

“Broken” 14″ x 18″ acrylic and mixed media with glow.

I entered my 30s exiting¬†a violent marriage, without much to show for it besides a small number¬†of very special possessions I would cling to with great care¬†for decades to come, only to see some of the most precious of those rare positive mementos lost to the destructive force, or disregard, of others farther along on life’s journey. (Attachment is a losing game.)

I fell in love for the first time in my 30s, and although I recognized the experience as being significant, it didn’t last. It likely wouldn’t have lasted even if I had had the skills to nurture it at the time, it was built on a shaky foundation.

Time passes. I’ve grown. Changed. Built on what seems to be working. Torn down a lot of what wasn’t working at all. I’m in a very different place than I once was…and still the journey continues. ¬†I have a lot less to show for 52 years than many people do (and more than others). I don’t own a home of my own. I don’t own a car of my own. I am not prepared for retirement in any adequate fashion. 100% of everything I own at this point in my life will fit in a modest sized bedroom – what isn’t furniture fits in a closet, if the art is hanging on the walls. Most of my possessions are paintings, or books, and a few boxes of precious crystal and porcelain breakables that are for now put away for safety. It hasn’t always been this way, and when¬†I am not mindful of¬†the risk of ‘second dart suffering’ related to attachment and loss, contemplating the losses over time carries quite an emotional punch. My brain is willing to attack me on this tender spot; I have sometimes chosen poorly, and I am living the outcome of those choices.

I am walking my own path; sometimes  it seems clear, sometimes less so.

I am walking my own path; sometimes it seems clear, sometimes less so.

I am not where I want to be in life. On the other hand… I’ve got 70 years or so to get there, and I’m in a better place from which to move forward. 70 years to understand what matters most to me. 70 years to be fitter, wiser, healthier, calmer. 70 years to learn to love more skillfully, and to invest in growth. 70 years to make better choices. 70 years to build, to grow, to change… 70 years to practice. The saying is ‘practice makes perfect’ – what am I perfecting? What do I want of my life?¬†This is not a question anyone can answer for me, and it has been a grave mistake in judgment in past moments of ennui, hurt, or chaos, to abdicate my role, or to compromise, in making the choices about what that desired life looks like for me.

Building the path as I walk it.

Building the path as I walk it; how else? No one knows my journey like I do…

I’m feeling some better this morning, though I slept badly. I’ll nap later, perhaps. I’ll spend the day doing laundry, preparing for my camping trip – if I go, the ‘last minute’ preparations [for me] happen today. If I find I am too sick to go, I will have spent a chill fun day playing with my camping gear – I don’t see that it is really any different from if I were a kid playing with any other sort of toys, housebound with a head cold on a rainy day. ūüôā ¬†I am hopeful that I’ll still be going camping – it’s the Vernal Equinox, missing out is kind of … well… missing out; there’s only one each year. This camping trip is a bit more than a weekend; 4 nights, 4 days, and a chance to meditate at length and at leisure, and to consider what I want of my life. (The future is here, and it’s always a good time to choose more wisely about the future than I did in the past.)

More questions than answers, and seeking illumination with a beginner's mind...

More questions than answers, and seeking illumination with a beginner’s mind…

This is the basic question I will be considering on this trip – in case you want to take it for a test drive, yourself: – If I could know¬†with certainty that I will be living another 70 years, am I content with the life I am living right now? If not, what will I change to¬†live¬†the life I most want to live? What qualities of my day-to-day experience are precious to me? What do I change to experience more of those things? Yep. Fundamentally it the same question I have been asking throughout 2015; what do I want of my life? It is one question that simply isn’t ever about anyone but me. Life isn’t a bus ride, it’s more like a solo hike. The will, the direction, the motive power, and the resources over time, are mine. The choices? Also mine. I enjoy sharing my life with love and lovers…this, though, is my journey;¬†I am the cartographer, the map is of my own making, the destination, too, must be of my choosing, sharing some portion of the journey does not change that.

The map is not the world...but the journey may be the destination.

The map is not the world…but the journey may be the destination.

Today is a very good day to live my life on my own terms. Isn’t it always? Today is a good day to treat the world well, while finding my own way. Today is a good day for good-natured acceptance of the humanity of others, and to be content that their decision-making is likely to differ from my own. Today is a good day for good self-care, and healthy indulgence of things that feel good – and do no harm to others. Today is a good day to be the person I most want to be – when I can – and to dust off my knees when I stumble, and keep going. Today is a good day to choose my own path, and to walk it. Today is a good day to change my world.

Is enlightenment found in embracing contentment in this precious moment?

Seeking illumination, I am content to find lightness of being.

I was not up to taking my new backpack for a test hike yesterday, when I started my day. I was also not really up to it a bit later in the morning, after yoga, and when I walked – without my pack – to the neighborhood farmer’s market, either. ¬†Afternoon came around, and a partner asked me what I thought of the hike at Cooper Mountain, and handed me a map. ¬†I looked it over pretty fearlessly; I wasn’t even considering it as a ‘right now’ option, just looking at a map. Could I do the distances involved? It looked like it. Could I handle the terrain? That looked okay, too, with the possible exception of some steeper bits, that I felt sure I could work ¬†up to pretty quickly…

Oh - hello right now!

Oh – hello right now!

In moments we were off, headed down the road toward adventure. ¬†According to the hiking app I installed on my smart device, by day’s end we’d managed more than 3 miles of varied terrain (3.4 for me, 3.8 for my partners who took on one more loop of trail than I did). It was good fun, and my pack fit well, felt comfortable, and delivered on the utterly necessary hydration piece I was concerned about. ¬†I felt far more capable in practice than I had convinced myself I was. ¬†It felt extraordinary to knock down that damaging notion and replace it with a sense of strength and capability. ¬†Old skills and knowledge were at the ready, and I found being open to learning new technologies far less stress-inducing than hanging on to ideas that are now out-of-date (good-bye cotton, hello modern wicking fabrics!). It was fantastically fun and I am already eagerly exploring maps of the area for hikes that are easily within reach. It felt fantastic to be outside, with my partners, walking through the lovely countryside.

The wild roses were in bloom, pretty much everywhere.

The wild roses were in bloom, pretty much everywhere.

There were endless vistas...

There were endless vistas…

...paths to points beyond...

…paths to points beyond… forests...

…cool forests…

...sun-dappled trails...

…sun-dappled trails…

...and lovely expanses of meadow filled with every possible wildflower.

…and lovely expanses of meadow filled with every possible wildflower.

It was an afternoon well-spent, savored, and enjoyed in good company.

It was an afternoon well-spent, savored, and enjoyed in good company.

I wasn’t sad to head for home when we reached our vehicle; I was beat! The drive home was punctuated with laughing comments about sleeping well that night. It was a lovely experience.

Strangely… I did not sleep well. Okay, to be fair, I slept well enough, but not for very long, and the remaining many hours of night were spent split between meditation, and wondering why meditation wasn’t resulting in sleepiness. Ever. lol. For now I am awake, alert, content, and facing the work week feeling good. ¬†Perhaps I’d simply had enough rest? I guess it is possible, although 4 hours is rarely sufficient for me; I may notice the lack by day’s end.

Until then, though, and even after… today is a very good day. It’s a very good day just as it is, and that’s a nice way to begin it.

Strange night. I crashed pretty early, and pretty sleepy. I woke fairly frequently, returning to sleep with minimal effort. I experienced the night as alternating unpredictably between ‘frozen wasteland’ and ‘sweltering tropical swamp’, a common enough experience these days as I trudge the last mile of real estate in Hormone Hell. ¬†It wasn’t ‘a bad night’, just strange.

I woke abominably early, especially for a day off, and figured I’d go ahead and get up; my first choice of activity was meditation, and I spent quite a while practicing Savasana; it’s exceptional for a deep down level of relaxed awareness. It’s also exceptional for returning to the land of dreams, and indeed I found myself ready and able to cash in that token for another hour or two of sleep, and dreams. ¬†I woke later, made coffee, and settled in for some quiet study time in the twilight of dawn. Books and blogs, catching up on old favorites, and exploring new ones. I do love words.

I woke with plans to explore a local nature park on foot with my new hydration daypack, getting used to the weight, and encumbered movement; I prefer to travel light when I’m out and about, sometimes eschewing even a handbag, in favor of a lighter, smaller, card case or simple folding wallet (or my id and a handful of badly folded bills shoved into a pocket, let’s be honest). ¬†My partners recent interest in outdoor fun got me excited, too. Yesterday I shopped for a pack, and eventually found what I was looking for to get started with.

It's purple!!

It’s purple!!

I am amused by how often one partner or another has to remind me I am not in the Army now. lol. I am delighted by this compact hydration pack and it’s very very purple color; it is not OD green. ūüôā ¬†It’s also not a man’s pack and fits me better than anything the Army ever issued me. ¬†It’s not a big pack, and it isn’t intended for weeks of forward deployment. What it is, is large on water at 100 oz, and¬†compact at 10 liters of volume. I was so excited that as soon as I got home I filled the reservoir, fitted it, packed the few odds and ends from my basic gear list that I’ve already got and wore it around the house for a while, like a kid with new super hero pajamas. ¬†I eagerly planned, then, to spend much of today out and about, walking the trails of a nearby nature park, and getting acclimated to walking with weight on my busted up back; safety first.

There is so much to explore...

There is so much to explore…

Real life is not what our desires and expectations dictate, it is what it is. I woke this morning, early. I woke this morning content and serene. I also woke this morning with stiff knees and ankles and a noteworthy backache. So. Maybe not today; there are more days ahead on the calendar, and time for life and love. Today, perhaps, is a better day for reading, writing, laughing, and for laundry, and gardening, and a second cup of good coffee. Today is a good day to be patient with myself, and to enjoy life gently.

Today is a good day to change the world.