Archives for posts with tag: we become what we practice

I woke early with a headache. I didn’t sleep well, waking several times for (sometimes) no obvious reason. More than once I woke from dreams of … noise. Just that. Car noise. Truck noise. Construction noise. I would wake to hear only quiet. No real noise. Back to sleep, to dream of noise. It wasn’t a great night.

I woke earlier than the alarm would have gone off by a bit more than an hour. I got up. Meditation. Some yoga. I felt restless and annoyed, headache persisting. I put on my boots and went for a walk. It was dark, quiet, and still. The chilly morning air felt wonderful. The quiet was lovely. The silhouettes of trees and shrubbery created fantastical scenes ahead of me along the way. The headache persisted.

I returned home, still before dawn and no hint of sunrise visible. I made coffee, and sat down with that – and my headache. I finished off the water in my water bottle while I waited for my coffee to cool enough to drink that, instead. About half-way through my coffee, I admitted that “nothing else” had worked to improve this headache, thus far, and took something for it. My Traveling Partner woke, perhaps I banged the drawer or rattled a pill bottle? We spent a pleasant half an hour or so hanging out with our morning coffee before my work day began.

I started my workday with this headache, and it is with me, even now. A soak in the hot tub in the chill of an autumn morning was lovely. Didn’t help with the headache. Lunch with my partner and his son was quite pleasant, too. Still enduring the headache. I’d taken a stronger headache remedy shortly before lunch, and it’s now about an hour later than we finished that meal. I’ve still got the headache, but… maybe it’s improved a bit? It only hurts when I move… and when I sit still. Sometimes it fades into the background for a moment (that’s definitely an improvement).

…I’m not really just whinging about this headache as much as I mean to be pointing out how important the self-care is, even though it isn’t helping the headache much. The self-care is keeping me from becoming a fucking monster and treating everyone around me badly. That’s worth something. It’s not so much that I can feel any notable improvement where the headache is concerned (I can’t) – but I’m not snarling at people. Not blasting anyone with negative emotion over some small thing. I haven’t lost my sense of humor, or become stern. I’m mostly enjoying my day, mostly being someone I can appreciate in my interactions with others (from my own perspective). I’m in pain. I’m not enjoying that, but I’m also not devolving into some shattered broken down thing, or causing a fuck ton of chaos for everyone around me. That’s worth something. Apologies only go so far, so often – sooner or later we have to take steps to change problem behavior. For real. Headaches and all.

Fuck this headache, though. Damn.

It’s a lovely Saturday. My Traveling Partner and his son are in the shop, doing things with tools and wood. I am in my studio, taking time for art, study, meditation, and writing. My second coffee is down to it’s last tepid sip, and sunshine filters through the leaves of the pear tree beyond the window. It’s a nice moment. I sit with it awhile. I don’t need more, or different. This, right here, is enough.

Nothing fancy, just a view.

I don’t know what the rest of the day holds, or the week ahead, or what next year will be like. Right now, none of that matters; I’ve got this moment, here. It’s not fancy or exciting or extraordinary. It’s actually quite simple, a bit unremarkable, and there is nothing much about it significant enough to be especially share-worthy. That’s actually why I am sharing it. We get so used to chasing “happiness”, seeking novelty, excitement, or diversion, we forget to enjoy the simple pleasant moments life offers up pretty generously, much of the time. We wonder when life feels constrained, frustrating, disappointing, or filled with futility and sorrow, why there’s nothing pleasant to rely on… but don’t often acknowledge what we did (or more to the point, didn’t) do to build that “reference library” of personal joy to reflect on, and savor in less satisfying times. I can’t honestly “help you” with that, though, aside from pointing out how much importance your presence in your own experience really has for you.

One moment, experienced thoroughly, savored in recollection. Still nothing fancy. Just a moment.

In the simplest terms, if you want an implicitly pleasant and positive sense about your experience of “life in general” – an “upbeat outlook on life” – you’ve got to cultivate that, and one sure path to that destination is to be truly present, conscious, and involved in living the small pleasant moments in life. There are verbs involved. Practice. Incremental change over time. It’s the sort of thing others will observe has changed about you, before you are wholly aware a change has occurred. Savoring the moments, however simple, of contentment, quiet joy, or everyday satisfaction, builds that database of positive feelings and experiences that become the foundation of our outlook on “life in general”. It’s not all about the extreme joys of great moments; those moments are beyond “every day”, and we know that.

One coffee, one moment – but the picture is not the beverage.

I don’t grudge myself the contented moments “just sitting” with a soft smile on my face, contemplating some little thing my partner said that warmed my heart or supported me. I don’t grudge myself the contented moments “just sitting” watching fish swim in my aquarium, or how the light streams into a particular window in a particular way. I don’t grudge myself contented moments flipping through the pictures and origin stories in favorite cookbooks. The time spent is meaningless out of context, and precious beyond measure enjoyed whole-heartedly on some small thing that satisfies. It’s not the time itself that matters, so much as what it is spent on. 🙂 Time spent content or joyful is definitely worthwhile, however simply spent. My opinion. Works for me. (Your results may vary.)

Still smiling, coffee finished, and having written a few words on a quiet Saturday… I think about the world beyond these walls, and wonder about taking a walk. Certainly, this feels like a good time to begin again. 🙂

 

Today is off to a rough start. I’m writing early, with tears on my face. This morning begins with a challenge. I’m not always ready to measure my words, to smile accommodatingly at the world, or to be prepared for things to skid sideways unexpectedly over some random thing and handle it with grace and diplomacy. I’m not that skilled or resilient, yet. I’m taking my coffee in the studio, this morning, as far from other human beings as this house permits. Fuck humans. This morning I have already had enough of people.

…That didn’t take long…

An innocent seeming remark, taken personally, wrecks what had some small shot at being a good morning. It sucks. Weekday morning. I’ve got work in a little while. I’m wreckage. God damn it this sucks all kinds of completely.  We’ve got a house guest too, on top of just sucking generally, so on top of the general sucking – we’re having an argument at 5 o’clock in the morning while a guest tries to sleep through our bullshit. Fucking hell. Not okay. On top of the stress of this, generally, I’m also deeply embarrassed by our basic rudeness.

Fuck people. Fuck relationships. Fuck having to deal with any of it, ever, at all. I am feeling bitter, and I am feeling blue. I am angry that a small well-intentioned observation that was emotionally neutral at the moment it was spoken, turned into this shitstorm of emotional sewage so early in the morning. I feel robbed of a pleasant morning. He does too, enough to make a point of expressing unhappiness that I would choose to be in my studio, writing, instead of hanging out with him, even as things are right now. (I admit, I don’t get that – I don’t even want to be around me right now.)

…I slept like shit…

…I woke up feeling cross and headache-y…

…I was already “not in a good place”…

…I’m in pain…

Realistically, I can’t put this morning on my partner. My emotions? Mine to deal with. I apologized to him. He didn’t hear me. He apologized to me. I didn’t hear him. We repeat the cycle. Eventually apologies are audible. We hear each other. We acknowledge those words. He wants to talk. To engage. To restore emotional intimacy. I want to withdraw to the safety of solitude. He feels hurt by my rejection. I feel hurt by his lack of understanding that I want to provide myself with some basic self-care right now. We repeat the cycles we’re most familiar with. Doing differently is serious work.

…I haven’t even had my first cup of coffee…

Making predictions about the day may tend to “lock in” the assumptions I’d have to make to do so. It’s a poor choice. I breathe. Exhale. Let it go. I keep at it. Breathing. Exhaling. Focusing on my breath. Letting my shoulders relax. Pulling my posture upright. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. I hear my typing cadence begin to become even. Regular. A steady beat. Less chaotic and tempestuous. There are choices here. Verbs. Effort. Will. The journey is not always an easy one. The road ahead is not always smooth under my feet when I walk it. There is no growth or forward momentum in what is easiest, only joy and contentment. My results vary. I need more practice.

…I’ve gotta admit, I do like the joy and contentment, though…

I sip my coffee. Contentment can be built. More verbs. A lot of practice. We become what we practice. What am I practicing? (I can’t do a fucking thing about anyone else’s practices, only my own, that’s just real.) Am I, as I sit here, the woman I most want to be? (I could do better.) Still human. So human.

It’s a fairly shitty morning so far. I could definitely do better. I guess I have to begin again.

…Time to get on with that…

I am sitting with my thoughts, taking a moment for myself out of a busy day. I’m contemplating life, love, art – you know, the important things. 🙂 I smile when I recall the new book I’ve only just started reading, which promises to satisfy other creative impulses than those fulfilled by paint and canvas.

It brings back long-forgotten memories, too.

I contemplate a tiny art project I am undertaking.

The studio is not yet ready for larger work… I think I can make room for something very small.

I take time for brilliantly blue autumn skies.

…And passing clouds.

I let moments overtake me. Breathing. Relaxing. Letting my mind wander a bit. Soon enough, it is time to begin again. 🙂

Rain is falling today. It feels soft on my skin. I stand in it to feel that sensation. The air tastes fresh. I breathe deeply. I inhale. I exhale. I feel the rain drops spatter my skin. I am present. I hear birdsong. I feel a slow soft breeze. The breeze carries a scent of forest and flowers, and autumn. I hold this moment with such care and attention, yielding to it completely, saving it for later.

Here. Now.

Rain fell today. It felt soft on my skin. I stood in it to feel that sensation. The air tasted fresh. I breathed deeply. Inhaling, exhaling, feeling the rain drops spatter my skin. Minutes ticked by. I heard birdsong. I felt a slow soft breeze. The breeze carried a scent of forest and flowers, and autumn.

I take a moment to contemplate one lovely moment at leisure, smiling quietly. Sometimes this is enough. 🙂