Archives for posts with tag: what it is

Monday stretches out ahead of me like some sort of… Monday. I’m okay with that. There have certainly been times in my life when each Monday (or, that is to say, the starting day of each work week) carried a very specific signature dread. It didn’t seem associated with the job I had, the boss I worked for, or the circumstances, generally. Mondays felt “cursed” in some way. It was reinforced, although I didn’t understand it for a long time, by the cultural jesting and aphorisms about Mondays. Thinking Mondays are any worse than any of the other days is an illusion, though.

Think of the mind’s eye as functioning mechanically; to see, it would need a lens, and a focal point, and one might well expect that adjusting the focus would bring things into view more clearly. It’s a pretty good analogy. We become what we practice, and by extension, we do tend to see what we are looking at, and it may not always be entirely obvious if our perspective is in some way “out of focus”. Is there dust on our mental lens? Are we focused more specifically on something outside the frame? A loose metaphor attempting to capture how thinking errors, and an unwillingness to allow our perspective to be well-informed by what we can see (when we observe) and understand (when we permit ourselves to be open to new information). Happy Monday – use it wisely. 🙂

Monday is Monday. It’s just a day. We gave it a name. Rotate the wheel a turn and it lands on another day – couldn’t that one have been “Monday”? It’s rather arbitrary labeling, and wholly fictitious; we made that shit up. Let it go. Let Monday be Monday, and also just be a day in your experience. Another new beginning. A new starting point to begin a new week. Let go of what is not now – past or future – and take a deep breath before you head to the office, the job site, the unemployment office, an interview, your studio, a wilderness trail, a retail outlet, a cafe, a library, a doctor’s office, a classroom, or whatever destination Monday might take you. Have your experience with an open mind, and an open heart. Choose to have your own experience, your way. Choose to be the person you most want to be – authentically. Make the choices that take you there, however slow the progress may seem to be.

What one thing could you choose to do, or change, that nudges you gently in the direction of your goals? Are you doing that, today? No? Something smaller? Incremental change over time is built on small choices – millions of those, over hours, days, weeks… until we have transformed ourselves. I’m just saying – you have amazing power over your experience, even when you feel you have little power over your circumstances.

I’ve just started reading “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry“.  I’m ready for this one, now. I wasn’t, earlier. The new commute provides me with more time to read, since I take the train. I’d been very much wanting to refocus my attention on the written word, and really make more time – take more time – to read. Study has great value, and I find that reading from printed works seems a more effective learning strategy for me, personally, than most video material can actually compete with. It’s not a given that a medium that grabs my attention in a visceral way (like tv, movies, and YouTube content) will also teach me; hasn’t seemed to be the case, at all, in practice. Books work. Your results may vary. Perhaps it is to do with something about me, as an individual (likely not, honestly, we’re all very similar in most ways), or something to do with how the mental process of reading works in human brains? Anyway – I read. It works for me. I talk about what I read, which reinforces what I’ve learned and runs it through all manner of critical thinking drills, to validate that new information. I never regret the time I spend reading. 🙂 Maybe that’s enough reason to read?

So… I’ve got Monday ahead of me, a book in my backpack, and… I think I’m ready to begin again. 🙂

Between what? Between plans and outcomes, perhaps, or between what was and what may be, at some future point – in either case, I live just the one moment, ‘now’, and what I choose to do with it seems to matter so very much more than what may be planned for the future, or may have been planned for the past. It’s a quiet morning to contemplate time, planning, and outcomes. I find change far less unnerving when I plan things out, then prepare a good Plan B, then follow that with some alternate plans, contingency plans, wild cards plans, and anticipate potential outcomes of the unplanned possibilities – rendering them much less unexpected. Doesn’t matter that much, though; life tends to be quite unscripted and spontaneous regardless of planning… Which doesn’t have any tendency at all to stop me attempting to plan my life. 🙂

flowers

Perspective. 

The emotional climate seems very nice ‘here’. The emotional weather lately has also been sunny and mild. Storms of change are on the horizon, piling up like distant clouds – will it be a spring shower, or a powerful thing crafted of nightmares, hurricane winds, and monsoon rains, that sweeps aside all other considerations for a time? For planning purposes, scale matters a lot – or seems to. Opportunity sometimes seems to transmute change from something uncontrollable and potentially devastating to something almost festive…a see-saw on life’s playground. Here I stand, between moments, between metaphors, staring at the horizon on this perplexing and wonderful journey… still smiling, still okay, and feeling fairly ‘ready for it’.

flowers

Life is busy. It’s easy to miss details that matter.

I need to get some solid contemplative time alone at some point in the very near future. I find myself considering a day trip to the coast or up to ‘the big city’ (Seattle is the nearest of those), or a hike out in the trees, somewhere more distant than nearby nature parks. In any case, I need time to sort some things out with care, whether it is at my desk, at my easel, on foot, or traveling by some other means; my mind needs time and opportunity to wander. Easily done… there are verbs involved.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

Today is a good day to walk on, to consider the alternatives, to choose wisely and with great care. Today is a good day to take care of me, to love without reservations, and to listen deeply. Today is a good day to “stay on the path”… It’s definitely leading somewhere.

I may as well have ordered from a menu…”I’ll have the Random Emotional Overload, please – does that come with Feelings of Not Being Heard? I’d also like extra Not Well Understood, please. Can I have that with a side of Fail Sauce? There’s no Diary in that, is there? …Oh, Honey – you should try the Accusations and Dismissiveness, I hear that’s really exceptional here…”

Yesterday, I went, in mere seconds, from feeling content, comfortable, and enjoying quite a lovely day, to… something very different. The tiniest of difficulties with communicating a very simple idea (“yes and I am uncomfortable”, versus “No, because I am uncomfortable” – quite different concepts, truly) quickly became an embarrassing loss of emotional regulation on a level that is difficult to accept, explain, or excuse without some understanding of how a disinhibiting brain injury might complicate PTSD. It is what it is. I continue to do my best and work to grow and improve on what I can’t rely on without exerting will and continuous practice… It is what it is, and what it is just happens to be my experience, which sometimes sucks rather a lot.

I moved on, the evening unfolded, eventually I slept. The damage is done, of course. There are no ‘take backsies’, once I’ve hurt someone – they hurt. It’s the crumpled paper model of regret; the apology is necessary, and making amends is important, but the damage is done.

My head hurts today. I didn’t sleep well. Hormone Hell sucks like crazy, but it’s still 100% on me to do my best to be the best person I can be, moment to moment. It sucks that a few painful moments on a single day out of many can have the potential drive pain and stress into so many other potentially entirely unrelated moments even on entirely different days, but there it is. It’s one major reason why mindfulness matters so much, why I keep harping on being in this moment, and reminding myself that we are each having our own experience; there’s just no sharing some of it, and becoming mired in what sucks is so much easier than becoming wrapped in what is warm and lovely and good. Be. Here. Now.

This moment was lovely...

This moment was lovely…

Today is a good day for practicing practices. Today is a good day to be this amazing woman I am – challenges and all – and to continue to do my best, and to grow, and heal, and walk on, until I reach a new perspective. Today is a good day to embrace all the vast character and wonder of this creature I hold so tenderly in this broken vessel. Today is a good day to stand between myself, and the world, and be the person I can count on right now to care for me, reliably well, every day.  Today is a good day to make choices that meet my needs over time.

Today I’m feeling pretty low, waking with a vicious headache, and memories of last night. I don’t care for drama so exploring the details isn’t on the agenda today. Is it enough to say I’m human? That I have moments of self-doubt, moments when things that made so much sense some other day don’t make sense right now? Times of struggle and heartache? I am, after all, grieving… that colors life somewhat, doesn’t it? I’m asking because, at 51, sometimes I don’t feel like I know the answers to some of these questions.

...There's still sky overhead...and possibilities.

…There’s still sky overhead…and possibilities.

Lonely in a crowd? Yeah, this has some of that feel to it. Uncertain about the future? Yep, I’ve got that, too. I feel sad. I feel challenged by life’s curriculum in a similar way to what I imagine it might be like to wander into a college physics class at some tender age, without any academic preparation, and being told my grade depends on the day’s pop quiz. My partners are good people. This morning the tears on my face and the splitting headache I woke with go hand in hand with my doubt that I qualify to make that team.

Death sometimes has an unexpectedly insistent way of making us look closely at our own life. What do I want out of mine, truly? Where am I headed? What is the trajectory of my choices, and where are they taking me? Is this what I what? Is it what will best meet my needs over time? I don’t have good answers to these questions either, and I feel adrift. Oddly, this does not make me eager to see my therapist, instead, a profound urge to ‘leave it all behind’ builds, but I don’t know what I really mean by that. I’m too old to ‘run away from home’ and the sorts of baggage I have are neatly chained to me, going along for the journey everywhere I go.

Each day dawns, entirely new, filled with potential and choices.

Each day dawns, entirely new, filled with potential and choices.

This one’s difficult. My skilled brain tries to tell me I will be okay, that “this too shall pass”. Mindfulness… well… yeah. It’s getting to be easier and more habitual. Mindfulness in moments like these doesn’t often do much to ‘make it stop hurting’. Opening my own heart to this experience of hurting and making room for it, and being compassionate with myself are not the simplest of tasks – particularly after an evening of being castigated for imperfect execution of practices that serve me so well other times, other days. So, I sit here allowing the tears with a certain irritated resignation, and doing what I can to be kind to myself, and understand that it’s all a lot to take, and that being human is the nature of my experience. I focus on me, my experience, what I need from me to feel nurtured and supported. There’s that emotional self-sufficiency piece rearing its head again, too. Would I cry less if I met more of my own needs? Maybe tears are what I have to count on? Where is the line between working through grief and trauma appropriately to heal, and ‘being a victim’ – is that a matter of perspective? I feel like I was headed for summer vacation and the teacher just handed me Moby Dick, War and Peace, and Atlas Shrugged and said “see you in two weeks”. Being a student of life and love doesn’t really end with ‘graduation’ – there’s always more to learn. I kind of wish I weren’t a ‘C student’, though, this shit is hard.

So. Today I am alone. In a sense, I always am; we are each having our own experience. That can be a very lonely thing, sometimes. It is, right now.

I’ll spend the weekend out in the trees, in the stillness, breathing, safe, content; I may not ‘figure it all out’, but I’ll get a break from everything that hurts except the stuff I carry with me. That I just have to deal with. It’ll be a few days, maybe, before I write here again. I won’t have access to the internet – the trees don’t use Facebook, they simply stand in stillness, content. Or something poetic like that. Anyway. I guess I’ve ‘run out of words’ for now.

What is there to say about a sunrise? It is, in a sense, the only 'do over' we get; a new day.

What is there to say about a sunrise? It is, in a sense, the only ‘do over’ we get; a new day.

No affirmations, today, they would feel hollow to me this morning – and if nothing else, I am genuine. Today I hurt.

Homecomings are special moments, at least for me. Even the small everyday homecoming of arriving home from work is a potentially beautiful and deeply connected moment with loved ones. When a homecoming goes wrong it hurts so much more than it probably requires, once considered with a full measure of perspective and compassion. I know this, because I have ruined a number of them, over the years. Along the way I have learned some things about homecomings:

1. Everyone is having their own experience, and has their own emotional investment in the outcome; making assumptions about exactly what it is, is a proven poor choice.

2. Unstated expectations are highly likely to be a factor in a homecoming going awry.

3. Everyone wants to share what’s been up with them during the time apart.

4. Being attached to an expectation, an outcome with an emotional investment behind it, or an internal narrative that no one else shares, is a shortcut to an unpleasant experience.

5. Even homecomings are about some very simple things: being accepted, being heard, and connecting.

Last night the travelers returned, and somehow managed to be unexpectedly early. Rather than being stressed out that I didn’t get to the house ahead of them to clean frantically (and mindlessly), I was delighted that they were home and safe. I arrived minutes later, and enjoyed my usually-at-home partner’s appreciation that I had stopped for cat food along the way (and she would not have to do so). I kept The Big 5 in play while they were away, and truly my partners are rarely far from my thoughts; the house was decently tidy, and small details matter. All weekend, I sought out little things to do that might result in a comfortable pleasant experience when the traveler’s returned.

It was a lovely homecoming evening, filled with laughter and shared stories, new art, and quiet conversation. I didn’t spend my solo time wracked with anxiety about housework; I painted. They didn’t come home to a disaster, because I also made a mindful effort to take care of things like dishes, and laundry, and routine chores (hey, I do have to live here, too! lol).  We didn’t ‘lean in’ to each other, allowing the greetings to be natural and comfortable, and the evening to be relaxed and leisurely. It was lovely.

The evening was short, of course. Both their arrival, and my return home from work occur slightly later in the evening, and once the car was unpacked, and calories were handled, showers finished… it was well into night. I spent some precious loving moments in the arms of the traveler returned home, too meaningful and valued to overlook, to personal and intimate to share further. I know I am loved.

Quite a nice homecoming.

I also slept incredibly badly, restlessly, and drenched in sweat – hot flashes? Misery. I woke with a headache, stuffy sinuses, and arthritis stiffness that renders my movements almost puppet-like. Still, no complaints from me, because those are not the details that define my experience.

"The Stillness Within" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas with glow.

“The Stillness Within” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas with glow, 2014

Today is a good day for love. Today is a good day to change the world.