Archives for posts with tag: what matters most?

The work day is behind me. The afternoon sunshine illuminates the room through the shade, casting a diffuse blue-gray hue to the entire room. I am relaxed. Calm. Mostly fairly comfortable, physically. I feel my Traveling Partner’s stress and aggravation radiate through the house; I am aware of him, without being part of the experience right now. We had, earlier, enjoyed a celebratory moment of shared joy; he had completed a ton of work on fine-tuning our sound system and home theater, a project that we are both excited about (having a shared love of music and movies). It sounded amazing!

Later, shortly before I finished my work day, my obviously frustrated partner leaned into my studio to tell me he’d had to turn off a component to do something – and all those painstakingly determined settings that resulted in such great sound? Gone. Apparently they don’t save. I can only imagine his frustration – so much went into that! He got it done in the context of being considerate of my noise sensitivity, and is now faced with doing it all again, after assuring me he was done with all that. After I got off work I figured I’d hang out and enjoy his company while he finished off the resetting of settings and all that… It’s not that simple, is it? We’re humans, being human together, enjoying our shared experience of being individual beings. I’m not helping by hanging out – however supportive I want to be, however relaxed I feel myself, however much joy I take in his company, right now, the simplest of truths is that he’d like to handle this without the added anxiety of worried about my noise sensitivity or other “high maintenance bullshit” (my language, not his). I even get it. So… A good time to write? I guess so.

I sip on a bottle of water, thinking about how easily we become fused with each other’s emotional states. Not just him, not just me, it’s more of a human thing – most of us experience it, at some point. We become invested in that other person’s emotional experience for whatever reason, and it becomes “part of who we are”, ourselves. I suppose in some circumstances that could be useful. As individual, independent, autonomous, equal free-will adult human beings it’s often far from being “helpful”, at all. I avoid emotional entanglements of this sort, when I notice it in time to do something different. Another room. Another task. A different place. A book to read. Something that is more about me, and less about that other person, for a little while. No hard feelings. No regrets. No embarrassment… Just good self-care.

I hear music in the other room. A moment later he puts his head into the room, “I’m finished” he says calmly. I feel calm, too, and fairly fortunate that we have this partnership of equals. Sure, ups and downs, and sometimes quite a bit of work, and occasional resettings of expectations, together, nonetheless… so fortunate. So grateful. So happy to have this beautiful music, and this beautiful love.

“Finished”? Some things never really “finish”. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

Today is a unique new perspective, a new start, a fresh beginning – and a Monday. Mondays get a raw deal. It’s not the fault of the day that it is the beginning of most work week’s, the hangover after the party that was the weekend, and the perpetual every-seven-day buzzkill. We made most of that up. We could do Monday differently, with some practice. 🙂 True on a Monday, true of a great many other circumstances, too. I sip my coffee, hearing jazz through the walls; my Traveling Partner is enjoying a Monday.

My work day will start soon. For now, it’s me, this cup of coffee, and this pleasant Monday morning. I enjoyed a walk through the neighborhood before dawn, getting some exercise, and appreciating again how much variety there is in the houses. I pass by one or two neighbors preparing to leave for work happening elsewhere. It’s been more than a year since I’ve had to commute to an office. I marvel at that, as I walk along; the walk in the mornings feels a bit like “heading to work” each day, although it’s a loop around the neighborhood of about a mile before returning home. Safe, convenient, but very predictable. I’m grateful for the walk on level pavement, though. It may be “predictable”, but it puts me at little risk of injury, which is a win, and I’m still in cell phone range (so my Traveling Partner needn’t worry).

This particular Monday begins with a lovely sunrise.

The gentle start to the day seems promising. I sip my coffee thinking about the day ahead. An errand to run. A task to complete. The work involved in the work day, itself. I think about “fueling the machine” – maybe a midday break, and a nice scramble for lunch? My thoughts drift back to the weekend. If I had finished my writing yesterday morning, I’d be posting something very different. It was a morning with some challenges, but the day was splendid. The entire weekend was a pleasant one, in my recollection. The sour notes in the music are lost in the beauty of the larger symphony. I’m okay with that. (There has to be some upside to having memory issues! 😀 )

The pandemic has prevented us from socializing much. We’ve been very strict with ourselves about it. Only two friends (and our son) had been to the new house before this past weekend (other than some socially distant contractors) – and in one case, we ended up catching colds from the visit, which discouraged any further visiting with people, frankly. Being sick sucks enough to practice social distancing if it means not having head colds. That’s my thought, anyway. My Traveling Partner invited friends up for dinner and hanging out. It was lovely – and I do miss entertaining. I was pretty emotionally exhausted from the surplus of human contact by the end of the evening, but it was a lot of fun, and a good night’s rest readied me for a new week.

I guess what I’m making a point of going on about is that sometimes it’s necessary to explicitly make room to succeed – perhaps differently than I planned. A challenging morning can become a splendid day, and lingering pleasant memories. “Monday” doesn’t have to be predictably awful. We have a crazy number of choices to make, every day, and the ones we leave “on autopilot” sometimes don’t leave room for new, better, outcomes. I remind myself to put myself on “pause” long enough, often enough, to consider my choices with care, and to leave room for success. I remind myself to consider what matters most, more often, and to choose my actions more deliberately, with greater care, eyes wide open, and a beginner’s mind.

Paths, moments, beginnings, journeys; choose your metaphor.

…So…here it is…Monday. 🙂 It’s time to begin again.

Oh sure, it’s a few days yet before the Vernal Equinox, so Spring is approaching, but not yet here. Still feels more like Spring than Winter, this morning, and the song birds seem to agree; the morning air is filled with the sound of them, even though the sun is not yet up. The air is soft and smells like forest, even though it’s a bit chilly… it’s more like the chill of Spring than the frosty mornings of Winter or Autumn. I say this in spite of my recollection that yesterday morning was quite frosty. lol I’m eager to welcome Spring.

Already there are signs of Spring among the trees.

…During this year-long (and then some) pandemic, time has seemed more easily measured in seasons, than in days, weeks, or months…

My first week at the new job is nearly over. It’s been a peculiar week, in one very specific way; I’ve had the subjective experience of “checking off a list” in my head of things that have been unsatisfying or “problematic” at various previous places I’ve been employed, not because “oh, it’s that here, too…”, but because delightfully to the contrary, these concerns are explicitly demonstrably confirmably not issues at this new place. Wow. Powerful. My cynical side whispers “okay, but what is wrong here… what about that?”. So far, I’m tickled to shrug her off with a laugh; I haven’t found anything to give me reservations or hold me back. It’s seems to be a pretty healthy well-supported environment. I make a note on a future calendar date to check in with myself about my overall job satisfaction in six months, a year, two years. Looking over past notes, I can see that it is often the case that concerns I am aware of within 6 months often become the thing driving my departure at the two or three year mark. Interesting. (I’m a slow learner, I guess.)

…Pretty good start on this particular new beginning…

Last night went well, after my Traveling Partner and I sorted things out in the evening. Apologies that had been made were eventually accepted, and normalcy allowed to return. We hung out a bit. Soon enough it was the end of the evening. I enjoyed my first night of deep restful sleep since the DST change, and even slept through the night. It was lovely. I’m not at all annoyed that it took 4 nights to “get my sleep back”, either; there have been years when it took weeks.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced with seeking change, and with working to “stay on my path”, and in the pursuit of emotional wellness, has been allowing and accepting success when it comes. That’s been more difficult than I expected. Non-attachment (to outcomes, to emotions, to people, to the past…) requires committed practice, and self-awareness (which also takes practice), and my results do vary. Incremental change over time can be so slow as to seem undetectable, leading to some unpleasant “this never changes” feelings and unhappy “why do I even try??” moments. Harsh. Moments pass, though, and over time change and progress are revealed – and experienced. It does go faster, though, when I let myself have those wins without reservations or self-doubt. It’s all too easy to doubt, to resist, to argue, to refute, to turn away… because the things I am working to change are often “coping skills” that have their source in real trauma, and it can be tough to persuade myself, on some deep remote still-damaged level, that I don’t need them anymore. What if I do?? (So what if it does feel that way, though; is it the healthy way to cope? Is that way of coping “who I most want to be”?)

So, a pleasant Thursday morning begins the day. Another beginning. Another opportunity to practice the practices that best support me (and my quality of life, and my relationships) – and to become the woman I most want to be. 😀

I’ve got this headache plaguing my every minute again, today. It sucks. It’s a small irritant in a generally good experience, though, and things could be far worse. Weirdly, “things seem strange” – the ratio and size of this window looks somehow wrong. The font seems small compared to my expectations. I check that I’m wearing the right glasses. I find myself clenching my jaw, and make a point to breathe and relax my face. Where is this stress and feeling of aggravation and enduring frustration coming from? I feel a bit… generally peeved. Did I miss the mark on my morning coffee…? No, I definitely had two cups.

I increase the magnification on this window, and let that go. I take an OTC pain reliever for the headache, and let that go, too. I breathe, exhale, relax – and take a minute to savor the excitement of the upcoming job change. There’s a moment of satisfaction in each piece of paperwork in that process that is completed. I give myself a moment to feel the sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing the tax paperwork for the year, and let go any lingering stress left behind from that process, too. Small details. Life, lived.

…This headache, though…

A couple weeks ago, my lack of enthusiasm for vacuuming found itself notably worsened by the earnest-but-inadequate efforts of the wee cheap plastic upright vacuum I’d purchased back in 2015, when I moved into #27. Tiny apartment – it didn’t need an expensive feature-packed vacuum cleaner, just a vacuum cleaner sufficient to keep up with one women in less than 700 sq feet of space, one third of which wasn’t carpeted. This house is bigger than that, and although only the bedrooms are carpeted, it’s still quite a bit of vacuuming each week keeping up with two busy adults venturing in/out, onto the deck, into the front yard, out into the shop (in the garage)… and, I can’t say I was successfully keeping up, at all. Neither was that vacuum. It did its best, and it got me by for… 6 years. Wow. Not bad. 🙂 Just not enough, anymore. My Traveling Partner and I talked it over and decided a new vacuum cleaner would be the next quality of life improvement, and did some pre-shopping, settled on a make/model, determined the likely date of purchase (if available). That was two weeks ago. This morning, I was up early, and out the door between my first and second coffees, heading up the road to the retailer with the vacuum cleaner we’d selected.

…It rained the entire drive there and back…

This is not an exciting tale of adventure. I bought a vacuum cleaner. Not exciting. It’s a good one, though, and I’m delighted with the results. I mean… the rugs in the living room actually look clean, for the first time in quite a while. Satisfying. I make room to savor even this small emotional victory. (This headache sucks so much, truly, that contemplating a good result with a quality household appliance feels like real greatness. lol)

…I let go of how irked I am with myself that I hurt too much to aggressively persistently vacuum every inch of flooring across every square foot of house; I can only do my best, and still need to care for myself. I definitely do not want to be the sort of human being willing to make myself cry over the vacuuming. I mean… seriously. It matters so much more that I am in pain. I give myself a minute to consider next steps to care for myself well.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and I feel my irritation resurface recalling that I confused “W-4” with “W-2” in conversation with my partner – which, after a tax-paying lifetime as an American adult, one would figure I’d have mastered as just too fucking basic to get wrong. I let it go. Small mistakes are common enough for people. Even the sharpest, wittiest, most educated, most well-spoken, most erudite, most fluent human beings make mistakes when they speak. Wrong words. Mixed metaphors. Poor choice of verbiage. Slips of the tongue. All too human. I happen to be prone to those things as much as anyone… maybe the tiniest bit more because of my TBI. I’m likely far more sensitive to my errors than other people are, and more so in these later years when I am more prepared to be authentically myself, and less likely to rely on a “script” that conforms to social norms and expectations. Still, I find it awkward and embarassing, and I take a moment to wonder what drives that, instead of focusing on the mistakes that are so human, themselves. It’s the expectations, isn’t it? It’s not the mistake that is the “problem”, in this instance – it’s that I have expectations of myself that don’t allow for those mistakes. That seems like a bit of a dick move… I certainly don’t treat other people that way. Another breath. Another moment to relax. I left all that go, too. I can treat myself better. 🙂 Clearly I need practice.

I review my writing for grammatical errors – a particular sort that is specific to my issues, which is to say, messed up suffixes, opposites, and missing words. They’ve gotten to be pretty common, unfortunately, and I wouldn’t bother about it if they weren’t the sort to entirely change the meanings of sentences. I mean, rather a lot, actually. I look over my writing, correct the mistakes I find. Breathe. Exhale. Relax.

…Fuck this headache…

I’m fatigued from fighting my pain, and managing my mood. I feel tears well up over nothing at all – just the frustration of being in pain. Still. Again. (“Other people have it much worse,” I remind myself, “It’s just physical pain. Just the arthritis and the chill and the damp. Let it go.”) Another breathe. Another moment.

…Time to begin again.

Sipping my coffee and listening to the rain fall. Artificial rain…although… it is raining outside this morning. This particular video also has the sound of a crackling fire, a river flowing nearby…and honestly, sounds rather like a rainy day here, in my own living room, on a day when the creek is flooding. It’s a relaxing soundscape, and tends to push distractions out of my immediate awareness very well.

…The relaxing, soothing, comforting, background soundscape tends to be very helpful with managing my anxiety, which has been coming and going rather a lot the past week or so. I could have expected it, I suppose. When my values and my circumstances feel as though they are in opposition to each other, or somehow at odds, I don’t feel “comfortable”, and the longer it goes on, the more my anxiety increases in intensity, and the frequency with which it surges into the forefront of my consciousness also increases. It’s an “early warning system” that there may be a decision-making point coming up very quickly, or that the time to reflect on things and make other choices may be upon me. I could “fight it” with soothing sounds and do nothing more. I could meditate regularly, “accept my lot in life”, and struggle with the anxiety and discomfort – or attempt to medicate it away – and settle for quiet misery.

…Or I can acknowledge that I am unhappy, seek to determine what the primary cause of that discontent may be, and consider other options… this is particular effective if, after all that, I’m prepared to choose change. I mean… maybe the options aren’t really an improvement? That’s certainly a scenario that comes up now and again. I’ve often found that getting to that place where I can critically consider and factually determine that the present options don’t result in a clear likely improvement also serves to reduce my anxiety – it’s more about giving the matter real thought, and allowing myself the consideration and respect required to resolve my discontent with action, where action would do so.

I would use the example of working a job that isn’t ideal. Maybe it really is a poor fit, and making a change would be an improvement? Maybe the available options would not actually present a legitimate shot at the desired specific improvement at all, and would therefore be of no real use? Maybe the options are “more of the same” and “more of the same-r-er”, and time would be better spent in improving skills, and investing time in other endeavors during leisure hours? Maybe it really is time to move on to some other thing? I’m not a fan of reacting in the moment with drastic action built on an emotional moment. Personally? I like self-reflection. I value introspection. I seek self-awareness. I’d ideally prefer all of my decision-making be built on those qualities, and a hearty helping of perspective, self-respect, and non-attachment, besides! 🙂

“Having it all” comes in many forms. What do I really want? What matters most? Where does lifelong fulfillment lie on this path? Am I headed down a path that even leads me in the direction I hope to go? No map.

I’m sipping my coffee and listening to the rain fall. It’s not relevant that the sound of it “isn’t real”, particular when I’m seeing the rain fall beyond the window. What I see and what I hear are well-aligned. Isn’t there real value in also having my circumstances and professional values also aligned? I’m just saying; I have choices. There are verbs involved. My results may vary…

…And I also get to begin again. 🙂