Archives for posts with tag: where does this path lead?

I am sipping coffee on a Sunday. Good coffee. Pleasant Sunday. I am reflecting on what makes some moments “special” and others so seemingly “ordinary” and wondering if there is really any difference outside my own subjective impression of each moment.

I recently went to the seashore for “a bit of a break” and some “me time” away. I walked the beaches and nature trails. I took pictures. A lot of pictures. Many of those were pictures of entirely ordinary birds standing or walking along the beach, or parking lot, or some strip of not-quite-lawn. Why did I bother? They weren’t special or fancy birds… just gulls, crows, jays, and little brown birds of a variety of sorts. What’s so special about those birds? Nothing, right? It was getting the picture at all that was special (to me) – taking pictures of birds is hard. lol

A dandy gull strolling along in a parking lot. He was aware of me, and unconcerned, just walking along.

Were the moments themselves particularly “special”? I don’t actually recall them as unusual moments in any way, aside from being part of this particular beach trip. If I were to glance quickly at one of the many hundreds of beach photos I’ve taken over the years, I’m not sure I could easily identify one trip from another. They illustrate a more general experience of “going to the coast” and “being at the seashore”. Special inasmuch as it is not the routine day-to-day experience of life…but often very similar to each other (if for no other reason that I am always me when I go do these things, and generally I am doing them with similar motivation and goals in mind).

This crow was not interested in being photographed and quickly walked away when it noticed my gaze.

In a certain sense, isn’t every moment “special”, in that there is a predictably finite number of them for any one of us? We don’t even have the advantage of knowing in advance how many there will be – only that they will eventually just run out, often unexpectedly.

Even for little brown birds on mellow summer days; moments are finite and limited.

It seems far more likely that all moments are special than to assume no moments are special – it’s easy enough to identify one or two special moments (just look for lingering significance or fond memories!), which immediately debunks the proposition that “no moments are special”. So… moments are special in a quantity somewhere between “some” and “all”. Tough to know going into a particular moment how special it may prove to be, even immediately afterward. Some moments are so spectacular it’s probably obvious that those will become lasting fond memories for someone (or recollections of profound tragedy – “special” isn’t always “good”, right?).

Thoughtful? Distracted? Just having a moment?

This last beach trip was special, for sure. I was out on the coast giving my Traveling Partner room to work on complicated CNC build details without me being underfoot, or becoming a distraction. That’s not what was special about it (for me), although it is always wonderful to know I am missed when I am away. What made it special was the combination of finding new awesome locations to take pictures, new trails to wander, and also – that’s where I was when I got the call from my new employer with their offer, and knew that I would be returning to work soon.

I got the news sitting in my car, parked, watching the waves roll in, just after getting off the phone with my partner, after receiving an automated rejection email sent in error. lol

When I was mired in the worst of my bullshit, baggage, chaos and damage, I often felt as if “nothing is special”. That feeling (and experience) has a name, anhedonia. Life feels gray, meaningless, and very much as though nothing matters and no effort will change that lack of meaning. It’s grim. It’s bland. It’s very hard to pull oneself out of that pit. I had it wrong. I mean, obviously (anhedonia is an experience of disordered thinking/feeling). It’s just that I’m sort of blown away by how wrong I’d gotten it (as a result of poor mental health) – because it’s apparent now that the truth is so much closer to “everything is special” (even to the point of potentially numbing us to the “specialness of the ordinary”).

I smile and finish my coffee. I’m happy to be where I am these days. I delighted with the pictures I’ve been getting of birds. I’m okay with the birds themselves being entirely ordinary. Most things are. Moments, too. I’m done with insisting that anything “special” also be entirely out of the ordinary – that seems, now, to be a needlessly high bar to set for what is special to me. Sure – love is special, and very much out of the ordinary… but a great cup of coffee, a picture of a bird that turns out well, or a gentle relaxed Sunday morning are all pretty ordinary experiences – and also comfortably special. I’m good with enjoying the specialness of the ordinary, and embracing contentment and joy.

It’s time to begin again.

Queen Elizabeth passed away today. Good long run. An impressive legacy. She didn’t quite make it to 100 years. Seems like more people may be able to in the future, though, and perhaps longer if medical science continues to progress… how amazing would that be?

Juan and Marisa, in love on the beach in 2022… where will they be in 2083? Will their love last? What will they do with their lives? Will they be remembered?

I “went coastal” yesterday, to give my Traveling Partner (breathing)room to work on a complicated project without the unintended distractions of me just being around in the background. I don’t grudge him that time and space, and I genuinely enjoy getting away for a few solitary hours with camera in hand, walking new trails, seeing things from another perspective, and breathing the sea air. It reminds me of my Granny, and the many visits together to the seashore, or along the marshy estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay. I miss her greatly, and most of all when I am “at the shore”. Any shore. That was “us” – long car drives filled with conversation, and sunny hours “at the shore”. Fuck I do miss that woman. Often. I think maybe she would be proud of how far I have come.

I feel for the loved ones of Queen Elizabeth. They didn’t just lose a monarch – they lost their mother, grandmother, great-grandmother… they lost someone truly dear to them. That is painful stuff.

Traffic on the way home.

Yesterday afternoon I returned home, but my partner wasn’t finished with the work he was doing, and my excited-just-got-that-job-offer energy was definitely a distraction. After some testy unsatisfying exchanges that were well-intended and heartfelt, but painful, I suggested that I return to the coast today, and he was totally down for that. So… I did. Later, he indicated (text messaging for the win!) that he would need more time, really. So… I got a room on the coast for the night and went back to walking the beaches, stalking the birds with my camera, and feeling the sea breezes muss my hair. Frankly, I left the house this morning prepared for the potential usefulness in making a night of it, and I made a point to tuck the needed medications into my gear, and made a point of having alllll the batteries and devices charged up, and even took my laptop along with me (figuring that might be handy on an overnight). I even remembered spare socks and underwear. 😀 I didn’t go as far as packing an overnight bag, though now I wonder why. LOL

Oh… Yes, I got an excellent job offer from a company I’m eager to work for, on a team that looks like a great fit for me. I’m excited about it. It’s just not really the most important thing today. Honestly, neither is the death of a distant monarch (however badass she was, and omg she totally was a major badass). Today is breezy, relaxed, and sunny, and I am enjoying everything about that. Doing so while also being 100% certain I am not distracting my partner while he is working? Extra good. It’s enough. More than enough. It’s quite choice, and I am enjoying the day.

Where will I be in 2083? In my grave? Forgotten? Still alive, and so old that no one around me remembers that I was once a badass? My legacy forgotten? Alive and lively, loved and cared-for, with the kind of vast historical perspective that results in day-time news shows wanting to interview me about what I personally witnessed of history? Will my Traveling Partner and I continue to travel life’s journey together through all those decades ahead? Will we be little old people slowly walking the neighborhood holding hands and talking softly, laughing loudly? The future is not written, and this journey has no map…

The journey is the destination.

My thoughts come and go like the gulls beyond the balcony rail. They appear, they pass by, leaving only the recollection of a moment. I breathe, exhale, and relax. It’s a lovely moment for contemplation.

One of the things my partner and I were discussing last night was my anxiety. For sure my PTSD and my chronic anxiety issues are pretty well-managed compared to where I was 10 years ago…but… I still struggle more than I’d like to, and it affects my quality of life – and his. I guess it’s worth doing something about that. I feel a bit stalled and struggle with the learned helplessness that inevitably results from dealing with a chronic condition for a long time. I already know, though, that there are steps to take and things to do. It’s time to step through those, and try some things differently. It was one productive outcome of our conversation; a sense of focus and purpose, and an idea of direction. That’s not nothing – it’s a place to start.

It’s a good time to begin again.

I’m not a perfect person. (Who is, though?) I need practice – at most things, honestly. I have an idea who the woman I most want to be might happen to be. I can “see her” in my mind’s eye. I hear her voice as an echo; something I could have said better than what I chose to say, or speaking truth to power in a moment when I failed to do so. I hear her speak up for herself, when I don’t. I hear her set expectations and boundaries more skillfully than I often do. I have a sense of “who she is” and the values she embraces. Me? I’m still practicing all of those things. She listens well and deeply, with real attention and consideration. Her answers are thoughtful – and insightful. She’s clearly well-informed on the issues that mean most to her – and she’s kind about education and informing others. She’s patient with people, even when she’s in pain. She’s no saint, she’s lived a real life and she owns her mistakes. She takes time to reflect on her thinking, instead of following the crowd on commonly accepted opinions. She’s fearless about disagreeing – and committed to collaboration and skillful communication. She likes to be on time, but she’s not a jerk about people being a few minutes behind on plans. She’s fucking amazing.

…She’s the woman in my mirror – mostly. She’s who I see in my best moments. She’s my destination, and when I stay on top of my self-care, and committed to healthy practices for emotional regulation and communication, she’s my journey – walking with me, guiding me, picking me up when I fall and lighting my path. Of course I am “a work in progress” – we all are, if we are wise about being and becoming. 🙂 That’s my thought on it, anyway. I keep practicing. Keep walking my own mile. I’ve got choices, and there are verbs involved. I know my results will vary.

This isn’t an awareness that makes anything any “easier”. I am prone to being deeply disappointed in myself (to the point of catastrophizing, sometimes) when I fail to meet the rather high standard I’ve set for myself. Being practical and kind to myself, and allowing for my own humanity is all part of that journey, too. More to learn. More to practice. Keeping it real? I fail all the fucking time. LOL I’m very human. I pause to reflect. Begin again. Continue to practice. Seems a worthwhile way to spend a life. 🙂

Yesterday in the evening, for some reason I don’t recall right at the moment, tempers flared between my Traveling Partner and myself. Raised voices for a moment, a few spilled tears, some impatience, some anger, some frustration… we got past it, it was just emotional weather. My partner pointed out some things that matter to him a great deal. I swallowed my pride and listened; it’s always hard to hear I’ve failed as a partner or lover in some way (however small). Yeah, I still need practice. Even the fundamentals of living well and treating others well can easily erode and slip away from me without practice. Doesn’t matter at all if the speed and ease with which my habits quickly extinguish with even brief lack of practice is related to my brain injury; the solution is to continue to practice (and that includes self-compassion), and to begin again when I fail myself. That’s enough. It’s all there is. 🙂

Being between jobs is an interesting space to grow within. That 40+ hours lost to employment every week, generally, becomes time for study, for practice, for growth, for exploring the unknown, for trying things out… in that respect, it’s a wonderful opportunity. Today, I spent much of the day with my camera, and learning related software. What about you? What did you learn today? 🙂 It may keep you young to keep learning. It may keep you alive (depending on what you learn, and what life throws your way).

I notice that the interface here in WordPress looks… different. I find myself wondering what I clicked on, although it could be that the user interface actually changed, again. Not ideally helpful for folks who are “other than neuro-typical” (probably pretty aggravating for just about anyone who has mastered some software or other previously, and logs in to find it changed). It’s weird and annoying, and I let myself be distracted by music videos, instead, and wander off for a few minutes of conversation with my partner. Life. No pressure, just living. 🙂

It’s time to begin again; there’s so much to practice. 😉

What’s lighting your path? What are you using for a map? What processes and values guide your steps? Where are you going? Does this path even take you there… ever? If you make some very different decision, will you find yourself somewhere very different than you expected to be?

If you get to the donut shop late, you have less selection from which to choose. (It’s a metaphor.)

It is a pleasant Thursday morning. I slept in. Took my camera out on the trail and enjoyed the sunrise over the marsh out at the Tualatin River Nature Reserve. It was a lovely quiet morning, and not much going on. The day had already started to feel like it would be a hot one, by the time I headed home.

I am “not waiting” to hear back about a job interview that went (I think) very well. It’s hard to maintain my chill factor and stay focused on other things; the wait is what it is, and obsessing over it doesn’t help or speed things up.

The future is filled with unknowns. This moment, now, is filled with the potential for joy. I have choices.

I breathe, exhale, relax – and have another sip of this excellent cup of coffee. My Traveling Partner has some big shop projects going. I am helpful when I can be, otherwise I focus on not being in the way. LOL It’s a nice time to enjoy us, together. The days linger gently. We share moments, often, that might ordinarily be overcome by the demands of work and employment. I savor the time as it is. It’s likely to be all too brief. 🙂

My partner is merry and encouraging as I do the job search things. It’s nice. I feel loved and supported. I feel appreciated. I can’t say enough about how much it really does matter to have this kind of support while I look for a new job! I hope I am clear with him about how much I appreciate and value it, when we’re discussing the progress together. 🙂 I smile, feeling loved, and remind myself to also be one of the people loving me so well. That matters too.

It’s a good day to run some errands and get some things done around the house. It’s already time to start preparing the garden for winter crops and general cleaning up before the rains come again. It’s a good day to take a look around and improve my quality of life (and sanity) by tidying some things up… this studio is a bit of a mess (again) and could use my attention. I feel hopeful – and purposeful. The path ahead “feels paved” and illuminated, and it’s a good time to begin again.

Sometimes it feels deceptively easy to “see where I’m going” – it’s still a journey with no map. 🙂

It’s raining this morning. I slept deeply through the night. It’s been a painful couple of days, but the pain has been just that physical experience of arthritis and of aging. I could feel the rain coming.

This morning, I sip my coffee and welcome the rain. The window of my studio is open to the sound of it, the smell of it, and the coolness of the fresh damp air that has begun to the fill the room. Refreshing. The cadence of it varies; sometimes falling quite heavily, a momentary drenching downpour, other times a soft quiet spattering of smaller drops, sometimes stopping briefly. I could listen to the rain for hours, doing nothing else but enjoying the sound of rain falling.

I sip my coffee and think about how the garden flowers will appreciate this rain. I think about taking my walk in the rain after so much dry summer weather. A bird begins to carry on rather loudly, somewhere in the pear tree beyond the fence, outside the window, disturbed by something I don’t see. Today I’ll run an errand or two, which will take me down the road, on this rainy day. I smile at the thought. It’s not raining hard enough to cause me any stress over the driving, and I realize as I consider that… well, it’s been a long-ish time since I experienced any stress about driving in the rain. 🙂 Progress. Trauma does heal over time – given a chance. That’s nice to experience, and to recognize, firsthand.

…Let’s be real, though, y’all… The event that caused the trauma that drove the driving stress specific to driving in the rain? That happened back in… 1997? It’s now 2021. We’re talking about 24 years here. 24 years to heal from a single traumatic incident. Of that 24 years, I didn’t drive at all for about 14 years. I even let my license lapse and just replaced it with an ID card. Circumstances rather unforgivingly nudged me in the direction of needing to get over my anxiety about driving and just fucking deal with it, about 7 years ago. The first 6 months were sometimes challenging, and for a handful of years after I got my license renewed, I drove when I had to, and it wasn’t something I enjoyed at all. That changed when my Traveling Partner more or less insisted that I go ahead and buy a car for myself, that I would really enjoy driving, when he needed his car back (he’d loaned it to me while I was moving, and it suited us both for me to keep and maintain it for awhile). I enjoyed shopping for a car for myself, on my own, with very little input from anyone else. It was fun. I found something affordable that I really liked, for me, and went for it. I still love my car. I’ll probably replace it, one day, with another just like it – only newer.

Am I rambling? I’ll blame the rain, and this good cup of coffee, and this very relaxed morning. 🙂

I guess what I’m saying is that healing takes the time it takes. Yeah, we can (and do) make choices that may slow that progress (or seek to rush it through), but none of that truly matters – it still takes the time it takes to heal. Physical hurts, emotional injuries, mental health trauma: all of it takes the time it takes, to heal. Seriously. Give yourself enough compassion and kindness and general decency to understand that it’ll take time to “get over” something that has wounded you. The time it takes you, versus the time it takes me, or someone else? Those things don’t compare directly; we’re each having our own experience. If I resist being open to healing, I’ll for sure slow the progress I can make toward wellness – I’ll say that again – If I am not open to healing, or unwilling to let go of my pain, and my chaos, and my damage, healing will definitely take longer. Let’s not quibble, and just accept this for a minute; sometimes we are “not ready” to get well from emotional injuries. Anger or resentment that still needs acceptance and soothing, and authentic understanding and love can really get in the way of emotional wellness, however sincerely we weep that we wish to be well and whole again. It’s complicated, isn’t it?

I sip my coffee thinking about the many days and years of this journey, behind me. I listen to the rain fall and consider the path ahead. I still have flare ups of my PTSD. The chaos and damage may be, to an extent, a permanent part of the emotional landscape (although things have improved so much over the years!). I give myself a moment of kindness as I consider that. My cognitive quirks, and eccentricities resulting from head injuries, are part of who I am – some of them I would not trade for an opportunity to be “normal”, ever. This? This life now, these moments, here? Pretty splendid, generally. I can recall a very different life, mired in misery, anxiety, chaos, anger, and pure effort spent hiding as much of who I am from everyone as I comfortably could – even from myself. I was deeply unhappy, and doing not much at all about that. I was consumed with resignation and a sense of utter futility.

I stare out the window, watching the rain fall, thinking about that life, and that woman and her deep deep suffering. I sip my coffee, silently acknowledging how much of my pain was actually self-inflicted, and how many verbs were involved in getting from there, to here. So many new beginnings. So many “failures” along the way. So many opportunities to inch a little bit closer to the woman I most wanted to be, living that beautiful life I could envision, and somehow could not achieve. I wish I could reach back and assure her we got here, and how good it is. Enough. More than enough.

There’s still a journey ahead. That’s living life, is it not? One moment after another, and always time to begin again. 🙂