Archives for posts with tag: with a little help from my friends

I woke up early. It makes sense. I went to bed early, too. I woke during the night. No surprise there, I often do. There’s no stress over any of that. My head is a jumble of random beginnings of thoughts seeking a narrative in which to play a role. My morning is a strange sequence of broken routines and randomness. I’m not concerned about that, either. Again and again, I pull myself back to this moment, here, now.

I sit down with my coffee, eventually, some two hours after waking (which is only one of many odd random bits of altered behavior that seems without cause or purpose).

The first track on my playlist right now is an old favorite. I want very much to play the bass line; I am not yet sufficiently skilled (and realistically, there is chance I never will be). I can try to play it, and fail. I could do that repeatedly. I could do that repeatedly until I am frustrated to the point of disliking what I am doing, although I am doing it because I enjoy it… a lot of people approaching learning something challenging in just that fashion.

I take another approach, instead of “trying”… I practice. That’s it. My approach to a lot of stuff I’m not good at, don’t yet know, haven’t yet found my way around, through, over, or into, or need to do and don’t quite “get”, yet. I practice. I practice the basic skills that would be required to do the thing. Too complicated? I break those things down further, to more elemental basics, until I can begin assembling simpler behavior or actions (or understandings) into more and more complex combinations, and – if all goes well – have learned to do the thing, have gained a new understanding, have completed some complicated task… whatever it is. Most things seem to work out pretty well this way, although it is not the fastest process by which to achieve success. It’s a bit like… a through hike on an unmarked trail, while all the way along observing what appears to be a freeway almost within reach, on the other side of a fence. I could waste time trying to reach that freeway, or I can walk on.

I still get where I’m going. That’s enough.

It may be an uphill climb, some days. I still practice taking time to enjoy the journey, and to look for beauty.

I enjoyed a strangely intimate and emotionally nurturing yesterday. I hung out with a dear friend of many years. We haven’t made time to hang out in about 4 years, and it was overdue, welcome, and comfortably intimate. She is someone I love, though we’ve never been lovers. We’re at very different places in life, and that has been an interesting characteristic of our friendship all along. She was the friend who said to me, so many years ago, “have you heard of ACT?”. Words that would later prove to be another piece to the puzzle of healing and learning to care for the woman in the mirror, because they would still be lingering in my consciousness on that grim December day when I began checking off my list of things to do before I would end my own life. That last item? Try therapy one more time. Her words were a hint at a new direction; “third wave cognitive behavior therapy”. There are several, some very rigid and formal, others less so.

Have we covered this before? Sure. It’s buried in the details, in much older posts. The eagerness of this new way to experience life, more authentically, with greater self-compassion, erupts in my words post after post after post. Life happens. I write about that too. Now and then I add something to The Reading List; my journey is paved with stepping-stones made of books, and practices, and the words of dear friends.

A current favorite track on my playlist feels timed for the moment. My heart fills with tenderness, and gratitude. I’m glad I stayed. Warm tears splash my glasses, and my shoulders shake with sobbing, and I’m just fucking crying now… I’m not unhappy. I’m relieved. I might have missed this precious moment right now. I might have missed yesterday… the lovely color work I got done on my hair… the phone call with my Traveling Partner later in the day… the conversations with friends. Fuck I am so glad I stayed around awhile longer… My heart aches with a powerful need to say “thank you” or.. “I’m sorry”… or… something. ย There are literally no words for this strange strong emotion of thankfulness I feel that I chose to live. I’m okay with that too. I’m not afraid to feel.

Another good morning on which to begin again. I don’t know that I’ve done anything that changes the world, but so much as changed about the woman in the mirror. ๐Ÿ™‚

I woke this morning to a cooler apartment than usual after such a hot day; I’d fallen asleep with all the windows and the patio door wide open, without meaning to. I’m sort of glad I didn’t notice. It’s lovely to feel the cool morning breeze and the apartment refreshingly comfortable instead of stifling and oppressively still and warm. I’m even more glad that no passing stranger noticed the opportunity to quietly slip into my utterly unsecured dwelling and take all of my (conveniently packed) belongings while I slept (rather more soundly than usual). I wake feeling comfortable, grateful, appreciative, and relieved all at once. I sip my coffee wondering if this particular mix of emotions has a name of its own.

Another good day to begin again.

The dawn sky is shades of peach and a watery pale blue. Another hot day ahead. Peculiarly, I have my headphones on… no music. I must have meant to put some on… I didn’t actually do it. Even noticing this, I don’t actually pause to remove the headphones, or to put on music. I sip coffee. I write. I am content in this moment and the headphones are simply not relevant, nor are they uncomfortable. So… there they sit. On my head. Without purpose. lol Funny human primate.

I’ve still got a week to go before I have keys in hand, a new address, and a busy long weekend of getting moved out of here. So many boxes, in stacks and groups and piles and pillars and arrangements in spaces… and still a week of waiting remaining to be waited out. I still have more stuff to go into more boxes. A few more evenings and a weekend will take care of that.

I chuckle to consider a faraway friend making the journey to help me move; we’ll be basically “camping” in this space by the time he arrives, and then in the new house after the movers do their thing. I’m pretty blown away by the affection of friends who will help with moving. Friends who not only help with moving but will also travel more than 700 miles to do so, and do that with the expectation that there will be no comfortable convenient hospitality of the sort I usually provide is absolutely a treat, a wonder, a rare delight – and appreciated on a whole different level, that involves more than a little awe, and perhaps a tiny bit of bewilderment, and a sense that I need to step up my own friend game… because… I am not sure I’m that person, myself, and just… wow. I could be, though, right? Choices. I am fortunate indeed to have such friends.

What next? I have so much of the next few days tightly planned, centered on this move… I make a point to also take care of this fragile vessel. The hot days are difficult. I make a point to slow down a little bit, to drink a lot more water, to attempt to get adequate rest – even if that means laying down while evening is still daylight, windows and doors wide open to breezes, and at risk of falling deeply asleep without securing the premises. lol I finally got a really good night’s sleep, in spite of the heat. ๐Ÿ˜€ I really needed the rest.

The “hard part” of the packing comes next. It is time to box up all the books, and take down all the paintings. This also means having to work a little more to manage my anxiety as it comes and goes; bare walls reliably fill me with anxiety and a subtle continuous stress – “you don’t belong here” is the message of bare white walls, to me. It’s fairly important to my mental and emotional wellness that I not subject myself to unadorned walls any longer than necessary. ย Still, it is time, and it must be done. The weekend will be a good one for it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Once the keys are in my hands, and that first car load is unpacked, there will be at least one small painting along for that trip, and it will go up before I even head back for another carload of household goods. No kidding. If it fits in the car, I may very well simply take the big painting that is most likely to be hanging above the fireplace. It’s a touch that makes me feel very at home, and the message it sends becomes “I live here”. Comforting. Safe. Real.

Gnothi seauton. “Figuring out my shit” turns out to be less about changing it, sometimes, than understanding it, and working with it instead of fighting it all the damned time. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s a comfortably cool, somewhat humid morning. The red-wing blackbird outside the window is piercingly reminding me that the feeder is empty. ย It is, and that’s because it is fully summer, and there is no “food shortage” out there in the meadow and marsh this time of year, and I moving very soon. It’s time to prune back the roses for traveling – although this year a friend with a truck seems likely, and perhaps I won’t need to cut them back so much as the last two times I moved? I am now full of enthusiasm for this move, and I smile even thinking about my initial anxiety and frustration with having to, now that I’m past that.

…It’s still really hard to get started. It’s time to box up all the books and breakables. It’s time to take down all the paintings that are hanging. The more prepared I am, and the more small work I’ve done to be ready for the movers (and friends coming ’round to help out with moving), the less time I have to spend actually moving, and the less I have to pay the movers for fewer hours of their work. It’s still really really hard to do the first thing – whatever it ends up being. Beginning again, as often as I say the phrase, sounds so… easy. Just… do the thing, right? Yeah. That’s totally true, and also… totally not as easy as it sounds, often. lol Where to begin?

Any new journey begins somewhere. A moment, a location, an opportunity, a choice; a change-in-progress has to have begun with something. So, this morning I’m a bit hung up on that beginning, because this upcoming weekend kicks off the packing of things into boxes. ๐Ÿ™‚ When I go to get the keys, I’d ideally like to have a carload of stuff with me, to bring into the house – I mean, I’m making the trip there, the end result of which will be keys in hand, right? It just seems practical to take stuff over with me. What to bring in that first car load, though? I consider the most likely immediate needs at both ends of the move… a drink of water, a cup of coffee, a quick bite to eat, or a trip to the rest room… someplace to sit down… a plan begins to form.

I figure I can easily take over one or another of three coffee solutions at hand. I’d need to have at least one coffee mug, at least one drinking glass. Packing the pantry seems an easy step, too. A quantity of my breakables have never been unpacked here in this apartment, although I had the space for them – I never reached my “buy a new hutch or curio” goal, in my budget. Higher priorities cropped up more than once over the course of the year. Moving them over is easily done…and goes a long way toward making me feel at home in the new place, and also more relaxed about the move by getting them out of harm’s way early on.

So the morning over coffee goes… I make a list, think it over, shuffle it around, consider cubic footage of space in the car… pack it in my head, unpack it, re-pack it. By the time the day is here, this will feel planned and routine – and hopefully comfortable. I rely on that feeling of preparedness and ease to keep my anxiety at bay; every time I move seems to “change everything”, and getting settled can be a long process for me.

I’m pre-occupied with moving – fortunately, I find it also a great “living metaphor” and as the process unfolds, I am also considering the woman in the mirror and her journey. It’s time to set down some baggage, and get more comfortably moved into my life, and my experience. It may not be easy to get started, but it is time to “walk on” from one thing to the next, with a full tool box full of verbs, and a better idea of who I am – and who I want most to be. My results may vary, but I can begin again, and begin again, and begin again – and incremental change over time is unavoidable; we become what we practice. So.

Begin again? Sure. This path definitely leads somewhere

Moving is a process that is pretty much entirely all about changes. Sometimes moving is is also associated with a lot of ‘forced choices’; things decided upon in the moment that are either imposed by someone else’s decision-making, or by details in the circumstances that seem to limit the available options. (I say ‘seem to’ because sometimes I find myself making a choice based on it being ‘the only thing I can do’, which while it does immediately ensure that my perspective is that there is ‘no choice’, in reality ‘no choice’ is a rare condition.)

Last night I slept deeply and well in the old apartment, even crashing quite early, utterly exhausted. I woke earlier than my usual waking time, and although I was contentedly committed to returning to sleep for as long as I needed to rest, the attempt was wasted. I was awake. My thought, when I crashed out last night, was that I would wake later – probably after 7:00 am (the hour at which the community ‘quiet hours’ end). The intention was to immediately finish loading up the van and drive it down the hill, unload it, then have my morning coffee. I woke at 4:00 am, much too early to futz around with moving things, and a noisy truck. People were definitely still sleeping. (Yes, that matters to me; Consideration is ย one of my Big 5 relationship values – are not my neighbors also sharing a relationship with me? That of neighbor?) I decided to dress, and take the frozen food down to the new apartment, and have my coffee while I watch the dawn slowly unfold over the park, from the new view.

The darkness before dawn is dotted with bright  lights.

The darkness before dawn is dotted with bright lights.

What a lovely morning, and what an excellent bit of decision-making! I returned to the old apartment some time later – after coffee number two, and 7:00 am. The rainy morning has prolonged the early morning gray misty skies, and dim lighting that might put my footing at risk. I choose a healthy breakfast, a few minutes at the keyboard, and no rush; I am up so much earlier than I planned that I am still entirely ‘on plan’ for the moving bits without rushing at all.

The choices I am making with regard to handling the move in this peculiarly slow deliberate way is also resulting in feeling more immediately moved in at the place. This morning felt right;ย I had my morning coffee ‘at home’ – and that was there, at the new place, sitting on the love seat in the living room, watching the sky lighten beyond the treeline on the other side of the park. Meditation. Yoga. A shower. I make no promises to myself about how this is going; it is enough to experience it.

A metaphor for change: the mantle shelf covered with treasured things that will not remain in this location. Sometimes the choices and changes are momentary.

A metaphor for impermanence: the mantle shelf covered with treasured things, safer on the shelf than on the floor, they will not be here long.

Isn’t that still what this is all about? Choices…changes… enough? ๐Ÿ™‚

There’s a quality every yesterday shares with all the other yesterdays; they are in the past. Sometimes that’s a sad thing, because we enjoyed the day so much while it was ‘today’. I will admit that yesterday – the yesterday that was most recently today, and is not now, having become yesterday in the most clearly defined way – is not a day I’m sad to see in the past. Yesterday was a difficult day. I hadn’t slept well the night before, but woke feeling good and enjoying the morning, it didn’t last because… well… hormones, mostly, I guess. Not much to be done there but wait it out, treat myself gently, and show great consideration and courtesy to others – and hope for the best.

The evening was okay. No big blow ups, no significant stress, no baggage; I retired for the evening shortly after I got home, moodily wrote for a while, and crashed out early. The writing won’t see sunlight; it was hormone-fueled, angst-y, discontent, and sad. Not share worthy, just very human. Keeping to myself was more a matter of caring for my family, than a self-care practice; the storms and tantrums that sometimes result from the combination of fatigue, hormones, and a disinhibiting brain injury are pretty nasty to go through – and quite possibly worse for the loved ones who must helplessly bear witness. It is by far the easier to choice to reduce the potential for such things completely, by withdrawing to a quiet private space with less stimuli. I kept an eye on the clock and was firm with myself about going to bed ‘on time’; I needed the sleep, for sure, but the routine itself provides structure that helps me maintain balance.

I slept last night. I slept deeply, and I slept through the night. I needed the sleep. I woke with some difficulty when the alarm went off, and I suspect if I were horizontal right now, I’d be asleep in seconds. The hormones are a component of my sleep challenges, which is more obvious now that they are entirely of the replacement variety. At some points in my natural cycle, as well as on this replacement, there’s a particular point at which my estrogen level seems to drive wakefulness; I don’t know with any certainty if it is the high or the low, or an intermediate level that complements some other feature of my biology. I’m not doing the science – I am living the experience. My observations are subjective.

We all need restful moments, and real rest, to recharge for the next challenge.

Iย need restful moments, and real rest, to recharge for the next challenge.

When I am tired or run down, great mornings hold greater potential to become difficult days later on; I lack emotional resilience when I am fatigued. By the time I am really aware that the emotional weather of the day is changing, I’m often already drenched in the sudden downpour, unprepared. I think I could easily address the ‘unprepared’ piece, though, if I go forward with more awareness of how fatigue does affect me – and that the effect is often not felt immediately, but later in the day. Being prepared is sometimes enough to change the outcome of events that tend to follow a pattern. ๐Ÿ™‚

Today is a whole new day. I am still dealing with the hormones; hot flashes and nausea this morning. I’m in a decent mood, though, and I feel rested. Being well-rested is a very big deal.

I hear the household waken, early. I resist the impulse to rush into morning interactions; I’m quite honestly not at my best first thing, and I’m still waiting for my pain medication, and morning coffee to kick in for the day. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good self-care is sometimes about simple practices, and discipline learned over a lifetime; I try to stay to myself first thing in the morning, until I am really awake.

It’s interesting to note that I’ve been finding a great deal of value, recently, in reading literature regarding development of executive function in children; it tends to shed light on the tantrums, the fury, and loss of emotional regulation…things we see, and even expect, in young children but that appall us in adults. The literature has enhanced my understanding of why some practices do seem to genuinely improve the state of my overall executive function over time, while other practices provide soothing, comfort, or ease the social impact of behavior widely viewed as uncomfortable or inappropriate from a woman of 52 (even by family members). Even practicing good practices, there is a desirable balance of outcomes to find; if all my best self-care practices are focused on easing the impact on loved ones, rather than improving my own experience, I could predictably be facing a whole lot of resentment down the road – and no real change in my own experience, internally. If I focus entirely on self-care practices that tend to take a longer view, improving my emotional resilience over time, potentially building lost executive function, but take no steps to ease the day-to-day stress of living alongside this injury, complicated by post-traumatic stress, I am less likely to make the progress I am seeking – because I will likely lack support from loved ones who don’t ‘see the work in progress’ as easily day-to-day, and don’t benefit from it, themselves.

A lovely spot for a moment of meditation; is that about time or place?

A lovely spot for a moment of meditation; is that about time or place?

Balance. Perspective. Verbs. (Your results may vary.)

Today is a good day to smile. Today is a good day to practice good practices. Today is a good day to exist right now, unconcerned by yesterday’s moments. Today is a good day for good practices, and the secure knowledge that incremental change over time can be a subtle thing – but it is a thing. ๐Ÿ™‚