Archives for posts with tag: your results may vary

Sipping my coffee and thinking about the day and week ahead. Time to get my head out of the studio, and back in the office. Very different scenes. Very different language. It’s a bit of an adjustment. lol

I find myself thinking about “the future” just generally. I think about recent conversations with my Traveling Partner. I think about plans we’ve made to do things together in the year ahead. I think about choices already made, and choices yet to be considered. A substantial portion of “the future” is built on as-yet-unmade choices. The rest? Well, a hash of circumstances, and choices already made, and not yet seen to their conclusions, I suppose. It’s not a static image, like a picture, or a calendar page, though, “the future” – however modest or grand – continuously redevelops, as new choices are made against changes in circumstance. So… yeah.

What are you doing to build the future you want to live in? What are you choosing, in order to get to that place?

It can be frustrating having to accommodate, or adjust for, the circumstantial bits and pieces of a developing future. Same for choices made by other people that result in change for us, ourselves. Nonetheless, it’s part of the puzzle. The most complicated piece of the challenge of “planning for the future”, I think, is about the verbs in the present; our choices right now, our actions right now, our words right now, all become part of what our future is built on. What are you doing about it? I ask, because the literal only piece I directly affect, myself, is the piece built on my own actions, my choices, my words. I’d love to shout back “I’ve got this!”, but I’m not that certain, honestly. 🙂

It is sometimes difficult to hold onto awareness that my choices right now, here, in this moment, directly affect my future. It’s a pretty direct connection, too. I’ll give an example; yesterday I did laundry. I chose to defer the last load (white towels) to “maybe after work tomorrow”, when the hour grew later in the day than I cared to be doing laundry. No problem there. I can do it tonight after work. That was yesterday’s decision-making (made in the present, yesterday). This morning, I hopped out of the shower having forgotten about that decision-making, yesterday… no towel. That’s right. No clean, dry towel waiting for me when I finished my shower. lol Damn it. I was fortunate there was a clean dry towel in the hall bathroom. Still. My decision-making in the present, yesterday, directly affected my (near-term) future. That’s how it works. 😀

The awareness that my decision-making right now affects my experience of some future moment is also a potential anxiety-driver. “Over-thinking” can become indecision and dithering, and all of that just makes the anxiety worse. What the hell?? That hardly seems right… is this some sort of bug in the code, here? Huh. I chuckle and sip my coffee. “Not today, Demons.” I say to myself, contentedly. I breathe. Relax. Let go of my own bullshit – and begin again. New day. New choices. Each choice potentially inching me closer to being the woman I most want to be, living a future life that meets my needs over time. 🙂 Some choices, maybe not so much; my results will vary. lol

 

Just three work days to go. It was my first thought as I woke. My second was “damn, morning already?” My enthusiasm balances against my obligations for the week. Eagerness balances against fatigue. I take a few deep breaths. I meditate before I write, enjoying the slow lightening of the pre-dawn sky.

I chuckle at my self for a moment and enjoy my self-directed merriment while it lasts; life has far too few such moments, and I find them well-suited to being savored. Every one of life’s destinations, goals, and benchmark moments, seem also to be beginnings. Endless beginnings, even though from the moment we are born, our clock is also winding down. It’s definitely felt more stressful to view life through a filter of being goal-focused and purposeful; the frustration that often results is an emotional kick in the groin every time things go a little sideways. Viewing life more as a journey, a solo hike through time, across experiences, with the “purpose” being to make that journey, nothing more, feels much less stressful (to me). Your results, of course, may vary.

My plans (and my alternate plans) are made with as much care as I can bring to that process. I’m eager to be able to take other actions. I am bored with packing things in boxes, perhaps. lol This morning, anxiety creeps in around the edges, and I second-guess myself over my morning coffee. I remind myself, for perspective, that getting the keys is not the end of the journey (by far). It’s a good idea to keep it in mind, to prevent ending up feeling frustrated and lost, or overwhelmed emotionally, by the very predictable challenges of moving to a new place. Some shit is going to go wrong. Definitely. No idea what, but this is still happening in the context of real life, so… it’s a given; something will go wrong. lol But… It isn’t necessary to deal with whatever that is in advance, because I won’t know what it is until it happens. 🙂 I take a deep breath, sip my coffee, and let it go.

I look out over the meadow. 3 days until I have the keys, but there is another count down happening in the same head space… 7 days until this is simply no longer (ever) my morning view, as I sit and write, or while meditating on a cushion in front of the patio door. The short expanse of lawn, the summer-tall grasses of the meadow beyond, the park, the playground, the trees on the horizon… I pause to really soak it in. I listen to the red-wing blackbirds greeting the day, and the crows, ducks, geese, and doves, and the early morning commuter traffic on the not-so-distant freeway. I watch a neighbor’s cat stalking something along the edge of the meadow. I watch the sky change colors as dawn approaches. I breathe the breeze filling the room with the scent of meadow flowers. “More ‘and’ than ‘but’…” I hear myself think, rather oddly and apropos of nothing particular. I like the way the phrase sounds in my head.

I glance at the clock. Mornings are shorter on Sunday (from this address) due to the hours I work, and limitations of public transportation. I smile and remember that I have the car. I smile more thinking ahead to getting home earlier in the day; there are a few more things I can box up, a few more boxes…and all I need to get that done is a little more time. 🙂

The sun begins to peak over the horizon. It seems a good time to begin again. 🙂

 

…Some journeys we don’t share so much…maybe not at all. Some journeys begin together, and end alone. Some journeys we don’t particularly want or need to share, but find ourselves in the company of others along the way. Even love works in this way; sometimes shared, sometimes less so. Sometimes love is convenient, sometimes it isn’t.

I sip my coffee this morning, thinking about love…and thinking about solitude. It’s an interesting private dialogue with the woman in the mirror. This morning there are no tears, but also no noteworthy joy. I exist in this moment, with coffee, without company. I’m okay solo. I miss the immediate presence of love. These things exist together, and dissecting them does not improve my perspective on my self, or this moment, and instead I choose to simply be, to comfortably exist with myself, without judgment – without questions (at least for now).

One of the challenges life’s curriculum offers me, personally, is the chance to accept on a deeply compassionate and understanding level that I am not always who/what can provide what my partner needs in a particular moment. “Too tired” for one activity (with me) may not be “too tired” for some other activity, with some other human being. “Too busy” to cross town to hang out with me, to make love, to share time, may not be “too busy” for adventure elsewhere, with others. This isn’t a criticism, and when partners choose something (or someone) other than each other, that’s not a criticism, either.  Giving each other room to grow, and to live our lives fully, requires that we also be open to it when our partners make the choice to do so. There are practices involved; it’s easy to become swamped by insecurity and doubt, or for emotional needs left unmet (and undiscussed) to fester. Taking my partner’s fun elsewhere personally would quickly result in feeling deeply hurt to be “left” alone – in spite of enjoying my solitude, and choosing it. It’s a puzzle best solved with open communication, compassion, loving kindness, self-awareness, and being very present and connected when we spend time together… and also being very much present with myself, when I am alone. That one’s harder. 🙂 There are verbs involved. My results vary.

I ended the day yesterday with a migraine. That sucked. Getting there wasn’t bad… I enjoyed a lovely breakfast with my visiting friend and my traveling partner (who are also friends), before we each went on with our own days. I hung out awhile with friends closer to home afterward, for a short while, before spending a considerable time quietly at home tidying up. That doesn’t sound at all adventurous, I know, and it wasn’t… but it was quiet, gentle time, simply being. I hadn’t actually been fully alone in days, almost a week. I didn’t even turn on the stereo, so deeply satisfying the silence seemed to be. Some hours later, the headache arrived, and some visual and auditory weirdness, along with the nausea. Nothing much helped, besides more quiet, and some darkness. Reading made me seasick. Any sort of video screen was entirely out of the question. I laid down with my headache in the darkness and just rested. Morning arrived – no headache. I’m happy about that. I don’t have migraines often, and I’m happy about that, too.

Today? I’ve no idea what today holds, other than one scheduled appointment right at noon time. The forecast suggests a hot day. I find myself wishing my appointment time were earlier… the sort of wishing that can quickly become irritation and discontent, the kind that rests in my thoughts as a sense of dissatisfaction. I breathe, and let it go. When that actually works well, I feel a certain sense of wonder and achievement; it’s been a big deal to learn to choose with greater care which thoughts to give substance, which to let go.

I remind myself the migraine last night may have the potential to affect my mood today, and promise myself very attentive self-care. It’s a commitment to doing my best, and also a commitment made with real affection. I’ve come along way with the woman in the mirror, and with some practice(s), we’ve got this. 🙂

Today is a good day… for… something. I’ll figure that out as I go along. I’m having my own experience… there are verbs involved. 🙂

I don’t observe the occasional utter lack of stress in a critical way, and I try to simply savor those moments, delight in them, and enjoy them while they last. My walk yesterday morning was one such experience; beautiful from end to end, with several really choice delightful moments to look back on now as memorable.

That time I photographed a hummingbird... A lovely memory. :-)

That time I photographed a hummingbird… A lovely moment. 🙂

The entire day was pretty enjoyable. I have no recollection of any difficult or challenging moments. I don’t say so to brag, or to imply that I’ve found some magic cure to being human; I make a point of saying so, because I need the awareness of it, myself. Taking time to appreciate the beautiful day, the lovely walk, the choice photographs, the conversations with friends, birdsong, merriment, a really good nap – all of it – tosses a positive pebble into the vast still waters of my implicit memory, and over time, enough of that sort of thing holds the power to reduce my “negativity bias“, generally. (It’s a great practice!)

These days, I also make a point not to dig around in my recollections to find troubling or difficult moments I no longer recall; the reward for letting them go is an improvement in positive outlook on life. Totally worth it. I can trust that they may surface if/when needed, and that they do not need reinforcement; negative experiences are sufficiently powerful without additional reinforcement through repetition or rumination. I find refraining from reinforcing negative experiences is also a useful practice. (It takes much less effort to tear my thoughts away from lingering over what sucks, or what hurts, or what went wrong than it once was; the power of incremental change over time.)

The day ended slowly, a pearl moon rising in a cotton-candy sky.

The day ended slowly, a pearl moon rising in a cotton-candy sky.

Between the start and end of the day, yesterday, life was lived, a beautiful journey was taken, and this morning I look back and recall it a wholly delightful day. Today… I get to begin again. Those beginnings? Not all of them need to be a departure from something difficult, and not all of them are. 🙂 Some new beginnings are simply next in a sequence of many. I entertain the notion that over time, many more could be delightful days with beautiful journeys than were previously, accumulating beautiful memories over time, like vast treasure, held within my heart for safe keeping… shared generously, because in sharing, love becomes multiplied. 🙂

There are days when I find myself pushing a few verbs off my “to do list” in favor of doing… less, sometimes because I’m just not up to doing more, other times… well… I’m pretty human. It feels good to slow things down and take it easy… or at least, easier. Over the summer, I found myself sometimes hurrying through my walk, sometimes skipping it altogether, not really seeing the scenery, not really hearing the birdsong, sort of stuck in my own thoughts, but committed to a process. This past week, something clicked. I began again. My walk yesterday morning built on that beginning, and this morning I find that I am similarly eager, encouraged, hopeful (hope-filled, more specifically), and enthusiastic about life and the day, and particularly my morning walk.

A tangerine sunrise infuses the morning sky with sherbet shades of orange. I smile, thinking ahead to the moment I will put on my boots and reach for the front door.

Where will the day's journey take me?

Where will today’s journey take me?

My morning walk does not require a plan – or a map – and I’m generally quite close to home. There are still so many opportunities, and choices, and verbs involved…

Will it be a narrow side trail on life's journey that entices me today?

Will it be a narrow side trail on life’s journey that entices me today?

I think about how brief lovely moments seem, and how endless my sorrows sometimes feel. I think about perspective.

Life's helpful signage sometimes isn't very helpful at all...

Life’s helpful signage sometimes isn’t very helpful at all…

We are each having our own experience. I smile thinking about the sign in the marsh, helpfully provided to caution visitors about… something; the sign points out into the wetlands, and the text is not visible to any human being walking by. It stands in a section of the park cut off from the main trail. Will the ducks and geese find it useful? I think about the metaphor, and I think about the aisles and aisles of self-help books helpfully offered up by one human being or another, who found their own way on a complicated journey. It’s nice to have a map on a journey, an itinerary perhaps, and some good expectations that compare favorably to likely real-world outcomes… we don’t, though, not in life. What works for me, may not work for you – we may approach things differently, and reading about a great practice isn’t anything like practicing it, over time. There are verbs involved. Results do vary. Most of the self-help books, and a lot of suggested practices, are like that sign in the marsh; well-intended, but facing a less-than-helpful direction. We are each on our own journey, finding our own way, doing our own best. Fortunately – and this is one of the easy bits, I find, myself – we become what we practice. We have choices. We can begin again. 🙂

I once walked the paved trail that is no longer here to walk...

I once walked the paved trail that is no longer here to walk…

We each make our own journey in life. The trail I took before may no longer remain to guide another; I may not be able to walk those steps again, myself. I am my own cartographer, because the path traveled by another may no longer remain to guide me. My choices are not your choices. My steps don’t fit neatly into the steps of someone ahead of me, and are not left behind with anyone else clearly in mind. Still, it’s a worthy journey, and although I am having my own experience, it’s easier to recognize how clearly we are also all in this together, than it once was. That’s a nice change. I used to feel (pretty chronically) so alone… that’s more rare these days, even in the stillness of solitude, and even wading through the worst of the chaos and damage that still remains.

Figuring out the obstacles is part of the point.

Figuring out the obstacles is part of the point.

Choices. Perspective. Awareness. Where will today take me?

What will I choose?

What will I choose?

Today is a good day to enjoy the journey. 🙂

 

 

 

Yesterday definitely felt like a holiday sort of day, and I enjoyed it immensely. My leisurely morning became my afternoon trip out to the local Ikea, and really it’s every bit that ordinary…only… yeah. I finished the day feeling rather more than typically festive.

One choice I made for the holidays this year was to take a break from therapy and coast on (and deepen) existing progress. I had been feeling uncertain of how far I’ve come, and was finding it harder to appreciate the effort and outcome, while also revisiting old and new hurts over and over again seeking further improvement. I needed a rest, and a chance to really just enjoy some time with the woman in the mirror, as she is, and see what we’ve got going on these days. Yesterday? Yesterday was the icing on that cake – because it could have been a very different day.

I picked up the car and even knowing there would likely be holiday traffic, I followed the GPS and allowed myself to take all the highways and freeways – it’s been a long long time since that held any potential for fun, for me, especially on a rainy day. I made the trip out there and back without incident – and without stress! Wow. That’s a big deal. I haven’t been seeking any improvement on that specific thing – but there it is. Nice.

I picked up the table and chairs I went there for – they were in stock, which I had verified before I left to get them. I didn’t have trouble lifting or moving the boxes myself – also an improvement, although not anything to do with my stress level, it’s just nice to see I am closing in on my fitness goals, too. 🙂 I got home prepared to wrestle with directions, tools, angles, confusion, a headache… the usual. My regular end result is a completed project of adequate functional quality, maybe with a chip or hidden bit of damage incurred due to frustration with myself, or low blood sugar making me stupid or clumsy, and the invention of at least one truly novel swear, and some tears.

Yesterday wasn’t that way at all. After I turned in the car, I sat down and had a coffee and a bite of dinner while I read the instructions once, then twice – and then again while I laid out all the parts in an orderly way for convenience. The table and both chairs were easily assembled without issue – or swearing. I took my time with the work, and the relaxed approach gave me some extra thinking power – I noticed and took time to correct small defects in the manufacturing (holes that were not punched or drilled cleanly, edges that were rough) as I worked. The result on this project? A beautiful table and two cute durable chairs – I have a dining set that I actually like, and enjoyed a feeling of accomplishment to see it turn out so well. Taking care of myself and my basic needs for the win!

Comfort, joy, and enough.

Comfort, joy, and enough.

Once all that was completed, I realized I was tired, and at the end of the day. I spent awhile relaxing and meditating, and made a point to reach out to my traveling partner that I would want a couple of hours in the morning for housekeeping before he heads over for Giftmas Eve dinner… which I will serve on the new table! 😀 That expectation-setting has real value, too; it contributes to keeping my stress level low. Most of the housekeeping is done; all that’s left is one more time with the vacuum cleaner, taking out trash and recycling, and small finishing touches, like making sure the hearth is clear of anything that could be at risk with a merry fire going. No rush, no urgency, no pressure.

I’m smiling and noticing there’s nothing fancy about yesterday that made it so festive – I took care of myself, enjoyed my day, and got things done. Clearly that was enough. I keep using that word – ‘enough’. Sufficiency has grown to become a prominent characteristic in my every day life – and my path ahead; as a concept it serves well to prevent me from yearning for things I don’t truly want or need, simply because they are ‘more’ or even ‘better’. ‘Enough’ matters on this journey of mine, and I am less encumbered by what I don’t have, because ‘enough’ is all I want.

How do you know what is 'enough'?

What’s ‘enough’? Your results may vary.

Today? Today is Giftmas Eve. The tree is lit, and the holiday music in the background sets the mood as I sip my coffee – I have butterflies in my tummy like an excited child who really believes a magic man in a red suit edged in fur on a sleigh flying through the sky will squeeze down the chimney with a fat bag of fun… based on merit, but without actually requiring anyone truly achieve anything. lol It’s pretty silly, isn’t it? I still believe in ‘Santa’… but I believe in what I understand of Santa as an adult; once a year random people reach past their moment and resources to do something extra for someone else – sometimes a lot extra for many, sometimes a little extra for those nearest and dearest. I’ve been Santa so many times… that’s the adult experience of Giftmas; the doing. There are verbs involved in the magic moments (aren’t there always, with all of them?) There are things about this experience I hope to carry forward into the new year – into every year, and every moment – especially the comfort and joy. 🙂

Home for the holidays.

Home for the holidays.

Merry Giftmas, Humanity! Take care of yourself – take care of each other – be generous with your kindness and compassion, and stingy with your anger. Don’t forget to take care of the human in the mirror – that one does so much for you, every day! Today is a good day to show yourself some love, some encouragement, compassion, patience, and provide yourself luxury self-care. 🙂