Okay, That does it!

I couldn’t believe it. The rumbling sound of the garbage truck roused me from my revery. My first garbage pickup to be responsible to have my bins out for and I had missed it, and on a hot summer day. I groaned as I leaped up to see if just maybe it was the larger truck for the nearby apartment. It wasn’t.

I ran outside to look. How could someone have done this to me? I had only been in my home a little over a month. The first weeks I had still had the garbage bin at my apartment building. The past weeks I had been on a vacation. Now, I was finally really settling in here and I had the time wrong for when to put out my bins!

But there they were, set in place. One of the neighbors I am just starting to know must have understood. Without a word or an expectation they did this mundane job for me.

I think I know who would have done this. They are the same people who picked up my mail for me while I was gone. Our schedules have so far differed enough that we have hardly talked but they have still given small kindnesses.

Even though after 4 months of getting to stretch out over the parking spaces, they now have to clear two of the spaces for me, both families that share my lot and the building our homes reside in have been friendly.

Now this.

Small kindnesses go a long way to making others feel welcomed and valued. Without that sense of caring, space is simply space.

That does it! I think this townhouse is starting to feel like home. I only hope I can find ways to return small kindnesses to my neighbours.

It feels like home

I didn’t know what to expect. After having only lived here two weeks while finishing the school year and unpacking boxes, I left for a trip. For 19 days I would travel to Northern Manitoba, across country to Edmonton Alberta, fly to Victoria, B.C., ferry across to Vancouver, fly back to Edmonton and drive back to northern Manitoba where I would collect my car and come back home.

Leaving my vacation behind I felt unsettled driving back to my city. How would it feel coming back to this place that hasn’t yet developed the familiar lines of my space/?

I found myself worrying about what bills might have come in while I was away. Would I have late fees to start my time in my new place? Would the incessant rains that have fallen while I was away flooding areas just west of my city have caused any havoc in the basement? Worries tried to whirl in my brain until I reminded myself of mindfulness and the reality that all I would find when I got back wouldn’t be anything I could deal with until I got back.

For the time being, the sun was shining but it wasn’t so hot that I was roasting in my non-air conditioned car. Yes, I had to roll up the windows when I would slow neat the side of the road. The dark shadowy “bull dogs” swirled around my car like a tornado of hunger. I had heard they bite and I didn’t want first hand experience with that.

Then there was the construction that slowed down my return. All well in good. The drive gave me time to transition forward. Leaving my friend behind in his home up north and not having that surety of familiarity when I got here made it easy to take it slow.

I needn’t have worried. My hyper vigilance had left a credit in one bill for my apartment that was transferred forward to my new address. The other  ended up being due today so with a quick strike of a pen I was up-to-date. Things were in place ready to move forward when I got here.

It’s quiet though. The sound of the vehicles rushing by is my city stream. I don’t really hear it as more than the sound of life around me. There are no other voices to listen for, no conversations in this space. The silence pillows my mind in peace.

Yes, I loved the time with others in the past weeks. I look forward to the busyness of my volunteer shifts at the local Fringe Festival in the coming weeks. I hope not long will pass before I see my children and grandchildren again and for visits with friends to fill the days ahead. I look forward to Dave coming for a few days. His room stands ready.

But for these moments, my body sinks back in my chair while my fingers dance their familiar steps on the keyboard. I have yet to sort out all the corners of the town house that now holds my possessions and my hopes of what I  can make of it. That is okay. I have many tomorrows to figure that all out.

For now, it is a time for resting and reflecting. It is easy here. It feels like home.

Okay, so I didn’t do so well

DSC03670cToday the cleaner I hired worked in my one bedroom apartment pulling out appliances, cleaning walls and carpets, all the things I am limited in my knowledge or physical strength in how to do. I am surprised how much less apologetic I am then I would have been in the past about such things. I think my ability to handle letting someone into the corners I missed comes from the timing of this move.

In January I began seeing someone again to deal with some of the last residual dregs left behind by those dark spaces in my life. Cleaning out the corners of my psyche, I have room to accept the need to clean out the corners of my physical space.

This move is a chance to begin again with more understanding and awareness then I had at the time of my last move. It is a challenge though, too. Starting fresh, in any form, is a new chance to make decisions about where you will go from here.

This is where I am glad I have learned about mindful living in the past years. I get to begin in this moment I am in. I am able to acknowledge that this is where my life has brought me. This is who I am. I have the power to grow from this now because I accept this self as my identity in this moment.

There is something that feels strong in accepting yourself right at the place you are. The feelings of stress that come by striving to be something else aren’t there to take energy away from living what is. Within each moment there is a recognition that choices matter. I am not longer waiting for something out there to start me living. I get to choose to live right where I am.

DSC03672cI am thankful that I began finding this out before my home changed to something more spacious (to me) and more freeing. If this inner freeing is tied to things or others than if they are lost, it can be lost. By learning to center myself no matter what, I give myself freedom to live no matter what is gained or lost in my life.

I have not arrived in some place of peaceful bliss. I still have fears. I still have my “if only” lists that play through my mind. Yes, I would have like to have not felt a bit of humiliation of having someone come to clean the places I didn’t know how to reach in a space too small to move large things. These are all a part of this me where I am right now. By not trying to pretend those things aren’t there, I free energy to move forward.

Yes, I think I am going to like this new stage in my life.

 

Lesson Learned in Moving

No this isn’t my first move. There is a part of me that has never really settled anywhere. Growing up I attended 11 schools by the time I graduated from high school. That was after having lived in at least 5 other homes before I started school. Post high school I still never settled. In over 55 years of life only twice have I lived in the same dwelling for over 5 years, one being in the apartment I just moved from. You would think I wouldn’t have anything new to learn from moving. Yet, there always seems to be that one more place to grow.

P1070735Moving to my new home in the past few weeks, I had an opportunity to see what I have kept as important all these years. There were so many replicas of things that had been buried and forgotten as my interests changed or as I needed something and couldn’t find what I had. Things has replaced really living as I treated my home as a stasis chamber or a bed in the corner of an office – simply a place to exist in between work and the rare times when I spent time with others. I am not sure I would call myself a hoarder but there was enough to give me a window into understanding to some degree.

The move uncovered supplies for crafts I didn’t have the room to complete before. I would dream dreams bigger than the space I had to carry them out in. I would sometimes begin until work intervened with some task that required me to put them away to clear space.  Now they reside on shelves in the basement next to a room where I can get them out and work. All I have to do is get some kind of support for the table top I have.

There were clothes and items stored for a someday out there when I would get back to my old shape or restart some past activity — tems that could be used meaningfully by others if unburied from my past. Moving unburied the need to let go in order to move on. Even after moving to my new place there were things that could still be let go of. Like working clay and smoothing rough edges I mold the new place I will be calling home until I move on.

The room to breath and think I find where I am now opens my eyes to the nonliving that had become so much the norm of my life. My world had been so much reduced to a chair with a table on one side and a desk on the other. My communications had become computerized. The introverted part of my nature lost balance as space became storage instead of living. The home I had wanted to bring people into is possible now.

Moving here feels a bit like waking up from a long sleep. From here, I have choices to make to decide what this home will be. There are those who have indicated interest in being in my world. I have to open the door to let them in. That is the wonder of living. By letting go, we receive. By stepping out, we make room within. Each ending begins something new.

Perhaps this is my focus as this month heads toward its end — moving forward, moving on. The first steps have been taken. Where will this new path lead me from here?

 

A New Crossroad

I stand at a crossroad of change, a potential hectic place where stopping and looking at what I have gained from this stage in the journey is my next step. Mindfulness tells me to look at my thoughts of what all I need to do as just what they are — thoughts. They are not prescriptions. They don’t come with a premade time line though they do come with deadlines. They are thoughts. Rushing in to them empowers them to create stress. Stopping and weighing them as thoughts allows me to determine priorities for completing what needs to be done.

I had a plan for Saturday. I was going to get my keys to my new place and then work on my report card comments. It was a good plan but was not based on learned information. I would be allowed to get in the place. My neighbor would come by and ask how early I want them to come to help me load boxes in their van tomorrow. This weekend, the resources are in place for me to do much of the moving I had planned to spread out through the week. My thoughts shifted toward the move and focus elsewhere was compromised.

In the old model of coping, this is where anxiety would leap in empowered by guilt at what I “need” to get done. Having practiced mindfulness in a form throughout May, I have learned the power that comes from stopping and looking at thoughts.

When I am at school during the week, the focus is on school. I have the ability to stay after hours and work there where I am not distracted by the scatter that is a part of moving. Why was my other plan so much better anyway? I was viewing the comments as a stop gap, waiting measure for moving much of my stuff in tomorrow. They would have not had the attention they deserve. Staying and working that extra time each afternoon this week is a more rational expectation of my attention.

So mindfulness reminds me that I can stop and refocus. I can reprioritize today in light of the knowledge of potential. As such, my work becomes more productive because my mind is not scattered and fighting guilt while stressing over wanting to have everything done now.

Today, I only took one load and reloaded my car for an early run in the morning. I started organizing a few things in the kitchen helping me to assess where I want things to go to save steps of others that will be helping me. I even got my flowers in the front garden to cheer my heart with colour.

journey treasureIt is a new beginning as I draw this mindful journey of posting to a close. Will I make this journey again next May? Learning mindfulness teaches me to make my commitment to live my moments. I have also learned this month that mindful gifts can be found in any circumstance so, posted or not, I will be seeking the mindful gifts in each experience, each day.

The mindful gift I chose to celebrate today is this moment of time. It is the only one I have to live. In living it, I live toward whatever is to come.

**** To those reading my posts, for the first two weeks of June I will be reevaluating my writing as well as using my words to keep in touch with friends and write report card comments. I will be back to posting by the third week in June. Will try to keep an eye on your posts until then. If there is something mindful you would like to share with me, just leave me a note on here. Peace to all as you make choices on your own journeys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you do

P1070652I woke today in anxiety. There was no big reason for it. It was almost a surprise in its physical manifestation of sensations in me but it was there. I had to begin my day of mindfulness by accepting that reality and choosing to do what I needed to do to fulfill my commitments that could not be changed.

P1070678Unexpectedly, a note from a writing friend,  “Good morning. Just wanted to wish you a very good day.” In light of what concerns I had for the day ahead, it was like cool water on a fevered brow in it’s comfort.  I looked with more anticipation toward the day ahead and it went fine.

Nonetheless, the anxiety kept growing and part way through the day I had to acknowledge its effects on my concentration and take a second anti-anxiety pill. They did their job along with my quieting thoughts through acceptance of them.

P1070682bIt is a balance. I am sure the anxiety could teach me something I need to be aware of but mindfulness also allows us to look at the priorities when we notice thoughts of what we need to do. Attending my meeting today mattered in the grand scheme of things and I have no regrets in choosing to go even if it took anxiety pills to get there and get through it.

There was and is something I need to listen to though in whatever it is inside which raised this anxiety. At my counseling session tonight, though I didn’t feel overly sad, I could not stop crying. Trying to figure it out or stop it just increased the tears and anxiousness even though my outer self could not understand the reason for them. Oh, I could feel the answer tugging on the edges of my mind but my mind was not ready for even mindfully listening.

P1070679Maybe, encouraged my counselour, you can allow it to come out in its own time. Just accept that this is what you are feeling and be at peace with not knowing the whys right now. Sometimes you become anxious. Sometimes you cry. Sometimes you understand the whys and sometimes you don’t.

There is only one more day in my Mindful May writing. I think my mindful gift today is living with the questions, letting them sit lightly in the heart. As my favourite quote from Rainer Maria Rilke says,

P1070695“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will gradually then , without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

 

*All pictures were taken on a walk right before the appointment. I find it interesting that I was focused on the greenery with the spaces for human living hidden behind them. It seems a good analogy for the idea of questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming More Accepting

This is the kind of moment which tests the practice of mindfulness and strengthens it. It isn’t a moment of high emotions of any kind. It is a moment when I am just out of sorts, feeling restless inside yet not ready to spend time with others. My mind wants to circle the things I need to get done and sitting in the moment with where I am is to sit in this unrest.

My old models of dealing with moments like this champ at the bit to kick in and take over spiraling me into anxiety. So I am calling their bluff. I am not going to fight them over this moment. I am simply going to capture them in words, unmask them, so to speak. I am not going to try to win. I am simply going to say hello to the feelings and offer them a seat and a nice chilled ice tea to cool off from all the heat outside and the heat within those parts of me, champing at the bit to get busy in so many directions that nothing would get done.

I read somewhere that writing about what we are going through makes for bad blogging. If so, then this might just have to be a bad blog moment. Only, I think of other writing friends and the guilt and drive so often held up as a problem when they have bad blog moments like this. I smile at the thought. My guilt being awakemodel was spiraling me into a shut down but my lovely honest writing friends pulled me out just by the memory of sharing their words.

So today is a day when my mindful gift is simply what I am learning about mindfulness. Here is a thought out of my little day to day guide on mindfulness called “Letting Everything Become Your Teacher” by Jon Kabat-Zinn:

“As the mind develops stability and is less caught up in the content of thinking, we strengthen the mind’s ability to concentrate and to be calm. And each time we recognize a thought as a thought when it arises, and we register its content and discern the strength of its hold on us and the accuracy of its content, each time we then let go of it and come back to our breathing and to a sense of our body, we are strengthening mindfulness. We are coming to know ourselves better and becoming more accepting of ourselves, not as we would like to be but as we actually are.”