This is a good cup of coffee. The morning is quiet, relaxed, and pleasant. I am, in general, physically comfortable. Nice start to the day, so far. 🙂 It’s enough.

My sleep quality has degraded somewhat, notably with considerably more dream activity, difficulty falling asleep, and waking ahead of the alarm. I consider it all of that for a moment or two, while I enjoy my coffee. It’s not all that rare or strange. After a pointless couple of moments of thought, I let it go. Too nice a morning to be spent ruminating over what is not strange. lol

I think about friends far away. I think about the long weekend coming up – my first planned time away from the new job since it started. My Traveling Partner and I celebrating anniversaries. It’s our 10-9-8; 10 years of a great friendship, 9 years as lovers, 8 years married. Wow. Nice milestone… although, admittedly, the “10” starts more as coworkers, and genial associates, becoming a close friendship a bit late in the year… LOL. I stretch it to fit because I’m just that eager to count it a decade with this human being who is so dear to me. 😀 (It’s my romantic anniversary narrative and I shall do the math as I please! LOL)

The lovely sunny weather yesterday has me thinking about the garden, and I’ll be out on the deck among the containers this weekend, putting things right after the landlord’s visit to give the deck a thorough pressure-washing. It wasn’t at all convenient, but the deck does look very nice, and I’m over being irked by the inconvenience. 🙂

Someone commented recently about my positive attitude. I remember laughing; I wasn’t always in this place, or so easily able to “be positive”. It is kind of a state of being at this point. Enough choices that favor a positive approach, enough choices to let bullshit go, to compliment authentically instead of give “negative feedback”, to help or support instead of tearing someone down, to politely refrain from mean humor even when I’m hurting so much it seems funny, to make the day-to-day attempt to be – in every interaction – respectful, considerate, compassionate, reciprocal, open, and mindful, has eventually resulted in a fairly enduring positivity, just generally. I didn’t really “see that coming”. It was, initially, mere compliance with a request that I “be” less negative. I started studying up on what that could mean, what it could “look like”, and what sorts of characteristics people perceived as “positive” demonstrate. I started changing choices. I adopted new practices. I explored different styles of humor, of conversation, evening making new choices about viewing material, reading material, even the clothes I wear… and over time, in small increments that felt entirely natural in the moment, I became… still me. Yep. I’m still me, from my insider perspective, only… I’m generally contented, generally pleasant (so I hear), generally positive, even notably inclined (per my associate yesterday) toward lifting others up, and explicitly supporting their personal and professional growth through positive reinforcement. 😀 Wow. Nice.

…Most mornings, all of that just comes out as contented coffee consumption and a few minutes of writing… I finish my coffee, my curiosity nudges me in the direction of reading those earliest posts, to look for “clues” or “signs” or “early indications of change”, a chance to study the actual mechanism of getting from “there” to “here”… only… yeah. I check the time. It’s already time to begin again. No turning back. 😉 There’s an entire life ahead of me to live. 🙂

This morning I hurt. I woke with such a shitty headache, and neck pain. Did I sleep on my neck wrong? Maybe… I hurt. I know that.

Meditation? Sure. Still hurts. Stretching? Yoga? Yep. Hurts. Take something for that? Okay, fine. Still hurts. I put on my headphones and play the only song that makes sense right now. I scroll through the news, looking for a distraction. No luck, still hurts. Fucking hell. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

I sip my coffee, and remind myself it’ll take time for the pain relief available through OTC measures to kick in. I start the song over. lol I remind myself to correct my posture, knowing that will also help. I remind myself that small incremental improvements eventually add up, and remind myself not to dismiss the seeming ineffectiveness of measures taken that seem to have little effect – again, it all adds up.

…Doesn’t it?…

I sip my coffee and consider the situation from a larger quality-of-life perspective; even those steps I take that don’t provide a “cure for pain” are genuinely improvements in overall quality of life, nonetheless. Why would I allow petty frustration with a headache put those out of reach based on a fairly subjective measure of their effectiveness (which is to say, immediate substantial pain relief of this fucking headache right here/now)?

…I still have a fucking headache…

…Well, but on the other hand, there’s not much else to bitch about, just at the moment, life is pretty good. So. There’s that, right?

Maybe if I begin again…? I change up the music.

I woke up bathed in sweat. Shaking. I woke up with wet hair, and a sensation of having “survived the night”. Oddly, I don’t recall much from my dreams. Under the circumstances, I am so okay with that. lol

I sip my coffee and over and over I work on “letting it go” and restarting my awareness of the day from a newer, later, more comfortable vantage point. It feels like effort. The effort is real, and I am slow to fully wake up, this morning. That’s okay, too. I have another sip of my coffee, grateful it is now almost cool enough to drink. I’m eager to start the work day and put more distance between my waking life and whatever was chasing me in my dreams. lol

I read a lot of articles about “mindfulness”. They’re split between articles about how “dangerous” or “potentially harmful” mindfulness can be (it is most assuredly potentially very effective), or what a waste of time it is – and often the discussion boils down to the very fact that it is effective being a cause for concern – because it may actually do something for you, and yeah, maybe you don’t get to determine specifically what that result looks like – or how over-hyped it is, and why you shouldn’t waste your money, because you could totally do it for free.

Mindfulness is effective.

Mindfulness practices can be undertaken at no financial cost.

There. Simple. Well, but… also… mindfulness is only effective at the things that mindfulness can do or bring to an experience. If we’re looking for something else/different out of it, well… We’re unlikely to get anything but what it is. If we’ve been walking in our sleep all our lives, or living on autopilot with our emotions frozen, taking those first exploratory steps down a mindfulness path? Scary. Emotional. Potentially not at all what we expected. It doesn’t equip us to ignore our truths or hide from our pain, for sure. It rests heavily on the adage that “the way out is through”. If you are approaching mindfulness hoping for blissful avoidance and a glossy cover-style zen outlook on life, you’re probably missing the point. 😉 It’s work. There are verbs involved. It isn’t always emotionally easy, at all.

Mindfulness practices – contemplative practices of any sort, really, I’d expect – do not have to cost money. The exception? What if you know nothing, and need a guide? Someone to “show you how”? Well, that’s where it could become costly. Do you read a book? That’s not too expensive, right there, but it’s hard to ask questions and get an answer. Do you take a class? See a specialist? Go on a luxury retreat? Buy color-coordinated accessories? Remodel your house to include a meditation space? Have a landscaper build you a temple and meditation garden? See what I mean? It doesn’t have to cost anything. That doesn’t mean you, personally, won’t be tempted into spending plenty, based partly on marketing by companies, and partly on what you think a mindfulness practice “looks like”. You have choices.

Speaking of choices… this coffee has gone cold. I’d love to choose to have another leisurely cup, take the morning quite slow, meditate a while, and relax. It is, however, a work day of another sort, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂

My coffee is delicious this morning, for those values of deliciousness to which coffee drinkers refer, when we suggest our coffee is delicious, obviously; it may still taste terrible for the non-coffee-drinker. lol It’s hot, though, and well-brewed, with care, and I am enjoying it. The weekend is already over. A new work week already exists as the immediate future. The weekend was lovely; time spent with friends, time spent with each other, savoring existence.

At some point, the phone rang (more common now, than when we had social media). First mine; an unidentified number from Mauritania. Since I don’t know anyone there, or do business with any companies there, I dismissed the call without answering it; walking away from drama, inconvenience, or unpleasantness, that I recognize, is pretty easy. I do it all the time. 🙂 The second ring was a friend, the phone was my partner’s, and the call was to bring up other drama, somewhere else, based on shit-talking other people, and those other people being people prone to talking shit, and this friend being the unfortunate recipient of shit-having-been-talked, he reached out to share the experience, and the shit he had heard. Unexpected OPD. Other People’s Drama is bad enough, but yeah, it’s even less pleasant and more, sort of, well… “sticky” when OPD becomes “personal”. It’s hard not to get emotionally invested when feeling attacked. It’s hard to “let that shit go” and remain mindful that even when it feels so personal, it really isn’t, at all. People talking shit are generally pretty well mired in their own chaos and damage, drowning in their own bullshit, and using the “theater of distraction” to pass the time in hell. It’s not about me.

I shrug that shit off, and walk on. It does make it easier to tell who my friends are, there’s that. lol 🙂

It was a small, tiny, and insignificant moment out of a delightful weekend. I’m glad we let it go and moved on with what matters most. 🙂

Now there’s the work week ahead, and I find myself, for just a moment, getting wrapped up in some other flavor or version of drama – office politics. I chuckle and let that go, too. There is no value or purpose in letting those details become the focus of my work (neither the tasks themselves, nor the characteristics of the days). Letting that go isn’t so hard; I focus on the questions, not the certainty of my answers. Disagreements, in theory, are not personal; we’re all working toward the same goals. I take that as a given, and practice assuming positive intent, and in doing so, all my relationships improve.

…It does take some practice. We become what we practice. I finish my coffee, notice the time, and begin again. 🙂

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” (a damned lie from childhood; some of that shit stings for a lifetime)

“That’s just semantics.” (A corporate management professional who should know better)

“I didn’t mean it that way!” (Nearly everyone, at some point)

Words and meaning – they do matter, don’t they? It’s how we get our point across (short of frustrated sobbing, or shouting, at which point no one hears the meaning over the volume of emotion).

“Use your words.” (A thing generally said parent to child, and potentially far more useful that a lot of other advice about words one could hear)

The point here is clear; gentle honesty, authentic civility, being “real” without willful offense, being truthful – and also accurate – seem wise and purposeful, constructive, ways to use language, on the “word delivery” side of things. I’m not saying people seem intent on wise use of their words, I’m just calling out the potential. We’re human primates; it is not unusual to see the worst of our nature. (I make this observation on an Easter Sunday, after reading new reports of police shootings in the US, and suicide bombings in Sri Lanka; we’re the scariest and most dangerous of all the primates, no doubt about it. 100% “most likely to destroy their own world.”)

I’m also contemplating the listener’s obligations in the face of some torrent of untruthful or hurtful bullshit, delivered in the form of words (spoken or in print, bullshit is bullshit). Clear, explicit communication is useful stuff; we sometimes allow a personal agenda of some kind (or fearfulness, or baggage) to nudge us away from truth, accuracy, consideration, necessity, kindness, and wisdom. Capable of spewing some heinous vile nonsense, we often also seem rather unprepared to deal with receiving it. What then? What to do when the world piles on, and we suffer the weight and the pain of it, feeling unable to defend ourselves, feeling compelled to try?

I’m not sure I have the best advice on that one; my tendency (and my practice) is to detect drama (or bullshit) and, if possible, walk away from all that. I attempt to avoid having drama-prone, hostile-seeming, or trolling-inclined associates join my social circle in the first place. I attempt to defuse discussions headed toward drama, explicitly, gentle, firmly, and without argument; I’m not interested in loosing the wild dogs of emotion in conversations that are ideally handled less passionately. I’m not interested in being provoked.

The world we live in can be exceedingly provocative, in all the worst ways. I mean, seriously? We’ve built a world in which people feel entitled to make their point by blowing up explosives in crowded places, taking innocent lives by way of gunfire, or using torture. How does any of that not provoke decent people (of all backgrounds and ideologies) into wanting to fight back, to insist on change, to reject the thinking that appears to be at the source of the violence? It’s a strange paradox, though; if we become the fighter, and take to the battlefield, we are immediately at grave risk of becoming that thing we so despise. I don’t have answers this morning… I’m just sipping my coffee, and noticing we have so many better ways to express ourselves, than by way of guns and bombs.

We could each do better. We can all begin again.