Another lovely morning – I’ve had quite a string of them, and I’m enjoying it without expectations of future such lovely mornings. No dread, I just find it a poor choice to attempt to force the universe and circumstances to comply with my whims by assuming it will be so. It hasn’t worked out well in the past to take that approach. 🙂 I found myself beginning this blog post with such enthusiasm – yesterday – that I got to 5k words and didn’t finish. This morning is another lovely one, my Traveling Partner dozing near by, my coffee hot and tasty. I pare down the words a bit and wonder if I should publish this one at all… it seems to strike a fairly serious tone, which wasn’t my intent when I began it…still, there are some things worth saying about the recent string of ‘easy’ pleasant mornings… there are verbs involved. 🙂

Flowers are a lovely metaphor for growth over time.

Flowers are a lovely metaphor for growth over time.

I have been finding it easier of late to ‘merry meet’ when I interact with someone, and similarly easily ‘merry part’ when the time comes to walk away – even if that departure is heralded by some moment of stress or OPD in my vicinity. (If you are just joining us here, ‘OPD’ is ‘Other People’s Drama’.) My gentle mornings and evenings seem to cuddle busy productive work days that are, while not entirely stress free, quite enjoyable moment to moment. I am learning not to immerse myself in the difficulties of others. It’s a good time for me, and I am generally content.

Does any of this make it sound ‘easy’? I sure hope not. I mean well, and I benefit from my writing – which is why I do it, honestly – and some of you reading have shared that you find value in my words, or pictures. I sure don’t want to set expectations that these changes in experience and quality of life have been effortless to reach, however well received, however simple sounding; there are verbs involved. I am putting in a lot of time and practice to discover the difference between ‘wish’ and ‘will’. They are very different. 🙂

Imperfectly perfect is as perfect as perfect gets.

Imperfectly perfect is as perfect as perfect gets.

The changes in my experience, in my emotional resilience and self-sufficiency over time, and my enjoyment of life generally have not only not been ‘easy’ to reach – they are not promised even now. I know I am likely to have the occasional bad day. I’ll have difficult times and frustrating moments. I’m likely to struggle to be understood now and then, or to have an interaction with a loved one that leaves me feeling mistreated. Practice, in my experience so far, does not make ‘perfect’ – it just doesn’t, and I highly suggest letting that old trope fall by the wayside. Practice is practice; choosing good practices, and practicing them because the practices themselves add a positive quality to my experience has ‘moved the needle’ on my quality of life. I am experiencing an improvement over time – with continued practice. Your results may vary and there are verbs involved – and choices. The practices I choose for me are most effective when they are the most effective practices I can choose for myself – the ones that resonate with me, and meet my needs over time, providing me with the greatest value. I think that’s where I’ve ‘gone wrong’ in treatment before…trying to force practices to work for me that either didn’t address my needs well, or just weren’t the practices with the outcome I sought. The effort was wasted, not because it lacked value, but because it lacked the value I expected it to have. If I had been, then, more easily able to accept the value that any one practice or change in behavior or thinking actually offered, as it was, I might have gone farther, faster, sooner… I lacked the wisdom and experience to understand that good practices are not ‘One Size Fits All’. So. I try new ones, and share what I can of the experience. There’s a lot to learn in life’s curriculum.  And I sure hope this does not sound like a lecture. 🙂

Prescription strength mindfulness has been the best Rx for me...and it can be taken as part of any treatment plan!

Prescription strength mindfulness has been the best Rx for me…and it can be taken as part of any treatment plan! 

There’s a common and peculiar notion that a magic pill might save the day, spare the effort, provide a short-cut…and I think I got lost on that detour, too. For a long while I took powerful mind-altering prescription drugs on the recommendation of my clinician at the time, in a rather desperate willingness to ‘try anything’ that would ease my suffering, and balance my volatility… only… what I felt stated in a more honest way was a desperate willingness to try anything that did not require actual effort,  or an investment in will, practice, changing behaviors and thinking, investing in my time, or making a real commitment to the lengthy process that growth can be. That all sounds like real work…I wanted a magic pill, and no arguments. I wanted to be personally validated as being ‘the good guy’ and assured that because I had been victimized the world had an obligation to put things right somehow. I told countless therapists who asked me what I hoped to get out of treatment that what I wanted was ‘happily ever after’. I’ll tell you it’s worth saying so to a therapist at least once in one’s life – just to see the look on their face. It is not a reasonable goal. No magic pill. No short cuts. No happily ever after. I dutifully took my pills though…and then other pills to address symptoms those pills caused…and more therapy because the pills weren’t really fixing things, just muting them a bit…and then other different pills because the pills caused side effects…and more pills because those pills didn’t do quite what other pills did that I thought perhaps needed to be done… The pills were wrecking my health, and not doing my cognition or emotional balance any real good, either. Seeking a magic potion did not replace the effort required to learn to live and love skillfully, in the face of chaos and damage. (And the no short cuts rule seems pretty universal.)

I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. (Please don’t just wander off and stop taking your medication! Doing so over a blog post seems a poor approach to good self-care.)

I share what works for me because it was so hard for me to find, in the first place.

I share what works for me because it was so hard for me to find, in the first place.

Why am I on and on about how this is not easy, and that the journey requires taking steps, and that will requires action, and that there are verbs involved if I am enjoying my experience lately, with seemingly such ease day-to-day? Because I, myself, could be mislead by the ease in my experience lately, and find my way to problematic thinking and assumptions that could wreck my heart nearly instantly if something goes sideways unexpectedly.  I find it incredibly painful and discouraging to embrace expectations of ease and effortlessness, and have my contentment yoinked out from under me suddenly, not through any great tragedy, but simply because I lost sight of how much practice goes into living well, and how much time I invest in good self-care and taking care of me. “Easy” doesn’t describe it… and when it feels ‘easy’ I generally find that the sensation of ease is related more to developing skill over time, rather than to any lack of effort. I’m still practicing. There are still verbs involved. I am learning to undermine the demons of discouragement and futility lurking in the darkness by being accepting and aware of the commitment I make to practicing, and the necessity to continue. Doing so results in fewer of those terrible moments when it feels like it wasn’t worth trying at all; they are an illusion, and have no greater value than any other fleeting thought or emotion, and choosing differently is possible. You know I’m going to say it again… There are verbs involved. I also know there will be days when I struggle to understand why I have to practice so much or ‘work so hard’ at what seems so effortless on other days. Perspective will matter. Maybe on that day, these words will matter, too.

Each having our own experience, and all in this together; like flowers, we are also blooming in our own time.

Each having our own experience, and all in this together; like flowers, we are also blooming in our own time.

Today is apparently a good day for a lot of words. Today is a good day to practice good practices that are effective for me, personally. Today is a good day to try new practices with an open mind, and a will to explore what they may offer. Today is a good day to brush off discouragement with a smile and say “you’re not my supervisor!” Today is a good day to observe the suffering of others and choose differently myself, without being any less compassionate about their experience.