It can be pretty daunting to work day after day after day after day attempting to reach a goal – harder still if I have adopted that goal from a suggestion, or had it dictated to me. When I miss the mark somewhere, or fall short of expectations – whether they are my own, or the expectations of another – it frustrates me, challenges my thinking, sets me at odds with myself (and sometimes with others) – all in service to an unavoidable prerequisite for achieving a goal; I’m not there yet.

There is plenty of encouraging literature in the self-help aisle, and more than a few apropos aphorisms reminding me that ‘to err is human’ and that ‘practice makes perfect’ (reminder: it doesn’t, at all), and book after book coaching on the  matter of progress over time, learning curves, and playing to ones strengths. When I make a mistake, I often find I am not open to encouragement, not willing to accept information intended to support self-compassion, patience, and growth – incremental change over time feels amazing, but is often received by others less well – with impatience and negative reinforcement. That generally sucks, and feels quite alienating. Human primates want they want, and living in this ‘right now’ moment the way we do, and suffering from such limited perspective (our own), it can be so easy to lose sight of how different we can each be in some moment, how varied our challenges are, and our own individual frustration with that other person takes on a life of its own – weapons of mass distraction are launched, sometimes with regret after the fact. Our impatience to have our own needs met overrides our recognition that this other human being does not live for our benefit.

I find myself struggling to ‘get it right’ – losing sight of how vast the options to do so actually are, and that I, myself, define my success or failure. Sometimes, things that are just fine, and acceptably adequate in all regards don’t feel like enough. I set the bar pretty high for myself – sometimes at the expense of my contentment, and well-being, and sometimes without realizing I have done so. I continue to work on practicing the practices that best support my needs over time. If I find I have discontinued something of great value, I begin again. I continue to support and nurture my best impulses, my most positive values, and to care greatly for this fragile vessel, and the being of light within it… sometimes I fail myself. It hurts, like any failure. I make the effort, every time, at some point, to simply give myself a break and begin again.

The thing is…there are goals, of course, but if they become expectations over time, the tendency to berate myself or treat myself poorly in the face of ‘not getting it right’ can be pretty significant – and I so don’t need that from me! The solution sometimes seems to be ‘then I just won’t bother’…like a child, fighting the process, because the process isn’t easy. Silliness, I know.  Growth takes time, and there are verbs involved. Practice may not make perfect, but it certainly crafts change – for me the fine line is what the change is about, and is it something I actually want for myself, or is it being imposed on me from an external source? That matters – I am on a journey to become the woman I most want to be, and I’m sharing my journey with my very best bestie, the woman in the mirror. Changes or goals imposed on me by my own will and intent, with mindful purpose, and good-natured recognition of what I want from myself in life aren’t ‘easy’ to achieve – sometimes they are damned difficult – but getting there is rewarding, and the journey itself is valued, however difficult. Giving up is generally not something I am seeking, or allowing myself. When change is imposed on me by external sources, or a goal is set by another person’s needs and agenda, getting there lacks any sense of reward, the journey is often a continuous source of stress and frustration, and my resentment is… a lot to drag around with me.

This probably seems pretty obvious – I’m talking it through this morning because I find that I am sometimes challenged by the intensity of my frustration when I fail at some task, goal, or have difficulty implementing some change that I neither desire, nor care about. What’s up with that? If it’s not my own, and I am not invested in it, why would I be the slightest bit troubled if or when I don’t succeed at it? How would that be any measure of my own success? How would it affect me in any negative way? That’s some baggage right there – and I’d do well to drop it off at the carousel and let it go.

We've all got some baggage.

We’ve all got some baggage.

I slept badly last night. I struggled to fall asleep, and it was well past midnight before I did. My sleep was interrupted a number of times; my apartment seemed unusually noisy, with an assortment of rather random bangs, bumps, creaks, thuds, and crackles that got me out of bed, flipping on lights, checking things out – at no time was there anything unusual to see. Sleep did not find me easily. I woke long before the alarm, with no particular hope of returning to sleep; I woke feeling frustrated, and vaguely as if I was failing to get something right. (In this case, probably sleep – I definitely wasn’t getting that right!) Once I was up, it was a rather anti-climactic ‘nothing to see here…’ sort of moment. I am awake, and woke easily, without any of the obvious grogginess that has plagued me for some days, now. I am finding new appreciation for a few moments (hours) of grogginess after a night of deep restful sleep… I probably won’t be bitching ungratefully about that any more; I value the sleep.

I am not tired so much as excited, perhaps; I have a long weekend, and I’m headed into the trees. My traveling partner is traveling, too, and taking the wanderer, and another partner, along with him for a weekend of forested fun elsewhere; they are headed to vast crowds, loud music, and communal fun. I am seeking a solo experience, and stillness, where it will be easier to listen deeply to myself; the world has nothing to say to me about what I want from my life.  I already miss my traveling partner…but I recognize that as with any other intimate connected relationship, I benefit from distance now and then; without it, I am prone to accepting the goals, needs, and desired changes of that other as my own – to my detriment. I’m not always super clear-headed about these things, and alone out in the trees, walking in stillness, listening to my own heart, I am more easily able to get my bearings, and set my own course on this journey. It’s a necessary sort of re-calibration, for me, that I am not so easily able to do at home, even now.

Did I mention I’ll be headed into the trees? You’ll likely be without me a day or two. I’ll come back with pictures. 🙂