I have to keep turning off the news lately. The election year propaganda machine is running at max capacity to generate stress, hysteria, fear, and anger, feeding us divisiveness and outrage in servings so large it actually seems to be tearing the culture apart. Maybe we’ll build something better from the wreckage? Maybe the wreckage will be what’s left when we’re finished?

I have some simple practices I get by on pretty comfortably for dealing with the media feeding frenzy:

  • Avoid speaking in slogans and sound-bites, and use my own words to share my own thoughts, with care and consideration.
  • Test assumptions, and understand that I am human, and untested assumptions are generally just made up shit in my head.
  • Don’t be mean. (Seriously, at all, it’s just not useful or necessary.)
  • Don’t argue; I’m not likely to change someone’s mind, and arguing sucks. A calm reasonable statement is sufficient to communicate.
  • Be open, and really listen; many people have built their opinion over a lifetime of consideration, and have their reasons. We don’t all think alike, or have the same life experiences.
  • Turn off the news. (Be a selective media consumer.)

It’s not fancy stuff, but I’m getting by on it pretty well. I can’t take credit for any of it; as with most practices, suggestions, recommendations, or rules guiding behavior, someone else came up with it first and it eventually reached my thinking by way of printed or spoken word, observation, or coincidence. Knowledge is one of the most powerful things we can share… It’s tragically – and comically – difficult to tell apart from bullshit.

Welcome.

Welcome.

Bits and pieces of things on my mind. Thank you for taking the time. 🙂 I have building and destroying in my thoughts today, and not generally because of the contentious media circus revolving around the swarm of presidential candidates, although it is painful watching an entire nation squirm with the slow recognition that as a country we maybe aren’t who we say or think we are… and that we are divided. No, it’s not ‘about’ that – it is about love, and life, and work, and the future. Building makes more sense, generally. Even the process of growth and change isn’t about destruction – when I undertake practices that change and develop the woman in the mirror, I’m not seeking to destroy the woman who already exists; I am seeking to become her more fully, more authentically, and leveraging the full measure of her potential to do so efficiently and beautifully. If I face that as a process of destruction, how can I be surprised to discover later that I am wounded, damaged, limping through life feeling beaten down?

Love, too, benefits greatly from building, from the constructive practices that build intimacy to quiet evenings with my love building furniture together (a powerful living metaphor for cooperation, intimacy, and good communication). As I worked step-by-step through the instructions provided, feeling soothed by the process of building something beautiful and functional after a fairly crappy day in corporate purgatory characterized by feeling dehumanized, implicitly criticized, and under-valued, I was also sharing productive collaborative time with my traveling partner. He doesn’t deliver a stream of criticism, or expect me to be superhuman; he is aware of my challenges. A gentle observation as I begin to assemble a drawer incorrectly spares me a lot of frustration later, and I don’t have to deal with taking it completely apart because it is just wrong. Later, I get to a point where the required task is one I know is a weak area for me; I ask for his help. We share the project with open hearts, listening to each other, and demonstrating skilled use of The Big 5 (respect, consideration, reciprocity, compassion, and openness). We have a great time with it. The finished nightstand is well-made, and represents a lovely experience we enjoyed together.

I sometimes find the choice to ‘walk on’ from stress a challenging one. I could so easily have spent the evening complaining and venting about work… but… I already know I am not where I want to be professionally – so does my partner. I had already said, simply enough, that the work day was aggravating and unpleasant. We both know I am looking for something else that suits me better, and is a better fit for where I am in life. What else is there to say that doesn’t keep me tethered to the work day that is now behind me? I don’t get paid for those hours – why would I spend them emotionally still at work? There are, however, verbs involved and choices to be made. It was nice to find that the practice of building was a good way to move on from what was troubling me, and find a firm place to stand, content and wrapped in love.

Sharing the love, and sharing the building. Destruction is far less joyful.

Sharing the love, and sharing the building. Destruction is far less joyful.

The practice of building (instead of destroying) isn’t limited to sharing the experience with someone else. I can choose to build (my experience) when I am alone, too, by enjoying any constructive practice, task, or process that wholly supports my own emotional well-being and being fully engaged in that, whether it is sketching note cards, building furniture, tidying my patio garden, mindfully attending to household chores, coloring, reading… So long as the thing I am doing supports my emotional wellness and engages my thinking on something that is not the thing stressing me out. It is a way of letting go by specifically embracing what has greater value.

Here it is morning. I’ll head to the office soon enough, and I am more well-prepared this morning for having gotten some real rest last evening, and a good night’s sleep undisturbed by stress. I’ll remind myself, as I arrive at the office, not to make assumptions, to be mindful, to communicate clearly, to take my time, to set clear expectations and boundaries – and to avoid taking things personally. It seems a lot to be reminded of, but every small commitment to living my own experience my way and taking care of me is another step on a journey in a profoundly positive direction, away from what stresses me out, and towards what builds contentment.

Today is a good day for contentment.