Archives for the month of: February, 2018

My coffee is already almost gone. I’ve spent the morning thinking about wildflowers, meadows, oak trees, wild roses, mountain roads, leisurely mornings, and country living. I shopped a while for seeds for native wildflowers, and I shopped for fruit trees. I let my mind wander the land that is becoming so familiar, and considered needful things – for the land, for life, for my heart, for love, and for lovers. There is a future to build.

A hidden path – does it lead to the future?

I’m very much a fan of low-drama living. I sip my cold coffee and contemplate what it takes to plant those seeds, too? What wild flowers easily evoke smiles – but not sneezes? What about scents, but no sticker burrs or unpleasant irritants? Just how much poison oak is on that land? Is that a living metaphor for the toxic creeping elements of drama that seem too easily able to vine into an otherwise delightful experience with some unpleasant wrong note in love’s song?

Winter sunshine, daydreams of summer.

It’s beautiful land. There are oak trees and roses. Manzanita and madrone. Summer grasses and Oregon grape. So lovely. And there’s poison oak and sticker burrs. LOL Like life.

What will a change of perspective reveal?

My coffee is finished like that thought. It’s time to move on with the day. πŸ™‚ It’s time to change the world. πŸ™‚

…Or maybe even just care.

I’m sipping my coffee. Scrolling through social media. I’m stunned by the quantity of anger, of propaganda, of knee-jerk reactions to both of those – I’m stunned by how often and how easily I am, myself, baited.

I reach a repeat of a meme that is some version of the “I don’t know how to convince you to care about people” meme. It’s one that resonates with me. Why are we even still trying to convince each other? Well, obviously; because we do care. But.

(And it’s a big but)

We’re each having our own experience. Some people really don’t care about other people at all.Β That’s real. It’s who they are. It’s who they choose to be. They practice that whole not caring thing, daily. Other people care so much, so hard, so publicly, that they become an abstraction of caring, a caricature of caring, an advertisement for caring – so emotionally invested in the pain of the whole world that they become immobilized with grief and outrage, and all of that without actually acting on their caring, except, possibly, through some Facebook posts, Tweets, and charitable online donations, with just enough energy left over to shame others who appear to care less. Some people care less publicly. They care quietly. They care privately. They help when and where they can. They don’t talk much about it. Maybe they don’t think their effort is enough, or that it doesn’t really matter. (Of course, it matters if you are a person needing help, right?) Maybe they worry that if undefined mobs of people know they care, they won’t have enough resources to share that caring with all of them. Some people help those they love, and only those they love. Others help only strangers. (Fuck family and friends, don’t they have jobs??* Those losers…*) Some people care, and help, and support, and nurture, and really deliver on their commitment to care… except for themselves. There is, as with so many other human behaviors, a definitely spectrum, a range, an assortment, a real variety of choices and experiences.

I sit sipping my coffee and thinking about who I am in the context of caring about others. Where do I fit in? Is it “enough” – from my own perspective? Do I “wish I could do more”? Is that something I can manage more efficiently? Considering the matter of “caring” – do I communicate well and clearly, expressing my appreciate, my gratitude, my loving concern, my support? Could I do that better? Is there someone yearning for my time, my presence, my help, my companionship, that I’ve been overlooking? Someone I could reach out to, who needs me? Am I giving myself enough of my time, enough of my effort, enough of my good-natured regard and consideration?

We can care without spending a dime. We can be considerate of others without giving more than a moment to slow down and really be aware of the needs and experience of other people in the moment. We can be present. We can make a point to understand, and experience compassion for, circumstances we’ve never endured. We can listen deeply – what a priceless treasure to really be heard by another human being.

I smile and sip my coffee. Of all the things I am learning in life, the most cherished detail may be learning to love, to care, to consider, to listen, to share a human connection with another traveler on life’s journey for some little while. To experience and understand things that aren’t “about me”. Today is a good day to care and to love. Today is a good day to change the world – even just this tiny corner.

Today is a good day to begin again. πŸ™‚

 

 

*that was sarcasm – seemed worth pointing that out in this instance to avoid confusion.

“Life” is not a contest, a competition, a race, or even, really, a game. I know I sometimes speak metaphorically in those terms, or have in the past, but giving that real thought, I have to wonder if I am setting myself up for an experience that doesn’t suit me, by doing so? Doesn’t it turn my attention specifically toward all manner of outcomes, and distract me from the moment I am in, to some degree, to view life as a competition?

This morning I face Monday feeling fairly content. I’m not in much pain this morning, which is a pleasant starting point for the day and week. I didn’t get as much done over the weekend as I intended to, but I also let go of those intentions fairly early on in favor of fretting over my distant loved ones, and compulsively checking for messages. LOL (So human.)

By letting go of any attachment to life-as-a-contest, life-as-a-competition, I let go of my attachment to most moments of envy that I might otherwise experience; that car, that house, that paycheck, that job, that title, that jewelry…none of that is really relevant if I am not in competition with anyone else (or with my own narrative). By letting go of any attachment to life-as-a-game, I am more easily able to simply treat others well (if I’m “player 1”, and everyone else is “playing against me”, it definitely changes how share-able shared resources really seem, for example).

Watching this chipmunk competing with the squirrels for resources over the weekend eventually crept into my own contemplation of life, generally. πŸ™‚

This morning I’ll step out into the world in the context of simply being. I’ll head to the office and do my comfortable best, content, professional, and secure. I’ll be kind to my colleagues. I’ll seek to be helpful where I am able to support others in their work. Community and collaboration require us to be helpful where we can. In a community, ideally, that’s a reciprocal exchange that is ongoing.

I like to think that if Monday goes well and smoothly, I can build the week from there, enjoying both my life and my work. I’m sure there will be boundary-setting here or there; I’ve grown better at it over time, and the thought doesn’t cause me any stress. I may need to say “no” now and then. I’ve gotten better at that too. I’ll need to bring a firm commitment to self-care on into the office with me; I still really have to work at that.

I’ve taken my “to do list” at home, and having utterly failed to complete any noteworthy portion of my planned weekend workload at home, I’ve spread it out over the week in my planning. I’ve done so partly to get it all done, and partly to determine if, indeed, this is a better way to do that. lol I guess I’ll know by Saturday morning, when I rise to face the dawn, and another drive down south to visit love and family.

It’s not a contest. It’s just my life. I’ve got a list of shit to get done. I’ve got a job to do during the week. There’s a lot to learn in life still just out of reach of what I know today. There’s no “finish line” – and if I approach life as some kind of race (rat or otherwise), I may miss the best bits. This week? I’ll pace myself, and approach living my life from a place of awareness, wonder, and contentment.

I’m ready to begin again. πŸ™‚

Sometimes “OPD” (Other Peoples’ Drama) wafts miles and oozes into my consciousness by clinging to the thoughts of faraway loved ones. It is what it is. Sometimes, against my own better judgement and choices supporting my own mental health self-care, the people involved matter more than my particular “no drama” boundary. That’s just real. We are social creatures, us human primates. We matter to each other. How could I turn away from loved ones who need me? (Slippery slope there; see step 1. below for more details!)

It was interesting to me, yesterday, how much of the OPD I was gently dealing with was a byproduct of a very commonplace behavioral loop built on poor self-care and some handy errors in thinking…

  1. Give too much of ourself, unreservedly, and ignore personal boundaries (reliable first step toward drama).
  2. Allow resentment to build up over time. (and it’s gonna)
  3. Have a profound emotional moment, possibly resulting from 1. and 2., but also maybe just due to poor self-care in general, over time.
  4. Reach out for support for 3. but without being observant of the needs or boundaries of others in the moment.
  5. Be rejected in the moment by way of individual (or group) boundary-setting; they are having their own experience, and also have choices and needs.
  6. Lose our shit in an emotional firestorm of weaponized emotion, catalyzing a really bad time – for everyone. (why do people keep thinking this behavior is okay?)
  7. Demand, quite reasonably, respect for our individual emotional experience, while projecting it forcibly into the conscious space of other (non-consenting) adults – without respecting their emotional experience equally.
  8. Storm off, reliably ensuring everyone is invested in our drama, but can’t resolve it without chasing us… or…
  9. Refuse to honor boundary-setting intended to provide recovery space and quiet time for drama-survivors, by continuously, spontaneously, returning to the scene to unleash more weapons of mass distraction at people we say we have affection for.
  10. Maybe both 8. and 9. keeping things really chaotic and focused on us.

I wasn’t directly involved. I didn’t hear/see the original salvo of emotional weaponry get fired down range. I don’t have all the details. It wasn’t my drama. Not my issue to solve. TheseΒ  steps, however, are pretty reliably a thing human beings do, and it’s highly likely that they played out approximately this way, in basically that order. I don’t find any of it either necessary – though I’ve done it myself – nor do I see it as being at all healthy or productive. It gets to be a cycle, for people who follow the steps regularly; we become what we practice.

We can do better. We can practice another way. It starts with better self-care. It starts, very much, with being aware of that person in the mirror, and what we need over time for ourselves, and healthy boundary-setting, that we, ourselves, respect. It starts with being aware of each other in the moment, observing each other, and asking clarifying questions – and seeking consent. Clear communication, explicit, non-accusatory, emotionally neutral, and built on “I statements” is a huge piece of that. If I’m having a shit time, and you ask me about it, my answer still needs to account for what you are up for, yourself. You are likely not my therapist – so a deep dive into my fucking consciousness, and unpacking all my chaos and damage is probably not something I should dive into, if I respect your space and your emotional needs as I do my own. I’d ask first. Sure, I could honestly say “I’m having a shit time” – giving you a chance to say “tell me about it…”, or instead, perhaps, “that sucks”. Notice how “that sucks” doesn’t directly invite you to tell me more? Yep. If you wanted to talk more, I might like you to make sure that’s cool with me. Maybe I don’t feel up to listening for hours and holding you while you cry? Or maintaining a calm exterior while you rage about things that feel a bit directed toward me? Maybe you need to get a fucking therapist? Maybe I can feel those things and still love you? πŸ™‚

We are each having our own experience. Knowing that, ideally, allows us to respect our own needs – and also be aware that those may not be shared by others.

If you’re following along, we’re about to step 5. and 6. already. Yep. We fired that weaponized emotion down range, but our loved ones, friends, or associates of any sort in the moment have done what we did not; they set clear boundaries based on their own needs, and have attempted to (probably gently, the first time) let us know they are not up for supporting us through our emotional storm at this time. They have their own thing going. Failing to respect that is an emotional attack. Rejection, though, actually does hurt – and if I’m in a super shitty emotional place and already not respecting my own boundaries, I may not be easily able to respect the boundaries of others – and worse, may not be allowing myself to be aware of it. This is generally when shit really gets ugly, somewhere around step 5. or 6. Because – hurt feelings added to existing powerful emotion just makes everything feel much worse. It’s hard not to take whatever – or whoever – hurt us quite personally, and most human beings I’ve met react to hurt feelings with more of whatever got them that result in the first place – so more anger, or more tears, or more sadness, or more arguing – definitely more boundary-violating shenanigans. You read that right, I said “shenanigans” – because we have a choice there. We are absolutely entitled to our feelings – our emotions are not subject to argument, ever! Having said that, our behavior is a choice. Generally, a choice we’ve practiced over time because the results have served us in some way. Get over all that. Do better. (Yep. There are verbs involved. Nope. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Yep. It does take actual real practice. Fuck yeah, your results may vary. Practice more.)

Stop taking shit personally. Be kind to each other (inclusive of being kind to yourself, by the way). Respect boundaries. Yours too. And not just yours, respect the boundaries of others. Deep emotional conversation about your heartfelt pain may be something you really need, something we all really need. There is an entire industry built of human beings who make this their specialty, and even they require consent to undertake it – hell, they insist you make an appointment and fucking pay them. It isn’t unreasonable to recognize that one reason for this is that it is simply a bit much to ask of others – particularly loved ones. πŸ™‚

Steps 8., 9. and 10. are practices. They aren’t particularly efficient or useful practices, and seem to me to be rather under-handed, self-serving, and unhealthy practices. Emotionally manipulative practices. Disrespectful practices. Practices that stem from reactivity that can be eased – with other practices, carefully chosen, and practiced repeatedly over time. We become what we practice.

This morning I woke up still here, in this quiet space, in this drama-free zone. Still, also, wondering how things are “there” and wishing people dear to me well from afar. I’m definitely better at drama from afar. LOL

It’s a good morning to begin again, with better practices, and better self-care. I look around my place, here, and smile; I can do better, too. πŸ™‚

I woke up angry this morning. I’m feeling pretty raw and bombarded by violent media imagery (recent school shooting, remember?), and omg, yet another round of craptacular memes masquerading as “truth” – that’s propaganda, folks. Memes aren’t cited, they aren’t fact-checked (and how would you know?), they aren’t held to any standard whatsoever of accuracy – do not get your fucking news (or your opinions, holy hell, seriously??) from god damned memes. lol Seriously. Read a fucking book. Read a bunch of books. Listen deeply, instead of waiting for your turn to talk.

Understand that your experience of life is not defining of life itself for all around you; they are also having their own experience.

It was my dreams. The world slid to shit and mayhem on the backs of pro and anti gun memes. lol It’s too much for me and I need a break. It’s literally a “problem” with a known and obvious solution (several of those) that we simply will not put in motion. It’s grim, terrifying, and fairly stupid of us as a society. Yep. Straight up saying it; we’re fucking dumb as dirt on the topic of firearms in America. I don’t need to say more than that; that is my opinion. Americans are not rational about firearms. Go ahead. Prove me wrong by being that rational American. Please. Definitely do that.

…And to the proud rebels out there concerned they may be unable to overthrow the government if they allow the government to take their guns, I have just one more thing to point out; that’s not how it’s done these days. Vote. Just fucking vote – and vote for people who will actually provide the nation with the legitimate necessary legislative support required, instead of a bunch of parasites making themselves wealthy on special interest handouts and stock tips. Maybe elect some folks who are not lawyers. Who are not rich. Who do not have a college education. Who are not white, not male. Not directly financially invested in the outcome of their decision-making. Damn. LOL How hard is that? Elect a government that looks like America – all of America. That’s how “representative” government works. Actually educate yourselves and learn to reason well and clearly, and have actual conversations about what you actually think, without relying on memes, labels, slogans, or name-calling. How many governments have been toppled in the past handful of decades without a citizen militia? More than one. Read a book.

Be kind to each other. It’s such a short mortal lifetime we live. There is no time for hate; it robs of us time we could spend enjoying love.

Begin again. (I sure need to…)