Archives for the month of: June, 2018

I slept in. Woke gently, and although I still feel fairly groggy, the day is off to a pleasant start. Sipping coffee in my news feed, my consciousness is being tormented by a common turn of phrase that irritates me. “I feel like…” followed by words that do not communicate either emotion, or sensation, and therefore – not feelings. C’mon, People, do better! Use your words with some skill. Fuck.

How about “I have the impression that…” if what you are communicating is, um, a largely unsupported subjective impression?

Or, if you are communicating something that you feel pretty sure of, but are aware maybe you don’t have all the information, a handy “My opinion is….”?

Maybe I can interest you in a lovely precise “I’ve observed…” to precede your anecdote?

There’s also, tried and true, “I think…”. Yep. If you’re sharing your thoughts, it’s wonderful to make that quite clear, because you know what? “I feel like people just don’t know how to…” is not a fucking emotion!

“Well, that’s just how people talk, though.” Fuck that lazy bullshit. Words have meaning. Do better. Are you not grasping the idea that the sloppy use of language, undermining the meaning of words, and even gas-lighting the entire fucking nation by way of the media’s sometime also similarly shitty use of language is part of the bullshit we’re all struggling with? Seriously.

This is not hard.

I feel rested. I feel a bit groggy. I appreciate my morning coffee. I feel the cold iced coffee on my tongue. I enjoy that sensation (and don’t have to say “I feel” anything at all to communicate that impression; I can actually use words that are about sensations and feelings, themselves). I recognize that people can be less than ideally clear when they speak (which is certainly more true than saying “I feel like people aren’t very clear”).

Just… yeah. Fuck. Please? Stop using the language of feelings to attempt to communicate your thoughts. Firstly; people may not understand you. Secondly, it’s not accurate. Thirdly, it undermines language, generally. Fourthly, it’s a lever that allows influence over your consciousness. Lastly? It’s just not well done. Do please share your actual feelings and sensations. Do share your thoughts. Just stop mixing them all up like that into some surrealist word salad. Do better.

End rant. I’ll just head for coffee #2, and begin again. I’ll be over here, able to distinguish the difference between my thoughts and my feelings. 😉

It’s morning again. I’m okay with that. I even find something to appreciate about the week hours when the world still sleeps and a mere handful of other humans are awake. I just heard a car going by. It’s very quiet this morning. The sky is just lightening, and appears to be a vague, soft, lavender steely gray, hinting at a cooler morning. No real knowing what the day holds – there was a time when that would have troubled me a great deal.

Today I am content. Sipping coffee. Thinking “about” nothing much. Taking some time for me. Feels good.

The titular “doing better” isn’t given any context in any specific way, because I’m honestly not sure quite what my meaning is. Maybe I mean I’m doing better? I’m definitely feeling pretty good this morning. Also, though, and this is important – “doing better” (than I am, than we are…) is a thing worth doing, and certainly I think, and talk, about that rather a lot. So… there’s that. Then, there’s “doing better”, where the emphasis is on the doing, rather more than it is on “better”, that reminder that there are verbs involved to get there seems pretty relevant in a world where so many people seem so very focused on doing less, more easily, with greater convenience and less effort. The doing – both the what, and the how, matter. We could do better. I know I could do better.

It’s a morning. The sky is a not-quite-indigo, like favorite faded denim. It’s time for another coffee, and some verbs. There’s an entire day ahead, and then… the weekend. A busy one at home, filled with visits with friends, chores, errands, and a photography gig… and at least one or two chances to begin again. So many verbs. LOL

What will I do this weekend to do better? Better than yesterday? Better than I have? Better than I see going on around me? How will I make the world just a little better? I smile to myself at the obviousness in this moment right here, because sitting here quietly with my coffee it seems so easy; I will be kind, helpful, compassionate, and treat human beings as human beings. I mean, if that was a universal approach, how much nicer would life be for how many more people? Just don’t be a dick to people. Don’t be cruel. Don’t put process (or laws) over humanity, use it, instead, to support humanity.

…Damn… I hope it is as easy as it sounds, from the vantage point of a quiet morning. 🙂

Are you ready to change the world?

We can begin again. Together.

It’s here. The longest day. The shortest night. A dim-not-dark pre-dawn sky. A sunset will follow later, so much later, and then a lingering twilight late into the night – then, Summer, Fall, Winter… the wheel keeps turning.

Summer Solstice, 2018, before dawn

Yesterday ended on a bizarrely anxious note. It’s really super uncomfortable having to recognize that the United States is squirming as the government leads in the direction of fascism, while the population struggles to resist. Uncomfortable barely describes it. I was able to sleep, which brought relief, and I am exceedingly fortunate, individually. That’s something. Yesterday was hot. I took cases of bottled water to protesters downtown on my way home from work. I thanked them for being there. The traffic home was pretty terrible, but I didn’t feel it so much as I felt I’d done something to help.

…Of course, halfway home, I found myself facing a critical inner voice reminding me that plastic water bottles are an ecological nightmare… and companies that bottle water are draining life-force (and life-giving water) from communities all over the globe for profit. Shit. This is harder than it looks.

The anxiety had me in its grip well before I got home. Every conversation I’d had at work resurfaced to be re-evaluated through a lens of insecurity, panic, and fear. Every decision got questioned. Every moment reviewed, critiqued, and used to build further fear-driven anxious narrative in my head. I got home, heart pounding, breathless, and on the edge of a panic attack, doing battle with myself. I fluttered around the apartment distracted and wretched for a few minutes – the air conditioning was a relief, and in that moment of appreciation, I found a hint of relief, something to hold onto for just a moment.

I took a deep breath, and felt myself relax as the coolness in the house wrapped me, and soothed me (it was a really hot day here). I stood looking out at the container garden, still feeling anxious, and aware of the hot day on the other side of the glass. “Right, well, I can at least water the garden, even if everything feels crazy right now – no reason to punish flowers…” Out into the heat I went, but the awareness of the waiting air conditioning was working on my mind in a nice way; I knew I would be comfortable again, soon. I slowed down. Took my time to really water everything thoroughly. I filled feeders. I rinsed and re-filled bird-baths. I tidied and swept. I weeded some pots, removing still more peanuts that had sprouted, thanks to busy squirrels.

I returned to the coolness indoors considerably calmed. The anxiety came and went a bit all evening. More like a nuisance neighbor I’m on good terms with, but would rather not see all the time, than like an attacker that has overpowered me. I felt content with the improvement, and sleep came easily when time came to sleep. I woke feeling rested, and ready to start a new day…

It is the Solstice, today. Hell of a good day to begin again. America is still full of Nazis – we ought to do something about that. We can. We have choices. 🙂

I have choices. So many choices – in life, in work, in relationships. There are so many verbs involved. Keeping up takes effort, practice, commitment… omg, just spelling it out, it all seems so daunting! One thing at a time, though? Not so bad. I don’t need to “fix” an entire broken world – or even this one entire broken human being staring back at me in the mirror. That’s no longer my approach at all – I just need to water my garden. Maybe tidy up a bit. Do a little weeding. Meditate for a few minutes. Get some dishes done. It’s just one thing, not everything, right now, all the time. “Everything“is super hard – I mean, have you seen all the shit that needs something done about it?? Too much. All that’s needed, really, is “enough”. 😉

I think I’m ready to begin again. 🙂

The past day was pretty spot on for great results. I’m sipping my coffee and giving some thought to the previous 24 hours. I’m very human, and this moment taken to look over how yesterday went, without harsh criticism or reflexive judgmental nonsense, is a practice I favor, although it is worth noting that it also requires me to practice mindful awareness, perspective, and non-attachment, with some skill. A bit of pre-coffee word-juggling to begin a Wednesday.

Here’s a squirrel.

Yesterday I managed to stay the course for practices, goals, intentions, planned workload, errands, housekeeping… and this morning I still find myself looking upon the previous day favorably, contentedly, and without any hint of stress surfacing over some thing or other than I did or did not do. Nice. Win and good. I probably get fewer “experience points” for such an easy day, but this morning I am feeling accomplished, secure, satisfied, and rested. It’s lovely.

…and also a chipmunk.

It’s also work.

It was a good day, and not without effort to make it so. I fought impulses to snack compulsively. I fought impulses to wander off from all manner of things that needed to be done. I fought the temptation to collapse into a chair at the end of the day and do nothing. I fought the inclination to just not follow through on a variety of things I had set my intentions upon, earlier in the day. It was an all day battle with my inner teenager. Yesterday, I won. Today? No idea. I guess I’ll know tomorrow. 😀 Tomorrow? Yeah… that’s a ways off, from this moment, and rather than borrow stress from a moment that doesn’t exist, I stay with this moment, here, feeling content, and wrapped in love.

It’s kind of a weird time in my life. I’ve had times when most of the stress and complications in my life came from my relationships, others when it sourced with work pretty reliably, sometimes it was all in my head, and still others when it was all those things, or some combination. This is a very different time; almost none of my stress comes from my personal or professional life, at all. My stress exists largely as response to events in the world, these days. There isn’t much I can do to act on events beyond my control, besides all of the things that anyone else can do: letters, phone calls, protests, charitable donations to worthy charities that spend their funds on their actual causes, speaking up frankly in groups, speaking truth to power, using my privilege as an umbrella to support those less privileged, and spending my own resources with great care, such that very little of my own money goes to endeavors, or people, which I object to. Oh, and one last one; definitely not doing, myself, any of the hateful things I see going on in the world. (Oh, hey… it kind of looks like there are a lot of things we can each be doing about “the world”… but… are you, though?) Doing those things matters – but it doesn’t ease the stress in any noteworthy way. That has to come from other practices entirely. My stress lives within me – it’s a reaction. What I do about that is entirely within my hands. 🙂

I sip my coffee wondering “what is enough?” and considering the chaos in the world, without allowing my outrage to boil over. I haven’t read the news this morning. It’s best to let that wait, I think, and give myself a chance to start this lovely morning without all that. I take time to appreciate feeling good, myself, right now, in this moment, right here. That has value – it helps build the emotional resilience that will keep me steady later. That has more value that I can possibly overstate… it’s worth practicing the practices that build resilience, trust me; sooner or later, we all have to begin again, somewhere. 🙂

…Now seems a good time.

This morning, before I quite realized what I’d done, I’d gotten lost in my newsfeed within moments of sitting down to write. I didn’t write. Well, I did write – but I wasn’t writing in a rational, purposeful, helpful way that supports me as a human, or shares something of value. I was mad. I was… posting replies. Oh my.

Once I noticed I was putting myself at risk of an angry screed, I pushed my chair back, sat fully upright, and took a couple deep deep cleansing breaths, and let myself relax. I held on to the awareness of that moment, breaking free of the tantalizing sticky trap of opinion, pulling myself free of the outrage machinery. (There is so much to be outraged about this days, no lie, that’s real.) Differences of opinion so easily become anger. We each feel so certain we are “right“, and that if only we could share the nuances of our personal perspective, everyone else would get it, too! While that may be true, now and then, it mostly just isn’t, at all. We are each having our own experience. It’s not actually fully share-able.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a “relativist“. While I do recognize that context, culture, and variations in human understanding and experience can change the truth of a proposition, I also understand the nature of reality to have unchanging elements (that I may or may not be fully able to recognize or understand, myself). I think how we define the terms we use matters a great deal, and definitely affects our ability to have meaning dialogue, generally, every bit as much as “the nature of reality”. I have an ethical framework, as an individual, that suggests to me that some actions and choices are “wrong” – meaning, not consistent with my ethics, as an individual. So far so good. Where things get messy, and I think this is true for a great many of us, is when my own sense of “wrongness” pressures me from within to make a point of calling it out when I see others taking those actions, or making those choices. Do I really get to decide right vs wrong for anyone but me?

Yes.

…Also, no.

So… “yes”, in the limited sense that I’m utterly free to express my opinion on the matter. However, in doing so, I’m a wiser happier human if I can also remain aware that my opinion on such things is not likely to a) change anyone else’s opinion (or actions) or b) have any great persuasive weight in the world, generally, and also… c) it’s not for me to decide what everyone else will think or do. I’m just saying. I mean that – I’m literally merely, simply, only, and “just” saying words. Someone may hear my words and change. Someone else may hear my words and double-down out of pure resentment and fury, because in their view I am clearly wrong. Still someone else will disregard my words without ever hearing me out,. We are each having our own experience. I don’t really get to decide what anyone else understands right or wrong to be – but I am not required to respect, value, share, or appreciate their perspective, beyond hearing them out, and accepting their agency.

I don’t personally take any of this to be an expression of futility, or as a reason to “stand down” or “keep my opinion to myself”, because humanity’s culture has formed around our opinions and understanding of the world. Our shared ethical commitments become our shared understanding of right vs wrong, and ultimately informs entire communities, and whole nations, allowing society to enact change. We do need to share our individual sense of right vs. wrong with each other to help steer this cultural ship through the waters of change and growth over time. It’s the anger and outrage of social media specifically (before coffee) that is problematic; too much noise, not enough signal. So, I give myself a break, sip my coffee, and bring my moment closer to home. I have plenty to do to make change happen right here. I have work to do to be the woman I most want to be. That’s a project I have real influence over – every day. My example, as an individual, has meaning without extending my reach “to the world” by replying to all manner of media detritus in a reactive moment. Hell, I don’t even respect the opinions of 100% of every human; some are worth far more than others (this is likely true for you as well), and we each “rate” the value of another person’s opinion on different criteria!! (Totally true, too.) So… another good moment to practice non-attachment. lol

I finish my coffee and begin again.