Archives for the month of: September, 2018

Hey, don’t forget to upgrade your software. You know we become what we practice, sure, but don’t forget we can upgrade our own software anytime – through the magic of reading! It’s true. It’s even a wonderful time for it; it’s Banned Books Week!

If you’ve been following along, you’ve already watched this video, and maybe you’re also experiencing some difficulty getting into a book (and maybe you remember when it was much much easier to do)… It’s not too late to take back your attention span. It’s going to take practice, and it’s going to take a very specific new beginning. Are you ready for it? Here’s how it works:

  1. Turn off your device, or at least silence your notifications.
  2. Pick up a book.
  3. Begin reading.
  4. Keep reading.
  5. Go back to reading.
  6. Seriously, are you not reading?
  7. READ!

Yep. It’s that easy. 😉

If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of lists you can start with… here. Here. Here. Over here, too. One thing there is no shortage of? Books. Read some!

The ease and convenience of the Internet is no substitution for learning a subject with depth, or enjoying a long involved tale, or riding the emotional roller-coaster of poetry. Kind of a similar magnitude of difference as between “small talk” and deeply intimate conversations, actually. No need to coast through your existence being unimaginably facile, though; books exist (and so do deeply intimate conversations between very authentic people).

I’ve got a stack of books that I’ve not yet read.

Books, rather pleasantly, also give one time to soak things in, and give full consideration to new learning – no rushing necessary. I often set one aside and come back to it with greater appreciation or understanding, or having taken time to cross-reference a point that needed some clarification (or just to look up a word I didn’t understand in that context). Books don’t “turn it into an argument” if I disagree, either, they just wait for me to turn the page and learn more, which may broaden my perspective.

…You may be getting the impression I’m a huge fan of reading. 🙂 I am. It’s true. It’s a thing. I love to read.

I don’t read as much as I once did. Internet. I can clearly correlate the decline in my reading to the increase in my time online. Huh. I bet my software is way out of date as a result. It’s time to upgrade!

It’s time to begin again.

What are you reading?

Generally, these days, not being able to fall asleep easily isn’t a problem when it happens; I’ll fall asleep eventually. Sometime, even now, I have problems with sleep…but I don’t stress out over it when I wake in the night because of nightmares, a leg cramp, or a noise, I can generally fall back to sleep… and when I can’t, I can usually still manage enough rest… well… unless noises I can’t place keep waking me… once I do finally fall asleep… and then… the alarm. I am so damned groggy this morning. There is no river of coffee sufficiently deep and broad to fully wake me. I feel vaguely as if I live in some other reality, only seeing the world around me through a haze. I don’t yet “feel tired” – I’m not awake enough to understand my experience that way. I have another coffee…

…The mindfulness I need, and try to muster, is feeble in the face of this sludgy stiff brain that doesn’t want to begin the day. Nonetheless, it’s time to begin a new day and a new week…

I woke to the sound of rainfall this morning. I didn’t realize it when I woke. It was an early-but-counts-as-sleeping-in-anyway sort of time. I stumbled to the bathroom to pee, took my morning medication, and went back to bed intent on sleeping in “for real”…

…Then I heard the rain falling. I expected it to rock me to sleep, most delightfully. It did not. lol Not this morning. I contentedly lay there wrapped in comfort, listening to the rain fall. I listened to a gentle patter on the window panes. I listened to a drenching downpour that lasted only minutes. I listened to the characteristic rustling of wet Big Leaf Maple leaves, tossed in the pre-dawn stormy breeze. I lay there in the darkness, listening, smiling, resting. I wasn’t sleeping though, and the inevitable did happen; I got up for coffee. lol

An autumn morning before dawn.

I “lit a fire” in the fireplace as I headed to the kitchen, to take the early morning chill off the room, feeling exceedingly grateful to have a gas fireplace. I’m okay with trading the scent of a wood fire for the cleanliness and ease of use of the gas fireplace. 🙂 It’s autumn. Yesterday was the Equinox. It seems only fitting to enjoy warming my toes by the fire with a fresh cup of coffee on quiet fall Sunday morning.

Don’t forget to embrace simple pleasures, and savor moments of joy and contentment that aren’t expensive or flashy. 🙂 There’s much in life to be enjoyed, even in the depths of great misery, and it make so much difference to our experience of “quality of life”.

I sip my coffee and contemplate the day ahead. I settle on a plan of housekeeping, garden work, and find myself content to keep the day simple and purposeful. I’ll finish here, and the day will be spent off-line, engaged in needful tasks, and present in my life. (Oh, there’ll be verbs involved; I’m a human primate, and it will require effort not to return to the internet, again and again, but I’ve got self-care needs on this one. I want my attention span back.)

Have you considered this? How much you, too, may need your attention span back? We become what we practice.

It’s time to begin, again.

You’re going to miss out on some things. Trust me. It’s unavoidable. You’ll miss cool shit happening you just didn’t know about, and things that you thought you could do some other time, but never did. You’ll find yourself exhausted, over-committed, distracted, or overcome by circumstances and miss out on some amazing experience. It’s going to happen. There is no preventing it, or planning it away. No amount of scrolling through feeds, or staring blankly into the gaping maw of the internet will prevent you missing out on things. The human experience is just that fucking vast, and even if, somehow, our lifetimes were long enough to do everything, go everywhere, meet everyone; we could never spend that lifetime experiencing what has gone past and is no more. So… get over it. No fear of missing out; you’re going to miss out.

I watched this yesterday. I hope you watch it today.

Reflect on it, if you can hold your own attention long enough to do so.

The way we use the internet is changing who we are. Maybe that’s unavoidable, too. I know I scroll through my feed too many times, too often, too much of the time, and many more times than is required to read what matters to me.

I need to be outside more, out in the trees. I need to be in my garden, and out on the trail. I need to turn the tv off more often, for longer, and silence the background noise for more hours of my day. I have books to read and miles to walk. My “inner voice” has been raising hell about this with me for a while now.

No matter how many times I check for messages, scroll through a feed, read the news, or use the internet to explore or plan life, it’s not time spent living life. I’m not missing out on less by being so “connected” – I’m missing out on more.

Have we had this conversation before? (Probably. It seems likely… this has been on my mind, off and on, since I first noticed a specific change in my cognition and preferences; I now find it hard to choose to watch a movie, and favor much shorter content instead, day-to-day. The linked video really resonated with me, because of this particular change.)

Not one of my most precious memories, or noteworthy experiences, of the past years have been things that “happened” online. Not one. I’m just saying… what is most memorable for me, personally, are moments in life, not online.

Am I who I most want to be, making use of the amazing technology that connects us all, in quite the way I do? Can I do better? What does that look like? What practices would that involve? Is it something to change – or would I be fighting evolution and progress… a curmudgeon… a dinosaur?

First thing this morning, I looked at my Facebook feed before I did anything else. That’s some shit that’s going to stop right now. lol I know. I’ve said as much before, have I not? (I have.) That’s how I know it will need practice, and that there will be verbs involved. It’s time to change – because there are changes I want to make. It’s time to sort out what those need to be.

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

I woke feeling better this morning, after a rather dismal early night of feeling fairly ill. It’s behind me. I feel better. I’m grateful.

I made my coffee, and read messages from my Traveling Partner, while waiting for water to boil. I smile, reminded that today is payday. I didn’t quite scamper to my desk with my coffee; time to pay bills!! 😀

…Wait…

…I don’t even like paying bills or “dealing with the money shit“… What is this about?

I sit down and review my budget, look over the banking details and the pending and upcoming bills, even those set to auto-pay (which is most of them). The auto-payments are all set to minimums, though, and generally I like to do better than that, particularly on debt with finance charges or interest. So, I make a few changes, and hit send on some payments.

There’s less cash in the bank account very quickly, but this amazing feeling of contentment, achievement, satisfaction, and… safety. I feel emotionally safer when my bills are paid. This particular feeling “seems new” – it’s at least new-ish, in the sense that for many years I did not at all understand how much of my anxiety and day-to-day discomfort in my own skin was about debt, poverty, privation, not having basic goods and services, not having enough to enjoy small luxuries… “getting by” often did not feel very good at all. I didn’t really connect that experience with my shitty money management.  Back then, I “managed” my finances by way of fear, anxiety, desperation, and panic. It was a less than ideal approach.

Something has changed. My finances are decently well-managed. I’ve come a long way in my career, and my ability to manage my finances (with a lot of help and emotional support from my Traveling Partner). When I need something (like, say, a car), I can usually just go for it. I don’t have the resources to live a fully cash-based luxury life, far from it, I have to plan, and be mindful with my finances, and make it a commitment to look after my resources with care, aware of the future ahead of me, which still has a lot of fucking uncertainty. Still… I’m okay right now. It’s a nice feeling.

This morning, I’m also just… yeah, my mind is still completely blown that the high point of my morning has been paying my bills. lol Something has changed, over time, about the way I view money, and how my experience of dealing with it feels. Having a few weeks riding the ragged edge of dragging my cash accounts back in time to near-zero balances, however briefly (waiting a few more weeks to buy the Mazda would have been, perhaps, wiser) was some eye-opening perspective. Once I got past the initial anxiety, and became more explicitly aware that I was processing trauma associated with money, it stopped being so worrisome, and became nothing more than a few days of waiting, and an opportunity to share my experience with my Traveling Partner, and coordinate limited shared resources more skillfully, with great care, for a couple weeks. 🙂

What a nice place to be with myself. Oh, I no doubt still have some baggage about money, and about not having it. I can do better. There’s more to practice. More to learn. Still… these small celebrations of forward momentum, and positive changes that result in improved quality of life, are important; celebration means awareness, and holding these positive changes happily in my explicit awareness for a time, makes them “more real” in my implicit sense of self.

…And I just love feeling good.

I feel good. 🙂

It’s time to begin again. 😀