Archives for category: forgiveness

Thanksgiving kicks off my winter holiday season, and always has. Here it is the Sunday after Thanksgiving and my leggings are dusted with bits of glitter after being on the floor wrapping the tree stand with its skirt after I somehow failed to successfully vacuum up all the fallen glitter left behind from making this year’s holiday cards. I experienced so much joy and satisfaction making the cards, I imagine I’ll do it again next year. Maybe start earlier and rush less…?

Handmade holiday cards were a fun weekend project.

Thanksgiving itself was… fine. It was fine. It was a lovely warm holiday spent in the company of my Traveling Partner. At some point we quarreled. We sorted it out and enjoyed the day. Commonplace enough and it didn’t ruin the day. Later, I did an astonishingly poor job of dinner. Well, I omitted a dish my partner really likes, for one thing, (and I generally make it, but had been doing so without understanding the relative importance to him, and so… I made a menu change that seemed a small detail, and it was a big disappointment for him). The other miss, dinner-wise, was the turkey. Straight up raw. It wasn’t done when I thought it was done. I checked the internal temperature of the bird, and must have managed to stick into the one spot on that fucking carcass that was at “done” temperature – the rest of it? Uncooked. Literally everything else I prepared was ready for the table, and the table was set, and I’d pulled the bird out thinking it was done, and it just was not. Yeesh. The disappointing discovery was made as my partner carved the turkey. It definitely put us both off actually eating turkey. What a waste.

…What’s not wasted? Any affection between my partner and I. He saw how crushed I obviously was over the dinner failures, and quickly offered me these words “I’m not disappointed with you, or upset about dinner. I couldn’t care less about what’s on our table. I care that you’re here with me. That’s what matters; we’re here together.” I felt very loved. Also rather disappointed with my dinner preparation, but yeah – very loved. That does matter more. We enjoyed the meal together anyway – there just wasn’t any turkey or corn. lol The mashed potatoes were creamy and delicious. The stuffing… had too much garlic. (What the hell?!) This may very well have been the worst Thanksgiving meal I have ever prepared. No kidding.

Yesterday evening I made a second “Thanksgiving-ish” meal, using delicious leftovers, and instead of turkey I made chicken strips. It was a satisfying, excessive, and quite a delicious meal. It was… Thanksgiving. We were both even appropriately thankful, and with good reason. Delicious meal in each other’s good company. What about Friday? I don’t even remember. I was in so much pain on Friday that the day ended up lost in it. I don’t think I made (or ate) dinner at all… and I’m not sure I got anything done. I was in that much pain. It’s rare for it to be that bad, but it does happen, and I am most likely to have that experience during the cold autumn days and nights on the way to winter. Yesterday was better. Today has been better still.

Today I finished up the holiday cards and got them in the mail. Did some housekeeping. Stood the tree and checked the lights. Wrapped the skirt around the base. Next up is the garland and then the ornaments. I don’t have much hope that I’ll finish tonight – and I don’t have to. There’s no need to dress the tree trimming in an additional layer of anxiety and stress over that kind of foolishness. LOL There’s no pressure. This whole mess is meant to be joyous, so… yeah… I’m cool taking my time with it. 🙂

Tomorrow a new work week begins, and the year begins the speedy race to the end – with twinkling lights, charity bell-ringers, and holiday carols playing everywhere. I am grateful to be where I am, here at home, wrapped in love, ready to begin again. This is enough. More than enough.

I woke with a wicked headache this morning. I’m in an absolutely shit mood, too. I woke irritable and cross with the world – on Thanksgiving. For fucks sake. What a… headache. I snarled a warning at my partner, and took my coffee into my studio and closed the door on the world. I put on a video of rain – maybe the sound will sooth me somehow? Fuck this headache. Fuck having a headache on a holiday.

…Omg… so much cooking to do… fuck.

I went to bed looking forward to today, and yeah even looking forward to the cooking. Right now? Right now I am not “looking forward” at all. I’m sitting here in my moment, with this fucking headache.

The sounds of rain are usually so soothing… this morning this video just isn’t getting me there. Headache is that bad. What I find myself listening to is the sound of my computer’s fans spinning up to deal with the high resolution video. I pause it and leave the picture up on the screen. I have no fucks to give. I leave my padded noise-canceling headphones on. They don’t do that much to cancel the very nearby sound of the computer fans, or my fingers on the keys of my mechanical keyboard, but they provide a muffled perspective on everything else. Quieter. My tinnitus is very loud.

I try listening to music. All the songs I usually enjoy are just annoying me right now. So I turn that off, too. I alternate sips of coffee with sips of water. I make a specific point of not looking at the news at all; there’s no chance that will be actually helpful, and some chance it could make things worse (by way of anxiety).

It is Thanksgiving. I’ve got a lot to be grateful for in spite of this headache. I focus on that, bringing my thoughts back to things I am grateful for each time they wander back to this fucking headache. (It can’t last forever…so I’ll just keep at it.) What am I grateful for, sitting here right now, headache and all? I think it over and drink my coffee, which is quite good in spite of my crappy mood.

…I’m grateful for this cup of excellent coffee made from good quality Ethiopian coffee beans. I don’t really know how long coffee will continue to exist, so I enjoy it while it is available and make a point of buying from roasters that are at least trying to source their beans sustainably and also paying the farmers a fair price.

I’m grateful to have a secure roof over my head, a home to call my own, and amenities like indoor plumbing, potable drinking water, and heat. I know there are families that don’t, not only in far away places but also right here in my country, my state, my county, and my community. (Pretty appalling, frankly – use your vote wisely.)

I’m grateful to be so fortunate as to have the luxury of beefing about a fucking headache on Thanksgiving; I know I can head to the kitchen any time and start preparing an ample holiday meal of wholesome good quality ingredients. I have numerous excellent cookbooks for inspiration, and highspeed internet to catch the latest cooking videos from favorite content creators. I am fortunate indeed. Even with the headache.

I’m grateful to have electricity. Like… seriously grateful. I sip my coffee for a minute thinking about how different life would have to be without electricity… and how many of our luxuries (that we mostly take for granted) are entirely dependent on having electricity in the first place.

My sleep has been filled with nightmares for a couple weeks now. I’m not sure why. I’m grateful af though that I am at least getting enough sleep (and rest) to start each day fresh in spite of the content of my dreams. That’s not a small thing. Getting enough actual rest means that I can generally expect that my dreams will not linger in my consciousness for long, once I wake. That’s actually a pretty big deal.

I’m grateful to have so many friends. Sure, most of them are quite distant, geographically, and we often go years without seeing each other. Doesn’t stop us from caring and connecting in between times. I could be a better friend, though… I pause this writing and send some emails to friends, wishing them a festive holiday meal. I miss them – particularly on Thanksgiving. When we were younger and living closer together, we’d often get together for a holiday meal. I do miss that. I’m grateful to have enjoyed it whenever we could. Good memories.

I’m grateful to have a partner who – after waking up irritable himself over not being able to sleep – can drop everything to be comforting and to try to be helpful, when I alert him of my vicious headache and shitty mood, in spite of where he’s at himself. Not one word of doubt that we’ll have a pleasant holiday, either; he knows that we’ll both get our shit together as the morning wears on, and go ahead and do the needful. Good partnership. We’re both entirely made of human, and god damn do we love each other. (I feel tears start falling, streaming down my face… I don’t know why, and I just let them fall. We’re mortal creatures, and sometimes that is reason enough for tears.)

I’m grateful even for the tears; I can feel. That’s kind of a big deal, too.

Rough morning. Still Thanksgiving and I’ve got a lot to be thankful for – this headache does not change that truth. I put on a playlist of love songs and begin again.

It’s hard to read the news. Even the business pages are filled with articles that highlight how monstrous human beings can be. Our mythical monsters are no real competition for the actual human beings who likely inspired them, and continue to plague our daily lives at work, at home, and out and about. Some of us marry monsters. Some of us go to work for monsters. Some of us elect monsters. Some of us create monsters – or even become monsters. Pretty ugly. Take a good look in your mirror. Are you a monster?

Monster or not – do better. Seriously. We’re headed into the winter holidays one more time. Who knows how long humanity really has to fulfill it’s potential? Do better. Look at who you were yesterday. Consider the way you interact with colleagues, friends, loved ones – do better than that. Even one improved interaction today compared to yesterday is that much better. Each effort makes the world just a bit better. Each success results in you becoming a somewhat less shitty human being than you were. That seems worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Maybe you’re not a monster? Maybe you’re just a garden-variety troll, asshole, jackass, jerkwad, tyrant, bully, bitch, or douche-nozzle? Maybe you’re a well-intentioned fuckwit prone to saying or doing just the wrong thing at the wrong time? Do better. Give a shit. Make the attempt to improve. Be a bit kinder. Be more considerate. Really listen to people when they talk to you. Apologize sincerely and make amends when you fuck up or when you hurt someone. Set clear boundaries. Don’t make people guess what you need. You’ll still “get it wrong” – maybe a lot – but each time you do better, the world is a better place for it. That seems worthwhile, doesn’t it?

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking to yourself “well, none of this applies to me at all, really, I’m fine…”? You’re probably wrong. Do better. Do something better today than you did yesterday. Care – because it matters. We all have room to improve.

Who do you most want to be? What do you want to be remembered for?

I’m not going on and on about this because I’m a perfect human being looking outward on a world of chaos, trauma, and nastiness. I’m on and on about this because I am committing myself to doing better today than I did yesterday. Every day. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes – even in the context of a loving partnership – I sometimes feel like I’m alone in the attempt. (That’s an illusion; most of the time, most of us are at least thinking that we’re “doing our best”, even when we are able to acknowledge that “our best” in that moment is a very dim light in a very dark place.) What we’re able to do isn’t always “enough”. It’s part of the human struggle, isn’t it? I still see caring about the attempt and the outcome as something important. I still have shitty days. There are still times when I am callous or clueless, inconsiderate or terse, impatient or frustrated – I don’t even expect that to change. I just want to do my best, and have part of that be to succeed in doing just a bit better today than I did yesterday. Every day. It’s not easy. There are verbs involved. I fail a lot. In failure there is growth. When I falter, I begin again. It’s a process.

…We could choose to build a better world. Some of the choices are very difficult. Seems like one of the easier choices is simply to seek opportunities every day to do just a bit better than we did yesterday. Every day.

Each day I have a chance to begin again.

I am sipping my coffee – an eggnog latte, my fond seasonal weakness coffee-wise each autumn as the Yule season begins. Thanksgiving… holiday parties… Hannukah… the Solstice… Giftmas (more commonly called “Christmas”)… Festivus… Boxing Day… Kwanzaa… it’s a season rich in celebrations and merry-making. Oddly, it wasn’t what I was thinking about over the weekend, in spite of Thanksgiving being just days away…

I sit in the stillness of a local co-work space, alone with my coffee. It’s quiet. The usual background music is not playing, and the stillness feels complete, interrupted by occasional trucks passing on the street outside. I came into “the office” early this morning to avoid waking my Traveling Partner. He’s put in some heroic hours laboring in the shop, making it ready for the new (larger) CNC machine that will arrive soon. He was obviously exhausted by the end of his day, yesterday, and I sometimes rattle about rather noisily in the mornings. It’s not any particular inconvenience to go into the office and give him a better chance at deep sleep, and when he actually asked me if I would, I readily agreed. So… here I am. 😀 Getting some quiet time to write, and sipping on a delightful holiday beverage. It’s a promising start to a Monday.

There have been a lot of items in the news (I’d say “lately”, but truly it’s a relatively common thing) about various celebrities, sports figures, cultural icons of one sort or another, and some problematic tidbit – something they’ve said, or not said, or some bad act (some such are fairly petty or trivial, others quite horrible). We lament the fall of our heroes, when we’re honest enough to accept their human failings at all. Other times, we can’t accept what we’ve seen/heard… and we make excuses for their shitty behavior, or seek to explain it away. We do it for star athletes. We do it for actors. We do it for politicians. We do it for friends and loved ones. We do it for the gods we created in our own image.

I didn’t link any examples, and that’s intentional; we all experience this toppling of our heroes at some point, even if only in the discovery that our own parents do not know everything and don’t get everything right, or perhaps that first time we correct a teacher on some small detail of a subject we study passionately, that they were simply incorrect about.

…It’s hard to separate the art from the artist, isn’t it?.. To separate the author from their story? To separate the musician from their music? The soldier from their service? We are each so human…

Why the hell do we so often set ourselves up – and each other – for failure by creating a heroic caricature that no one could possibly measure up to? Why is it so difficult to “hate the sin” and still deal with one another entirely humanely? Why are our expectations of one another so complicated and often so unreasonable? What are we even doing here??

I only have questions on this one. Catchy bon mots and conveniently pithy slogans of one sort or another came and went with my thoughts over the weekend. I never really got anywhere besides “human beings are not heroes and neither are the gods they create”. We begin life with no perspective, experience, or wisdom, but commence judgment and decision-making immediately… we age and our thinking changes over time as we do, but entirely too late to change our previous decisions or actions based on flawed thinking. If we’re fortunate, we get somewhere good with all that mess. More often, it’s … complicated.

I remember how I felt upon learning that John Lennon mistreated women. “Heartbroken astonishment and disbelief” describe the initial feeling, but it quickly morphed into just disbelief, and from there? Apologist nonsense. Took me awhile to get to a place in life where I could both enjoy his music and also accept that he was a flawed human being, possibly even one I could not personally respect and might not wish to hang out with. Some of his music remains personally meaningful to me, in spite of who he was or may have been. This is just one example. There are so many others! (You, too?) In some cases, I couldn’t get past the human being behind the art, and I avoid it altogether. It sort of depends on how great the art, and how terrible the failure, sometimes. Over the years, I’ve become much less inclined to make excuses for human failings, and also much more inclined to be compassionate. It’s… complicated. I do think that when we insist on super-gluing our heroes to their pedestals in spite of their failings, we set ourselves up to treat people around us more callously – because we’re insisting on preserving the lie of heroism. There are no heroes. Only people. Some people are pretty fucking horrible. Other people are damned nice. No people are living embodiments of perfection in life (don’t argue, just look closer), and we’re each having our own experience. We’re walking our own paths, doing our own best, and generally hoping the outcome will be good more often than not. Can we each do better? Yeah, probably. Having a “role model” feels helpful sometimes. Making our role models over in the image of a god or a hero is probably not. (It’s also probably a lot of weight to have to carry, being someone’s hero…)

What do you value? How do you live that value in your life every day? What do you need a hero for? You have the path ahead, you have the choices in your hands, you have this day. Topple your heroes, then… become the person you most want to be.

Begin again.

Self-care is hard sometimes. I’m sipping my first cup of (less than good) coffee this morning, and reflecting on the challenge of managing my self-care, when the actual act of caring for myself and meeting my own needs is one of the actual anxiety triggers I find myself fighting. Yeesh.

I needed some time to think deeply without interruption, and to weep or rage if that is where my thinking happened to take me – without concern about criticism, or self-consciousness, or needing to “put a good face on it” if someone attempted to offer help expecting a result for their efforts. I “had some homework to do” and needed time and space to do it with care. So, I booked an inexpensive room on the coast (love the off-season specials!) and took my camera, my laptop, and my madness out to the coast for an overnighter of self-reflection. I mean… that’s all this trip was honestly good for. “King tides” and absolutely terrible rainy weather definitely kept me mostly indoors, other than breezes and rain and fresh air out on the balcony.

…Hell, I was so focused on the self-work I wanted to be working through, I explicitly planned not to go out for dinner (or lunch), and brought along a pack of ramen noodles and some snacks. Good enough. 🙂

Funny thing is, I was started on my “homework” before I even got to the coast; just making the plans took me through an anxiety “fun house” as I tried to communicate my needs and how I wanted to meet those – and I hadn’t even booked the room yet! See, it’s like this; if going to the coast meets needs of my partner’s, I feel quite relaxed about going, and even eager to enjoy that time. Fair enough. Why not? But, each time I framed the trip (in my own thoughts) as explicitly for me, my anxiety went through the roof. This is not uncommon in my experience with my anxiety; willful, considerate acts of self-care and choice often come with a huge increase in my anxiety that taints both the planning and the experience itself. Makes it very emotionally difficult to balance my needs with the needs of those around me; mine cause me anxiety, and I tend to select away from that emotional experience. Over time, my resentment builds until I can’t mask it anymore, and that creates an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. Not ideal. I can do better….

…Can’t I?

So. I danced around wanting to do an overnight on the coast. I brought it up once. Twice. I wasn’t getting traction on the idea with my partner; he was eager to have me around, having completed the most complicated set-up work with the new CNC. He misses me when I’m gone. Shit. This kept getting more difficult each time I tried to sort of slide into the idea for a win. Then I really took a look at what I was doing and saying, and observed how I was failing myself. My partner even explicitly said to me “I sure won’t stop you if you want to go to the coast for you, Baby.” He invited me to take care of myself. He simply expects me to own that in an honest way. Makes sense.

So. I tried again, Friday afternoon. I clarified that I wanted to go to the coast and do some emotional homework and reflect on my anxiety without concern that my emotional experience may be encroaching on his, or awareness of his presence (and his needs) that could distract me from the self-work I wanted to do. I laid out my plan, and asked him to tell me if any of the details were a pain point for how he would manage his day on Saturday. He pointed out that if I lingered at home into the afternoon, I would cut his productive time in the shop short. So I adjusted my plan to account for that; I’d enjoy morning coffee with him, run a couple local errands right quick, then head to the coast around 10:00, putting me at the hotel shortly before noon. I arranged an early check-in with the hotel for convenience. It felt good to be heard, and to have a clear plan that supported my needs. It also caused me quite a bit of anxiety into the night on Friday – just because I made a point (and a plan) to meet my own needs without also couching that in the terms of meeting the needs of others as well. It passed.

I woke feeling light and merry yesterday. We enjoyed a lovely morning and shared coffee together. I ran those errands. While I was out and about, my Traveling Partner pinged me to ask “Are you going to the coast today?” My anxiety spiked hard. Did he not know? Had I failed to clearly communicate? Was it not okay to go after all?? I stopped the car nearby and parked for a minute. Nothing he said was at all a criticism or an attack; he just asked a question. Commonplace stuff that, to check one’s assumptions and expectations. Nothing to fear from that. I breathed through the moment, and answered the question. “Yes”. He sent back smiles and kisses and hearts. Huh. That wasn’t scary at all. It’s as if he was just asking a fucking question. Anxiety is such a liar.

I finished my errands, headed back, and started getting ready to go to the coast. My bags were already packed (it honestly took no time; one overnight, and my camera and laptop bags are pretty much always ready to grab-and-go). “You’re going?” my partner asked. I could see he would actually rather I stayed, and that he would enjoy my company. Anxiety. I shook off the momentary inclination to abandon my plans and smiled “yep, I’m ready.” We kissed good-bye and exchanged loving words and well-wishes, and off I went.

…The traffic wasn’t even bad, and the heavy rain didn’t seem to rouse my anxiety any further. Huh. Something to think about.

The entire drive to the coast was “productive” time alone with my thoughts. Uneventful autumn drive with some truly lovely spots in spite of the heavy rain obscuring that sometimes obscured my view, so I spent it thinking deeply… about anxiety. About, specifically, my own experience of anxiety. I didn’t spend that time berating or criticizing myself, just thinking about how it seems to “work” and what most often triggers my anxiety (specifically in my relationship with my Traveling Partner). Thinking about how I communicate, and where that may be undermining my emotional wellness when anxiety becomes “a thing” in a given moment. Thinking about “fear” and “anxiety” and also thinking about “anger” and “anxiety” – where those overlap, or fuel each other, where they seem to be at odds, and what I can do about – or with – any of it. I spent quite a bit of the drive simply reflecting on how different the outcomes were trying to planning this overnight, depending on how I attempted to communicate my needs, my plan, and how I sought his thoughts or support. It’s a lot. Which sometimes also causes me anxiety.

Once I settled into the room, I sat on the balcony in the chilly wind, watching the tide recede, and thinking about anxiety. I had a list of questions to reflect on and to answer for myself. I got to work on that. No, I did not “solve for X” and wake this morning having cured my anxiety… but I feel pretty good, and I think I have a clearer understanding of some useful ways to diminish my anxiety in the moment, and allow it to dissipate more readily. Do I still need help with it? Fuck yes. I’m grateful to have a loving supportive partner and a really good therapist. 🙂

Late in the evening, my partner pinged me with a progress report on his day and some loving chit-chat. He asked if I would be home “in the morning”. I understood him to be saying he’d like me to be home in the morning (vs later in the day). He asked if I would bring donuts. 🙂 Hell yes. 😀

So…now I’m sitting here sipping hotel coffee, watching the dawn unfold, rainy and gray. I woke to darkness and a low tide. No surprise; Daylight Savings Time ended last night and I also read the tide tables yesterday. lol The featureless gray that woke me as “daylight” wasn’t actually daylight at all, really, it just wasn’t quite dark, and I was well-rested. I’ll be gone before the next high tide – so I’m glad I saw the one yesterday. 🙂 The wind blew so hard during the night it scooted the chairs on the balcony from one side to the other. It’s a stormy sort of morning, lovely to watch from the warm of this room. I enjoy my coffee.

…It’s already time to start packing and getting dressed; I don’t want to miss the good donuts. LOL