Archives for category: forgiveness

I’m sipping my coffee, well-rested, on a lovely summer morning. I scrolled through my news feeds, and at the end of it found myself feeling a bit let down with humanity, with my own relative powerlessness in the face of the world generally, with the drama and bullshit that we allow to impede our forward progress as creatures… We could do better. I mean, obviously. lol Hell of a start to a lovely Saturday.

I push my seat back, and carry my coffee to the deck, and enjoy the rustling leaves, birdsong, the smell of freshly watered plants, the sweetness of a newly ripe tomato fresh from the vine, and a few healthy moments of other thoughts and experiences than the embrace of an office chair, and the bright white pipeline of infotainment shoved directly into my brain through my eye holes. I get way too much of that, and too little of small brown birds daring to come closer to see if maybe I have another seed hidden in my hand. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I came back in, I sat right down at my desk, and let the excess of words and pictures continue to stream into my brain. Damn it.

I get up. Again. I breathe. I do some yoga. Somewhere amidst this second flurry of activity, I have a second coffee that I’ve already forgotten now. Some mindfulness. (That’s sarcasm there.) I nag at myself about my baggage. I pause to feel annoyed with myself for nagging myself, instead of simply practicing.

I let that go, too.

I find myself, at some point, wondering about how I create the baggage I carry in life. I mean… some is picked up in some moment of trauma, sure, but what counts? Does it need to be major trauma? (You already know the answer, if you are honest with yourself; it could potentially be the most petty irritation, if allowed to fester.) I mean… hell… I even have baggage about this. Right here. Blogging. No kidding – did you not know? lol (“Do tell!”ย  “Okay, I will…”)

In December 2012, sometime, during a terribly dark time in my emotional life (one of the worst, darkest, most despairing times of my life had begun, and I was very much at risk of not making it to the other side) I began to consider starting a blog. I had mostly given up writing in a journal – a life habit of many years, that I’d found huge value in, but which had become a ruminating spiral of negativity that developed a fairly self-hateful feedback loop that supported the despair more than the woman writing about it. The saner choice, then, had been to just give it up, for at least awhile. I lost an important voice in my narrative in doing so, and I needed… something. A blog? Maybe; I’d be writing in a public place, read by anyone who cares to read my writing, which, I felt, had a chance of keeping me from falling to the demons of rumination and negativity, and maybe give me some purpose and focus,ย  a foundation on which I could… maybe… heal. Or at least feel heard.

I approached one of my partners (now an ex) at the time and brought the subject up. I viewed her as being “more internet savvy” than I was myself, and I knew she also had a blog. I suggested I was considering writing a blog, myself, and asked her for suggestions or recommendations for platforms. What I got back was… a hearty helping of ego and discouragement. “Oh, well, you shouldn’t expect anyone will read it, and you most likely just won’t keep up with it, and you’ll probably just abandon it. Most people are very bad writers, and don’t have anything interesting to write about. You should expect that you’ll get bored with the work of keeping it up. I have several followers and a very successful blog because people love my writing. It probably won’t be that way for you, and you shouldn’t be discouraged if it turns out no one cares and you’re wasting your time.” I felt astonished, first that she’d assume anything about my writing, when she’d never taken any interest in it, and also that she had no awareness that I’d been making a practice, my entire adult life almost continuously, of writing 500-3,000 words a day – entirely without a fucking blog. LOL I also felt hurt by the dismissiveness and lack of emotional support, particularly so early in our relationship (there was much about her, as a human being, I did not yet know).

…Then the insecurity kicked in. Maybe I’m not “good enough”? Maybe I lack worthy content? Maybe no one does care – at all? Maybe I am “wasting my time”? I almost didn’t start. I almost gave up writing entirely. A few more days of systematic discouragement at a difficult time in my life, and I even started considering ending it. My life, I mean. It was a dark time, indeed. Then I read her blog – looking for a clearer understanding; maybe it was “too hard” for me? (Clearly not.) I didn’t really know, and I wanted to understand more clearly what limitations I was truly facing as an individual. I read a bunch more blogs by great thinkers and writers, because it was immediately evident that little was to be gained reading hers. I looked over various platforms that support blogging. I asked myself what I wanted to say – and what mattered most about my writing, generally. Let’s be very real about this; I was attempting to do this while also wholly disrupted by mental illness, and family-life stress. I was in no shape to adult without supervision. I still needed to do my own homework; unavoidably, the advice of other people is shaped by their agenda and biases, and filtered through their own bullshit. It has limited value. Ever.

I’m smiling this morning as I sip my coffee. I value my time writing. I appreciate my readers (hey, that’s you!). Six and a half years and 1625 posts later (not quite one every day), and I’m still writing, still finding value in that practice, and still feeling heard. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad I didn’t let one voice of discouragement stop me from being the woman I most want to be… or the woman I am. ๐Ÿ˜€

Baggage is a funny thing. It lingers. I did pick up some baggage that long ago winter afternoon, talking about blogging; I occasionally still question my writing. It’s fairly public. There are some things, perhaps, that would be best unsaid? Should I mention my weekend plans? What if someone might use that to burglarize my house by noting when I am likely to be away? Should I mention when I am happy? Someone who has an agenda of minimizing my happiness may use that to undermine it… What about… her? Yep. Sometimes, even now, I consider the considerable drama, bullshit, and emotional pain she continues to inflict on friends and loved ones at personally inconvenient moments, and I can’t help but wonder… did my writing drive the timing? Am I feeding information to a human being who now places me in her world as an adversary?

…Should I stop writing??

More baggage. I laugh it off, and remind myself that she has no power over me that I don’t give her, myself, and no current place in my life, now, at all. Like any bad memory, or former association ended with cause, there’s no real need to revisit that time, place, or person, other than to heal myself. Certainly no reason to give it power over me now. lol

Consequences (of our words, or our actions) are real things, though, and I do consider the consequences of my writing; I spend far longer reviewing a finished post, and refining my words, than I do writing it in the first place. Consequences matter. People’s hearts matter. Being authentic, practical, and frank, matter. Being a better person today than I was yesterday matters. Sometimes I delete whole posts rather than publish something that might cause a stranger undue pain, or “out” someone’s private experience without explicit approval. or even just fall short of adequately expressing my thoughts in a true-to-self way.

What I’m getting at, I guess, is “do you” – support yourself in your endeavors. Don’t let “the world” slow you down or change your mind – but be prepared to face the consequences of your choices (good and bad), and consider them with care. Choose wisely. Be your best self… but do be you. No one else can do it so well, although a few bad sorts may try to steal your identity, your words, your very soul – authenticity can’t be faked, and over time, those stolen facades break down, revealing the real person beneath the lies. Walk on from that drama. ๐Ÿ™‚ No direct confrontation can be sufficiently satisfying to make the fuss worth it. lol Life is too short to leave the trolls in charge. ๐Ÿ˜€

Bottom line? We really do choose – and carefully craft – most of our baggage in life. It’s okay to put that down, and walk on. Let it go. Just… let it go. Move on with life without it. It can be a choice… if we care to choose it. Yes – sorry – there are verbs involved. It may require some practice. You may have to begin again – any number of times. Still worth it.

It’s time to begin again.ย I’m sipping my coffee, well-rested, on a lovely summer morning, smiling, and content. I am enjoying the morning with the woman in the mirror – she’s a survivor, a bad-ass, and this morning? There is no other woman I would want to be more. ๐Ÿ™‚

I woke up groggy, aware of today’s agenda. Court. So, okay, the day is not my own. Today, a guy stands accused of a bunch of burglaries, one of them my old apartment. That seems a long time ago, but finally, it’s time the case is heard. The commute through morning rush hour traffic, all the way across town the far other side, holds no appeal for me. I’m dreading it. I’ve already decided to take the light rail, instead, which will probably take longer, but be much less stressful…

…It’s already almost time to go. There is a certain focused tension to my morning. I’m admittedly not excited to burn up an entire day of my time off for this; I have my own life to live, and my own uses for that time. Still. Our justice system rests uneasily on some big ideals… If I don’t participate, or fail to do so in an honest and authentic way, I participate, instead, in the slow chipping away at our potentially-amazing-if-we-could-get-over-ourselves-and-get-our-shit-together culture. I admit it; I’d prefer to be a good guy in my own narrative, and to do so by actually being the woman I most want to be, not by saying nice words about myself. So. I’ll go to court. I’ll give testimony. I’ll hope that in so doing, truly justice will be served (by determining whether this guy actually committed those crimes, not by “getting a conviction” without regard to truth). I’m uncomfortably aware how commonly our “justice system” is not truly serving justice. I feel wary.

I feel tense. Aware. Present. I sip my coffee and consider the moment. I consider other, different moments. I breathe. It is a new morning. A new day. An opportunity to begin again… I think about beginnings, and endings. I think about perspective, and hard to confront truths in life. I think about lifetimes of human experience, varied and similar, strange and mundane, each of us having our own – all of us in this together.

It’s complicated.

It’s time to go.

Let it go.

Walk on.

Begin again.

 

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about life as art. Authenticity, creativity, beauty… transcendence of pain, finding voice for those things in life for which we lack language or words… isn’t a life well-lived, itself, an artistic endeavor? Life, lived, as an art form, itself… means… what? Another day in the studio. Today, a lot of questions, consideration of the day behind me, work already started, unfinished – like life.

Who is the artist?ย A question for answering, individually, subjectively, personally. There is only one answer, for any one artist, really;ย gnothi seauton. The journey to the answer, is the life as art.

A woman told me, once, some long time ago in another life altogether, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body – I’m not an artist. I don’t do anything creative.” I took that at face value, at the time, and it fit my understanding of the world, then. I later saw her in her home. Her home struck me as a piece of fairly wonderful artistry, and the lack of paint staining her jeans, or dust under her nails, or bits and pieces of creative moments needing to be cleaned up didn’t detract from that impression at all. Her home was lovely, orderly, cared-for – each piece of memorabilia, each ornament, carefully selected, an impression exquisitely crafted – how is this not also art? Wherever she moved, she appeared to be quite carefully placed to communicate a mood, a moment, or an idea of beauty. The point I’m trying to make is that, as an artist, it isn’t really for me to define “what is art?” – only to define who I am, as an artist, myself. Those choices are not made of words – they are conveyed by my actions. By my art.

Words over coffee. It was a good day in the studio yesterday. Playing with paint – and chaos. I choose my materials with care.

A pair, 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and UV. “Chaos Theory”

I did several pieces as pairs yesterday, specifically indulging my fascination with chaos theory. I started with two canvases, the same palette of colors for each, the same measured amounts of those pigments, placed similarly on each canvas, the canvases placed side by side, and worked as a single larger piece, to the same playlist. Mood, movement, brush strokes, technique – all as much the same as I can easily make them.ย  In every instance, of course, two different canvases still result. Not just different-as-in-separate-and-individual, but also just… different, as in – not the same. It was a fun day in the studio, playing with science, chemistry, and philosophy.

I spent the day in a meditation made of movement, color, and music, contemplating differences and similarities, considering the way I’ve carved up my life into “separate canvases”; the life of the artist, alongside the life of the analyst. The lover, alongside the angry woman. The professional, alongside the free spirit. The citizen, alongside the protester. I spent the day thinking about life as art, and contemplating this vast broad canvas of experiences as a single unified whole. I spent the day free of any constraints aside from those I have assigned myself. I answered a few questions – I asked a lot more.

I spent time in the garden, too. Another living metaphor.

I gardened later. I grilled a lovely summer evening repast. I meditated as evening came, and watched the dwindling twilight become night. It was the sort of day I could single out from among many and say “this is some of my best work”, as an artist.

Happily enough, it’s already time to begin again. The day stretches ahead of me, a blank canvas. You, too. What will you do with it?

I carefully flipped through stacked canvases, and pictures in my archives, considering this one, then that one, understanding that as a last-minute additional to an upcoming art show just days away, I’d likely have little space. The choices matter. (Don’t the choices always matter?) After selecting several canvases, in a couple of sizes, and deciding on bringing along some work on paper, too, I set all that aside in favor of a quiet evening of housekeeping, meditation, and self-care. It was a pleasant evening, well-spent.

I stayed away from the echo chamber of public comments on the internet. I avoided the outrage-machine of news media. I managed to mostly avert my eyes from social media, generally. “Nothing to see here…” It’s difficult, over time, to continue to read filtered, reprocessed, repeated bullshit and slogans, often then repackaged as “new” editorials and memes, shared and re-shared repeatedly; repetition is learning. Eventually, that shit starts to stick in my consciousness. Fuck all that; I’m an original.

Carefully consider your opinion on some controversy (I’ll wait); how much of “your” opinion is truly the result of independent thought? How much research did you, yourself, actually do on that subject? Most people just repeat some stew of “comfortable thoughts” with which they agree, that they heard or read somewhere, or trust from their childhood education. It’s terrifying (to me) how little real thought people give what they say they believe. Our implicit understanding of the world is every bit as questionable as our explicit knowledge, and every bit as worthy of being directly questioned, with real rigor. Making an aggressive sincere attempt to “prove ourselves wrong” – based on the likely-to-be-true assumption that we are more than likely wrong about something – ensures that we understand what we say we believe. Most people don’t. Most people just fucking wander around insisting on shit they do not even understand. Such a thing can cause great damage in the world – and to real actual human beings. We can do better.

I challenge you, today, to overturn a sincerely held belief for which you have no legitimate, factual, evidence-based, support – in other words, an unsupported opinion. Pick one. Any. Just do it. Found one? Probably one you don’t care too much about, or which holds little controversy? (Minimum risk to your emotional comfort, I get it.) Okay, now go explore the “other side” of that controversy. There’s probably more than one other side, actually; false dichotomies shore up a lot of bullshit opinions. The goal here, as I see it, is to learn enough to hold a truly nuanced opinion that undermines our “us vs. them” thinking entirely, forcing us to see the world as a small dirty rock hurtling through space, one which we must share with others, because there is nowhere else (yet) to go.

This isn’t really an “easy” practice. I mean, just as an example, if you’re a male human being, you most likely still have an opinion on abortion (although why you would think your opinion should have any sway in the world of women, I do not know)… but do you actually hold a nuanced opinion that accounts for the real-life experience of actual women? Like… all of us? From everywhere? Do you have your own first-hand experience of having had to make the choice whether or not to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy? Quite probably not. Plenty to explore there, opinion-wise. (Are you mad, already? This is just an example… take a breath.)

If you feel emotions rising just listening to someone’s opinion, particularly when it does not agree with your own, there’s a very real chance you are not acting from a place of reason, at all, but instead reacting to shit you accepted as a given, and memorized, so long ago you know longer recall where those “opinions” came from – definitely question that sort of knee-jerk emotional reaction to the world. lol That’s not a reliable approach to understanding those around you, at all. Myself, I find that if my emotions attempt to lead the conversation, it’s a great time to shift gears and ask more questions; there is much I do not know.

I do know three things I can count on pretty solidly, though…

  1. Very few things in life break down into two neat categories; most things are not properly definable as dichotomies (without seriously lying to oneself).
  2. I can do better today than I did yesterday.
  3. I can begin again.

Ready?

Our choices can change the world. It’s time to do better. It’s time to begin again.

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Are you ready to change the world?

We can begin again. Together.