Archives for category: inspiration

Where are you right now? Where are you going?

A city “made of gold”…only… it isn’t, at all, it’s “just a city”…only… it’s more than that…

Can you answer either of those questions without also answering the other? Is that why so many people seem to feel so lost?

It is a quiet morning in the company of friends. Sufficient. Unembellished. No spin. No argument. Just these moments. It’s quite lovely.

Are you present in this moment? Are you authentically you – and also making a point to be the person you most want to be?

I sit here smiling. Right now? Right now this is easy. 🙂

I admit I love the increasing cultural encouragement to embrace our authentic selves that I see popping up everywhere, often in the form of a response to some thing or other, phrased as “do you”. I like that. Definitely. Do you. Be you. Invest in you. Grow your brand – and your self. Explore who you are. All that sounds pretty awesome, and very supportive and encouraging… but…

…It also sounds “too easy”. I know, I know. Authenticity is actually pretty fucking daring, even now, and it requires self-awareness, self-compassion, openness, honesty on this whole other level a lot of people are not prepared for, and a willingness to let go of attachment to our own assumptions about who we in fact our, when those conflict with who we in fact are. It’s not actually easy to be our authentic selves in a culture built on controlling people through their insecurities, fears, and doubts. It’s even… brave. There’s still another “but” to move beyond…

…It’s also not enough to just drift in a sea of our own filth and basic bullshit. It’s not really the ideal “do you” scenario, is it? To just… stall in life and make no attempt to become the person we most want to be? To just… rest, assume the most slack possible approach to the question “who am I?”, and just… not bother doing more or being better? I mean… aren’t we capable of more?

This morning I am thinking about what it means to “do me” and how I can become the woman I most want to be. I know there are choices to make. There are verbs involved. I know my results with vary. I know that being authentic – truly frank and real – with the human being in the mirror has to come first, and be reliably a thing I do for myself, without fail. I know I have more questions. More opportunities. More chances to begin again.

I guess I’ll get started on that now… 😉

The world is going to do what the world is going to do. We are mortal creatures, and short-lived ones at that, relative to the vastness of time itself. Humanity may not survive its own poor choices. Seems fair, really; we’ve given a great many other species very little voice in their demise. We are killers. Rapists. Thieves. Liars. Spoiled-rotten bad-tempered children, with little real awareness of the experience of others – at our worst. Our best is something very different from all of that, but we’ve really got to work at it, each of us, quite individually, and generally without any significant encouragement.

This, right now, may be one of those times when we’ll need to work hard to be the human beings we most want to be, and we’re going to have to do it in the face of some brutally clueless, demeaning, fairly horrible bullshit. I’m talking about the Kavanaugh hearings and vote (which I guess will happen today) for his position on the Supreme Court. You just fucking know they are going to vote to confirm him, in spite of all we’ve heard, because they literally do not care about rape, at all (chances are, there are quite a few rapists in office), and do not care about women, and this is something they have stated quite frankly, and voted reliably to prove, time and again. So… yeah. Swallow that one, folks. It’s real, and it’s bitter.

I don’t know what it means for our nation, or for the world, but I know one thing it means for Brett Kavanaugh, if he is confirmed; he’ll spend that lifetime appointment secure in the knowledge that although his privilege as a white male one him his seat, also, like it or not, every woman on the Supreme Court knows precisely who he really is. Every colleague on that court, of any gender or political leaning, knows what his biases are, and that he is a liar, and not to be trusted. I hope it’s tense for him, every fucking day. I hope those women hold his gaze every single day with real contempt in their eyes. (He may not be sharp enough to notice, though, honestly – did you hear the testimony? Fucking hell. Dim bulb there.) Hell, his wife has had a hearty helping of seeing him through the eyes of an outraged nation, and maybe heard some things she did not previously know. I bet there were some uncomfortable car rides home at the end of the day over the past couple weeks.

So, yeah. I would love to be optimistic, and see his nomination turned down. There are other, better, choices for the Supreme Court. It’s not going to be that world we wake up in tomorrow, though; he’ll most likely be confirmed. It’s a strong “legacy boy’s club” there in Washington D.C., but – and this is worth a moment of contemplation – this shit went public in a very loud way, and in many of our own homes, already, right now, the tone is changing with regard to the way women are treated, the way survivors of sexual violence are treated, the way we view rape culture, and yeah – even the way we do or don’t tolerate (and how much, and how well) that crusty partisan legacy boy’s club living out its last days with the Elders of Whitemanistan, there in D.C. This isn’t going to go away. 🙂 Well, until the last of these rich white men in office finally dies off. (Maybe the next batch will be better? You own this. Vote.)

The challenge on our end is real; how to be the best version of the person we most want to be, really, with all this maddening bullshit going on around us? That’s a puzzle all its own. This morning, it is what I am thinking about.

Who do I want most to be, myself? How do I present that in the world? How do I maintain a comfortably authentic experience of self, while also pushing myself for real growth? What matters most? What is just a distraction? Can I change just one thing, today, on this path… and get there sooner, or more skillfully?

There’s a glimmer of real hope always held in the question “what can I change?” It presupposes change is a thing I can do. (Which I can.) I sip my coffee, and meditate on change. It’s a new day. New opportunities. Familiar challenges. I have multiple choices and a choose my own adventure game right in front of me, every day. (You do, too.) What will I choose today? Where will my path take me?

I sip my coffee. Check the time. Begin again.

Welcome to October. Big spider warning – this is Oregon, and it’s their season, just saying.

Spotted this rather large one outside the dining room window.

Your mission today, should you choose to accept it…

  1. Be authentic
  2. Be kind
  3. Listen deeply and without interrupting
  4. Make your own point clearly, and communicate explicitly
  5. Avoid argument
  6. Live your values
  7. Accept feedback without resistance and consider it in the context of positive intent
  8. Use “feeling language” only for describing emotions and sensations, use more accurate language to describe thoughts, observations, and ideas
    1. this specifically means to use “I feel” and “I feel like” only when specifically sharing an emotional or sensory experience
    2. this also means using language such as “I think”, “I observed”, “I see that”, “I noticed” for sharing thoughts, observations, and things that are not specifically emotional or sensory experiences

I’m beginning my day right here. What about you? Can you do all 8 of the above? Can you do them all “at the same time”? Some of these are suuuuuuuuper hard for me personally. Different ones may be harder for you.

Shall we begin again? What do you think? Can we change the world?

Yesterday was weird. I was angry all day; I’m a women, living in a nation that does not respect or value women, facing the possible Supreme Court appointment of an accused rapist. Well, shit. We’ve already got that very same sort of grotesquerie seated in the Whitehouse, and unknown, uncounted, unacknowledged numbers of that very same bullshit in our Congress, the Senate, our government agencies, our workplaces, and yes, even in some of our homes. Don’t be afraid to feel angry; this shit is worth our anger.

Be angry.

Vote.

Anger is weird toxic shit, though. As with a proper fairytale curse, it inevitably spills back in some way on the deliverer. We carry our anger in secret – problematic – then explode – inappropriate, ineffective, and generally the consequences are unpleasant. We end up doing a lot of “damage control” and repairing our angry words with excessive apologies, even pleading, and submissive posturing. We could do better with our anger. We can learn to be more skillfully, relentlessly, effectively angry. I’m not there yet – but I believe in the possibility, and the helpful folks of the rich white guy frat boy club currently holding office are totally here to help; they are keeping me seriously angry. I’m getting lots of practice.

One challenge is holding focus and keeping my anger relevant, limited, and correctly directed where it belongs. Preventing my anger from spilling over everywhere, into every relationship, is sometimes hard. The lines between actual harms, and perceived slights, become blurry. Anger is powerful shit. Wielding it skillfully tends not to come very naturally to me after a lifetime of being told I can’t have mine, that it’s not appropriate to express my anger, that my anger is unreasonable… being told for a lifetime to stop talking, to sit down and shut up, to restrain myself… being shouted down and talked over, for a lifetime, in most relationships (whether work or professional)… the underlying chronic persistent repression, being robbed of personal agency, being provided a restricted set of human and civil rights (just for lacking a penis, for fucks’ sake)… Yep. Harnessing that massive seething roiling pent-up body of lifetime rage and very carefully directing just so, at a particular moment or movement or person… is fucking hard.

One challenge is not being convinced, by those well-meaning loved ones inconvenienced by – or frightened of – my anger, to dim my light, to mute my voice, to stifle my rage. Rage is scary shit. I’m keeping mine, thanks. I’m fucking angry. I’m not going to shut up about it. You can walk on if that’s a problem for you. I’m okay with that.

No yelling though. No yelling in the house. No yelling in the morning. No yelling in frustration. Just… no yelling. Yelling is triggering, and generally, once a person is reduced to yelling, no communicating is happening at all. Knock that shit off. It’s not useful.

Seriously. Man or women. No fucking yelling. Take a deep breath. Give yourself a moment to calm the fuck down, and try again – without yelling.

I want to live my life well and beautifully. I want to enjoy moments. I want to indulge in life’s pleasures. I want great conversation, with close friends, and people who care passionately about things in life that also matter to me. I want to enjoy lovely emotionally relevant art. I want to feel joyous and empowered. I want to approach my life as a journey that belongs wholly to me. I don’t want to be swamped by my anger. I don’t want to be incapacitated or overwhelmed by it. I don’t want it to become a festering wound that deepens over time. There is much to consider.

I sip my coffee and consider it.

I sip my coffee and consider the friendship of women, too. So many of us struggle with that; women have been divided, often. Women are powerful together. It’s time we reach out more easily to each other. Forge lifetime friendships that support, encourage, nurture – and take back our world. 🙂

Last night I enjoyed the company of two women. One I’d met before, briefly, and one I had not met previously. Women of great heart and emotional depth. Women with something to say about themselves, and about life. Women with a trajectory – a vision of their desired future. Women who care. Women who laugh. Women who “get it”. We had a great evening of conversation. We were authentic and vulnerable. We were real and frank, and funny. We forgot to go to dinner. We overlooked the time. We talked – continuously, delightedly, eagerly – in that very specific way that generally leads to, in other homes, on other evenings, some man breaking in to announce he “can’t get a word in edgewise”, or to make a “playful” accusation that we talk to much, or to request some service or task that he could easily handle himself, or to point out that we are “chattering away” in some dismissive tone – as if our words with each other matter less than our willingness to put our attention on him. I am so fucking done with that. (Keep up, bruh, or listen politely and maybe learn something.)

This Kavanaugh bullshit has gotten me – a lot of women – pretty angry. We don’t feel heard. We don’t feel supported. It’s become too hard to avoid recognizing that women are specifically not valued, and are specifically perceived as property, even now, and even by the men in the fucking government (why the fuck have we elected this??). It’s hard. So… I converse. I converse with women. I’m not making any particular effort in those moments of conversation to make room for the care and consideration of men; I need to be heard. I also need to be educated… or… un-indoctrinated, at least. So I’m also reading. The titles are very telling, I suppose: “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny“, “Rage Becomes Her“, “Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower“… I am clearly not alone in my anger. I have spent far too long on the words of men. For balance, though, I’m also keeping “Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness” close at hand. I do seek balance. Utility. Function. Effectiveness. I am not looking to loose the wild anger of my ancient pain on the world – just see through some changes that would improve the world for women, and thereby for all of us.

If you’re a man hoping to be some part of some sort of solution, listening is a good starting point. Really listening. Making room to understand that we (women) are having a very different experience of life than you are. (Please don’t push back on this with some sort of statement about your experience and your needs; we fucking know already, we live that reality for you every fucking day, it is part of our daily indoctrination, and even our formal educations. Knock it off for a bit, okay? That’s specifically the ask here; give us a moment of your time, really. Authentically. Listen deeply. Hear us.)

Enough with that. I’ve probably said enough. 🙂

This morning is lovely and quiet, following a merry evening of lively conversation with beautiful well-spoken women. Powerful. I enjoy my coffee smiling quietly. It’s a good morning. I feel content, and whole. I am aware of my anger in the background – it does not rob me of this lovely quiet moment. It’s an extraordinary place to be with myself. I’ve come a long way as a woman, and as a human being, over the past couple years, and this feels like a reward for a lot of committed focused effort to be the woman, the person, I most want to be. I eagerly look ahead to seeing my Traveling Partner sometime soon, and sharing his energy, here, in this lovely space. We’re good together, and it feels good to be supported, valued, nurtured… Fuck. I miss him.  🙂 I’m betting that this visit won’t find my anger crowding out my love; there is room for all my emotions to exist in my experience. I am a human being – a creature of both emotion and reason.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

It’s time to begin again. It’s time to change the world. ❤