Archives for category: Logic & Reason

This morning I had to admit it; I’ve hit a wall. I’m stalled. I sat for almost an hour staring into the text editor of my blog, fingers – and mind – motionless. What the hell?

I scrolled through Facebook rather mindlessly. I put that aside, aggravated with myself. I tried to read the news, but I don’t actually want to fill my thoughts with that garbage, either. lol I put on music, which satisfies me and fills that cognitive void, but doesn’t “fix” anything. I update my “to do list” – rescheduling all the crap I could have done yesterday to be things I intend to do today. Then I move them to tomorrow. Omg. Seriously?

I pause everything for meditation. No timer. No agenda. Just a few moments of alone time with the woman in the mirror, breathing. Shifting gears from thinking to practicing awareness, only, is what got my attention more clearly focused on this bit of stalled progress. More awareness of the underlying fatigue, the yearning in the background, the loneliness competing with the delights of solitude, the world in fierce competition for my attention with the things that truly matter most to me, personally. It’s a puzzle. How do I snatch my attention, energy, and effort back from the agendas of the media, my employer, and the world?

…With great commitment and a lot of practice, I suppose… there are verbs involved. So many verbs. lol

I get back to my “to do list” and my coffee. I consider the one or two tasks that keep being reliably postponed, rescheduled, pushed off for another day, and wonder if I am allowing those, and my reluctance to deal with them, to derail me generally…? Or… Am I “just being lazy”? (Whose words are those, I wonder?) When I examine the tasks on my list that I’d like to finish up, I can see there isn’t even 2 hours of real work involved… I just… yeah. I just haven’t been doing those things. This is a less than ideally productive approach. lol

Tonight won’t be the time for all that, and it feels inconvenient to want to wipe that list clean now. I smile into my coffee, aware my impatience is one more way my primate brain seeks to distract me from simply doing; I can lead with my frustration and annoyance, become invested in the emotional experience and … not do anything about the things that create the experience. Uh-huh. Well… okay, so I specifically don’t want to do things quite that way, so I get up from my chair, in the middle of my writing and do one thing, and cross it off the list. I sit down smiling, and continue to sip my coffee.

Did you know that checking things off the list gives me a boost? It does. Fairly similar to the feeling of reward and satisfaction I feel when I receive a like on a post, or when I get a notification that someone has messaged me. It’s a very real chemical reward, but does require the bit of effort needed to go from seeing the item on the list, to completing it, to checking it off. I’ve noticed just checking off shit I haven’t done does not produce the same effect – although adding something to the list that wasn’t listed, but got completed, in order to simply check it off is every bit as rewarding as checking off something that has lingered on the list for ages. Do you keep a list? Have you noticed that little jolt of good feeling chemistry, and a sense of accomplishment, when you check things off that list?

Here’s where the verbs pile up, though, like rush hour traffic; I know these things about my experience, and still find myself stalled sometimes, and not doing the verbs. Very human. How to get past that? Push on. I don’t have a better answer. Do one thing. Then do another. Make a point of it. Turn off the TV. Turn off YouTube. Disconnect. Do the thing. Then do another. Make a point of it. Check it off the list. Did something not listed? Add it to the list. Check it off. Repeat. See something else that needs doing? Add it to the list. Do it. Check it off. Repeat. There is a path to completion – it is paved with verbs. lol These chores are not going to do themselves!

Time to begin again. 🙂 I’ve got this list, and a bit of time before work…

I saw a meme this morning promoting what seems, on the face of it, a really good idea that holds potential to benefit “everyone”. Hell, it has “everyone” right there in the bold white on black text!

The meme is not the world.

I don’t disagree with the idea that making voting day a properly recognized cultural day, on which we “all” take off work to do our civic duty and make our voices heard. I actually like the idea. I’d just like it to be something other than a meme. Something more truthful and real than a slogan. It’s a great idea – but it isn’t, and can’t be, made to happen in any literal sense – even with a federal holiday, even with “compulsory” voting. Why? Well… think about those words carefully. Think about the world “everyone” and think about the words “national holiday”. Now tell me what “national holiday” currently celebrated is enjoyed by literally “everyone” such that all have that opportunity?

Did you jump to Thanksgiving? Fourth of July? (I know you’re probably sharp enough to dodge the temptation of Christmas!) So… yeah, about that… On what “national holiday” do all business shut down, and all employees get the day off? I’m seriously splitting this hair, yes I am. Hospitals? Open. Gas stations? Open. Convenience stores? Open. A great many sale-hosting profit-seeking employee-exploiting big box chains? Open. “Everyone” is a big commitment.

Therein lies the danger of getting one’s ideas from memes. They are easy to share, true enough. They are conveniently succinct and pithy. They communicate emotional triggers well. None of this ensures they rise to the level of “true”, “accurate”, “feasible”, or “realistic”. I’m just saying. Think about what you read using your actual brain. Don’t just consume media and regurgitate prepared opinions, please? You have all the qualities of mind that a fancy primate brain can provide. Don’t just let it rot inside your cranium. 😉

…And with regard to improving access to voting, preserving voting rights, and making voting more accessible? How about voting by mail? 🙂 So easy. It works well, and is already the practice in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado; states where the news is not constantly on and on about voter suppression.

This isn’t really about the vote, though. Surprise! It’s about checking references, doing homework, fact-checking, getting news from reliable sources, and making every attempt I can at avoiding having my consciousness influenced by delightfully persuasive likely sounding memes. 🙂 It’s hard. There are so many engaging gifs and sound bites and vines and YouTube videos and memes and slogans and advertising… it’s almost as if getting my attention has intrinsic monetary value to the individual, group, or agency promoting the thought behind them. 😉

Taking care of me is complicated in the 21st century. Everyone wants my views, my clicks, my likes, my shares – yours, too. I want other things for myself.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

There’s a lovely long weekend ahead for me. (I know, right? Another one!) I am spending it with my Traveling Partner out in the countryside. No agenda, no plans of note, just time together. Maybe I write, maybe I don’t… if you miss me… well… there are like… 1416 other posts (surely you have not read them all?? 😀 ). I’ll be back soon… Sunday.  It’ll be a good day to begin again, feet up on the deck, autumn leaves strewn about, hot coffee steaming up my glasses in the chill of evening light.

I woke three times, all three times feeling well-rested, the first two also entirely able and willing to return to sleep – so I did. 😀 It is Saturday, and I have succeeded in doing the one thing I did plan to do today; I got the rest I needed. 🙂

Good self-care is critical to my wellness. (Yours, too, probably.) I used to suck at it completely, always over-compromising what it takes to be well and feel good by grabbing onto other experiences and choices, for…well… reasons. Reasons that seemed to make sense in the moment, but more often than not were excuses and rationalizations for “doing whatever I want” – or, actually, whatever someone else wanted. The cycle of exhaustion, meltdowns, and poor outcomes was so predictable that for many years I simply called the entire mess “hormones” and put that shit on my calendar without any particularly successful effort to mitigate or improve any of it (because… “hormones”… well… that shit can’t be fixed, though, right? Right??) (Actually, no. It turns out that conflating hormones, mental illness, a lack of emotional intelligence, poor self-care, and plain old-fashioned inconsiderate shitty behavior, assumption making, and personal bullshit leaves quite a lot of room for improvement… so… maybe rethinking your inconsiderate bullshit, at a minimum, is a good place to start? 😉 Just saying.)

I am watching, from a distance, as two relationships in my social network struggle with a partner’s mental illness. Both have been deeply committed loving relationships of decades of mutual affection, support, and shared family life. Both are struggling with the challenge of making love work, while also supporting a mentally ill person’s personal challenge with finding wellness, and juggling all the other elements of family life: work, kids, bills, grocery shopping, and even the assumptions of strangers and the well-meaning “help” and support of friends, sometimes less than ideally helpful, no doubt. (Been there.) It’s fucking hard to be mentally ill. It’s fucking hard to love someone who is mentally ill. The coping skills and rationalizations that allowed these relationships to succeed and perhaps even appear functional before mental illness finally prevented that from being a thing at all are reliably breaking down now that these mentally ill friends are seeking (and getting) treatment that may actually result in wellness. Their partners may not be much help at this point, and in fact, their hurts, anger, resentment, and emotional wellness concerns are reliably welling up and becoming problems that need to be managed. It’s when a mentally ill loved one begins the journey to wellness that everyone else’s rampant crazy bullshit comes to the forefront – along with the rationalizations, excuse-making, justifications, chronically incorrect and untested assumptions, and refusal to respect new boundaries and changes of behavior. It’s ugly and it’s hard. There are literally no “good guys”, and as soon as “the crazy one” begins to practice things that are more sane, the crazy on the other side of the relationship becomes apparent – often accompanied by utter refusal to acknowledge it, be accountable for it, accept it, or change it.

When people who are mentally ill seek treatment, find it, and begin their journey toward wellness, the first set back is often because within their once supportive network of friends and family (“I’m here for you!”) are people who are suddenly not so willing to “be there” if “there” turns out to include being aware of their own bullshit, and their continued commitment to a status quo that it turns out has favored them, and met certain needs that must now be met differently – in, oh, hey, some new healthy way. It’s hard. It’s hardest, frankly, on the mentally ill partner now responsible not only for staying focused on treatment, but now this mentally unwell person struggling with their situation is suddenly also forced to have to provide support to the adult in the room who turns out to be less than ideally adult (and sometimes fully unwilling to even be aware of that).

It’s a see-saw, people. When we love someone with a mental health challenge, over time, we make room for some weird and possibly damaging bullshit that changes who we are, ourselves, a little at a time. When someone we love who is mentally ill seeks help, and begins to make real changes, on purpose, with the intent of becoming well – our own crazy is going to well up and fight back, and our failure to be observant and aware, and also take the very best care of ourselves, for real, is likely to be the first step on the path to seeing that relationship simply end. It will end in screaming tantrums, outrage, defensiveness, accusations, and generally – a lot of needless yelling. The cause I most commonly see as obvious and avoidable is that instead of partnerships fighting mental illness together, partners become adversaries and basically forget all about the actual issue being someone who is sick, and not able to be at their best, who needs help, support, consideration, and compassion.

Reminder: getting a diagnosis does not suddenly make someone who is mentally ill magically able to not struggle with mental illness. They can’t just point to a page in their handy “So you’re depressed?” handbook or their “The basics of living with PTSD” guide and go down a list of steps to “make it all better” for some other person. Fuck you. That’s sort of one of the limitations of being unwell; there is a fairly commonly implied inability to do all the things.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying it’s fucking hard. I’m saying a great many relationships that end over mental illness don’t end because a partner is mentally ill – they end when that person seeks wellness and messes with the stable status quo that has allowed the “well” person certain… sanity privileges, that they must now give up in favor of dealing with their own unaddressed bullshit. No one in a relationship recovers from mental illness alone; everyone must deal with their bullshit. Everyone has bullshit.

When I hit that wall in my own relationship(s) I was fortunate. I chose to move into my own living space, and make a significant lifestyle change for a variety of reasons that overlapped in a useful way. I live alone. Sure, there’s bullshit, and I definitely trip over it frequently – and it’s all mine. My bullshit. My issues. My limitations. It’s also my home, my rules, my way; the failures are mine, and so are the successes. I was able to let go of my attachment to “being heard” by my partner(s), and able to comfortably take time to be heard by the woman in the mirror – because I could recognize, in the silence of solitary space, that this was in fact where the issue rested, for me. I was able to begin to sort out my bullshit from the bullshit in my relationships that wasn’t mine, and let go of trying to fix other people, or a relationship dynamic that was unavoidably damaged by my issues, and work on practicing healthier practices that support my own mental wellness… and having gained a measure of wellness, emotional resilience, and stability, then I could begin to tackle the complex challenges of “making things right” with emotionally hurt partner(s). Please note: I am not recommending my choices to anyone else. I am this person here, and my needs are what they are; I thrive living alone. You are likely someone else altogether, with different needs, and other choices may be preferable for you, personally. I’m just saying – achieving wellness may very well destroy existing relationships, and not through any failure of the mentally ill person, and in no way directly caused by their illness, but totally because they attempted to get well – and wellness did not meet the needs of that relationship. It’s totally a thing.

Prepare for change. Seeking mental health changes things. It’s a thing people know about.

Are you a “bad person” if you can’t stay in a relationship with someone who is mentally ill? I mean, you wouldn’t leave if they broke their leg, right? It’s a complicated question. Just as complicated as “Am I a bad person if I can’t stay in my relationship because my partner won’t respect new boundaries and changes in behavior as I improve my mental health?”

Helpful friends don’t feel any more comfortable than anyone else in the context of watching lovers struggle with mental health concerns. Everyone has their “good advice” to offer. People take sides without ever seeing the entirety of the dynamic. Also hard.

Every bit of all the hard stuff is 100% hardest on the person who is mentally ill, who is trying their damnedest to find emotional wellness – they are the one who is sick, people. I’m just saying. Seriously? Find some fucking perspective. Be there for a friend. Listen more than you talk, and refrain from making assumptions. Be encouraging. Be considerate. Be compassionate. If a relationship is struggling with mental illness, everyone is hurting, everyone is injured, everyone is struggling – and no one is the good guy; we’ve all got our own bullshit to deal with.

Two different relationships, two different sets of circumstances. I find myself fairly certain one relationship has already failed, and wondering if the other might manage to survive this; it’s in how they treat each other. In both cases, I see the mentally ill person doing what they must do to become well.

I notice that I have finished my second coffee, and my playlist just ended. It is a lush rainy Saturday, and I’ve got some important self-care to take care of; it’s been a long week, and I find that my own emotional wellness is very much tied to skilled self-care. 🙂 It’s time to get started on the practices that keep me well. Doing so, and staying committed to them, has changed my world, and also my relationships. I swallow one last bite of oatmeal, grateful my relationship with my Traveling Partner has endured my changes. Love matters most.

My busy week has been nothing like “routine”. I’m still smiling. I did not see my Traveling Partner last night, as we’d planned, the hour of evening was later than we’d figured when my hair appointment ended, I’d started the day quite tired already, and my partner considerately suggested I get the rest I needed and embrace the late Thursday night ahead without additional fatigue. Good idea. I agreed. I’m still smiling. I’m alert. Rested. In no particular pain in spite of the rainy morning. I am ready for a late night! Bring it!

It’s been a busy week, sure. It has, however, been more ups than downs. More successes than failures. More challenges overcome, than challenges that thwarted me. More wins than losses. More beautiful moments than aggravating ones. I suspect that this is the truth of life, generally, much of the time, for most of us – if we can find the sweet spot in our perspective from which to view our experience.

This morning I sip my coffee and practice a favorite practice – I take the things I need to practice it with me everywhere I go: memory, experiences, presence, and a kindly disposition toward my very human self. I start simply enough, by remembering something, maybe looking through my recent photographs, or contemplating a moment, conversation, or experience – one that felt really good. That’s the important bit; start with something that feels amazing, before working towards transforming the perspective on a less comfortable moment. Because that’s totally possible too, and does not require compromising my values, telling myself pretty lies, ignoring painful truths, or constructing a fake narrative, it just takes some understanding, some compassion – and some practice. (I learned to transform some painful, awkward, or uncomfortable recollections into recollections with positive value more or less by accident, through the practice of “taking in the good“, and I don’t have “steps” to offer to make that a reliable thing; it requires practice, no avoiding that.)

Did the phrase “working towards” cause you to lose interest? Yeah… You’re probably going to have to get over that. Just saying. There are verbs involved. The effort must, in fact, and unavoidably, be your own. 😉

A beautiful way to say thank you (to me) (because I like flowers) (in vases) (and being appreciated). Flowers from colleagues. My work space smells like a garden. 😀

The complicated week has been dimpled with beautiful moments. A promotion. An appreciative gift of flowers. Smiles from colleagues in moments of shared success and celebration. A festive dinner out with my Traveling Partner and a dear friend. A delightful outcome on new hair color. It’s not even over yet – and there’s still more to appreciate, to pause for, to savor, to relish, to sit with in gentle contemplation over a great cup of coffee, too early in the morning. 🙂

So look, my life isn’t “perfect” (and that’s not a thing, so let that go now!) – my arthritis pain has been kicking my ass all this rainy chilly week, and I’ve had an on again/off again headache that has chased me for days. My schedule is a so far off routine at this point it is wreckage, calendar in useless tatters, which is deeply uncomfortable for me. My sleep, until last night, has been of exceedingly poor quality, offering little rest. A wee fish in my aquarium died. The first time my Traveling Partner ever saw my new place, my bed wasn’t made – which bugs me. The powerful “Me, Too.” meme unfolded on Facebook and Twitter, which although powerful and extraordinary, was also painful, uncomfortable, and saddening. Life is not about perfection. We are human. So human. Pain is a thing. Sickness is a thing. Emotional anguish is a thing. Running late is a thing. Being ditched is a thing. Disappointment is a thing. Setting ourselves up for failure is a thing. Learned helplessness is a thing. This is a “choose your own adventure” sort of experience – and you have choices. But…

It isn’t “easy”. It does take practice. It is utterly necessary to “do something” about “that” – whatever it is. 🙂 One thing at a time, and it’s okay to take it slow, to fumble, to get it wrong, and to have to begin again…

…like…

…a bunch of times.

This is your experience. The craftsmanship involved in making it a “good one” (defined by you) is yours.

This morning I’m fortunate to be sitting in the sweet spot. It’s been a busy week. I’m still smiling. That’s enough. 🙂

I was a bit lonely yesterday. It happens sometimes, and it an occasional inevitable byproduct of living alone. I’d heard from my Traveling Partner quite early, and very briefly; he was awakened by way of practical joke, after a late night working. (Which, while it must have seemed an amusing notion in the abstract to the prankster(s)… really?? What the hell, grownups? No. Just, no. Jokes that amuse at the specific expense of someone else’s discomfort aren’t actually funny to the person who endures them. My opinion, but admittedly, I learned that fairly late in life, myself, sometime in my 30s.) He shared his irritation and we both moved on with our mornings. I didn’t hear from him again, yesterday, aside from seeing an occasional like or post or reply on Facebook.

I spent the day contentedly working down my “to do list” of things both needful and helpful, and a few things that were subtle improvements that were in no way actually necessary. Music played in the background throughout the day. Near the end of the day, as I began to tire, I began also to miss my Traveling Partner immensely, and yearning for any little moment of connection or contact. Nothing. He was busy elsewhere, doing other things, and did not have the time or inclination to connect with me. This has to be okay; we are humans, living our lives, and do not live together. Sometimes, one of us will be busy with what is in front of us, right here, right now, and that distant lover is… distant. Far away. Not here. I ended the day feeling lonely, and a little unsettled; I’m used to more contact with him over a weekend, unless he explicitly sets expectations that I won’t hear from him. Lacking that expectation-setting, I allowed myself other implicit expectations and fucked myself over, emotionally; loneliness settled in with my fatigue, late in the day. Which sucked. But… I wasn’t having a shitty day, there wasn’t any drama, or cause for alarm, and really – I was okay, and most likely, so was he. All good.

I put down that baggage several times, and moved on to other things. “Practices” take practice – actual repetition, actual verbs, actually doing the things. Yoga. Strength training. Study. Deep listening – even to the woman in the mirror – have such value. I made a point to allow myself to be heard, to feel understood, by me, myself, and it was enough. I went to bed just a bit disappointed that I hadn’t heard from him, and hoping that he was well, and content, and feeling loved. I reminded myself how loved I am, and when I wrapped myself in my blankets as I crawled into bed, I felt content, and warm, and yes, loved, too. All good. No heartache.

I woke once very early, and saw that my Traveling Partner had messaged me quite late. He even tried to call. He was sorry I was lonely and feeling unsettled. He’d had a busy day with a lot of work going on, and some help at hand – so a limited opportunity to get quite a lot done, and he’d been involved in that. Makes sense to me. I smiled in the darkness. On my way back to bed, I hoped that he wasn’t too disappointed not to reach me by phone, after I’d gone to bed. Even though I saw him last weekend, I miss him greatly, already. I fell asleep reminded that I would be seeing him this week, showing him the new place, going to a concert with him…

My loneliness yesterday wasn’t a matter of being without Love in my experience of living. It was a matter of choices; I had a list of things to do, and was insisting (to myself) on doing them. lol That was a choice. I made that choice because it was, in my opinion, needful. My loneliness increased over the day, not hearing from my partner, because I’d hung on to an implicit expectation of hearing from him “more often” (I’ll point out how poorly defined “more often” is…), not because he’d actually let me down in any way. My emotional life is mine. The emotional “climate”, the emotional “weather”, the long-term experience of self, the immediate turmoil of some moment – these are all mine to manage, to endure, to delight in, to change, to explore, to accept, reject, or to resist as if it were madness. No one actually “made me” feel lonely – feeling lonely was merely my reaction to insisting (for myself) that I stay home and “work the list” rather than be out and about doing things with friends. I had shit to do. I chose to do it. <shrugs> It’s not even a thing this morning.

For me, today, it matters far more than my loneliness matters to my Traveling Partner, even at a distance, than the fact that I experienced some loneliness. His reassuring message and attempts to call were sufficient reassurance that he was okay, and adequate reminder that I matter (to him). I sometimes worry when I don’t hear from him. He heard me. I feel heard. All good.

I smile and sip my coffee and think about hearing and listening. I think about feeling heard. I think about emotion and reason, and love and lovers. I think about perspective and balance. I think about being the best human being I am able to be with the resources and qualities of character that I have right now. I think about walking my own path, and becoming the woman I most want to be.

Eventually, I think about my “to do list”, and the autumn leaves on the deck I have yet to sweep up. I smile, sip my coffee, and get ready to begin again. 🙂