Archives for category: Logic & Reason

For love or money? Justice or mercy? Kindness or fairness? There are choices to be made, and I make them for myself every day, all sorts of choices large and small, significant and insignificant, major – and trivial. I’m not sure, though, that I am always quite clear on the difference between a choice that is trivial, and one that shapes my life. Part of the experience is simply making a choice in the first place, or choosing to coast on circumstances and the will of others. Yep. Even that is a choice.

I like to think that reason dictates the majority of my choices, but I am aware that what tends to be the case, in fact, is that emotions dictate many of my choices, and they make reason their bitch by insisting on solid rationalizations for why the choice “made sense”. Self-knowledge, and authenticity have rather firmly demanded that I understand the role of emotions in my decision-making with greater clarity, so I play a fun game with myself based on the underlying assumption that emotion is indeed the foundation on which my decision-making it built – then I go looking for the feeling at the heart of some particular choice. (Ideally before I make that decision in some firm way and back it up with actions. lol) In practical terms, I rarely make “important” decisions without a moment to reflect on it, often giving myself at least a day or two to think things over for major potentially life-altering choices.

Would you make all your decisions the same way if you knew with certainty going into it that you were not going to do so based on reason at all, but were quite likely to ‘react’ to circumstances and make your choices based solely on your emotions? Would you be able to make more skillful, wiser decisions that serve your needs more efficiently over time, and with greater life satisfaction, if you simply acknowledge the role emotion plays in your choices in the first place? Would you be more inclined to delay important decisions for moments that were in a specific emotional context to secure a specific (better or wiser) outcome?

“Mastering” my emotions has proven to be so much less about squashing them down, repressing them, controlling them, keeping them within some acceptable boundary defined by someone else, or denying them altogether than it is about embracing them, honoring them, making use of them to enhance my experience, and being more mindful of my needs over time, reflecting on what emotions say about my values and understanding of the world. Emotions are powerful, and they whisper things to me about what I value, and what I need; it’s worth finding the time to listen. It also appears to be a true thing that by giving myself some time to explore (and feel) my emotions, I reduce the likelihood that they will “explode all over the place” creating some sort of drama or messy bullshit emotional vortex that sucks the fun out of life and drags everyone around me into it.

Pro-tip: cultivate practices that limit or reduce your desire (or habit) of “venting” your emotions. Consistent with “we become what we practice” venting, as a practice, tends to make one very good at … venting. It sometimes feels like a relief (thus having the name “venting” as if to release pressure), but the longer term consequences are less than ideal. Practice venting your anger or frustration? You get good at venting anger or frustration – not dealing with it, not skillfully coping with your feelings, not understanding yourself or your experience, and for sure not communicating your emotions skillfully as an adult. Just saying. There are other potentially much more useful (and harmonious) ways of communicating emotions than “venting”. We are not pressure cookers, and likely ought not aspire to be such. lol

I am sipping my coffee on a quiet Tuesday. Payday tasks are handled, and the budget is updated. My Traveling Partner sends me an acknowledging reply. It feels good that all this feels so absolutely ordinary and routine. That reflects enormous progress from the profound anxiety I once felt any time I had to “deal with money”.

The future unfolds ahead of me, and I’m untroubled by my lack of view into events that are not yet. It’s a bit like walking a path through a dense forest that curves regularly; I’ll see what lies ahead a bit at a time, for a very short distance, and the view will change, and change again. That’s fine. There’s plenty to see and do and experience along the way, and it’s worthwhile to engage this moment and be present in it. Another choice that is mine to make. 🙂

…I think I’ll begin again. Perhaps with a second coffee?

Weird weekend. (I could stop right there, honestly…)

“Baggage” is a tough challenge for people who have been traumatized. It can be super hard to put that shit down, and properly “begin again”. Our baggage tends to linger in our hidden corners, tucked away carefully where it’s difficult to see how problematic our thinking has become. We struggle with decision-making and outcomes that create an unpleasant experience or prevent us from thriving in our lives. It’s hard sometimes.

I’m hopeful that a particularly painful and difficult conversation with my Traveling Partner really does have the promising positive outcome it appears that it may… I’ve just got to set down some baggage and back away from it, then do some things differently going forward. Him too, I suppose, although in this instance the focus was for sure on me and the chaos and damage I sometimes struggle with.

Love and words. So many words. So much love.

Once we were “on the other side” of that difficult conversation, we enjoyed our evening together. I woke this morning feeling loved (and hopefully he did too). I’ve got a massive headache, still managed to enjoy a cup of coffee with my partner before I left for the local co-work space I sometimes work from. So far a promising start to the day and week. Nice.

Moving back into my studio was a sort of mix of manual labor and thoughtful work and careful selection. Now that it’s finished, I can’t fathom why I stalled for so long. I find myself returning to my studio again and again, thinking about creative projects. I’ve rekindled my eagerness to finish a particular manuscript that has been languishing in a file on my hard-drive for awhile – almost a decade. Long overdue, and I did not understand that two things were holding me back: 1 poem I had included that I had serious second thoughts about, and those journals tucked away in a bin. Funny; I took care of the journals, and now project after project that had been stalled seem to percolate to the surface for their moment.

What’s holding you back? When will you tackle that?

How much baggage are you dragging along every day? How much can you “just set down” and walk away from? Are there things you could let go of, that you… just don’t? What is that doing for you? (Seriously, you probably wouldn’t cling to some of that sticky bullshit if you weren’t getting something out of doing so, if only the strange comfort of familiarity – which is totally over-rated.)

I’m no therapist, just saying – lightening the load makes for an easier journey. 😉

I sip my coffee and think my thoughts. There’s a garden to plan. A life to live. Love to embrace and nurture. Already time to begin again.

Maybe skip this one today? This entire article is mostly me just beefing about shit that irritated my consciousness after reading through the business news this morning. Mostly irrelevant to the usual themes, and if that’s what you are seeking out, this may be a disappointment. I do get there eventually, but… tl;dr? Do your best today. Do better than that tomorrow.

Cities are not built by gold. They are built by labor, and by working hands.

I am sipping my coffee and reflecting on items in the business news this morning. Layoffs. A relatively tasteless (in context of layoffs) comment from a CEO that “ChatGPT is a free employee” that businesses need to learn how to use. Massive greed. Fraud. Companies paying for luxury entertainment at fancy conferences – while doing layoffs. Shareholders looking for another nickel. More frauds. Crypto scams. People being treated as machinery. Businesses looking for new ways to pay people less for more work. The media working hard to peddle controversy and keep my attention.

…I think we’re getting a lot of this quite wrong, somehow…

How do you define success? Take a while on that one, please. No rush. It’ll be important to you later on.

What about “greed”? How do you define greed? Do you apply the same definition to your own behavior and standards as you do to those around you?

What are your thoughts on how businesses treat employees? Is that a reflection of your own perspective as a working human being?

What do you think about pay equity? Should people doing the same job be making the same money? Do you think it matters where they live or what demographic they are part of? Why?

Perspective really matters on a lot of this. The perspective of someone in the position to be an oppressor is unlikely to be the same as the perspective of someone among the oppressed.

…The perspective of someone looking to cash in on simply having an opinion for sale is quite its own thing…

[I wrote some relatively radical pro-labor ranting, which I subsequently deleted. I’m not here for that. Not really. (I really should not read the news in the morning. Not even the business news.)]

This really isn’t even about that.

I’m thinking about how much I’ve personally grown over time. How my thinking has changed. The woman I am today, and how I seek to treat the people around me, is not the woman I was at 19. At 25. At 37. It’s been a hell of a journey of evolving thinking and changing values. (That’s a good thing.)

One of the things I’m finding … interesting… is that the woman I was at 19 would have been defined today as a “conservative” but made shit wages in a low-skilled job with far fewer protections as a worker than exist today – and often voted to prevent that from changing for the better! I work very differently now. Think differently. Vote differently. I’m definitely not “conservative”. I seek different outcomes – equitable, beneficial, positive outcomes that provide for the betterment of folks who need that support most (instead of for “the shareholders” or “the company” or people who are already affluent) I’d ideally like to get that result without destroying the one planet we have to live on right now.

Why would anyone want to get rich at the expense of the survival of the entire planet?

…Why we’re at it, why is “getting rich” such a common measure of success for so many people, at all? Seriously. Is counting money all that damned interesting once you have everything you need in life to thrive?

…Wouldn’t it be interesting if businesses took their measure of success not from their gross margin or profits, but from their contribution to society in the form of taxes paid and outcomes achieved?

Why aren’t we (as a global society) making sure that (all) people have the basics that they need in life to thrive? Globally we appear to have the resources to do it. Solving the “how” is what matters… so… why does so much of the discussion seem to be about whether we should?

My coffee has gone cold already and I haven’t even solved global poverty, the plight of the working class, or figured out the easiest way to communicate how problematic greed is. lol Oh, I wasn’t really trying to. I’m just trying to say “we could do better than we do right now” and that we could put some fucking attention on that… even if only over our morning coffee.

…Isn’t it important enough to talk about? Rhetorical question. Of course it is. It’s just necessary to also do more than talk.

I sip my coffee. It doesn’t much matter that it’s cold. I’m privileged to enjoy this cup of coffee. There may come a time in my own lifetime when coffee isn’t so widely available in such good quality. I make a point to appreciate it, in the early morning quiet.

My Traveling Partner finished building a new sit/stand desk for my office space at home. It’s the same space that is my art studio. I feel “wrapped in luxury and good fortune” to have an office at home – or a studio. It’s beautiful, and functional, and I feel loved. Amazing. Took a lot of work and time to get to this place. It required some lucky breaks. Some thought. Choices. It absolutely required a good partnership – one that supports my growth, and my fondest desires. I did not get “here” alone.

Alone? Alone I’ve only ever gotten… nowhere.

…My emotional wellness has been a similarly long-time, challenging journey – the success of which has been built on luck, effort, happenstance, choices, time, practice, failure, and a good partnership (or many). Just saying; we don’t get where we’re going alone, even though we’re walking our own hard mile.

…And we can almost always do just a bit better than we did… before we knew we could…

So.

It’s time to begin again. Do better though. Do better than yesterday. Every day.

One at a time. Keep practicing. Stay on the path.

Weird day. Weird week. I think one of the most challenging things about learning to manage my mental health and emotional stability over time has been also holding on to an understanding that I can do 100% of my best, make a ton of progress, gain resilience and emotional intelligence as an individual – and still struggle enormously in the context of any one relationship with another human being (who is on their own journey, having their own experience). It’s that parenthetical that gives it away, right? We’re each walking our own hard mile. Each having our own experience. It won’t matter much however much self-healing and emotional recovery from trauma I do in some relationships; that other person’s own pain and trauma is going to have a lot to say about how much we’re able to understand and enjoy each other. Sometimes that sucks. It’s certainly complicated. I can’t do much about another person’s journey besides doing my best to be a considerate fellow traveler.

I sit with that for a minute. Grateful to come as far as I have. Frustrated when it is clear that some days, in some interactions, the “us” is affected by elements outside my direct control. Yesterday (was it only yesterday? I check my email for confirmation, yep, yesterday), I had a seriously difficult day. Some of it was me. Physical pain sucks ass. Anxiety is a motherfucker. Expectations can throw a wrench into the best machinery and shut things down until the details of a shared understanding emerge. At the end of the day, yesterday, I took a minute to look at stats on this blog; I couldn’t recall if I had posted and if I had, whether I was just bitching pointlessly and creating new drama from old drama. Oddly, a different post had been linked as one that was viewed, and since I find it interesting where the curiosity of folks who read my blog may take them, I clicked the link to see what I had been writing about that day

…You may recall that I’ve said I write for myself, as a way of reaching out to myself with hopeful reminders, and useful tips that I may one day lose track of…? Yeah, this was one of those lovely moments of serendipity, and the blog post that was linked seemed almost to speak directly to me now:

Don’t sit there being miserable, filled with frustrated rage, stalled, wounded, or oppressed. Choose something different… and yeah, maybe even if that means walking away from everything you have chosen before, to choose differently, with greater wisdom, with more self-reflection, with greater awareness, and more commitment to the person you most want to be.

…Maybe you need to hear this…? You did not “ruin everything”. You are not “a complete fuck up”. You are not “the reason all of this went wrong”. You are neither master of the universe nor the single cause of all the world’s ills. You just aren’t. You aren’t that significant, actually. Neither are you unimportant. You matter. You just aren’t to blame for every fucking thing. Ever. Let that shit go? If nothing else changes, today, in this moment, you can choose to let  that shit go…

…Yeah. Wow. A bit on the nose, and I really really needed to hear that – and I needed most to hear it from me. I’m pretty fucking hard on myself, sometimes. Far more so than is necessary. Too often I internalize someone else’s emotional experience, take it completely personally, getting more hurt and more angry and more painfully aware that they (may) be taking something I’ve said or done quite personally themselves…without seeing my own error. Messy. Messy…human…and fairly fucking stupid. I mean…yeah. Easy mistake to make, and once a human primate is convinced that someone has wronged them, it’s fucking hard as hell to get them to walk that back and reflect on the part they played themselves in how things went sideways. I’m not pointing fingers here – I’m talking about me. Why would I be breaking this down if it were actually about what some other person did or said? The most I can do about that is bitch about it. If I focus my thoughts on my own words and actions, and reflect on the differences between those and what I might expect from the woman I most want to be, I may be able to understand myself more deeply – and do better.

…Let’s be super clear on an important detail, though; I’m not trying to be the best version of me that anyone else has in mind. I just want to be the best version of me that I can, myself, envision. She’s probably still not “perfect” – and I’m quite certain some of the things I like most about her won’t at all be what anyone else wishes I would become. I’m okay with that. It’s me that I have to satisfy. When I look back on this life, the only scorecard that counts is the one in my own hand. “Was I the best person I could be? Did I make time for the people I love? Did I do some good in the world? Was I the woman I most want to be?”

…Moving on…

I woke this morning wanting to paint. I finally got around to it shortly after 2 p.m. My Traveling Partner wanted to hang out, and our mortal time together is too brief, so I put off painting to hang out. I’m not sure that was 100% my best decision-making… I tend to fall short on self-care first, and where I currently am mental/emotional health-wise, I need this time with a canvas in front of me and a brush in my hand. Fuck I love that guy, though, and he’s got his own stress to wade through. I definitely want to be there to give him the support he needs when he needs it. As individuals we are so… similar and also so different, it’s easy to get taken-over by each other’s emotions. We are definitely at very different “mile markers” on our journey, and neither one of us has a map. Complicated. There are verbs involved.

My head is full of inspiration, sitting here in my studio. My painting playlist is loaded up and my ears are filled with yet another layer of inspiration. In spite of the stress of the week that is ending, I feel hopeful and grateful. It’s a good life, in spite of my challenges. I’m fortunate to be where I am in life these days. I’m aware of how fleeting good fortune can be and I do my best to stay humble and to prepare for whatever may lie ahead on life’s journey. For me, though, hope and joy and love and gratitude are rarely the well-spring of my artistic inspiration; these feels are so much more than enough on their own. It’s the hard stuff, the darker stuff, the hurts, the trauma, the tedium, the tears, the unexpressed anger that so often push me to my studio. Funny… how is it those are the things that seem so hard to express “appropriately”? Canvas and paint = no censorship, no excuses, no holding back. Art doesn’t have to worry much about being polite in good company, or taking care not to hurt the feelings of others. It can just be what it is. Strangely, even knowing this about myself, what hit the canvas today, so far, has been very much about this tiny hopeful flame that ignited within me very recently. It’s complicated (what isn’t?). I don’t know quite what sparked it, and I very much don’t want to extinguish it. So… I tend “my hearth” and look after my heart, and I take some time to put on canvas what I can’t put into words so easily.

…She’s not finished yet…I don’t know what to expect from her once she is. She’s a late addition to a series I’ve been painting for awhile. You get to see her “first” (well, after my Traveling Partner, who looked in on my progress a few minutes ago from the shores of his own journey).

“Every Dawn a Beginning” 12″ x 12″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glitter, and resin details. 2022

It’s time to begin again. Again. May there ever be a new beginning.

I’m an artist. A painter, primarily. I have a regular “day job” as an analyst, and have for many years – it’s just easier to support my lifestyle and my creative endeavors with a bit of steady employment, versus attempting to use my creative endeavors to support my lifestyle (for me – your results may vary). I sat down with my coffee this morning, after a lovely “camera walk” at a new (nearby) location and a coffee with my Traveling Partner, and I began scrolling through the past year’s pictures taken hither and thither with the purpose of updating my “all the art” photo album, and the “new art since 2010” album. Google Photos politely and helpfully took me to the last items that were updated to each album as a starting point to the scrolling.

…That was more than a year ago…

I scrolled… and kept on scrolling. I scrolled through pictures of flowers in my wee garden, and pictures of garden efforts that were varying degrees of success. I scrolled through seemingly endless pages of pictures from camera walks over the course of the year. I scrolled through pictures from multiple business trips and a trade conference. I scrolled through pictures of weather, and pictures of “why not?”. I scrolled through pictures snapped in retails spaces of items to share with my Traveling Partner for inspiration, or to gauge interest. I scrolled through holiday pictures, camping pictures, lunches, brunches, and coffees with friends. I scrolled through pictures of birds, squirrels, racoons, cats, dogs, snakes, and deer. I scrolled through pictures of beach trips, birthdays, and miscellaneous adventures here or there. I scrolled through pictures of my partners shop as it developed over time, and pictures of projects he completed there. I scrolled through a handful of selfies, and numerous pictures taken in order to confirm “is this the one you want?” while I was running errands. You know what I mostly did not scroll through? Pictures of new paintings. There just weren’t many. Two? Four?

I look over my shoulder at work in progress, and the most recent completed work… minimal. 7 pieces? 9? Not even 1 per month for the 14 months of pictures I scrolled through, and most incomplete or not photographed. Damn. It’s no wonder I’ve been feeling (for quite a while) this certain specific feeling of being “crowded” or “imposed upon” by the day-to-day demands of living a full life. I’ve failed to nurture this part of myself, and that’s honestly a massive self-care failure. I could do better. Time to reflect on the experience of painting so much less for the entire time I’ve had a dedicated studio (in any living space in which that has been the case, frankly)! It makes no fucking sense. I created the space to work in… why am I not working in it?

…Is it a lack of inspiration? That seems unlikely given the number of hastily dashed off notes to myself about things I want to paint, and the number of pictures I’ve taken specifically with compositions on canvas in mind.

…Is it lack of time? That’s an easy out; life is busy, work takes time out of my day, and there’s certainly plenty of work to be done to maintain our quality of life…but…do I really lack the time? I suspect not – but I’m sure not using the time I have to paint (or, let’s be real, to write on the regular).

Is it lack of will, interest, or materials? All pretty practical, but no. I’ve got the materials, the space, and the time available… My interest hasn’t waned. I can’t dismiss “lack of will” entirely; if I had sufficient will-to-act, I’d be in the fucking studio painting, would I not? I find myself wondering what’s up with that?

Being true to the artist I am, I see the effort, the will, and the self-care time going more to walking with my camera, out on some trail, breathing the fresh air, getting some exercise – and these are good things. I can’t complain that I’m treating myself badly. Those walks definitely nurture my creative side – and a camera is far more compact to travel with than paint boxes and an easel. It is a very different sort of work, though. For me, painting (note: I’m primarily an abstract impressionist, more or less…) is a way of communicating things I don’t have words for (and that’s really saying something considering “all the words”). When I stop painting, I start trying to force emotions into words I don’t have. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this eventually tends to result in mindless nonsensical chattering of streams of consciousness that are distracting, confusing, or meaningless for whoever happens to be stuck listening to me babble. (Do I sound as if I’m being hard on myself? Consider the burden on someone who lives with that, though… how tough would this be on my Traveling Partner, a very reality-bound engineer-sort?)

…Perhaps that’s the key. This partnership. This amazing love I share with my partner. I am reluctant to yield moments I could stand near my partner just breathing the air he exists in for something so self-centered as painting. That’s not fair to either of us – surely I would resent that over time, and that could undermine this profound love I feel for this singular human being. We both want to hang out together approximately every minute of every day – realistically we both also recognize that won’t actually work. It’s also not particularly emotionally healthy. So. There’s that.

I guess I’m just saying, I really noticed that I’ve “failed myself” a bit on this detail. There are paintings and ideas for paintings in my head, living in a space that has become crowded with them, distracting me and making it tough to properly communicate whatever else is going on (most especially related to any of those notions/thoughts/ideas).

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

The other day, in response to a moment of stress and heightened background anxiety, I retreated to the emotional comfort of my studio… and got to work on a new piece. Fuck that felt good!! “She discovered the answer was within her all along…” Omg. So trite. So… ridiculous. I think on the number of years I painted on the floor…or in some corner…or on a kitchen counter or dining table, any space I could use that had enough room to work. I could do better for myself. I felt so much less anxious just getting some color on canvas… something to think about.

Meta Luna, 12″ x 12″ acrylic on canvas w/glow & glitter, 2022

So… new job, new habits. It’s a new beginning and I’m not wasting it. I made a point to start getting my hands manicured again – and I’ve stopped tearing at my cuticles (again) or biting my nails (again). Nice. I’m keeping an eye on work hours and setting health boundaries with my time. I’m putting my errands and to-do items at the top of my list each day and refusing to allow myself to push myself further down among my priorities. Feels good.

…This is perhaps a lot of words to say “it’s time to begin again”… 🙂