Archives for category: Logic & Reason

Well, shit. I didn’t manage to fit 10 minutes into my work day for meditation, yesterday. It was a busy day, no doubt, but… couldn’t I have managed to make that work? Looking back, it’s clear I could have, and equally obvious I did not; I was there. lol

I’ll try again today. 🙂 Each journey has many steps.

I got home, and enjoyed a lovely relaxed evening with my Traveling Partner. Overlooked meditation, in favor of warmth and camaraderie. Shit. Damn it. LOL Clearly, I need more practice with my practice. 😀

Today is another day. I’m open to making it a good one – and that includes getting my regular meditation practice back on track. Totally doable. Entirely about choices, and actions. It’s well within my own power to meet this need for myself. 🙂

I’m just saying; I’m human. It’s a thing. “Perfect” isn’t on my bucket list as an achievable goal. I just keep practicing; we become what we practice.

I sip my coffee and contemplate the recent days of camping, and lessons learned.

Long, savored moments of golden light and blue sky linger in my memory.

One understanding that returned home with me is simply how little I truly need to feel content. My contentment is not built on a foundation of material goods, branded items to fill spaces, or a huge bank balance; it’s more about moments, experiences, and connection. Even in solitude, these are the things that matter most: relationships, presence, and people. The things and the stuff? All distractions, nothing more. Useful tools, at best. Very heavy baggage at worst.

I smile and look around me. How much of “all of this” do I really need? Less than I have – I know that with certainty, because I’ve lived with (and on) less. A lot less. No doubt I will one day do so again. The wheel turns, and this too shall pass. It’s not worth becoming attached to “stuff”. Comfort also has real value; being uncomfortable is unpleasant and stressful. It tests us. There’s a balance to strike. “Sufficiency” is the word I use for that balance – having enough, letting it be enough, valuing it for what it is (and nothing more) without striving or struggling, comfortable, and contented. It’s a nice goal; I can easily visualize what “sufficiency” looks like to me.

…Still. I could do better. I have room to improve. Room to struggle less. Room to let go of more baggage and bullshit. Room to be more present. Room to do my “best”, more skillfully, more often. Room to be more content, more of the time. Room to take greater care. Every new day is a “growth opportunity”, in a very real and personal way. The path stretches out ahead of me. I finish my coffee, thinking about the work day ahead, and giving thought to where 10 minutes of meditation may fit in, and what choices I can make to be more the woman I most want to be, to find balance, sufficiency, and contentment, and to be present in all my relationships with my whole heart. Years of experience, still practicing. lol

It’s already time to begin again.

 

“Success” is a funny thing; it is defined quite differently from individual to individual, from task to task, from moment to moment, and exists on a slippery gradient that shifts just when it seems to be “obvious”. When we chase it ferociously, it’s often not our effort that determines our outcome, it’s more about our focus… or our willingness to learn, to grow, and to begin again. There is, unquestionably, effort involved, and that varies, too… with preparedness, with good fortune, with circumstance, with how much help we are likely to receive, with how relatively difficult our own notion of success actually is (for us, individually). It’s weird to me when I see people pin all their hopes and sense of self on a single idea of success. Personally, I like my success to stay fairly manageable, and not keep me up at night. So… small stuff generally. 🙂 It adds up.

A flower seen along yesterday’s walk.

Why am I on about this, on an easy Sunday morning? Simple; I walked 3 miles yesterday, hitting a tiny milestone, a modest goal, and finding a small bit of success on my fitness journey. It’s such a small thing. All the driving last year, and the lack of trail miles that resulted from the lost leisure time spent on the road, resulted in starting this year struggling to make 2 continuous walking miles with any ease. I like ease. I embrace ease. I strive for ease. Which means… I need more time walking. My scale agrees. lol I’ve been at it this year, a bit at a time. I’ve been slowly and steadily losing the weight I’d accumulated (in part due to diet, and definitely due to not walking – see the pattern?). I had been approaching things rather unproductively, for some time, pushing too hard and struggling across my imagined finish line, and ending up so exhausted (or injured) that I’d need days and days (weeks) of much lower intensity work to recover… and… um… walking is pretty low intensity as it is. lol I changed my approach; it helps to study and learn, and reinforce practices that have proven to work.

I’ve put in some study time. Consulted a dietitian. Gotten more serious (again) and more focused (again), and returned to seeking and accepting – and celebrating – smaller successes. They do add up. Yesterday’s three miles will join the three miles I’ll walk later today, and next week getting an easy two miles in over my lunch break won’t break a sweat. It bodes well for my camping trip, and how much fun that will be, hiking out in the trees, with so much more ease. 😀

I’ve got my favorite site reserved. 🙂

When my practice fails me (because I am allowing myself the choice to fail myself), I begin again. Knowing what matters most to me, myself, helps with that; practicing things that have no value, no positive outcome, or which contribute nothing positive to my life can be added to that long list of things to let go. Recognizing successes is dependent on understanding success… my idea of success is pretty definitive if I’m hoping to recognize my successes. It took me awhile to get here. It’s easy to let an externally imposed notion of success drive our choices and our behavior… education, marriage, offspring, career, address, social status, wealth… none of that is specifically, explicitly, characteristic of “success”. Seriously. You get to choose for yourself what your success looks like. Is an unwed PhD-holding carpenter living in a small town successful, or not successful? Hard to say, isn’t it, unless you know what they want from their life. Is an accountant of limited means, living luxuriously, resources stretched to the breaking point, losing sleep to panic attacks, while impressing colleagues and neighbors, a “success”? Well… “At what, exactly?”, would be my question. (I tend to think not, but again; I would need to understand their idea of success to have any reasonable thoughts on that.)

So…yeah. My idea of success really only applies to me. I’m more successful, professionally, than I ever imagined I would be; it wasn’t what I was focused on in life, generally. I’m more emotionally well, and enjoying better mental health than I have at any previous point in my life – that feels incredibly successful, to me. I worked to get here, and it’s been a slow, often quite difficult journey. Worth it. Am I wealthy? Nope. I don’t expect I ever will be. I’m content with knowing the bills are paid, and that “getting ahead” is within reach. It’s enough. I’ve already wasted too many years on someone else’s idea of success (a parent, a partner, a teacher, an employer… lots of folks out there ready to suggest that we are not successful because we have not yet achieved something significant to them). What gets me out of bed with a smile every day may not be the thing that satisfies you. Do you. Definitely a better choice, day to day. 🙂

Still… I do put time and thought and effort into being a better me today than I was yesterday. Every day. There is no “finish line”. No completed product. No final goal. No level of mastery such that I can’t continue to make that single, purposeful effort to be my best self, as I understand the woman I most want to be, here, now. There’s always another mile I could walk. Sometimes I’ll falter. Sometimes I’ll fail. That’s okay too; I can begin again.

I smile into my fairly dreadful cup of coffee and consider my morning walk. It’s early, and not yet hot. The trail I intend to walk is level, and paved, and not likely to be crowded at this time of morning. I’m eager to get started, but also aware that I didn’t think to grab socks when I slipped out of the bedroom with the rest of my clothes; going back in risks disturbing my sleeping partner. I really don’t like messing with people’s sleep; a byproduct of my own sleep difficulties coloring my thinking about sleep, generally, and my tendency toward (perhaps excessive) consideration. I catch myself mindlessly scratching at a mosquito bite from yesterday’s walk, stop myself, and add “bug wipes” to my camping list, still smiling. The moment also serves as a useful reminder that I would do well to walk in my hiking boots today (not wear sandals) – if only because mosquito bites on feet just suck so much. lol

I think over my approach to getting socks without waking my partner, smiling, and grateful for the lovely start to the day. So far? Very successful. 😀

 

 

Even more exciting, and much more worthwhile, than The Bottle Cap Challenge! Yep – and we can’t even opt out, not really. It’s The Communication Challenge – the one where any given pair or group of human beings attempts to communicate ideas, across the vast chasm of differences in perspective, filtered through individual experience and assumption-making, using poorly defined terms. lol Oh my.

…It’s not always easy, is it?

Yesterday, my day was literally filled with variations on the theme of challenging communications. It was an interesting assortment.

…Team communications…

…Individual entirely non-work-related social communications…

…Communications overheard in passing by uninvolved-but-now-interested individuals…

…Communication with people who lack emotional intelligence…

…Communication with people far more emotionally intelligent than I am…

…Communication with people who have a clear – but also hidden – personal agenda at stake…

…Direct communication…

…Misleading communication…

…Necessary and also delicate communication…

…Frank communication that was “long overdue”…

…Heartfelt warm communication…

…Tense, purposeful, communication in which I, myself, had a clear (and also frustrated) agenda…

…Dispassionate routine communication of factual details…

…Passionate communication of concerns…

…Communication advocating a position…

In some cases, some of those were a single conversation, others were common occurrences in several conversations; there are so many opportunities to communicate, in a single day. Some conversations were easy, comfortable, helpful, or merry. Other conversations felt like work – real effort was involved in “getting an idea across” or in truly listening with my whole attention to ideas I felt disinclined towards, to the point of being reluctant to hear the speaker out. It was a very interesting assortment of moments.

I arrived home, tired, at the end of what felt like a long day (because it was), and definitely ready to stop communicating. LOL

…I’m sure I learned something. I know that during my struggle to relax at the end of the day, fighting off a surge in anxiety that was making sleep difficult to come by, I was pretty certain that mastering my greatest communication challenges would have a lot to offer in the way of reduced stress, because damn, I was definitely stressed out. I sip my coffee and think about that.

I think over the communication challenges in which one or more parties to the conversation showed signs of stress, or frustration; how can I do better? Create a less stressful experience? Listen with greater care? Be more patient? Define my terms more clearly? Slow down enough to avoid being provoked? All of these seem like excellent steps. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I contemplate the very nature of “being provoked” in conversation, and wonder… to what end? I definitely have some room to grow here. You, too, probably. 🙂 Everyone.

…I promise myself another reread of The Four Agreements. I consider, with some amusement, that none of the books on my reading list are specifically on the topic of effective communication, most especially considering how much of it I need to do, day-to-day. lol I think about how little real coaching, encouragement, mentoring, or development, we provide each other as human beings… Where did we get this notion that so many things in life will just sort of “happen” over time? It’s rather strange, is it not? 0_o

I tell myself “the weekend is almost here”, then tease myself for the lie; it’s only Wednesday, and frankly, weekends do not have curative powers. We’ve all still got the lives (and baggage) that we do. The way out is through. 🙂 Another breath. Another exhalation of breath. Another moment. The wheel continues to turn.

I’m not perfect. Still practicing. There is so much to learn – and so much I can do to be more the woman I most want to be. I see daybreak turn the sky from dark – to slightly less dark. I am reminded that seasons do change, and that moments do pass. It’s time to embrace a new one, and begin again. 🙂

It’s a great starting point, and fairly basic; just don’t be evil. Don’t willfully, deliberately, take actions (or share words) that harm another person. Done; humanity just leveled up. No kidding, it’s that commonplace for petty nastiness to overcome an entire culture. (Sorry, some bitterness here, since here in the U.S. we’re literally chest-deep in nastiness these days, and petty evil has gotten to be almost routine, and hardly newsworthy.) We can absolutely choose to do better – one moment at a time.

Immigrants at the border? Yep. They’re people. Same as we all are. When we treat them as such, we demonstrate our humanity – our shared humanity. When we treat them poorly? We demonstrate our willingness to be evil. Simple as that.

Neighbors of another political party? Still human. Still our neighbors. Still have more in common with us than they are different. (I will admit with considerable sadness, I’ve ended long-standing friendships “over politics” in recent years, and it still hurts to have done so. The lack of openness to discussion, and the hostility toward clearly defining terms, were larger drivers to ending those relationships than any party affiliation.) When we treat our neighbors as our enemies, we set another stage for doing our worst. This is not complicated stuff.

A colleague you don’t get along with? That slow woman ahead of you in the grocery aisle? That politician? That pundit? A stranger? A homeless person? We are each and all of us quite human. The constant “in grouping” and “out grouping” we perform in conversation (and in our thinking) serves only to divide us. Advertising companies use such strategies to harvest our data, our views, and our dollars – for profit. I don’t much like the idea of slowly becoming evil to boost someone else’s already fat bank balance. That’s… sick.

“Sick” sort of describes a lot of what I see in the news, lately. We can do better. Small choices, lots of chances to choose change. Be kind. Be considerate. Be present. Treat everyone you interact with from the perspective of being aware of their humanity. It’s only simply “on paper”, written down as words; putting it into practice takes a lot of verbs. It’s not enough to say you care.

Yesterday was a good day. I faced it with a “sunny heart”, filled with warmth, and merriment. Not sure why yesterday was such a wholly decent day… but… I’d definitely enjoy a repeat today. 🙂 We become what we practice. That seems relevant. I sip my coffee and reflect on my decision-making, conversations, and perspective-in-the-moment, considering what the choices were that, once made, decided the day and had such a lovely result. Worth repeating the things that work, where such things are repeatable. I crashed early, slept well, and woke feeling rested – it’s a good start. My coffee is good, contrasting with yesterday’s fairly poor cup of coffee. I’m not in much pain. This seems the sort of day that “should go well” – and that’s not generally how such things work, at all. Not for all of us. Our implicit memories, and “auto pilot settings” are built on a lifetime of joy – or trauma. Some of us struggle to assemble anything in a day that feels even mildly worthy – or even “normal”. We struggle, generally. Well… I don’t now, not so much, which teaches me that getting beyond the worst of it, that chronic grind that beats us down relentlessly, is possible. We can do better – for others, for ourselves, for the world. As things stand right now, people, we’ve only got the one world to work with, and if we destroy it… well, we’re all entirely, completely, permanently fucked. 😦

So, this morning I go forth to do some better as a human being than I did yesterday. For myself. For my community. For my colleagues. For the world. Yep. Tall order. Here’s the thing, though; every moment of presence, courtesy, humanity, kindness, compassion, real listening, authentic concern, consideration for others, and willful, deliberated, thoughtful decision-making has the potential to change the world – even if only in some very small way. The changes pile up. Being “part of the solution” isn’t a matter of drinking straws and sea turtle eggs – or, well, not just those things. It’s more a matter of understanding that small things do matter, and being considerate that the specific small things that matter most to you may differ from the specific small things that matter to someone else – and being okay with supporting what matters to them, as they support what matters to you. We’re all in this together. We’re each having our own experience. 🙂 Consideration is a good start. Kindness, too. Why not? What does it cost you to be kind? What is the value in being cruel?

Begin again? For sure, why not? Maybe we can change the world? ❤

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about social contracts – those implicit, rarely stated, seemingly “universal” silent agreements about how we behave together. The thing in the background that tells us “how rude!” when someone else breaks that contract, or we find ourselves shrugging off our own behavior (“sorry, I’m just being a bitch”, “sorry, I’m a dick sometimes”), and making an excuse. The specifics vary by region, by community, by employer, by in-group, by geography, religion, even time of year… weird, right?

…Who wrote these contracts??…

Trust me, most of us signed one before we knew anything about language at all. A rare few enter one explicitly understanding it, signing with their eyes open, fully aware of what they are agreeing to… Which is weird, right? I mean… “read the contract” is even a thing we’re told to do, when we get old enough to start signing things. How is it that, as a culture, as a global community of adult, reasoning, human beings, we haven’t done a better job of setting down clear rules for conduct and society that are more broadly accepted, and more thoroughly understood?

…Maybe we just suck at this thing called free will, competing with this other thing called agency, and both all tangled up with this bullshit we call “being successful”? I mean… we’ve got a Constitution, here in the United States. The world (by way of The United Nations) has the UN Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights… both sound pretty all-encompassing, with the grave exception that a great many people don’t agree with either. So… yeah.

We have local laws, county ordinances, state laws, federal laws – and lots of people employed to enforce them, change them, write new ones, and the rest of the population following or breaking any number of those laws, every day. (Maybe we’d need fewer of them, if we had a better social contract in the first place?)

Maybe the problem is… us. We aren’t the best at “getting along”, being fairly territorial, more than a little bit delusional, prone to logical fallacies, emotional, and poorly educated (yeah, you too, college degree and all; there’s just too much to know). We get hung up on bullshit assumptions and expectations that we make up in our heads. We get angry, frustrated, sad, or depressed. We wander around feeling entitled to this or that experience, person, or object. We’re all about… us.

The moth does not understand metamorphosis.

I sit sipping my coffee. I’m hard on myself on this one. How do I live up to this committed desire to become the woman I most want to be? Who is she? How does she treat other people? How does she balance her commitments to others with adequate self-care? Where does she stand on the matter of people vs. profit? How does she live her life, moment to moment? What matters most to her? What does she not understand about getting where she wants to be in life? How does she know when to let go, and when to hold on? How does she know which questions to answer, and which ones are pure, sparkling, delicious rhetoric – intoxicating, but not nourishing?

More questions than answers on a quiet morning, and already it’s time to begin again. 🙂