Archives for category: more than a little bit of bitching

Yesterday got off to a great start, and finished, rather literally, with a bang. Well, more of a crash. I got tail-ended in rush hour traffic. No “lol”, no emoji, no minimizing, no catastrophizing; I got hit from behind by an inattentive driver while I was stopped, with sufficient force to leave an impression of her license plate frame in my bumper. It wasn’t what I planned for the evening, it certainly wasn’t what I expected, but it is a thing. It occurred.

I’m okay.

It was a generally weird day that stands out a bit in a sort of “report card” fashion, because quite frankly an ever-loving-shit-ton of stuff (all super strange oddball outliers of events and circumstances) went peculiarly sideways yesterday, a lot of it rather inconsequential, some of it to do with money, all of it touching on the sorts of things that would have grievously triggered me even a year ago. I’d have been emotionally incapacitated, flooded, and completely overwhelmed by a day like yesterday. It most likely would have sent me crashing into a period of learned helplessness and despair that could last weeks, punctuated by reactive relief-seeking acting-out that wouldn’t have helped at all, probably made things much worse.

This morning, I am relaxed after a good night’s sleep. I feel pretty comfortable physically. I’m still on for my trip down to see my Traveling Partner, and don’t seem to be dealing with any significant after-effects of yesterday’s experiences. Things seem quite fine, actually. As though yesterday were entirely separate from today in every way, other than being adjacent to one another on a calendar page. So. Apparently it is possible to “enjoy” a day of utter chaos, with some destruction and loss, and yet somehow not go to pieces, not melt down, not lay waste to whatever is left to hold on to… It’s possible to do a bit better than merely survive what is uncomfortable, chaotic, and destructive. That’s some good news right there. πŸ™‚

I got hit hard enough that I felt light-headed and strange when I got out of the car. Wobbly. Worried about my back, my neck, my head – the other driver. Late into the evening I continued to wonder if the persisting headache was from being struck, or just another persisting headache like so many? This morning – no headache. That’s enough. I slept well, and I feel comfortably able to get back in the car and drive down the highway. Road trip!

Today feels like a good day for beginnings. I find myself hoping this particular day includes a big reduction in the quantity of weird shit going on compared to yesterday. lol Yesterday was a bit much to take, and I’d started to feel a bit.. hexed. Still… wow. How much more well-prepared for living life am I, that yesterday didn’t destroy me? Didn’t even blow me off course! That’s… yeah. Wow. I gotta stop celebrating at some point, though; it is far to easy (for me) to let a moment of celebration become a careless presumption that I am “entirely well” or in a place where I “don’t even have to worry about any of that”, and I lose myself in a quagmire of poor decision-making and frivolous use of resources, and find myself both accountable, and unprepared to care for myself. Like a kid taking the training wheels off their bike for the first time, then falling on their ass. I’d like to avoid that fall.

I find it best to have my moment, enjoy recognizing the progress I have made, and return fairly quickly to practicing the practices that support my wellness over time, and that meet longer term needs, and keep me on a path that supports my goals. πŸ™‚

So, this morning I begin again. Again. I make choices. I get up gently when the alarm goes off. Yoga. Strength training. A leisurely shower. I check my list and begin doing the small things I’d want done before I return home: top off the aquarium, make the bed, tidy up a few things, drop my kindle in the side pocket of my bug out bag. I look around before I sit down with my coffee to write a few words before the weekend really gets going; is this the home I want to come home to? Will I feel “welcomed” when I return? Will I be comfortably able to just walk in, set down my bag, and chill? Satisfied that I have met the needs of a future me (only days into the future, but you know, we haven’t met, yet, and I do want her to be welcome when she gets home) I relax and make an Americano.

I sip my coffee contentedly. I take a few minutes to check in with friends. I smile thinking about a moment in the office, yesterday. I’d seen a colleague looking a little… well, we’re both veterans, and he had that look of being “stuck in a different moment” and avoided eye contact. I reached out over our messaging service a little later and just asked him how he was doing? He said “I’m good”. I wasn’t sure I believed that, but it’s not necessarily helpful to pry people open like clam shells. I replied “Awesome. Big plans for the weekend?” He sent me an emoji back and commented “That’s a solid buddy check right there. I had a moment, earlier. I’m okay now” and proceeded to tell me about his upcoming plans. We shared a bit. Turned out I felt the need for some support too, but it was less obvious to me that it was to him. The power of connection. The power of relationships and shared experience. That interaction was one high point of a strangely chaotic and messy day.

I’m not sure I’ll ever fully leave some of life’s pain behind me. I don’t really expect to entirely clean up all the chaos and damage – but it is pretty fucking splendid just to be able to live my life without everything seeming to crash down, over and over and over again, like a house of cards in a strong breeze, any time something goes a little sideways. Progress. Incremental change over time. Lots of practices. Lots of verbs. Lots of choices.

Oh hey, look at the time! There’s a highway just over there… and a journey to make. I’ve got a map for this one, but even in this instance, the map is not the journey, and I have to make this trip, myself. πŸ™‚ I’m having my own experience.

It’s definitely time to begin again. See you on Sunday – in the glow of evening light, perhaps? πŸ˜‰

My evening was not ideally productive and this morning I notice that somehow the evenings this week have seemed to slip by with very little getting done, and few of my intentions being realized. It’s those damned verbs piling up like speed bumps along Β my journey, becoming unfinished (or unstarted) tasks, slowing me down. I frown at my hands for no obvious reason, as I contemplate the long list of crap I hope to get done before I get in the car and head south to see my Traveling Partner this weekend.

Damn, I love how much more I see him, now that there is a car parked in my driveway. lol In general, I don’t mind the drive, and find that I don’t lose anything by it. I find it agreeable to have two 4-hour blocks of time spent in solitude, almost in a state of meditation, driving a familiar route, seeking that comfortable state of calm and contentment, “playing by the rules” and keeping a commitment to safety. It is both a game and a journey, and I’ve yet to even turn on music. I just drive, focused on driving well and safely, and eager to see my Traveling Partner, but also not stuck on specific details like departure times, arrival times, or “being there long enough to make the trip worth it”, or any of that. I just go. Love. Return. I do it with as much presence as I am able to maintain, as continuously as I am able to maintain it.

Other drivers are analogous to “other people’s drama” on my physical road trips. I use moments of frustration to practice practices like reframing the experience of the moment based on an alternate possible understanding – changing my assumptions about other drivers can change my experience. Did that guy “cut me off” because “he’s a jerk” and “a shitty driver”? Is there a chance that he legitimately didn’t realize he’d left me so little following distance, and was perhaps, instead, feeling the pressure of that much faster car tailgating him in the fast lane and just trying to get over out of that guy’s way? Did that person who slammed on their brakes in front of me need to brake at the last minute because there was something in front of them, too small for me to see, or did they realize they missed their turn and panic for a moment? Is that person riding the center line an inexperienced driver feeling insecure at high speed?

Distracted drivers – I struggle with compassion for your experience, I admit it. Get off the fucking phone. Put down your device. Stop fucking around with the buttons and knobs you can’t quite see on the console and just… drive your damned car. lol (Yep, still human!) You get my point, though; I play some games with myself to make the narrative I create about what is going on around me less “me vs the world”, less a personal attack and more just humans being human and chaos of circumstances. Instead of those long drives being endlessly tedious, they have become opportunities to practice, to build emotional resilience, to explore what it means to be human, myself, and even to grow a little. πŸ™‚ Weekend well spent. πŸ˜€

Buuuuut… There’s still shit to get done here, before I go, to take care of the woman in the mirror, and to provide myself with the homecoming experience I most enjoy. I like to come home to an orderly home, no dirty dishes, no laundry that hasn’t been put away, no disorder, no “catching up” to do, no loose ends, bed made, carpet vacuumed… as though I care about my quality of life (which, I do). So, this evening, unfortunately, won’t be particularly relaxing, nor will the remainder of the morning; I have shit to do. lol One thing that doesn’t need doing? I don’t need to pack. I’m so glad I updated my bug out bag for regular use; it’s ready to go. I have literally nothing to pack. I’ll dress, grab my handbag, my keys, my bug out bag – and leave. It’s that effortless now. πŸ˜€ (Way to go, Me! Nice job taking care of you. ❀ )

I look over my to do list, sorting things to put stuff I can easily take care of this morning at the top. Run the dishwasher, check the fridge for things that may spoil if left over the weekend, take out the trash, make the bed, clean the toilets… Some stuff just has to wait: it’s too early for the noise of vacuuming, putting away the rest of the laundry has no excuse – I just don’t feel like doing it this morning. lol Looking over my list, thinking through the details, it’s clear that there is less of this irritating day-to-day stuff than it felt like there was, and more “bigger deal” stuff that can comfortably wait for next weekend, like hanging paintings, unboxing the last of the books, installing the new shower head, and other assorted final moving in details. What little stress I may have been feeling dissolves. There’s not even an hour worth of fussy odds and ends of housekeeping to do, really. That’s a nice feeling.

I look at the time. Sip my coffee. There are things to do. I’ve got a list. It appears to be time to begin again. πŸ˜‰

I guess it does not “go without saying” that we can care for ourselves well, and also treat others well. There are certainly some moments in humanity’s “blooper reel” that highlight how easily we lose sight of that in practice; we can be well and also do good. Apparently Marriott’s slip and fall moment involved a passenger ship, and an opportunity to rescue human beings from an island after a hurricane devastated it, with another on the way. Instead of rescuing everyone they could, they rescued only their own hotel guests, and left with capacity for hundreds of other human beings, also in dire need of rescue. Go ahead. Google it. I’ll wait.

The justification for leaving human beings behind, stranded, without support, services, and in some cases without even shelter was… “policy”. Yep. Their hands were tied by “policy”. Β Their own policy. Let’s just admit right now that we all recognize what bullshit that is, most particular in times of humanitarian crisis. “Policies” are entirely arbitrary rules made up by people to account for most circumstances, and enforced through a filter of ordinary biases and willful exception-making (when it seems expedient). Using a “policy” to justify mistreating people isn’t okay. It is, in fact, cruel bullshit. Don’t be a dick. Don’t be one of the Marriott’s of the world. It isn’t necessary, it isn’t helpful, it isn’t kind, and it has no value to anyone outside the shareholder class, who (surprise!) may profit from it financially. Fuck that bullshit. Do better. Do good.

Take care of yourself. Definitely do this. Treat yourself well – and do it because you matter, too. I found it more challenging to learn to treat myself well than I expected to; I fought myself every step of the way. I didn’t understand that mistreating myself undermined my ability to treat others well, and also limited my compassion for others. It’s been an interesting journey with the woman in the mirror. We weren’t exactly friends 5 years ago. I put up with her bullshit. She put up with mine. We treated each other badly. Β It was a daily battle to get through all of my self-imposed obligations, responsibilities, tasks and chores, and… I had nothing left for me, and wasn’t doing much of value for anyone else, as it turned out. Awkward. I was just working hard at going through the motions. Life felt pretty empty, and chasing happiness wasn’t getting me any closer to it.

Let go of a few self-imposed “rules” and “policies”! Treat yourself and others truly well (shit, that sounds like a rule, or a policy, right there… lol). No guarantees that “happiness” will follow, although I find helping people fairly gratifying personally, maybe that isn’t you (yet). We become what we practice; if you practice treating people badly, you become a bad person. Just saying.

Too many of us Marriott our way through our lives. Managing clear boundaries becomes living by a set of restrictive rules used to exclude others from our experience pretty easily. Refusing to help because it is inconvenient, or may have some potential for personal risk, says a lot about how we feel about our fellow human being – and how we feel about ourselves. How tightly swaddled in your privilege are you? Do you know the names of the cleaning crew at your office? If you’re part of the cleaning crew at an office, is it comfortable to smile and make eye contact with “the suits”? When was the last time you reached across a social or economic chasm to say hello to another human being, without regard to what they can do for you? Are you making a practice of averting your eyes from the homeless? Do you turn your back on uncomfortable strangers riding public transit so you don’t feel the pain of not giving up your seat to someone who needs it more?

No one can do “everything” for everyone. Most of us have resources enough for our own needs, our families, perhaps if we are fortunate, for our extended families as well. I get it; it feels like there isn’t enough to go around. There is though – because small gestures matter, too. Ask people in distress if they are okay. That’s a good beginning. Then listen. That’s some great follow through. Maybe you can help. Maybe you can’t help. Sometimes people need a connection more than a solution. πŸ™‚ Sometimes though, you will have the solution, and the resources, and the time, and it’s all right there… don’t be Marriott.

Our choices can change the world. Isn’t it time to begin again?

This is not a public service announcement, I’m just saying; it’s dangerous to drive if you are distracted. It’s also annoying bullshit for people stuck behind you while you scramble to adjust your music, or futz with your phone, or play with some device, or turn around to scold a child, or whatever the fuck it is you thought was a higher priority than attending to the processes involved in driving that fucking car which you are behind the wheel of. omg. Seriously?

I was behind one shortly after I left the parking lot at work. The first 4.4 miles of my commute are along a fairly narrow stretch of two-lane road, intersections at each block, cross walks between those in many locations, and cars parked along both sides. It is a favored area for diners, shoppers, and urban adventurers, many of whom seem positively unaware that “rush hour” exists as a concept, and so they mill around in the early evening, darting out between parked cars, ambling across crowded streets without hesitation or consideration of the flow of traffic. The drivers, similarly, are a mixed mess of folks who are overly considerate of jay walkers, and jerks who don’t even stop for pedestrians at cross walks with active “walk” signals. The cars are usually bumper to bumper. The speed limit is posted 25 miles that entire distance; when there is any gap in the traffic at all, drivers tend to speed up to fill it, as if specifically seeking to prevent even one more other car from turning off a side street into that 4.4 mile long line of irritated inattentive human primates. This driver and I were among them. At any light at which that car was the first car waiting at the light, I frustratedly waited after the light turned green for the driver to notice that fact (the first time long enough to miss the light completely, the next 4 times I tapped my horn after a “5 count”). This puzzles me; I’m watching the fucking light, waiting to continue. I am driving my damned car. lol This anecdote does not lead anywhere particular – choose your own lesson, if there is one to be found, but damn it – if you are driving a fucking car, do that. Just drive.

Do the thing you are doing in life, in this moment, with your whole attention, just generally! (No, you do not “multi-task well”, no one does, there’s science on that, and you are missing out on moments of your life by thinking you do and continuing to cultivate this fractured consciousness.)

I’m not even kidding. I don’t use my phone while I’m driving, unless I park, shut off the engine, and get back on the road when I’m done. I don’t prefer to take hands-free phone calls, and don’t answer the phone for anyone but my Traveling Partner without actually parking the car. I’m working to break that habit too; he loves me, and waiting for a call back is worth his time – and my safety. Driving is a complex set of interconnected processes. Distracted driving is an unreasonably risky behavior.

End rant. Begin day. πŸ˜‰

I am slow to wake this morning. The alarm roused me, but I sat quietly for some minutes trying to understand why I was awake, and why the light was on. I have trudged through the morning so far, mostly spent looking over my camping plans for an upcoming weekend of beach camping spent meditating, walking, and observing the autumnal equinox, but not really getting anywhere with my thoughts; I haven’t any.

I notice my first coffee is nearly gone, and more than an hour of my precious limited lifetime too, and still I am not really awake. I add another item to my “to do list” for the upcoming weekend, which I plan to spend on quality of life improvements, generally, and housekeeping, tidying up, and things of that sort. A relaxed weekend of taking care of myself and my living space seems like just the thing to follow a weekend road trip.

I make another coffee. I make some oatmeal. I remind myself to start the dishwasher when I leave for the day. I wonder briefly when I will actually feel awake, and “why today?” I could so easily just go back to sleep… a rare thing for me. I find myself wishing it were already the weekend so that I could – also not my usual approach to morning. A loud irritated sigh punctuates the silence. I definitely need to begin this one again…but…where to start?

This is a very physical experience, so I begin in a physical place. I get up and stretch, and take some deep cleansing breathes, make my way to the kitchen and pour a big glass of water, and take a multi-vitamin. Oatmeal is my common breakfast, but it can’t be said to be nutritionally dense as it is. Coffee? Isn’t water. I walk from room to room drinking my water, and adding a few things to the list of planned weekend tasks. I make a point of being aware of my posture, and holding myself fully upright as I move through my space. I make a point of being aware of my breathing. Hell – I make a point of being aware.

…In time, being “aware” becomes being awake. Beginning again? It’s a thing we get to do, if we choose to do it. There are verbs involved. My results vary. Still… as often as I’d like to do so, I can begin again.

There were other things on my mind to write about as the evening ended last night. Oregon is burning. It’s sort of on my mind, you know? The air is hot, sort of humid or thick feeling in my lungs, and irritating to breathe. The smokey sky has worsened over the past two days, as has the fire in the gorge. I chuckle when I think of the POTUS awkward hurricane Harvey photo-op; I know he won’t be coming to Oregon to be pelted with rocks by black bloc protesters. For some reason, that makes me smile in spite of the terrible natural tragedy of the many wildfires destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of forest as days pass (at least one of which was caused by careless people who didn’t think the fire safety restrictions applied to them). This too will pass. The fires will dwindle, or burn out once their fuel source is consumed. The weather will change, as will the climate. The land will be re-seeded, and will bloom again. More likely than not, the Earth will survive us.

Will we?Β 

Isn’t that what we’re really all afraid of? It’s less about the Earth than it is about our own experience on it. Perhaps we are seeing the end of our human infestation on the Earth…? Grim thought. We could do better with our resources, with our conservatorship of this fragile singularly lovely world, and with each other. We could choose to save the world…

Will we begin again?