Archives for category: more than a little bit of bitching

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.

So far…, so… I’m not perfect. Not even close. If “perfection” were the measure of human success, I would be an abject failure. Just saying, there’s something to appreciate that a. the bar is way lower than that and b. we even get to “set the bar” for most values of “success” in life ourselves and then also score the results. “It’s not that bad.” describes a lot of things. Pro-tip: there’s real value in pausing to reflect on how good it is and how bad it isn’t now and then. The results may surprise you.

“Good enough” has to be good enough, sometimes. 🙂

Are you wondering why I linked that track in paragraph 1? Here it is again with the lyrics. 😉

Last weekend I was ill. Like, dragging myself to the bathroom for multiple episodes of all manner of biological disaster through the night on Friday, and running a bit of a fever all day Saturday after my guts were utterly emptied from both ends. Yick. Horrible. My fever finally broke in the early evening on Saturday. Yesterday I was exhausted (in spite of drifting in and out of a restless sleep most of Saturday), and a bit faint and dizzy feeling. I managed to push a couple loads of laundry through the machines, and even put away most of that, but anything more was honestly beyond me. My Traveling Partner was super helpful and supportive and kind, and the only moment of discord between us was a bit of frustration with me over my relative incompetence in that state that made it super difficult to do the one “thinking task” (and it was a way easy ask) that he called upon me to do late in the afternoon. Thankfully, he saved me from possibly bricking an expensive laptop by being more aware than I was that I had “gone down the wrong path” on that task. My own frustration with the situation resulted comically in being mad enough to “storm off” to take a walk… which amounted to going to check the mail because I did not even have the strength to take a real walk of any distance. Hilarious. Had to come home and fucking behave myself and work on making things right with my partner like a grown-up.

Today feels like “just another work day”, but with a helping of “why did I think I would actually be fully up to this already?”. I didn’t sleep well, either. I had slept so much (I suspect) in the prior days (without drinking much coffee) that I ended up “over slept”, and since yesterday I did have coffee… I couldn’t sleep. Since I didn’t have quite half my usual amount of coffee, I also ended yesterday with a wicked headache (or was still sick…?), and the medication I took for that tends to result in not being able to sleep deeply. The result was a restless night. Funny… I’m okay though. There are things that matter more. Life? Love? Beauty? This quiet contented moment of reflection? The grocery list I don’t want to forget to shop for later. lol

I yawn and rub my eyes. I pause and write my Traveling Partner a love note. I fucking love that guy. I also appreciate him. I take a sip of coffee and a big drink of water and get ready to begin again.

I’m drinking water and counting myself grateful to have indoor plumbing, hot and cold running potable water from a tap in the house, and additional filtration that ensures the water is clean, and free of weird tastes or sediment. It’s nice. I’m drinking water because I’ve already had my coffee and frankly I do need to be drinking more water. Recent longevity-associated articles reporting on the value of being well-hydrated did not go unnoticed. I started paying attention to the differences on days when I am not well-hydrated vs days when I am – and nights. Yes, drinking more water definitely results in getting up to pee more often during the night, but that doesn’t seem to have anything at all to do with whether I sleep well and deeply, or how easily I return to sleep, so… small price to pay? Well, I guess I hadn’t previously thought so, until I noticed that being well-hydrated seemed to also reduce my snoring (noticeably), as well as improving my ability to lubricate naturally (still a pretty big deal for me, personally, in spite of being post-menopause I really enjoy sex), like, a lot. So I’m pretty committed to drinking more water.

Keep practicing.

…I learned quite recently, and yes “the hard way”, that one bad spell with my mental health can wreck that progress in mere hours. Friday evening I went through some shit and had a nasty flare up of my PTSD on this whole other difficult to describe level. It was bad. I put my Traveling Partner through some bullshit over it (always regrettable and complicated). It got bad enough that I actually had a flashback, and those have gotten to be very rare. The ridiculous level of hysteria I ultimately reached (calling it a “panic attack” doesn’t do the chaos justice at all) caused me to cry a quantity of tears that finally resulted in a loss of moisture that definitely resulted in me more than a little dehydrated by dawn. I woke Saturday morning with a stuffy head, swollen eyes, and feeling like “everything had come crashing down”. It passed, but… it wasn’t good. The low point was the painful awareness that even medicated, I am at risk. I am grateful to have the partner I do. The chaos and damage don’t reliably “take no for an answer” once shit skitters sideways. The self-directed shame and disappointment immediately add an additional gut-punch that makes bouncing back hard. On top of all of that? Damn few people actually “get” what flashbacks are actually like, and they aren’t portrayed in the movies or in media very skillfully (how could they be?).

It’s important to take care of myself. Regardless of the chaos and damage, regardless of my personal starting point on life’s journey, or where I am standing when I begin again. Problematically, this is true for everyone; self-care matters. I don’t “get a head-start” when I practice good self-care – I don’t even get to start at the same starting point as “everyone else”. I’ve started this journey where my starting point happened to be. Self-care is a thing that it is very helpful to do – for everyone. I’m still me. Still have the issues I have. Still have to work on those issues. Still have to trust that incremental change over time will improve things. Still have to recognize that my results are going to vary. My demons got the better of me on Friday night in a big way. I’m fortunate to have a loving partner willing to support my long-term wellness and growth. I’m grateful that I can understand that there is no implicit promise that having a loving partner will actually make this shit any “easier”. I’ve still got to walk my own hard mile. I’ve still got to do the work. I’m still going to fall down now and then, and have to pick myself up and start over. Begin again.

Some practices are more critical than others. Some practices are more emotionally nourishing than others. Some are more or less effective for me as an individual. I did not imagine the simple act of drinking enough water would be one of those very simple very big deals among all my practices, but here we are.

Selecting good practices is a bit like building a healthy diet… fruit is delicious. Sooo tasty. Filled with nutrients we need. Yum. The thing is, though, it’s also full of sugar. Like a lot of sugar. For many of us, building our diet around tasty fruits is not notably healthier than building it around any other tasty sweets. [Note: I am not a nutritionist or dietician, nothing I say in this blog should be construed as medical or dietary advice. I am using “diet” and nutrition metaphorically here.] Veggies may not be as sweetly delicious and tempting in the way luscious ripe fruits can be, but they do make a far better foundation for my diet. So… it matters to choose with care. Whether we’re talking about a healthy diet, the practices we choose for our emotional wellness, the partnership in which we spend our days (and nights)… or the practices we choose for our physical wellness. Turns out some of the most basic practices for my self-care support both my emotional wellness and my physical wellness (looking your way drinking water and eating more veggies!!). It’s worth thinking about for more than a moment. Abandon any one of those cornerstones of a good life, and the foundation isn’t solid enough to rest upon.

Get right down to it, and there’s just no magic bullet, or pill, or single solution to “all of the shit we go through”. No partnership can bear the weight of all of our bullshit. We’ve got to do all the things we can – everything we know to do, as reliably as we’re able to learn to practice. Through practice. Sounds like a huge thing to commit to, but taken a practice at a time, doesn’t it just amount to living life? I think about it a while, let the songs play. Watch the tiny bar of sunlight creep across my desk.

My partner comes in and rubs my shoulders and neck for a moment. “You writin’ a book?” he asks with a laugh. I laugh back; there are no shortcuts.

It’s time to begin again.

What an absolutely shit-tastic fucking morning. Maybe I get it back on track, maybe I don’t. Maybe I sort myself out and feel some amount of joy or enthusiasm for living, maybe I don’t. I’m not depressed, I’m just… an emotional trainwreck, this morning. Medicated? Yep – and there are reasons for that, and this morning the medication isn’t enough to overcome my bullshit and baggage. My results absolutely fucking vary. Sometimes I don’t “get it right” and I have to deal with whatever hurt or lack of courtesy I’ve delivered to some (probably) unsuspecting other human being (who may even matter to me)(probably) – and also deal with supporting myself, soothing myself, and managing my self-care. It blows.

…Then I deal with the pile-on bullshit of the aftermath, the feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame, frustration, self-directed disappointment, the feeling of futility, the sense of “making no progress” and the potential descent into despair, because… “this?? again??” Also major suckage.

Here’s the thing, though, and I’m trying to hold on to it ferociously right now; I do deal with it. I do get past the moment. I do manage – again and again – to soothe myself, sort it out, and move on. It’s just not “easy”, and I’m “having a moment”… about having had a moment. So fucking annoying.

This too will pass. Emotional weather means occasional storms and showers of tears. That’s just real – and very human.

I tried to go to work before I was quite ready, in spite of “where I was at”. I had to park the car and just let the tears fall. I couldn’t really drive. I for sure could not have worked. In an office. Around other people. (I’m 100% done with crying at my fucking desk during work hours. lol) So, I got that over with parked on a dark side street. Then I went on to the co-work space I’m presently working from (working from home is a bit too distracting right now, and sometimes very noisy with the new CNC machine) and got my day more or less started.

…Now I’ve got to begin again, properly. Be the woman I most want to be. Deal with people. Process tasks. Handle communications. Be present and engaged. It’s hard. It sounds like too much to ask. The morning started incredibly poorly and I’d honestly rather just “run away from home” and be literally anywhere else but trapped in my own experience of life and love and self. I’d rather be hiking a muddy forest trail, or a cold oceanside beach. I’d rather be sitting at a sidewalk café with an espresso drink and book. I’d rather be watching a high desert sunrise, or playing with a kitten. Hell, I’d rather be home alone doing the fucking dishes. Anything but being the woman I am, in this moment, living this life, feeling these feelings. Fuuuuuuuuuuck. I’m not a g’damned machine. Just a human being.

…I think about my assorted medications. Is there a pill to take for feeling miserable and emotional and filled with shards of chaos and damage? (No, no there is not. Bitch, pull yourself together. Fucking hell – it could be, and has been in the past, so much worse.)

I sigh out loud, drain my untouched cold cup of coffee impatiently. It’s time to begin again. Again.

It’s been 10 years since I started this blog, and this journey. I mean, I suppose I could choose a lot of dates and say “I took my first step here”, but starting this blog and returning to therapy during a very dark time in my life was more significant than I knew at the time, and I’ve come farther, faster, I think, than I otherwise might have if I hadn’t taken those steps.

I lived in a different place, with different views.

10 years ago. I could measure that in jobs… it was 5 jobs ago. I could measure it in moves… it was 4 moves ago. I could count it off in hours, which is an impressive 87660. A little daunting if I think too long about how still needs doing. I could count it off in blog posts… 2512, an average of 20.9 per month, and more than 1 million words.

My first post was just an brief introduction. My second? It was about perspective. 10 years later to the day, and I’m still writing about how much perspective matters, and how to shift it in a more positive direction.

The first book my new therapist recommended to me, and an important step on a profoundly healing journey.

10 years ago I started reading, and building my reading list. I turned 50. I started keeping an aquarium (which I kept going until just last year). I began an intensely creative period as an artist. I bought new hiking boots and started walking a lot more, and I started making solo trips to the coast to make time for healthy self-reflection.

The beginnings of a piece on the theme of perspective.

I was in a rough place emotionally when I started this blog 10 years ago. At the same time I started this blog, I started an art project on the theme of perspective and experience, and the subjective nature of memory vs lived experience. I used two large glass containers, and into one I dropped dark stones, black glass “pebbles” and mementos of sorrow or grief, and small amounts of black glitter representative of darker moods. Into the other, I dropped light colored glass “pebbles”, glow glitter, and things reminiscent of joy and day-to-day moments of pleasure. Not so much “good vs bad” as pleasant vs unpleasant. I wanted to gauge “how bad is it really?” in some visible way. I kept it going until I was ready to create “Perspective” on canvas, some 6 months later.

“Perspective” acrylic mixed-media on canvas, 16″ x 36″, 2013

As difficult as my day-to-day experience sometimes felt, and as much as I often struggled with my experience, emotions, or circumstances, it was clear that even with “my thumb on the scale”, things were more often pleasant than unpleasant. The ratio wasn’t even close. There was more light than darkness, more joy than pain – and this is true even now. (I say that because it’s been quite a difficult morning and was a weirdly challenging weekend emotionally, and I’m definitely feeling that.) This particular art project opened my eyes to the importance of perspective in building and maintaining good mental and emotional health; if my lived experience felt unpleasant but was objectively better than I was feeling it to be, I figured there had to be a way to correct for that. I mean… I wear glasses because I’m near-sighted. What could I be doing to correct my sense of perspective on my own life? This became an important focus for me from then on.

…As it turns out, there are a number of different ways to gain or restore perspective… You could read Viktor Frankl… or take up meditation… or get therapy… I did all those things and found them each helpful in their own way. There are a lot of other things a person can do to shift perspective.

This morning I am sipping my coffee and thinking about the weird weekend from the perspective of having had a restless night, and being abruptly wakened (too early) by my Traveling Partner’s frustrated plea that I please work in the office today so he could get some sleep, himself. (I don’t doubt my snoring was keeping him awake, which sucks, and my office is adjacent to our bedroom and this manual keyboard is noisy, and my typing tends to reflect my emotions… I get it.) I was seriously looking forward to working from home this morning. I wasn’t set up to leave for the office at all. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant “wake up call”. I didn’t sleep well, myself so I just got up immediately, dressed, and “left for work” – hours before my work day even begins. I thought about just parking somewhere and napping in the car. I wasn’t actually properly awake when I left the house and possibly should not even have been driving (I was pretty groggy, hadn’t yet had my coffee, and was functioning on “auto pilot”, and feeling hurt to be asked to leave). I was feeling pretty “unwelcome in my life” – which is a shitty perspective to take on one’s own experience, honestly, and skewed hard away from the demonstrably positive real life experience I actually live day-to-day. I started the morning moody and emotional, and vexed with my partner. Bleh. I feel rather fortunate that I happened upon the awareness that this blog is now 10 years old, almost to the day (yesterday was the actual date of my actual first post). It’s given me new perspective on my perspective and a chance to write about perspective, generally, which tends to shift my focus from my own perspective to… perspective as its own thing. lol

The tl;dr is that perspective matters – and you can change yours. (Your results may vary.)

…I’m not “in a better mood” or any more well-rested than I would have been without the opportunity to reflect on and write about perspective, but it is much harder to just wallow in a shitty mood over the crappy start to my day once I take the time to slow down and reflect on some positives. I feel myself starting to let that shit go.

The weekend was actually pretty wonderful. We got some things done. Celebrated some achievements. Loved each other thoroughly. We also found ourselves dealing with a couple unexpected moments of strife. Predictable. Human primates are emotional creatures, and barely domesticated. I try not to get hung up on those, although now and then such moments find me reconsidering my life choices, if only for a moment. :-\

I stare into my coffee lost in my thoughts. Often.

10 years. This year I’ll be 60. Another opportunity to begin again.