Archives for category: Parables

The last day of 2020. There’s no point arguing that, and unless we abruptly change calendars, there’s no turning back now; the year is ending. 🙂 I’m okay with that.

This is a season of change. There are choices and plans to make. There are past mistakes to contemplate, to learn from, to avoid in the future. There are future opportunities (and pitfalls) ahead, on which to build still further into the future. My results will surely vary. There will be verbs involved. Practices to practice. Choices with surprising outcomes, upon which to reflect further. It seems like there is almost always “further” to go.

This blog, this humble instrument of expression, these handfuls (fistfuls? bucketfuls?) of words have been incredibly helpful for me, along this strange journey of healing and growth, as I head toward being the woman – the human being – I most want to be. I sip my coffee, flavored with a bit of the buttered rum batter I made this morning, for later this evening, when my Traveling Partner and I toast the new year together. It turned out pretty good, and I’m pleased with the flavors. Pretty good in coffee, too. 😀

I started this blog on January 8th, 2013, as I teetered on the edge of life’s most final decision; whether to go on living. (Breathe. This is all about hope and promise and continuation – it’s not a sad tale.) Since then,

I’ve published 2232 posts here.

I’ve received 10,020 spam comments (blocked by Akismet).

I’ve received 1060 legitimate comments from readers. (Thank you for reading.)

2914 days have passed.

11,304 views of my page were recorded.

When I look closer, I see that some of my posts are hundreds of times more popular than all the others… by far the most popular (in the history of my blog) is “Be My Valentine? How About I Be My Own Valentine?“. It’s followed closely by my reading list. The Parable of the Barking Dog, and The Parable of Poison have also been very popular. When I re-read these, myself, I still find value in them, and room to grow as a person from reflecting on observations made long ago. (That’s sort of how writing works, I guess. lol)

This year, the most popular posts still include my reading list and The Parable of the Barking Dog. Beyond those, the favorites seem to reflect the times rather a lot. Reflections on this journey-of-self, musings about finding balance in challenging times. Thoughts on the passage of time, and shifting perspective, on a birthday.

I take a look at the recorded search terms that took people to my blog this year (it’s always worth a giggle):

…”Don’t be a dick light”? What does that mean?

I find myself mildly frustrated that I can’t see the “unknown search terms” – I bet they are interesting. lol I take another look – search terms over “all time” (I mean, since this blog started, right?)… It is an interesting look at what drives traffic to my blog, and maybe why.

I’m clearly not the only fan of Rick & Morty. I’m interested in what it is about “inspirational word” searches that bring people here… I hope they find something worthy to sustain them on their journey.

2020 has been a wild ride – one of the most peculiar seeming years of my adult life, as far as I can recall. Right up there with 1981 (joined the Army), 1989 (the fall of the Berlin Wall), and 2010 (it’s complicated). It’s not that other years don’t stand out as significant, it’s just that these were “big years” in some harder to pin down way (for me). 2020? Monster year. Plague (well, pandemic). Election year. Black Lives Matter. Australia on fire. California and Oregon on fire. Presidential impeachment. Climate change slowly stops being debated and starts being acknowledged. The “Me Too” movement. RBG died. My Traveling Partner and I bought a home. I mean… yeah. It’s been a big year. I’m glad it’s over.

What about you? Have you taken a moment to reflect on times past? What will you do with the year ahead? Will you fulfill a dream? Reach a goal? Will you persist? Will you let go of old baggage in favor of a new direction in life? Will you change the world?

…I guess we don’t know until we begin again. 🙂 See you in 2021. 😀

Generally speaking, it makes a lot of sense to cook from the recipe, particularly considering I am neither a trained cook or chef, nor am I an amazing natural talent in the kitchen. I’m just a person cooking food. 🙂 The traditions of my family’s kitchens are not astonishing. They are a fairly commonplace hodge-podge of German, English, French, Slavic, and Mediterranean cuisines, with hints of flavors borrowed elsewhere. Ordinary “American food”. I was fortunate to be exposed to more foreign flavors and food experiences through my military service, and family members who traveled the world in their own endeavors. I enjoy food. I’m less of a fan of kitchen work (chopping, preparing, measuring, cleaning up, doing dishes), but… if I don’t cook, I have far fewer choices of what foods go into my mouth!

…If I want to reproduce a food, meal, or flavor I fancy, I pretty much have to follow the recipe with care, though, is my point…

“Follow the recipe” sounds rather a lot like “follow instructions”. There is, for sure, a time and place where/when not following instructions may be the wiser course, but let’s be real; those times/places are by far the exception. In general, it makes sense to follow directions, instructions, recipes, how-to guides, care manuals, safety warnings… all of that.

I had a powerful lesson in following the recipe over the holiday weekend – and it was tasty and delightful. I (re)learned how to make scrambled eggs (that are actually worth eating)! Doesn’t sound that exciting, I’m sure. It was delicious (but now I can’t say I don’t like eggs). I also (re)learned to make really good waffles. So much yum. 😀 Super delicious, and I got there by reading with care (in this instance equivalent to listening deeply), following the recipe, and practice. Totally worth it!

…Then, I ruined the wire whisk for my Kitchen Aid mixer by throwing it into the dishwasher carelessly (acting on the recollection that it is dishwasher safe – it isn’t – from a much older model that had an all-stainless whisk attachment – that still had care instructions, by the way, that said “hand wash only”). Well, shit. Harsh reminder that “rules is rules”, and in some cases (often with safety instructions or care instructions), those rules are there for a legitimately good reason. In this case, the dishwasher efficiently removed the coating from the zinc-containing base metal of the attachment’s hub (the wires themselves are still stainless), creating a safety/health concern, and also just generally an icky inky mess any time I touch that whisk.

I woke to a polite note from my Traveling Partner, who had emptied the dishwasher this morning. It included a frowny face, and a reminder that he’d specifically reminded me not to put these accessories in the dishwasher, and asking me to toss the ruined accessory and order a new one. Fuuuuuuuuuck. Damn it. Shit. I’m annoyed with myself. Learning new shit sometimes means unlearning old shit – and guess which one of those things does not come naturally to me?? (If you guessed that I may have some challenges unlearning habitual behaviors, you are correct!)

Follow the recipe. Yes, maybe you have a tweak in mind that could be really good… I’m not saying don’t explore or adventure, just noticing how much more successful I tend to be, in a great many circumstances, when I follow recipes – whether those are recipes for waffles or recipes for success is not relevant here. Recipes. Instructions. Warnings. Care guides. RTFM. Even I know that. Here’s the thing; I’m learning that there are elements of recipes one can adjust more or less to preference or with wild abandon… and others that can’t be adjusted without wrecking the result. Some substitutions work. Some don’t. Some changes affect flavor. Some changes don’t. Some changes result in the chemistry of the recipe breaking down completely (go ahead, leave out all the eggs, cheese, proteins and starches from your “casserole” – let me know how that one goes). So. There’s that. One more challenging bit of skillful adulthood to tackle. LOL

…Note: there’s really no version of “changing the recipe” that applies comfortably to actual safety instructions. Just saying, be safe.

So, this morning I’m sipping my coffee and shopping for a replacement wire whisk, and feeling grateful to have a partner who is fairly patient with me day-to-day, and feeling grateful to have reached this place where I am also patient with myself. There’s a ton of practice involved in changing old habits or frankly-less-than-ideal behavior. My results vary. I definitely have to begin again, like, a bunch. It is a process.

Heading into the new year, I’m not even upset over it, just mildly frustrated, a bit disappointed with myself, and eager to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping coffee on a gray Saturday. I enjoyed the first rain shower since moving, and delighted in the tickling spatter of summer rain drops in the morning chill. I sat down to write… but didn’t. I got distracted by the flowers of spring-to-come that aren’t yet planted in a landscape that isn’t yet supported by a clear vision. It is what it is; I enjoy flowers. 🙂

Other gardens, other flowers.

I’m not yet sure what I want of our wee front yard and garden space. Something like a cottage garden, I think, maybe…

Sometimes the simplest things bring great joy.

…or perhaps grand flowers in bold colors and formal borders…?

Plans are best supported with some sort of coherent vision… a direction to go…

Regardless of the eventual outcome of however many weeks and weekends of daydreaming and thought go into the eventual plan that puts me on the (garden) path to that future reality, there are choices involved. There is effort to be made. There is work, and care, and craft, and problem-solving. There will be, too, lovely moments to enjoy flowers, along the way. That’s sort of the point. 🙂

Those lovely moments… aren’t they nearly always “sort of the point”… of all of this thing we call living life? I mean… sure, we’ve all got problems, challenges, conflict, confusion… things to sort out, and things to resolve. That’s just real. I’m not at all convinced any of that amounts to “the point” of all of this fuss and bother that is “life”. Personally? I think it is “about” the moments, the joys, the collection of experiences that become our treasured memories, the relationships we build and share with other traveler’s along the way…

…And the flowers.

So, I’ve got some thoughts, and a wish list or two… and a day dream. With patience, it’ll become a vision, then a plan, then a course of action – a path. It seems so simple in the abstract. Life is about that, too; the complex and the simple, and how often they are the same thing, viewed differently, and how often a clear path changes the journey.

…My Traveling Partner comes in and more or less “takes over” this moment, and my writing, to make some useful changes to my workstation. 🙂 I think it’s time to begin again.

I am afflicted with nearsightedness. I’ve worn glasses since that was first identified. I’ve chosen not to explore wearing contact lens, in part because the process of putting them in and taking them out is deeply creepy (to me, personally), and I am overly sensitive about things in/on/near my eyes. So, glasses are part of my life. I put them on first thing when I wake, and they are the last thing I take off when I go to bed at night. My vision is sufficiently poor that I can’t see more than blurs, smudges, and vague shapes without them, although I have, sometimes, chosen to read without my glasses, in recent years, because it seems “just as good” or “better than” reading with my glasses on.

I got tri-focals to account for the variations in my vision at various distances (reading, “near-ish”, and far off). My tri-focals seem “good enough”, generally. I have “reading glasses” for reading and using the computer, too; the sliver of close-up reading lens in the wee round glasses I favor is so slim and narrow that it’s actually rather hard to get the angle of my head and the position of my glasses “just right” to take advantage of it. I don’t mostly notice. My neck notices. My back notices. My more frequent headaches tell me about it.

…My Traveling Partner tells me about it, too. Watching me hunched over my phone squinting to read the small print is uncomfortable. Seeing me perched on the edge of my office chair, leaned in close to my computer monitor, still squinting to read the screen is frustrating after years of pointing out that my posture is affected, which affects my pain, which affects my mood, which affects our interactions, which affects our relationship… He’s reminded me a number of times recently to see my eye doctor, get my eyes re-examined, and get new glasses. It’s clear to both of us that I need them. I reliably mumble something about getting that taken care of “soon”. It’s not intended as a brush-off; he’s right. I need new glasses.

…There’s so much shit to get done “in life, generally”… I don’t intend as an excuse, it’s more intended as discontented, frustrated grumbling. I’m “so tired”… That, however, is not an accurate statement of being, even in a subjective way. It’s my short-cut for communicating that there seems too much to do to get it all done “now”. Isn’t that always the case? “Now” is such a brief (and endless) moment… how I allow myself to see “now” as a duration of time definitely influences how much I feel I can do with it. My body and my mind want and need me to “really rest” – it’s been a busy few days. Conflating that with “life” can derail a lot of things I’d like to get done.

…I definitely need to see my eye doctor and get new glasses…

I found my reading glasses, and now, like an absent-minded little old lady (Am I she? So soon?), I hang them from the front of my shirt, switching when needful. Trying to, anyway. I forget. I also wander around still wearing reading glasses while I attempt to do other things than reading… with my regular glasses now hanging from the front of my shirt. lol

There really is something to learn here. It’s about more than the glasses. It’s about the self-care, and also the loving interactions affected when our self-care is poor. It’s about managing time, and about self-awareness. There are lessons to be learned from reading glasses… whether I use them, or lose them while they hang from the front of my shirt, because I’ve forgotten that they are there. Without them, I don’t see the world clearly. Choose the wrong pair, and there’s no real improvement. Time, timing, distance, purpose… there are things to consider, even beyond the obvious self-care elements; the glasses I wear become part of the face I turn to the world, and even facilitate the quality of my interactions with others (however indirectly).

…Sometimes “small” concerns are bigger than we can easily hold in our awareness moment to moment…

This morning I sip my coffee, reading glasses on, tri-focals hanging from the front of my shirt, writing, and giving thought to the day ahead. “What will I want to see?”, “Which glasses suit that need best?”, and lastly “Who in town does glasses that is covered by my insurance?” (New address means, in many cases, new care providers.) One more sip of this now-cold coffee, before I make a second cup, sit down to enjoy my partner’s good company, and begin the day (again).

 

The sun is up. I slept in a bit. Sipping coffee, barefooted, on a weekend morning, late in the spring. It’s a lovely moment. I’ve got nothing to bitch about. Nothing nagging at my consciousness. No drama. No baggage (in this moment). No chaos. The morning is quiet. My mood is calm. My outlook on life is merry. I’m okay, right, in every sense of the word that matters. 🙂 My coffee tastes good. My roses have begun to bloom. My aquariums are thriving. The computer my Traveling Partner built for me while we share Life in the Time of Pandemic, together, is working beautifully – and by that, I mean it is both a wonderful upgrade in performance, and also a beautiful technological piece, aesthetically. I smile every time I sit down at my desk, feeling very loved. I feel content.

“Baby Love” blooming in a pot on the deck. 🙂

Let’s be super real on this notion of contentment and ease; I’ve worked years to get here, and there have been many verbs involved, and many tears shed, over time. My outlook matters more than material details. I could live this life, identical in all practical details, and be mired in misery. PTSD has that power. Healthy emotional wellness practices really matter that much.

No click bait here, no “secret practice your therapist doesn’t want you to know about” in an eye-catching thumbnail. I’m not about that. I’m just saying, perspective matters. How I treat myself matters. How I treat others, and how reciprocal those interactions are, matters. It’s been a long journey, and I’ve often felt I was stumbling haphazardly through the darkness, quite alone. I’ve known despair, and futility and frustration and sorrow and, yes, madness. I’m not alone in that – and that’s why I write. Reminders for me, and maybe, just maybe, a light in the seemingly endless darkness for someone else. Someone that I’ll likely never meet. There have been so many such souls on my journey… human beings on their own journey, helpful co-travelers, sometimes unrecognized until much later, because I simply wasn’t ready to hear what they were saying to me, then. We all walk our own hard mile. (You too.)

Life is pretty good these days, even in spite of the pandemic. It’s not about material success (I’m not wealthy), or finding one true love (I’m fortunate to enjoy a great relationship with someone I love very much, but in dark times love does not “cure” our sorrows, or ease the weight of our baggage). Life is pretty good these days because more of my choices take me in that direction, than choices which don’t. Verbs. Choices. Beginnings. Perspective. Sufficiency. These are only words, but the words represent concepts I’ve found key to making my way, a bit at a time, to a life that feels, generally, characterized by contentment, and joy.

I’ve put in many hours of therapy and study. Reading books isn’t enough; the ideas have to become changes in behavior and thinking. The epiphanies and “ah-ha moments” have to become new practices. Practices that work have to be sustained over time. There is a commitment to treating oneself well involved – this may be the biggest challenge (it has been for me).

Where this really started, back in 2010, and a moment of gratitude for the love of the man who shared it with me, then, and remains with me, still.

I think I’m just saying… “you’ve got this!”. Unhappy with life? Choose change. Rethink your most basic assumptions. Re-examine your expectations of life, of people, of yourself. Try a new combination of real kindness and firm boundary-setting. Ask the hard questions. Consider all the options. Take care of yourself – because you matter to you. No reason to expect it to be easy, or that you’ll never cry again, or that “the world” will ever be “fair”. Be your own best friend – and your own best self, because you can make that choice from moment to moment, and when you fail (and you will, I promise you that), begin again. Just begin again. Don’t beat yourself up over your fundamental humanity – examine your errors with some emotional distance, gain understanding of yourself (and others) from your mistakes, learn, grow, and move on with increased perspective. Accept that you are human – then also accept that everyone else is, too. Make room in your thinking for what you can’t know, or don’t understand; there’s nearly always something new to learn. Check your assumptions.

There’s a lot of baggage to put down. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go of. It’s easier to give yourself closure than to seek it elsewhere. Don’t drink the poison. Tame your own barking dog. Consider your outlook on life, generally. Yes, it’s a lot of work, I know. It probably seems so much easier to get a prescription for some boldly advertised new drug. I’ve tried that, myself. It didn’t work reliably well for me, which is how I found myself at 50, filled with despair, trying one more therapist, one more time, unconvinced that life was worth living. A huge stack of books and a few years later, life looks (and feels) very different to me. I’ve made a lot of changes – to practices, jobs, relationships; I rebuilt basically my entire life (and lifestyle) to better support becoming the woman I most wanted to be, living a life of contentment and joy. Worth it. So worth it. (Not infallibly perfect – that’s not on life’s menu, right?)

So… what do you say? Are you ready to begin again?