Archives for category: Parables

When I think over some of the repetitive things I say, (personal slogans, self-directed motivational battle-cries of various sorts, succinct aphorisms, that sort of thing) I’m aware that many have come and gone over the years – some healthy, some unhealthy, some… more than a bit misguided. One stands out for me, steadfast and true, like the sort of old and trusted friend that will tell hard truths; “begin again”. It’s not really about “do-overs”, you know; it’s about gathering the strength to just start something anew. It’s about first steps following hard falls, and taking an approach that skills require practice, and that there is value in an attempt, and yes, even in the failures. It’s about resolve. It’s about exerting a worthy effort, in the face of ennui, or a deep depression, or a lot of pain. It’s about insisting with myself that I live life, not just wait around to die.

…It’s definitely not about “easy”. There are so many verbs involved, so much will, and real (and repeated) effort. Isn’t that characteristic of living, generally?

It’s a Tuesday. An ordinary enough beginning to a new work day ahead. Meetings. Calls. Emails. Spreadsheets. Slide decks. Drafts of new processes. Improvements on old processes. The usual office-sorts of work things to do. I’ve done other jobs. Had other sorts of Tuesdays. I’ve been invested in a different quality of life than what I work for now, with varying degrees of success (this particular experience of life in these past handful of years has been by far most satisfying and emotionally healthy). I’ve been fortunate to explore other lives, other experiences of being human. New beginnings have long been required following the end of something else. 🙂

These days I don’t worry too much about failures; they are part of a learning and growth mindset. I embrace a new beginning and get after it. No, it’s not really that easy sometimes. I may get excited about shiny new boots, even eager to maintain that shine, and keep them lovely, but when the time comes, on a rainy Sunday evening, to set aside the next episode of some favored show, or put down my book, in order to shine those boots… that’s the hard bit. Taking the step. Doing the verbs. It’s not enough to “commit”, and – omg, I am so sorry to say these words – you can “manifest” shit 100% of all your days, and it’s still waaaay more likely that you will find yourself achieving whatever it is if you do the fucking verbs required for it. Yep. “Manifesting” your future is about as effective as daydreaming. 😉 Do the verbs. Make the effort. Or, an alternative, accept that your will isn’t up for the task at hand and let it go. Seriously. What do you really want, that you want enough to work for it?

I’m not saying it’s easy. Seriously not saying that at all. I sat around not shining those fucking boots all week, and then all day that Sunday, even in the face of my partner’s tender reminders that I said I wanted to shine my boots, and gently suggesting it as an activity when I may have seemed bored, and then again shortly before the evening ended; I wanted to wear them, shined, on Monday. lol Omg. I just… couldn’t didn’t. You know what else? Those fucking boots were not shining themselves. LOL My partner offered to do it for me… well, damn, that’s just kind of sad and a bit embarrassing for me. (He’s so sweet. He knew I wanted them to look great, and just cares that much.)

…So… I finally shined my boots. I was happy I did; they looked great. They even got noticed. Nice. 🙂 (Okay, okay, also a little vain. Small pleasure, though; I enjoyed the satisfaction of caring for something I like.)

There’s a lesson here somewhere. Not quite a parable, I guess… but maybe. No time for overthinking it, this morning, it’s already time to begin again. 😀

So, real life being what it is, with winter storms, and unpredictable changes in travel plans, and all of that sort of thing… my Traveling Partner did not make it home last night. :-\ Am I disappointed? I sure am. That’ll pass quickly, not because I am callous or insensitive, or don’t love deeply enough, it is, instead, because I have learned, mostly, not to become attached to an outcome that isn’t certain. Generally. Most of the time. I still expect him home “soon” – most likely today, sometime while I am at work. 🙂 It mattered more to know he was safe, somewhere, than to fixate on his planned arrival time.

This perspective is so much easier than getting all hung up on the details that can vary so much.

I imagine it would be tougher to be so chill about it, if I were the one stuck in some random city, waiting for another flight… I find myself wishing my Traveling Partner safe – and merry – travels, and hoping it isn’t unbearably tedious, frustrating, or unpleasant. Travel can be a lot of fun, but it is predictably less so, when all one wants is to go home.

Very little in life is predictable, really. Our results vary. We walk our own hard mile. We are each having our own experience. Our lives are built on what we make of all the chaos and uncertainty. It is our choices to act, to react, to refrain from action, that define us to the world…

I sip my coffee, contented, and grateful. My Traveling Partner is on his way home. I’ll see him when I see him. In the meantime, I’ll do what I do, and let the waiting be part of the background, instead of having it dominate my thoughts. (There really isn’t much I can do to speed things up, so why get spun over the details?) Instead, I let my thinking move on to other things… and rather consistent with the travel theme, I find myself wondering if my efforts here at home are “good enough”. The surge in anxiety reminds me I have baggage to unpack, myself, without even leaving home. lol I breathe, exhale, relax, and remind myself that the anxiety over “good enough” is a leftover from long ago, in a very different relationship, and it’s okay to let that go. Boom! A bag hits the floor – this one, though, is one I’ll let go of, over and over again, for the rest of my life (most likely). It’s heavy, and sturdily made, and this bit of baggage just keeps following me (so far). Still, recognizing it right away, and letting it go, again, is healthy progress. I’m content with that. Enough forward progress and we inevitably end up somewhere else. 😉

I had a moment of great delight yesterday, related to Veterans Day. My team at work asked for a moment of my time, and I said “sure” and then followed up some short time later, pointing out “This may not be a good time, I’m sort of cross at the moment, but I’ve got a few minutes, what’s on your mind?” My team grinned at me, and one of them said “It’s the best time!”, and another of them handed me a small gold bag, and an envelope.

“We’d hoped to get it to you Friday, but you weren’t in the office, and then Monday was the holiday…”

I opened the card – a Veterans Day card. What the hell? I’m still surprised. lol It was very… moving. Inside the bag? Very fancy chocolates from a local high end chocolatier (I rarely shop there, way out of my price range). “We wanted to do more than just say thanks…” they said, almost in unison. We all laughed together, and I’m still so… moved, by their appreciation. More palpable than a random thank you, it isn’t about the chocolate, as much as the sentiment (I probably won’t have more than 1 of those elegant chocolates; everything about them is a “restricted” food on my diet, and not ideal for my health lol). It was – and is – a heart-warming visceral expression of appreciation. Special.

How would the world improve if we could make every “thank you” we offer everyone truly visceral and “real” to them? How about if every time we apologize for hurting someone, they could really feel our regret, and that they matter to us? If we could successfully communicate that we are committed to making amends? If when we did our best to do so, it was something the injured person could really feel? How much more valuable would “thank you” and “I’m sorry” be then? (Actually, about as important as now – so maybe we should be putting more effort into it, already? 😉 )

Thoughts over coffee on a Wednesday. Today, I’ll work on more effective, meaningful, expressions of appreciation or regret. Effective and meaningful to the recipient, I mean. I guess that implies also being more effective and meaningful to me… “heartfelt made real”, somehow. It seems like a useful starting point with which to begin again. 🙂

…List of chores. Yep. It certainly is a huge… list. Fuck. Am I really expecting myself to get all of this done, today? On this knee? With this arthritis pain? 0_o It seems… unreasonable.

…It’s actually not that bad.

I look over my list again. Routine housekeeping, all of it. Regular, commonplace tasks that need to be done with fair frequency. The image doesn’t show that above “Hearth & Home” sits “Self-Care”, and below the list in the image are also “Errands”… I do like an orderly list. lol

I put self-care first on my list these days, because it needs to be; if I don’t take care of myself, who is going to get all this shit done?? I put errands last because it’s pretty easy for a “quick trip to the store” to become a hours long distraction from everything on the list that needs to be done. lol Some things on the list are daily chores, they get checked off each day, and put back on the list the next day (looking your way “do the dishes”!). Other things are weekly, still other things are “occasional”, seasonal, or “as needed”. It’s just a list though; making the list doesn’t imply getting it done. There are definitely verbs involved. 🙂

I consider each task on the list. I move them around so they are more or less in the order I think I’ll want to get them done. I’m playing with my list and drinking my morning coffee, and writing, while also chatting with my Traveling Partner, who is eager to come home. I’m eager for him to come home, too… and I’d love to welcome him home with my list of shit to do fully completed. What a welcoming place to come home to! I smile to myself, recalling what it feels like to come home to order, to a well-cared for living space, and to a calm, peaceful environment. No drama. No work bullshit. No dishes in the sink, or shit in disarray. Just… home. The thought renews my commitment and my motivation to get it all done. Yesterday was mine, for me. Today is for mindful service to hearth and home. 😀

…It’s already past 8:00 am. I’ve finished this cup of coffee, with one last swallow of now-cold brew (nothing at all like actual “cold brew”, I assure you lol). I’ve got this list, and this day, and it is very much looking like time to begin again. 😀

After the chores, perhaps a hot mug of cider on the deck, or meditation by the fire? Something to look forward to, but first – verbs.

What moves you? I mean, literally; what gets you off the couch, puts you in motion, and sees you down the path from what you imagine or dream, to what you get done? Worth thinking about, isn’t it? What’s holding you back from your individual idea of success? Are you feeling stuck? What are you sticking to? If your life is a single narrative, a story, what’s the ending you’d like? How do you get there? Are you even the protagonist of your own tale? All good questions to consider. I sit here with my coffee, quietly considering them.

I watch this video, again. My Traveling Partner had shared it with me. I shared it with my work team.

I watch this video, too. It may not be immediately obvious what connects them, but it is, for me, an important thread.

I watch this video, simple because it’s too fucking obvious – and somehow still needs an occasional reminder.

It’s a lovely start to the day, to be reminded of all the potential life holds – and how much of my personal success is within my hands, if not within my control. My decision-making doesn’t just “matter”; it is the framework on which I build my life. 🙂

…So… choose wisely, eh? 😀 For sure…but also remember that everything you want in life is probably “harder than it looks” and what motivates you may be entirely out of reach without a lot of work – and may even be completely unfathomable to someone else, entirely. A lot of what is appealing in life only looks easy to reach. Ideally, those harsh-seeming realities don’t stop us, as individuals, they serve to refine our craft, and create the strengths for which we will later stand out among others on the path we’ve chosen. 🙂

…Or something like that. I’m just saying; there are verbs involved.

…And hey… don’t let the internet, or the vast quantities of excess information, or brain candy, become the diet on which your mind subsists. As with the food we consume, it matters that the content we consume be “nutritious”, and that we “limit our intake” in a healthy way. I mean… otherwise, it’s just a huge time-consuming monster that reduces our human endeavors to a series of mouse clicks, and shares. 😉 Just saying… get out there and really live.

Seems like a good time to begin again. This coffee is finished. A new day is beginning. The time is mine, as is the dream. Where will this path take me?

The path isn’t always paved…

This morning it takes me awhile to get where I’m going with this. Please forgive. Short night, early morning, sluggish thinking.

Sometimes patterns of light distract from illumination

Is it really notably different whether you are being obviously aggressive to someone, or acting out passive-aggressively? I personally don’t think there is, aside from the lack of forthrightness, and personal accountability. Micro-aggression fits in there, too; it’s in the intention, it’s in what the underlying feeling is, it’s how the person attacked feels the harm. I think most of us dislike feeling attacked, whether or not it is provoked by obvious ill-intention, or subtly camouflaged.

With overt aggression, I am at least certain I’ve been attacked. There’s an honesty to it. A certain… certainty. It’s not pleasant, but it’s clear. I may be taken aback, or wounded, but I also have unmistakable means to deal with it. Passive aggression is sneaky, sly, and dishonest. The attacker masquerades as well-intentioned, in some cases convincingly (to outside observers). The attack is no less damaging. The attacker no less intentional.

I try to avoid passive-aggressive attacks, and micro-aggressions (sometimes complicated by a lack of self-awareness), as well. I’m not a perfect human being, but a willful, considered, attempt, and a good-heart, go a long way. There’s less I understand to do about my own potential for overt aggression, beside stifle it, keep it in check by force if necessary, and continue to work on not having to deal with it, by making it less a part of my implicit thinking, and “natural” behavior – by practicing other ways with a firm commitment, and apologizing swiftly and without reservations when I recognize I’ve hurt someone.

…I’m my own human being. I find living with other human beings incredibly difficult. I’ve been badly damaged by violence, aggression, passive-aggression (and her evil twin, gaslighting), and the scars are, in some cases, still very raw, the wounds still easily re-opened. Healing from this kind of damage can take… a lifetime. I’m sitting here at 56, feeling rather as if I’ve used up most of the time available, without much improvement. Oh, I take the improvements I do get. I value those (they are the thing that makes life livable). I keep at it. There’s plenty to work on. It’s true, too, that the only thing I can truly effect change on – talking about human beings, human feelings, human experience, here – is this one. Mine. Me. What I do, what I think, how I behave, how I feel – all mine to work on, and perhaps improve. There is literally no realistic potential to change anyone else’s behavior, or how they interact with me. It’s hard, if I hold onto a perception that “they” are the cause of my experience.

Stare at something long enough it may appear to be more significant than it is

Sleep matters too much – even to love. I don’t get enough good sleep. It affects my cognition. It affects my emotional balance. It affects my ability to reason. I take some pretty profound steps to maintain good sleep hygiene – because it’s necessary to ensure I get the minimum amount of rest necessary to sustain human life. It’s been two weeks since I last got more than an hour of deep sleep, according to my sleep tracker, and that was interrupted and in smaller increments. Before that? Back in September, same thing; interrupted, 5 and 10 minute chunks of deep sleep, interspersed with light sleep and wakefulness. I have to go all the way back to July to find a night when I got more than an hour and a half of continuous deep sleep. I’m often short on REM sleep, too, mostly just getting “light sleep” that is neither deep or REM sleep. It’s no wonder I’m tired so much, and I guess no surprise that my resilience has been reduced, and my temperament more irritable, over time.

…During my first (very violent) marriage, I went nearly a decade without actually sleeping more than an hour or two a night, mostly just resting motionlessly, and sleep-walking through my “waking” life… My sleep issues are not about my current relationship, they have been with me a long long time, even into childhood.

I don’t have any idea, just now, what to do about it. “Stop being annoying” and “stop being irritable” are bullet points on a long list of things to change that don’t work that way. I know to start with improving my self-care. Meditation matters that much. I know to harness the power of gratitude when I am feeling resentful and hurt, and to let go of small things, understanding that we are each human, each having our own experience, and that taking things personally is what allows them to hurt so much in the first place – as well as giving others power over my experience. Even the most direct actual-no-bullshit-fully-intended-to-specifically-hurt-me attack isn’t all that personal; it’s usually an expression of that other person’s own pain, frustration, challenges, hurts, and baggage. Often, people don’t know another way to behave. They do what has worked for them in the past. Taking that shit personally just piles my baggage onto their baggage, and it all gets very heavy – for everyone.

It’s not as if people who favor aggression or passive-aggression are actually enjoying all that stress and agitation. (The sorts of human beings who enjoy that kind of thing are a wholly other sort of monster, and I do my very best to stay far far away from those.)

is there really a pattern, or is it a trick of the light?

Then, too, there are so many circumstances in which my own understanding of “what’s going on” is colored by my baggage, my perception altered by my own pain, and I see an attack – or an attacker – where there is really only another human being, being human, and it just happens to conflict with me, also so human, being human, myself. My own feelings of being hurt, or my own petty resentments, build up a foe in my thinking – an opponent, a challenger – against whom I struggle…

…I’m nearly always, in truth, struggling with myself. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go. There are a lot of great reasons to let go of my own bullshit. (No good reasons to hold on to it.)

I sit here this morning sipping my coffee, past feeling sorry for myself, around the corner from feeling aggrieved by the brief restless night. I am listening to my Traveling Partner working out his feelings his own way, tidying things, handling chores that nag at him visually, checking things off his “to-do list”. It was a brutally early morning for both of us. Neither of us slept well, I’m fairly certain. It wasn’t personal, or chosen, or intentional, or deliberately inflicted in any way. No bad guys. No real “good guys”, either. Just people. Human beings who choose love, but struggling in the moment to live that intention, gently. Too real? Too common, for sure. I listen with care, identifying the tasks by the sounds, mentally refreshing my own to-do list as I hear him move through the house.

I used to think love wasn’t a “real thing”, because it isn’t easy, and requires actual effort. lol I’m grateful for love, even when I am frustrated or confounded by what love asks of me, as a human being committed to love and loving – and doing so well.  That’s really where it gets complicated. Every-fucking-body is so damned human. I can love haplessly, without real skill, and it doesn’t take too much work… aaand.. doesn’t last too long, flaring up and flaming out, leaving chaos and sorrow in the aftermath… that’s the “easy” way (and most common outcome). Harder is working together, listening deeply, fostering a long-term sanctuary in our hearts, keeping a welcoming embrace always at the ready, and seeking to build, approach, support, and persist in our tenderness and gentleness, day after human day. Life is a long journey – I’m fortunate to have the Traveling Partner I do; we chose each other. Some days we have to reach across a very human moment, to choose each other all over again. (So worth it, rarely effortless.)

sometimes it is enough that there is sunshine streaming through a window; it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that

He puts his head in my studio, makes eye contact, asks a question, starts a conversation – builds a bridge. Love is worth a little bridge building, when our very human stormy weather floods our path. He gets it. (Usually before I do.)

I finish my coffee and begin again. 🙂