Archives for category: The Art of Being

I am sipping my morning coffee, considering the walk I am eager to want to take. I’m “not there yet”. lol My muscles ache from pushing myself, already. I’m not bitching about it, and I’m not unhappy over it. Sore muscles are muscles working a bit harder, doing more things that need done, and becoming more capable of more work. Consistency is a requirement for forward progress; if I skip the walk today over sore muscles, I don’t make as much progress toward my goals, nor as quickly, so… at some point? Walking. I’m not looking forward to the walking itself, although I’d like to. I am in pain. The walking helps the pain in my back and my neck (osteoarthritis), but is less helpful with the bad ankle that has to support the weight. Without walking, the weight remains an issue. With the walking, the ankle is an issue. I’m not saying it as though this is an unsolvable conundrum, either, just saying that these complications are part of my experience. 🙂 There’s a metaphor here…

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

We become what we practice. Emotionally and physically. There’s not a lot of room to argue on this one. Are you hot tempered, easily frustrated, quick to react, and tending to fall back on negative feedback and criticism to communicate your needs? Well, that’s the person you become, over time, in a fixed and rather predictably unpleasant way. Are you tender-hearted, prone to tears in the face of negative feedback, (whether or not it is accurate or well-intended, or useful at all) particularly when it comes from someone whose opinion you value? Same slope; you become more of who you already are, and what you choose to do with the toxicity of the world around you, because it is what you practice. You may get called a bitch when you demand that your agency be respected, or when you insist on not being interrupted in a meeting, but that lack of boundary-setting? It’s a practice, too.

…Also? Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a bitch. Don’t call someone names, either; how about we start there? Speak gently. Be clear, and also honest. “Stay in your lane” in the sense that not every opinion you have actually needs to be shared (particularly with regard to your aesthetic, and someone else’s appearance). Check your assumptions – a lot of them are wrong (the science is in on that) – and practice deep listening, instead of waiting for your turn to talk.

Does it sound like I’m venting aimlessly, about commonplace bullshit we all seem to engage in, if not regularly, then once in a while? Well… then I’ve failed to communicate clearly. I’ll try again…

Your words matter. Use them with care. If you are communicating with someone you say you love, communicate with love – real love, using words and tone that make it very clear that the love is first and foremost in your mind, rather than some momentary frustration. Our bitterness, our hurt, our anger – once shared, it’s out there. Shared with emotional force, and absent the love that may be part of our experience, it causes real harms, real doubts about our affection, and can undermine that love we cherish so much.

Don’t let the sun set on a treasured relationship without saying something encouraging, supportive, authentically affectionate – the smallest moment of authentic appreciation and praise can change the color of an entire day. I am fairly certain most of us share negative feedback with cherished others almost every day… imagine the crushing weight of all that criticism, all that negativity, the constant pressure to raise oneself up from beneath the weight of it… Let’s not do that. Let’s handle our words with greater care, ensuring that we take more time for what is positive and uplifting that we do for things we see as problems needing correction.

I challenge you to practice even a 1 to 1 ratio of (authentic) compliments and (sincere) encouragement to criticism and requests for change. I hope you find that incredibly easy (and succeed) – because people need more love and encouragement than that, and as starting points go, it’s a bare minimum for success. I promise you that if you are only sharing negative feedback, that’s all that is being heard. That sounds like a pretty terrible experience to be on the receiving end of, just saying. Use your words as a force for good in your life, use them to lift others up, to encourage what is positive in everyone you meet.

A lot of people may grow up in environments in which very little positive feedback is shared, or the positive words are hollow superlatives about qualities they can’t control, and no attention given to the whole person. People coming from that place may not know how to give authentic positive feedback, and may genuinely not understand why it is necessary. They need to see it done, to feel it, before it will be something they can easily practice themselves. Is that someone part of your life? Be open to explicitly telling them what you need to hear – without excuses, or a need to justify yourself. It’s okay to need what you need, and it’s also quite okay to ask for it. 🙂 “I need you to say something nice to me right now.” may feel weird to say, but it is one place to start. 🙂

We’re all so human. There’s so much stress and hostility in the world right now. Our culture feels so toxic. Be someone who understands there is work to be done, and recognize you can do some of it. Be someone willing to do it. Be the change we need. Speak gently. Be encouraging and kind. Soften your tone. Be trustworthy. Be honest without being mean. Let small shit go. Don’t drink the poison offered to you. Don’t offer others poison.

Don’t like the world as it is? Be part of what changes it. We become what we practice. Practice being the person you truly most want to be. Every choice, every interaction, every day. Sometimes you will fail (I know I do); your results will vary. Practice more. 🙂 Be that better version of yourself, because you choose it, and it matters. Other people may not make these choices – don’t drink the poison they offer you, and walk your own path. 😉

It’s time to begin again.

2.4 miles yesterday. 2.7 miles today. These are “easy miles”, mostly paved, and mostly level. One walk at a time, my strength and endurance begin to return, and just in time to adjust to a new commute that reliably adds 1.4 walking miles to my commute, round trip, each day. I’m ready for that. 🙂 I’m hoping to get back to a “5 miles? No problem!” level of everyday fitness, before the weather is suitable (for me) for camping.

…I wonder briefly if my Traveling Partner will join me, camping, this year? Then I let that go, content with all the many things we do together, as it is.

I consider walking metaphors… paths… journeys… steps… distant horizons… goal-setting… achievements along the journey that unlock new adventures.

Even when we are so fortunate as to have a paved and level path to walk, and a journey with a clear destination, we each walk our own mile. We are each having our own experience.

This particular walk is convenient to me, but still requires some effort, and pushes me a bit outside my comfort zone. The hill on which it begins, and ends,  is quite steep. The downward start of the journey, although paved, slopes somewhat toward the street, the opposite direction of what is comfortable for my bad left ankle. Each time I set out, I do so with great care, and my cane, and also taking a moment to appreciate, very explicitly, that the return trip, when I am most fatigued, at the end of the journey, will be sloping in the correct direction for that bad left ankle; something to look forward to, about tackling that daunting hill. It’s very existence discourages and tests me. This weekend, I overcame my reluctance, and my (let’s be honest) fearfulness. That’s progress. It’s a small thing, but I sit quietly, feeling my muscles relax and cool down, feeling my heart rate slow to my normal resting rate, and I celebrate. 🙂

There are so many beautiful things to experience, but many of those are out of reach, without making a journey.

I think about tomorrow. I’m off for the holiday. Another opportunity to walk a distance. Another chance to begin again. 🙂

Sumos  are in season, again. I am delighted by the fragrance as I pull the peel away, revealing the whole fruit within. Pulling each segment from the fruit feels satisfying. The scent lingers on my fingers. Each sweet delicious bite seems as luscious as a fulfilled dream. I bite into another one, and relish the sweet-tart juice that bursts from it. Now this? This is a pleasant moment.

A juicy moment of joy.

I grin with pure delight, and take another bite. It’s a work day, and a busy one, but the busiest days seem far more productive, and I feel more purposeful and capable, when I practice good self-care. Today, that means a break to enjoy a delicious favorite citrus fruit, savoring each segment, and letting metaphors about fruits, and segments, and juice, fill my thoughts. A couple relaxed, deep, breaths, and I’m on with my day. It’s a good day. I blame it on my juice. 😉

I woke to the usual sounds of a rainy morning. No snow. Not here. I’m okay with that, and I get up and begin preparing for a routine sort of day. There’s been so much talk of snow, I sit down with my coffee and check the weather again, for any sign that I should definitely be working from home. No snow. No. Snow. (Not here.) My backpack is set up for inclement weather, the car is AWD. I’m ready for it, if and when it decides to snow. 🙂

Yesterday was similar, with regard to snow. We watched for it. Waited for it. Talked about it. Muttered about inaccurate weather forecasts, and in the next breath gushed over our favorite local meteorologist or some other climatologist of note, and talked about how much more accurate weather forecasts are “these days” – then went back to waiting, and watching, for snow that did not show up. We want it – and we dread it. We don’t want it – but we’re eager to snap snow pictures. lol Silly human primates.

I take a breath, and a sip of coffee, and relax. It may snow. It will or it won’t, or it’ll find something very different to do instead – maybe an ice storm in the middle of the night? It’s happened before, and is within the realm of things that are possible. I let it go. It isn’t significant until it happens, and either way I am prepared. I wonder for a moment if I should stop by the grocery store after work, then remember that my Traveling Partner is handling that. The amount of relief in the moment that I have help with life’s details, and that this journey is shared, is pretty obvious. I sigh, and relax, and smile. I am comforted knowing he’s in the other room, sleeping. Snow storm? Let it come; I’ll be in good company if I end up snowed in. 🙂

Letting myself become attached to an outcome isn’t generally very useful, even with the weather. Being generally prepared requires some awareness of legitimate ordinary possibilities, for sure, but doesn’t benefit from clinging to one or another in advance of the relevant moment. I smile to myself, feeling confident that this is a life lesson I’ve managed to learn well. I’m a big fan of non-attachment, of being “generally well-prepared in life”, and of sufficiency as a means of reducing the amount of stress in my life associated with disappointments. All of those require some practice (at least, they did for me, and still do). Pretty worth it to have so much less turmoil and drama in my life. 😀

Another smile, another sip of my coffee, another opportunity to begin again – whether it snows or not. 😀

This morning’s blog post is sponsored by… a good night’s sleep. Which, sadly, has wiped from my memory all recollections of even the hint of the excellent idea I had for this morning’s writing, as I drifted off to sleep last night. LOL It is what it is. I didn’t even attempt to take notes, as I sailed off to dreamland. I just fell soundly asleep and forgot all about it. Oh, but what a lovely night’s sleep, though. 3 consecutive nights of good sleep! A recent-past milestone, for sure. I sip my coffee, trying to pull myself out of this sleepy fog, grateful to have slept decently well.

I think about the weekend. It was generally quite pleasant. I think about my Traveling Partner, asleep in another room. I did my best to avoid waking him as I made coffee and dressed for the day. I doubt I was successful, but the house is still quiet, so maybe I was. I smile, either way I am filled with delight that he is here with me. I persist in enjoying his companionship greatly. 🙂

I consider the morning commute; drive or take the train? The weather forecast suggests the train will be the more reliable choice, with the forecast hinting at maybe snow, but I do enjoy the drive time in the morning… and I’ve got a good parking location that is low risk of collisions and other misadventure. Light rail lets me read on the commute into the office, though, and this year I’ve been steadfast with my commitment to read more (and I’ve been greatly enjoying it). I flip-flop on the matter of the commute a few times before deciding to actually check today’s weather report. 37 degrees (F) and rainy, with some chance of snow. Hmmm. It does sound like light rail is the way to go this morning… but… I also have AWD on my compact SUV, and good all weather tires that were brand new last winter. I doubt I really have anything to worry about, but taking a minute to think it through over coffee, I decide to right the light rail, and avoid any commute-related concerns, at all.

No snow yet. We did get a shower of fine hail yesterday.

One by one the concerns of a new day rise to be dealt with, and fall away having been considered. I sip my coffee, relaxed and ready for a new Monday. I’m not immersing myself in work, yet, just contemplating the day in the loosest possible, wholly suited to any day at all, sort of way. I remember to consider my everyday carry, too; inclement weather is unkind to beautiful leather bags, and I remind myself that I have an outstandingly weather-ready smallish backpack, that will easily fit my laptop, and my clutch, and decide to leave my handbag behind for the day. Another small challenge, another practical solution. 🙂

I smile into my empty coffee cup; it’s already time to begin again. 🙂