Archives for category: The Big 5

I’m on my third coffee this morning. I slept poorly. My Traveling Partner slept poorly. I slipped away early in the morning hoping he would be able to get some better sleep, but that didn’t work out ideally well. I am sitting in the studio, drinking coffee and considering the causes and the potential outcomes, and wondering how best to be helpful.

“Being considerate” may very well be one of the most powerful skills (and practices) that a person can bring to social relationships (of all kinds). I have found it sometimes a bit difficult to define “consideration” – in spite of placing it high on my list of things to look for in relationships. I see people who are “considerate” practicing deep listening, explicit expectation-setting, skillful boundary setting, asking clarifying questions, testing their assumptions, yielding their natural desire to be “right” preferring to be kind, making an explicit effort to refrain from “centering themselves” in every circumstance or conflict, and being very comfortable making a prompt apology when another person points out a transgression. That seems like a lot to manage, but it really does all map to “consideration” – as in, genuinely considering what those around them are going through or may need.

Let’s be clear on one point; I don’t see considerate people being doormats or open to being abused or mistreated. They use boundary setting and expectation setting with great skill and comfort. They consider their own needs along side the needs of others, and make a point of practicing good self-care, too.

Lacking fundamental consideration leads people to casually mistreat others without intention – and often without noticing, and sometimes following-up by callously doubling-down on that mistreatment by attempting to deflect blame (by way of excusing their actions as “unintended”). Doesn’t really “make things right” to do things that way, and feels still more inconsiderate. People who are inconsiderate are by far more common than people who are considerate! It has become socially “normal” to see (or have to accommodate) inconsiderate behavior from others. People are busy. Self-involved. Dealing with their own shit. Struggling to heal trauma. Uneducated about the impact their choices/words/behavior has on others. Unaware how much difference consideration can make. There’s a lot going on with inconsiderate people. Most of it is even shit everyone has going on in life. One thing that isn’t going on with inconsiderate people; they are not being “considerate” (probably a huge timesaver, I don’t know…).

Consideration and considerate behavior isn’t “natural” to human primates; we learn it from our social group(s) – and therefore must teach it to our companions, explicitly. Children generally get taught “sharing” – a part of consideration. Every element of consideration probably needs to be explicitly taught. As a culture we’re clearly falling down on the job, there, based on the general rise in inconsiderate behavior, basic rudeness, and prevalent violence. I’m pretty certain that very considerate people are likely less prone to violence. It’s something to think about.

Today, I’m struggling with “my nature”; I tend to be very considerate (of others), but also tend to fail myself on the self-care and boundary-setting side of things. Knowing my Traveling Partner did not sleep well, I consider what I can do to be helpful, or to at least minimize the potential for stress or conflict in our relationship due to the both of us being fatigued and in pain. It’s complicated. What does he need? What does he want? Can I provide those things? Is guessing at them wise? What about me? What do I need, myself? Can I meet his needs and my own? When do well-intentioned inquiries about what he needs become invasive or pestering? How do I prevent my own boundary and expectation-setting needs from being swept aside in the pursuit of a gentle day together (under difficult circumstances)? What is reasonable, and what is excessive? How far do I take “not taking things personally” before it becomes entirely necessary to “push back” or point out a boundary – and how do I do that gently enough to also avoid sounding “bitchy” or unreasonable?

My anxiety simmers in the background, and that’s not at all helpful. Consideration, like “mindfulness”, is something that takes quite a bit of actual practice (at least for me). It’s not my “default” human behavior. It is, however, something I value quite a lot – enough to keep practicing. Enough that it matters to achieve mastery – and balance.

It’s a new day. There are opportunities to be a better person than I was yesterday. There will be verbs involved, and practice required. My results will no doubt vary. It’s a good time to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping my coffee feeling fortunate, this morning. I feel fortunate most mornings, these days. I am lucky enough to be in love with my best friend. It’s lovely. At this age, I am sometimes less than ideally fit to indulge rapacious lust, and we’re not ducking off to a quiet spot for a quick romp as often as when we first got together (nor as often as we’d probably like). The aches and pains of aging and health-related matters sometimes get in the way of sex. You know what they don’t get in the way of? The love.

“Contemplation” 12″ x 16″ acrylic and iron oxide. August 2011

My Traveling Partner – and titular dream lover, and best friend – steps into the studio and plays with my hair for a moment while I write. It’s a sweet romantic moment. I feel loved. Soon enough, he’ll be in the shop with his son working on this-or-that, and I’ll be on with the day tackling an errand or some housekeeping. Eventually, we will connect again – on a break, or with a question, or simply seeking each other out for a moment of connection without an agenda aside from love and loving. It’s easy in these easy moments to think love itself is easy… there are still verbs involved. There is the ongoing need to practice deep listening, to respect and care for each other, to put in the effort when circumstances are difficult…

…Like this morning, actually. I woke with a ferocious headache that feels a bit as if my brain stem is just… on fire. Yeesh. The pain is an unnecessary complication, and I resent having to deal with it. I manage, however, not to drag that into every interaction (so far), and just deal with it quietly in the background without turning it into a thing all its own. Win! 😀

I woke this morning with this fucking headache, the awareness of which interrupted a lovely dream that I was in my partner’s embrace, entwined naked in bed, sleeping in each other’s arms… yep. I was sleeping, dreaming of sleeping. What the hell? LOL When I woke, though, there was – in spite of the headache – a lovely all-over sort of awareness that I am truly loved. I don’t have the words to describe the emotional context in which I woke – it was wonderful, and since that moment, headache and all, I smile every time I see or interact with my partner. I love that guy. lol 😀

Sweet moments matter. It’s so easy (too easy) to put all the focus on tragedy, drama, and pain, or to become swamped by life’s inevitable chaos. This morning, I let the moment be what it is, and sit with my coffee and this smile. Those matter far more than the headache I woke with. Soon enough, I’ll surely begin again – for now? This moment, this lovely late summer morning at home with my partner, is quite enough just as it is. 🙂

I arrived home smiling. My Traveling Partner was also smiling. As I started making my coffee, he started telling me new/other/additional details about the CNC he is building. Interesting stuff. There was a break in the conversation, and I started to tell him what my day plan had in store… “I wasn’t finished talking,” he advises. I apologize and make room for him to continue.

Somehow we continue to be “out of step” with each other. I don’t think I ever actually get to telling him what my day holds (as far as plans go). I indicate I’m going to take my coffee into the studio and write a bit before I head out for the errands I’d planned. He restarts (continues?) the conversation about the CNC as I walk down the hall, so I stop and turn back to avoid being rude and hear him out. I’m interested. I also have an idea in mind for my morning writing. (It’s gone, now, and was by the time I sat down at my desk.)

We continue to be out of step with each other. I feel a bit sad and tired over it. He sounds hurt and annoyed when he sticks his head into the studio. So far the morning is…uncomfortable, awkward, and emotionally unsatisfying. When I think about the smile on my face (and in my heart) as I arrived home, I’m irked. With myself. With circumstances. It’s aggravating. We both want to hang out, and it’s fairly clear (to me) that one (or both) of us is not actually in a place to make that easy, for some reason. I don’t actually understand it. I just see it. Am I helpless in the face of this shitty moment? No. I could take action – I’m just, at least for now, unclear on the best course of action to take.

…What a shitty cup of coffee this one is. I made it just as I make other cups of coffee, but this one right here? Dreadful. Feels like a metaphor… (nonetheless, it is a pretty terrible cup of coffee, and no fooling, I’m still sitting here drinking it.)

I look over my list of errands. One of them is to a retailer that will apparently be closed today. Fucking hell, I’ve had this on my list for days, and I just keep missing the window. I breathe and exhale, letting go of the moment of frustration; it’s excessive for the concern at hand, and reflects the emotional tone of the moment in the background, more than anything to do with the errand itself. I feel myself teetering on the edge of running out of fucks to give far too earlier in the day – it is an unreasonable reaction to feeling frustrated with my partner and the dynamic between us in this moment.

…G’damn this is one awful cup of coffee…

I clearly need to begin again. Like, for real, all over again. LOL

I’m not a perfect person. (Who is, though?) I need practice – at most things, honestly. I have an idea who the woman I most want to be might happen to be. I can “see her” in my mind’s eye. I hear her voice as an echo; something I could have said better than what I chose to say, or speaking truth to power in a moment when I failed to do so. I hear her speak up for herself, when I don’t. I hear her set expectations and boundaries more skillfully than I often do. I have a sense of “who she is” and the values she embraces. Me? I’m still practicing all of those things. She listens well and deeply, with real attention and consideration. Her answers are thoughtful – and insightful. She’s clearly well-informed on the issues that mean most to her – and she’s kind about education and informing others. She’s patient with people, even when she’s in pain. She’s no saint, she’s lived a real life and she owns her mistakes. She takes time to reflect on her thinking, instead of following the crowd on commonly accepted opinions. She’s fearless about disagreeing – and committed to collaboration and skillful communication. She likes to be on time, but she’s not a jerk about people being a few minutes behind on plans. She’s fucking amazing.

…She’s the woman in my mirror – mostly. She’s who I see in my best moments. She’s my destination, and when I stay on top of my self-care, and committed to healthy practices for emotional regulation and communication, she’s my journey – walking with me, guiding me, picking me up when I fall and lighting my path. Of course I am “a work in progress” – we all are, if we are wise about being and becoming. 🙂 That’s my thought on it, anyway. I keep practicing. Keep walking my own mile. I’ve got choices, and there are verbs involved. I know my results will vary.

This isn’t an awareness that makes anything any “easier”. I am prone to being deeply disappointed in myself (to the point of catastrophizing, sometimes) when I fail to meet the rather high standard I’ve set for myself. Being practical and kind to myself, and allowing for my own humanity is all part of that journey, too. More to learn. More to practice. Keeping it real? I fail all the fucking time. LOL I’m very human. I pause to reflect. Begin again. Continue to practice. Seems a worthwhile way to spend a life. 🙂

Yesterday in the evening, for some reason I don’t recall right at the moment, tempers flared between my Traveling Partner and myself. Raised voices for a moment, a few spilled tears, some impatience, some anger, some frustration… we got past it, it was just emotional weather. My partner pointed out some things that matter to him a great deal. I swallowed my pride and listened; it’s always hard to hear I’ve failed as a partner or lover in some way (however small). Yeah, I still need practice. Even the fundamentals of living well and treating others well can easily erode and slip away from me without practice. Doesn’t matter at all if the speed and ease with which my habits quickly extinguish with even brief lack of practice is related to my brain injury; the solution is to continue to practice (and that includes self-compassion), and to begin again when I fail myself. That’s enough. It’s all there is. 🙂

Being between jobs is an interesting space to grow within. That 40+ hours lost to employment every week, generally, becomes time for study, for practice, for growth, for exploring the unknown, for trying things out… in that respect, it’s a wonderful opportunity. Today, I spent much of the day with my camera, and learning related software. What about you? What did you learn today? 🙂 It may keep you young to keep learning. It may keep you alive (depending on what you learn, and what life throws your way).

I notice that the interface here in WordPress looks… different. I find myself wondering what I clicked on, although it could be that the user interface actually changed, again. Not ideally helpful for folks who are “other than neuro-typical” (probably pretty aggravating for just about anyone who has mastered some software or other previously, and logs in to find it changed). It’s weird and annoying, and I let myself be distracted by music videos, instead, and wander off for a few minutes of conversation with my partner. Life. No pressure, just living. 🙂

It’s time to begin again; there’s so much to practice. 😉

I’m down to the end of this cup of office coffee, here in the icy chill of the co-work space. (Seriously? It’s summer, it’s okay if the office is 75 degrees, instead of 67! It’d still feel cool. LOL) There’s so much angry shit in the news, so much violence, and generally bad behavior. It’s hard to fathom how so many people can take the actions they do, say the things they do, treat each other the way they do. Why is there so little practical effort to “make the world a better place” – most particularly by the people making it bad to begin with?!

We could all do better, I’m sure. This is not an “us vs them” thing; we each have opportunities to do better, with regard to something. This isn’t about “left vs right”, either – there are some shady “bad actors” on the left and on the right. There is a seemingly endless uncountable number of misogynist racist xenophobic ass clowns just… every-damned-where trying to rationalize or excuse their bullshit (or force it on the rest of us). It’s pretty horrible, and I’m frustrated and saddened by it.

I’ve heard that if I’m inclined to complain, I ought to come with a solution to propose. I’ve got you. No problem. Here it is; practice Wheaton’s Law. Every day. All the time. Reliably. Everyone. Simply that. If everyone really did embrace Wheaton’s Law to guide their day-to-day interactions, I suggest that that world would be a far better place than it is right now. Just saying. Do better.

…Yes, you, too. Yes, me too. Just do better. Be a better human being today than you were yesterday. One interaction at a time. Practice. Sure, your results will vary (I know mine do). It’s still better than just not doing a damned thing about human misery. Do something. Some small thing.

Practice Wheaton’s Law.

Begin again.