Archives for category: Words

Oh hey, good morning. 🙂

It’s true, by the way. I can’t “fix” you. (Maybe you aren’t even actually “broken” in the first place, however “broken” you may sometimes feel…) Similarly, you can’t fix that person who is dear to you, or even that yearning stranger seeking support. We are not machinery. What is entirely possible and totally within reach is to change our experience. We can change our choices, change our reactivity, change our potential for resilience, change our actions, change our words, and even change our thinking – which, as it turns out, is a very big deal. We each (all) have choices.

“Be Like Water” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and India ink. 2018

Pro-tip: If you regularly feel like you are spinning out of control and “have no choices” or “lack options”, taking some time to explore potential choices and options you have previously set aside as “impossible” or in some fashion unworthy, may be really worthwhile. If you’ve narrowed down the vast list of potential choices and options to just some small handful that from your present vantage point “all suck”, you’ve made at least one choice already; the choice to disregard some possible choices. I’m sure you have your reasons. Maybe handle that differently? Be open to more than what you, yourself, think is “obvious”.

Sometimes we need to step back to see things in context, or to gain perspective.

I spent the weekend delightfully, mostly painting and hanging out with friends. I provided comfort and support where it seemed needed. I felt valued and appreciated for “being there”. Realistically, I also know that I didn’t “fix” anything at all; I simply took time to allow friends to be fully heard, and supported their good hearts. Where helpful, I shared the practices that support me most, myself, hoping that these would be similarly helpful for my friends. I am aware, because this is how I roll these days, that very few of my friends will adopt practices that require real accountability, self-awareness, reflection, and… verbs. A lot of verbs, and slow incremental change over time, don’t sound nearly as enticing as a fad diet, or a horoscope, or a quick fix, or someone willing to tell us it’s “not our fault”. In a moment of emotional crisis, anything at all that helps calm the storm is welcomed. When the storm passes? Well… few people really want to do a lot work, though, right?

“So Deep” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glitter, and India ink. 2018

I’m not mad. I already knew I couldn’t fix you. I just want you to be well, and to be whole, and to care for yourself. 🙂

I maintain a certain healthy distance from OPD (Other People’s Drama) as much as possible. This works for me. It doesn’t make me less sad, when I see a friend in tears, to maintain such boundaries – it does tend to make me less frustrated that I was not able to “fix them”, by allowing me to remain mindful that honestly I never could, and also, there are verbs involved – not all of those are mine. 🙂 We each have to walk our own hard mile. We each have to face our own dark night. We each “hit bottom” our own way, in our own time, over the things that hold most meaning for us individually – our dearest loves can not save us from ourselves… But we can. No kidding. It’s just those damned verbs, and the slow passage of time, and the lies in our heads that tell us any differently. It’s just one more bit of resistance (within ourselves) to overcome when we undertake healing and change.

“Down by the River” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glow glitter, and India ink. 2018

Over the weekend, I also received the rest of my art work back. My Traveling Partner picked it up for me. I felt very relieved to have them returned to me. I find myself wondering about my attachment to them. It’s something for me to think over; it may be less than ideally healthy to treat them as literal pieces of myself.

“Because…Love” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and gold leaf. 2018

Here it is, time to begin again. Working from home, still sick, but I am at least sufficiently improved to work. That’s progress. 🙂 What about you? What will you choose to do differently to improve your experience? What will you change to become the person you most want to be? What practices will you commence to become, over time, someone other than you are? Are you ready to become the person you most want to be? There are verbs involved… I can’t do them for you.

Here’s a great place to begin again. You’ll still need to practice. 🙂

 

This guy writes way better than I do, and this morning I am reading his work; the new post from Wait But Why. He knows the map is not the world, but also understands that we are each our own cartographer. He writes using allegories, metaphors, and analogies. He’s funny, smart, and on point.  So, this morning, I am just going to enjoy my coffee and read. Totally time well spent. Join me? 😉

Sipping iced coffee, wishing, oddly, that it weren’t also black coffee… even though that’s specifically what I thought I was going for this morning when I prepared my coffee. LOL Well shit.

I’m appreciating that it is Friday, this morning, although I woke up thinking for a moment it were Saturday. I experienced a pang of disappointment that it is Friday as my dreams dissipated and I reached for the alarm clock to halt the infernal beeping. I would appreciate it being Saturday so much more… lol

Brunch planned for Sunday… hanging out with friends on Saturday… missing my Traveling Partner the whole while… while also celebrating having this strong partnership that allows for geographical distance without the loss of a strong connection. I like living alone, and I’ve managed so much individual growth and personal healing doing so, it’s definitely been worth a few romantic inconveniences. 🙂

I sip my sadly disappointing coffee with a smile, thinking about a dear friend’s new cat-buddy who wandered into her life and found a warm welcome. No reason, I simply enjoy the pleasant thought. It’s a nice way to start my day, actually, relaxing with my coffee, musing about the pleasant experiences of friends.

This post has no particular point, but I gotta tell you; very few of life’s moments have a recognizable, clear “point” taken individually, out of context. Most people, most of the time, are tackling each moment fairly spontaneously as it comes, and moving on the next, experiencing a continuous sort of consciousness that doesn’t generally split up experiences into all those discreet individual singular moments. Experiences, taken as a whole, may be more likely to “have a point”, but I am not sure that’s an important thing in life, right now, sipping my deliberately cold coffee that I now wish was hot. lol

What’s important in life is largely a matter of perspective.

It’s time to begin again. 😉

I woke with a headache. No arguing with that; it’s a headache, it hurts, I feel it. Being a positive person isn’t about pretending there is no headache. That’s silly game playing that lacks consistent results. It’s more about… being aware that the headache is a temporary thing, that it will pass, and that it is only a headache. My choices still matter more than the headache itself.

We can do a lot to predict outcomes of events and choices, given a willingness to be self-aware, honest, and true to the data. Our choices still matter; our choices change the outcomes. Predictably enough, predictable outcomes change over time, as our choices are made, and our will brought to action. There’s no reason being angry about an outcome we’ve chosen, ourselves, with our actions; we could have seen it coming, generally, as human primates are fairly predictable. Even the unpredictable ones, if you’ve observed their specific ways long enough. Hell, the predictable nature of unpredictable people is so predictable, in fact, that fairly realistic scripts can be written of such things, for our amusement.

I sip my coffee and wish my Traveling Partner well. Day break soon. It’s been a rough couple weeks as his Other’s mental health declined, and her behavior spiraled out of control; that shit gets ugly fast. It was also fairly predictable, taken in the full context of my own experience of her. I take a deep breath and relax. He’s okay. Our friends are okay. Material losses are just things. Hopefully all that ugliness and stress is behind them, and everyone can move on with healing. Done with that.

Emotional resilience in times of turmoil is a big deal. If I don’t have it, I don’t bounce back from stress, and if I am not easily able to bounce back from stress, it begins to wear me down over time, becoming harder and harder to deal with, and as smaller things begin to loom larger in my daily experience, I become raw, emotional, off-balance… and I start to take shit very very personally (and almost nothing at all in life is actually all that damned personal). It all spirals downward from there. How is it that emotional resilience isn’t a common every day emotional wellness talking point? Why is there not elementary level course curriculum in emotional health in public schools? Why has it been such a struggle to get health insurers to cover mental health care fully and without limits? Who the fuck came up with the idea that emotions are the bad guy? Our ignorance about our emotions is far worse than any single emotional experience ever could be. Our personal demons are less likely to be our actual emotions than our lack of emotional intelligence, our lack of cultivated emotional resilience – and the ensuing chaos as our intellect attempts (and fails) time and again to “cut to the front of the line” in every experience. Reliably, our emotions get there first. Visceral. Raw. Real. Felt. Unavoidably we feel our emotions. (That’s why we call them “feelings”.) What we do about them is a wholly separate matter.

…Emotions are still only emotions, though. A reaction to stimulus. Sometimes that stimulus isn’t a high quality of “real” at all. We react emotionally with equal intensity to actual events as we do to imagined ones. Our internal narrative drives our emotional experience every bit as much as actual events and interactions do (for some people, less tied to reality, more so). This is problematic when our own lack of emotional intelligence, or a lack of developed emotional resilience, results in being unable to discern the relative value of whatever is the source material of our emotional experience.

If I am thinking about my Traveling Partner, and imagine losing him… forever… and I evoke an emotional reaction in myself with that thought, I may briefly feel a terrible grief. (No kidding – it won’t be anything like the real deal, but I won’t discern that difference in the moment I am feeling my momentary emotion.) Is the grief not real? Oh hell yes, the emotions are real! That’s what often undermines our ability to maintain resilience in the face of storms of hormones, as women; our emotions are entirely “real”. What is questionable is the quality of the source material driving that experience. Our emotions are bio-chemical. We’re literally on drugs when we’re enraged. On drugs when we are euphoric, in love, experiencing “new relationship energy”. On drugs when we are sad, feeling low, and overcome by ennui. Emotional intelligence is the quality that allows us to understand ourselves sufficiently well to say “omg this sucks, I’m not myself today, I need some space (or I need some hugs) and I’m sorry in advance – I’m feeling a little less able to find my center today”… without laying waste to the experience of our loved ones in a shitty moment by weaponizing our emotions and attacking the world. Over time, “I’m sorry” isn’t enough, if you regularly treat your loved ones poorly. Eventually, too much damage is done, and no apology eases the hurt feelings, or restores the lost trust.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

We are creatures of emotion and reason. Understanding the complex interplay of intellect and feelings, of reaction and resilience, of emotional intelligence, cognitive skill, and intellect, goes a long way to making us seem more rational while we are also experiencing a rich and varied emotional life. Trying to tip the scales in favor of one or the other is an exercise in futility that weakens our ability to adapt to change and to overcome trauma. Avoid or shut down our emotions, and we become distant, tend toward callousness, prone to clueless insensitivity, unable to fully experience intimacy in relationships with others. Suppress our intellect, eschew a factual basis to life, and we find ourselves chaotic, reactive, and unable to gain perspective. Either of those results in our treating everyone around every bit as badly as we treat ourselves. (Well, yeah, because it’s a true thing that we do generally; we treat everyone as badly – or as well –  as we treat ourselves). Fuck all that – it is a more comfortable experience to walk my path mindfully as much as I am able, aware of my emotions, appreciative of my intellect and cognitive gifts, able to balance and use them both comfortably. I am able to bounce back from stress and trauma with greater ease. It does take practice. Yep. And, you guessed it, there are verbs involved. (And maybe a meditation cushion. lol)

Real is real. I still have choices. You do, too. 🙂

It’s time to begin again.

Be who you are. I say it. Other people say it. I think when it is said, it’s generally well-intended, and a sincere expression of an understanding of being that implies being all of the best of who we are, and hopefully still contains a kernel of awareness that reducing ourselves to our own worst qualities, as we understand those ourselves, is not at all the intention. But… just in case… I’ll go ahead and say that, too; being who you are implies being who you are wholly, with skill, and with your fundamental good-nature and humanity intact. Don’t just dissolve in a heated moment, becoming your inner most slime mold. lol That’s less… yeah. It’s less. Less well than you could choose to do. Less pleasant among all your character qualities. Less ideally you than even you would have you be. Yep. Still a shit load of verbs involved there, and some willful decision-making, and the needs to manage your chaos and damage with a modicum of adulting – and you will fail. Sometimes. Other times, you will rock the shit out of all that adulting, and friends and loved ones will be astonished by your general awesomeness and ability to love and treat others well. Mostly, I’ve found, I fall somewhere between those two extremes, day-to-day. Doing my best. Capable of improving on that. Working to improve over time, and become more the woman I most want to be.

Authenticity is a big deal. You really are you, and not someone else. Becoming the person you most want to be isn’t about faking something, or wearing a mask, or playing dress up. When I say I want to become the woman I most want to be, I mean in all the best ways I see myself, and then maybe improving on that – in a bunch of other ways I would like to see myself, but don’t yet, because I’m legitimately not that, yet. We become what we practice. If I want to be accepted as being gracious, calm, and loving, it is necessary for me to practice actions and behaviors that are gracious, calm and loving. Those qualities don’t become “who I am” until there has been so much practice, sufficiently skillfully, and entirely sincerely, that over time the behaviors themselves become my default behavior, and the thinking behind them has become, over time, my natural way of thinking. Am I “faking it” in the meantime? Nope. I’m practicing. Still has to be “the real deal” – I can’t grit my teeth, clench my jaw, and go through the motions (that’s not practicing a behavior, that’s enduring having to comply with a commitment, perhaps, but it’s not “practice” – which requires a certain amount of “buy in” and willingness to change). “Fake it to make it” isn’t a thing I do, myself, because I don’t think that works for me. The key is in the word “fake”. I prefer to rephrase that well-meaning sentiment as “we become what we practice”.

Don’t be fake. Get real.

Who do you most want to be? Behave as though you are already that person – because those behaviors align to your values. (If they don’t, is that really who you want to be, or are you just saying that because someone else wants that of you? Something to think about.) Sure, there is awareness and effort involved, and every day choices matter a lot. It helps, too, to have an understanding of who you already are. Ask the hard questions of yourself. Look yourself in the eye and call shenanigans on your own bullshit – leave all those other people out of it, they’ve got their own hard mile to walk.

Being authentically this person that I am doesn’t permit me to be nasty to people and just say “well that’s who I am, accept me” in any comfortable way (I’ve seen a lot of people take this strategy, though). I find, instead, that it forces a certain uncomfortable obligation to be authentically vulnerable about where I could improve, or change, based on my own understanding of myself and what I want of me. Yep. Being authentically me, accepting of myself, and non-judgmentally aware of “who I am right now” doesn’t alleviate the burden of self-reflection and personal growth, and it doesn’t allow me to break my social contract with the world (which is basically an agreement to treat others well, based on certain common standards). What it does do is place my growth and progress in life in my own hands, based on my own choices. I can choose to be the worst of what I am capable of – or the best – or I can fall somewhere between the extremes. I can choose to progress, to do nothing, or to fall behind. I can act using my own will and agency, or allow learned helplessness to stall me in the moment. All choices. I can choose authenticity – or I can choose to go through the motions, resenting my lot in life.

Thoughts on a Wednesday morning, as I prepare to begin again. Real-ly.