Archives for category: Words

I’m drinking cold fizzy water. My work day is over. My Traveling Partner is in his shop, making something specific of nothing-much components – tools and knowledge make a lot of things possible. I reflect on small irritants, and things for which I am grateful, too. Sometimes the irritating things in life feel damn near inescapable. I often find that taking time to savor the things in life I cherish, and to reflect gratefully on the many many things in life that don’t irritate me, is time well-spent and a helpful anodyne to the plentiful aggravations life may throw my way.

Perspective matters.

Yesterday began well. A lovely day.

One very cool thing about perspective is that it can change. It can be willfully, deliberately, altered – by choice, if you’ve a will to choose to do so.

A strange haze began to develop, later in the morning… or was it just a trick of the light?

It’s tempting to see perspective as a single point, just one way of looking at something, or one position from which to consider things. Is it, though?

There’s definitely a haze, later in the day, and a high wind storm warning to go with it.

There’s often more than one “right answer”, more than one solution to a problem challenge, more than one way that “things go together”. On and off I keep contemplating perspective, and how best to make use of it to understand the country I live in, my own circumstances, or the strange times I find myself in. We’ve only got this one planet, and these all-too-brief mortal lives…

The otherworldly result of smoke from distant fires.

…somewhere, communities and forests and fields are burning. Fire season. Cities, too, for other reasons. It’s a very good time to contemplate perspective – and to broaden it. There’s more to understand than I can even grasp. I have another drink of water. I’m grateful for cold clean drinking water. I’m grateful for this place I call “home”. Even that sick strange orange sky – I’m grateful to be able to see the sky, and to breath the air. I read some of the news. It’s bad in some places. I put it down – it’s not new news, just words about things I’ve read before.

What are you “for”? What are you “against”? Why do you feel that way? What have you done to test your assumptions? (I’m betting you’ve made more than a few assumptions, without testing them; it’s very human.) Would you refuse to test drive a change of perspective if you knew doing so might change your thinking? What does your answer tell you about the person in the mirror?

Too many questions, and my water bottle is empty. The sky is still a crazy sort of orange that fascinates and alarms me. One way or another, we’ve got to begin again.

This morning is a good one for reminders to the woman in the mirror.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

I’m inclined to do some re-reading and additional study this week. There are a handful of “maps” in my reading list that seem to lead me along my path very skillfully, and “The Four Agreements” is definitely one of those. The basics are so… basic. Seriously. This morning, I’m resting my practices on #2 “Don’t take anything personally” and numbers 3 & 4 seem wise, as well. Handy. I mean seriously, life, love, and even moments of apparent conflict are not “about me”, probably mostly at all. This morning has felt very much like the sort of morning on which I could so easily take shit personally that isn’t personal, follow that up with a few incorrect assumptions, and end up having a shit day, end-to-end. Not interested.

My sleep was interrupted by restlessness and physical pain. I woke once and stood out on the deck looking at the moon for a few minutes before returning to bed, and to sleep. The nearly full moon shined down on the forest beyond the deck so brightly, I thought there was a flood light on somewhere. lol

Moonlight and solitude in the wee hours.

I spent some moments in the darkness, looking at the stars, and reflecting on my life. Nothing much came of it, other than eventual sleepiness, which was sort of the point in the first place.

I finish my now-cold coffee, and look over the work day ahead of me. I consider how I can be my best self, right now, and also steadily become that woman I want most to be… sometimes it feels like a tall ask. I remind myself to narrow my focus, and be mindful that what others want, need, or expect of me isn’t a firm foundation on which to build my best self. I take a breath, and exhale slowly, and again after that. I rather like (and appreciate) the woman I am, right now, in this moment, on this day. Could I “do more/better”? Quite likely, yes, sure. That’s part of the point, too. I remind myself to be kind in difficult moments – not because it is expected or demanded of me, but rather because it is a quality I value, myself. I remind myself to listen deeply, because I very much want people speaking with me to feel heard – as I want from others, when I am myself speaking. I remind myself to be compassionate, because I value compassion. I remind myself to live up to my word, and to speak gently; there are too many harsh words out there in the world, already. Who I am, myself, is one thing that really is “about me” – and belongs to me, entirely. There are a lot of choices, and verbs, and opportunities to embrace qualities I value, personally, myself – because that is how I see myself. I know my results will vary, and even that isn’t something to take personally. It’s a journey. There are steps, and forward momentum, and incremental change over time. I become what I practice – so clearly, practicing those qualities that matter most to me, is the way forward to becoming the woman (and human being) I most want to be. 🙂

…And, yeah, it’s time to begin again.

Today has been as delightful as yesterday was difficult. I never did really figure out what was up with me, yesterday, or if it was me, at all. I let all that go. My Traveling Partner and I had several rather difficult, frank, conversations, that required greater-than-typical willingness to be vulnerable, and a level of “real talk” that pushed boundaries on both sides. The level of heartfelt consideration and and love involved made it possible. I wouldn’t call it pleasant, but the day was emotional wreckage (for me) anyway, why hold anything back?

(In practical terms, yesterday was a good day, we both got things done, worked productively, and got some leisure time. Stepping aside from the emotional baggage, personal hand-crafted bullshit, and narrative-editing foolishness human primates are prone to, it was actually a pretty good day. I just felt crappy, emotionally, as if I’d consumed emotional poison.)

We got to a place where we were both just being frank and real, just talking, not mean, not confrontational – honest clarifying questions, a straight forward exchange of information, no game playing – and it sorted some things out. Somehow, this morning, things are quite lovely, and life is as good as it is, and we’ve enjoyed each other all day. It’s lovely. 🙂 It’s hard to understand how yesterday was the thing it was. I gaslight myself wondering if I imagined the shitty day I had, until I give up on it, distracted by something in my periphery.

Dahlias

There are flowers on my makeshift workstation. Dahlias. I enjoy them. A neighbor brought them down and took a moment to say hello. She had a chance to meet my Traveling Partner. I could hear them chatting briefly in the front door way. I heard my partner “…working from home…” I looked up and saw our neighbor. “Hi!” I called. She cheerily replied “Don’t you get up!” and waved. A few minutes later, my partner presents me with the lovely handful of purple, white, and pale yellow blossoms atop sturdy green stems. From our neighbor’s garden? She has a lovely cottage garden thing going at her place. (I remind myself to take a mask when I go to check the mail and stop by to say thank you… from a distance, of course.)

I sip on a glass of cold water and consider my neighbor’s thoughtfulness. She also brought fresh-picked ears of corn. (Does she have room for corn??) (How much room does corn really take…?) I find myself wondering which gift is most meaningful to me, and whether the flowers or the corn could compare with the gift of her simple thoughtfulness and consideration, at all.

My thoughts wander. I think about words and meaning, and how something as simple as the sight of a facial expression or the sound of a tone of voice can completely alter the way we are understood, and what we are thought to have “said”. I find myself listening to “Schism” with new ears. Consideration matters. Listening deeply matters. Finding the discipline to refrain from interrupting matters. Taking a kind tone matters. So many things that matter… so many verbs. lol

Lovely evening… I think I’ll begin again.

I’m starting this one now, late in the work day, afternoon sunshine spilling through the window onto my laptop, while I’m still irritated. I’ve been in a great mood all day… then… not. A few critical cross-sounding words, delivered in a stern parental sounding tone, in the middle of my work day – where, I promise you, I am not a child – and my mood feels wrecked. (I say “feels wrecked” instead of “is wrecked”, because it is not my intention to allow things to remain in this annoying state.) It’s time for managing the mood wrecker, and getting on with work, and the day.

To be very clear, I don’t mean to convey “mood wrecker” as an entity or person. It’s a moment, a phrase, an experience – it’s not about the who, it’s about the feeling. Shall we continue?

So, I’m setting this up for tomorrow’s writing, freeing myself up to tackle this challenge right now, while it is currently an irritant. I can write about it tomorrow, that’s plenty soon enough. 🙂 Hell, by the time morning comes, I may no longer remember the moment of nagging negative assumption-making delivered as “feedback” in any specific way, and unfortunately, whether I explicitly recall the specifics verbatim or not, the emotional change of “weather” has not ever shown itself to be dependent on detailed recollection at all. It just “is”. I’d really rather not just sit around in a shitty mood for the rest of the day, into the evening, and wake up in a crappy mood, no longer even aware of why. So. I’ll be taking steps – and practicing practices. 😉

…Wish me luck…

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Here it is morning. My coffee is hot, and I feel rested and content. It’s a pleasant morning so far. The day, yesterday, finished well, and honestly, it was only minutes later that I was over my moment of aggravation. Here’s the thing; the content of the feedback/reminder I was given wasn’t an issue or any sort of problem. It was legitimate, reasonable, and valued. The person giving me the feedback wasn’t the “problem” – I value them and appreciate their insights. When I got past taking the tone personally, I could “just hear the words”. Once I was able to simply let go of my annoyance with the (implicit) assumption that the negative experience being discussed is “always” something I am personally and exclusively responsible for, I was able to hear the feedback itself as feedback and value it for what it was – an expression of importance and value, and a request to do some small thing differently to meet a need. Funny thing is, it was a request to do something I already see myself as doing, generally, make a point of doing (usually) and had been specifically doing for a couple days un-reminded, for the person who later reminded me to do it on an occasion when it hadn’t been getting done! I totally took their feedback personally, which is silly since I’d happily been picking up some slack for them for a few days, after being asked to do so.

I definitely took it way personally, and resented the reminder in the moment I heard it, as a result. Was it the tone? Doesn’t matter. Was it the phrasing? Doesn’t matter. Was it “true”? Even that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the task itself getting done is important to both the person reminding me and to me, and we do both want to see it done, reliably. That’s really the point of delivering the reminder in the first place.

The steps and practices for getting past it were pretty basic:

  1. Breathe
  2. Don’t take things personally
  3. Practice non-attachment
  4. Find the value in the message
  5. Show compassion
  6. Pause for gratitude

That probably seems like “a lot”, but the time involved was minutes, and begin with meditation (most of those steps fit into the time I spent meditating). The gratitude? I literally took a moment to reflect on how grateful I am to be surrounded by people who do care enough to remind each of what matters to them, and to give honest feedback when things go wrong. Doesn’t work at all if it’s not sincere, and that’s why that step is last. Takes me a minute and a bit of work to get there. lol Step 2 is the “hard one”. It requires me to work on me.

Finding peace and balance is a very personal journey.

These things happen at work, they happen at home, and they are not experiences unique to my life and my relationships. 🙂 Letting it go took some effort, because emotions are not about what is reasonable, what is true, or what is comfortable. They are what they are. Same for the person griping at me about the concern in the first place; it had become an emotional issue. Their emotions were audible, and that colored my experience, too. I’m glad non-attachment is a tool in my toolkit of everyday practices. I’m glad I know to practice not taking things personally. Those two practices let me move past the moment of aggravation and resentment, to a place where I could understand and embrace where the speaker was coming from. Will any two individuals ever see things “the same way”? Probably only by coincidence, honestly. We’re more likely to think we have the same point of view, than we are to truly share an identical perspective with any one other person. Differences in experience (we are each having our own experience). Differences in values (which change how we evaluate what goes on in the world around us). Differences in “personal dictionary” (the words we use have nuanced meanings, and it’s rare that we take time to verify a shared understanding of meaning). Differences in practices (what we do or don’t do, generally, change how we view the world, too).

It’s a lot to take in. Practices require practice. Sometimes growth isn’t easy. I’m “over it” – I’m not mad or annoyed. I get the point. Hell, I even agree that the task we were discussing is needful, and that everyone needs to “pull their weight”. (And, being real, I often do need reminders to get new tasks down reliably, at least at first.) The hardest part for me was letting go the persistent desire to come back with “Yeah, for sure, but how about you, too, though?” Unnecessary, I think, and likely less satisfying that I’d want it to be. The person delivering the reminder already sees the task as needful, so much so that they were willing to explicitly request my help getting it done on days when they were frankly very busy with something else, and kept forgetting to do it, themselves. So… yeah. That just leaves “did I?” competing with “didn’t I?”, and taking something personally that wasn’t personal at all… Letting it go just ends up being the easier thing, entirely. 🙂

I woke this morning having forgotten the reminder, the moment, the irritation, and my temporarily wrecked mood (which bounced back pretty quickly, given a chance). It was just another morning, another cup of coffee, another day to begin again. The draft I started yesterday reminded me. Reminders are emotionally neutral, and serve a clear purpose. 🙂 It’s not necessary to take them personally, at all. It’s only necessary to begin again. 😉

Once we choose our path, we’ve still got to walk it. The journey is the destination. 🙂

I may not write for a few days. There’s a lot going on in our flailing culture, right now, and I’d rather not provide a distraction. We all need to face this. We need to look America’s “original sin” of racism in the face and clean up the mess we’ve made.

I’ll resume writing, but for now, I am doing other things, and making room for long-silenced voices to be heard. Thank you for understanding. Please, definitely vote every time you get a chance, and definitely do your part to put decent human beings who value humanity and human life into office, instead of self-important already-wealthy liars and cheats whose sole intention is to enrich themselves at the expense of the nation. We can do better than we have, and we owe it to ourselves, our communities, and our future, to do so.