Archives for posts with tag: a season of self-reflection

We don’t necessarily choose where we start our journey; our starting point is what it is. We can choose our direction. We can choose each step along the way (although we often trudge through our lives more haphazardly than that). We can choose (and embrace) change. We often don’t. I know I too frequently endure what could be changed… endurance has been sort of habitual for me, and often seems “easier” as a result.

Enduring misery seems kind of stupid when choices can be made. If a job or relationship feels miserable, why would we not choose to change it? This could mean walking away, it could be taking a new approach or setting new/different boundaries and expectations. So many choices. So many opportunities to use the power of choice and change…

Choosing can seem pretty difficult, itself. I’m not sure I have good insights on why that is. Change feels scary sometimes. Choosing it brings that fear into prominence, up close, intimately connected with how I see myself, and what I may think I “deserve” in life. Weird, right? I mean… how strange that one might choose to endure misery rather than face one’s fears about change, or reflect on what we can or should do to care for ourselves.

Some weeks ago, I admitted to my Traveling Partner that I am not happy with my current job. Commonplace enough. His response to that, looking back, seems pretty rational and practical, too. “Maybe it’s time to look for something different?” I replied “Maybe. Probably.” I reflected on that conversation, and my circumstances… new mortgage…a desire for stability…fearfulness of change…and a job that I was not finding satisfying because I’m not finding success in it (based on my own definition of success, which requires – for me – that my best work also be effective). Endure? Or… seek change? Could the needed change be achieved where I am? Do I even want that based on all the information at hand?

These sorts of questions work whether the struggle is to do with jobs, projects, relationships… pretty “all purpose” for contemplating purposeful change in life. 😀

One morning, I made a choice.

Anyway. The “tl;dr” of the thing is that I started looking at other opportunities, and found something that suits me better. Time to make that change happen. Time to walk on. Time to live with purpose and time to choose.

…And it’s time to begin again. 😀

The last day of 2020. There’s no point arguing that, and unless we abruptly change calendars, there’s no turning back now; the year is ending. 🙂 I’m okay with that.

This is a season of change. There are choices and plans to make. There are past mistakes to contemplate, to learn from, to avoid in the future. There are future opportunities (and pitfalls) ahead, on which to build still further into the future. My results will surely vary. There will be verbs involved. Practices to practice. Choices with surprising outcomes, upon which to reflect further. It seems like there is almost always “further” to go.

This blog, this humble instrument of expression, these handfuls (fistfuls? bucketfuls?) of words have been incredibly helpful for me, along this strange journey of healing and growth, as I head toward being the woman – the human being – I most want to be. I sip my coffee, flavored with a bit of the buttered rum batter I made this morning, for later this evening, when my Traveling Partner and I toast the new year together. It turned out pretty good, and I’m pleased with the flavors. Pretty good in coffee, too. 😀

I started this blog on January 8th, 2013, as I teetered on the edge of life’s most final decision; whether to go on living. (Breathe. This is all about hope and promise and continuation – it’s not a sad tale.) Since then,

I’ve published 2232 posts here.

I’ve received 10,020 spam comments (blocked by Akismet).

I’ve received 1060 legitimate comments from readers. (Thank you for reading.)

2914 days have passed.

11,304 views of my page were recorded.

When I look closer, I see that some of my posts are hundreds of times more popular than all the others… by far the most popular (in the history of my blog) is “Be My Valentine? How About I Be My Own Valentine?“. It’s followed closely by my reading list. The Parable of the Barking Dog, and The Parable of Poison have also been very popular. When I re-read these, myself, I still find value in them, and room to grow as a person from reflecting on observations made long ago. (That’s sort of how writing works, I guess. lol)

This year, the most popular posts still include my reading list and The Parable of the Barking Dog. Beyond those, the favorites seem to reflect the times rather a lot. Reflections on this journey-of-self, musings about finding balance in challenging times. Thoughts on the passage of time, and shifting perspective, on a birthday.

I take a look at the recorded search terms that took people to my blog this year (it’s always worth a giggle):

…”Don’t be a dick light”? What does that mean?

I find myself mildly frustrated that I can’t see the “unknown search terms” – I bet they are interesting. lol I take another look – search terms over “all time” (I mean, since this blog started, right?)… It is an interesting look at what drives traffic to my blog, and maybe why.

I’m clearly not the only fan of Rick & Morty. I’m interested in what it is about “inspirational word” searches that bring people here… I hope they find something worthy to sustain them on their journey.

2020 has been a wild ride – one of the most peculiar seeming years of my adult life, as far as I can recall. Right up there with 1981 (joined the Army), 1989 (the fall of the Berlin Wall), and 2010 (it’s complicated). It’s not that other years don’t stand out as significant, it’s just that these were “big years” in some harder to pin down way (for me). 2020? Monster year. Plague (well, pandemic). Election year. Black Lives Matter. Australia on fire. California and Oregon on fire. Presidential impeachment. Climate change slowly stops being debated and starts being acknowledged. The “Me Too” movement. RBG died. My Traveling Partner and I bought a home. I mean… yeah. It’s been a big year. I’m glad it’s over.

What about you? Have you taken a moment to reflect on times past? What will you do with the year ahead? Will you fulfill a dream? Reach a goal? Will you persist? Will you let go of old baggage in favor of a new direction in life? Will you change the world?

…I guess we don’t know until we begin again. 🙂 See you in 2021. 😀

I was sipping my morning coffee in the dim of dawn, sun not yet peaking over the horizon. I was thinking about a friend who often seems to default to negative self-talk, and assumptions about others that are built on suspicion, fear, and mistrust. I know enough about my friend’s personal history to have some limited understanding why they would hold such a bleak perspective on life, relationships, and yes, even on the person in the mirror. I hold my friend in very high regard, and our mutual affection and appreciation has lasted many years…but even I am not immune to being the recipient of my friend’s mistrust, suspicion, and doubt.

My thoughts this morning, after recently having coffee together, were less about how uncomfortable it can feel to be viewed as an adversary, unexpectedly, and absent any input on my part to justify or support that view, and more about how unpleasant it must be to go through life that way, living in the context of some implicit certainty that everyone, eventually, is an enemy. It saddens me, and I struggle to balance my understanding and compassion with my feelings of helplessness and frustration – and lack of being understood clearly. My own communication challenges don’t make it easier. My own emotional baggage and personal history with relationships with other human primates don’t make it easier, either. I sipped my coffee, breathing, exhaling, relaxing, and consider my perspective, and where I can, also the perspective my friend expressed, with as much depth, and understanding, as I am able to do.

Perspective changes what we understand of the world.

I think back to articles I’ve read about mindfulness, and the handful of those that point out that undertaking a mindfulness practice can throw emotional health and balance into chaos for some people. I even accept that this is one of the potential experiences people may have; when we have adapted to darkness, the brightness of being flooded with light is not necessarily and immediately helpful, comfortable, or pleasant experience. Some of the things we keep to ourselves over a lifetime, dismissing our concerns, diminishing our sense of self, or building our narrative on a ton of self-serving made-up shit to compensate, perhaps, for the bleakness of our sense of doubt and futility, end up being powerful (and possibly successful) coping mechanisms for the hardest shit we don’t want to face – and having coped with, we don’t have to. Then along comes some “healthy” mindfulness practice that sounds awesome, that our friends are into, and we hop right into it, eager and enthusiastic… then, we find ourselves face to face with the darkness being dissipated by a light so bright we can’t see what it hides from us, and… we run, terrified and damaged, fearful of change, resisting what so bright a moment of illumination might really show us. After all, we’d coped with all that bullshit. We’d found a way. Now, here we are, facing our self, unexpectedly. Not always a pretty picture, and we’re not all ready for that.

Changing our own perspective doesn’t always feel comfortable. Whether or not “mindfulness” can be said to “work” is more than a little bit dependent on what we expect it to do, and whether that is what we actually want – or are ready for.

My friend and I talked about my journey, and theirs. We spoke of expectations, and of “reality”. My friend had, at one time, been a huge advocate for me finding my way to a more positive perspective on life. At that time, they seemed so unbelievably positive to me that it was hard to understand the thinking behind those words – wasn’t it a matter of “character” or personality? Wasn’t my personal history “real”, and sufficient to justify my chaos and damage… and negativity? Wasn’t my cynicism perfectly “reasonable”? Here I was sitting over coffee, after far too long out of touch, and I was the positive one, the contented one, the one bouncing back. My friend seemed overly negative, and out of touch with their own emotional experience, lacking in a certain authenticity and “presence”, that felt strangely dishonest and uncomfortable to me. The conversation came around to meditation, and mindfulness practices, generally. “All that’s bullshit,” my friend said firmly. “I tried that stuff back in the day, and it only made me cry a lot, and made me doubt my relationships.” I sat quietly listening (which can be difficult for me), then replied “What did your therapist say about that experience?” My friend answered abruptly, “I quit therapy. It was expensive, and kept making me doubt my place in the world, and my relationship with my partner.” She gestured vaguely, something like waving off that topic with her hand. “I didn’t need all that, I’m unhappy enough without help. Self-reflection bullshit just made me rethink everything. Who needs it?”

I keep turning the conversation over in my head, in the time since. So much of what she had shared seemed unhappy, and infused with a sense of having failed herself in some mysterious way, punctuated by occasionally accusations of some other person setting her up for failure. If she is so deeply unhappy in life, in her relationships, wouldn’t she expect self-reflection to hold up that mirror, and show her precisely that? Doesn’t that open the door to the potential that change could be made – chosen – and offer the chance to walk a different path?

No answers, this morning, really. Just questions, and self-reflection, and the illumination offered by shining a bright light into my own dark corners. There’s always an opportunity to begin again. 🙂 I am my own cartographer; I choose my path.

I’m sipping my coffee and taking in the slow gray dawn. No sunrise this morning. No glints of gold or peach off the last clinging autumn leaves. Just a homogeneous gray sky slowly lightening from a deep charcoal gray to a steely gray, and just now reaching a soft dove gray. My coffee is cold, from a can I took out of the refrigerator.  It’s a hell of a luxury – convenience generally is, though I tend not to notice very often.

Funny how conveniences can become a loss of good character and will over time, though, isn’t it? I’ve noticed that when I yield to convenience such that a particular convenience becomes habitual, I lose interest in making the effort that a task or experience once required without the conveniences. Huh. I gotta work on that; I see some very problematic potential outcomes of losing the will to exert effort for what I want. 🙂 If nothing else, it is autumn, heading towards winter, and I enjoy a hot cup of coffee. This will be the last can of cold brew for a while. There are fresh good quality coffee beans in the hopper of the burr grinder. Coffee mugs are clean. The kitchen itself, untidy after being sick, is at least ready for making coffee. lol I take another sip of this cold brew, and really take it in: the flavor, the coldness, the peculiar lack of depth or nuance to both the taste and fragrance – I mean, no surprise, it came out of a can, right? Fresh squeezed orange juice will always taste quite deliciously different from orange juice from a bottle or carton, right? Same here. Freshly ground, freshly and skillfully brewed coffee by its very nature tastes quite different from any can of cold brew – however convenient or tasty – ever could.

There’s a metaphor here, and I continue to sip this fairly nondescript, but wholly convenient, cup of coffee and consider the metaphor (and allegory) from many angles.

I look out the window. It has been some moments since the sky was a smooth wash of dove gray, and it is, now, taking on a hint of… something else. Not pink. Not peach. Not mauve. Not lavender. Some odd color I have no name for that sits somewhere in the junction of all of those. How strange. I sit quietly, just watching the sky, trying to name this color I see, but which is somehow unfamiliar and nameless. I take another sip of my coffee, which now seems entirely wrong for this moment. lol This is a summer coffee in an autumn moment, like a “wrong note” in a jazz solo; I wait for the next note to tie it all together. 🙂

I take a moment to appreciate the physical details of this moment, too. The heat came on. The thermostat is set for a comfortable 68 degrees, which seems “just right” for first thing in the morning. The air feels a bit dry in the house. My head isn’t stuffy this morning, though, and for the moment my fairly persistent headache is gone. I’m in no particular amount of pain – pain-free? Dare I notice and make the observation? Huh. It’s a nice start to a day I hope to spend decorating for Giftmas. 😀

My mind wanders thinking about Giftmas future, and Giftmas past. Those thoughts are also about the things in life I’ve kept along the way, and the things I have lost or left behind. It’s not an especially poignant moment, and feels more practical, and observant. It’s a journey, and as with most of the journeys I have taken in life, there’s only so much baggage I can lug along the way. Sometimes, it’s necessary to let things go. Hell – sometimes that is the very best next step that can be taken; let it go. Let this go. Let that go. Let the big deal go. Let the petty bullshit go. Walk on. Keep what works best. Keep what supports my intention most. Keep what lifts me up. Keep what lifts up others. Learn what works, practice that, and share it. Let the rest go. Like the last can of summer’s cold brew, savor the experience, drink it in, enjoy what qualities of value it can offer, learn from what isn’t so pleasant – let the rest go, like an emptied can of cold brew, into the recycling. 🙂

Today I’ll sort through memories and life lessons while I sort through fragile glass ornaments, placing each one “just so” to consider and enjoy, to ponder, to learn from. This is a season of self-reflection, and a season of change.