Archives for posts with tag: are you going my way?

Hey, don’t forget to upgrade your software. You know we become what we practice, sure, but don’t forget we can upgrade our own software anytime – through the magic of reading! It’s true. It’s even a wonderful time for it; it’s Banned Books Week!

If you’ve been following along, you’ve already watched this video, and maybe you’re also experiencing some difficulty getting into a book (and maybe you remember when it was much much easier to do)… It’s not too late to take back your attention span. It’s going to take practice, and it’s going to take a very specific new beginning. Are you ready for it? Here’s how it works:

  1. Turn off your device, or at least silence your notifications.
  2. Pick up a book.
  3. Begin reading.
  4. Keep reading.
  5. Go back to reading.
  6. Seriously, are you not reading?
  7. READ!

Yep. It’s that easy. 😉

If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of lists you can start with… here. Here. Here. Over here, too. One thing there is no shortage of? Books. Read some!

The ease and convenience of the Internet is no substitution for learning a subject with depth, or enjoying a long involved tale, or riding the emotional roller-coaster of poetry. Kind of a similar magnitude of difference as between “small talk” and deeply intimate conversations, actually. No need to coast through your existence being unimaginably facile, though; books exist (and so do deeply intimate conversations between very authentic people).

I’ve got a stack of books that I’ve not yet read.

Books, rather pleasantly, also give one time to soak things in, and give full consideration to new learning – no rushing necessary. I often set one aside and come back to it with greater appreciation or understanding, or having taken time to cross-reference a point that needed some clarification (or just to look up a word I didn’t understand in that context). Books don’t “turn it into an argument” if I disagree, either, they just wait for me to turn the page and learn more, which may broaden my perspective.

…You may be getting the impression I’m a huge fan of reading. 🙂 I am. It’s true. It’s a thing. I love to read.

I don’t read as much as I once did. Internet. I can clearly correlate the decline in my reading to the increase in my time online. Huh. I bet my software is way out of date as a result. It’s time to upgrade!

It’s time to begin again.

What are you reading?

I woke to the sound of rainfall this morning. I didn’t realize it when I woke. It was an early-but-counts-as-sleeping-in-anyway sort of time. I stumbled to the bathroom to pee, took my morning medication, and went back to bed intent on sleeping in “for real”…

…Then I heard the rain falling. I expected it to rock me to sleep, most delightfully. It did not. lol Not this morning. I contentedly lay there wrapped in comfort, listening to the rain fall. I listened to a gentle patter on the window panes. I listened to a drenching downpour that lasted only minutes. I listened to the characteristic rustling of wet Big Leaf Maple leaves, tossed in the pre-dawn stormy breeze. I lay there in the darkness, listening, smiling, resting. I wasn’t sleeping though, and the inevitable did happen; I got up for coffee. lol

An autumn morning before dawn.

I “lit a fire” in the fireplace as I headed to the kitchen, to take the early morning chill off the room, feeling exceedingly grateful to have a gas fireplace. I’m okay with trading the scent of a wood fire for the cleanliness and ease of use of the gas fireplace. 🙂 It’s autumn. Yesterday was the Equinox. It seems only fitting to enjoy warming my toes by the fire with a fresh cup of coffee on quiet fall Sunday morning.

Don’t forget to embrace simple pleasures, and savor moments of joy and contentment that aren’t expensive or flashy. 🙂 There’s much in life to be enjoyed, even in the depths of great misery, and it make so much difference to our experience of “quality of life”.

I sip my coffee and contemplate the day ahead. I settle on a plan of housekeeping, garden work, and find myself content to keep the day simple and purposeful. I’ll finish here, and the day will be spent off-line, engaged in needful tasks, and present in my life. (Oh, there’ll be verbs involved; I’m a human primate, and it will require effort not to return to the internet, again and again, but I’ve got self-care needs on this one. I want my attention span back.)

Have you considered this? How much you, too, may need your attention span back? We become what we practice.

It’s time to begin, again.

I woke ahead of the alarm, and realized groggily that I never wrote a word that wasn’t in the service of my employer yesterday. Wow. So unlike me. I’m tired. The lovely weekend comes at a price, and that price is fatigue. My disrupted sleep unavoidably has its moment to weigh in on my well-being.

I scroll lazily through my feeds, not really reading, just skimming headlines and posts in the weird “I used too few words” extra-large font. I’m not yet awake. The delicious fragrant mug of chai tea (with almond milk) definitely takes longer than a cup of strong coffee. I’m sneezing a lot this morning. My throat is a little… raw. Shit. I hope I’m not coming down with a cold. The timing is poor; I have a life to live and shit to get done. lol

Walking and thinking – a favorite practice for gaining perspective.

Yesterday, I forgot I had a late meeting on my work calendar, and got into the office at the usual very early hour. Early enough to get a lovely 2 mile walk in, along the waterfront. Early enough to get back to my desk, still quite a bit earlier than I had planned to be in – or needed to be. It was a long day, with very little leisure in it. I was pretty glad, by the end of the day, to have taken that walk in the morning. I was less pleased with the commuter traffic when I hit the road heading home around 5:30 pm. Wow. So glad I am generally home earlier. lol

This morning I find a lot to be content with, and it feels good.

I sip my tea and let my mind wander to the day-to-day misery and drama of being a woman in America. My feed is filled with it. Fuck. I’m grateful for menopause, and being generally beyond many of those storms now. You could not pay me to go back to being in my 20s (or 30s), particularly if it meant also having to return to that volatile emotional world of extreme highs and lows, and strange chaotic emotions. I wish I could sit with each of my agitated, distressed, sorrowful, wounded, beautiful friends, listen and let them feel truly heard, give them hugs, and maybe, just maybe find some way to share practices – or perspective. It’s a chasm that is quite difficult to cross, though. I can remember so many similar situations in which an “older sister” or elder in my life did attempt to communicate to 20-something me that this would pass, that I could master and, yes, even control my reactivity – with practice. I could not really fathom what was being said to me. I didn’t believe what I heard when it was shared with me. I did not follow through on any of the practices that were suggested. It was all completely out of reach. I wasn’t ready.

(I still try.)

I’m not saying their experiences “aren’t real” – not at all. Those chaotic emotionally difficult experiences are wholly real, in the sense that they are being experienced, for real. Totally real. Even, in fact, and like it or not, entirely appropriate and reasonable, from some points of view. Culturally, we don’t treat women well. This has unavoidable outcomes in the emotional health of women. We each play a part in creating that culture, and hurting our women. We could do better. (They can do better, too, but it’s a tale for another day, perhaps.)

This morning, I’m just sipping my tea and trying to wake up, and wondering how it is that so many of us, as human beings, being human, are so terribly unhappy… and wondering what I could do to help in any small way. Incremental change over time is slow. So slow. Change does happen, though, and we do become what we practice…

It’s the practicing that’s the challenge, isn’t it? Yeah. Here, too. I do “try”… but… and this is a thing… it’s really more about doing. Many of the practices that have helped me most with emotional volatility require me to “let go” – to practice non-attachment – which means having to yield to circumstances, and give up that righteous feeling of whatever I am feeling so righteously. lol An urgent desire to “be right” – and holding on to that feeling – creates so much fucking misery, and often on many sides of a discussion. I noticed more than once or twice that once I am attached to feeling righteous about something, I’m no longer willing to listen at all, and everything I hear is run through a filter that demands my position be defining for everyone’s experience. I gave up, quite purposefully and deliberately, the “need” to be right. It’s not helpful. (I learn more if I’m wrong, anyway, and often circumstances just aren’t even that clearly defined.)

Listening is hard. It is quite frankly one of the most demanding practices I practice each day. I often thoroughly suck at listening deeply, listening with my full attention, listening skillfully… It takes a ton of practice. Here’s the thing, though, a lot of my experiences of contentment, and balance, have their source in listening – and rarely have their source in talking, in expressing myself, or in “being right”. (Here’s where I slip in a reminder that “listening deeply” needs to be something I also do for myself; really hearing the woman in the mirror, understanding my experience and needs, also requires practice.)

One very cool thing about practicing practices, though? It doesn’t matter at all how many times I fail to “get it quite right”… I can keep practicing. I can begin again. 🙂

I slept in a bit. I’m glad I did; I needed the rest and have a busy fun weekend ahead. I smile and have another drink of my off-brand fizzy water. I didn’t really feel like putting in the effort to make an exceptional cup of coffee. I also did not feel like drinking a crappy cup of coffee. So… coffee can wait.

It’s okay to choose. I’m not “on rails”. A common result of making a plan and forcing into action, even in the face of other circumstances, needs, or inclinations, tends to be less than ideal execution, and sometimes an anecdote-worthy crappy experience. It’s not what I’m going for. I woke up thirsty; I’m drinking water. I was tired; I slept until I was rested. I needed to really relax yesterday evening; I spent the evening making the choices that got me there. This morning, I put my headphones on, drowning out the sound of traffic on a rainy morning, but don’t much actually feel like music (or sounds) this morning; I didn’t turn any on. 🙂

This is a weekend that looks on track to unfold with an unusually high amount of spontaneity. I’d made some plans to do some things, but I find myself mostly just interesting in being. It’s enough. These aren’t choices that “change the world” in any grand sense, but they do change my experience, and I am both in, and of, the world…so… small improvement, then? With enough of that sort of thing, the world is indeed changed. (And in that sense, our self-care, and good general regard for ourselves, and our common decency to others, is in fact world-changing!)

One or two more things I’ll take care of before I get on the road. My glasses are smudgy… and somewhere around here I have lens cleaning cloths… I put them where I could not forget them, so, obviously, I’ve no idea where they are now. LOL Start the dishwasher… take out the trash…

…Begin again. 🙂

I don’t honestly feel at all like sleeping on the ground, or dealing with overnight chill, or having to use vault toilets or a hole in the ground… or… any of the things that go along with camping, really. Not this weekend. I do, however, very much feel like hiking a few miles alone with my thoughts. 🙂 It’s nice having the car. It’s nicer that it is my own, and of the sort far more appropriate to trail heads and rougher roads than the luxury sedan I’d been driving. (None of that diminishes my gratitude for having the use of my partner’s car for a year; I needed it, he was right.) The weekend is my own, and I’ll go where I please, travel the roads I like, and find the miles that suit me most to wander.

I sip my coffee and consider my rather lengthy list of hikes I’d like to take. I decide I’d rather not drive more than an hour this morning, having slept a bit later than I expected to, and also wanting to go to the Farmer’s Market this morning. My smile becomes a grin contemplating the luxury of being able, if I chose, to also just get in the car and drive down to my Traveling Partner’s location, and visit him there. Any time. There is nothing to stop me doing so, and no one to whom I must answer. That feels amazing. I sit with the feeling and the awareness awhile longer; I haven’t always truly had the freedom to be accountable primarily to myself, only, and it’s an intoxicating level of adult freedom.

This is a weekend of choices. One of those is that I chose to invest in my longer-term emotional and physical wellness by making this particular weekend mostly about self-care, also. Yesterday was spent advocating for important social issues as a citizen, and getting ample rest as a human being. Today? Today I want to get out into the trees, put some miles behind me, take some pictures, find some solitude and relief from the din and background noise of the world. Tomorrow, too. Even Monday (after my first Qigong class, fairly early in the morning). Something about the car I’d been driving was keeping me from hiking in some subtle way. (I think perhaps my reluctance to leave a largish luxury car parked at a trailhead and at risk of break-ins, when it wasn’t even my own car, was a bit of baggage I didn’t manage well.) The Mazda fairly begs to be left-along-the-side-of-the-road-back-soon-I-promise at every trail head I spot on every drive I take. lol I literally want to just park it, however abruptly, hop out and walk down each unexpected mystery trail just to see where they lead. 😀 This bodes well for future fitness, and I’m not inclined to fight it – I just want to get out there, and explore the world on foot, with a significant lack of human companionship.

New beginnings aren’t just an assortment of lovely sunrises, or yet another work shift, or one more morning waking from one more night of sleep; there are opportunities here for growth, change, and transcendence. These are chances to work through past pain, to set down more baggage and walk on – both metaphorically, and for real. What was yesterday about? Can I do better today? What choices does that take? How does this particular morning hold the potential to see me become more the person I most want to be at the end of this particular day? It’s a process filled with verbs, and my results vary. Still, I get as many chances to begin again as there are sunrises – or moments. There are choices involved.

I’m ready. It’s time to grab a map. 🙂