Archives for posts with tag: authenticity

It’s just a thought, on a Monday morning; communication is a pretty big deal. It changes the map, changes the journey, and changes the experience – shared or individual. The magical thing about communication is that it does not have to be weaponized and hurled down range as a hurtful salvo of toxic waste – ever. It can be shared gently, with great care, and received with great tenderness. Ideally… it is useful, enlightening, and promising of a better future moment once considered.

The flip side of using words, of communicating with consideration, is listening – deeply, fully present. I’ll note this is the greater challenge for me, personally, although making considered, authentic, use of communication opportunities does require some verbs, itself. Listening seems to require a few more.

Communication is useful for analyzing patterns – and breaking them. (image credit to my Traveling Partner)

It began simply as a weekend at home, ill. It ended feeling re-connected, deeply involved, wholly committed, and very much in love. The power of words should not be underestimated, Friends. The conversations that walk that mile, however, are not necessarily the “easy” ones; small talk isn’t going to get it done. I’m sipping my coffee and appreciating my Traveling Partner’s willingness to talk and listen, to “go deep”, to share intimate details of that most private personal space within each of us; thoughts and feelings. Wow. It got real, and it got deep, and things were shared that perhaps would have benefited from being shared sooner, together, and a few that presented profound healing opportunities to be shared at all. It was powerful.

…It still is. 🙂

…Worth it. 😀

So… here it is Monday. I’d so much rather stay home with my Love than go anywhere else, right now, but there’s a job to be done, and I’m being paid to do that. So… coffee at hand, dressed for work, and smiling, I prepare to begin again.

…Really, though? I’m sitting here sipping my coffee thinking about love, and how much I enjoy this partnership. How much I’ve grown – and feel that growth supported. How much he’s grown, and how much I enjoy supporting his growth, too. I even feel, fairly literally, wrapped in love; most of my selections for work wear today were suggested by, or gifted to me by, my partner. There’s something magical to that. My smile deepens. I think that I smell his cologne in my studio… I think, too, that it makes my coffee taste better. lol Love is a hell of a flavor enhancer. 🙂

I smile, and finish my coffee, and let a new day begin untouched by old troubles. Use your words. (So worth it.) Then…? Begin again. 🙂

 

 

“Do you.”

“Be who you are.”

“Be yourself.”

“Be real.”

If we’re struggling to know ourselves, it follows that being ourselves comes with an obvious challenge; we may only be trying things on for size, exploring our options, or even (and often) terrified by the potential that we may be wrong about it. Uncomfortable – and in our discomfort, and insecurities about “who we think we are”, we lose our way, and potentially become a composite of other people’s values, notions, and assumptions of who we are – some tidied up caricature of who we most want to be, perhaps, or worse, in the struggle to resist, we remake ourselves as monsters. Yikes.

Is it enough to “be who we are”, if we’re not sure about who that is, exactly? Is there an alternative that doesn’t require fakery or bullshit? How do I “become my best self” – and who is that? 56 years old and still, sometimes, wondering who I want to be when I “grow up”. It’s not a process that has a clear conclusion, ideally; I will strive to be that woman I most want to be, until the day I stop being, having become, in that final moment, only a collective of deeds – and memories. No “finish line” – and it’s not a race, more a walk in the countryside. When we’re fortunate, our journey is well-lit, paved, and we’ve got company along the way, and maybe a sense of direction. Less fortunate travelers walk a harder path; it’s dark out there, the way is not paved, at all, there’s no map, and we wander, confused, alone, and feeling wholly fucked over. There’s a lot of options in between – variations in the human experience.

I’m sipping my morning coffee, and thinking about mortality. 🙂 Oh, I’m not feeling gloomy, or down, nor am I obsessing over the details, just very much aware that even this will pass. All of it. I’ll “move on”, not necessary to anything else, perhaps this truly is all there is? I can’t know that in advance – that’s part of the challenge – and I personally choose not to attempt to fill that uncertainty with any sort of conviction about the unknown. It will be what it is, when that time comes, right? Whether I face it with inquisitive openness and curiosity, or with an assumption built on faith and assumptions, it will, reliably, be only what it actually is, in fact. We’ll see when we get there. Or, um, not. lol Sorry – I’m not prone to existential angst, and if you are, this prosy nonsense about whatever the hell may or may not be on the other side of life could be stressful. My bad. Please forgive me – let’s move on. 😉

We’re mortal creatures, that’s my point.

Being my authentic self got tested yesterday. Work stuff. I had a moment, as an adult, to live my values, speak my truth to power, be as frankly and honestly the woman I am, without compromise, in a work scenario that would previously have provoked me to mold myself to the moment, and to try to be who I perceived myself as expected to be. Reasonable enough; people do that all the time. Compromise. Small compromises in values justified as “choosing our battles” or “not starting shit” can so easily lead to becoming a shell of a human being, feeling disconnected, closed off, “not heard” (because we’re not speaking our truth in the first place), and even ashamed – once the dust settles –  of whatever the outcome turns out to be. I don’t want that for myself. 🙂 I went home feeling… clean. Satisfied. “Legit.” I felt whole, empowered, and inspired; I was heard, accepted, and valued. Well… so, yeah, that made it easy, didn’t it?

It’s much harder not to cave to social pressures when we are not accepted, not valued, and dismissed or diminished, instead of heard. It’s not up to chance, though, and I made specific choices to refrain from making assumptions about the outcome of necessary conversations, and chose to simply prepare for the moment in an authentic away – relying heavily on experience, professional knowledge, and trust that my values – and the convictions I hold that are built on those – would be enough. No panic. No “presentation” building. No “controlling the narrative” – and frankly, I’m pretty good at conversation. 😀

…I even managed an entire 45 minutes of conversation without interrupting. lol

This morning, I sip my coffee, smiling, listening to music, looking forward to brunch, and feeling something I guess I can call “proud of myself”… or, maybe… “inspired”? I am even excited to return to work on Monday, which actually feels pretty strange, I gotta say; I’m not generally “about that”. lol It’s not that I don’t enjoy the work I do… it’s more that it definitely feels like a job that takes time away from my lifetime. Time I could – and would – so easily use differently for myself, were I a woman of means on that order of magnitude. I’m not. I work. That’s just real. 🙂

Being our most authentic self is challenging at work. Challenging in relationships that are precious to us – particularly if we feel insecure about the relationship… or who we are. A few years ago, I opted out of most relationships in my life that felt insecure, or which seemed to hold an element of investment in my worst self. Easier than trying to force some other human being to be a different person than they are, I learned to understand that (as with any work team) “fit” matters – and not all human beings are “a good fit” for friendship, romance, partnership, casual fun, lunch out… so many humans to choose from, why would I spend time struggling to force any one relationship to be something it isn’t? Those choices definitely served to make authenticity easier. That just leaves managing the work piece – and the “being out in the world” piece.

Random interactions with strangers. Right. Those, too. There are expectations of how we behave socially. Being my best self doesn’t require me to be inauthentic – but it may require me to change, to grow, or to choose differently than I might, if I were left utterly on my own, feral, undeveloped, un-socialized, and without context. lol There are choices to be made, every social moment. Kindness or cruelty? Compassion or callousness? Patient or angry? Polite or rude? Distant or intimate? Quiet or talkative? Chill or anxious? Rushed or relaxed? So many choices. Who am I?

Who are you?

“Your vibe attracts your tribe.” That’s real. When I am “my own person”, living my life in an authentic way, the people who enjoy my company are enjoying “the real me”, and my social circle, over time, fills with those people. Other people walk on. Letting them go is a natural fit – no need to fight it. Easier not to, too.

Today, this moment, feels easy and relaxed. My coffee is nearly gone. It’s a lovely morning that looks like a hot day to come. I sip my hot coffee grateful for air conditioning. My Traveling Partner went back east to see family – during a heat wave. I frown sympathetically, and ineffectively, at my monitor, when I think about that. I’m sure not going to bitch to him about 86 degrees, when we next speak. 😀 I finish my coffee, and jot down a quick list of things to do today; I like being prepared, when I begin again. 😀

 

I’m thinking about the way social media tends to give us each the impression we know all there is to know about what’s going on around us, and with the people we know, or observe from afar, as though eavesdropping a conversation in a restaurant booth behind us holds any potential to give us context and depth of understanding of the unseen faces having that conversation. It’s a misleading sense of the world, at best, and at worst… we participate in lying to ourselves, and dumbing down the world. Frustrating to attempt to have a deep conversation with a human being heavily invested in the world-via-tweet or yeah, even Instagram – my last remaining social media account. lol

…At this point, I’ve unfollowed every “influencer” (I hadn’t followed many, to begin with, because I don’t know them), and anyone who re-shares spammy bullshit, or advertising, or memes. I have limited my feed to direct relationships with people I actually know “irl”. No exceptions. It’s not about them. It’s about me; I don’t want to build shadows of relationships with distant entities who hold no potential to be “real” in my experience. I may not always like every one of the people around me… but I like them all 100% more than I hold any affection for a twitter account. LOL I mean, seriously? An ever-loving-fuck-ton of celebrities don’t even “manage” their own social media. They hire people to take care of that “workload” for them. They definitely don’t “care” about me – or you. They care about their brand. 😉

I can’t save anyone else from the impersonal science fiction abyss of dystopian disconnection. Sorry. You’ll need to crawl out on your own, if you can. It’s not actually hard, exactly, but it does require your will, and honest intent. So… verbs are involved. Choices. Practice. I kept Instagram, at least for now, simply because I enjoy sharing my photos with my actual friends, and enjoy seeing theirs. Innocent. Authentic. Rather unworldly, inasmuch as I guess I think that’s something I can have… Maybe it isn’t? I sip my coffee and wonder about that. Instagram remains a profit-generating social media platform on which I am not the consumer… I’m the product. Yick. I may need to rethink even this. lol

Snail mail, anyone?

I have been writing letters lately – a bit like the “elderly aunt” I seem to be becoming, slowly, over time. Hell, I’m okay with that. 🙂 I write a lot of email. I receive far less, but it’s not likely that a handful of emails and letters can provide a societal course correction in any detectable way. In my own experience, though, it’s quite a lovely relief from the fuss and bother, and anxiety, of a life in which every possible moment is “connected” via social media. That’s not really being connected at all, as it turns out. We’re all just shouting our opinions at each other, and sharing the ones that agree with our position, hoping to be rewarded with attention, with likes, with clicks, with a boost in personal status, or a large collection of “friends” or followers. How is that not toxic as fuck? lol

There is much less bullshit and drama in a life that is mostly pretty starved of social media. 🙂 Maybe take it for a test drive? If you were born in any year after about 1980, chances are good most of your life has been tangled up in the digital world. Take care of yourself if you do a really serious digital detox; you may be surprised to discover how actually dependent on it you are. Social media has some very drug-like qualities, and you may even be an addict. Be kind to yourself. Be patient.

I laugh for a minute. Quitting wasn’t anything like easy, and the world is just… yeah. My bank uses hashtags on their social media posts. Some of the merchants I do business with have specials that are only presented using digital coupons. Some of the artists and craftsman whose work I favor have contests that require “liking”, “subscribing” and sharing of social media items. It’s everywhere. I still walked away, because I’d rather live very authentically in the real world, such as it is, rather than become a (cognitively) fat shapeless media-fed caterpillar… without at least knowing what I will become, later on. (Pretty sure it won’t be a lovely butterfly of emotional wellness… just saying.) 😉

I finish my coffee. My thoughts continue to rattle around in my consciousness. I’ll spend time on my meditation cushion this morning, making a point to let all of this go, before I begin again, here, alive, awake, and aware, a solitary human being living in the world. ❤

A rose in my garden. You can’t smell it from a picture, or feel its silky petals – that’s only available in the world. 😉

An ordinary enough Spring morning. I’m sipping coffee. Minutes are ticking by. The cool dawn air fills the apartment. My fingers click rhythmically on the keyboard. Traffic swooshes by, beyond the driveway. I am considering the “blank page” in front of me – both actually, on this monitor, and metaphorically, this day ahead of me.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs.

Yesterday’s work day was productive, and felt… short. Very short. The evening that followed was delightful, connected, and relaxed. I slept well. I woke easily, just minutes ahead of the alarm clock, feeling rested. This cup of coffee tastes delicious. My clothes feel quite comfortable. Given this context, the fact that I feel content, merry, and relaxed, this morning, is no particular surprise, right?

This gets me thinking about context, generally. When I find myself feeling miserable for one reason (or many), it changes my outlook on everything that touches my experience. I tend to take more things personally when I am in pain, for example, even though there’s no direct connection between the physical experience of pain, and other qualities of other experiences. It colors my mood, and thus, colors my perception of my experience. If my mood, itself, can alter the way I see my experience, and if the experiences I have in life have the potential to alter my mood… is this a trap – or an opportunity? I used to feel it was a sort of sick joke, and emotional Catch-22 wherein, no matter what, the outcome was always that life sucked. One way or another, I was back to misery, pretty inevitably.

Mindfulness practices, and specifically meditation, unraveled that “trap” – turns out I set that trap myself, and caught myself regularly, fair and square. lol I did most of that to me. I mean, sure, I learned all of it somewhere, but that is so much less significant (for me) than the idea that I built that trap, maintained it with great care (and many verbs), and resisted treated myself any better for a long time with the sort of will and commitment that one generally sees from the eager or ambitious. Sort of scary, looking back, how very skillfully done all that was, and how ferociously I protected myself from any sort of healing progress, for so long. Choices.

Context matters. Where am I right now? Am I okay, right now? How do I feel? Pulling my awareness to this present moment, again and again, and allowing the bullshit narratives to fall away until I am only this human being, breathing in this moment, uncomplicated by assumptions, expectations, and clinging to what is not, there is so much less misery in my experience. This helps me sort out random frustrations, hurt feelings, poorly managed fury, dark days, weird sorrows – nearly all that mess is just made up bullshit, and I can choose differently. It’s often about context. The assumptions I make about this or that detail (or person) really fill it out and make it seem so real. It generally isn’t. I giggle, imagining a world in which everyone around us was truly the embodiment of my assumptions, my thoughts about them, instead of being who and what they actually are.

When I allow others around me to be who they are, without my assumptions and expectations clinging to me, them, or the connection we share, I can also relax and let go of any ludicrous notion about changing them, or fixing them, and just enjoy (or not) who they are, themselves. I can be who I am, too. We can share that time together authentically, and maybe even learn things from each other, and grow. If I’m clinging to a golem built of my assumptions and suppositions about them, filtered through my experience of life and projected onto them, we aren’t even really together, are we? I’m just hanging out with a different version of myself. lol It’s also much easier to be open to people, letting them be them, staying firmly “me”, myself… fewer verbs needed to be real, than to shore up an image.

Context… and authenticity. Perspective. Consideration. Awareness. Presence. All good words for a Tuesday… I think I’ll go out there into the world, with a handful of words, and a gentle heart. It’s a good beginning. 🙂

I admit I love the increasing cultural encouragement to embrace our authentic selves that I see popping up everywhere, often in the form of a response to some thing or other, phrased as “do you”. I like that. Definitely. Do you. Be you. Invest in you. Grow your brand – and your self. Explore who you are. All that sounds pretty awesome, and very supportive and encouraging… but…

…It also sounds “too easy”. I know, I know. Authenticity is actually pretty fucking daring, even now, and it requires self-awareness, self-compassion, openness, honesty on this whole other level a lot of people are not prepared for, and a willingness to let go of attachment to our own assumptions about who we in fact our, when those conflict with who we in fact are. It’s not actually easy to be our authentic selves in a culture built on controlling people through their insecurities, fears, and doubts. It’s even… brave. There’s still another “but” to move beyond…

…It’s also not enough to just drift in a sea of our own filth and basic bullshit. It’s not really the ideal “do you” scenario, is it? To just… stall in life and make no attempt to become the person we most want to be? To just… rest, assume the most slack possible approach to the question “who am I?”, and just… not bother doing more or being better? I mean… aren’t we capable of more?

This morning I am thinking about what it means to “do me” and how I can become the woman I most want to be. I know there are choices to make. There are verbs involved. I know my results with vary. I know that being authentic – truly frank and real – with the human being in the mirror has to come first, and be reliably a thing I do for myself, without fail. I know I have more questions. More opportunities. More chances to begin again.

I guess I’ll get started on that now… 😉