Archives for posts with tag: be here now

It’s a Saturday morning. I am awake early. I make a delicious cup of coffee, and later a couple of eggs, prepared simply, with a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper. I feel content and satisfied. I scroll through my feeds; too many memes and shares, not enough original content. I move on. I do some self-study on topics currently most interesting to me. I take time to meditate.

I feel good.

I think about these things before I sit down to write. I consider how routinely I “begin again” and how often I suggest it as a great practice, recognizing what I’m really saying is something as elementary as “don’t beat yourself up over that, just start over”, which is less succinct, and less likely to become clear programming. I find myself wondering if that’s really enough to be at all helpful for friends or readers who haven’t yet tried a new beginning in that sense that I mean, and don’t quite know what to do with that moment of transition between the end/consequence of the one moment, and the fresh-start newness of the next.

I drink my coffee and mull that over. Is it a complicated question? “How to Begin Again” doesn’t seem the sort of thing that would, generally, require explicit instruction… but… I already know I’m wrong about that, a lot. So…

  1. Step one, well, I guess something’s gotta end, or be completed, or fail horribly leaving us feeling wretched and lost, or at loose ends, or puzzled, or discontent, or… Yeah. I guess step one has to be the end of something or other. Let’s start there. πŸ™‚
  2. Now begin again.

Okay, okay. I’m being a smart ass, and a bit flippant, and maybe that’s not appropriate for you, in your circumstances, right at the moment? Got it. I’ll… begin again.

  1. Let’s go ahead and still start with something that ends. πŸ™‚ A circumstance, a moment, an experience – and hey, maybe that’s your “now”, right now, and it hasn’t ended yet, and you’re really quite unhappy and miserable and feeling beat down by life, or overcome by ennui or sorrow, or frustration… damn. That sucks. Let’s step 2 the hell out of that, shall we?
  2. Breathe. No kidding. Take a moment and just get some wholesome cleansing deep breaths. Let that other shit go, just for a moment or two at least? Surely that’s fine? It’s a choice. Take a moment for you, and just breathe.
  3. Even while allowing yourself to consider what has passed, whether success or failure, however miserable, worried, or anxious, please also work on letting go of your attachment to the specific outcome, and let go of any expectations you were holding on to. Let yourself have a clean slate on this – it’ll be okay to do that, I assure you. πŸ™‚ The map is not the world, and clinging to an understanding of an experience or circumstance can definitely color your future experience and decision-making.
  4. Go ahead and feel your feelings. Yep. Feel ’em. Emotions are not the bad guys here, and we can develop a less reactive, more awareness-based approach to our emotional life. Finding balance between emotion and reason is a very nice bonus to all this practicing. πŸ™‚
  5. Still breathing? You’ll want to keep that going, generally. πŸ™‚
  6. If you are wanting to literally re-start whatever you just failed at, now’s the time, perhaps, to consider what success really looks like – and maybe also ask yourself some questions about why you view it that way? Is that your own legitimate authentic honest assessment, or have you borrowed someone else’s opinion’s or values there? Please consider usingΒ  your own. πŸ™‚ (Much easier to succeed in life when you are pursuing your own goals.)
  7. Make a plan. Oh, I know – an ever-loving fuck-ton of you, out there, are not planners at all. I’m not saying a word about whether or not you execute a specific plan. I am most definitely suggesting that you still sketch out some sort of loose notion of what you want to get done, even if it’s only in your head, and even if you follow through completely differently. When we feel prepared, our stress level in life is generally lower. Just saying. Think it through. Consider your next steps, and your goal. Consider alternate outcomes – a lot of them. Be okay with as many of those as you are able to allow yourself to be. Consider how those alternate outcomes may also be quite okay, maybe in totally different ways. (Some people might call this “daydreaming”, but it can be done very productively.)
  8. Allow yourself to acknowledge what is and has gone well. Contemplate for some moments all manner of similar experiences or circumstances or events or relationships that have turned out quite well, based on your choices in the past. Consider them. Savor these memories of success and sort of “fill up your consciousness” with the things in life that you appreciate, and have turned out quite nicely.
  9. Still breathing? Don’t forget to breathe.
  10. Now’s the time. Whatever it is, take another lovely deep relaxed breath, recognize and enjoy your humanity, and be aware that through our challenges is our path to growth; we don’t learn much from our successes, or the easy wins in life. We don’t become stronger by way of experiences that don’t test our strength. We can’t fathom the depths of our capacity for joy or love without also experiencing the weight of our pain and sorrow.
  11. Ready? Do the thing. ❀ (All sorts of different steps and verbs go with this one, obviously. You get to choose those; that’s on you.)

I still think it’s fine to just… start with step 1 and finish with a step 2… but… I’ve been practicing for a while, and at this point, it does feel pretty natural to sort of cram all the rest of that between them. LOL

I smile and think about this journey of mine, and how far I’ve come from that hurt creature uncertain life is worth living… that was only… 5 years ago. The world isn’t really a “better place” than it was then, in most regards, and actually, it seems a bit worse, in a number of ways. Still… I feel better, about the world, about myself, about my life, about my ability to love and to heal and to nurture, and to make wise choices. I treat myself, generally, reliably well. I treat others better than I was ever able to before – or knew how to do. Strange to consider how all this progress has been built on so many small beginnings.

I’m always on and on about beginning again. (New beginnings are awesome, just as they are, so it makes a certain amount of sense to embrace the opportunity.) It’s not a matter of the clock hands moving a notch and calling it done, though, and I guess maybe it’s been awhile since I looked more closely at what I mean, myself, by “begin again”.

I mean, it’s mostly obvious, right? Isn’t it? …Isn’t it?

Is it?

Look, I fuck stuff up. I make mistakes. I succumb to my own bullshit. I overlook details that could give me clarity in a moment of confusion. I forget stuff. I get attached to an assumption or expectation, or cling to some pet idea, and find myself stressed out, feeling “attacked by life”, or just weird and broken. All of that and more. Each and every time I fall for my own nonsense, or overreact to some moment (or person), and every passing mood or moment – I have the chance to start over with that much more experience in life, that much more perspective built on that experience, and that much more real wisdom, built on perspective. Wow, right? I mean, fuck – every bad bit potentially builds a future of greater wisdom, balance, and resilience, if I view it from the perspective that I will have learned so much more, and be that much more able to make wise choices in life for having learned from my experience. That’s powerful. It implies, though, a missing step. I should clear that up…

Thing happens. I learn from it. Life improves. Okay, sounds easy enough. Here’s the thing. The “begin again” piece falls between “I learn from it” and “life improves”, not immediately after “thing happens”. The critical piece is definitely the learning. Without that step, I just keep repeating “thing happens” over and over again, without change or progress – because I’ve clearly set myself up for it, with that passive voice, right there, in my own thinking, lurking in the background, waiting for me to experience a failure or setback – “thing happens” is expressed such that I can so easily overlook who, or what, happened it; I’ve left out my agency. “Learn from it” reliably brings my agency back to me, even in the most bleak and broken moments. It’s an important detail, most particularly because of how often my own choices are a distinct part of any moment of suffering. (And yes, this includes my fairly difficult day, and experience, yesterday.) The bit about beginning again is my reminder that taking what I’ve learned from each experience allows me to move forward in life choosing my words and actions quite differently, perhaps, and most definitely based on that refined understanding. Forward momentum. Growth and change. Choosing wisely.

So many verbs involved. I’m not saying this shit is easy. I am saying, maybe, that looking back on it, it feels somewhat less difficult than it may have felt in the moment. Not gonna lie, though, it’s been a difficult journey in spots. That’s what makes each new beginning its own tiny triumph, too. Each time I fall, each time I fail, each time I cry, each time things just don’t work out for some reason, I can take another look at things, learn a bit more from what I’ve been through (or put myself through), and make (new)(different)(other) choices that get a better result over time. It’s just fucking slow progress, so I’ll call that out right now. Change is. We become what we practice. There are verbs involved. We each walk our own hard mile. Everyone’s results vary. There are no shortcuts. Incremental progress built on experience and reflection is sort of slow. Hard to see in the moment, easy to spot looking back, after a while.

Be patient with yourself. (How many times have I looked myself in the mirror with that advice?) Things didn’t work out? Begin again. Each and every time you begin again, do your level best to be the human being you most want to be, yourself, for you, based on your own values. Your results will vary. That’s just real. So start over. Yes, again. I know. Omg – so many beginnings. It’s almost like… it’s a journey. Up a staircase. πŸ™‚ If you just stand there at the bottom, staring upward at all those god damned steps, it’s pretty massively overwhelming. So, just take one step. Give that some thought. Take another. Don’t be fixated on what’s at the top of the stairs, so much, and focus more on taking that next step. Consider your missteps, and maybe don’t do what didn’t work last time, when you take that next one. It’s honestly that simple, and it’s worth some repetition, and I found, for myself, that those two simple words communicated enough; begin again.

Oh, hey, look at the time! It’s a worthy moment for a beginning, on a Friday morning, and… as it happens… I’ve just now finished my coffee. πŸ˜‰

 

*Note and reminder and words of thanks; we’re not in this life alone, we’ve got help, if we choose to accept it. Yesterday evening, my Traveling Partner pointed out choices (of my own) and recent circumstances that were very likely to result in a difficult day (for me), which I had entirely forgotten could be significant. That bit of additional insight and perspective were helpful and grounding. Definitely don’t forget that you are not alone. πŸ™‚ Not really – there are millions of us on this mud ball. πŸ˜‰

Stressed out? Blue about “who you are”? Feeling like you “never get it right”? Feeling twisted, broken, angsty, or aggrieved? I have some good news for you, and you may not be ready for it (or even willing to accept it, quite yet)…

…It’s mostly all in your head. For real. Most of our stress and weirdness, most of our chaos and damage, most of our baggage – definitely most of our baggage – is not only “all in our heads”, we very carefully made that shit up. We built our narratives from bits and pieces that “feel right” to us, that “seem true” based on our own perspective and understanding of truth. We don’t spend much time checking our assumptions, or fact-checking the circumstances we assume we understand so well. We make mistakes, and ignore them. We misunderstand, without any awareness of it. We seriously bumble around with a head full of made up nonsense we give profound names such as “this is who I’ve always been”, and “if you loved me, you’d ___”, and “I can’t”, “I always”, “I have to” – I mean, just for starters, every one of these beginnings of sentences is demonstrably false, built on assumptions, and fragments of internal narrative that may not even be based in fact, at all. We don’t notice that, much, but make ourselves live on that stew of stress and drama.

…And it’s not even tasty. 😦

How is that even “good news”? Because – and here’s where it gets kinda hard – we choose it. Since we choose it, we can choose differently. πŸ˜€

One of the key understandings to unwinding the skein of bullshit that lived in my head for so long (and keeping things generally tidied up much of the time, now), is understanding that repetition is learning. Repeat something often enough, and it seems true. What loops are you playing in your head each day, that color your thoughts about you? Maybe pick one and knock that shit off? πŸ™‚ “I’m ugly.” Says who? I mean, whose opinion counts but your own, and why the fuck would you say some shit like that to yourself over and over? “No one likes me.” Almost certainly false, and again, why the fuck would you kick yourself around in that heinous fashion? If those things are not true, but you repeat them again and again, and you grow to believe them… does this literally and actually mean that you could, in fact, choose something else, repeat it again and again, and you would grow to believe it? Hehehe. Yeah. It does.

The “positive affirmation” movement is sort of built on this basic concept, and in principle, it’s a great approach. I’d suggest making some attempt to be accurate about any re-programming you may choose to do. Really think it through. Trying to force yourself to believe you are a stunning beauty may come at a cost if “down deep” you don’t “believe” it. It’s best to take a more authentic approach. Start with undermining the negative things you tell yourself every day – by disagreeing with those rote statements playing on a loop in the background of your thinking. Add things, as you notice, that you value and appreciate about yourself right now, and get those new loops going. Reinforce what is both true and uplifting. Undermine what is not true, and what tears you down. Slow progress. Trying to get ahead on the pace of incremental change over time can sometimes result in more frustration than progress, and a fallback on “that doesn’t work for me”. πŸ™‚

It’s a lot to ask of someone to love the person in the mirror, if they’ve been talking that bitch down for a lifetime. Start slow. Maybe just enjoy some time with the person in the mirror. Maybe just go to coffee “together” in a positive moment, in the context of positive, secure, self-reflective inner dialogue. You can be a pleasant experience of “companionship” – for yourself. And why wouldn’t you be?

I guess I’m just saying – there’s a more positive experience available to you, of life and of the world, and although you may have to do a little self-work to get there, I’ve found it well worth the journey, myself. πŸ™‚

How do you get from “here” to “there”? Well, for starters, you can begin again. πŸ™‚ When you catch the negative self-talk in progress – disagree. Firmly. Out loud if necessary. Counter that knee jerk bullshit with an observable fact or experience that is quite different. Once you have, enjoy that moment. Don’t rush it. Savor the positive qualities you observe about yourself. πŸ™‚ It’s a journey. There are verbs involved. Your results will vary. Incremental change over time is a slow thing – and there’s no point giving up. You’re going to fail; we learn best from our failures. So… now…

Begin again.

Every time. Every time you fail. Every time you fall. Every time you falter. Every time you face disappointment with yourself. Learn from that.

Begin again.

 

I hear it a lot. I say it too often. “I just don’t have time for…” and it’s nearly always followed by a statement of some activity or experience the person saying it really really wants to have.

“I don’t have time to read.”

“I don’t have time to paint.”

“I don’t have time to go to festivals.”

“I don’t have time to grow my own food in my garden.”

“I don’t have time to get my hair/nails done.”

“I don’t have time to go on vacation.”

“I don’t have time to learn a language.”

“I don’t have time to learn how to build that.”

“I don’t have time for travel.”

The time we lack? Okay, so adulthood is definitely busy with other agendas than my own, I admit that. I don’t have unrestricted use of my own time, which definitely sucks, and I admit that, too. Where I part company with the “no time” objections – even my own – is that I’m right here, right now, on the Internet, the most vast and deep time suck of humanity ever devised. How much time do I get back, if I shut down the internet? I suspect most of us do actually have time – more time than we make a point to enjoy willfully, for sure.

…All that time spent scrolling through feeds… I’d get that back.

…All that time spent on online shopping… I’d get that back, too.

…All that time spent on brain candy (videos and movies)… I’d even get that back.

It easily adds up to hours, even in a single day (as much as 6 hours, many days). All that time is actually my own, to use as I please, to spend as I wish, to enjoy with – or without – a purpose in mind. Why the fuck am I wasting it in this hapless fashion? Whose idea was this, and how did it become my habit?

I watch this video again. I think about it more.

…It’s time I take back my time. Again. πŸ™‚

Home from work. Long, busy, fairly productive day. Unfinished tasks. Minor stressors. A society in decline – or at a minimum, exceedingly public and uncomfortable turmoil. Major stressors. Rainy. Chilly. Arthritis pain. I make a trip through the house adjusting things: thermostat, Giftmas tree lights, set the oven to pre-heat to make dinner, this light, that light, tidy this up, move a thing from one location to another, boots off, jacket hung up. Routine.

I sit down and find myself faced with the world, filtered through the Internet. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t count, in any way, as “down time” – or pleasant. So… maybe not, then? I close social media tabs. I close my email. I close the news. I sit quietly for a moment listening to the commuter traffic on the busy street beyond my window.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, feeling my shoulders slowly drop to a more natural posture. I pull myself more fully upright, and feel that lessen my arthritis pain, somewhat.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, feeling the chill of the room diminish as the heat runs. I make a point to acknowledge colder circumstances with fewer resources and less privilege, when I would not have had the luxury of just turning up the heat at the end of the work day. I enjoy the warmth of being aware how grateful I am to have heat at home. It’s very much worth a moment to appreciate these circumstances.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, content with the simple meal now prepared, and in the oven. I feel hopeful that the headache lingering since afternoon will diminish after a nutritious meal, and chide myself gently for overlooking lunch.

I take a deep breath and let it out – and just smile, sitting for a moment with the awareness of how fortunate I am, generally. I let the moment fill my thoughts with pleasant recollections: things that worked today, clear communications well-received, completed tasks, satisfied consumers, work well-done, a pleasant commute home, that ping during the day from my Traveling Partner just saying he loves and misses me, the beautiful view from the window nearest my desk at work. A feeling of contentment and relaxation slowly builds.

I take another breath.

I take another breath.

I pause to feel a moment of gratitude for breath itself, for the chance to go on breathing, to recognize and really enjoy having survived so much, to be here, now, to enjoy (versus endure) the life I live.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. πŸ™‚