Archives for posts with tag: be kind

I am sipping my second coffee of the morning, listening to garden videos, and reflecting on a recent profoundly pleasant compliment a colleague paid me. I realize I am allowing myself to maintain layered distractions, which doesn’t really work well for me. I pause the video to sit with my thoughts and focus on my writing. The coffee? Not much of a distraction, really, although I must admit I am not being especially mindful to juggle my coffee and my thoughts. Would be more mindful (and focused) to do one or the other (and I often sit silently sipping my first cup in a quiet room, or out on the deck, with that in mind).

Compliments feel really good. They also, rather oddly I think, feel like “validation” – as though indeed I had “earned” whatever lovely words came my way. It’s hard to get comfortable with the idea that these lovely words and pleasing compliments are no more personal (or “real” or “true”), than the unwelcome slights or criticisms (or trolling) I may be exposed to in the course of a day. It’s all very subjective, and tends to say more about the person giving the compliment (or insult) than the intended recipient. It’s an opinion. Often an unsolicited opinion. It’s for sure much nicer (even welcome) to hear pleasant compliments than to have to deal with insults, just saying; there’s nothing personal in either one.

On the other side of the interaction, it sometimes feels very gratifying to savage someone with words when we are hurt or angry. It’s reliably unkind. Generally unnecessary. Rarely actually useful. Certain to damage a relationship (if any exists). I know, for myself, the wiser choice is to consider my anger and hurt, discover the source of my pain and deal with it myself honestly, and let go of lashing out at some other person. Even if I feel I have been “wronged” in some way, it’s rarely worthwhile to seek some kind of paybacks or punishment, however emotionally satisfying it may feel to do so in the heat of the moment.

Compliments are altogether different. They feel just as good to give as they do to receive. Giving someone honest positive feedback, or offering a pleasant observation, and seeing them light up (because it does feel good to be appreciated) is a lovely mood booster. I tend to choose to give encouragement often and quite freely (while also keeping it authentic and real). I avoid adversarial or authoritarian sorts of criticism or negative feedback, mostly because it feels pretty shitty to receive it, and rarely gets put to any sort of good use as a result. There are better ways to communicate concerns, boundaries, needs, and expectations than through negative feedback and criticism. That’s my own position on it. Obviously, you do you – but if you explicitly prefer negative feedback (sometimes called “painful truth”), let’s not hang out, shall we? LOL It’s just not fun. We both have better things to do with our time. 😉

Every sunrise is a new beginning. What will you do with it?

I woke early-ish, but pretty near to the sunrise. I dressed quickly, and was surprised when I noticed my Traveling Partner already awake and up for the day. Generally, half the point of my morning camera walks is to give my partner a bit of time to sleep deeply without having to endure my snoring! He didn’t-quite-invite-me to stay home this morning, pointing out that since he was up I didn’t have to go… I really enjoy my camera walks and time out on the trail or alongside a meadow in the mornings, though, so I went. For me. It was nice. Chilly, though, and it is clearly autumn. There are fallen leaves on the street. The air has “that fall smell”. It wasn’t raining, though… I thought about driving out to the nature reserve to get pictures of water birds and nutria on the marsh, but changed my mind as I drove when I passed a flipped over wreck of a one-car collision that must have happened sometime late yesterday. I lost my enthusiasm to drive any distance – and almost turned around to return to the safety of home. Instead, I went to the nearby meadow trail that I favor on weekday mornings. The sunrise was lovely.

I am focused on the garden today (at least for now). I’ve got plants to plant. Seeds to sow. Beds to clean up for fall. Seeds saved from earlier crops to clean up and put in labeled packets for later planting. …I’ve got a list…

New roses waiting to be planted, and seedlings almost ready to be planted. There’s probably a metaphor here somewhere. 🙂

I guess what I’m saying is that this coffee has gone cold, and the garden isn’t going to take care of itself; it’s time to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping coffee on a lazy Monday – feels luxurious, and I’m very much aware that in just a couple weeks my Mondays will once again be the start of the work week. I am thinking about life and relationships, and how to enjoy the best possible experiences day-to-day, moment-to-moment, event-by-event. This? This “now” right here? It’s “my time”; I’ve accepted a job offer. Put things around the house in order with the help of my Traveling Partner. Helped him with things in the shop. I am now enjoying some unfettered leisure time, and the presence of a house guest (my partner’s adult son). It’s a good time to reflect on what precisely makes the very best experiences in life…

…and then do those verbs…

I already know quality of life is not “a money thing”, because there are certainly plenty of privileged or affluent people in public spaces being fucking miserable, or miserable to be around. So… okay. Not about the money (although having a little goes a long way to purchasing nice-to-have goods and services!). I think about my time on the coast. The hotel wasn’t fancy – just a seaside hotel; a little costly considering the amenities, but a great location and an ocean view are among those “nice-to-have” items. The room was a bit old. A bit “tired”. The in-room coffee machine did not work. The lobby was clean but not particularly well-appointed (it wasn’t bad, either, just ordinary). Still – I loved my time there and I am eager to go back. Why? What made last week’s coastal adventure time so exceptional? I think it comes down to something really basic and simple and, amusingly, free if one cares to have some. People were nice. That’s it. People were nice. Why were so many people so pleasant and considerate? (I think that’s how I personally define “nice” – pleasant and considerate.) I suspect because I was being nice, myself.

I greeted the receptionist at the hotel as a person, with respect and kindness, and with no expectation of being treated better than anyone else, no insistence, no urgency, no impatience. She was clearly quite busy. In return for the small investment of being nice, I was able to get a last minute room for the night, at a very reasonable rate, and even got checked-in crazy early which let me enjoy the day so thoroughly with great convenience.

I greeted the domestic staff when I approached my room, and then on my way out to grab my stuff from the car I made a point of expressing my appreciation for the obvious care they had taken to ensure the room was clean and ready for a new guest. In return, they smiled each time they saw me (for the rest of my stay) and were pleasant and pro-actively helpful – one of them even made a point to take her cigarette break out near the beach, where I was sitting, taking time to show me where the high tide would be, so if I wanted to come out to the beach in the moonlight, I would not be at risk of drowning. This after just a few words about looking forward to taking pictures while I enjoyed my stay and asking how her day is going, earlier.

I was pleasant and patient with the hard working waitstaff at various eateries. In return? I got great service, with a smile.

Simple things. Yes, yes, I know – these folks are working, and their job is to provide customer service. That isn’t a guarantee or requirement that they do so pleasantly, patiently, helpfully, or kindly, and I know that if someone treats me in an unpleasant, inconsiderate, or unkind way I know I am personally less likely to deliver my best, or to be my most pleasant and “nice”. Just being real. So much of life we get back from our experiences what we bring to them. If we’re hateful, other people seem so as well. If we’re rude, other people are more likely to be rude right back.

Be nice. Damn. It’s not that hard. (Why should you have to be? You don’t. I’m just saying, you may get better results from your relationships. It’s worth a thought.)

Now, before there’s howling from the devil’s chorus on this, I’ll just say that I’m not suggesting being a doormat, or allowing other people to tromp all over your explicitly-set boundaries, or undermining your own emotional wellness by being a “people pleaser”. Not at all. I’m just saying… be nice. Practice Wheaton’s Law. Assume positive intent. Don’t take shit personally. Be kind. Be welcoming and approachable, generally. Treat other people well (and yeah, treat yourself well, also).

I’m eager to get back to the coast, at that same pleasant seaside hotel near that very nice coffee shop with the cool baristas and great mochas. Eager to enjoy a meal at that restaurant with the very pleasant and efficient waitstaff and great food. Eager to walk the beach and talk to those very nice folks fishing about their catch and the weather.

Now? I’m eager to begin again.

I arrived home smiling. My Traveling Partner was also smiling. As I started making my coffee, he started telling me new/other/additional details about the CNC he is building. Interesting stuff. There was a break in the conversation, and I started to tell him what my day plan had in store… “I wasn’t finished talking,” he advises. I apologize and make room for him to continue.

Somehow we continue to be “out of step” with each other. I don’t think I ever actually get to telling him what my day holds (as far as plans go). I indicate I’m going to take my coffee into the studio and write a bit before I head out for the errands I’d planned. He restarts (continues?) the conversation about the CNC as I walk down the hall, so I stop and turn back to avoid being rude and hear him out. I’m interested. I also have an idea in mind for my morning writing. (It’s gone, now, and was by the time I sat down at my desk.)

We continue to be out of step with each other. I feel a bit sad and tired over it. He sounds hurt and annoyed when he sticks his head into the studio. So far the morning is…uncomfortable, awkward, and emotionally unsatisfying. When I think about the smile on my face (and in my heart) as I arrived home, I’m irked. With myself. With circumstances. It’s aggravating. We both want to hang out, and it’s fairly clear (to me) that one (or both) of us is not actually in a place to make that easy, for some reason. I don’t actually understand it. I just see it. Am I helpless in the face of this shitty moment? No. I could take action – I’m just, at least for now, unclear on the best course of action to take.

…What a shitty cup of coffee this one is. I made it just as I make other cups of coffee, but this one right here? Dreadful. Feels like a metaphor… (nonetheless, it is a pretty terrible cup of coffee, and no fooling, I’m still sitting here drinking it.)

I look over my list of errands. One of them is to a retailer that will apparently be closed today. Fucking hell, I’ve had this on my list for days, and I just keep missing the window. I breathe and exhale, letting go of the moment of frustration; it’s excessive for the concern at hand, and reflects the emotional tone of the moment in the background, more than anything to do with the errand itself. I feel myself teetering on the edge of running out of fucks to give far too earlier in the day – it is an unreasonable reaction to feeling frustrated with my partner and the dynamic between us in this moment.

…G’damn this is one awful cup of coffee…

I clearly need to begin again. Like, for real, all over again. LOL

If you’re human, chances are, sooner or later, there’s going to be some yelling. It may seem “appropriate” in the moment. Maybe it’s because something went wrong, or was tremendously frustrating. Maybe there’s a ton of anger behind it. Could be you yelling. Could be someone else yelling. Could be “at you”, or just near enough to be audible to you. There’s gonna be some yelling at some point, because very few people are explicitly taught any other behavior, and we see that loss of emotional control modeled pretty much everywhere, daily, and then amplified in our media and entertainment. Yelling is a thing a lot of people do.

I don’t like yelling. I don’t like it when my own emotional reserves run out and I am reduced to yelling. I don’t like being yelled at (ever, at all, over any-fucking-thing whatsoever). I’m not making any claim to whether my feelings about, or response to, yelling is generally reasonable – I don’t have an opinion on that; I simply don’t like yelling. At all. That’s a me thing.

My feelings about yelling, generally, are of no consequence to the existence of people yelling as a phenomenon. Yelling still occurs, regardless of my feelings. Humans being human. We vocalize, and under specific sorts of stress, we vocalize louder. We’re rather stupid primates in that regard – we apparently think being louder makes us easier to hear, or to listen to. Doesn’t seem to be that way in practice, in any clear or obvious way. Yelling does feel “weaponized” though, and my own perspective is that any good intention in the words being spoken is entirely lost as soon as the words are being yelled. All I hear is the emotion driving the yelling.

Today is high risk of yelling, due to the additional environmental stressor of having our roof being done. It’s hard to relax, converse, work, problem-solve – really anything that requires any focus is wrecked by the “stomping” (they aren’t) and banging (they definitely are) and nailing, and all the various overhead noises that are part of roofing. So, noise being noise, and the both of us having some “noise sensitivity” concerns, there’s considerable risk of lost tempers, frustration, and yeah – yelling. Not gonna lie, I don’t like it. I am eager to have the roof finished, though. It’s work that needed doing when we bought the house, and now here we are, at last. I’m sure not going to do anything to slow this process down. Instead, I’ve got to commit to the practices and verbs that help me manage my own tone and communication – while also committing to the practices and verbs that allow me to make room for my Traveling Partner to have his own experience. We’re both wholly human, and each having our own experience. His frustration often results in yelling (it’s often not personal at all, and often not directed at/toward me – he’s just somewhere else yelling at a thing or process that is frustrating him). It’s part of his communication style and a means of self-expression, I suppose, and it’s not up to me to decide who he is or chooses to be. (I definitely do need to work on not taking it personally – because it isn’t personal.)

I so loathe yelling as an experience, myself, that I work my ass off to just not do that. At all. My results vary, and I admit that I yearn for success that results in a 100% no-yelling environment as a basic condition of day-to-day life, which is a really high bar for success). Again, I don’t make any claims as to whether this is a reasonable approach or desired outcome. I don’t know that. I just know it is what I want for myself (and the world I live in). So I keep working at it. Practicing not yelling. Practicing not becoming a crying mess of bullshit and drama when I hear raised voices.

I mean.. actually… it’s important to practice the positives (it’s hard to practice not doing something, easier to practice doing the more appropriate thing that gets the desired outcome). My Traveling Partner is right about that; expressing such things in the negative (“don’t do” vs “do”) limits success at the most basic cognitive level. I guess that makes “practicing not yelling” more about doing the practices that build emotional resilience and reduce reactivity, and practicing taking a calm and measured tone – even under stress. That’s helpful to prevent becoming a crying mess of bullshit, too, although for that I think also practicing non-attachment, and practicing acceptance, compassion, empathy, and consideration go a long way toward avoiding bullshit and drama.

Now, for anyone thinking to themselves “well, what if it is personal?”. “What if the yelling is abusive, controlling, or manipulative behavior for personal gain?” “What if I really am being emotionally attacked by this person?”. Well, to that I say “I hope you recognize that the most useful solution to such a relationship is to get the fuck out of there while you can?” Meditation doesn’t resolve abuse. Mindfulness, consideration, kindness, openness, and even love will not prevent someone who is harming you from continuing to do so. (Nor will they heal broken bones or broken hearts.) It’s important not to assume someone else’s abusiveness is “you”. Set clear boundaries. Build healthy relationships. Walk away from abuse. You matter. Work on you. Let that other person fix their own bullshit.

Anyway. It’s a second day of listening to banging over head. It’s hard on both my partner and I, and it means a day of practicing patience, of being kind, of being aware and considerate, and of cutting ourselves and each other some slack when tempers flare or voices are raised in a moment of frustration. There will be verbs involved. No doubt my results will vary. I’ll just have to begin again. 🙂

Thursday afternoon, I arrived home from work a bit early. I had some thoughts about what I would do with the extra bit of leisure heading into a long weekend. A hot shower. A long soak in the hot tub. Leisure. I arrived and my Traveling Partner greeted me eagerly (always nice), and welcomed me home – then asked for my help with a project in the shop. I agreed, perhaps just a bit reluctantly (I was really looking forward to that soak…)(and some “down time”). I didn’t fuss about it from there; we just headed to the shop to get things done.

(Quick side note, and this may matter although it is a small detail, once I’m quite fatigued I am not especially useful in the shop, nor reliably safe around power tools, and we are both aware of this. I’m only properly helpful when I’m pretty rested, and at peak available energy.)

We worked together pretty skillfully, and quite merrily. He did the difficult stuff, and the complex things, I was mostly along for the shared experience, and as a “general day laborer”, working alongside him to hold things in place, hand tools to him, fetch other tools or shims or parts. It was a fun afternoon that lasted well into evening. I ended up bone-tired, with sore feet, and too fatigued to cook an evening meal. lol I would not have traded the experience for some other. We enjoyed the work together, and had a good time.

We didn’t quite finish the project we were working on, and so yesterday morning we worked it out that I would help out finishing that project before running a couple errands that would be best handled on a Friday. Another pleasant day. We both crashed early. We both woke this morning, neither super well-rested, neither of us sleeping very well, both in a predictable amount of physical pain. It is what it is. We treat each other gently and considerately, and give ourselves room to wake up completely with our morning coffee – me in the studio with my writing, and he in the living room listening to lo-fi and likely reading the news. A pleasant start to a Saturday morning.

…None of this was “my plan”. I’m even okay with that. It has taken time to learn to embrace “now” – and to include in that all the many details that are not planned at all. I can recall a time when asking me to deviate from planned activities on a rare afternoon off or long weekend might have seriously frustrated me, to the point of being a jerk about it. I might have spent the time resentfully, bitching about what I was not getting to do, and overlooking all the doing going on nonetheless. I knew more about planning and executing a plan than I knew about just enjoying my experience. I sip my coffee and smile. I’ve come so far! 😀

I did spend time tidying up so I can work, though…

I definitely want to spend creative time in the studio this weekend. Although I’m certain that this is my desire, and I’ve got a loose plan to do so, there are other things that catch my attention as potentially “needing to be done”… I’ve still got to finish cleaning up the hydro equipment and get my peppers started – which also means researching the nutrient recipe those will likely thrive on. Probably already time to cut the front grass again…and I enjoy the well-made reel mower that my partner got for me (I asked him to). I do need to “run to the store real quick” for various food-stuffs and cooking ingredients. I’ve got some returns in the car that need to go to a retailer about an hour up the road, too… leaving that for a weekday would be poor planning…

…I feel myself at risk of “using up” all the precious leisure hours I think I’d like to spend in the studio, as my awareness expands to include the many other things I’d also ideally want to see completed…

I sip my coffee and reflect on “now”. Just sitting, being, and sipping coffee. No rush to action. No frustration or anxiety. No resentment. Just me, this coffee, and this moment. I have choices. One of those is to let go of any resentment over plans that don’t come to fruition. Sometimes plan don’t play out “according to plan” – it doesn’t reduce the value of the time spent planning and reflecting, and it doesn’t hold me back from doing those things differently, or at a different time. And here’s some honesty for the woman in the mirror; the creative drive I am feeling right now is not paired with an evolved or evolving idea for work to start, or an eagerness to complete existing work in progress – I just want to. (I imagaine a cynical chuckle as if an younger version of me is weighing in on matters in the background, “How does it feel to want?”)

Maybe I paint today. Maybe I don’t. Maybe today I garden instead? There is work to be done, and plants to care for. Needful tasks that have some time-sensitive elements. I watch a favorite YouTube gardener talk about May. There is much to be done – and although it isn’t a “competition”, I can see that my wee brand new garden is a bit “behind” (based on my expectations, and what I see of the wild weeds all around), with our slow Spring having held me back a bit. Maybe today is for gardening and errands, and painting is something for a lazy Sunday? There is time for this – for all of it – if I allow myself to slow down and stay mindful of my practical human limitations, and enjoy the journey. Isn’t it that last bit that matters most? To enjoy the journey, the steps, the day-to-day? To choose my path wisely, and accept variations in human experience? To act with love, and really, truly, embrace (and cultivate) joy? I mean… I could fuss and storm about not getting some small detail to work out “just so”, according to some plan, but… isn’t there so much more to enjoy about living?

Baby Love blooming.

I smile and sip my coffee. My Traveling Partner comes in, rubs my neck for a few minutes as I lean gently against his warmth. Love is worth putting aside a clear plan, pretty much any time, I think. 🙂 He leaves the room. I call down the hallway through the open door, “I’ll probably work in the garden today, I’d like to get the hydro up and running for those peppers!”. He answers me “I’ll be around if you need help, or have any questions I can answer!” (What I heard was “I love you”.)

My coffee tastes so good this morning. (Yesterday’s was pretty dreadful somehow.) I think I’ll have another. Watch that garden video to the end, and then, begin again. 😀