Archives for posts with tag: be kind

Weird few days. Headaches. Neuralgia. Vertigo. Not my best experience, honestly, but I’m fortunate to have it in the context of being loved and supported, so… there’s that. It could be so much worse. I hold on to that and sip my coffee. Sunday morning. Low key day to chill and get some housekeeping done, gently, patiently, and with self-compassion and respect for my present limitations. I can do this. 🙂

“Doing my best” is a slippery construct, sometimes, and I’m often hard on myself when I fail to live up to my own expectations – which are sometimes higher, sometimes lower, that the expectations other have of me may be. Very human. I don’t “look unwell”, generally. I’m going about my business, often smiling, probably seeming relatively relaxed. It’s an appearance. I put almost as much effort into “being okay” as I do into getting shit done when I’m not entirely okay. I don’t guess that’s a requirement, it’s just something I’ve tended to do. Admittedly, it doesn’t always serve me well, but it does tend to improve shared experiences, mostly. It has the major drawback, though, of routinely putting people in the position of expecting more of me than I may be up for. I think about that as I sip my coffee… how to balance “transparency” and openness with staying positive, and enjoying life every minute I can… it’s tricky.

I listen to the rain fall. It’s not “my” rain. It’s not actually raining this morning. It’s a video of rain, soothing and beautiful.

My Traveling Partner has been kind and helpful, and maintained considerate awareness of my current health concerns. It’s hard to keep those things in mind, I know. We had a great day out and about yesterday, a rarity in the pandemic to go out at all and together has been rarer still. Yesterday was fun, and also exhausting. We napped after dinner for awhile, and enjoyed a relaxed quiet evening of videos later. I smile every time I think of some detail of yesterday. Good time together.

I’m trying to stay out of the news feeds. I’m frustrated by that. I enjoy reading. I value being “current” on important affairs. The news industry has become so tainted by social media practices chasing likes, clicks, views, engagement, and ad revenue that I don’t get much positive value from reading the news. Repeats of repeats of shares of Twitter quotes masquerade as “news”, with click-bait headlines and thumbnails that often have no relationship at all to the material in the article is not a useful way to stay in touch with the world; it just drops of fuck ton of emotional baggage on me in my own living room. I’m very much over it. It’s not good for my emotional wellness, and life is too short to waste it in that way.

I am already thinking about the holidays. How best to spend limited holiday funds is on my mind. What does my partner truly want, really need – what would delight him on a Giftmas morning? (Yes, dammit, I’m thinking about Giftmas already. I blame big-box home improvement chains, but also? I plan ahead and with the postal service being slowed down intentionally, I don’t think I should wait until December to order anything that would need to be delivered.) Something big? Something small? Blow all the funds on a single item? Several somethings? Something practical? Some luxury doo-dad he might not buy for himself but would enjoy? (I mean, “luxury” is relative, obviously – there is no sports car on this list, no diamond cuff-links, no Saw-Stop table saws; all of that it entirely out of reach, for now, but there is no shortage of smaller luxuries left to consider.)

…And “what about me”? What do I want for the holiday? What I’ve got, really. A bit more of that, a bit easier, a bit more relaxed, more laughter, more smiles, more hugs, more loving… I’m at a weird unsettling place in my life where more good exists than bad, more comfortable moments than uncomfortable ones, trauma being healed rather than inflicted, and generally, day to day, enough of all that I need to thrive. I often feel a bit of a jerk when I’m having a rough go of things (emotionally or physically) because of that; it seems unreasonable to struggle when things are so generally good, you know? That’s what got me thinking about “taking it easier on myself” and being kinder to the woman in the mirror. Treating myself badly because it “doesn’t seem right” to have a rough time with something in the context of a good life only leads me down the path toward treating others similarly poorly. Not helpful. This year? I want a kind, loving, genial, tasty, joyful holiday characterized by appreciation of the small details and shared experiences that make is so warm and wonderful. It’s the sort of gift that requires my own effort and consideration as much as anyone else’s. That’s okay with me, too.

Seems a good day to tidy up, and maybe to bake something. It’s certainly a lovely moment to begin again.

I enjoyed a lovely handful of days out in the trees. Relaxing? Sure. Good hikes? Definitely. Even challenging. Restful downtime? Yes. Time for deep reflection? Quite a lot. Did I write? No, not really. Read? Barely picked up a book. I mostly sat around watching the clouds drift by between naps and walks. It was time well-spent.

Here’s a question that crossed my mind rather unproductively, though… Who exactly are “the good guys”? Seriously. I don’t think a rational person can call our US government a governing body of “good guys”. The media? Doubtful. They have challenges with fundamental truthfulness, to varying degrees that seem dependent on how much profit is in the lies they may be inclined to tell, or the revenue generated by their clickbait articles. It’s frustrating to try to “read the news” these days. How about “every day Americans”? Are we “the good guys”? Considering how commonly people act a fool, or lash out violently against other “every day Americans”, it’s hard to call us, as a group, “the good guys”. Other governments? How different are they, really? People are people. Human primates are barely domesticated at all, and find endless rationalization for treating each other like crap, individually or in groups. It’s pretty horrific. We’ve done some terrible things as creatures.

…Before you go making excuses (“something, something, in the past things were different…”), keep in mind that every single day someone just straight up kills another person, often someone close to them, even a partner, a child, a lover… just… yeah. Every day. Domestic violence. Gang violence. Racially-motivated hate-driven violence. Institutional violence. “Criminal violence” isn’t even the largest portion of violent crime being reported. Shot at a gas station during a robbery? It happens. Not as often as an angry spouse lashes out at their partner. That domestic violence even exists at all still shocks and horrifies me, not just as a survivor, but also as a human being. I mean, for real? What the fuck?? Seriously? How is that even a thing, at all? How does any one human being reach a place where they can justify an act of violence against another human being – particularly one they say they love. Truly horrifying.

I’m grateful to have escaped with my life, to have survived, and to have found my way to a healthy authentic experience of love with a partner I know cares for me deeply, and truly loves me. I literally can’t imagine him ever raising a hand against me. Love feels comfortable and safe. How could it be any other way and still be “love”? 🙂

Seems strange to find it so needful, so often, to want to suggest people “stop hating”. Are we truly such barbaric vile creatures that it is necessary to point out the value of basic kindness? (That’s rhetorical; we’re obviously not drowning in kindness, consideration, compassion, and tolerance, and there just can’t be too many reminders to be better people, when being a better version of ourselves is so readily within reach for all of us.) Just… do better.

Begin again.

This is me, beginning again. Right here. Now. I take a breath. I change the playlist. I change the view. I change my perspective. I practice the practices that work best for me. I pick myself up when I fall, and get back on my path. Easy? Easy enough to do it as often as I need to (which is, I admit, often).

Sometimes just watching the clouds scoot by is enough.

My computer locks up. No, I don’t know why, I just deal with it and move on. Re-center myself after the briefest moment of frustration, and pull myself back into the pleasant moment I had been enjoying, flipping through pictures from my camping weekend…

Lovely moments spent meditating in lovely quiet places are worth savoring.

I recently read an article about the negative consequences of venting when we’re angry. I mean, sure, it feels sort of gratifying to “get it all out”, but, and this is real, it also tends to cement that negative experience in our implicit recollection and boosts our negative bias. The outcome is different when we look for opportunities to learn from challenging experiences, seek other perspectives, and “focus on the positive” (in an authentic way). That seems worth exploring…

We become what we practice. Are you practicing being angry? Are you practicing prolonged frustration? Reactivity? Shouting? Maybe practice other things… 😉 I’m just saying there are choices. We can each choose to be “the good guy” more often than we likely do.

…And we have the opportunity to choose differently, and begin again.

Apparently the NOAA has determined that July 2021 was not just the hottest month of the year so far, nor the hottest in the recent decade. Nope. Bigger than that; it is the hottest the globe has been in (recorded) history. G’damn, that’s fucking hot. Now, you can dispute science if you choose to, but in this case, we’re just talking about data entry. Tracked numbers. Observations over time. I’m just saying… it’s fucking hot, and getting hotter. The weather all around the globe is weird and getting weirder.

…We could have done better by this planet than we have. I sure hope it isn’t too late to do better (enough) now…

I’m going camping next week. I’ll head out on Sunday, and don’t plan to return before Wednesday afternoon. I’m eager to get some solo time out in the trees (yes, even in the heat of summer). No news feed. No cell signal. No work. No work interruptions. No interpersonal stress, or miscommunications. No “interpersonal” anything, really. Me, the heat, the trees, the chipmunks (plague?), the squirrels (hantavirus?), the deer (ticks! lyme disease?)… I’ll just keep my distance. There’ll be plenty of that.

A different camping trip, a couple years ago; it’s been too long.

The heat is hard on me, though, I admit that. I’m in less pain of the specifically osteo-arthritis variety, but more, other pain – anything aggravated by the heat. I feel “puffy” and sluggish. Effort seems to require more effort. The heat is hard on my Traveling Partner, too, and since he is out in the shop, working in it, trying to stay focused, work with care, and get shit done, he’s sometimes cross, sometimes frustrated. I know it isn’t personal. (I can’t help but think he’ll enjoy a couple days of uninterrupted shop-time, particularly if the weather cools somewhat, as the forecast suggests it may.)

This morning, I went out to the car, and noticed one tire was weirdly low. I mentioned it to my partner who insisted, after filling it, that I go get it checked out so he won’t worry about it while I’m on the road. I agree to do that, although I was of a mind that it was probably “nothing”. I was entirely correct about that, too, if by “nothing” I meant that there was screw stuck in my tire that would likely result in a proper flat or a blow out on the road, if I didn’t get it repaired straight away. (Which is not what I meant by “nothing”, at all, and I was supremely grateful that my partner insisted.) I went ahead and got the oil changed (overdue) while I was at it, and had some basic (also overdue) service done. How did I fall behind on this?? I wonder, and then I let it go; truth is, there’s been so much “getting done” of shit in the past year, that it’s surprising that more hasn’t fallen through the cracks, than has. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let it go. “Doing my best” isn’t about doing all of the things, promptly and skillfully, without ever having a “queue” of pending shit to do piling up. It’s about doing what I actually can, as well as I actually can, and being as okay with that outcome as I am able to be. I am human, not machinery.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Speaking of a list of things to do, my list of things to do before I go camping is still longer than I’d like it to be. Probably won’t get to all of it, but I will make a point to prioritize those things most likely to aggravate my partner in my absence. (I rather like that guy, and I’d like to do my part to ensure my time away is also “down time” for him!)

…I guess that makes it time to begin again, in spite of the heat of the day.

Heat wave. Already hot this morning. Slept well, woke refreshed. Felt… content. Balanced. Merry…

…Whole.

Off to a good start on a hot day. Things slide sideways, slipping gently, somehow inevitably tilting toward irritation in spite of a great starting point. Best efforts. Humans being human.

I put aside my coffee and go for a walk before the heat of the day might stop me, or just make the experience miserable.

A favorite park has finally re-opened after all the damage during that last winter storm.

Muggy warm air filled with the sound of mowers, small aircraft taking off from the nearby municipal airport, and swarming insects seemed to cling to me as I walked across the parking lot to the start of the one open trail. It doesn’t really go far enough to satisfy the need, but it has been a long while and I have missed this place. I walk the trail twice. I take note of the wild roses in bloom – there look to be three distinct species growing in this wooded area. I spot ripe thimbleberries, but none within reach – too fragile for commercial agriculture, they are a rare special treat, tiny, soft, and mild. The birds will get most of them. Piles of cut up trees give some insight into how much damage the storm caused. Every few feet, there’s a pile of logs and branches on either side of the trail. The forest is full of huckleberry bushes, but I don’t see flowers or berries, yet. On my way back down, before my second walk of the trail, I realize I haven’t stopped at a favorite bench… I never saw it! Weird… I begin to really look for that thing, that expected thing, as I head back up the trail. My focus results in missing other details. Something more to think about.

Oh. Reality is what it is. Expectations are shit we made up, and cling to.

It was a lovely morning for walking, in spite of the heat. In spite of the changes all around me. In spite of a less than picture-perfect lovely summer morning. Expectations and assumptions can so quickly undermine a potentially lovely experience. I mean… I even know that. It still trips me up more often than I care to count.

I put on some music. Sip my rather delicious iced coffee – I’ve been planning this iced coffee on a hot summer morning for days. Really looking forward to this moment. I made coffee ice cubes to go in it. I sip it thoughtfully, savoring the moment that is, instead of yearning for another. It may not be what I expected, but it’s quite pleasant, and that’s enough. Maybe I’ll finish it on the deck…

My Traveling Partner and I both hurt today. Pain sucks. Aging is a mixed bag of qualities, and pain is just one of many experiences… We both try to avoid taking it personally, or lashing out at each other in a short-tempered moment of our frustration with the limitations of these very human forms. He says “maybe you should just avoid me today” – right about when I was thinking of saying gently that I’d give him some space because I’m hurting that much today. lol It’s generally an exceptional partnership, even when one or both of us is in pain, or just generally not being our best selves, together.

I sip my coffee and reflect. I think about the walk, the summer morning, recalling the sights and scents, and the feel of the air around me.

Just because there’s sunshine where I’m sitting doesn’t mean I’ll find illumination.

I walked, reflected, observed, and gave myself that time I need to spend with the woman in the mirror. It’s good to get perspective. I mean… I find it so, myself. 🙂 I don’t always do a good job of making time for me, and for what I need from and for myself. I could do better there. More practice? Obviously. I know where I’ll start, too; a familiar place.

I am rereading the Four Agreements; a worthy starting point on any journey of self.

Funny thing about The Four Agreements? It was my Traveling Partner who first recommended it to me. Good basic practices to practice that tend to heal a lot of hurts and limit a lot of negative self-talk. That seems so long ago now.

Treating each other well has reliably tended to start with treating myself well, and as it turns out that has nothing whatsoever to do with buying things, and everything to do with reflection, perspective, and practices that build resilience and emotional wellness. Boundary-setting. Testing assumptions. Confirming expectations. Being flexible and adaptable in the face of change. Being there for myself. Being kind, and treating the world as gently as I am able to. Good self-care. Getting enough rest. It’s a lot to juggle, and I suspect that I half-ass a lot of it, just trying to do all of it… but…getting things ‘half right’ or ‘half finished’ is still a more useful result than never making an attempt to be my best self at all. Incremental change over time. I get better at something each time I attempt it… eventually. Learning is a process. Change is often a verb. I keep at it. Incremental change over time requires both time, and increments.

Feeling frustrated and challenged can sometimes mislead me into thinking I haven’t improved – a lot – on a lot of little things that had been far more problematic before this journey began. That’s a shame; it robs me of my chance to celebrate small wins. I think on that while I sip my coffee, gazing into the sunshine beyond the window.

I hear the A/C come on. Then I feel it. I recall the heat of the morning as I walked the wooded trail, and think about the apartment in which my partner and I first began sharing our lives… and that roasting, horribly hot all-drama-all-the-time summer some 11 years ago; no A/C. I feel grateful for the A/C, definitely… but the love matters most. We brought that with us, to this place, across years of shared challenges, growth, change, loving moments, and petty arguments – it’s a very human experience, and it’s hard to imagine spending life differently and still enjoying it as much. I sip my coffee thinking about my partner (my lover, my best friend), and the pain he’s in today. Maybe I’ll bake oatmeal cookies? Would that help? (I don’t know why it would, it just occurred to me to wonder – sometimes I have a mind like a child. LOL)

There’s enough of this coffee left to enjoy a few moments of summer morning on the deck before it gets to hot to enjoy… seems like a good time to begin again. 🙂

The seasons sometimes seem to change so peculiarly. Like, nope, not summer yet… not yet… not yet… NOW! Summer! lol It’s definitely a summer morning, this morning. Warmer than it seems like it should be, shortly before dawn, and a big muggy – I still enjoyed my walk, before work. It’s a nice start to the work day. So far the day is pleasant and mild – I know the afternoon will be a scorcher. It’s been in the news.

I think about ripe summer strawberries fresh from the garden, and cherries on the neighbor’s cherry tree, one temptingly loaded down branch dangles over the fence, beckoning me to turn my attention to the bounty of summer. It’s a work day; it’ll have to wait. 🙂

I sip my coffee, grateful for the pleasant start to the day, grateful to be in minimal pain this morning, grateful for A/C and modern conveniences like refrigeration, potable drinking water, and indoor plumbing. It wasn’t that long ago that sweltering days in the weather forecast would mean days of pure misery, cold showers, and trying to drink enough water or eat enough frozen ice pops of one sort or another to stay “comfortable” (for some versions of comfort – some summers it was enough just to succeed in not falling over from heat stroke). I look out the window, over the fence, beyond the pear trees; the wall of my neighbor’s house is illuminated by the early morning sun as it climbs to it’s preferred summer vantage point. It’s very bright. I smile; I’m grateful to be sufficiently wise to refrain from looking directly at the sun – some people are not similarly fortunate. 🙂

So. Another day. Another week. Another summer. Another moment to reflect with gratitude on how fortunate I really am to have come so far. Another chance to begin again. To reflect. To grow. To do better.

…I’ll get right on that, as soon as I finish my coffee. 🙂