Archives for posts with tag: be kind

I woke more than an hour ahead of my alarm. I crashed on the couch in the living room, hoping to get a bit more sleep, and although that was a successful endeavor, I’m tired today, and cautious with myself. I sat down after meditation, and some yoga, thinking I had something to write about, but it slipped away before I got started. My Traveling Partner woke early this morning too (did I wake him, I wonder?). Instead of bounding into his space and crowding him first thing with chatter, I do my own thing this morning. Unsure what I need for myself, from myself, this morning, I figure the safest bet for a harmonious day together is to focus on taking care of this fragile vessel first thing. I offer to make coffee for my partner, and I do that, then get back to my writing, which now feels… lacking in focus or direction. It’s not the fault of making coffee; I was already “here”, when I offered to make coffee. lol

I’ve got a routine workday ahead. Things to do. Things to manage. Things to analyze. Tasks to process and outcomes to document. Work. Wholly routine shit. I’m not annoyed or disappointed or frustrated – I’m not even complaining. It’s just a Thursday with things to do, and wow – where did this week go??

…I’ve got the munchies and I want a fucking donut. 0_o

…When did we stop spelling donut as “doughnut”?…

I sip my coffee feeling… well… I’m not sure what the name of this emotion is? Resigned-and-purposeful-less-than-ideally-well-engaged-but-okay-with-it-from-a-practical-perspective-mostly-content-and-I-ain’t-even-mad seems about right. Does that have a name? I sigh and have another sip of my coffee. It is what it is, and what it is, is a Thursday in the time of pandemic. I get why people may feel inclined to protest the shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders; it’s getting old for me too, and I really like being at home. I feel fussy and if not actually bored, definitely yearning to be on the move, elsewhere, seeing things out in the world.

I had cause to run a needful errand yesterday (paper mask, social distancing, and the whole pandemic safety deal). It was pleasant to drive a distance, and return home. It wasn’t the solitude out in the trees that I’ve truly yearning for, but that’s just gotta wait on safer times. It too “is what it is”. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let that go. Another time.

Small frustrations and moments of impatience feel “bigger than they are”, these past few days. I know it is a matter of perspective. This morning I work on resetting my experience by resetting my expectations, and working to hold onto a better awareness moment-to-moment about how human we all are, how hard this is for each of us (for our own reasons), and why it matters. I take a moment to reflect how on much love fills this household, specifically making a point to exclude tense moments and contentious conversation from my thoughts; those moments of emotional weather are not what my life, or experience of my partner, or our relationship, are actually built of. They’re quite rare under most circumstances, and truly not worth blowing out of proportion. I take a moment for gratitude – we help each other out every day, and we’ve gotten so much done over these weeks shut in together. Everywhere I look, finished projects, and quality of life improvements. Nice. I hear my partner in the other room. I smile, and feel warmed all through by my awareness of his love.

This seems like a nice beginning to the day. It’s enough. 🙂

Yesterday I found myself mired in an unexpectedly contentious moment with my Traveling Partner. Life in the Time of Pandemic takes its toll on us all, I suppose. Clear communication and skillful expectation and boundary setting are sometimes more challenging for me than I’d like. Living and loving well can be fraught with challenging circumstances. My results vary. I’m fortunate I can retreat to my studio and take a bit of time and distance to care for myself, and restore my sense of perspective, often through writing, sometimes through study or creative endeavors, sometimes meditation is enough. Yesterday evening was a bit strange in an unexpectedly helpful way; I used my words.

Wait though, I mean… I still retreated to my studio to take care of myself, emotionally, and sort myself out. It wasn’t about skillfully using my words live, real-time; I used them long ago, at some other point, and happened upon them on my way to opening a manuscript I am working on, expecting to spend some time writing. No kidding. I had written myself a note, at some point in the past. I happened upon it by chance (which sort of suggests I did a shitty job of putting it where I could easily find it, but this is not about that).

The note I wrote to myself has the title “What about when it feels like nothing really matters?“, which suggests I wrote it in a moment of despair, frustration, and futility, and great emotional pain. Out of curiosity, and feeling cross with myself, I opened it, and began reading;

So, okay. Right now is hard. Breathe. Sit upright. Breathe again. Let this painful, personal, very subjective moment, right here, this one, let it go. 

…Just… let it go. 

You’ve got this. Moments are brief. Temporary. Colored by emotion. Rationalized by a thin veneer of what feels like reason – and often isn’t that at all. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. 

Sometimes, and this may be unavoidable, you won’t feel heard. I’m telling you – from me to you (also me), that this is a thing and maybe always will be. Don’t join the queue of people who aren’t hearing you; listen. Give yourself that moment. Forgive yourself that instance of reactivity. Let that go, too. I’m not saying this is an easy thing, just that, with practice, and consideration, and presence, it is a thing that can be done. You can be heard by one human being who is literally “always there” as much as any one human being can be; yourself. So… do that. 

Start with a body scan. How does your body feel right now? Are you tired? Hungry? Cold? Hot? Thirsty? In pain? Be present and aware of your own physical experience. 

Assess your emotional experience. What are you feeling right now? Emotions and sensations are associated with words. They are not the words. They are experiences. Subjective. Tied to our personal dictionary. Informed by our personal understanding of the world – however flawed. Our perspective on our experience belongs to us – it’s yours. Fix it if it is broken. Accept it if it is an accurate reflection of your understanding of reality. Cut yourself some slack about being so human. 

Now, cut that other person some slack, too. They are every bit as human. Their emotional experience is every bit as valid – and also every bit as wholly subjective, and flawed. Doesn’t matter; it belongs to them. It is their context. Their narrative. Likes yours is for you. You won’t always find a match. Reach past that. Be compassionate. Be kind. Be understanding. Be those things for yourself, from your own perspective, and then also be that for them – aware that their perspective differs, and still able to embrace their humanity as fundamentally more important than this perceived difference. 

Rejection hurts. Conflict is uncomfortable. We want what we want, and often react to not getting that by lashing out in a hurtful way – which we are prone to justifying and rendering somehow righteous, by running that shit through our personal narrative, tidying it up, and making excuses for who we are. We’re not so right. We’re not all wrong. We can’t be “fixed” because we’re not, in fact, broken – we’re human. You are human. We each are. Seeking peace and nurturing, but finding demands, or rejection, or diminishment, or lost agency, or disappointment, or hurt feelings… all that sucks so very much – but it doesn’t have to define you, yourself. It’s just a moment. Let that shit go. 

Re-frame the experience. Assume positive intent (particularly if this “moment” develops within the context of a loving relationship). If you look again, with the certainty that all involved are authentically invested in the well-being of the individuals, and the relationships, does it still look the same? 

Shit sucks though. It’s unpleasant. It can feel overwhelming to feel so insignificant. To be unable to voice your experience in the face of the Other. Breathe anyway. Exhale in spite of it. Allow yourself to exert your agency by relaxing, and letting go of small shit. Specifically avoid lashing out. God damn, that can matter so much! Breathe. Listen. Exhale. Relax.

At the end of it, I was in a different place than when I began. It wasn’t so hard to reconnect, to begin again, to go past that moment and on to some other. The evening ended well. My perspective on the entire day changed. It was helpful. 🙂

Finding that right balance between joyful connected intimacy, and the frank realer-than-real truths of living life together 24/7, has its challenging moments. That’s okay, too. It’s an opportunity to do the work of growth and to explore more depth in this relationship. Nothing about that suggests a comfortable process. There doesn’t seem to be any ill-intention to it – just humans being human. We’re each having our own experience.

…Look at that… Already time to begin again.

This morning is hard. I woke up in pain. It’s a rainy morning; I felt it coming, yesterday. My head aches. I am “not fit for human company” right now. Fuck you, COVID-19 – today would be a perfect day to get out of the house and just wander around aimlessly. lol Or… not.

Fuck, I hurt.

I queue up some videos about fish-keeping. I watch the fish. I drink my coffee. I wait to get over my bullshit.

…I’ll definitely have to begin again. lol

I’m okay, though, for most values of okay. It’s just physical pain, and while it does affect my mood, and tends to “shrink my world”, it’s only this thing that it is – if I allow myself to remain aware of all the rest of the good things life offers, it doesn’t take over, it just exists as part of the experience. Unpleasant, but limited.

I hear my Traveling Partner wake up and start his day. I sigh and put on my best patient and considerate manners, and we interact briefly, greet each other, and I retreat to my studio. No harm done. No conflict. No stress. Nice. That’s a win, right there. I’m positively filled with snarls this morning.

I sip my coffee. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Watch fish-keeping videos filled with conflicting advice based on fairly commonplace observations. lol I feel fortunate to be willing to learn, without making firm assumptions about who is right or wrong; they try things, I try things. They each have their way, learned over time. I find mine; I’ve got time to learn. Tons of new beginnings. So many opportunities to begin again. My results vary. Even keeping my aquariums becomes a living metaphor for this complicated human journey that is the life I live. I’m okay with that.

Here it is the weekend. Tomorrow, the external canister filter I’d ordered for the shrimp tank should arrive. “2-day shipping” from FedEx has taken more than a week. Frustrating, but real. Life is not about ideal circumstances and experiences. It may be about how well we enjoy, learn from, and make use of circumstances and experiences that are not at all ideal. 🙂 I keep practicing.

Coffee almost gone… soon it will be time to get a grip on my best manners, and fight through this pain to enjoy the day with my partner. It’s the weekend, and it’s already time to begin again. 🙂

How hard is it to be kind? You know… day in and day out, every day? Harder than it sounds, probably, and sure – it no doubt takes practice. Worth it? Well… which do you prefer, yourself? People who are kind to you, who speak gently, who listen with consideration, and who don’t take small shit personally, or… other sorts? 🙂

I sip my coffee and listen to the sound of the occasional car going by, on the street beyond my window. I think about the effort involved in being kind. I think about my own successes and failures at that endeavor – especially these last few weeks. Seems more important than usual, right now, to be kind.

It feels like so long since the world was free to move about the planet… but, for perspective, that freedom is largely a matter of perspective, and privilege, for a lot of people. The people who have it, feel the lack. The people who did not have it, probably less so. I take a moment, and consider that, too. Seems a good morning for considering things…

I’m still working from home. It’s okay. I think I’ve gotten comfortable with it. My studio becomes a tidier, more carefully arranged, work space each week. I like that; creating order from chaos feels very satisfying (to me). I look around the room… my small space within a less small, less mine, space… I don’t generally feel confined here. Perspective for the win.

I finish my coffee, and prepare for a new day.

So… okay, we’re all human beings. This “social distancing” in a climate of anxiety about wellness, disease, economic downfall, shortages, and human mortality is draining, and tests my patience. (Yours, too, I bet!) Yesterday was punctuated with a bit of snarling, a handful of cross tears, some frustrated moments… Yes, it’s hard sometimes. I sip my coffee feeling fortunate, in spite of that; it could be much worse.

I take some time to watch fish swim.

Gratitude, perspective, sufficiency, and basic mindfulness are all great tools for getting me through stressful times. They do each require that I take that step… sometimes it’s “a step back” to gain perspective, or a pause for gratitude. Sometimes it is a step forward, and a considered reflective reminder that “sufficiency” is enough. (Omg, I can’t help giggling, it’s one of my favorite little aphorisms that is also a tautology.) Sometimes, it’s just a matter of moving from one moment to another, to sit down and seek yet another moment, of stillness, of breath, and then beginning again.

You know what it isn’t, though? It isn’t “easy”. These are not easy times, and I often feel “tested”. I have some coping practices that seem effective day-to-day, but I persist in being quite human, nonetheless, and sometimes that is complicated by sharing space with another human being. We are in this very much together, and somehow still also very much having our own experience, even in these close quarters.

He games… I watch fish swim. We help each other out with projects. We tackle projects on our own. We take turns choosing video content. We both interface with the world using our phones. We connect. We interact. We take a moment for ourselves alone. No surprises here; we’re enduring the challenges with the rest of the world. Similar frustrations. Shared difficulties. Common experiences among friends and neighbors and communities and nations afar… we’re all in this together. It’s gotten very “real”, though, hasn’t it?

I have another sip of my coffee, I pause for a moment of conversation with my partner. I look at the fish, swimming in the new tank next to my desk. I check the time; the moment feels timeless, unlimited, and not anchored to any calendar events. How will I know when to begin again? lol

…I guess when I finish this coffee. 🙂