Archives for posts with tag: be the change

Monday stretches out ahead of me like some sort of… Monday. I’m okay with that. There have certainly been times in my life when each Monday (or, that is to say, the starting day of each work week) carried a very specific signature dread. It didn’t seem associated with the job I had, the boss I worked for, or the circumstances, generally. Mondays felt “cursed” in some way. It was reinforced, although I didn’t understand it for a long time, by the cultural jesting and aphorisms about Mondays. Thinking Mondays are any worse than any of the other days is an illusion, though.

Think of the mind’s eye as functioning mechanically; to see, it would need a lens, and a focal point, and one might well expect that adjusting the focus would bring things into view more clearly. It’s a pretty good analogy. We become what we practice, and by extension, we do tend to see what we are looking at, and it may not always be entirely obvious if our perspective is in some way “out of focus”. Is there dust on our mental lens? Are we focused more specifically on something outside the frame? A loose metaphor attempting to capture how thinking errors, and an unwillingness to allow our perspective to be well-informed by what we can see (when we observe) and understand (when we permit ourselves to be open to new information). Happy Monday – use it wisely. 🙂

Monday is Monday. It’s just a day. We gave it a name. Rotate the wheel a turn and it lands on another day – couldn’t that one have been “Monday”? It’s rather arbitrary labeling, and wholly fictitious; we made that shit up. Let it go. Let Monday be Monday, and also just be a day in your experience. Another new beginning. A new starting point to begin a new week. Let go of what is not now – past or future – and take a deep breath before you head to the office, the job site, the unemployment office, an interview, your studio, a wilderness trail, a retail outlet, a cafe, a library, a doctor’s office, a classroom, or whatever destination Monday might take you. Have your experience with an open mind, and an open heart. Choose to have your own experience, your way. Choose to be the person you most want to be – authentically. Make the choices that take you there, however slow the progress may seem to be.

What one thing could you choose to do, or change, that nudges you gently in the direction of your goals? Are you doing that, today? No? Something smaller? Incremental change over time is built on small choices – millions of those, over hours, days, weeks… until we have transformed ourselves. I’m just saying – you have amazing power over your experience, even when you feel you have little power over your circumstances.

I’ve just started reading “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry“.  I’m ready for this one, now. I wasn’t, earlier. The new commute provides me with more time to read, since I take the train. I’d been very much wanting to refocus my attention on the written word, and really make more time – take more time – to read. Study has great value, and I find that reading from printed works seems a more effective learning strategy for me, personally, than most video material can actually compete with. It’s not a given that a medium that grabs my attention in a visceral way (like tv, movies, and YouTube content) will also teach me; hasn’t seemed to be the case, at all, in practice. Books work. Your results may vary. Perhaps it is to do with something about me, as an individual (likely not, honestly, we’re all very similar in most ways), or something to do with how the mental process of reading works in human brains? Anyway – I read. It works for me. I talk about what I read, which reinforces what I’ve learned and runs it through all manner of critical thinking drills, to validate that new information. I never regret the time I spend reading. 🙂 Maybe that’s enough reason to read?

So… I’ve got Monday ahead of me, a book in my backpack, and… I think I’m ready to begin again. 🙂

My first cup of coffee followed a hurried trip to the grocery store, which I chose to do after waking to snow. It was falling, at that time, and the roads were still only mildly slushy. I’d planned to go later, but figured there was at least some risk that the snow might continue to fall, shutting us in for a day or two. Working from home isn’t a challenge; I’ve got the freedom to do so any time I choose to, which is a circumstance of this job I greatly appreciate. Still, being “stuck at home” with dwindling pantry supplies that had originally been stocked based solely on my own needs and preferences would suck pretty quickly, and potentially cause strife. So. Shopping. Before coffee. It was an easy trip, and the store was not at all crowded at 7:15 am on a snowy Sunday.

I returned home satisfied, content, and delighted to see my Traveling Partner awake already (we’d stayed up quite late watching movies together, and enjoying the intimacy and warmth of being wrapped in each other’s love, and entertained by each other’s merriment). The joyful greeting when I walked in the door has left a lingering smile that remains on my face even now, more than an hour later. I very much love being welcomed home by someone I love, who loves me in return.

The house is comfortably warm. The squirrels, chipmunks, and birds seem pleased with their morning feast on the deck. I made a point to thaw the water in the bird bath, too. The squirrels regularly seek out a drink of water from that dish. The snow on the deck is pretty. My coffee was delicious.

I sat quietly for a time, feeling the gratitude for this comfort, this pleasant place, these circumstances, this life… and, strangely, the softness of my skin, as I gently rub my hands out of some unnoticed impulse. So soft. So useful, these hands. So capable. I spend some minutes, tenderly, just being aware of how well I am caring for myself, generally, these days. No negative self-talk. A moment of honest appreciation for the woman in the mirror, and this decently, sustainably, modestly comfortable life I provide myself these days (and now share with my partner). I allow myself a moment of thanks – from me, for me. It’s not always easy. I have to make choices, and sometimes that means “telling myself no” on questions of luxury, of frivolity, of entertainment, and of expenses that I can’t really afford, in the moment. That’s just real. I am content with sufficiency. Trying to snatch more from life than what is enough to be content with has done more to hurt my quality of life than most other sorts of poor decision-making has. I consider that awhile longer.

I look at these hands, and gently stroke the soft skin, noticing, not unkindly, that these are not the hands of a woman of 22 – or of 40. Aging is a very real thing, and it’s hard to say much about it that provides any really meaningful insight, until I get to that place… and then, it’s damned difficult to communicate across the great divide that is the profound difference in perspective between the young, and the older. (Seriously. So hard.) I don’t know much about what the experience ahead is going to be like. I know what I’ve been through, myself, and what I’m going through, now… mostly. I have a layperson’s understanding of this experience. My perspective, only. It’s all very subjective, and poorly informed by any real science on the matter. It is what it is, and that is enough.

I enjoy the softness of my skin, without regard to understanding every detail of the anatomy, physiology, chemistry, biology, psychology, or sociology of being a human being over 50. This moment, this flesh, and this enjoyment of existence are easily experienced absent all that. I love knowing what I can know. I eagerly seek out more knowledge. It has, nonetheless, been enormously freeing to release my experience of living life from the bonds of opinion, knowledge, expectations, assumptions, and superstitious narrative about aging passed from generation to generation. It makes so much more practical sense to simply experience the moment, present, and aware. So I do that. I avoid filling my head with “because…” sorts of things; it’s the sort of thinking that tends to foster uninformed opinions that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

There’s time for another coffee later. Time to relax and watch the squirrels play on the deck. Time to enjoy reading a book by the fire. Time for conversation and laughter, and late nights watching movies with someone I love. There is time to live life “now”.

…Are you not enjoying your experience? Are you not able to appreciate all you do for yourself each day? I’ve got great news for you… there’s also time for beginning again. You can change how you experience life, each moment, and each day. There are verbs involved. Choices. Changes you may need to make. All within reach, though; practical, achievable positive changes in perspective, in sense of self, in experience of agency, in contentment – you can do this, if you want it, if you choose it, if you practice. We become what we practice.

You’ve got this. Go ahead, begin again. ❤

We are each having our own experience. As true in this calm moment as in any moment of chaos. 🙂 I sip my morning coffee, already cold because I got caught up in listening to music, and chatting with a friend online. I don’t mind. The music – and the friendship – are very much worth my time.

I sit here contentedly musing over the conversations of the week behind me, and the evening, last night. It was an excellent first week at the new job. It resonates pleasantly in my memory. My Traveling Partner and I worked out plans to do with benefit selections, and changes to the budget for the year to come. No stress, anxiety, even though the topic was definitely to do with money. I smile and let myself recognize the growth that experience implies – and the healing. I’ve come along way with myself, and savoring that awareness is, itself, a form of growth and healing. 🙂

At one point, we decided to watch a couple of videos that intend to contrast “get ahead habits” with “fall behind habits”. Both had excellent content, in some regards. Both were also deeply flawed, depending on context, perspective, and framing. This presented a challenge for me; I was viewing them from an awareness of other experiences that made some of the points in these videos… problematic. For one thing, I’ve told you that these were videos about getting ahead versus falling behind, but the content creators don’t actually frame them up that way at all; they say the videos are about “poor people” versus “rich people”. I found that, frankly, highly objectionable, and it kept getting in my way of my ability to listen deeply to the actual points being made, which in several cases had real value. More than anything, the implicit definition of “rich” as de facto equivalent with “successful”, “deserving”, or “good”, and of “poor” in a litany of negative ways presented with a shaming tone was super aggravating. The videos were purposefully made with a very particular demographic in mind; people who want to get ahead in life, from where they are right now. Rich versus poor is a common enough false dichotomy in our culture, and it’s also not uncommon to blame poor people for poverty, or to treat rich people as though they are also ethical, and deserving. I just also think it’s fucking mean to take that approach.

Here’s the thing, though; the content has value. The points being made were not in error, generally. The points were merely drastically over-simplified, lacking in nuance, and stripped of context – in order to make those points more obvious to an audience that may not understand. The terms “rich” and “poor” weren’t being defined with any clarity to provide context – rich is rich, and in the videos no distinction is made between wealth gained through ill means (fraud, theft, exploitation), inheritance, or good fortune, and wealth gained through skillful endeavors. Actually, and I think it is what was annoying me most, the videos very carefully imply that all wealth gained is a goodness, and eschew any discussion of ethics. Same with poverty. The content providers allow an implication that enduring poverty rests on the decision-making of the poor, without even a hat tip to misfortune, institutional racism, or the very real limitations our culture has placed on people’s access to the tools and knowledge that might ease their scramble from poverty to… not being held back by poverty. The content only has two options: rich or poor. No discussion of middle-class success… or any discussion of success versus wealth – conflating cash hoarding with success in life tends to lock out viewers who might see success quite differently than a mountain of cash.

I watched them again this morning, and considered the points from many angles, allowing myself to “talk back” to the faceless narrator. I got more from them the second time through. I still think the content could have been more nuanced, deeper, more authentic, and more informed by explicit discussion of ethics, success, and happiness “metrics” that are more legitimate than a bank balance. I ask too much; the content provider knows their trade. I am not their audience – I am an eavesdropper gleaning something useful from a discussion that doesn’t have much to do with me, really. The target audience may not have the will or interest in also learning to live well, behave ethically, be their best selves, and treat others (and the world) well. They aren’t there yet. They just don’t want to be poor. An understandable position to take, and I hope they succeed at escaping poverty.

I hear my Traveling Partner stir in the other room. The weekend is here. I smile and finish my cold coffee. It’s time to begin again. 😀

I’m looking at this list of bullet points. It has become an outline of future work, mapped across future days. My morning coffee has become a can of cold fizzy water. The day is nearing the end, and I am smiling. I’m smiling, in part, because I love what I do. The other part of that smile is because I’m not being asked to yield what remains of my day, or my energy, beyond an utterly routine commitment to a shift. Comfortable. Sustainable.

There is no clock on the wall. My sense of aesthetic suggests there should be. There is no potted plant on my desk, or standing in the odd corner between a structural post, and the wall; a plant would look great right there. There is no bookcase with books, filled up notepads, coffee mugs, and tchotchkes, against the wall, where I expect to see one. The floor is bare concrete. The bare overhead light contributes to the very industrial look of this place. I’m not bitching; the temperature is comfortable, the break room is amply stocked with icy cold fizzy water, and very hot coffee, both in reliably good supply.

I arrived eager and confident a couple days ago, and the fit is natural; I belong here. I am still in that “assessing needs-gaining access-learning tools-looking ahead” sort of place, and that seems appropriate to the circumstances. I let myself fill my awareness with this moment, and these circumstances. No holding back. No trepidation. All in. I am comfortable here.

…The walls need art…

…I’ve got plenty of art…

Tomorrow is another day. Another beginning. Another step along this path. I’m ready for it – I’m also tired, at least, tired right now. Relaxed, contented, fatigued – the fatigue of a day’s work, done well, and fully appreciated. All of that. No more than that. It’s lovely.

The challenge, now, is shoring up healthy practices, and building new routines around these new circumstances. The commute is different. The location is different. Simple things like badging in, logging into tools… finding my way directly to my office, all new, and all such simple things, generally; it’ll still take me weeks to get comfortable and functioning on updated implicit memory. In the meantime, I laugh at myself each morning as I go down the hallway toward the office in which I spent my first day, by mistake. My office is the next corridor over. lol I’ll chuckle when I attempt to login using credentials from the last place I worked. I’ll grin with merriment when I find my way to the men’s room, instead of the ladies’ room, having to back track, then reverse through a seeming maze of hallways and glass boxes to the opposite side of the building, because, at least for now, it’s the only route by which I remember where the ladies’ room is. I’ll laugh out loud when I walk into my boss’s office, thinking it is mine (mine is on the opposite side of the hallway).

I’ll go home still smiling. Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. 🙂

This morning feels a bit like emotionally squinting into the full measure of mid-day sunshine, as I sip my coffee quietly, letting myself wake up to face the new day. The coffee is good. I’ve got butterflies in my tummy, like an excited kid. This morning, I choose to interpret these physical feelings as excitement. In other moments, perhaps I’d see it as anxiety; they feel too similar to me, and sometimes I just confuse them.

How many such firsts will I experience in life? First days. First dates. New jobs. New destinations. This very specific experience of excitement and quiet tension is one of firsts. Change. Not just that roller coaster of experiences of change that is, itself, the living of life; this is the experience of choosing change, choosing to “really go for it”, and staring directly into that process, and participating with my entire will, unified in a single purpose. Exciting barely describes it. I feel a tad breathless and wild-eyed around the edges.

Meditation helped.

I’ve checked my laptop backpack too many times, already. It has in it what it needs for the day; the laptop, a book, my kindle, an ink pen, a notepad. It matches the purse I’d purchased for the start of my last job, and the weekend bag I had purchased when I began traveling regularly to see my Traveling Partner. I feel so grown up. lol Delight fills my moment. I add it to the excitement. I try to also maintain some small amount of focus on a couple of errands I need to run after work. I sip my coffee and wonder when that will be?

New day. New beginning. New verbs. Old sweater. lol That’s fine; it’s a favorite, and it’s enough. Mustn’t lose sight of the exquisite value of sufficiency and perspective as I start down a new path; what has mattered so much, matters still. 🙂

It’s just time to begin again. 😀