Archives for posts with tag: being and becoming

I sip my morning coffee thinking about “change”, as I anticipate changes to come that may or may not be “what I want”. I’m okay with uncertainty these days, more than I’ve ever previously been as far as I can recall. Change is. I can prepare for it, embrace it when it arrives (or seek further, other, changes), and see where it takes me, or I can… not do that, and struggle with it instead. There is very little potential that I can avoid change. I sip my coffee and think about the conversation I had with my boss yesterday. Promising. No, I’m not going to be more specific – I don’t know what the future holds. I’m open to it, though, and ready to gently comply with circumstances, or seek further change – depends on the outcomes, I suppose. I’m certainly not expecting to “stand still” in life. lol

How do I “prepare for change”, though? Depends on the changes, I guess, but I usually start with envisioning life as it may be following the change(s) I anticipate (or have chosen). I take time to read and study details or ideas that are new for me, or present challenges – what can I learn before the change is upon me? Do I have questions? Concerns? I look into those details. I probably make a list of things I’d want done before the change comes – or will want to do to meet the challenge as it comes.

If my anxiety is vexing me with regard to some particular anticipated change, I spend time reflecting on successful other experiences of change in my life, generally. This reminds me that it’s do-able, and that I’m capable.

From there, the last bit of “change prep” I find reliably helpful is to be kind to myself, and alert for any potential self-sabotage that I’d do well to … not do.

None of us are truly alone on this journey that is one mortal life, yet we’re each walking our own path, and having our own experience. It’s a strange puzzle. With my boss’s words lingering in my thoughts, I contemplate where I can develop new connections, build new bridges, shore up incomplete knowledge, explore new learning relevant to the change we had discussed. It’s exciting to feel the process of growth and progress. One thing I enjoy about all this is that I get to keep everything I learn along the way – whether the change that comes is what I anticipated, or something completely different. I continue to grow. Exciting.

I sip my coffee thoughtfully. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. It’s a pleasant (quiet) Wednesday morning. It’s a good time to prepare for change. It’s a good time to begin again.

Sipping my coffee and thinking about “authenticity”. It’s an idea that comes up in a lot of self-help conversations, and in therapy, and in a variety of other contexts in life. What is “authenticity”? Does it come with the same baggage as unkindness masquerading as “telling unpleasant truths” does? Can I be authentically myself and also seek to improve on who I am – or does that set up internal conflicts or create cognitive dissonance? (It’s rhetorical – yes, I definitely can be authentic, and also seek to do better than I did yesterday.)

Most simply, “authenticity” is

…a person who acts in accordance with desires, motives, ideals or beliefs that are not only hers (as opposed to someone else’s), but that also express who she really is.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosphy

No idea why this is what is on my mind this morning. I’m just drinking coffee, listening to music, and waking up on a relaxed Sunday. 🙂 Let’s just go with it, eh?

Life is not reliably easy for most of us. There are challenges. Even “being authentic” can become one of those – think about authenticity in the context of your professional day… Is it always “safe” and “comfortable” to just be who you frankly truly are, when you are at work? For a lot of folks it doesn’t feel that way. How about at holiday dinners with extended family? What about out and about in the world? Do you adjust who you are depending on who you are with or what you are doing? (Another rhetorical question; you probably do, to some extent, that’s just part of learning to get along with a long of different people, in a lot of different circumstances. Doing it well is part of being invited back. lol) Do you take it too far and subsequently violate your own boundaries, undermine your ethical commitments, or stray outside your stated values in order to be welcomed and liked? That seems problematic… thoughts for another day, perhaps?

When you are authentically yourself 100%… do you like the results? Do you find value in the outcome? Do you enjoy who you are? Or… are you… wanting something very different from your experience? How do you seek to resolve that?

…Are you comfortable apologizing when you’ve hurt someone?

…Are you able to enjoy and appreciate who you are, exactly as you are in this moment?

…Do you consider the effect you have on those around you?

…Do you want more of yourself than you currently deliver?

…Are you succumbing to outside pressure demanding change that you don’t wish to choose for yourself?

…Who are you – and is this who you want to be?

Making some kinds of changes is hard. Like, really really hard. Becoming a different person, embracing new values, setting new (clear) boundaries, and making changes in life has the added challenge – however much you are eager to proceed down a new path – some people around you don’t want you to make those changes. They may want you to change, to be different than you are, but they have specific changes in mind that serve their needs and purposes; they are not actually invested in simply seeing you being your best self living your idea of your best life. They want you in a mold. The results would meet their needs, but would be less than ideally likely to meet yours. While that’s pretty fucked up, it says nothing about who you are – it’s about them. Pretty easy to let that go, and walk your own path with intention. 🙂

So… if you think you’re a dumbass, and you want to be “smart” and “educated”, the solution seems a bit obvious; get educated. Read books. Listen to the conversations of people smarter than you are. Makes it sound “easy”, doesn’t it? It’s not. As we educated ourselves, we pretty reliably also learn a lot about how much more we still also don’t know. The path stretches out ahead of us as we walk it. Growth is still worth it. It’s just a journey. The journey is the destination; choose your path with care, and walk it with your eyes open. 😀

I used the “dumb vs smart” example for ease. I’m feeling lazy this morning. If there’s a quality you lack as a human being, the point I’m making is that you can most likely cultivate that quality – any quality. Choose wisely; we become what we practice. There may be consequences to becoming that person that you haven’t considered or may not be aware of… Being authentically who you are is a good place to start the journey of becoming who you most want to be. The key – in my opinion – is not “faking it”. Be real. Be you. Be open. Be honest. Be (or become) self-aware. Humility is helpful, too. Learning patience has value…but here I’ve gone and started laying out the qualities I value, myself. Maybe that’s not who you want to be…?

Do you know who you want to become? It’s an important bit of knowledge. If you know who you are, and you know who you want most to be, you have a start on building a path that takes you from the one to the other, over time. (Sooo easy!! LOL)

Modern life does not make authenticity easy for human primates. We set ourselves up for failure with constant exposure to a digital world where “everyone” is doing better, seems prettier, richer, more successful… and we compare ourselves to those illusions, and wonder why we aren’t also enjoying those (often entirely staged) experiences, too? We set the bar sooo high! The comparisons, validation-seeking, likes/clicks/views, and pressure to conform or to excel result in a lot of frustration and depression for people who don’t have a sense of value as they are right now. There’s a reason that people often say things like “you have to love yourself before you can love someone else”… the intended communication is about how foundational self-acceptance, self-esteem, self-worth, and self-compassion really are. Hard to get anywhere in life without them, no simple users guide to develop them… Complicated.

I’m in a good place this morning. I feel very much “myself”, without losing sight of things I am working to improve about myself – for myself. My coffee tastes good. The music I am listening to is lively, and tends to reinforce positive messages (helpful in this regard that my broken brain “goes meta” so often with music, in a sense I bend the lyrics to my will by zooming out a bit). I’m on my own path, and that’s not just okay – it’s chosen.

It’s a good day to live and breathe and be. A good day to choose to practice being the woman I most want to be. A good day to recognize “who I am” while I work on becoming who I most want to be.

It’s a journey. Are you ready to begin it?

…And it’s time to begin again…

It’s your adventure; choose it.

I suppose I could have (more appropriately?) written about Spring and the rites and rituals of Spring observances, and the Equinox, and all of that on the very day… would have been Monday.

The Vernal Equinox as seen at Siletz Bay, Oregon, 2023

I didn’t do that. I did make it to the coast early enough in the day to get some decent photographs, rest, meditate, and watch the tide come and go. It was high tide when I arrived, at midday. My room wasn’t yet ready, but soon would be, so I enjoyed a short walk along the tide-narrowed beach, and made a quick trip to the grocery store for easy-to-prepare “real food” items.

Why grocery shop? So practical. It was simply that I did not go with the intention of dining out for every meal; that gets expensive pretty quickly, and I went on this coastal getaway planning to also do a bit of a “reset” with regard to foods and meals and my relationship with with those practices. I had in mind “healthy calories”, portion control, and necessary fuel vs consumption-beyond-satiation. I wanted to be easily able to grab a quick meal in my hotel room without needing to cook or do a ton of preparation, and without having to fall back on heavily processed foods – and still eat well. Salads were a big win for my intention. Hard-boiled eggs. Roasted (unsalted) nuts. Blueberries. Goat cheese. All of which could become part of a salad, or eaten by measure on their own. The most expensive ingredient? No surprise; the salad dressing. I shopped with great care for a dressing that was very basic, made from healthy ingredients I’d actually want to ingest, no HFC – no sugar at all if I could find one without it – I was looking for a basic vinaigrette that didn’t have sugar or preservatives in it. Simple. Well… not ideally simple; I had to check 3 different locations in the grocery store before I found what I was looking for hidden away in the “keto” section. Still… it made the 3 days of solitude less costly, and also less… “people-y”, since I did not have to go out for a meal unless I actually chose to. This also forced me to think about meals very differently, in general; if I went out, why, and where would I go to eat something truly worth going out for?

There isn’t much to share about the trip to the coast; I spent most of it in my own head, whether I was in the room, or down on the beach walking and taking pictures. It was time well-spent, and I got a lot of much-needed rest.

The tide was quite low when I departed from the coast, eagerly heading home. The rain was falling steadily by then, and my final walk on the beach was a short one. 3 days away. I had watched the tide come and go several times. I had listened to the rain fall over hours and days, intermittently.

Siletz Bay at low tide.

It’s lovely to return home to home & hearth, and my Traveling Partner. I do miss him when I’m away – and it seems we both benefit from having that opportunity to miss each other now and then. I know I need the solo time once in awhile, for me, it just surprises me how much that also seems to support good love and our relationship with each other. I reliably come home happy to be home and eager to be in my partner’s embrace once more.

So… Spring, eh? It’s not what I expected. lol I returned home thinking “spring”, but found that winter hasn’t yet truly departed. lol Yesterday, a quick trip to the store turned snowy.

Spring Snow in Newberg

With Easter on the way, the stores are loaded up with colorful sweets of the bunny and egg variety. Gets weirder every year. This year, I spotted “Hot Tamales” peeps. I don’t know why those need to exist, but there they were. 0_o

Peeps

Returning home also let me return to projects in progress, like learning to make “shower steamers” (I’m definitely not done learning all I can to do the thing really well). I smile when I think about the progress (and steamers) I’ve made…

Assorted fragrances: cucumber-melon, lavender, chocolate-orange, autumn walk, and violet forest. 😀

I sit here now, in my comfortable studio, surrounded by the trappings of a life well-lived, and I am content with life as it is. Funny place to be, for me. No yearning. No restlessness. No dissatisfaction. No particular frustration or feeling of being “held back” by circumstances. Just me, this room, the sound of rain falling, and the quiet sounds of the household around me and my partner in another room – and every detail is quite lovely exactly as it is. I smile and sip my coffee. It could all go sideways unexpectedly at any moment… but… it could also simply persist for some unmeasured time. It’s nice when that’s the case. I roll with it when it isn’t; non-permanence being what it is in life, it mostly doesn’t matter whether the next minute to unfold comes with joys or hardships – it’ll pass. The moment that follows may be quite different. That one will also pass. Life continues. I make choices. I practice being the woman I most want to be. Progress is sometimes (often) slow – but there is progress. It’s enough.

…”Move along”, “nothing to see here”… it’s time to begin again. 😉

I’m sipping my coffee and drinking water. Through the window, the sliver of sky showing betwixt the buildings is a lovely mauve. Minutes ago it was a delicate shade of lavender. I enjoy the subtleties of a sunrise, I must say. 🙂 This coffee is pretty good, too.

Yesterday was pleasant. I worked from the office, in the city. Had an afternoon coffee with a friend I don’t see often. Went to my therapy appointment at the end of my work day. I made the commute home after therapy, and enjoyed pizza with my Traveling Partner. He had spent the day busy in the shop, and wasn’t yet done with work for the day. I played an hour of video games. We hung out for a short while, and suddenly, the day was over. Here it is another work day.

My ears are ringing ferociously this morning, and I woke with a stuffy head, but I’ve got this sunrise, this moment, and this good cup of coffee on which to begin my day. Not bad. (And by “not bad”, I mean it’s quite nice.)

I keep thinking about “building a model” of a healthy relationship. It’s on my mind a lot. I keep coming back to these 10 critical characteristics that I think are necessary to build a healthy relationship:

  1. Mutual respect
  2. Mutual consideration
  3. Mutual encouragement
  4. Mutual support
  5. Shared values
  6. Compassion
  7. Clear expectation-setting
  8. Clear communication without mockery, contempt, or condescension
  9. Skillful listening
  10. Equitable distribution of labor

There are probably things missing from this list that some people might suggest be added. “Trust” comes to mind, and I’ll tell you why it’s not on this list; I see “trust” as an outcome, not a building block. Clear communication, respect, consideration, listening skillfully, and clear expectation-setting should – as a group of practices – lead to trust developing. I don’t personally see trust as a freebie that exists by default between lovers. Trust is built, trust is earned – and trust is a byproduct of these other characteristics. I’m betting if trust is lacking, so are many of these – because having them leads to trust.

…I’m no expert. I’m still working out my own thinking on this…

I glance out the window while I sit here lost in thought, finally noticing that the sky has become a lovely pale tint of periwinkle. Blue skies today? I think ahead to camping later in the Spring once the weather has warmed up a bit…

Already time to begin again…

I type the word “pieces” into the title field, and immediately get distracted wondering why it appears to be misspelled. That’s the way of things sometimes, isn’t it? We puzzle over things that are not especially puzzling, mislead by a mistake in our thinking, or an erroneous “observation”. It’s pretty human that we do this – we are imperfect creatures with a persistent notion of being “better than” other creatures in some noteworthy way. lol

My coffee is good this morning. It’s a quiet Saturday. I had planned to sleep in. My Traveling Partner woke me. All good; he woke me sufficiently late in the morning to totally count as having slept in, and truly there is a new day ahead and plenty to do. It was nice to start the day with a few minutes of meditation, then coffee together until the point at which he began finding me less comfortable to hang out with (perhaps due to my fidgeting, or perhaps the pattern of my breathing had become irregular making affinity behaviors uncomfortable, or perhaps nothing really to do with me at all, but nonetheless ascribed to something to do with me). I give him some room to breathe, and take my coffee into the studio.

As soon as I sit down at my desk I feel uplifted and lighthearted; my Traveling Partner built this lovely space for me. Well, I mean – it’s a room in our house, and he outfitted it with this desk, built my computer, and installed the acoustic treatments. So, yeah. He had a lot to do with this space that wraps me in comfort and inspiration. The paintings on the walls are mine. I am surrounded by things that encourage and delight me. It’s an important space in my home – and in my experience. A piece of a bigger puzzle.

There are so many “pieces” in being this human primate that I am. My love of writing. My compulsion to do so. My willingness to share it. My fondness for my partner. My delight in this home. The enjoyment I take from the sound of rain. The pleasure I find in a cup of coffee – down to the coffee beans, and the cup itself even. I can spread the pieces out quite far and find value in distant forest trails, paths that wander the edges of a marsh, or suburban sidewalks that meander through neighborhoods filled with other human primates living other lives. I can focus on quite tiny details and find myself in the sensation of bare feet on carpet, deck, or lawn, and the sensation of fabric on skin.

There is so much joy and pleasure to be had in a single human lifetime. It’s easy to overlook all that when things go wrong and when I face challenges. There’s sorrow in this life, too. Pain. Hurt feelings. Lost opportunities. Vast choices such that the mind is overwhelmed and shortcuts just feel… easier. There’s so much to learn, and so many things to fail at before mastering anything at all. In years that I have focused too much on the difficulties, the joy in my life was diminished and life was dismal. In years when I have focused on hedonistic pleasures with a devil-may-care disregard for any moment but “now”, I’ve failed to grow as a human being – and also somehow failed to thrive. I find it a peculiar balancing act to find a comfortable middle ground, somehow settling on seeking calm, contentment, and joy – without “chasing” happiness. It seems to come to me often enough when I take this approach, though, so… I’m good with it. 🙂

I’m rarely deeply unhappy anymore. It’s been a long journey. It’s not over. I still struggle with the hardships I face. I still have challenges and fight the internal battles with my personal demons daily. It’s a worthwhile endeavor – and the conviction that this is the case is one major victory among many. I’ve come so far! Sure, I still have some rough days. Still struggle to get adequate restful sleep. Still have nightmares. Still have this headache, and this arthritis. Still deal with lasting effects of early life trauma, my TBI, my PTSD – but what a difference it has made to select my partnership(s) with more care, and to properly take care of myself! Meditation has proven to be a long-term value. Simple health-improving steps have also “given back” more than it feels like I have had to put in. Totally worth the “effort” to drink more water, to take my medications on time, to eat a calorie-and-portion managed nutritious diet, and get more exercise. Hell, those things are working out so well, I’m motivated to “do more better” and take things further. I keep practicing.

Nothing fancy or particularly unusual about today. It’s just another day. A sunny weekend Saturday with no explicit agenda unfolds ahead of me. Where will my path lead? If it’s not too chilly, it might be a good day to do some garden prep and tidy up spaces for Spring… Certainly looks like a lovely one to get a nice walk in, too. Maybe I’ll paint? I could work on my manuscript. I could bake some cookies, or finish tidying up and reorganizing the library (which is also our guest room, and presently a bit cluttered). What I do with the time is actually less important than that I do something, and that I treat myself and my partner well. The quality of the experience matters to the outcomes. I reflect on that and sip my coffee.

It’s a lovely day to begin again. What will I do with it?