Archives for posts with tag: best practices

It’s all well and good to talk about beginning again, starting things over, letting go, moving on… incremental change over time is so slow… and… there are so many choices. So many voices with opinions. So much room for doubt, for confusion, for uncertainty… for fear. Where, I might ask, does one start on some new beginning? What does it mean, really, to “begin again”?

…Have you asked that question, felt stalled, and just… wondered, in helpless frustration? I don’t have all the answers. I’m mostly about questions, actually, but… sure. I’ll try to provide an answer – one, mine (it’s the one I’ve got handy) – and if it is helpful perspective for you, it’s enough, right? 🙂 There are, for sure, other, different answers. As many as there are other voices. This is mine (right now, at least, one of them, based on what I know now).

What does it mean to me to “begin again”? In simple terms, it means pausing in this present moment long enough to truly be fully present, in this moment, and really just this moment. It means being aware, and present, and seeking to be those things nonjudgmentally, and without lingering attachment to some specific future outcome, or past pain (or joy). Just… here. Now. To begin again, from that place of being fully present, observant, and aware, all that separates me from moving forward afresh, and with new perspective, is really nothing more than a breath. I take that breath, and make a choice, take an action, head to a destination – verbs. That’s it. Pause. Be present. Breathe. Move on. A new beginning becomes what it is to be. That’s my idea of beginning again.

Simple, right? Seems easy enough. The subtleties are the challenge; sometimes it is harder to be present. Sometimes very difficult to let go of past pain. Sometimes I am overly invested in a future outcome. Sometimes I just feel stalled. It is effective, though, and with sufficient practice, becomes such a natural moment along my path that it doesn’t feel like any sort of interruption, at all. It’s just a moment of clarity, of commitment to purpose – but without attachment to outcome – and a chance to pause to become, again, truly present in my experience. The benefits are obvious, although more so over time, with repetition. I feel, generally, more centered in my experience. More sure of myself. More aligned with my values. More capable of being goal-focused, and purposeful. It also seems to tend to leave me more open to inspiration, and more accepting of change, and adaptable in the face of turmoil. A worthy practice in a busy life.

Yes… it does amount to slowing down, taking a moment, and merely taking the time to “figure things out”. Call it what you like. I call it “beginning again”. 😉

It’s an ordinary morning, before, most likely, an ordinary work day. My coffee is hot, and adequately tasty. The room is a comfortable temperature, a little cooler than I like it in the evenings. I hear the trickle of the aquarium in the other room, and remind myself that it is on my project list to change the water, replace the heater, re-settle the plants, and restock with something inexpensive and entertaining – guppies? More neon tetras? Just plants and shrimp, maybe? I love having the planted aquarium, and contemplating the planned project, I feel that pang of sadness over the fish that I lost last year over a weekend with a power outage. It sucked to come home to that. This morning, though, right here? So far it is a pleasant one, routine, ordinary, unexceptional… I have grown used to pleasantness (in spite of chronic pain, and this perpetual headache).

This is now. I’m enjoying it. How about you? 🙂

So… If you are not enjoying now, is it truly a byproduct of a very crappy right now experience (which can certainly be a thing, and we’ve all had those moments) – or are you fixated on some past (however recent) or future (however soon) moment of misery that is not actually now? If that’s the case, I would like to offer a suggestion (what you do about it belongs to you); very deliberately, and with great presence and attention to detail, come back to “now”. The real now. The true present moment. Breathe it in. Become aware of the details – even the smallest detail that feels comfortable, pleasant, and fills you with contentment or joy, is worth your attention. Find a comfortable seat. Be gentle and kind with yourself. Breathe it in. Breathe it out. Let go of the past moments. Let go of the future moments. Just sit with, and be here, right now. 🙂 No kidding. Practice that.

Practice it a lot.

I was thinking about something at work yesterday – a busy day, filled with meetings and interrupted practical task-processing workload of the sort that suffers for interruptions – and what I was thinking about is this; it’s actually fairly easy to make future-affecting decisions somewhat skillfully from the vantage point of the present, when I’m actually present, mindfully aware, and firmly in the moment…but it’s nearly impossible when I am stuck on some past moment, or mired in anxiety about a future moment that is not yet now. I gave that rather a lot of thought, actually, and used the thought to tickle my awareness of the need to pull myself back to the present moment, again and again. By the end of the day, I felt more firmly present, and in the office that’s sometimes hard to get to. Rigid processes, task processing, clear orders of operations in interlocking pieces of workload with dependencies on the pieces of work that lead up to it; while these things make work more efficient, faster, and get more done with fewer human beings, they also tend to rob me of awareness, keeping me part of a process, and less than a human being. So much less. Then, complicate that with the stress of those interruptions that fracture my focus, degrade my desired efficiency, while also directing my attention solely to that interrupted work – and specifically away from presence or self-care. Yeesh. It’s a very unpleasant experience.

By the end of my day, I had figured out being more human in an inhuman (and inhumane) scenario. That feels good – I’m hoping to improve on my presence, awareness, mindfulness – and humanity – in the office, today. How much better could work be? How much of my inhumane work experience is self-selected? What can I change or improve upon with my own will, awareness, and choices? Where will this path take me?

I glance at the time, and into the bottom of my empty coffee cup. I guess I can go ahead and get started… Now.

I enjoyed an entire day of gentle stillness yesterday, no agenda beyond enjoying some chill time, no stress, no bother, no real ‘workload’. Much of the day was spent in meditation, seated on my cushion, or relaxing on the patio, watching the birds come and go, and listening to the sounds of the park in spring. No stress. Literally no stress. It is a remarkable feeling, and I’m glad I had the weekend away with my traveling partner to remind me what that feels like, so I would be prepared for it solo! There were some moments yesterday when my primate nature restlessly fussed in the background seeking some kind of escape from the peace of it; the chill time I had inflicted on myself requires as much discipline as any other effort. I resisted the call of social media, of favorite brain candy, of distractions by the dozens, and took the time I needed to really relax. There were still verbs involved. lol

I learned something over the minutes and hours of a wholly meditative day, yesterday; I need more time spent this way. I took a moment in the evening to reserve a favorite camp site in a favorite nearby(ish) state park with plenty of forest and good hiking trails – many that I’ve not yet hiked – for an upcoming weekend. Time out in the trees is very much the thing I need, without the constant temptations of distractions intruding in precious moments of stillness – mostly. All that remains is to coordinate the transportation details, get my gear together, and do a thorough gear check; it’s been more than a year since I last camped. Wow – so long? No wonder I am needing this time to refresh and recharge!

Number 23 is waiting for me...

Number 23 is waiting for me…

Life sometimes seems to get going so fast…the rushed hurried pace of planned events tangled up with the unexpected can become overwhelming without warning if I am not mindful of the potential. I’ve learned to limit how much I plan into any given day, even when I travel on vacation. I’m not the sort who makes detailed plans with a lengthy list of scenic landmarks to check off (Yep, seen it! Next!!), or noteworthy high-points identified by friends and associates that I feel compelled to similarly enjoy – that’s not my way. I do plenty of research on a destination (even this trip to the trees, in a park I am familiar with), and fill my thoughts with information about the opportunities, history, and scenic wonders – then I ‘wing it’. Once I’ve got a hotel reservation (or camping spot) the rest is surprisingly spontaneous, considering my fondness for planning. I don’t prefer ‘tour group style’ travel; I like to go and live.  Do I miss out on seeing that one fantastic whatever? Sometimes. Sometimes not. I rarely come home exhausted, irritated, or feeling vaguely let down, either, which is generally the outcome [for me] of traveling via landmark checklist. Your results may vary. 🙂

Another lovely spring-summer day ahead, a loose agenda (not quite a plan), and a smile on my face – it’s a good beginning, and a lovely morning to begin again.

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

Why yes, thank you, I shall.

I am sipping my coffee slowly this morning. It’s very good. The morning is in all obvious ways a very relaxed morning, steam rising from my coffee mug, holiday music on the stereo. There is a subtle undercurrent of tension that I feel lurking just out of view of the obvious. I let my awareness expand to include that feeling, without diving into it.

I am aware of small details that seem to be provoking my subtle feeling of tension: the awareness of not hearing from a friend with whom I’ve been sharing an almost daily exchange lately, some concern for my traveling partner’s well-being and how he is treated in another relationship, and some background stress lingering in my awareness due to the adjustment to my long-term schedule that I’ve sort of avoided dealing with since it would not affect me until – tomorrow. Small things can become big things if I don’t treat myself well, so I take them one by one; I find that the assumptions and implicit expectations I hold onto unaware are the most likely thing causing me stress.

I consider my correspondence, and my dear friend I haven’t heard from ‘in a few days’ – how long has it actually been? Not very. A day or two. We also have an explicit understanding that our email exchange is not a reliable everyday thing. So… yeah. Nothing to be stressed over. I move on.

My traveling partner’s well-being is something that matters to me greatly, and I actively invest in my own growth in order to be the woman I most want to be – and the best possible lover and partner that I am able to be with my love. I am very sensitive to both explicit and implicit communications of stress from my partner, although he is very careful not to load me down with drama from his other relationship. There are no secrets between us, and the challenges I left behind when I moved out still live there with him – it’s more complicated than the simplified narrative that tends to drive background stress. That’s an entirely different relationship than the one he and I have with each other, and my partner is a grown man with free will, and an emotional investment in that human being over there. I take a moment to be aware of his skill as a partner, and how much I value his investment in us. It has taken time to learn to love well, and it’s not exactly something we teach in schools.  I pause to quietly celebrate the powerful love I share with my traveling partner, and to wish him well in his difficult circumstances, with his difficult Other. I wrap my thoughts of my traveling partner in my love and find myself smiling. Just smiling – because there’s nothing at all wrong with the relationship he and I share, and love is wonderful to enjoy – and to support. There’s nothing here to cause me stress this morning.

That one last small detail, left for last because it is likely causing me the most stress, honestly – my schedule. It’s such a small change, and the price to be paid to get the best possible fit for schedules for my entire team. In order to meet the most needs (for the team and for the business) I need to go into the office earlier on Fridays than the other days of the week. That’s a potential challenge for me; variable start times are often a very poor fit for my TBI. Avoiding thinking about that is an ineffective success strategy because it undercuts planning that could result in improved outcomes. So, I take a few minutes to breathe deeply, to contemplate what I most need out of my mornings, and my days, and what works best for me. I make a decision to adjust my waking alarm 15-minutes earlier, long-term, every week day. It’s a 15-min add to my morning the other 4 days, and pretty close to my most common natural wake up time. More to the point, it is enough additional time to prevent my one ‘short morning’ each week (Friday) from feeling rushed; I’ll have enough time to wake, to shower and dress, and head to the office without hurrying through things like taking medication, and making coffee – although I’ll be drinking that coffee on the walk to work, instead of chilling over words, or music.

The stress I had noticed in the background of my experience dissipates; I addressed ‘the real issue’ – and it wasn’t the most obvious thing, or the significant portion of my thoughts. It was such a small thing. Small things matter, too, and what I am inclined to ‘face’ in moments of stress is often not the thing really bothering me. We’re just a bit more complicated than that, aren’t we? 😉

Be love.

Be love.

It’s a lovely gentle morning, free of stress at this point. I listen to Giftmas carols in the background – ancient classics from my childhood and modern re-imaginings on a mixed playlist with other very non-traditional modern holiday music of a less ‘serious’ sort. I like nearly all of it; it sets a mood. I find myself still smiling, thinking of my darling and I, we’ll be sharing Giftmas some weeks from now – I am on the edge of my seat, eager with anticipated delight; I think I nailed Giftmas this year with a balance of fun, easy, and welcoming.

Every sunrise is a chance to begin again.

Every sunrise is a chance to begin again.

Today is a good day to take a second look at small stressors, and take a step back for better perspective. Today is a good day to be mindful that common enough situations may still be more complicated that we see them initially. Today is a good day to love well and to love mindfully; we are each worthy of love. Today is a good day to change the world.