Archives for posts with tag: check your facts

I’m sipping coffee and listening to videos, waiting for my thoughts to gel around some idea, or word, or notion; it’s not happening. I’m content, and relaxed, and feeling pretty good in my here-and-now, and it’s enough… so… “no words”. lol It is what it is, I suppose. There’s a lot going on in the world, and a lot of it matters a great deal, but this moment, here? Pretty relaxed. It’s a weekend day. Housekeeping later, coffee now.

One sunrise, last week.

My morning walks have been at a favorite park for a couple weeks now, since it re-opened. Dawn is coming later, each day, and soon it will be too dim in the morning to easily and safely walk these trails so early. I haven’t yet sorted out how my routine will need to change. Some days, it still feels very new to be so “settled”. It’s not as if every day is the same – they differ rather a lot. My “routines” have still not really established themselves as a natural byproduct of my comings and goings. I guess I’m okay with that – I sort of have to be as a consequence of simply being okay with myself. 🙂 Still, though, I’ve got to figure out when and where I’ll be getting my mile(s) in, once the early morning is “too dark”.

Same walk, different morning.

There was an air show this weekend. The noise did not cause me any particular stress. The traffic was not much of an inconvenience. Looks like it was probably a pretty cool family-friendly event.

…I feel a thought arise, and slip away before I can make any use of it… I think it may have been interesting, or relevant, or tie some idea to another, but… it’s gone now. LOL

My Traveling Partner is spending quite a bit of time in his shop. It makes sense; it’s the time of year for it. It fits my sense of seasonality in the context of family life. He’s been making parts for other tools, and making things that solve small household problems – like handy hooks to hang the attachments for my mixer, tucked out of the way, still very convenient. The wee hook specifically fit these mixer attachments. So cool! My father and my (paternal) grandfather were both “makers”, and I feel very much “at home” with my partner doing things in his shop. It feels “right”. 🙂

I finally planned time for a camping trip. Getting a reservation anywhere I wanted to be was pretty challenging, and I ended up opting for “car camping” this year vs hiking into a more remote spot. Nonetheless, I’m super excited about it – and choosing car camping means somewhat better comfort, and I’m pretty stoked about that, too. 😀 Coffee with chipmunks, squirrels, and robins, as the sun run rises, sounds pretty good. Long walks with no destination. Afternoons napping in the heat before taking another walk before dinner. No fireside stuff; the entire state is a huge vast wildfire zone right now, but the summer heat will mean I won’t ever be so chilly that a fire seems necessary for comfort, anyway. I take my computer when I go to the coast. I take a notepad, a sketchpad, and a pen, when I go camping. lol It’s a very different experience.

I walked away from my writing before I’d finished my coffee, and spent time relaxing with my partner, talking about projects, hanging out, watching videos, and then got started on housekeeping chores for the week. It’s been a fun day. I completely forgot I was in the middle of writing a blog post until sometime after lunch. LOL I’m smiling and sipping an afternoon cocktail – a rare treat – and checking off the chores. Just laundry left now, and it’s in progress. I took time to combat an accumulation of tasty leftovers by making a nice lunch salad. A good summer afternoon meal. Life feels… pleasantly ordinary, more or less. It’s a hot day. It’s comfortable in the house. My headache is somewhat diminished with careful, reliable hydration, and good nutrition (I mean, what the fuck do I even know about any of that, really? I’m not a doctor, I’m just saying, it seems less severe, some days, if I am definitely drinking enough water, and eating a balanced diet with lots of leafy green veggies in it. I do not care a bit if that’s a “placebo effect” resulting from simply thinking those things matter, or if it is “real”. I don’t hurt as much, and that’s enough).

The tall icy glass, in which what is left of this gin & tonic sits, sweats condensation; cold glass, warmer room. I sip on it slowly – as I said, I rarely drink alcohol these days, so I take my time with such things to minimize risk of foolishness or poor decision-making. 🙂 My Traveling Partner makes an exceptional cocktail. He also has some familiarity with my problematic history with alcohol (having grown up around multiple family members with acknowledged, legit, “drinking problems”, and my own early behaviors around alcohol as a young soldier), and he’s cautious with such things (which is appreciated, not forced on me). I enjoy the fantastic sometimes complex flavors of a well-crafted cocktail, and we stick with the delights that rarity requires: exceptional quality of the ingredients, sourced with care and thoughtful selection, flavors outside the “everyday”, and cocktails that are notable (for their history, or their ability to evoke nostalgia, or for simply being especially delightful in flavor) – but notable in some way other than their ability to intoxicate. We’re not really “about” the potential for drunkenness, and it shows in how rarely we drink, and how slowly we drink when we do. LOL Drunk people break shit.

I’m happy to enjoy a partnership so safe that I can even relax and enjoy a cocktail now and then without worrying that I’ll turn right around and “burn my life to the ground” on a funeral pyre of addiction. I understand better, now, that in some respects it isn’t about the addictive substance nearly as much as it is about the relationships that support my emotional wellness day-to-day. There’s a ton of more recent science on addiction, if that’s interesting to you for any reason at all. I encourage you to study more (I mean, like, always, and anything that is of interest to you) – definitely check your sources. “Karen’s Facebook group” is likely a less rigorously peer-reviewed source for information on the science of addiction than, you know, scientific studies available on PubMed, or some other reputable source. Just saying – fact-checking is good stuff. Knowing your source? Good stuff. Reading and applying critical thinking? Good stuff. Do your homework.

…And, hey, if you’re just not well-informed about a topic, not an expert at all, maybe just don’t share that uninformed opinion at all, eh? It’s okay to lack information. It’s less okay to make shit up like you know something about it. I know, it’s hard; we all want to be experts.

…Reminder: I’m no expert. Nope. Not even on mindfulness. I’m just a human being human, doing the best I can to be my best self, trying various practices that may help me along the way. I’ve got a reading list – did you notice I didn’t write any of those books? Yeah. That’s because I am not an expert. At all. Just a human, being human. Sharing what I can of a complicated journey, in case other travelers are also wandering around without a fucking map. 🙂

It’s been a pleasant Sunday. I’ve gotten a few things done. The garden is looking lovely, and the roses have now established themselves where they’ve been planted. I smile when I think about the years and the miles and the containers being carried from apartment to apartment over decades… so few survived to see home, here. It was a lot to ask of a wee rose in a container. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there, somewhere. I’ll think it over for awhile, and see what I can make of it.

I got off work yesterday in a good mood, tired, enthusiastic about the walk through town and over the bridge at twilight, and looking forward to a quiet evening at home. The commute wasn’t merely uneventful, it was also a miracle of coincidence and great timing. I arrived home, still smiling.

Some enchanted evening...

Some enchanted evening…

What follows is a cautionary tale about emotional health.

As I waited for dinner to cook, not wanting to wander off or be distracted, I picked up my phone, and opened my news feed. I noticed there seem to a be lot of articles about hate, hate crimes, and the general mistreatment of human beings toward one another. I dove right in and read one, then another, and another… over minutes, I read several. I was also cooking, and pretty focused on that. As minutes passed, I found myself no longer smiling. Feeling somewhat discontent. Generally a bit aggravated. A few minutes further on, I was feeling annoyed. Irritable actually. I sat down with dinner, finding fault with small things that typically don’t bother me at all. (Damn, are the guys next door going to be so noisy all evening? Seriously? Is that a leaf on the floor from where I came in, earlier??)

I ate my dinner in a mood of aggravation and discontent. It seemed a mysterious change, and it was some minutes before I connected my roiling stew of negative emotions looking for a fight with reading the news some time earlier. Then I did make the connection. I put down my device. I tidied up the dinner dishes feeling a bit thoughtful and pre-occupied. Had I really made a point of willfully turning a lovely mood sour by my own hand? What was I thinking? I sigh, recognizing the temptation of turning my negative emotions on myself, rather than helping myself into a better emotional place with at least the same effort I brought to wrecking the pleasant mood I was in, in the first place; it’s easier to be hard on myself than it is to change.

I gave the news a rest, and renewed my commitment to not treating myself so badly in the first place. News retailers are in business, and business is focused on profit, and what is profitable is holding consumer attention, and what holds consumer attention is… outrage. Yep. We gobble up news about hate, about fear, about the outrageous and “what is wrong with the world” – and then wonder why we’re angry, outraged, or frightened. We’re some fancy fucking primates – not all that smart about some things, but damn, we’re fancy. We write news, put it in front of other primates, sell what we can – and write more of that. Think about that for a minute – if the point is sales, and profitability, and what sells are the stories about hate, doesn’t it seem quite obvious that more stories about hate will be written? I’m not saying that the world isn’t full up on hate these days, but I am saying that whether or not it were, if stories about hate are what sells the most views, clicks, and subscriptions, then aren’t there going to be just a whole bunch more stories about hate? To read. To be consumed. To set an impression of the world we live in, generally?

I put myself in a gentle time out and spent much of the evening meditating. It was a significant improvement over reading the news. I ended the evening feeling soothed and balanced. Hate in the world is not eased or relieved by fear, or anger, or more hate. Awareness that hate in the world is an issue is something to cultivate, but succumbing to it myself is to be avoided. That seems practical and obvious (to me). I don’t need to read even one more article about some human being treating another badly “because Trump” – I am aware that human beings mistreating each other is a problem. It was a problem before the election, and it will likely continue to be a problem after the next four years is behind us; some people choose some really vile verbs. Hate exists. Fear exists. Anger exists. People having those experiences are probably having them in fashion that seems justified, reasonable, or even appropriate to them in the moment. There are some hateful things going on. There are some scary circumstances (and scarier people) in the world. There are good reasons to be angry, and things worthy of being angry about.  It remains a worthy endeavor to treat people well, nonetheless – including the person in the mirror.

This morning I woke to the alarm. A new day. A chance to begin again. I don’t start with the news. I renew my commitment to myself to choose what I read with great care. Sensational headlines get my attention; that’s why they work, that’s why they are written that way. It’s generally enough to read the headline, sass it silently, and move on. Advertising and color commentary masquerading as actual news can be distracting – and emotive. I remind myself to avoid it. Hell, at some point, continuing to read and reread the same tired bullet points spread across media outlets, being used to stoke new outrage and keep reader engagement high, actually takes time away from taking action on causes that matter… in some cases, the very causes that are so engaging to read about. (How many news stories have you read about DAPL? Have you taken a leave from work to get out there and help? Donated money? Written letters to congress? Any verbs at all – or just reading along? How about the lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan? Local homelessness? Foreign wars? Just saying; there’s plenty in the world that could use some well-chosen verbs.)

I’ll point out that all the same choices and practices that soured my mood could be made more selectively, more skillfully, and used to build a great mood from a bad one: intellectual distraction, investment in a specific emotion by choosing experiences that tend to reinforce and enhance it, repetition, and mindfully engaging that emotional experience deeply.

Today is a good day to put down the news, set aside the outrage machinery, and choose some verbs. If the point of life is to live it… why would I be spending my precious limited lifetime reading the news, anyway? 😉