Archives for posts with tag: choose change

The sun is up. I slept in a bit. Sipping coffee, barefooted, on a weekend morning, late in the spring. It’s a lovely moment. I’ve got nothing to bitch about. Nothing nagging at my consciousness. No drama. No baggage (in this moment). No chaos. The morning is quiet. My mood is calm. My outlook on life is merry. I’m okay, right, in every sense of the word that matters. 🙂 My coffee tastes good. My roses have begun to bloom. My aquariums are thriving. The computer my Traveling Partner built for me while we share Life in the Time of Pandemic, together, is working beautifully – and by that, I mean it is both a wonderful upgrade in performance, and also a beautiful technological piece, aesthetically. I smile every time I sit down at my desk, feeling very loved. I feel content.

“Baby Love” blooming in a pot on the deck. 🙂

Let’s be super real on this notion of contentment and ease; I’ve worked years to get here, and there have been many verbs involved, and many tears shed, over time. My outlook matters more than material details. I could live this life, identical in all practical details, and be mired in misery. PTSD has that power. Healthy emotional wellness practices really matter that much.

No click bait here, no “secret practice your therapist doesn’t want you to know about” in an eye-catching thumbnail. I’m not about that. I’m just saying, perspective matters. How I treat myself matters. How I treat others, and how reciprocal those interactions are, matters. It’s been a long journey, and I’ve often felt I was stumbling haphazardly through the darkness, quite alone. I’ve known despair, and futility and frustration and sorrow and, yes, madness. I’m not alone in that – and that’s why I write. Reminders for me, and maybe, just maybe, a light in the seemingly endless darkness for someone else. Someone that I’ll likely never meet. There have been so many such souls on my journey… human beings on their own journey, helpful co-travelers, sometimes unrecognized until much later, because I simply wasn’t ready to hear what they were saying to me, then. We all walk our own hard mile. (You too.)

Life is pretty good these days, even in spite of the pandemic. It’s not about material success (I’m not wealthy), or finding one true love (I’m fortunate to enjoy a great relationship with someone I love very much, but in dark times love does not “cure” our sorrows, or ease the weight of our baggage). Life is pretty good these days because more of my choices take me in that direction, than choices which don’t. Verbs. Choices. Beginnings. Perspective. Sufficiency. These are only words, but the words represent concepts I’ve found key to making my way, a bit at a time, to a life that feels, generally, characterized by contentment, and joy.

I’ve put in many hours of therapy and study. Reading books isn’t enough; the ideas have to become changes in behavior and thinking. The epiphanies and “ah-ha moments” have to become new practices. Practices that work have to be sustained over time. There is a commitment to treating oneself well involved – this may be the biggest challenge (it has been for me).

Where this really started, back in 2010, and a moment of gratitude for the love of the man who shared it with me, then, and remains with me, still.

I think I’m just saying… “you’ve got this!”. Unhappy with life? Choose change. Rethink your most basic assumptions. Re-examine your expectations of life, of people, of yourself. Try a new combination of real kindness and firm boundary-setting. Ask the hard questions. Consider all the options. Take care of yourself – because you matter to you. No reason to expect it to be easy, or that you’ll never cry again, or that “the world” will ever be “fair”. Be your own best friend – and your own best self, because you can make that choice from moment to moment, and when you fail (and you will, I promise you that), begin again. Just begin again. Don’t beat yourself up over your fundamental humanity – examine your errors with some emotional distance, gain understanding of yourself (and others) from your mistakes, learn, grow, and move on with increased perspective. Accept that you are human – then also accept that everyone else is, too. Make room in your thinking for what you can’t know, or don’t understand; there’s nearly always something new to learn. Check your assumptions.

There’s a lot of baggage to put down. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go of. It’s easier to give yourself closure than to seek it elsewhere. Don’t drink the poison. Tame your own barking dog. Consider your outlook on life, generally. Yes, it’s a lot of work, I know. It probably seems so much easier to get a prescription for some boldly advertised new drug. I’ve tried that, myself. It didn’t work reliably well for me, which is how I found myself at 50, filled with despair, trying one more therapist, one more time, unconvinced that life was worth living. A huge stack of books and a few years later, life looks (and feels) very different to me. I’ve made a lot of changes – to practices, jobs, relationships; I rebuilt basically my entire life (and lifestyle) to better support becoming the woman I most wanted to be, living a life of contentment and joy. Worth it. So worth it. (Not infallibly perfect – that’s not on life’s menu, right?)

So… what do you say? Are you ready to begin again?

It’s the sort of statement that sums up most things; this won’t last forever. The current presidency? Won’t last forever. That fantastic sale in a flyer that came in the mail? Won’t last forever. This rainy morning? Won’t last forever. The nuts I put out for the squirrels? Won’t last forever. American “Democracy”? Won’t last forever. Western civilization? Won’t last forever. A terrible moment of panic or anxiety? Won’t last forever. The saddest thing about all of that that is the vast number of lovely things that also won’t last (and how many of those we overlook, in favor of yielding our attention to things that suck). The most precious thing about that is that we do get to enjoy those lovely experiences, and all of life’s joys, if we slow down long enough to notice they are happening. That, and the comfort in surrendering to the awareness that however bad things may seem… it won’t last forever.

“This, too, shall pass.”

We have choices, though, and the choices we make determine, often, how fleeting the worst of our experience may be, and even how enduring our joy can be. Something to think about. What are you choosing? What do you practice?

If we are permanently focused on the the things that stress us out the most, full-time, continuously ruminating on the disasters humanity seems mired in, or the shambles our own life is in, or how terrible this or that experience is, in some limited moment, we put ourselves at risk of coloring the entirety of our experience in this way. Tragedy and terror and sorrow can become the whole of our experience, and could do so regardless what percentage of our lived minutes are actually of that character or quality. Think about this with some care; if you spend all your content-consuming minutes watching the news, spun in a way to engage your attention, and evoke an emotion, and don’t make some effort to lift your head to experience your own actual moments, here and now, what will the quality of your experience become?

…I’m not saying don’t be angry about the things in life that warrant anger, and change – for sure, lift your voice in protest. Take action to make a change in the world. Definitely do that! Just don’t sit around allowing your own life to slowly crumble under the weight of the world’s exaggerated decay.

I’m living my life these days far more than I spend time reading or watching the news. I already know our government is corrupt. I already know that war is a terrible thing and that the cost is always too high. I already know that far too many people are willfully cruel to others, with the flimsiest justification. Human primates can be pretty fucking horrible creatures. I do my best to be better than that, myself, with my own choices, in my own life. It is, if nothing else, a starting point.

This morning, a quick glance at the headlines assures me the world is burning, and humanity is doing little to stop that from happening. Perhaps we really are rushing headlong to our own destruction (and doing so for the sake of power or profit, for fuck’s sake – damn we’re stupid creatures, sometimes). This morning, my morning, doesn’t have to be marred by any of that, in this moment. Instead, I’ll walk and consider how best to be the woman I most want to be, myself, in spite of all that. I’ll consider how to treat others well, with great consideration, and also without ethically compromising myself, and without being dishonest. Seems a good goal to have in life. (I’ve heard worse.)

I sit watching the rain fall, thinking about what trail to walk, this morning, waiting for the rain to stop, drinking coffee… and thinking about beginning again. 🙂 The thoughts are nothing, unless I get some verbs involved. True of walks. True of political protest. True of ethical behavior. Nothing lasts forever – but we sure don’t have to wait around for forever to prove that.

I think about the weight I’m losing, slowly, steadily… I think about the pain I am in. Focusing on one results in feeling encouraged and upbeat. Focusing on the other pulls me down, infuses my moment with futility, and frustration. Whichever I choose colors my experience.

What do you want of the world? What do you want of yourself? If you don’t see it in your life right now, what will you choose to do to bring change? It’s always a good time to begin again.

Are you having a rough time of things, right now? Is life feeling more complicated than you’d like? Do you feel attacked on all sides? Trapped? Frustrated? Hung up on some detail that is not even a thing that has actually happened yet? Hung up on some detail already in the past? I’ve been there. I’m not there right now. I may, however, be there sometime again in the future, and I have thoughts on dealing with that. 🙂

Be present in this moment. Breathe. 

Yep. Take some deep breathes. Let go of the past; it’s behind you already, and you can move on from it. Let go of the future; it hasn’t happened yet, and it’s not predetermined. Consider new choices, and take the actions that allow you to continue to grow in the direction of becoming the person you most want to be. Who is that?

Read a book. Chill for awhile and let your mind be empty. Watch the clouds, the rustling leaves, the pigeons in a park, the rain falling on the other side of a window. Breathe, exhale, relax. Let go of clinging and attachment. Let go of assumptions and expectations. Be. Be present. Be aware. Be your own friend. Take steps. Take a step back, for perspective. Take a step forward, for growth. Live your journey with your eyes wide open. 🙂

Maybe a walk in the sunshine, considering the many options?

Sometimes the way ahead is difficult. Sometimes the difficulties are ones we’ve created for ourselves. Why that is, is probably less important than what we do about it. It’s your path to walk – you get to choose the route. 🙂

I sit here sipping my morning coffee; my Traveling Partner noted that it seems that the burr grinder needs to be given some care and maintenance. My coffee agrees with him. The next step would seem to be to do something about that. Sometimes the challenges are fairly simple. Sometimes the complications in life come from within us. I smile and listen to the traffic on the roadway.

My shoulder aches. A lurching bus in rush hour traffic yesterday evening provided notable additional pain, and set back my recovery time a bit. I remind myself to spend more time with that arm in a sling – and less time trying to use it. Still… it’s a new day. I have choices ahead of me that will determine what I make of it, and where my path will lead.

Time to take that next step, and begin again. 🙂

Initially, I wrote it off as coincidental; the rise of negativity, the more intense emotionality, the unpredictable temperament, while it could have been the new Rx… why would I assume it necessarily was? I mean… I’ve got issues. lol Then, my Traveling Partner noticed, largely by way of being hit with an unhealthy dose of it on the receiving end. Then, a couple of friends noticed it – one of them by way of the negative affect of my posture, and facial expressions. Oh. Hell. No. I am not putting myself through that. I’d only been on it a handful of weeks, and already struggling with nightmares, weird shifts in mood and/or perspective, and a powerful (slow) spiraling negativity that was definitely worsening. I follow up with appointment making, and begin to taper off of the new Rx, (after getting some relief, but not nearly enough to make the trade-offs worth it).

…24 hours later, the bleak gray “certainties” that had been rapidly becoming my perspective began to lift. Yesterday was a lovely day, and it was easy to enjoy, and the smile on my face felt real, not forced, and although I’m dealing with pain, this is me… dealing with it. So. Some better. Much better. Pain sucks, but pain along with feelings of muted despair, terrible mocking nightmares, and moody bullshit…? Worse.

I didn’t write over the weekend. I was definitely aware that my thinking and emotions were increasingly colored by this prescribed, regulated, managed, and also notably not working out well for me, personally, prescription drug experience. (I was definitely “on drugs” – which happens to any one of us far more often at the hands of a physician than a street dealer!) I’d ideally rather not drag everyone else into the muck with me. Making the choice to recognize and act upon the problematic symptoms sooner than later is merely a byproduct of being well-supported in my relationships, and having already experienced the outcome of excessive trust placed in someone else’s judgement over my own first hand knowledge, of my own first person experience. Seriously, though, if you’re on a medication with a problematic effect, please talk to your doctor – don’t just quit! Some drugs have a very particular or difficult withdrawal effect, and you’d want to be supported properly with appropriate care. 🙂

I woke easily, this morning, no nightmares chasing me. The alarm was unwelcome, and honestly, I expect this on a Monday morning after a lovely weekend; I’d rather stay home, in the garden, enjoying another coffee, and hanging out with my Traveling Partner, or a friend, or the squirrels and chipmunks if everyone else is busy. 🙂 Not gonna lie; I think work is highly over-rated. Still, it gives a certain structure (and cash-flow) to my day-to-day experience. 😉

So, it’s a routine Monday, after all that, following a lovely weekend of sunny days, gardening, and running errands. I’m sipping coffee, and looking ahead to the work week. I have the thought that it will be a busy one. Then I wonder about the impact of the Google outage… holy shit a lot of everyday life goes through the internet somewhere, these days. I sit with that thought for a moment, feeling grateful I don’t have all my household electronics controlled by way of an internet connected device. I actually didn’t notice there’d been an outage until my Traveling Partner read about it on the news. lol We were contentedly busy being people, in real life. Most enjoyable. 🙂

I look at the clock. Yep. Choices. Every choice I make is a whole new beginning. From the small things like “shall I have another coffee?” to the bigger things like “who am I and how do I want to live?” – the answers send my experience along a new path. I grow. I become. Journey-as-metaphor works, because it’s just so close to accurately describing what life, experienced along a timeline, is really like. There’s still no map… but these are my own choices, nonetheless. 🙂 I become what I practice, and it’s time, already, to begin again.

I’m sipping my coffee and marveling, a little awestruck, but not in any pleasant way, really, at the quantity of posts, reposts, and shares in my feed that are seriously… emo. Like… bleak. Self-denigrating. Depressed. Blue. Despairing. So many of these are also coming from friends and associates I understand to be lovely people, from the perspective of my experience of them as individuals, in some cases gifted, warm-hearted, and thoroughly promising samples of what humanity is capable of, which… is weird. People who simultaneously appear to be on a journey of growth and improvement, and also appear to be mired in negative assumptions and self-loathing. That’s a lot to take over a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. (Personally, I’d rather not have to wade through all that suffering; I’d rather have brunch.)

I find myself wanting to answer each such post. To correct the thinking errors. To correct the mis-assumptions. To fact-check. To lift people up, by giving them tools to prevent themselves from drowning in their own bullshit. It’s not that easy, is it? A lot of people are ever so carefully crafting that experience. Building the narrative that supports it, with great care. Seeking emotional support and feedback from others who will nurture the suffering – instead of nurturing that human being who is their friend. Drama creeps in from the edges pretty quickly. I breathe. Let each one go. That is my own challenge; to refrain from reacting to each new outrageous self-deceit posted by a friend. Sometimes, attempting to correct these things only reinforces them by way of repetition and sharing. (See? We have learned something from social media!)

For fuck’s sake, people, try not to hate yourselves. Let go of hating each other, too. Try to assume positive intent. Oh, I know, you’ve been hurt – or soaked up the residual lessons resulting from the hurts your parents and community perceive, invent, or celebrate. (Quick aside for the white people in the room; no, this doesn’t get us off the hook for being aware of our privilege, or make it okay to shrug off generations of abuses delivered to others, or in any way defend the heinous institutions and practices that have held back our brothers and sisters of color. You’ll want to let that go, too – real wrongs definitely do need to be made right, and I am calling bullshit on racism, sexism, and xenophobia, just in general.) It’s time to let go of treating yourself like shit. That’s what I’m saying.

If nothing else, don’t be a dick. Not to yourself. Not to other people. Not – perhaps especially not – because you think it’s “just a joke”. When the humor comes at the expense of someone else’s injury, it’s not funny. If you’re laughing at other people’s pain, maybe spend some money on therapy instead? Sort that shit out. Why do I care? Because when we treat ourselves poorly, mock others for our amusement, and allow the world to strip away our humanity, we create a shitty experience for everyone involved. Why does it even have to be like that? Truth: it doesn’t. We can each choose differently.

My friends are all – each and every one – so special to me. I see your charm, your wit, your heart. I enjoy your merry laughter, your presence, and your forward momentum in life. I worry when you are in distress. I celebrate when you triumph over adversity. I celebrate your milestones. Your self-loathing? I’m betting neither of us really benefit from that. Maybe consider letting that go? You are so worthy. ❤

Really? You only need to begin again. Like, but a whole lot of times, probably, and yeah, it’s a slow transformation. It’s there for you, though. So am I.

It’s a journey with a lot of stairs to climb…