Archives for posts with tag: choose

I remember my father often saying to me “do something, even if it’s wrong”. The admonition was with regard to decision-making paralysis – those moments when one becomes so overwhelmed by some detail, moment, or selection of options as to become utterly immobilized, and unable to act. The Army also emphasizes the value of fast decision-making in a crisis, and “taking the initiative”. I’m not saying these are not useful life skills to have, I’m just wondering how often my own fear of failing to act promptly (or answer a question immediately) may have a less than desirable outcome, that could potentially have been avoided if I had allowed myself a moment to think? I mean… I get it, it sometimes matters a great deal to act quickly and appropriately to circumstances (step out from under a falling rock? Good decision), but… I can think of some circumstances when acting quickly, without thinking things through a minute, may be a poor choice (step out from under that falling rock into oncoming traffic may be less likely to end well, as an example).

I found myself, over the weekend, struggling to find the right “pace” in some conversations – jumping in too soon, and missing some relevant point or talking over my partner, or thinking over a question for so long that it begins to appear I am not listening – and the result is a distinct loss of conversational “flow” and merriment. It’s a small detail – but one that matters. Timing. I started making a point of noticing what, specifically, was driving my anxiety in those moments (since these were all friendly conversations with my Traveling Partner, there was nothing that would reasonably provoke anxiety in them), and I started to notice how often I reacted anxiously to the fear of “not being fast enough” – with an answer, a decision, an action – not even the actual timing or timeliness, just the fear of not being fast enough. I have since started really paying attention to how “the need for speed” may be driving my anxiety in circumstances where being quick has little or no practical value, and even in some where being quick with a reply is actually problematic.

My partner even mentioned, one day last week, that the pace at which I was doing some routine household task seemed “frenetic”. How odd. Really?

…Human primates are weird…

…Breathe… Exhale… Relax…

I consider that I may “miss the point” by being too quick to reply…

I consider that I may take a foolhardy action or jump to an erroneous conclusion by being too quick too act…

I consider how much less sweet one moment – any moment – may be if I “rush it along”…

…There seem to be a great many reasons to take my time, to really listen, to really consider my options before taking action, to think about the details, and yes, to take a moment to step back from the details to consider things in context, too…

I think about that chill, calm, experience of self (and life) that I enjoy most… there’s not a lot of rushing things through involved in that; it’s a more measured way, more considered – and considerate. One thing sure seems obvious…

I need to begin again.

Which matters more, skillful self-care or following through on plans? Or, how about this one, is keeping regular hours more important than “being there” for a friend? Or, what about “work life balance” – is the work more important than the life? Is the income more important than the quality of the experience? Is it more necessary to be a skillful emotionally self-sufficient adult, or to hold on to a child-like sense of wonder, whimsy, and joy?

Here’s a thought; maybe stop trying to divide every damned thing neatly into two clear choices? Life does not actually exist in that form in any common way. We have immense power over our own experience, through our choices, and life’s menu is far more vast than any one false dichotomy.

Yes – good self-care really matters. When I don’t care for myself skillfully (nutrition meals, appropriate caloric intake, good sleep hygiene, getting enough exercise, taking prescribed medication on time as directed, following a strict meditation practice, and generally treating myself as someone who matters to me), my world and my experience of life slowly begins to degrade over time, until my quality of life overall suffers, and I am not the person I most want to be.

Yes – following through on commitments matter. We count on each other as a community. Our shared strength far exceeds our individual strengths. Planning and following through allows us all to level up based on shared strengths.

Yes – work/life balance matters; when we work for pay, what we “earn” is a direct conversion of our life force into spendable currency that we need to meet other obligations and care for ourselves, but it also comes at the cost of giving up precious limited life time, life force, and individual resources. Clearly, there needs to be a balance, and most likely that balance should favor us as individuals, rather than our employers, generally. Or so it seems to me. We are not machinery.

Yes – learning to adult skillfully takes a lot of the strain out of adulting at all. If we can’t adult for ourselves, more than likely we’ve pushed that burden off onto someone else, who is now having to be the grown up in the room for more than one person. Be your own boss. Be your own grown up. Be the person you most want to be.

Yes – child-like wonder, a sense of whimsy and fun, a playful nature, and the willingness to let go a little, and to enjoy life, are delicious additions to a generally adult experience of life. I highly recommend it – but perhaps not the expense of the adulting basics necessary to keep one’s shit together appropriately day-to-day. <shrugs> I don’t know. Do you.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not a choice between two things. That’s a gross over-simplification of how real life works for real people in a real world; it’s so much more complicated than that, so much richer. Choices. Subtlety. Nuance. All the things.

I know. It sounds like a lot to deal with, and it is so easy to become overwhelmed. Narrowing things down to two clear choices seems so much easier – but that’s an illusion. It’s a game we made up that doesn’t really work very well, due to overlooking all the many other choices beyond just whatever to we’ve decided to admit exist in the moment. Mix and match. Choose your adventure. Allow yourself the freedom to look at the whole menu, don’t just sit down to life’s table and fall back on some shortcut for efficiency’s sake – this is your fucking life!! Live it.

Should I go to the store for windshield washer fluid at the end of a long work day – because I do need it – or should I “just skip it” because I am tired? Well, come on now, there are clearly more choices, right? I could… pick it up on the morning from the gas station down the street on my way. I could order it online and have it delivered, and hope that I don’t really need it sooner than that. I could make some homemade from ingredients on hand. So… yeah. More than two choices, by far. This is true of most experiences. Give yourself a chance to consider more than two choices. Yes, and even consider choices that you, perhaps, see as “not really an option”; you may be filtering out more than you realize.

False dichotomies are everywhere in our thinking. Advertising is practically built on them. Politics, too. It’s a lot of bullshit, frankly, and we can do better. That is also a choice. Are you ready to choose differently? Are you ready to begin again?

I’ll head out this morning, and in a relatively short time (hours) I’ll catch up with my Traveling Partner for the weekend. Friends. Music. Goings on. The weekend. Lovely – and I am so looking forward to it! I’ve missed him greatly.

I plan my route with care this morning. See, there’s this particular experience I have pretty much every time I make this trip, and it’s not pleasant. There’s rather a long stretch of “highway” that is almost always gridlocked, aggravating, and populated with frustrated aggressive drivers, a handful of unskilled ones, and lurking in the mix, one or two people who are actually straight up “up to no good” – you know the ones; folks that get angry, take shit personally, and then act out their anger in real life putting everyone else at great risk. Drivers who “brake check” someone following them uncomfortably closely, or who is simply driving faster than they are. Drivers who deliberately cut other drivers off – and then “brake check” them, to “make a point” or otherwise demonstrate dominance. Drivers who “match speeds” with a car in an adjacent lane specifically to prevent another driver from passing them. It’s dumb – and it’s dangerous. Fuck, people, just drive your god damned car, and do it safely. Focus on what you’re doing in the world, yourself. Shit.

See? I’m already caught up in a moment that hasn’t even happened yet. I don’t enjoy that, and I would prefer not to just hand over the keys to my emotional experience to some rando fuckknob in a car. lol So. I am replanning my route with greater understanding of what I want from my experience in life, instead of letting my gps direct me down the same road everyone else is taking.

I have the time to enjoy the drive. I shoot for making it enjoyable, instead of “efficient”. Can I literally not even travel that stretch of highway at all, perhaps? Looks like I can – on a smaller rural road. My gps would not ever even consider this route; it’s a bit too close to the interstate highway, and the gps doesn’t really understand why I would choose anything else. In miles, it’s a bit more distance to drive, but in estimated time it’s very nearly the same. Speed matters, and the section of interstate I won’t be driving rarely moves faster than a residential street as it is. Do I mind not driving freeway speeds? Not at all. Not a thing with me, it’s more about a comfortable experience ofย  being neither rushed nor crowded. I plan my route down this rural “state highway”, and find that it avoids basically the entire stretch of the freeway that aggravates me. Nice. What will the experience be like? I don’t know – I haven’t had it yet. I do know it won’t be “the same” – because I have chosen differently. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s a metaphor. You have choices. Begin again. โค

Be who you are. I say it. Other people say it. I think when it is said, it’s generally well-intended, and a sincere expression of an understanding of being that implies being all of the best of who we are, and hopefully still contains a kernel of awareness that reducing ourselves to our own worst qualities, as we understand those ourselves, is not at all the intention. But… just in case… I’ll go ahead and say that, too; being who you are implies being who you are wholly, with skill, and with your fundamental good-nature and humanity intact. Don’t just dissolve in a heated moment, becoming your inner most slime mold. lol That’s less… yeah. It’s less. Less well than you could choose to do. Less pleasant among all your character qualities. Less ideally you than even you would have you be. Yep. Still a shit load of verbs involved there, and some willful decision-making, and the needs to manage your chaos and damage with a modicum of adulting – and you will fail. Sometimes. Other times, you will rock the shit out of all that adulting, and friends and loved ones will be astonished by your general awesomeness and ability to love and treat others well. Mostly, I’ve found, I fall somewhere between those two extremes, day-to-day. Doing my best. Capable of improving on that. Working to improve over time, and become more the woman I most want to be.

Authenticity is a big deal. You really are you, and not someone else. Becoming the person you most want to be isn’t about faking something, or wearing a mask, or playing dress up. When I say I want to become the woman I most want to be, I mean in all the best ways I see myself, and then maybe improving on that – in a bunch of other ways I would like to see myself, but don’t yet, because I’m legitimately not that, yet. We become what we practice. If I want to be accepted as being gracious, calm, and loving, it is necessary for me to practice actions and behaviors that are gracious, calm and loving. Those qualities don’t become “who I am” until there has been so much practice, sufficiently skillfully, and entirely sincerely, that over time the behaviors themselves become my default behavior, and the thinking behind them has become, over time, my natural way of thinking. Am I “faking it” in the meantime? Nope. I’m practicing. Still has to be “the real deal” – I can’t grit my teeth, clench my jaw, and go through the motions (that’s not practicing a behavior, that’s enduring having to comply with a commitment, perhaps, but it’s not “practice” – which requires a certain amount of “buy in” and willingness to change). “Fake it to make it” isn’t a thing I do, myself, because I don’t think that works for me. The key is in the word “fake”. I prefer to rephrase that well-meaning sentiment as “we become what we practice”.

Don’t be fake. Get real.

Who do you most want to be? Behave as though you are already that person – because those behaviors align to your values. (If they don’t, is that really who you want to be, or are you just saying that because someone else wants that of you? Something to think about.) Sure, there is awareness and effort involved, and every day choices matter a lot. It helps, too, to have an understanding of who you already are. Ask the hard questions of yourself. Look yourself in the eye and call shenanigans on your own bullshit – leave all those other people out of it, they’ve got their own hard mile to walk.

Being authentically this person that I am doesn’t permit me to be nasty to people and just say “well that’s who I am, accept me” in any comfortable way (I’ve seen a lot of people take this strategy, though). I find, instead, that it forces a certain uncomfortable obligation to be authentically vulnerable about where I could improve, or change, based on my own understanding of myself and what I want of me. Yep. Being authentically me, accepting of myself, and non-judgmentally aware of “who I am right now” doesn’t alleviate the burden of self-reflection and personal growth, and it doesn’t allow me to break my social contract with the world (which is basically an agreement to treat others well, based on certain common standards). What it does do is place my growth and progress in life in my own hands, based on my own choices. I can choose to be the worst of what I am capable of – or the best – or I can fall somewhere between the extremes. I can choose to progress, to do nothing, or to fall behind. I can act using my own will and agency, or allow learned helplessness to stall me in the moment. All choices. I can choose authenticity – or I can choose to go through the motions, resenting my lot in life.

Thoughts on a Wednesday morning, as I prepare to begin again. Real-ly.

I woke much earlier than my alarm. Early enough to do yoga, shower, dress, and make an Americano before my alarm would have gone off. I’m quite alert and wide awake, and feel rather as if weeks and weeks of fatigue and illness are finally behind me. Still have the weird headache. Still have more future appointments to deal with it. Still have the arthritis pain. Still bitching about that. It is morning. I am human. ๐Ÿ™‚

I sip my coffee contentedly, noting how good it is this morning and just really enjoying that. It is a Friday, tomorrow is the weekend. I feel relaxed and at ease – because, partly, I’ve chosen to practice having this experience of relaxed contentment, learned to build and sustain that over time, and it’s become (if not my default “state of being”) quite common to feel this way. It is a huge improvement over being mired in despair, chronically frustrated, and wondering endlessly what the point even is to living. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ll straight up say it; I got here with my choices. I got here with practice. There were – and are – verbs involved. Practicing practices is an ongoing thing; this is not a task, these are processes. This is me, living my life, and my results vary – right now, this moment here? It’s very pleasant. ๐Ÿ™‚

There is stuff yet to do. Housekeeping. Tidying up. Maintenance. Repairing, cleaning and maintaining. lol There’s also brunch with a friend, hang out time with another, and perhaps a lovely hike with a new camera on a pleasant Sunday morning. ๐Ÿ˜€ I get to choose. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m ready to begin again. Let’s start this day!