Archives for posts with tag: choose

We don’t necessarily choose where we start our journey; our starting point is what it is. We can choose our direction. We can choose each step along the way (although we often trudge through our lives more haphazardly than that). We can choose (and embrace) change. We often don’t. I know I too frequently endure what could be changed… endurance has been sort of habitual for me, and often seems “easier” as a result.

Enduring misery seems kind of stupid when choices can be made. If a job or relationship feels miserable, why would we not choose to change it? This could mean walking away, it could be taking a new approach or setting new/different boundaries and expectations. So many choices. So many opportunities to use the power of choice and change…

Choosing can seem pretty difficult, itself. I’m not sure I have good insights on why that is. Change feels scary sometimes. Choosing it brings that fear into prominence, up close, intimately connected with how I see myself, and what I may think I “deserve” in life. Weird, right? I mean… how strange that one might choose to endure misery rather than face one’s fears about change, or reflect on what we can or should do to care for ourselves.

Some weeks ago, I admitted to my Traveling Partner that I am not happy with my current job. Commonplace enough. His response to that, looking back, seems pretty rational and practical, too. “Maybe it’s time to look for something different?” I replied “Maybe. Probably.” I reflected on that conversation, and my circumstances… new mortgage…a desire for stability…fearfulness of change…and a job that I was not finding satisfying because I’m not finding success in it (based on my own definition of success, which requires – for me – that my best work also be effective). Endure? Or… seek change? Could the needed change be achieved where I am? Do I even want that based on all the information at hand?

These sorts of questions work whether the struggle is to do with jobs, projects, relationships… pretty “all purpose” for contemplating purposeful change in life. 😀

One morning, I made a choice.

Anyway. The “tl;dr” of the thing is that I started looking at other opportunities, and found something that suits me better. Time to make that change happen. Time to walk on. Time to live with purpose and time to choose.

…And it’s time to begin again. 😀

Choosing change can bring such tremendous calm. Choices made become contemplation of next steps, a plan develops, new choices, other actions, and with care and consideration, momentum toward a chosen change begins to build. Plans begin to become outcomes. Through all of it, chaos is managed through practices chosen for their proven success at managing chaos. Meditation. Good self-care. Self-compassion. Non-attachment.

I’m walking my own path. I am my own cartographer.

Sure, I already know my results will vary. I understand that the map is not the world. I embrace the new beginnings life offers. I continue to practice, and work toward becoming the woman I most want to be. So far, it’s enough; incremental change over time seems to be something I can count on.

For now, I’m sipping my coffee contentedly. I’ve chosen change, and made a plan, and each step forward takes me a step further down my path. Where does it lead? I don’t really know that; the future, at least how I am able to experience it, is not yet written. There are changes that occur around me, some chosen by others, some simply turns of circumstance, and perhaps those will become the sorts of things that change something in my own experience, too. Change is.

I stare out at a gray wintry sky. It hints at rain. There is snow in the forecast. It’s a gray rather uneventful day. I think about baking coffee cake to snack on later. I smile recalling my Traveling Partner’s request for specific flavors, winter spices. Vanilla glaze on that, I think, sipping my coffee. It’s a lovely partnership to share, and I take a moment for gratitude as he walks away after standing close, rubbing my shoulders as I write. Hot coffee, cold day, and the warmth of being loved… nice moment.

“This too shall pass”, my brain rather grimly reminds me. I laugh back, because, sure, yeah, that’s true… but I have memories of love and partnership for a lifetime, and an enduring relationship to enjoy now, whatever the future may hold. That’s enough. More than enough. It’s honestly pretty splendid compared to a lot of the options in the vastness of human experience, right? 🙂

I look at the time. My break is over, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂

Pandemic life… is still life. Appointments get made. Some get rescheduled. Most get attended. Projects get started, some even get finished. There are decisions to make, and decisions to delay. Change is. Change always is. I mean… for most values of “always”. 🙂

I’m taking a breathe, and a break, and contemplating changes, and choosing change. The details matter, but eventually it comes down to the choice to be made, and subsequent follow-through. Life, love, or work… we have opportunities, and choices. Am I where I most want to be? Can I choose differently and get closer to the goal? Does this path even go there? The questions are ways to reconsider the choices with care.

I find myself reflecting on times in my life when I felt as if I “had no choice”. Times when I felt trapped by my circumstances were far more often a matter of being trapped by my own decision-making (or lack of willingness to choose differently). I’m not living that life now. It’s very freeing to have choices – and to choose.

Some decisions are harder than others. The decision to walk carefully over dangerous terrain is probably pretty obvious. It may feel much more difficult to choose a flavor of ice cream from a case with many flavors, or to select “just the right earrings”. Importance matters too; a disappointing choice of ice cream flavor does not have much lasting impact on life – or the moment. There’s all that messy bit about how a choice is executed, and what the outcome may look like, when it is happening in the moment… a concern for another day. This morning I’m just thinking about choices. 🙂 I had a choice to make, and having it made it, I anticipate the requirement to make another. Once that’s made, and the outcome begins to unfold, only then will I have a real sense of the success or failure of my decision-making.

…Here’s a really cool thing about decisions; wisely made decisions lead to useful or favorable outcomes. Nice. Poorly made decisions? Here’s where it gets awesome; poorly made decisions lead to growth – and wisdom – that improves later decision-making. Incremental change over time is “about” choices and practices.

…And it’s time to begin again.

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?