Archives for posts with tag: clear expectation setting

It’s funny how a long-held dream or goal sometimes unfolds very differently than I imagined it might. House in the country? Check. Well… I mean… it’s well away from the city, and there is a large-ish farm across the road… The house itself? It’s in a small suburban neighborhood at the edge of a small town. lol It’s not exactly “rural” in m most respects, and quite convenient – even rather “walkable” (although the country lane that runs between our neighborhood and the farm on the other side is perhaps less than ideal for walking; it’s a busy road, and narrow in spots).

I’m not complaining. I love this little house. I love the view from the deck. The house manages to be both larger than I thought I could afford, and much smaller than I thought I might want. lol There’s a lot of that sort of thing cropping up as dreams become realities. It’s a bit like a chapter in Alice in Wonderland. How lovely, though, that generally the translations of my dreams into reality have been so much more likely to be a pleasant surprise instead of a disappointment, these days. (I’ll note that I don’t think this reflects a change in “the way things turn out” as much as it reflects a change in my perspective on things and ways, generally.)

That gets me thinking about books I got over the Giftmas holiday that I haven’t yet finished, and other books I’d also like to read. I think about a favorite bookstore, and wonder when the pandemic will really end? I do miss a bit of proper shopping. 🙂 Today will be a good day to read, too.

Similarly, my anticipated “regular local mile” – which I figured would likely be right here in my own neighborhood (and that has been a frequent walk) – turns out to be nearby, but still about a 10-minute drive or so… and about 5 miles away. It’s a lovely forested walk. There is a 1-mile loop, and a 1/2-mile loop. It’s the sort of lush bit of forest that I love, and the trail carries me up and down the hills, and over a creek a couple times, and around and through the forest until it returns to the trailhead. It’s quite lovely. I’ll probably go there often. I went yesterday. I’m planning to go today – I may do both loops (I like it that much).

Yesterday the approach to the trailhead was quite foggy when I got started.

It’s a good season for walking and reflecting, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, in this area where winter’s are generally relatively mild. (Maybe snow or ice later in January, or in February?) I enjoy the walking for more than fitness; I find that it “clears my head” and gives me literal “breathing room” for sorting things out and “gazing inward” while I enjoy the scenery along the trail. Taking pictures helps keep me grounded and anchored to “now”, as I walk. (I don’t do well stuck in my head.)

It was a beautiful misty morning for a walk.

I remind myself to run an errand on the way back from my walk this morning. I mean… for sure, that’s convenient, why not? I hope I still remember when the time comes… lol

The Vine Maples and Big Leaf Maples extend their bare branches, but without their leaves, I can see almost all the way across the park from a high vantage point on one side.

The muddy trails don’t fret me. They are still passable and fairly safe, and I always bring my cane for trail walking or hiking. I love the tangles of branches, the morning mist, and the puddles reflecting the sky.

Lovely little city park. It’s enough. 🙂 More than enough.

I sip my coffee and look over yesterday’s pictures. They distract me from the pain in my neck, which is quite a feat. I smile and sip my coffee, feeling wholly content and satisfied with this moment, right here. I think of my Traveling Partner, hearing him move about in the other room. I’ll invite him to go walking with me. He’ll look out at the chilly gray rather rainy looking day, and smile and say “No, thank you.”

My partner appears in the doorway as if I’d called to him, just as I begin to turn my chair to go ask if he’d like to go walking with me. He looks apologetic, kind, and very serious. “You may want to just avoid me today,” he says in that loving apologetic tone I know so well, “I just hurt that much, and I don’t want to treat you badly or take it out on you at all.” I nod. I let him know I understand and that I’m okay with that; I hurt too. It’s not an ideal combination of humans-in-pain, sometimes. We take our best care of each other, some days, by alerting the other we’re not fit companionship, at all, and making room to love each other with a little space between us. It’s a much better practice than some I’ve seen, and it works for us. No hurt feelings. Clear expectations.

So…a quiet Sunday, a walk, some housekeeping, laundry, and I’ll probably bake cookies and bars for the week, too. Before any of that? I’ll have to begin again. 😀

…Is what I want to say. I hear the echo of the intent in my thoughts any time life or love go sideways, even for a moment. I’m not so good at getting the words out there… soon enough? Calmly enough? Sufficiently lacking in any expression of emotional intensity that might tend to cause skepticism about my intentions? Yeah. Probably all of that. More. Other stuff I don’t think to manage, to deal with, to minimize, limit, regulate, scale down… I’m right here, every bit of me. Ferociously human. You too?

It’s a very quiet solo evening. I do need this time, he’s right about that. I miss him anyway. I manage to miss his scent, his voice, his hugs, his laughter – everything about his presence that is easy I miss with a fierceness akin to physical pain, as though something I need has been taken from me. I sometimes miss the harder stuff too, the qualities that challenge me to be the very best human I can, the very best lover, the most well-intentioned, authentic, supportive, affectionate and gracious being I could ever craft from the raw materials I’ve got… He’s every bit as human as I am myself, so there’s plenty to challenge me to grow. We fail each other regularly in small ways, rarely in any big ones.

Love matters most.

Love matters most.

The week together has been an interesting mix of easy and challenging. I find myself thinking over the things that worked so well, the things that didn’t work as easily, even taking time to tenderly consider the moment or two that went poorly; it’s nice to notice how few of those there really were. I know that in our human hearts those can sometimes weigh most heavily in our thoughts. I’m no expert, but I’m definitely done with treating myself badly when I fall short of my own expectations – and those are hard enough to keep up with – I am done, too, with beating myself up when I fall short of someone else’s expectations. I’ve a long journey ahead as a human being. One step at a time is fast enough, and slow progress is still progress. For him, too; love can afford to be patient, to be kind.

I still struggle with interrupting people, especially if I am especially passionate, engaged, or excited about the topic being discussed. Listening deeply doesn’t come naturally to me. I practice. I do my best. I let it go when I don’t get it right, and I begin again. It matters enough that practice is worth it, and incremental change over time is enough. ‘The interrupting thing’ is especially difficult for people to take. I get it. I get interrupted a lot, and even by people who ‘don’t do that’ – because I don’t limit my speech to short phrases, very simple language,  and don’t do brevity with any ease… or even staying entirely on topic, I suppose. I speak very much the way I write. Whatever this is. Wordy. Verbose? Too much sometimes. I know – I accept it because it’s who I am, and I don’t mind it. I like the poetry of language, and the connection of good communication. I have time to listen, the interest, the intent, the desire to be sufficiently considerate and dialed in to the person I am talking with to really make a great conversation… only… I also interrupt. I’ll keep working on that, World, if you’ll just keep showing up so I can practice.

Tonight is easy. At long last, at least being alone with the woman in the mirror is easy. It wasn’t always. Tonight, this is enough.

 

Simply enough, life is fairly unpredictable whether or not my assumptions and expectations are accurate.

What are your obstacles made of? How do you overcome them?

What are your obstacles made of? How do you overcome them?

Certainly, life is even more unpredictable if my expectations are wildly off the mark, and my assumptions are untested made up bullshit in my head. It’s easy enough for that to happen; most of what we ‘know’ amounts to the sum of a lot of internal expectation setting within ourselves, and assumptions we made about events, the expectations of others, their assumptions, and what things mean to other people (we generally assume they share our understanding and definitions of terms) – and based on observation in my own interactions alone, it’s fairly clear that few of us rigorously fact-check our assumptions, or share our expectations clearly in advance of disappointment or unexpected change, or ensure that we are working with a shared definition of terms. I’m just saying; set clear expectations explicitly, understand that life changes things without warning, and be sure to test your assumptions. Being wrong happens, it’s part of the human experience, refusing to change your position, and perspective, in the face of new information is kind of a dick move, and doesn’t do much for relationship building.

Being present on life's journey brings more into view.

Being present on life’s journey brings more into view.

Yesterday’s hike was lovely, and the rainy start to the day was no deterrent. It stopped raining long enough for a merry hike on unfamiliar muddy trails, and conversation with friend.  It was time well-spent. I arrived home feeling renewed, and able to provide my traveling partner the emotional support he needed for most of the remainder of the day, until my fatigue – and very human limitations – finally stopped me. I have more to learn about setting clear expectations when I see myself reaching my limits.

It's a journey. My journey. I am my own cartographer; it helps to be aware of the path.

It’s a journey. My journey. I am my own cartographer; it helps to be aware of the path.

Today is a good day to begin again.

Yesterday was cold – winter-cold, as in to say ‘it’s winter’. Yep. It’s generally the time of year for winter holidays in the northern hemisphere. I went to work bundled up in weather appropriate garb, and still felt stiff and cold by the time I got to the office. By the end of the day, I was in a nearly unmanageable amount of pain, and chose to bring my evening to an early close after a hot shower. I didn’t get to sleep any earlier, really, but I also didn’t treat anyone poorly. This morning I wake, stiff and hurting. Winter often brings more pain, and I find myself aware that my own awareness of that isn’t helping…I set that thought aside and reach for another, and my coffee.

On my way in to the office yesterday, I explored the recent significant increase in my anxiety level (work related), and used a variety of new tools and skills to take a look at more closely than I have. I used perspective to give myself an improved sense of scale and recognized it isn’t actually as severe as it once was. I used walking meditation to remain engaged in the moment, and aware of my emotional experience without judgement, and the seeming profundity of the feelings diminished considerably. I used body scan practices to sort out the emotions from the sensations, which tends to change the sense of an emotion from being very significant, to simply being, further alleviating the anxiety. I used cognitive practices I learned using SuperBetter – like a ‘reality check’ – to decrease my tendency to escalate internally based on untested assumptions, and each practice I practiced took me a step further from being anxious. The root cause was clear and obvious as soon as my heart was calm and my thinking was clear; it’s really just work anxiety. Hardly noteworthy; I’m sure everyone has occasional anxiety about work, career, employment…something in that area.

Work anxiety isn’t pleasant, and it does keep me up at night and messes with my sleep…but…what if my messed up sleep is actually causing the anxiety? What if it isn’t ‘real’ at all? Thoughts…emotions…both rather astonishingly lacking in substance…maybe I shouldn’t be so ready to attribute cause and effect, or be haphazard about assigning relative importance? As I walked I allowed myself to consider the extreme…what if ‘the worst’ happened? I startled myself to laugh out loud when I realized I was – even now – holding on to ‘losing my job’ as some  pinnacle of misery, some worst case scenario. It isn’t. My employment, what I do for a living, may well be the very least important, significant, or defining quality about me as a human being; its damned near irrelevant…particularly because of the person I am, and the values I hold, and what I hold most dear about myself, and life. Work? It’s a characteristic, and changeable. I’m a human primate; I’m adaptable. The loss of any one job doesn’t have more significance than any other change – unless I allow it to.  I felt a bit of vertigo as my values kicked my anxiety in the nuts. The work day was just fine – other than the pain I’m in.

It's all about perspective. What we choose to look at changes what we see.

It’s all about perspective. What we choose to look at changes what we see.

I woke this morning, stiff, and with a headache. The air feels too dry. I’m a bit cross. I do what I can to set clear expectations and boundaries with regard to mornings; it takes about an hour for my medication to be fully effective, for my brain to really come back online, and for my stiff joints to regain some mobility.  I take active steps to avoid interacting with people until I can more easily and reliably treat them well. Funny how often – even in the face of that very clear, very specific expectation and boundary setting – some human primate or another will crowd me, or try to have reasoned dialogue about…well, damned near anything. I’m just not ready. My traveling partner knows me well. He too is a human primate, and the recipient of some of my boundary and expectation setting. Tip for other free-range human primates: if you are going to step across that line, arriving with a hot tasty latte is an excellent success strategy. LOL My Americano was tasty, and hot… but there’s nothing ‘creamy’ about an Americano. As it turns out, I find ‘creamy’ an extraordinary delight in the morning. I still hurt. I still have this headache. Now I also have this tasty latte, and a really charming funny guy to hang out with before work!

Today is a good day to take things as they come. Today is a good day to be adaptable, flexible, and to make the best assumptions of others, where assumptions must be made at all. Today is a good day to change the world.