Archives for posts with tag: consider this

Are you rushing to get to work? Rushing through waking up, showering, dressing? Rushing to be out the door “on time”? Breathless with anxiety before you even start the car? Already thinking about the day ahead in such specific detail that you’ve “borrowed trouble” to fret about before you even have any in the moment?

I used to do that. I don’t now. It was a good change to make, to slow down in the mornings. 🙂 Maybe not life-saving, but certainly life-changing. I went from a fairly tightly timed morning routine that took 17 minutes from the alarm clock to the click of the front door closing behind me, and reliably got me on the bus heading into town 3 minutes later (the stop was just across the street from my apartment). Any deviation from my routine put me at risk of being late to work, and I had huge issues with time, timeliness, and time management, at that time in my life (I wasn’t bad at it, just really tense and weird about it on this whole unnecessary level). Being late – or thinking I might be – was a fast track to temper tantrums and treating people poorly (myself included). It was a shitty way to live, and it didn’t make me more efficient, or even on time more often.

What do I do now? It’s pretty low tech, honestly; I get up earlier. Like, I get up a lot earlier. I get up “earlier than I need to” by quite a bit. Most variations in desired arrival time at work don’t require me to change when I get up in the morning, that’s how much earlier I get up. Right now, it’s easily 90 minutes after my alarm goes off before I need to leave, and I could as easily leave the house fully 3 hours after I wake up and still be “on time” from the perspective of a salaried employee, and I sometimes do. It’s lovely, really, to be genuinely awake when I leave for work, to be able to write at leisure even on work days, to have adequate time to dress, shower, do some yoga, and even meditate before work – and still have time to write. It puts me on the path to being my best self each day.

I got home last night tired and frustrated by feeling the cold I thought I was over trying to make a comeback. I really don’t need the hassle or inconvenience, and I sat quietly frustrated, tears of exhausted aggravation coursing down my face for some minutes. Just… tired. I skipped the company summer block party over it, too. Came directly home. No chores. No video entertainment. No music. Hell, I didn’t even pick up a book. Just sat, staring rather blankly, sipping chicken broth or tea, until I was “sleepy enough” to just go lay the fuck down and rest. I was asleep early. I slept hard. Deeply. Uninterrupted. I was irritated by the weird repetitive noise that woke me – my alarm. It took nearly a full minute to figure that out and shut it off. I turned the lamp on and off a couple times, puzzled why the noise was not stopping. lol Usually I am awakened by the subtle “click” sound that immediately precedes the alarm actually going off. lol

I definitely needed the restful night. I woke feeling more myself. Still cross about this cold trying to come back – and of course, immediately as the fucking weekend begins. That’s becoming a source of real frustration for me, lately; the weekend is my one real opportunity each week to get some legit downtime, and it’s so rare any more to just enjoy one. I’m sick. Or traveling. Or moving. Or I’m sick. Or I have tons of shit that just must get done, non-negotiable. Or I’m doing something for someone. Or I’m sick again. Or I’ve gotten injured. Or I’m traveling. Or… I need to slow down. Again. And maybe not just in the mornings. Mornings? I’ve got those down at this point. 🙂

It’s a journey. No single change, no one practice, solves for X in every one of life’s equations. There are more verbs. More opportunity to do more/better, while also practicing skillful self-care, and figuring out what is actually worth doing well and more often. Being and becoming are a massively challenging jigsaw puzzle, and the pieces not yet fit into the puzzle are all jumbled up together in an untidy pile; sometimes it isn’t clear which pieces are most valuable in any particular moment. I’m still such a beginner at this being human thing!

I finish my coffee. Take a deep breath, look at the clock, and exhale slowly. It’s time to begin again. 🙂

It’s been a lovely weekend, generally. The sunshine, mild weather, and the comfortable intimacy and camaraderie of long-standing love were welcome, and I’ve very much enjoyed the experience. Still human, still dealing with my chaos and damage, still practicing practices, investing in growth, studying the basics of love and The Art of Being, so the weekend has had the occasional moment like clouds passing by.

Flowers and sunshine, a favorite way to get perspective.

Flowers and sunshine, a favorite way to get perspective.

One of the most difficult things to learn, for me, is to appreciate and value my successes, myself, even the small ones. It’s especially difficult to do if I am busily consumed by being hard on myself for something that didn’t go well, or feels like a failure, or a mistake. Celebrating the win has so much value, though, and counts for so little in my implicit memory without the additional focus and repetition; I only need to hear how horribly wrong something has gone once to feel the full weight of circumstances and consequences, and to punish myself with self-criticism, frustration, and disappointment. There are verbs involved, these are not passive processes; I invest in my emotional experience, and I have choices. The choices are not always easy, or obvious, and sometimes I am fighting myself with will that has been damaged by years of learned helplessness.

Flowers exist in many forms, and colors, with a variety of scents, thriving in many different environments; there's a metaphor there.

Flowers exist in many forms, and colors, with a variety of scents, thriving in many different environments; there’s a metaphor there.

The PTSD has its moment to shine, of course, and this weekend I learned some new things about what I may be reacting to, under some conditions that have mystified me for a long while. We are each having our own experience, and any one of us understands our own pain far more easily than we understand anyone else’s. Many unexpected – and valued –  insights come from others. Finding both compassion and self-compassion without becoming distracted by the volatility of emotions in the moment is rather like I imagine it might be to walk a high-wire in a windstorm, blind-folded with boots on.

Wind-tossed flowers  are no less lovely because they are difficult to photograph.

Wind-tossed flowers are no less lovely because they are difficult to photograph.

It’s still been a lovely weekend full of flowers, and sunshine, and love…fearless, undeniable, passionate, robust, straight-up dependable love. Walking love’s path isn’t always soft grass on bare feet, that’s all – sometimes it is taking careful, considerate, mindful steps across a construction site littered with project scraps, and the occasional jagged something-or-other that is too easy to trip over. There are verbs involved. Sometimes emotion overcomes reason, however briefly. There’s no loss of love. I sit smiling and thinking of my traveling partner, and this journey that has taken us so far together, and considering the small wins, and small errors, mindful of the potential to learn and grow and become more the woman I most want to be.  Love is worthy of the investment in time, growth, and deep listening.

Being patience and looking closer pays off.

Being patient and looking closer pays off.

Love is a big deal. Beginning with me, and filling this fragile vessel with all the goodness of heart, consideration, compassion, and regard that I might offer to someone I love begins with treating myself with that same goodness of heart, consideration, compassion, and regard. It looks easy on paper. In practice, I find that I easily undermine my efforts there when I put concerns about someone who matters ahead of letting me matter, first. It’s a strange thing. If I worry, for example, about someone’s feelings being hurt if I am ‘too curt’ with them about distracting me with conversation while I am working on something, instead of simply setting that boundary in an uncomplicated way, I increase the likelihood that I may express myself poorly, being vague, or understating my boundary, or becoming frustrated or resentful before speaking up about it. I create a difficulty for myself that taking care of me in a more authentic way would have prevented, if I speak up simply and clearly. As life lesson’s go, an important one.

However humble, even small successes are worthy of a moment of appreciation.

However humble, even small successes are worthy of a moment of appreciation.

Still…it’s a lovely weekend. Today is a good day to grow. Today is a good day to appreciate the growth that has already been achieved. Today is a good day to let go of taking things personally. Today is a good day to simply be. Today is a good day for love – and flowers.

There is value in perspective, and in enjoying the moment.

There is value in perspective, and in enjoying the moment.

I woke earlier than I wanted to, again this morning. I found myself, moments later, musing over a tasty latte my traveling partner made for me how strange it is that not so long ago I was reliably the first person awake every morning, even on weekend days. There were hours of quiet solo time on weekend mornings, rarely seeing anyone else awake before 8:00 am; time during which I could not easily get started on chores, and music would be ‘headphones only’, while the household slept, quiet time for reading, for meditation, for creative thought. Things changed at some point, though I am unsure quite when, or why. Now, I’m not only not the first person up on weekend mornings, I am seemingly utterly unable to ‘sleep in’. It just isn’t there for me, right now; the common sounds of movement, conversation, cupboards, doors, drawers, and conversation just don’t permit it. (I’d have to be heavily drugged to sleep through all of it, and I don’t take those sorts of drugs these days; the side effects and consequences are not worth it, long-term.)

I woke feeling reasonably rested, though, and not excessively discontent at the lack of languorous sensuous waking up time – it’s been so long since I enjoyed that experience I have begun to doubt it exists in reality. I dragged myself out of bed, and managed to refrain from bitching about being awakened, again. Meditation, and a few still calm minutes matter, and make a difference; I managed to keep from bitching aloud about the unsatisfying experience. The morning’s irritating wake up was behind me pretty quickly, and I sat sipping my latte after meditating, and enjoying the charm and delight of the holiday decor, the tree and the lights, and the quiet beauty of a pearly sunrise.

I’m enjoying my second coffee of the morning, an ordinary Americano, an ordinary morning. The laundry is started. The dishes are put away, and the dishwasher set up for the day’s coffee cups, plates, and flatware. I took my time with my morning yoga sequence, and because although I woke with a nasty headache, and a measure of arthritis pain, I didn’t feel quite as stiff as I often do, I tried a fairly simple arm-balance, my first such attempt. I happily toppled over a couple of times, trying again, until I was certain of two things: this will be easier when I’ve lost a few more pounds, and this is also something that requires patience with myself, and more practice. I feel satisfied with the attempt, and proud of myself to have come so far at all.

A holiday scene, for lack of a better segue.

A holiday scene, for lack of a better segue.

This morning I am thinking about contentment and consideration. It is mere coincidence that they both begin with ‘C’, but having noticed that, I’m finding it hard to let go of it, wondering what other related things I can add to the list that also begin with ‘C’. (My thinking brain is jumping into the morning with real enthusiasm – and full of distractions. lol) The point of today’s exercise is not lists of words that begin with the letter ‘C’, however. Today I am taking time to carefully consider which of my actions and choices are genuinely considerate of the needs and experience of others, and which are being rationalized as ‘considerate’, when in fact they are actions and choices that are specifically intended to meet needs of my own, any consideration involved being a byproduct, not an intention, or matter of will. It’s an important distinction, I think, because I am making choices; it seems necessary that my intention be entirely clear, at least to me.

Most inconsiderate behavior I observe – whether my own, or someone else’s – seems pretty consistently, and fairly literally, ‘thoughtless’. That makes sense considering the very definition of ‘considerate’. Do I have the will – and ability – to make each choice a thoughtful one? To make each action intentional? To truly consider the potential outcomes of each choice, each action, in advance? How much potential for joy, delight, and nurturing do I lose each time I take an action, or say words, thoughtlessly? Mindlessly?

Mindfully treating the world well, really being a considerate human being, is a very big deal; much of what is amiss in the world, regardless of the cause, could potentially be mitigated, if not entirely resolved, if each of us were truly, sincerely, wholeheartedly mindful and considerate. I don’t think I’m wrong about this one…but I don’t know that I have words enough, or the intellect, to deliver to you inarguable logical proofs. I look out into the world, though, and I can’t help but wonder… Would kidnapping and raping as a tool of warfare be a choice a considerate human being could make? Could a mindful, considerate law enforcement officer choke an unarmed man to death by willful intent, and aware of the deliberate nature of that choice? Could protesters become looters, or nihilists, in the passion of the moment – if they were considering the outcomes of their actions with willful intent, and consideration of their fellow human beings who would be affected? Could business leaders still justify forcing employees to involuntary labor on Thanksgiving Day, if they were making those choices with full consideration of the needs of others, and the impact on the hearts, souls, and experiences of their colleagues were in the forefront of their intent? Could a healthy young woman getting on a train shove an older lady using a walker out of her way and take the last available seat, if she acted mindfully, with consideration, and intent? Somehow…I keep finding my way back to the thought that simple consideration could solve a lot of the petty ills of the world with great ease – and potentially also ease some very major nastiness besides.

Help me prove it? Today is a good day to be mindfully considerate of the consequences of choices and actions, of will and intent, and of the needs of both self and others. Today is a good day to change the world.

I woke early. Very early. “Too” early. I woke in pain, although it’s “just” my arthritis; however much pain I am in, I’m reluctant to make a big deal about it (or generally, even to mention it aloud), because it is such a constant presence in my autumn-winter experience. Life isn’t easily enjoyed as a test of endurance…at least…I don’t find it so, myself. I woke, and went from waking to moving gently through a yoga sequence that improves my flexibility and reduces my pain somewhat. My consciousness settled early on a moment of ire from the day before; it takes an effort of will to disengage to and move on thoughts of things that have positive value for me. Note that I didn’t say the troubling moment was unimportant or insignificant. Deceit, inconsiderate treatment, risky behavior, and disregarding explicit boundaries set and agreed to in shared conversation are all things that I find ‘significant’ – in a negative way – and ‘important’ inasmuch as disregarding those sorts of things generally has later consequences; I’m not interested in investing my emotional bandwidth or precious mortal time on a quiet morning in deep contemplation of circumstances or experiences that were hurtful, or negatively affected me. It’s not necessary. I know my values. I know my feelings on the circumstances that irk me (see? said it right there – I’m ‘irked’. lol). I don’t need to know more at present. I may consider the matter more at some other time, but for now… I won’t.

I also won’t dwell on the pain I’m in, although I’ve learned that attempting to truly ‘ignore it’ tends to push it to the forefront of my consciousness, where compassionate awareness, and taking care of me in a considerate and kind way tends to allow it to reduce more or less into the tolerable background of everyday life. That’s a vast improvement over fretting and obsessing on it, until I am near tears from being unable to escape it. We create a lot of our experience through choices and small acts of will we are not mindful of. I’ve been studying, and I have yet to find any support to the idea that the entirety of our experience is external and visited upon us. It just isn’t so; a great deal of what I used to understand as being ‘on the outside’ turns out to be, in a clearly demonstrable and simple way, quite entirely on the inside. We create who we are through our thoughts and action – our choices determine so much of who we are, sure, but beyond that – our choices also create the very world we live in. Sometimes it is as simple and obvious as legislation…sometimes it is insidious, a byproduct of disordered thinking, poor decision-making, and projecting our own internal narrative on our understanding of the world, in lieu of awareness and observation. I make a point of double-checking – reality checking, really – my view of the world around me in moments escalating toward stress, panic, rage, or sorrow. I’m stunned how often my view of things is really just my view of things, and nothing more.  I’ve learned that changing my view is often simply a matter of looking at something else – and not just metaphorically speaking, often quite literally a matter of pointing my eye holes at some other object, another horizon, a different perspective, and observing that changed view, mindfully, aware, and open to observing, only. It’s quite a lovely bit of soulful ‘magic’ that has turned around my mood more than once. (All those sky photographs? Not a coincidence; that’s me, taking ‘things are looking up’ quite literally.)

Exploring the words with actions; things are looking up.

Exploring the words with actions; things are looking up.

So. Awake early. In pain. Hot coffee. The usual, right? Less so than some mornings, actually, but I am exerting my will – and my won’t (lol) to move in a positive direction as much as possible. I can’t emphasize enough how important my physical experience can be for managing my mood; when I hurt, and don’t find a way to alleviate that pain, I am quickly at risk of being in a pretty sour mood, and prone to anger and irritability. That even makes sense; pain hurts. I have less difficulty with all the other bits of my experience if I take steps to manage my pain effectively. I am learning not to take on emotional matters, or potentially confrontational conversations, when I am in pain. It’s not fair to me, to the other people involved, or to the achievement of a desired outcome to filter everything through an experience of pain; it colors my experience in a pretty profoundly negative way.

Perspective matters.

Perspective matters.

Back to the positive pieces of morning, then? Sure. 🙂 It’s Friday, and the morning holds the promise of every new day; the potential is as yet unlimited, and the opportunities are many. There are choices to be made for later, the weekend to consider (according to my calendar I lost my mind and didn’t plan anything at all – so unlike me), the evenings, the mornings, the days… there’s an exhibit at the art museum I’d like to see, and I haven’t been to the big farmer’s market downtown in a while. There’s laundry to do; weekends are all about the laundry. lol I find myself smiling, and the pain isn’t so bad this morning…the familiar nausea of morning medications, and the sweating and trembling of an unexpected hot flash don’t seem worth more than a moment of awareness and then moving on. Other levels of cognition slowly come online as I become more awake, and in the background I find I am quietly listing things I intend to get done today or in the upcoming imminent future, checking off things I’ve already done with some satisfaction; I nearly always add things to lists that are relevant but also already completed, because I enjoy the momentary sense of accomplishment, and the reminder of how much I do get done. 🙂 It’s a very positively reinforcing practice. That’s one of the coolest things about adulthood, too; I get to make my own rules about most things in my experience. I choose my behavior. I choose what I like and what I enjoy. I choose what I will not stand for. I choose what matters to me. I choose what I will… and what I won’t. It’s a bit deceptive, as human beings, to go around on the assumption that legislation actually regulates behavior – it doesn’t; our choices do. We even choose whether to comply with laws, traditions, cultural norms. All choices. We choose consideration or callousness. We choose kindness or cruelty. We choose openness, or we choose otherwise. We choose what to focus on first thing in the morning. 🙂

Mindful awareness, and observing without judgement, reveals so much.

Mindful awareness, and observing without judgement, reveals so much.

When was the last time you paused for a moment to consider how amazing it is that you even exist at all? Today is a good day for that. Perhaps it’s been awhile since you have been treated with real kindness? There are a lot of people feeling that way, I bet. Today is a good day to be kind, too. Today is also a good day to respect people’s boundaries, to be considerate of the needs of others, and to set clear expectations explicitly; even if they are not honored by others, I find I do myself a significant service to respect my own boundaries enough to state them clearly. It’s a lovely morning to pause and observe the sunrise; we are mortal, and will see a finite number of sunrises in our human lifetime. Today is a good day to be mindfully aware of each small pleasant detail, and to linger over pleasant sensations and ideas. Today is a good day to breath deeply the fresh autumn air [geographical location probably matters a great deal on that one!]. Today is a good day to remember that however irksome the behavior of others, they too are human, and having their own experience; we each have a choice in whether we participate in a shared experience, or walk on. Today is a good day to switch things up a bit, to be daring and adventurous, to be willing to trust myself, and recognize that I know me, better than anyone else can. Today is a good day to change the world.

 

I was recently meditating, in a moment of doubt and hurt, and in the stillness found an odd question sort of dangling in mid-consciousness, just waiting. “What would I have wanted to be taught, differently? What other things would I have exposed myself, too, had I know more than I did?” That’s not verbatim; it seemed both simpler and more encompassing, but the words are lost now.

The path isn't always paved...

The path isn’t always paved…

It got me thinking, over days, about who I am, what makes me thus, and what sorts of things I was taught, shown, lead to, and what people and ideas I was encouraged to pursue, favor, and build upon. I couldn’t help but observe that years of far right conservative thinking and values, in my teens and twenties, align to the thinking of my parents and many teachers, my culture at large at the time, and even the larger portion of my military peer group. This was the thinking I was taught, immediately after my TBI. I considered the gaps, too. Thinkers and ideas I had not been exposed to, or had been actively discouraged from considering suddenly have profound value for me; they are an unknown. They predictably and reliably have something else to reveal than what I see now.

I timidly and carefully explored the corners of my heart that most need support and nurturing these days, and smirked at myself; my education feels pretty directed and rather worthless.  I dredged up what recollections I have of authors, philosophers, educators, speakers and people of renown, that I had been actively discouraged from reading, or listening to. Would I be very different if I had read Timothy Leary and Ram Dass with the same devotion with which I read Ayn Rand? It took a very long time for me to ‘move left’, as an adult.  I giggle when people make jokes about politically conservative thinking and brain damage; I have no argument to offer.

I remember a conversation at the kitchen counter with my Dad late on some muggy summer night. We spoke of utopia, and ideals, and making the world better. I was young. Before my injury, maybe? No younger than 9…no older than 13.  I passionately spoke in favor of action ‘for the good of mankind’. My father countered cynically, and equally passionately, that mankind is a lost cause, unable to appreciate the effort or value, and that the better choice would be action in the favor of the individual. I don’t recall my father reading, aside from some sporting and gun magazines, but he was quick to quash the words of thinkers he didn’t approve of, whether he’d read them or not.  His bias quietly crept into my programming, with all sorts of other nastiness to untangle over time.  I realized, with some astonishment, that an entire era (genre? category?) of philosophers and thinkers had somehow quietly been locked out of my experience. How strange. I read so much… how is it that I turned so firmly away from the psychedelic thinkers and philosophers? Oh, not all of them, not all their work… I read Castaneda. I flipped through enough pages of Leary to pat myself on the head and move on, having learned nothing. I let some words in through my eye holes; I was not hearing what was being said. I wasn’t listening; I was checking off the box on a reading list intended solely to validate my educational requirements, and ego.

We choose who we are. Through our choices, we also choose who we become.

Yesterday I began reading Love. Leo Buscaglia definitely finds his place among authors, philosophers, and thinkers of whom my father did not approve. Writing about Love? Teaching Love? I actually finding myself pausing now and again, anticipating mockery. Yes, the things we teach children go that deep. I struggle with some of the language, too… the casualness of it, the 70s vernacular, the emphasis on love. But I am also moved, caught by the wisdom of some of the words, and inspired by others.

“First of all, the loving individual has to care about himself.” Wait…what? I could have used this information sooner! Another lesson, another exciting adventure, another step on my path… Everyone has a story. Everyone has something to offer the world in the way of wisdom. I’m a little irked that some of this was withheld from me, and that I myself chose to reinforce that with my own will for so long, failing even to recognize that there was a bias in play. Pop quiz aced – I have more to learn.  I smile, planning to ‘sneak’ a real book into my camping gear tomorrow, adding to the adventure.

Today is a good day to be open to the unknown. Today is a good day to recognize bias and choose differently. Today is a good day to embrace Love. Today is a good day to change the world.