Archives for posts with tag: do the work

Well, today is properly “the day”. The computers will be shut off, packed in their boxes, and prepared for the move. The last of the significant packing and boxing will be done, in preparation for the moving truck (that’s tomorrow). We took a day to rest up and hang out, yesterday, and got to bed “at a decent hour” to ensure we have taken care of these fragile vessels to be at maximum readiness for a couple days of significant manual labor. I slept restlessly. I’m not surprised. I won’t be surprised if my Traveling Partner’s sleep was also restless; we’re both excited, and eager to get the move done and start this new chapter in our lives.

I woke early. It was an attack of vertigo that woke me, the room seeming to spin like madness, in spite of my closed eyes. I opened them and attempted to hold back my nausea by grabbing the edge of the sofa, where I was sleeping, when I woke. I straightened my body with great care, and stifled the panic that comes with the vertigo, reminding myself it is only a sensation, not representative of any sort of “reality” outside my own impaired sense of balance. I breathed through the panic. Exhaled, relaxed, double-checking with each breath that my spine was straight, and that my muscles were relaxed. I waited it out, reminding myself to make a note for my next doctor’s appointment. I already know better than to attempt to get up and walk when I have vertigo. lol

Once my vertigo passed, I got up and made coffee. I have an early morning errand, then back to the house to pack things into boxes, alongside my Traveling Partner. He may not even be up when I leave. I find myself hoping he rests deeply, and maybe even sleeps in. We can have coffee together when I get back. 🙂 Tomorrow feels peculiarly far away, and also almost upon us. Funny how my sense of time and timing works, and how subjective, and even abstract, it can be. Even the vertigo seems to simply add a surrealist twist to the already peculiar moment-between-moments. I sip my coffee contentedly, and with some caution; if the vertigo isn’t entirely and completely cleared up 100%, I can’t safely risk driving, at all. That would fuck up any number of details of our careful planning; my morning errand involves letting contractors into the house to do some “before we move in” things we’d like to have done. 🙂

Receiving the house keys was a pleasant moment… I somehow managed to return to the rental (definitely no longer feels like “home”) without taking even one “share-worthy” photo of our new home… just pictures of smoke detectors, appliances, the fuse box, the FiOS box… basically just detail photos of things that need batteries, or that we’d want to know what the model numbers are, and those sorts of very practical details. lol I took one selfie for my Traveling Partner of my big big smile with the forest beyond our deck in the background, and sent that to him before I got in the car for the return trip. With the Independence Day weekend just ahead, there feels like more pressure to get things done “on schedule” than truly exists. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I sip my morning coffee. I smile, and glance at the time.

Move out priorities often differ from move in priorities. We’ve held back from packing the things we reliably use every day, because we’re still using them. At some point, all that has to be packed, too. The moving in needs also revolve around what we need first, but the needs change a bit. I don’t think our computers will be a high priority until after our bedroom is ready for sleep, our kitchen ready for cooking, and our bathrooms ready for personal care. Entertaining ourselves has mattered greatly leading up to the move out. The move in, though, is more than a little entertaining (as well as laborious), without connectivity, without computers, without videos, music, or games. I find myself feeling far more relaxed that with previous moves, and prepared to be comfortably flexible with the different approach we each take to the move. My Traveling Partner has a plan for the move. I have a plan for the move. Our plans overlap in spots, but emphasize different details. I work consciously on “staying in my lane” and trusting he has details handled, just as he does for the details I’m handling. It feels fun, and emotionally safe, and secure. Team work. I sit smiling quietly, sipping coffee, grateful for this partnership, and this (so far) easy move.

I’m finding it a bit hard to finish my writing this morning…but it’s most definitely time to wrap it up, and begin again. 🙂

There have been a lot of rainy mornings, lately. Spring in the Pacific Northwest is often rainy. It’s rainy this year. It’s been raining, mostly, for what feels like weeks. I’m not even complaining; I like the rain. I sit here sipping my coffee contentedly, listening to the rain spilling over the clogged gutters on this rented duplex. It’s been pretty comfortable here, generally. The few things that are not as I’d like are, unfortunately, things the landlord takes care of, and that’s been complicated by the pandemic. I sip my coffee and think over which ones matter most, and wonder whether I will live up to my commitment to myself to take care of those things with greater skill, care, and timeliness as a homeowner? I like to think I will…

…The rain falls. I sip coffee. The morning shifts from “before work” to “work”. It’s an easy adjustment these days; it has become routine. I’ve grown comfortable with working from home. My Traveling Partner is considerate and supportive of the change in lifestyle. (I’m fairly certain he enjoys having me home more… I know I enjoy not having to commute through traffic.) Hell, I think I enjoy my job even more, working from home, which I did not expect at all. 🙂 Bonus.

We continue to prepare for the move, and I continue to count down the days. I’m often distracted with it, occasionally scrambling to pull my consciousness back to “now”, when I realize I’ve been considering, again, some small specific detail that honestly can’t be sorted out properly until the time comes. I smile to myself. Managing my excitement gives me lots of opportunities for practicing mindfulness – just as managing my anxiety would. I definitely prefer the excitement to the anxiety. I notice again how similar those states can feel, physically. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let it go.

Incremental change is. Practicing the practices works. I’ll just stay on this path right here…one step at a time is enough.

I think back to that painful move out of a shared living situation, into my wee solo domicile at #27. It wasn’t that long ago. It’s been 5 years, now. I put my will and my energy into “embracing change”, and finding my own way. In the five years since then, I’ve done a lot to heal and grow. I find myself embracing change again, moving again, and feeling content and prepared. It’s a lovely change from the heartsick uncertainty of that abrupt move 5 years ago.

“Stay on the path” was a regular reminder to myself then, and it served me well (then, and since). No map, though, and this path is not well illuminated. I’ve stumbled a time or two. I’ve taken some wrong turns, and made some “route changes” along the way. Life does not come equipped with “GPS” for our decision-making. 🙂 It’s a very human experience.

I smile, sip my coffee, and reflect on 5 years of progress. I remind myself, again, to “stay on the path”. My results may vary, but I can always begin again. It’s enough. 🙂

 

The morning seems peculiarly physical as experiences go. My hair feels very soft. My coffee? This morning, the heat seems more noteworthy than the flavor of it, and I appreciate the warmth of the mug in my hands, in the chill of the morning. The headache, the arthritis pain, these too, are physical experiences. I notice the “taste of sleep” in my mouth, and remind myself to brush my teeth.

I don’t feel particularly emotional, at all. I am. I feel. This moment now, right here, is what it is. Is there more? Well, sure, but here, right now, this is enough. Later I will go to work. Do the things that provide the resources to continue on to do other things that make it easier to live a beautiful life of contentment, emotional safety, and modest comfort. I’ll go to a job. I’ll return home. I’ll do some chores. There are verbs involved (and just as many, regardless whether I am taking care of emotional needs, or physical ones).

This shit isn’t magic, People; there is will and decision-making involved, and even that won’t get many people to their goals. There is effort, commitment, and actual real work that has to back up our choices. Don’t like dishes in the sink? Do the fucking dishes. It’s that kind of basic stuff we so often get stuck on, isn’t it? Let something go in one moment, end up pissed off and fixated on it in some other moment. lol Stop letting shit just go. Build the life you most want to live – starting with your choices, and followed by your actions, and repeated in endless iterations until you stand contentedly in the midst of the life you have chosen to live.

Where you find yourself in life largely depends on the choices you make along the way.

It’s really that easy.

It’s also really really that hard.

It’s also your choice whether it is easy or hard; it won’t be without effort.

It gets way more challenging when it’s not just one person, living alone in a house, I get that. I hear you. When we share our space, explicit expectation-setting becomes critical, as well as quickly making it apparent how important shared goals, values, and willingness to work can be. I could not comfortably live in a house full of people and be the only person doing the fucking dishes, or cleaning the bathroom. There’d definitely be some fucking… “clear expectation-setting”, and it might get uncomfortably frank. (Easily summarized as “I’m not your fucking maid”.)

A lot of people enjoy a beautiful well-kept comfortably luxurious environment – it’s lovely to live that way – but the set of “all people who enjoy living beautifully” and the set of “all people willing to do the work to live beautifully” is not two identical sets of people, at all. That gets awkward fast if just one person willing to work for it is overwhelmed by the lack of consideration, or investment, or will, or ability, of several other people – who may only be willing to live that way, not put in the time, effort, or resources. Harsh.

Do your part. Whatever that is. Do it. Anything less makes a person just another “taker”, more often than people want to admit about themselves. Fucking hell, at least offer to help and really mean it. Be aware of the potential for resentment in your relationships, if you allow someone to carry more than their fair share of the work involved. Be willing to look in the mirror honestly; are you part of the solution, or are you holding things up, or worse – are you part of making extra work for everyone else?

I’m sitting here, comfortable at home, sipping an excellent coffee, prepared in a clean kitchen. Those things are what they are because I do the work involved. This morning, I am smiling, because my Traveling Partner, when he is here, also does the work involved, ensuring that I am not treated as a servant, or overloaded with housekeeping, or feeling resentful over “doing everything around here” when he is here at home. It’s quite a lovely partnership in that regard. There are no dishes on my counter. 🙂 I’m not working any harder – and maybe, actually, a little less hard than I ordinarily would; I have help. Instead of gaining the stank and mess and workload involved in picking up after more people, I gain the extra time to enjoy life implied by having help with all the work, because I’m not alone here right now. It’s lovely. 🙂

It’s also not perfect. I don’t have that kind of energy or time, and yeah; there are very human details and a touch of untidiness here and there. I’m comfortable, and content with my choices. 🙂

I’m not meaning to be critical of your lifestyle – that’s not my point. Live as you wish. If you wish to live well, to live beautifully, though? There are verbs involved. There’s work to be done. If that beautiful life you seek is in the context of shared cohabitation in some form, it’ll be much easier if every-fucking-body does their part. No kidding. Everyone who uses the kitchen? Well, if they are all committed to cleaning as they go? The kitchen stays clean. Same with the bathroom – you use it? You help with cleaning it. Do you walk on the floors? I guess you’ll also be taking a turn vacuuming, and helping out by not dragging in mud and dirt from outside. Your dog, cat, other? You’re making sure, full-time, on the regular, that their waste is managed – promptly, and hygienically? It gets gross fast, if you’re not. Seriously – it’s a lot of work. All of it. It’s still got to be done, if the choice in life you want to make is to live well and beautifully. It’s one of life’s non-negotiables, actually.

This is not a dichotomy. It’s a not a single choice between live in filth and live beautifully. There’s a whole lot of choices here. Maybe you and your housemates really just don’t care about dishes at all, but the condition of the floors is a real quality of life headache? Maybe everyone really wants a sparkling clean bathroom, but the general tidiness around and about is less of a big deal? It’s something to discuss explicitly; what is the shared vision? And what is to be done if there’s just definitely that one person who wants to enjoy it all but has no interest in helping out? May I suggest that they be directed to relocate? No kidding, I don’t think I have another solution for that, unless pure resentful rage and constant very direct bitching until they move out counts. I’m sorry. I legitimately wish I knew how to get people to be more committed and helpful at home about quality of life matters that matter to other people.

Isn’t that a challenge that occurs in life, just… a lot? Lack of will. Lack of consideration. Lack of interest in doing the work. I mean, I go through it too. How many years did I waste in therapy because I kept looking for someone or something to blame for my pain, rather than allowing myself to simply accept that, being in pain, I needed to make some changes to ease it? The verbs were mine, all along. lol

How do you want to live your life? What does your vision of comfort and contentment look like? Are you doing the things it takes to have that experience? Maybe, just maybe, you could. Start small. Change one bad habit, because the outcome matters to you, every day. Keep at it. Fail and start over. Improve over time. Move on to another less than ideal habit or practice. Make a change. Repeat. We’re closing in on a whole new year – are you even well-informed about what you would do differently if it were entirely up to you? What would your life look like, if every detail were as you wish to see it? Is your vision truly your own? Is it practical and achievable? Can it be scaled back to get started in a more achievable way, if it is so exceedingly lavish as to be wholly impractical and unachievable right now? I’m just saying; more of this is within your control than you may realize.

…And it’s a wonderful time to begin again. How will you live your life? What is the change you wish to see in your world, right there at home? 🙂

Well, the drive down was coffee all the way, and started in the wee hours before dawn. Easy drive. Fun. Effortless. After-the-fact it seems featureless and unremarkable, such that I don’t specifically remember any specific detail besides stopping for coffee. lol I left “on time” and arrived safely. I was greeted warmly with love, and friendship.

The drive back, this morning, definitely coffee-themed. I pro-actively picked up a can of cold brew so I’d have that effortless coffee moment first thing, and waited until I was in the car to pop the top on it, to avoid waking my Traveling Partner. I stopped twice for more coffee, and to stand in the dawn of a new day, feeling the chill breeze that hinted at autumn.

I got on the road this morning with a heart filled to overflowing with pure love and delight, feeling wrapped in My partner’s high regard, and nurtured by his enduring affection. He’s a good partner; loving, kind, considerate, helpful, experienced, competent, forward-thinking, and exciting to be with. I chose well… this time. lol This is my only actually good long-term relationship, honestly (although, to be fair, I only have 4, maybe 5, to reflect on). I don’t kick myself about it; choosing partners, lovers, and friends is a complicated matter, and most of us don’t develop real skills in that area until later in life. If we’re fortunate, we nonetheless happen upon friends, lovers, and partners in the context of our circumstances, and things work out. We are social creatures. I’m sure we could do better, and I wonder why we don’t teach emotional intimacy, relationship-building, and healthy communication practices, in elementary school, as I sip my coffee.

I know some things that don’t work. One of those is money. It just doesn’t work to attempt to buy someone’s affection, even if they accept payment. 🙂 That’s not how love works. It’s not how loyalty works. It’s not how any sort of affection or friendship works. I don’t actually understand how anyone might think it would. I’ve seen it attempted any number of times by people with more money than qualities on which to build love or friendship. Painful. Awkward. Unsatisfying. I can’t help wonder why it doesn’t seem, just on a practical basis, more cost-effective to be a better human being… you know… just likable, considerate, kind, funny, nurturing… some assortment of the sorts of things that draw people in, right? lol It’s not effortless, does take work and practice… and so many of us seem utterly disposed to avoiding any sort of self-work whatsoever. Yeah… there are verbs involved. Results will vary. It’s necessary to practice, to fail, to reflect on our missteps, to begin again… oh… ever so many times. Some people make other choices, and experience other outcomes. It is what it is.

My affection is not for sale. Neither is my respect. My consideration and basic kindness is free, and generously given – as much as I can spread it around, I try to, and there is no minimum qualification for it. The world needs more basic kindness, and a lot more consideration, and no amount of money eases the lack of it.

Tending the flowers in the garden of my heart.

I sip my coffee, and think about love. Being loved feels amazing! Being able to love well feels pretty fantastic, too. These things literally can not be purchased. If you know for certain that these are things you want to feel, and you also know that it will require a lot of work and self-awareness, self-reflection, and willingness to grow, change, and do some verbs – put in the work – would you do it? 

Are you ready to begin?

…What could possibly matter more than love and loving? 🙂

I am sipping my coffee and contemplating all the many times I started in therapy or began some sort of new treatment modality intending to ease my symptoms in some significant way, or to explain (or excuse) my behavior without really having to work to change it (or myself). It was both frustrating and pointless, and I didn’t get very far at all. Was it because all those different sorts of things, and all those many professionals, just weren’t effective or appropriate? Doesn’t that seem just a bit unlikely? It’s so common, though… So… What might account for how common it is for ‘therapy’ not working out, not working very effectively, or being ‘a bad fit’? I think it over and find my way to one fairly obvious conclusion; it’s the relationship.

Therapy – any sort of mental health treatment focused on interaction between professional care-giver and patient seeking treatment – is pretty intimate stuff. If I am not entirely comfortable, emotionally, with the therapist, why would I expect to get much out of it? I won’t be very likely to be open with a therapist I am uncomfortable with, would I? In such a scenario, I find myself feeling that the therapy ‘isn’t working’, when it is more properly stated that the relationship isn’t working – very understandable. So, there’s that – it’s a relationship, and requires commitment, investment, openness, trust – all the qualities any relationship must have to thrive.

There’s another characteristic, lacking which therapy is a mockery, and that is openness characterized by absolute frank forthright revealing honesty. Approaching treatment dishonestly absolutely ensures no progress is ever made, at all. Seeking a therapist who will be satisfied to take a paycheck, push some pills my way, write some notes I will never see, say nice things to me, and reassure me that I’m ‘not crazy’, allowing me to hear that as ‘it’s someone else’s fault’ (although that’s not what’s actually being said) isn’t ‘therapy’, and progress is not an outcome to be expected. It’s just more bullshit and game-playing. It’s just more drama. It is also a serious waste of limited precious life time and resources for no point; the world is generally not deceived when we play at deceiving ourselves. Certainly our loved ones are not deceived when we come home from therapy with excuses instead of progress; they are already living with our crazy, well-acquainted with our chaos and damage. It is not possible to bullshit the people we hurt with our madness for very long.

I find myself wondering if therapists and clinical professionals of all sorts find it frustrating to be aware when a client isn’t going to ‘do the work’, or when they observe that a client isn’t committed to recovering, to healing, but only to justifying their position, or excusing bad behavior? Do they experience a sense of precious time being wasted? Is the money still worth it? Is it ‘just a job’? Are they ever tempted to say out loud “I really don’t want to see you anymore, because you just aren’t making any effort”? It wouldn’t seem a fiscally good practice, if one were employed delivering therapy to people to earn a living…but… it would seem more honest, perhaps. I’ve ended treatment with a lot of practitioners of a variety of sorts (I count 14 therapists over 34 years of seeking help) – I haven’t had one end treatment with me, even when I was clearly not engaged, and getting no benefit (although two retired while treating me).

I find it, looking back, a rather sad waste of time to have paid so much money to spend time carefully crafting a narrative that resulted in hearing what I wanted so badly to hear in the moment – that I’m fine, it’s the world that’s broken, or my relationship, or my job, or… anything but having to choke on the truth that my own choices and my own behavior might have something to do with my experience, and that I might have to be accountable for the results – and responsible for making the needed changes. That may well have been the most singularly difficult step on this journey, just acknowledging that I have choices, that I am an active participant, that I am ultimately the architect of my own experience – and that I have moments when I am one fucked-up not-at-all-rational really-not-right-in-the-head fancy monkey that owes someone dear a very sincere apology, and a commitment to the real work involved in treating myself and others considerably better. It is, however, a step that had to be taken – because all the steps leading me somewhere different (and better) followed that one, and could not ever precede it.

We are each having our own experience. It’s not easy finding ‘a therapy that works’ or ‘a treatment that helps’. I find myself thinking that at least in my own case that was because it took me so long to understand that therapy involves relationships – one with the therapist, and one with the person in the mirror. Being dishonest with either definitely slows things down.

I smile and sip my coffee. I’ve been in therapy with my current therapist now since very shortly after I started this blog… February, 2013? It is the first time I’ve had the experience of mental health treatment being effective for anything beyond crisis intervention. I’m in a very different place than I once was. I’m still ‘myself’, too. My therapist is unquestionably very knowledgeable and skilled, and it is clear that the treatment modality is well-selected for my needs – both very important things, and I value those characteristics of our work together. This morning, I make time to appreciate ‘the other thing’ that seems so very much at the heart of ‘making it work’; I showed up. Seriously, I am engaged, present, open, fearlessly intimate even when completely uncomfortable, and most importantly – willing to do the actual work, the practicing of practices, the corrections in behavior, the repetition, the accountability, the utter frankness with myself and with my therapist, the willingness to embrace change; there are verbs involved. Turns out that matters a lot. “Easy” just doesn’t enter into it.

Enjoying this moment.

Enjoying this moment.

My coffee is cold now. I smile thinking about progress made, and progress to come. I think about the work day ahead, and the evening beyond it. I recall my therapist wrapping up our most recent session asking me to think about my goal for this next bit of work together and realize that what I heard was acknowledgement that at least in part, we’ve successfully completed a portion of the work we had begun so many months ago. Wow. I take a few minutes to enjoy that awareness, and to simply enjoy this woman I am, so much closer to being the woman I most want to be in my life. It’s a nice start to the day.