Archives for posts with tag: do your best

So far…, so… I’m not perfect. Not even close. If “perfection” were the measure of human success, I would be an abject failure. Just saying, there’s something to appreciate that a. the bar is way lower than that and b. we even get to “set the bar” for most values of “success” in life ourselves and then also score the results. “It’s not that bad.” describes a lot of things. Pro-tip: there’s real value in pausing to reflect on how good it is and how bad it isn’t now and then. The results may surprise you.

“Good enough” has to be good enough, sometimes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Are you wondering why I linked that track in paragraph 1? Here it is again with the lyrics. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Last weekend I was ill. Like, dragging myself to the bathroom for multiple episodes of all manner of biological disaster through the night on Friday, and running a bit of a fever all day Saturday after my guts were utterly emptied from both ends. Yick. Horrible. My fever finally broke in the early evening on Saturday. Yesterday I was exhausted (in spite of drifting in and out of a restless sleep most of Saturday), and a bit faint and dizzy feeling. I managed to push a couple loads of laundry through the machines, and even put away most of that, but anything more was honestly beyond me. My Traveling Partner was super helpful and supportive and kind, and the only moment of discord between us was a bit of frustration with me over my relative incompetence in that state that made it super difficult to do the one “thinking task” (and it was a way easy ask) that he called upon me to do late in the afternoon. Thankfully, he saved me from possibly bricking an expensive laptop by being more aware than I was that I had “gone down the wrong path” on that task. My own frustration with the situation resulted comically in being mad enough to “storm off” to take a walk… which amounted to going to check the mail because I did not even have the strength to take a real walk of any distance. Hilarious. Had to come home and fucking behave myself and work on making things right with my partner like a grown-up.

Today feels like “just another work day”, but with a helping of “why did I think I would actually be fully up to this already?”. I didn’t sleep well, either. I had slept so much (I suspect) in the prior days (without drinking much coffee) that I ended up “over slept”, and since yesterday I did have coffee… I couldn’t sleep. Since I didn’t have quite half my usual amount of coffee, I also ended yesterday with a wicked headache (or was still sick…?), and the medication I took for that tends to result in not being able to sleep deeply. The result was a restless night. Funny… I’m okay though. There are things that matter more. Life? Love? Beauty? This quiet contented moment of reflection? The grocery list I don’t want to forget to shop for later. lol

I yawn and rub my eyes. I pause and write my Traveling Partner a love note. I fucking love that guy. I also appreciate him. I take a sip of coffee and a big drink of water and get ready to begin again.

Weird day. I woke up feeling rested and merry. Seemed like a good start to the day, and mostly I suppose the day has been fine. Okay, not fantastic, but I’ve no expectation that each day will be 100% pure awesome from the moment I wake, until the moment I later close my eyes to sleep. My results – and my experiences – vary. My Traveling Partner woke from a restless unrestful night of sleep and made it clear he was not enjoying the morning. I did what I could to be chill and supportive. My efforts were not immediately (or reliably) successful, so I got my shit together, grabbed my list of errands, and headed out before I’d even taken more than a sip of my coffee. Seemed the like sort of morning to enjoy my own company for awhile, and let him have time to wake up and get sorted out.

I’m in a massive amount of pain this morning, and although it has done nothing to dull my good mood, I’m having to manage it. It’s there in the background and amounts to a bit of a distraction, and a thing that slows me down (without stopping me). I’ve taken the medication I can, and I’ve stayed on top of all the other self-care details pretty well, too. I still hurt. It is what it is. I don’t expect this to change; it comes and goes (in severity) with the weather, and with stress. I can’t do much about the weather, but I sure can do things to manage my stress. So, I do those things. lol

Today has been mostly about staying ahead of my pain, staying out of my partner’s way, and getting a few things done. Laundry, some kitchen re-organization (seems a good day to tidy up cabinets and cupboards and toss out stale spices), and the sort of routine housekeeping I commonly do on a quiet Sunday. My partner is mostly out in his shop, making things. I smile when I think about it.

“Easy” isn’t always about “perfect” – sometimes it’s just about not making shit harder than it has to be, and not taking the things that go wrong personally. I mean, seriously? How often are they ever “personal”?? Circumstances are just circumstances. Moods come and go like weather. I can’t “fix” someone else, or live their experience, but I can sure avoid making it all about me. I can sure focus on self-care, and kindness, and just doing my best to treat everyone around me well. If I’ve legitimately done my best, that’s pretty much what I’ve got to offer, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

I keep practicing.

It’s time to begin again.

I am sipping my morning coffee (it’s good). It is the morning after Giftmas (it was lovely). Our holiday dinner was delicious (and ample). I am feeling fortunate (and grateful).

I slept better last night than I really expected to. My guts were churned up, rebelling against a “brunch” entirely of chocolate and coffee yesterday, followed by a heavy fairly rich meal at dinner time. I woke a couple times feeling a bit uncomfortable, not quite unwell. It passed. I even slept in a bit, and woke feeling pretty good generally, although aware of my arthritis in the background, and still bruised here and there from my fall on the deck on Giftmas Eve.

I haven’t made a firm plan for today. I probably ought to go to the grocery store… I’m not sure I feel like going out at all. I’m also not sure I don’t. Coffee first. Maybe some time reading by the fire? I am thinking about The Four Agreements. It was first suggested to me by my Traveling Partner. It’s clear that the recollection of them still exist in his thinking. Occasionally, he “calls me out” when I fail to practice one of them in our interactions together. I try to process such things as useful feedback, rather than kick up a fuss about it.

I’ve gotten a lot of really useful practical wholesome insight from The Four Agreements over the years, since I first read it in… 2010?

We have learned to live our lives trying to satisfy other peopleโ€™s demands. We have learned to live by other peopleโ€™s points of view because of the fear of not being accepted and of not being good enough for someone else.

Don Miquel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

Here’s the simple truth of everything we learn, and everything we do; we become what we practice.

Practice being calm? We become calm individuals over time. Practice being kind? Kindness becomes a hallmark of our decisions and thinking. Practice lifelong learning? We become educated as we gain knowledge. It is seriously that “simple” to change who we are, if we choose to do so – it’s a matter of practice, and time.

…Here’s the thing, though…

If we practice being angry? We become less able to manage anger appropriately (we become angrier more easily, more often). If we practice aggression? We become more aggressive. If we practice lashing out at others in moments of stress? Yep. You’re catching on; we do more of that, more often, more quickly – we get really “good at it”.

We each have the tools of change in our possession. We have more control over who we are (and therefore also more responsibility) than we may like to acknowledge. Doesn’t mean the journey is always easy. Doesn’t mean we’re in this alone. We live within the context of our circumstances, our relationships, our triggers, our biases – we are human. Personally, my own thinking on that is that this gives me choices – who do I most want to be? How do I practice that? My emotions may be a reaction to my experience, to the world around me, or to a person with whom I am interacting, but that doesn’t get me off the hook for managing those; they are mine. If I practice having tantrums? I will have tantrums. If I practice calm reflection and deep listening? My reaction to the world around me becomes characterized by calm, and consideration. Because I am so human, avoiding provocation can be quite difficult – but I know that even this is about practice. Like it or not, human primates are not entirely domesticated and can be dangerous under some circumstances… we really only ever “have control” of one of them – the one in the mirror. Limited control at best, too. Our practices matter.

It can be hard, sometimes, to practice The Four Agreements. They seem so easy, and I suppose they are easier than a lot of things – they just take practice. Rather a lot of it. (Worth it.)

It can be hard to practice The Four Agreements (or frankly, any personal growth practice) if someone I interact with routinely doesn’t share the basic values or at a minimum respect what I am hoping to do by practicing them. It’s harder still if there is someone in my day-to-day social group or community actively seeking to undermine my progress or growth. Over time, I’ve cut quite a few people loose who seemed invested in the most broken possible version of me. I think that’s the healthiest approach to toxic relationships; end them. That comes up in The Four Agreements, too:

If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you. If that person doesnโ€™t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you donโ€™t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

The new year approaches. I’m thinking about who I am, who I most want to be, and what practices keep me on my path. We become what we practice. I smile when I think of how many times I have said that, written it down, read it back to myself – it’s a core idea (for me) in becoming the woman I most want to be. Beginning again is just a beginning (obviously) – it’s that stepping stone to the next bit of practice. We become what we practice. It’s not avoidable or negotiable. It is inevitable. Practice something – anything – long enough and it becomes characteristic of who we are. Good or bad.

Everything you have ever learned, you learned through repetition. You learned to write, to drive, and even to walk by repetition. You are a master of speaking your language because you practiced.

Don Miquel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

So… here’s a question that matters… What are you practicing? What effect does who you are have on the world around you? On your relationships? On people you say you love? Are you the person you most want to be? Maybe it’s time to reflect and make some changes to your practices?

Maybe it’s time to begin again?

I’ve got this headache plaguing my every minute again, today. It sucks. It’s a small irritant in a generally good experience, though, and things could be far worse. Weirdly, “things seem strange” – the ratio and size of this window looks somehow wrong. The font seems small compared to my expectations. I check that I’m wearing the right glasses. I find myself clenching my jaw, and make a point to breathe and relax my face. Where is this stress and feeling of aggravation and enduring frustration coming from? I feel a bit… generally peeved. Did I miss the mark on my morning coffee…? No, I definitely had two cups.

I increase the magnification on this window, and let that go. I take an OTC pain reliever for the headache, and let that go, too. I breathe, exhale, relax – and take a minute to savor the excitement of the upcoming job change. There’s a moment of satisfaction in each piece of paperwork in that process that is completed. I give myself a moment to feel the sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing the tax paperwork for the year, and let go any lingering stress left behind from that process, too. Small details. Life, lived.

…This headache, though…

A couple weeks ago, my lack of enthusiasm for vacuuming found itself notably worsened by the earnest-but-inadequate efforts of the wee cheap plastic upright vacuum I’d purchased back in 2015, when I moved into #27. Tiny apartment – it didn’t need an expensive feature-packed vacuum cleaner, just a vacuum cleaner sufficient to keep up with one women in less than 700 sq feet of space, one third of which wasn’t carpeted. This house is bigger than that, and although only the bedrooms are carpeted, it’s still quite a bit of vacuuming each week keeping up with two busy adults venturing in/out, onto the deck, into the front yard, out into the shop (in the garage)… and, I can’t say I was successfully keeping up, at all. Neither was that vacuum. It did its best, and it got me by for… 6 years. Wow. Not bad. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just not enough, anymore. My Traveling Partner and I talked it over and decided a new vacuum cleaner would be the next quality of life improvement, and did some pre-shopping, settled on a make/model, determined the likely date of purchase (if available). That was two weeks ago. This morning, I was up early, and out the door between my first and second coffees, heading up the road to the retailer with the vacuum cleaner we’d selected.

…It rained the entire drive there and back…

This is not an exciting tale of adventure. I bought a vacuum cleaner. Not exciting. It’s a good one, though, and I’m delighted with the results. I mean… the rugs in the living room actually look clean, for the first time in quite a while. Satisfying. I make room to savor even this small emotional victory. (This headache sucks so much, truly, that contemplating a good result with a quality household appliance feels like real greatness. lol)

…I let go of how irked I am with myself that I hurt too much to aggressively persistently vacuum every inch of flooring across every square foot of house; I can only do my best, and still need to care for myself. I definitely do not want to be the sort of human being willing to make myself cry over the vacuuming. I mean… seriously. It matters so much more that I am in pain. I give myself a minute to consider next steps to care for myself well.

I breathe, exhale, relax… and I feel my irritation resurface recalling that I confused “W-4” with “W-2” in conversation with my partner – which, after a tax-paying lifetime as an American adult, one would figure I’d have mastered as just too fucking basic to get wrong. I let it go. Small mistakes are common enough for people. Even the sharpest, wittiest, most educated, most well-spoken, most erudite, most fluent human beings make mistakes when they speak. Wrong words. Mixed metaphors. Poor choice of verbiage. Slips of the tongue. All too human. I happen to be prone to those things as much as anyone… maybe the tiniest bit more because of my TBI. I’m likely far more sensitive to my errors than other people are, and more so in these later years when I am more prepared to be authentically myself, and less likely to rely on a “script” that conforms to social norms and expectations. Still, I find it awkward and embarassing, and I take a moment to wonder what drives that, instead of focusing on the mistakes that are so human, themselves. It’s the expectations, isn’t it? It’s not the mistake that is the “problem”, in this instance – it’s that I have expectations of myself that don’t allow for those mistakes. That seems like a bit of a dick move… I certainly don’t treat other people that way. Another breath. Another moment to relax. I left all that go, too. I can treat myself better. ๐Ÿ™‚ Clearly I need practice.

I review my writing for grammatical errors – a particular sort that is specific to my issues, which is to say, messed up suffixes, opposites, and missing words. They’ve gotten to be pretty common, unfortunately, and I wouldn’t bother about it if they weren’t the sort to entirely change the meanings of sentences. I mean, rather a lot, actually. I look over my writing, correct the mistakes I find. Breathe. Exhale. Relax.

…Fuck this headache…

I’m fatigued from fighting my pain, and managing my mood. I feel tears well up over nothing at all – just the frustration of being in pain. Still. Again. (“Other people have it much worse,” I remind myself, “It’s just physical pain. Just the arthritis and the chill and the damp. Let it go.”) Another breathe. Another moment.

…Time to begin again.

When I think over some of the repetitive things I say, (personal slogans, self-directed motivational battle-cries of various sorts, succinct aphorisms, that sort of thing) I’m aware that many have come and gone over the years – some healthy, some unhealthy, some… more than a bit misguided. One stands out for me, steadfast and true, like the sort of old and trusted friend that will tell hard truths; “begin again”. It’s not really about “do-overs”, you know; it’s about gathering the strength to just start something anew. It’s about first steps following hard falls, and taking an approach that skills require practice, and that there is value in an attempt, and yes, even in the failures. It’s about resolve. It’s about exerting a worthy effort, in the face of ennui, or a deep depression, or a lot of pain. It’s about insisting with myself that I live life, not just wait around to die.

…It’s definitely not about “easy”. There are so many verbs involved, so much will, and real (and repeated) effort. Isn’t that characteristic of living, generally?

It’s a Tuesday. An ordinary enough beginning to a new work day ahead. Meetings. Calls. Emails. Spreadsheets. Slide decks. Drafts of new processes. Improvements on old processes. The usual office-sorts of work things to do. I’ve done other jobs. Had other sorts of Tuesdays. I’ve been invested in a different quality of life than what I work for now, with varying degrees of success (this particular experience of life in these past handful of years has been by far most satisfying and emotionally healthy). I’ve been fortunate to explore other lives, other experiences of being human. New beginnings have long been required following the end of something else. ๐Ÿ™‚

These days I don’t worry too much about failures; they are part of a learning and growth mindset. I embrace a new beginning and get after it. No, it’s not really that easy sometimes. I may get excited about shiny new boots, even eager to maintain that shine, and keep them lovely, but when the time comes, on a rainy Sunday evening, to set aside the next episode of some favored show, or put down my book, in order to shine those boots… that’s the hard bit. Taking the step. Doing the verbs. It’s not enough to “commit”, and – omg, I am so sorry to say these words – you can “manifest” shit 100% of all your days, and it’s still waaaay more likely that you will find yourself achieving whatever it is if you do the fucking verbs required for it. Yep. “Manifesting” your future is about as effective as daydreaming. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Do the verbs. Make the effort. Or, an alternative, accept that your will isn’t up for the task at hand and let it go. Seriously. What do you really want, that you want enough to work for it?

I’m not saying it’s easy. Seriously not saying that at all. I sat around not shining those fucking boots all week, and then all day that Sunday, even in the face of my partner’s tender reminders that I said I wanted to shine my boots, and gently suggesting it as an activity when I may have seemed bored, and then again shortly before the evening ended; I wanted to wear them, shined, on Monday. lol Omg. I just… couldn’t didn’t. You know what else? Those fucking boots were not shining themselves. LOL My partner offered to do it for me… well, damn, that’s just kind of sad and a bit embarrassing for me. (He’s so sweet. He knew I wanted them to look great, and just cares that much.)

…So… I finally shined my boots. I was happy I did; they looked great. They even got noticed. Nice. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Okay, okay, also a little vain. Small pleasure, though; I enjoyed the satisfaction of caring for something I like.)

There’s a lesson here somewhere. Not quite a parable, I guess… but maybe. No time for overthinking it, this morning, it’s already time to begin again. ๐Ÿ˜€