Archives for posts with tag: don’t take anything personally

Apparently the NOAA has determined that July 2021 was not just the hottest month of the year so far, nor the hottest in the recent decade. Nope. Bigger than that; it is the hottest the globe has been in (recorded) history. G’damn, that’s fucking hot. Now, you can dispute science if you choose to, but in this case, we’re just talking about data entry. Tracked numbers. Observations over time. I’m just saying… it’s fucking hot, and getting hotter. The weather all around the globe is weird and getting weirder.

…We could have done better by this planet than we have. I sure hope it isn’t too late to do better (enough) now…

I’m going camping next week. I’ll head out on Sunday, and don’t plan to return before Wednesday afternoon. I’m eager to get some solo time out in the trees (yes, even in the heat of summer). No news feed. No cell signal. No work. No work interruptions. No interpersonal stress, or miscommunications. No “interpersonal” anything, really. Me, the heat, the trees, the chipmunks (plague?), the squirrels (hantavirus?), the deer (ticks! lyme disease?)… I’ll just keep my distance. There’ll be plenty of that.

A different camping trip, a couple years ago; it’s been too long.

The heat is hard on me, though, I admit that. I’m in less pain of the specifically osteo-arthritis variety, but more, other pain – anything aggravated by the heat. I feel “puffy” and sluggish. Effort seems to require more effort. The heat is hard on my Traveling Partner, too, and since he is out in the shop, working in it, trying to stay focused, work with care, and get shit done, he’s sometimes cross, sometimes frustrated. I know it isn’t personal. (I can’t help but think he’ll enjoy a couple days of uninterrupted shop-time, particularly if the weather cools somewhat, as the forecast suggests it may.)

This morning, I went out to the car, and noticed one tire was weirdly low. I mentioned it to my partner who insisted, after filling it, that I go get it checked out so he won’t worry about it while I’m on the road. I agree to do that, although I was of a mind that it was probably “nothing”. I was entirely correct about that, too, if by “nothing” I meant that there was screw stuck in my tire that would likely result in a proper flat or a blow out on the road, if I didn’t get it repaired straight away. (Which is not what I meant by “nothing”, at all, and I was supremely grateful that my partner insisted.) I went ahead and got the oil changed (overdue) while I was at it, and had some basic (also overdue) service done. How did I fall behind on this?? I wonder, and then I let it go; truth is, there’s been so much “getting done” of shit in the past year, that it’s surprising that more hasn’t fallen through the cracks, than has. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let it go. “Doing my best” isn’t about doing all of the things, promptly and skillfully, without ever having a “queue” of pending shit to do piling up. It’s about doing what I actually can, as well as I actually can, and being as okay with that outcome as I am able to be. I am human, not machinery.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Speaking of a list of things to do, my list of things to do before I go camping is still longer than I’d like it to be. Probably won’t get to all of it, but I will make a point to prioritize those things most likely to aggravate my partner in my absence. (I rather like that guy, and I’d like to do my part to ensure my time away is also “down time” for him!)

…I guess that makes it time to begin again, in spite of the heat of the day.

I mean, seriously though? I could use a real break. A break from the pandemic, and all the inconveniences, hassles, and stress of it. A break from being on lockdown with the too-often-strained-by-circumstances companionship of my partner. A break from work. A break from housekeeping. A break from well-intended reminders and critical feedback of all kinds. A break from the noise and bother of “the world”. A break from strong emotion – mine, and everyone else’s, too. I’d like a real, proper, restful, wholly recharging, legitimate break, please.

…I am silently “screaming into the void” on this one. It’s not that the need for a restful break from whatever-the-fuck is unreasonable, it’s just that getting that break is entirely on me, myself. To make or find the time? That’s on me. To create the conditions? Again, all on me. To set and manage boundaries considerately and explicitly? Again, that’s mine to do for myself. I am certainly feeling the strain of prolonged fatigue and day-to-day frustrations with pandemic life, and occasionally very poor self-care.

I write a bunch more very specific, petty, cross, bad-tempered, resentful words about small, petty, trivial humans-being-human crap. I delete it. I write a bunch more and delete that too – not because the words hold no truths, but because the truths they appear to hold are filtered through so much baggage and bullshit that the actual worthwhile truths are hidden, and I need a break from that, too. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I take a minute to look at things differently. I work on taking shit less personally, while also accepting that I have no control over how personally anyone else may take things, and being mindful that our individual experiences as individuals are quite separate, even as we’re “all in this together”. No two human beings ever really see the world quite the same way, and even in the moment, in a shared experience… and in a sense we each walk a very different path. Alone. That’s not a sorrowful thing, it’s just a thing. Maybe I can find my much-needed break somewhere within that understanding of separateness…

…I mean to say, maybe it’s not the circumstances weighing me down so much as my attachment to some element of them? A moment…and outcome… an expectation? Maybe a misplaced assumption? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I let go of everything that is not this moment, now, me, here. This room. This text editor. This open window and the fence beyond, lit by the morning sunshine. Now.

I breathe, and focus on my breath. I let the slamming and banging of my partner doing housekeeping tasks on the other side of the house recede into the background, and listen to the sounds of rain falling through my headphones. I breathe and make room for gratitude – it’s no small thing to have a partner willing to do housekeeping, and eager to maintain a nice home, and good quality of life together. It’s helpful to have reminders on things I commonly forget or overlook, even though it can be uncomfortable, awkward, or embarrassing to need them. (It’s got to be uncomfortable to provide them, too.) I breathe and let go of baggage I’m lugging around that is to do with work; my last day is tomorrow. I let that go, too. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. I sit comfortably upright in my chair, and let my shoulders relax. The cold fresh air coming in through the open window already smells of spring. I breathe, inhaling deeply. I smile, exhaling my entire breath.

…These spreadsheets won’t update themselves. It’s already time to begin again.

*Moments later, my partner asks me to come take a look at what he’s gotten done. Spotless, beautifully organized kitchen, broad ready-to-go counter space for food prep. I feel appreciated and loved. He appears to have taken note of how I work in the kitchen, when I’m cooking, moving some things from one place to another, better-suited to my needs. I feel heard. I listen while he explains what the changes are, and why, and asks me to help out maintaining it and keeping things tidy. All reasonable. He asks that I explicitly ask for help if I am falling behind on housekeeping I expect to handle myself, and let him actually help me instead of trying to do it all. I suck at that – I want to do “all the things”, and demonstrate that I can… but who I am trying to prove that to? Is that even, ever, realistic? Doesn’t that approach also undermine our partnership by robbing him of the opportunity to work with me, alongside me, cooperatively? Together. It’s different than alone. lol I look around the kitchen again, and thank him for the work he’s done. I head back to the practical matter of work (as in “the job”) feeling very fortunate indeed…

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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.

The morning is off to a difficult start. I woke in pain after a restless night. My Traveling Partner also woke in pain, and considering every time I was awake, he was also awake, I’m reasonably certain both of us have had less than ideal sleep. I make coffee. We don’t manage to enjoy it together – we aren’t enjoying each other very much this morning. While this does suck, it’s a temporary thing, and it will pass. I focus on other things.

I seek to be kind with my words, and to speak gently.

I already suspect today is one of those days on which whatever my best effort happens to be, it may fall short of ideal. I’m tired. I’m dealing with unmanaged pain. I’m aggravated. Is it me? Is it “us”? Is it just one of those very impermanent situations that will pass when it passes and simply be forgotten? Is it more important than that? I fuss quietly to myself, sip my coffee, and work on breathing through it, and letting it go. I work on not taking it personally. These are “practices” for me because they do indeed require practice. Steady. Regular. Repeated.

Kinda feels like I’m almost always standing in hot water. It’s frustrating, and this morning it is holding me back from enjoying this moment.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I focus on “now”, bringing my mind back to my breath, again and again. It’s something. Is it enough? I find myself wondering what conversations my Traveling Partner has with himself on mornings such as this. I wonder what he does to get past the difficult moments of life with a brain injured partner with PTSD. Doubtless it is not always an easy experience… How does he avoid fusing with my experience? How does he nurture and soothe himself?

Tomorrow, I am taking a break for myself, and driving out to the coast to walk on the beach, and listen to the wind and the waves, and be still and solitary for a little while before returning home. Another breath. Another moment to relax. I contemplate the drive without much eagerness in this particular moment right here. The morning is a difficult one, and I’m struggling to distract myself.

Human primates seem always to be trippin’ over something or another. Emotions are part of the human condition.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I turn to respond to my partner when he opens the door to ask me to empty the little trash can in my studio; it’s trash day. He’s preparing to take the bins to the curb for pick-up. Life is… so ordinary. Difficult moments are only that, moments. They pass. They are finite. Sure, they recur. My results definitely vary. I often find myself wanting or needing to begin again. I keep practicing, and instead of “looking for signs” that things are somehow worse than a moment gone wrong on a difficult morning, I let it go (again).

We put caution signs everywhere… but we create the hazards, too.

I am reminded that we make most of our own drama, and routinely blow small shit way out of proportion. Human primates are messy, complicated, and emotional. We aren’t as smart as we think we are. We’re prone to reasoning poorly, and reacting emotionally to circumstances in which our emotional reaction lacks value or utility – and expecting our emotions to have all that going for them is asking a lot of feelings. “Do not touch the edges of this sign.” No kidding.

Also? Stay on the path. Breathe. Keep practicing.

Begin again.

My coffee has grown cold. Second cup, busy day. I’m thinking over some things I’ve read recently (or watched) that “spoke to me”, and letting these things “seep in” and become more integrated with my own thinking. I think of it a bit like being on a journey without a map… and getting to peak at the map in the hands of a passing traveler, for just a glimpse.

This video really gets some important ideas about “following passion” as a way of doing life. I think it’s more than commonly clear on the subject.

Then there’s this article about de-escalating heated conversations. It’s given me quite a lot to think about, specifically about how complicated it can be to attempt to “enforce” calm on turbulent emotional states for me, and the real value in mastering the skills needed to do so.

I watched this video, which turned up randomly courtesy of the YouTube algorithm… it’s a good practical cautionary tale about seeking fame (or, at least, not doing things in one’s present that might prove problematic if one were to become famous at some future point).

Then, the article that keeps me returning for further reflection and consideration, and a fairly wholesome sense of renewed purpose, which is one about interrupting (a known challenge for me). I can’t even say, with any specificity, why this article got my attention with so much commitment. It did.

I sigh out loud and push my hair back from my face. It’s a long day of work ahead, today. I’m okay with that, it’s work I enjoy. I found a lovely bit of background noise to keep me focused, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂