Archives for posts with tag: emotional self sufficiency

I am sipping coffee on a Sunday. Good coffee. Pleasant Sunday. I am reflecting on what makes some moments “special” and others so seemingly “ordinary” and wondering if there is really any difference outside my own subjective impression of each moment.

I recently went to the seashore for “a bit of a break” and some “me time” away. I walked the beaches and nature trails. I took pictures. A lot of pictures. Many of those were pictures of entirely ordinary birds standing or walking along the beach, or parking lot, or some strip of not-quite-lawn. Why did I bother? They weren’t special or fancy birds… just gulls, crows, jays, and little brown birds of a variety of sorts. What’s so special about those birds? Nothing, right? It was getting the picture at all that was special (to me) – taking pictures of birds is hard. lol

A dandy gull strolling along in a parking lot. He was aware of me, and unconcerned, just walking along.

Were the moments themselves particularly “special”? I don’t actually recall them as unusual moments in any way, aside from being part of this particular beach trip. If I were to glance quickly at one of the many hundreds of beach photos I’ve taken over the years, I’m not sure I could easily identify one trip from another. They illustrate a more general experience of “going to the coast” and “being at the seashore”. Special inasmuch as it is not the routine day-to-day experience of life…but often very similar to each other (if for no other reason that I am always me when I go do these things, and generally I am doing them with similar motivation and goals in mind).

This crow was not interested in being photographed and quickly walked away when it noticed my gaze.

In a certain sense, isn’t every moment “special”, in that there is a predictably finite number of them for any one of us? We don’t even have the advantage of knowing in advance how many there will be – only that they will eventually just run out, often unexpectedly.

Even for little brown birds on mellow summer days; moments are finite and limited.

It seems far more likely that all moments are special than to assume no moments are special – it’s easy enough to identify one or two special moments (just look for lingering significance or fond memories!), which immediately debunks the proposition that “no moments are special”. So… moments are special in a quantity somewhere between “some” and “all”. Tough to know going into a particular moment how special it may prove to be, even immediately afterward. Some moments are so spectacular it’s probably obvious that those will become lasting fond memories for someone (or recollections of profound tragedy – “special” isn’t always “good”, right?).

Thoughtful? Distracted? Just having a moment?

This last beach trip was special, for sure. I was out on the coast giving my Traveling Partner room to work on complicated CNC build details without me being underfoot, or becoming a distraction. That’s not what was special about it (for me), although it is always wonderful to know I am missed when I am away. What made it special was the combination of finding new awesome locations to take pictures, new trails to wander, and also – that’s where I was when I got the call from my new employer with their offer, and knew that I would be returning to work soon.

I got the news sitting in my car, parked, watching the waves roll in, just after getting off the phone with my partner, after receiving an automated rejection email sent in error. lol

When I was mired in the worst of my bullshit, baggage, chaos and damage, I often felt as if “nothing is special”. That feeling (and experience) has a name, anhedonia. Life feels gray, meaningless, and very much as though nothing matters and no effort will change that lack of meaning. It’s grim. It’s bland. It’s very hard to pull oneself out of that pit. I had it wrong. I mean, obviously (anhedonia is an experience of disordered thinking/feeling). It’s just that I’m sort of blown away by how wrong I’d gotten it (as a result of poor mental health) – because it’s apparent now that the truth is so much closer to “everything is special” (even to the point of potentially numbing us to the “specialness of the ordinary”).

I smile and finish my coffee. I’m happy to be where I am these days. I delighted with the pictures I’ve been getting of birds. I’m okay with the birds themselves being entirely ordinary. Most things are. Moments, too. I’m done with insisting that anything “special” also be entirely out of the ordinary – that seems, now, to be a needlessly high bar to set for what is special to me. Sure – love is special, and very much out of the ordinary… but a great cup of coffee, a picture of a bird that turns out well, or a gentle relaxed Sunday morning are all pretty ordinary experiences – and also comfortably special. I’m good with enjoying the specialness of the ordinary, and embracing contentment and joy.

It’s time to begin again.

I am sipping my second coffee of the morning, listening to garden videos, and reflecting on a recent profoundly pleasant compliment a colleague paid me. I realize I am allowing myself to maintain layered distractions, which doesn’t really work well for me. I pause the video to sit with my thoughts and focus on my writing. The coffee? Not much of a distraction, really, although I must admit I am not being especially mindful to juggle my coffee and my thoughts. Would be more mindful (and focused) to do one or the other (and I often sit silently sipping my first cup in a quiet room, or out on the deck, with that in mind).

Compliments feel really good. They also, rather oddly I think, feel like “validation” – as though indeed I had “earned” whatever lovely words came my way. It’s hard to get comfortable with the idea that these lovely words and pleasing compliments are no more personal (or “real” or “true”), than the unwelcome slights or criticisms (or trolling) I may be exposed to in the course of a day. It’s all very subjective, and tends to say more about the person giving the compliment (or insult) than the intended recipient. It’s an opinion. Often an unsolicited opinion. It’s for sure much nicer (even welcome) to hear pleasant compliments than to have to deal with insults, just saying; there’s nothing personal in either one.

On the other side of the interaction, it sometimes feels very gratifying to savage someone with words when we are hurt or angry. It’s reliably unkind. Generally unnecessary. Rarely actually useful. Certain to damage a relationship (if any exists). I know, for myself, the wiser choice is to consider my anger and hurt, discover the source of my pain and deal with it myself honestly, and let go of lashing out at some other person. Even if I feel I have been “wronged” in some way, it’s rarely worthwhile to seek some kind of paybacks or punishment, however emotionally satisfying it may feel to do so in the heat of the moment.

Compliments are altogether different. They feel just as good to give as they do to receive. Giving someone honest positive feedback, or offering a pleasant observation, and seeing them light up (because it does feel good to be appreciated) is a lovely mood booster. I tend to choose to give encouragement often and quite freely (while also keeping it authentic and real). I avoid adversarial or authoritarian sorts of criticism or negative feedback, mostly because it feels pretty shitty to receive it, and rarely gets put to any sort of good use as a result. There are better ways to communicate concerns, boundaries, needs, and expectations than through negative feedback and criticism. That’s my own position on it. Obviously, you do you – but if you explicitly prefer negative feedback (sometimes called “painful truth”), let’s not hang out, shall we? LOL It’s just not fun. We both have better things to do with our time. 😉

Every sunrise is a new beginning. What will you do with it?

I woke early-ish, but pretty near to the sunrise. I dressed quickly, and was surprised when I noticed my Traveling Partner already awake and up for the day. Generally, half the point of my morning camera walks is to give my partner a bit of time to sleep deeply without having to endure my snoring! He didn’t-quite-invite-me to stay home this morning, pointing out that since he was up I didn’t have to go… I really enjoy my camera walks and time out on the trail or alongside a meadow in the mornings, though, so I went. For me. It was nice. Chilly, though, and it is clearly autumn. There are fallen leaves on the street. The air has “that fall smell”. It wasn’t raining, though… I thought about driving out to the nature reserve to get pictures of water birds and nutria on the marsh, but changed my mind as I drove when I passed a flipped over wreck of a one-car collision that must have happened sometime late yesterday. I lost my enthusiasm to drive any distance – and almost turned around to return to the safety of home. Instead, I went to the nearby meadow trail that I favor on weekday mornings. The sunrise was lovely.

I am focused on the garden today (at least for now). I’ve got plants to plant. Seeds to sow. Beds to clean up for fall. Seeds saved from earlier crops to clean up and put in labeled packets for later planting. …I’ve got a list…

New roses waiting to be planted, and seedlings almost ready to be planted. There’s probably a metaphor here somewhere. 🙂

I guess what I’m saying is that this coffee has gone cold, and the garden isn’t going to take care of itself; it’s time to begin again. 🙂

4 days to the start of my new job. It’s a Thursday, today. Tomorrow I should get the next update from my new employer with login details and such. The new laptop is already here. I’m excited about this next new beginning, and I am entirely over any grieving that resulted from the abrupt and unanticipated but mostly decently well-managed lay-off from my previous job. I’ve greatly enjoyed the luxury of having two months “off” between these jobs – I feel really ready to get on with things. 🙂 I got a lot of projects done at home, too, and spent ample time in the garden, and out on trails with my camera in my hand. 😀

Yesterday is already a bit of a blur. Honestly, a lot of the days behind me now are a tad “blurry” – my Traveling Partner has taken up quite a bit of our shared time with discussions about his/our new business, the CNC machine that should be supporting it (and frankly isn’t), and the stress of evaluating whether this new CNC machine is the POS that it seems it may be, and what to replace it with (and how to get that done sooner than later). Me getting back to work is a helpful stress reducer for both of us; it’s our safety net, and provides continuous revenue to support growing a young business. Over coffee this morning we follow-up on previous conversations CNC-wise, and make some growth-focused decisions that may have been “too risky” if I were going to be out of work for a longer indefinite period. It’s an exciting time. Stressful, too, but mostly exciting.

Yesterday afternoon I got a couple hours of solo time at home – a rare treat. My partner and his son headed to the city for adventure. I had expected they might be gone many hours… Nope. The city has “gotten pretty bad” over the past couple years, and the rampant homelessness problem that has created a lot of trash and vermin on downtown streets, and seen tent villages rise on corners and in community parks all over, is worse than inconvenient and unattractive – it’s actually created considerable risk just being in those downtown areas at all. Violent crime and property crime, street corner harassment, vehicle thefts and break-ins… it’s all pretty common in the city these days. Shootings are routine. I’m grateful that we moved well away from the city.

My partner and his son returned home after just a couple hours (basically the time it takes to drive there and back). I think their plan is to head out for some other place at some point today. I’m looking forward to having that time to myself to chill, reflect, and be ready for the new job next week. 😀 It’s been nice visiting with my step-son, and hanging out the three of us as a family, but… I am “all peopled out” (and have been for awhile) and I’ll definitely benefit from having some quiet time at home. My partner “gets it”, although we’re quite different in this regard, and he has maintained a steady commitment to getting me that time that I need while his son is visiting. There are for sure things they’d like to do together. 🙂

So… here it is an new day. Heading quickly toward a new beginning. It’s time for change. It’s time to begin again. 😀

I’m on my third coffee this morning. I slept poorly. My Traveling Partner slept poorly. I slipped away early in the morning hoping he would be able to get some better sleep, but that didn’t work out ideally well. I am sitting in the studio, drinking coffee and considering the causes and the potential outcomes, and wondering how best to be helpful.

“Being considerate” may very well be one of the most powerful skills (and practices) that a person can bring to social relationships (of all kinds). I have found it sometimes a bit difficult to define “consideration” – in spite of placing it high on my list of things to look for in relationships. I see people who are “considerate” practicing deep listening, explicit expectation-setting, skillful boundary setting, asking clarifying questions, testing their assumptions, yielding their natural desire to be “right” preferring to be kind, making an explicit effort to refrain from “centering themselves” in every circumstance or conflict, and being very comfortable making a prompt apology when another person points out a transgression. That seems like a lot to manage, but it really does all map to “consideration” – as in, genuinely considering what those around them are going through or may need.

Let’s be clear on one point; I don’t see considerate people being doormats or open to being abused or mistreated. They use boundary setting and expectation setting with great skill and comfort. They consider their own needs along side the needs of others, and make a point of practicing good self-care, too.

Lacking fundamental consideration leads people to casually mistreat others without intention – and often without noticing, and sometimes following-up by callously doubling-down on that mistreatment by attempting to deflect blame (by way of excusing their actions as “unintended”). Doesn’t really “make things right” to do things that way, and feels still more inconsiderate. People who are inconsiderate are by far more common than people who are considerate! It has become socially “normal” to see (or have to accommodate) inconsiderate behavior from others. People are busy. Self-involved. Dealing with their own shit. Struggling to heal trauma. Uneducated about the impact their choices/words/behavior has on others. Unaware how much difference consideration can make. There’s a lot going on with inconsiderate people. Most of it is even shit everyone has going on in life. One thing that isn’t going on with inconsiderate people; they are not being “considerate” (probably a huge timesaver, I don’t know…).

Consideration and considerate behavior isn’t “natural” to human primates; we learn it from our social group(s) – and therefore must teach it to our companions, explicitly. Children generally get taught “sharing” – a part of consideration. Every element of consideration probably needs to be explicitly taught. As a culture we’re clearly falling down on the job, there, based on the general rise in inconsiderate behavior, basic rudeness, and prevalent violence. I’m pretty certain that very considerate people are likely less prone to violence. It’s something to think about.

Today, I’m struggling with “my nature”; I tend to be very considerate (of others), but also tend to fail myself on the self-care and boundary-setting side of things. Knowing my Traveling Partner did not sleep well, I consider what I can do to be helpful, or to at least minimize the potential for stress or conflict in our relationship due to the both of us being fatigued and in pain. It’s complicated. What does he need? What does he want? Can I provide those things? Is guessing at them wise? What about me? What do I need, myself? Can I meet his needs and my own? When do well-intentioned inquiries about what he needs become invasive or pestering? How do I prevent my own boundary and expectation-setting needs from being swept aside in the pursuit of a gentle day together (under difficult circumstances)? What is reasonable, and what is excessive? How far do I take “not taking things personally” before it becomes entirely necessary to “push back” or point out a boundary – and how do I do that gently enough to also avoid sounding “bitchy” or unreasonable?

My anxiety simmers in the background, and that’s not at all helpful. Consideration, like “mindfulness”, is something that takes quite a bit of actual practice (at least for me). It’s not my “default” human behavior. It is, however, something I value quite a lot – enough to keep practicing. Enough that it matters to achieve mastery – and balance.

It’s a new day. There are opportunities to be a better person than I was yesterday. There will be verbs involved, and practice required. My results will no doubt vary. It’s a good time to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping coffee on a lazy Monday – feels luxurious, and I’m very much aware that in just a couple weeks my Mondays will once again be the start of the work week. I am thinking about life and relationships, and how to enjoy the best possible experiences day-to-day, moment-to-moment, event-by-event. This? This “now” right here? It’s “my time”; I’ve accepted a job offer. Put things around the house in order with the help of my Traveling Partner. Helped him with things in the shop. I am now enjoying some unfettered leisure time, and the presence of a house guest (my partner’s adult son). It’s a good time to reflect on what precisely makes the very best experiences in life…

…and then do those verbs…

I already know quality of life is not “a money thing”, because there are certainly plenty of privileged or affluent people in public spaces being fucking miserable, or miserable to be around. So… okay. Not about the money (although having a little goes a long way to purchasing nice-to-have goods and services!). I think about my time on the coast. The hotel wasn’t fancy – just a seaside hotel; a little costly considering the amenities, but a great location and an ocean view are among those “nice-to-have” items. The room was a bit old. A bit “tired”. The in-room coffee machine did not work. The lobby was clean but not particularly well-appointed (it wasn’t bad, either, just ordinary). Still – I loved my time there and I am eager to go back. Why? What made last week’s coastal adventure time so exceptional? I think it comes down to something really basic and simple and, amusingly, free if one cares to have some. People were nice. That’s it. People were nice. Why were so many people so pleasant and considerate? (I think that’s how I personally define “nice” – pleasant and considerate.) I suspect because I was being nice, myself.

I greeted the receptionist at the hotel as a person, with respect and kindness, and with no expectation of being treated better than anyone else, no insistence, no urgency, no impatience. She was clearly quite busy. In return for the small investment of being nice, I was able to get a last minute room for the night, at a very reasonable rate, and even got checked-in crazy early which let me enjoy the day so thoroughly with great convenience.

I greeted the domestic staff when I approached my room, and then on my way out to grab my stuff from the car I made a point of expressing my appreciation for the obvious care they had taken to ensure the room was clean and ready for a new guest. In return, they smiled each time they saw me (for the rest of my stay) and were pleasant and pro-actively helpful – one of them even made a point to take her cigarette break out near the beach, where I was sitting, taking time to show me where the high tide would be, so if I wanted to come out to the beach in the moonlight, I would not be at risk of drowning. This after just a few words about looking forward to taking pictures while I enjoyed my stay and asking how her day is going, earlier.

I was pleasant and patient with the hard working waitstaff at various eateries. In return? I got great service, with a smile.

Simple things. Yes, yes, I know – these folks are working, and their job is to provide customer service. That isn’t a guarantee or requirement that they do so pleasantly, patiently, helpfully, or kindly, and I know that if someone treats me in an unpleasant, inconsiderate, or unkind way I know I am personally less likely to deliver my best, or to be my most pleasant and “nice”. Just being real. So much of life we get back from our experiences what we bring to them. If we’re hateful, other people seem so as well. If we’re rude, other people are more likely to be rude right back.

Be nice. Damn. It’s not that hard. (Why should you have to be? You don’t. I’m just saying, you may get better results from your relationships. It’s worth a thought.)

Now, before there’s howling from the devil’s chorus on this, I’ll just say that I’m not suggesting being a doormat, or allowing other people to tromp all over your explicitly-set boundaries, or undermining your own emotional wellness by being a “people pleaser”. Not at all. I’m just saying… be nice. Practice Wheaton’s Law. Assume positive intent. Don’t take shit personally. Be kind. Be welcoming and approachable, generally. Treat other people well (and yeah, treat yourself well, also).

I’m eager to get back to the coast, at that same pleasant seaside hotel near that very nice coffee shop with the cool baristas and great mochas. Eager to enjoy a meal at that restaurant with the very pleasant and efficient waitstaff and great food. Eager to walk the beach and talk to those very nice folks fishing about their catch and the weather.

Now? I’m eager to begin again.