Archives for posts with tag: get real

It’s morning. I’m tired. Of course, this is amplified in intensity because I definitely needed the sleep I definitely did not get. I sigh and choke down more coffee. It’s going to be a long damned day.

I take a deep breath, relax, and think back on my appointment yesterday. There’s a lot to unpack from that one, and I won’t be doing it (all) here (now). I smile back on one fairly cool win and good moment; I did not get lost getting home (last time I did). I was, um, fairly mistaken about where, in the context of the rest of the city, and, you know, maps, this location actually is, and so last time, when I chose to “just drive home”, I got turned around on a sequence of one way streets I’d forgotten about, and ended up quite lost. Not this time. I looked at a map. πŸ˜€ To be clear – I could have used my GPS, and considered doing so, but… rush hour. I don’t find it as uniformly helpful during rush hour. It knows the roads, it does not know people. So I GPSd the suggested route, looked it over carefully, and “just drove home”. It took precisely the amount longer that I’d expect for the greater distance. Win, indeed.

Therapy can be easy to the point of wondering why the hell I am there, or difficult to the point of wondering how the hell I’ve been accepted as an adult all these years. It’s a process. Like a lot of folks, there’s an additional emotional burden to bear in the midst of the cultural shitstorm that has become American politics and society. It’s particularly weighty for me as an individual; I already “have issues”. No lie. I have mental health concerns. I have been, even, fairly easily described as “mentally ill”. Am I now? Unknown. It’s not something that should have stigma, but it does. It’s a hard label to wear comfortably while also working full-time for a living doing something I’m respected for, living alone, managing my affairs on my own… all the adulting. I was able to take a break from therapy for about a year. No kidding, the current presidency on top of family “stuff” has pushed me back in. lol It’s okay. (I can laugh about that. Healthy.) There’s just more work to do; it’s just one more beginning.

I know, I know – asking for help when we’re ill (mentally, emotionally, cognitively, or physically) can be hard; it can feel like an admission of failure to adult properly. Don’t let that get in the way of getting help, though. Maybe you did fail to adult properly – but fucking wow is asking for help, particularly for our mental health needs, totally the absolute adult thing to do when help is what we need!! Go for it! You matter. Please. (And good luck)

I headed home with a plan, and a follow-up in three weeks.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Too much coffee? Too much therapy? No way to know, but definitely not enough sleep.

Another work day, then another, then a weekend… all filled with adulting. Fucking hell, I’m so tired…

…Well, back at it, I suppose. Can I get a new beginning over here, please? πŸ˜‰

Be who you are. I say it. Other people say it. I think when it is said, it’s generally well-intended, and a sincere expression of an understanding of being that implies being all of the best of who we are, and hopefully still contains a kernel of awareness that reducing ourselves to our own worst qualities, as we understand those ourselves, is not at all the intention. But… just in case… I’ll go ahead and say that, too; being who you are implies being who you are wholly, with skill, and with your fundamental good-nature and humanity intact. Don’t just dissolve in a heated moment, becoming your inner most slime mold. lol That’s less… yeah. It’s less. Less well than you could choose to do. Less pleasant among all your character qualities. Less ideally you than even you would have you be. Yep. Still a shit load of verbs involved there, and some willful decision-making, and the needs to manage your chaos and damage with a modicum of adulting – and you will fail. Sometimes. Other times, you will rock the shit out of all that adulting, and friends and loved ones will be astonished by your general awesomeness and ability to love and treat others well. Mostly, I’ve found, I fall somewhere between those two extremes, day-to-day. Doing my best. Capable of improving on that. Working to improve over time, and become more the woman I most want to be.

Authenticity is a big deal. You really are you, and not someone else. Becoming the person you most want to be isn’t about faking something, or wearing a mask, or playing dress up. When I say I want to become the woman I most want to be, I mean in all the best ways I see myself, and then maybe improving on that – in a bunch of other ways I would like to see myself, but don’t yet, because I’m legitimately not that, yet. We become what we practice. If I want to be accepted as being gracious, calm, and loving, it is necessary for me to practice actions and behaviors that are gracious, calm and loving. Those qualities don’t become “who I am” until there has been so much practice, sufficiently skillfully, and entirely sincerely, that over time the behaviors themselves become my default behavior, and the thinking behind them has become, over time, my natural way of thinking. Am I “faking it” in the meantime? Nope. I’m practicing. Still has to be “the real deal” – I can’t grit my teeth, clench my jaw, and go through the motions (that’s not practicing a behavior, that’s enduring having to comply with a commitment, perhaps, but it’s not “practice” – which requires a certain amount of “buy in” and willingness to change). “Fake it to make it” isn’t a thing I do, myself, because I don’t think that works for me. The key is in the word “fake”. I prefer to rephrase that well-meaning sentiment as “we become what we practice”.

Don’t be fake. Get real.

Who do you most want to be? Behave as though you are already that person – because those behaviors align to your values. (If they don’t, is that really who you want to be, or are you just saying that because someone else wants that of you? Something to think about.) Sure, there is awareness and effort involved, and every day choices matter a lot. It helps, too, to have an understanding of who you already are. Ask the hard questions of yourself. Look yourself in the eye and call shenanigans on your own bullshit – leave all those other people out of it, they’ve got their own hard mile to walk.

Being authentically this person that I am doesn’t permit me to be nasty to people and just say “well that’s who I am, accept me” in any comfortable way (I’ve seen a lot of people take this strategy, though). I find, instead, that it forces a certain uncomfortable obligation to be authentically vulnerable about where I could improve, or change, based on my own understanding of myself and what I want of me. Yep. Being authentically me, accepting of myself, and non-judgmentally aware of “who I am right now” doesn’t alleviate the burden of self-reflection and personal growth, and it doesn’t allow me to break my social contract with the world (which is basically an agreement to treat others well, based on certain common standards). What it does do is place my growth and progress in life in my own hands, based on my own choices. I can choose to be the worst of what I am capable of – or the best – or I can fall somewhere between the extremes. I can choose to progress, to do nothing, or to fall behind. I can act using my own will and agency, or allow learned helplessness to stall me in the moment. All choices. I can choose authenticity – or I can choose to go through the motions, resenting my lot in life.

Thoughts on a Wednesday morning, as I prepare to begin again. Real-ly.

I saw a meme this morning promoting what seems, on the face of it, a really good idea that holds potential to benefit “everyone”. Hell, it has “everyone” right there in the bold white on black text!

The meme is not the world.

I don’t disagree with the idea that making voting day a properly recognized cultural day, on which we “all” take off work to do our civic duty and make our voices heard. I actually like the idea. I’d just like it to be something other than a meme. Something more truthful and real than a slogan. It’s a great idea – but it isn’t, and can’t be, made to happen in any literal sense – even with a federal holiday, even with “compulsory” voting. Why? Well… think about those words carefully. Think about the world “everyone” and think about the words “national holiday”. Now tell me what “national holiday” currently celebrated is enjoyed by literally “everyone” such that all have that opportunity?

Did you jump to Thanksgiving? Fourth of July? (I know you’re probably sharp enough to dodge the temptation of Christmas!) So… yeah, about that… On what “national holiday” do all business shut down, and all employees get the day off? I’m seriously splitting this hair, yes I am. Hospitals? Open. Gas stations? Open. Convenience stores? Open. A great many sale-hosting profit-seeking employee-exploiting big box chains? Open. “Everyone” is a big commitment.

Therein lies the danger of getting one’s ideas from memes. They are easy to share, true enough. They are conveniently succinct and pithy. They communicate emotional triggers well. None of this ensures they rise to the level of “true”, “accurate”, “feasible”, or “realistic”. I’m just saying. Think about what you read using your actual brain. Don’t just consume media and regurgitate prepared opinions, please? You have all the qualities of mind that a fancy primate brain can provide. Don’t just let it rot inside your cranium. πŸ˜‰

…And with regard to improving access to voting, preserving voting rights, and making voting more accessible? How about voting by mail? πŸ™‚ So easy. It works well, and is already the practice in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado; states where the news is not constantly on and on about voter suppression.

This isn’t really about the vote, though. Surprise! It’s about checking references, doing homework, fact-checking, getting news from reliable sources, and making every attempt I can at avoiding having my consciousness influenced by delightfully persuasive likely sounding memes. πŸ™‚ It’s hard. There are so many engaging gifs and sound bites and vines and YouTube videos and memes and slogans and advertising… it’s almost as if getting my attention has intrinsic monetary value to the individual, group, or agency promoting the thought behind them. πŸ˜‰

Taking care of me is complicated in the 21st century. Everyone wants my views, my clicks, my likes, my shares – yours, too. I want other things for myself.

Walking my own path, one step at a time.

There’s a lovely long weekend ahead for me. (I know, right? Another one!) I am spending it with my Traveling Partner out in the countryside. No agenda, no plans of note, just time together. Maybe I write, maybe I don’t… if you miss me… well… there are like… 1416 other posts (surely you have not read them all?? πŸ˜€ ). I’ll be back soon… Sunday.Β  It’ll be a good day to begin again, feet up on the deck, autumn leaves strewn about, hot coffee steaming up my glasses in the chill of evening light.

I woke a bit early this morning, still smiling from the lovely evening spent with my Traveling Partner last night. I’ll probably be smiling for days, unless something entirely different knocks the smile off my face at some point. Hot coffee, headphones on, great playlist, smiling… this is a beautiful moment, as I start my day, still warm from a leisurely hot shower, still comfortable after my morning yoga… did I mention I’m still smiling?

What we see is often determined by what we’re looking at – and how we feel.

This moment is delightful. It’s still just a moment. Mindfulness is only part of this peculiar puzzle that is my journey from surviving to thriving; perspective matters every bit as much, I think. Take that lovely blue sky moment shot yesterday, pictured above, for example. It’s not an entirely frank image… I zoomed in on a small bit of blue sky, and some tree tops at the edge of a parking lot, downtown, near the waterfront, surrounded by concrete overpasses, framed in traffic, asphalt, and homeless people. I grabbed that sliver of beauty and blew it way out of proportion. I think I do that often, even without a camera. It’s also possible to do that in quite the reverse (and exceedingly common), zooming in on the suffering, the unpleasantness, the litter, the damage, the pain, the violence… life has a lot to offer, and it isn’t all pleasant happy fun stuff.

Still

How we view the world, how we experience our own lives, does have to do with our perspective on it. We filter our experience through our perspective. We give the details context, even going as far as making up, or filling in, missing narrative.

Still

Don’t miss out on the fun of life, or it’s whimsy!

We have choices, even about what to look at, and how to see it. Those choices matter, too. Balance matters. Perspective matters. Being “real” matters – and it matters how we define “being real”.

I don’t have anything super useful here, I’m just saying… perspective is a thing, and it’s useful to have some. Moments are moments, pleasant and unpleasant, and there will be some. πŸ™‚ Taken together those ideas don’t stop life (and moments) from being rather like a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle which has pieces that are all shades of gray, and each piece uniquely shaped. Assembling such a thing into something that is ordered seems complicated. I don’t actually know if it is complicated…

…I’m just going to dump the pieces out of the box, and get started on this puzzle. πŸ˜‰

It takes time to recover from an injury. I over-eagerly pushed myself to complete a longer than usual last Monday, and arrived home with a sore knee. Tuesday I stayed mostly off of it and it felt much better by day’s end. Wednesday, it felt better still, though not fully recovered, and I undertook some nearby errands on foot – and worsened the injury. I knew better. I chose poorly. Yesterday, with some discipline, I stayed mostly off of it again, and this morning find myself ‘better’ although I still feel it aching, and occasional twinges if there’s any hint of lateral movement…and my brain happily chimes in first thing with hiking suggestions! No. I’m staying off it today, too. 😦 It’s a more difficult choice than I’d like it to be.

A good day to relax in the garden.

A good day to relax in the garden.

Doing what I know is the correct thing, the most effective or appropriate choice to take care of my long-term needs well, is not always the easiest choice. It is, in fact, most often not at all the easiest choice.

After a night of rain showers, and a morning of sunshine, the garden needs little help from me besides enjoying it.

After a night of rain showers, and a morning of sunshine, the garden needs little help from me besides enjoying it.

I think about choices. I think about growth, and progress. I think about the world. I wonder about all the people who seem never to have taken time to reflect on that person in their mirror, to reflect on their choices, their actions, the outcomes. I can’t actually imagine that the vast numbers of ignorant hateful people shoring up our badly broken culture actually ever pause to reflect on what they do, on what they’ve done, or on why it matters so much that they learn another way – that we allΒ learn other, better, ways. (We are each having our own experience. Most people, even really vile hateful people, imagine themselves to be the good guys in their own narrative.) I think about how far I’ve come myself, growing up in ignorance, and learning so much to come so far – to discover how very ignorant I remain. Different things. The more I’ve learned of life, of love, of things universal or specific, of science, of violence, of art, of madmen and monsters in the darkness, of the fictions I craft for myself, of journeys to be taken, and of all the many practices within reach to become a better person than I was yesterday… the more there seems to be to learn. About all of it.

"Where did I get that idea?" "Why do I think so?" These are important questions to ask myself.

“Where did I get that idea?” “Why do I think so?” These are important questions to ask myself.

I’m no longer so frustrated by my own ignorance; this is a journey, and I continue to grow. I may have observed that I am unsure what other purpose life has, than growth, development, learning. We become. We become, in fact, what we practice. (But what we think we know weighs heavily on what we may choose to practice.) I began life knowing nothing. I know so much more now – and so little compared to the vastness of all there is to know. “I am only an egg” says Valentine Michael Smith. I can’t argue with that.

It's a good day to begin again. A good day to learn, and to love. A good day to change the world.

It’s a good day to begin again. A good day to learn, and to love. A good day to change the world.

Today I will spend my time being – and becoming. Painting. Practicing. Breathing. Loving. Treating myself and others as I well as I know how to, and learning to do it just a bit better while I’m at it. Today that’s enough.