Archives for posts with tag: good self-care

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.Β 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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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?Β 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? πŸ™‚

It’s funny, isn’t it, that things change so much in such a short time, and often in such unexpected ways. Sometimes subtle, sometimes quite obvious, sometimes in unimaginably pleasant ways, sometimes less so – change is.Β 

I smile and sip my coffee. This morning it is exceptionally good. I feel well-rested, content, and calm. The morning begins well. I enjoy this feeling, savoring it, lingering with it, not asking it to be anything more than what it is. Grateful for it, and appreciative.

Some lovely fun hours in the company of dear friends, and my Traveling Partner, were a nice addition to the weekend. I am still enjoying those recollections, too. I think about all the many small commitments to mutual support, and shared experience, that make up these relationships – as much about “family” and community, as they are about friendship. Our relationships are so much of who we are. Almost a “living mirror”, in a sense; we see reflected back what we are able to deliver, ourselves. It’s a lot of work to maintain a low-drama experience in the context of our relationships, sometimes, but it is possible. I smile and think about that for a few minutes more. How do we share the best of who we are with the people most dear to us? How do we encourage them to do the same?

I glance at the time. It’s an ordinary enough work day, and I’ve commitments aside from those to family, community, home, and hearth. There’s also the work thing, and it’s already time to begin again. lol

…Are you ready for a new day? What will you do with it? πŸ™‚

I like a smooth, well-mapped, route when I travel from place to pace, it’s true. I don’t at all mind “a road less traveled” – I just prefer to use a map. lol The enormous emotional relief, for me, in beginning down the path of mindfulness, of improved self-awareness, of improved emotional self-sufficiency, has been largely due to the increased sensation that this journey can make some sense, can seem to follow some sort of map. Sort of. πŸ™‚ It’s a feeling of “safe travels” on life’s journey, for me.

…I’m less than ideally well-suited to unexpected drama, profound losses of perspective or resilience, or that emotional teeter-totter that gets slyly labeled “reactivity”. I falter. I panic. I want to run. Doesn’t matter if it’s my mess, or someone else’s. I really just don’t want to be part of it, and I begin to do a lot of emotional dog-paddling in life’s choppy waters, just trying to stay ahead of things, or smooth things over. I’d often rather just yield to whatever the chaos brings with it, accept and reject it, and fucking walk on. So often, it’s either my own mess to clean up and manage, or it belongs to someone dear to me, who has… for fuck’s sake… reached out to me (of all people) for help and support.

It was late last night before I’d self-soothed and medicated sufficiently to stop by brain spinning out of control on details that didn’t really belong directly to me, but touched my experience enough to be aggravating. I slept fitfully, once I was able to sleep at all, and my nightmares were not all that helpful toward sorting shit out. I was fairly grateful for the loud crashing noise on the roof over my bed, which woke me abruptly at 1:49 am. Heavy winds all day and into the night, really making a loud rushing and roaring noise, had been tossing the treetops back and forth for hours. Seconds after 1:48 am, I guess, a largish tree beyond the back fence couldn’t take it any longer and snapped just a couple feet up from the base. It hit the house and broke again, the top sliding down the roof into the neighbor’s yard, the mid-section crashing into the fence, and destroying a section of that, breaking again, and that piece falling sort of into my yard.

Well…shit. That’s not good…

Minutes later, we were all standing out there in the wind and rain, faces wearing looks of astonishment and relief. It could have been worse. In the darkness, the wind carried off any real sense of fear or anxiety, leaving behind only words of surprise, and cautious optimism. It would be hours before day light gave us a better look. Still, it was easy to tell it could have been much worse.

I went back to bed with that reminder in my mind; it could have been worse. So often in life this is true. lol

I woke to a lovely note from my Traveling Partner. I woke to no drama. I woke to peace and contentment. I woke to a large tree broken in pieces spread across the back yards, and a displaced squirrel looking up at me with a recognizable “wtf??” look. I smiled. I get it. I put out peanuts for the squirrels and made a cup of coffee for myself – and began again. πŸ™‚

It’s a Saturday morning. I am awake early. I make a delicious cup of coffee, and later a couple of eggs, prepared simply, with a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper. I feel content and satisfied. I scroll through my feeds; too many memes and shares, not enough original content. I move on. I do some self-study on topics currently most interesting to me. I take time to meditate.

I feel good.

I think about these things before I sit down to write. I consider how routinely I “begin again” and how often I suggest it as a great practice, recognizing what I’m really saying is something as elementary as “don’t beat yourself up over that, just start over”, which is less succinct, and less likely to become clear programming. I find myself wondering if that’s really enough to be at all helpful for friends or readers who haven’t yet tried a new beginning in that sense that I mean, and don’t quite know what to do with that moment of transition between the end/consequence of the one moment, and the fresh-start newness of the next.

I drink my coffee and mull that over. Is it a complicated question? “How to Begin Again” doesn’t seem the sort of thing that would, generally, require explicit instruction… but… I already know I’m wrong about that, a lot. So…

  1. Step one, well, I guess something’s gotta end, or be completed, or fail horribly leaving us feeling wretched and lost, or at loose ends, or puzzled, or discontent, or… Yeah. I guess step one has to be the end of something or other. Let’s start there. πŸ™‚
  2. Now begin again.

Okay, okay. I’m being a smart ass, and a bit flippant, and maybe that’s not appropriate for you, in your circumstances, right at the moment? Got it. I’ll… begin again.

  1. Let’s go ahead and still start with something that ends. πŸ™‚ A circumstance, a moment, an experience – and hey, maybe that’s your “now”, right now, and it hasn’t ended yet, and you’re really quite unhappy and miserable and feeling beat down by life, or overcome by ennui or sorrow, or frustration… damn. That sucks. Let’s step 2 the hell out of that, shall we?
  2. Breathe. No kidding. Take a moment and just get some wholesome cleansing deep breaths. Let that other shit go, just for a moment or two at least? Surely that’s fine? It’s a choice. Take a moment for you, and just breathe.
  3. Even while allowing yourself to consider what has passed, whether success or failure, however miserable, worried, or anxious, please also work on letting go of your attachment to the specific outcome, and let go of any expectations you were holding on to. Let yourself have a clean slate on this – it’ll be okay to do that, I assure you. πŸ™‚ The map is not the world, and clinging to an understanding of an experience or circumstance can definitely color your future experience and decision-making.
  4. Go ahead and feel your feelings. Yep. Feel ’em. Emotions are not the bad guys here, and we can develop a less reactive, more awareness-based approach to our emotional life. Finding balance between emotion and reason is a very nice bonus to all this practicing. πŸ™‚
  5. Still breathing? You’ll want to keep that going, generally. πŸ™‚
  6. If you are wanting to literally re-start whatever you just failed at, now’s the time, perhaps, to consider what success really looks like – and maybe also ask yourself some questions about why you view it that way? Is that your own legitimate authentic honest assessment, or have you borrowed someone else’s opinion’s or values there? Please consider usingΒ  your own. πŸ™‚ (Much easier to succeed in life when you are pursuing your own goals.)
  7. Make a plan. Oh, I know – an ever-loving fuck-ton of you, out there, are not planners at all. I’m not saying a word about whether or not you execute a specific plan. I am most definitely suggesting that you still sketch out some sort of loose notion of what you want to get done, even if it’s only in your head, and even if you follow through completely differently. When we feel prepared, our stress level in life is generally lower. Just saying. Think it through. Consider your next steps, and your goal. Consider alternate outcomes – a lot of them. Be okay with as many of those as you are able to allow yourself to be. Consider how those alternate outcomes may also be quite okay, maybe in totally different ways. (Some people might call this “daydreaming”, but it can be done very productively.)
  8. Allow yourself to acknowledge what is and has gone well. Contemplate for some moments all manner of similar experiences or circumstances or events or relationships that have turned out quite well, based on your choices in the past. Consider them. Savor these memories of success and sort of “fill up your consciousness” with the things in life that you appreciate, and have turned out quite nicely.
  9. Still breathing? Don’t forget to breathe.
  10. Now’s the time. Whatever it is, take another lovely deep relaxed breath, recognize and enjoy your humanity, and be aware that through our challenges is our path to growth; we don’t learn much from our successes, or the easy wins in life. We don’t become stronger by way of experiences that don’t test our strength. We can’t fathom the depths of our capacity for joy or love without also experiencing the weight of our pain and sorrow.
  11. Ready? Do the thing. ❀ (All sorts of different steps and verbs go with this one, obviously. You get to choose those; that’s on you.)

I still think it’s fine to just… start with step 1 and finish with a step 2… but… I’ve been practicing for a while, and at this point, it does feel pretty natural to sort of cram all the rest of that between them. LOL

I smile and think about this journey of mine, and how far I’ve come from that hurt creature uncertain life is worth living… that was only… 5 years ago. The world isn’t really a “better place” than it was then, in most regards, and actually, it seems a bit worse, in a number of ways. Still… I feel better, about the world, about myself, about my life, about my ability to love and to heal and to nurture, and to make wise choices. I treat myself, generally, reliably well. I treat others better than I was ever able to before – or knew how to do. Strange to consider how all this progress has been built on so many small beginnings.

I’m always on and on about beginning again. (New beginnings are awesome, just as they are, so it makes a certain amount of sense to embrace the opportunity.) It’s not a matter of the clock hands moving a notch and calling it done, though, and I guess maybe it’s been awhile since I looked more closely at what I mean, myself, by “begin again”.

I mean, it’s mostly obvious, right? Isn’t it? …Isn’t it?

Is it?

Look, I fuck stuff up. I make mistakes. I succumb to my own bullshit. I overlook details that could give me clarity in a moment of confusion. I forget stuff. I get attached to an assumption or expectation, or cling to some pet idea, and find myself stressed out, feeling “attacked by life”, or just weird and broken. All of that and more. Each and every time I fall for my own nonsense, or overreact to some moment (or person), and every passing mood or moment – I have the chance to start over with that much more experience in life, that much more perspective built on that experience, and that much more real wisdom, built on perspective. Wow, right? I mean, fuck – every bad bit potentially builds a future of greater wisdom, balance, and resilience, if I view it from the perspective that I will have learned so much more, and be that much more able to make wise choices in life for having learned from my experience. That’s powerful. It implies, though, a missing step. I should clear that up…

Thing happens. I learn from it. Life improves. Okay, sounds easy enough. Here’s the thing. The “begin again” piece falls between “I learn from it” and “life improves”, not immediately after “thing happens”. The critical piece is definitely the learning. Without that step, I just keep repeating “thing happens” over and over again, without change or progress – because I’ve clearly set myself up for it, with that passive voice, right there, in my own thinking, lurking in the background, waiting for me to experience a failure or setback – “thing happens” is expressed such that I can so easily overlook who, or what, happened it; I’ve left out my agency. “Learn from it” reliably brings my agency back to me, even in the most bleak and broken moments. It’s an important detail, most particularly because of how often my own choices are a distinct part of any moment of suffering. (And yes, this includes my fairly difficult day, and experience, yesterday.) The bit about beginning again is my reminder that taking what I’ve learned from each experience allows me to move forward in life choosing my words and actions quite differently, perhaps, and most definitely based on that refined understanding. Forward momentum. Growth and change. Choosing wisely.

So many verbs involved. I’m not saying this shit is easy. I am saying, maybe, that looking back on it, it feels somewhat less difficult than it may have felt in the moment. Not gonna lie, though, it’s been a difficult journey in spots. That’s what makes each new beginning its own tiny triumph, too. Each time I fall, each time I fail, each time I cry, each time things just don’t work out for some reason, I can take another look at things, learn a bit more from what I’ve been through (or put myself through), and make (new)(different)(other) choices that get a better result over time. It’s just fucking slow progress, so I’ll call that out right now. Change is. We become what we practice. There are verbs involved. We each walk our own hard mile. Everyone’s results vary. There are no shortcuts. Incremental progress built on experience and reflection is sort of slow. Hard to see in the moment, easy to spot looking back, after a while.

Be patient with yourself. (How many times have I looked myself in the mirror with that advice?) Things didn’t work out? Begin again. Each and every time you begin again, do your level best to be the human being you most want to be, yourself, for you, based on your own values. Your results will vary. That’s just real. So start over. Yes, again. I know. Omg – so many beginnings. It’s almost like… it’s a journey. Up a staircase. πŸ™‚ If you just stand there at the bottom, staring upward at all those god damned steps, it’s pretty massively overwhelming. So, just take one step. Give that some thought. Take another. Don’t be fixated on what’s at the top of the stairs, so much, and focus more on taking that next step. Consider your missteps, and maybe don’t do what didn’t work last time, when you take that next one. It’s honestly that simple, and it’s worth some repetition, and I found, for myself, that those two simple words communicated enough; begin again.

Oh, hey, look at the time! It’s a worthy moment for a beginning, on a Friday morning, and… as it happens… I’ve just now finished my coffee. πŸ˜‰

 

*Note and reminder and words of thanks; we’re not in this life alone, we’ve got help, if we choose to accept it. Yesterday evening, my Traveling Partner pointed out choices (of my own) and recent circumstances that were very likely to result in a difficult day (for me), which I had entirely forgotten could be significant. That bit of additional insight and perspective were helpful and grounding. Definitely don’t forget that you are not alone. πŸ™‚ Not really – there are millions of us on this mud ball. πŸ˜‰