Archives for posts with tag: healthy relationships

I am sipping coffee in this moment of leisure, on a day off. I am thinking about “being present”, and what that means, to me, beyond raising my hand when called upon, or occupying a shared physical space. It’s more than that, right? When I consider “being present in the moment”, I mean something very different than standing in a particular physical space in a particular moment. “Being present” is about awareness, connection, and “presence” beyond the characteristic of occupying space. I need more words… or other words. Different words. There’s a nuance I want to understand, and communicate, that seems harder to pin down, with regard to “being present”.

I am here, now. Am I fully “present”? I am sipping coffee. I am writing. My headphones are on, and there is a video playing in the background that I am not really listening to. Am I present? Or… am I more engaged in this process of writing out my musings than I am in experiencing this specific moment of my life? It’s something to think about.

“Presence” is a quality that can bring improvement to our cherished relationships. When our “presence” is lacking (while we continue to occupy some particular physical space), our friends, partners, lovers, family members, and even strangers near us, can feel as if we’re not really there. No authentic give and take. A lack of “paying attention” may be noted. A lack of “presence” can undermine our relationships. It’s sometimes called out as “distance” (or emotional distance) – an experience that someone is withholding not just their attention, but even their “self”, from interactions. “We grew apart”, we sometimes say, when relationships have withered and ended, due to lack of presence.

…Our digital devices are not helping with this; use of our handheld devices is a common source of broken connections, and loss of presence. A notification gets our attention, and we grab that phone, interrupting ourselves mid-sentence, leaving someone sitting right there with us, in the middle of a conversation, wondering what value they really bring to the relationship, at all, that they matter so little. I don’t think most of us afflicted thusly mean anything ill by our rudeness, we don’t even notice; we’re not “present”.

I sip my coffee, thinking my thoughts about presence. Giving consideration to being more considerate. Contemplating the enormous self-discipline that may be required to finish sentences, conversations, shared experiences, personal moments, while disregarding notifications and ringing phones; isn’t living “real life” in the moment, present with the person you are with more important that some remote digital “conversation”? Expectation-setting and basic manners are probably useful in those situations. “Excuse me a moment, I’d like to reply to this message.” Simple enough. Or, hey, better still? Let that message sit there while I enjoy the moment with the real human being who values me enough to be right there with me in that moment? Probably a good choice, where healthy relationships are concerned, generally. lol

I continue to sip my coffee. I pull myself back to this quiet moment I am enjoying with myself – don’t I also deserve a moment of my time, fully present with myself? Isn’t that what meditation is “about”?

I make a second coffee, and restart that video; I didn’t actually watch it, my attention was divided. 🙂 It’s time to be present. It’s time to begin again. 😀

Yesterday was odd. Delightful. Strange. Productive. Unpredictable. It was odd. I was a bit emotional at times – hormones, maybe? I don’t know. “Post menopause” doesn’t not happen to mean “never going to struggle with hormonal fluctuations again” however much I wish that it did.  There’s something worth observing about that observation, that is more general. Wishing doesn’t change ‘reality’ however convenient that would be… on the other hand, we do create rather a lot of our ‘reality’, our subjective individual experience, with our thinking and our choices. It seems a bit cruel that both those things are true; some of my most delightful thinking is of the wishful variety. lol

Regular ‘reality checks’ yesterday proved highly worthwhile. Assumptions I was tending to make, and taking some very impersonal things more than a little personally, colored my experience at a couple points and put my day at risk of sucking. New practices are showing real results; I noticed the assumptions and the taking of things personally, and allowed myself a gentle course correction through mindfulness practices, a few moments of meditation, the occasional moment of stillness, a clarifying question or two, as well as simple ‘I statements’ expressing my experience as clearly as I was able, periodically during the day. As it happens – it all worked quite nicely. I had a very exciting and productive work day, and a lovely evening at home with my loves afterward, and seemed to have done so without drama, or bullshit, or blowing someone else’s good day. Hard to beat that kind of success when it comes time to face myself on a blue day when my internal voice is clamoring for justice, or vengeance, or crying out that life isn’t fair. (I have some very wounded moments now and then, and I do all I can to prevent them from escalating beyond what is appropriate in the moment.)

It was actually a nice day all around. I look back on it and wonder a bit helplessly what all the fuss was about at any point yesterday? It’s hard to understand. I feel very human, and very puzzled.

My morning is starting well. I’m hopeful, and feel a sense of contentment and calm joy. My traveling partner will be home a day or two more, and my usually-at-home partner seems to have benefited from her weekend adventure in wonderful ways. It’s good to have everyone at home for a couple of days.

I’m content to recognize that we are not necessarily who we think we are – or who anyone else thinks we are, either, and that our choices really matter. So does how we define what we see in the world around us – and those definitions may have more to say about our experience than the ‘reality’ of it often does. I’m finding that meditation, as a regular practice, tends to insulate me from getting to wrapped up in my own thinking errors, or internal narrative, and builds a more accepting and aware me, able to be present and aware, and enjoying so many more moments that are entirely enjoyable.

Enjoy each precious moment for what it does offer; time doesn't give second chances.

Enjoy each precious moment for what it does offer; time doesn’t give second chances.

Today is a good day to continue on a good path. Today is a good day to reach for a dream. Today is a good day to stand tall and smile and say to the world “I am, and you are, too – let’s do something with that!” Today is a good day to be the change I wish to see in the world. Today is a good day to reach past the obvious, and to choose to be the best of who I am. Today is a good day to change the world.

Actually, roses need no defense. They are thorny, lovely, fragrant, bear fruit that has nutritive value, and when selected with care, amazingly low maintenance – so what’s to defend? I’ve often found myself defending roses, though, from the standard variety of attacks: too much fuss, too few/many flowers, too much/little fragrance, prone to rambling/stunted, wrong color, wrong scent, wrong location. There is a theme there.  Do you see the thread of objections weaving through the tapestry of human experience? Too much effort, too little outcome, not quite this, not quite that – dissatisfying on some level, perhaps to costly; the same objections each of us offers to pretty nearly anything we choose to object to. ‘Too much’, and ‘not enough’, are the battle cries of discontent.

I’m learning a few things about discontent. (Call it ‘dissatisfaction’ if you’d like, I’m not sure I’ve identified a real difference, myself.) I am learning that expectations drive discontent when my experience doesn’t ‘measure up’ to the expectations I have allowed myself to indulge. I am also learning that I am sometimes quite mired in the experience of feeling discontented or dissatisfied before I realize that I’ve gotten there, and that being mindful of the developing feeling can be critical to preventing it from escalating and becoming an even less pleasant experience, such as despair, or sorrow, or disappointment. I am learning to embrace my will as a path to an outcome I’ll enjoy more, because willful action is often quite satisfying.

I am learning, and practicing, making clear specific requests to address clear specific needs. (Well, damn, that seems obvious!) I have a lot of opportunities to practice, and it’s definitely worthwhile – because I have a lot to learn.  It sounds easy, but I find that asking for action, or change, is met with a variety of reactions – based on the person receiving the request.

  • Some people tend toward the ‘helpful by nature’, and receive requests comfortably, good-naturedly, and without much argument. It is sometimes too easy to burden those sorts of people too much, because they are so accommodating about the demands life places on them to start with.
  • Some people already face their world and their experience with a lifetime of resentment, summed up, saved up,  and returned as a volley of objections to any request for action or change.
  • Some people don’t quite seem to be having the same conversation I am, and I find myself wondering what they are hearing once they have finished filtering and interpreting the words that struck their ear drums, and then wondering whether to try to straighten it all out, or just wander off in search of sense and understanding elsewhere.
  • Some people choose to be reserved, indirect, withdrawn, sullen, evasive, or ambiguous – rather than communicating at all.

I’d like to understand all that more clearly.  But, in lieu of understanding, I’m working on ‘cleaning up my own mess’.  Learning to communicate more clearly than feels safe, more accurately with fewer words, with more willingness to slow things down to gain clarity and understanding, and more good-natured frankness about my own limitations. So far so good. I’m also much more inclined to be firm about my own boundaries and needs. That one is much much harder. I dislike confrontation, and I enjoy harmony. Communicating harmoniously with people who relish conflict is incredibly difficult – because our goals in communication are not compatible.  A challenging puzzle.

…Huh…this went on longer than I intended, and as I rambled I found myself drowning in words, half-formed thoughts colliding with the miscellany trickling through my very active mind, snagging here and there on a moment of urgent meaning, and suddenly…pointlessness. So…I’ll just stop now. Unfinished. Incomplete. Human.

Here’s a picture of ‘Circus Clown’ (Moore, California, 1991). I’m sure there’s a metaphor here, somewhere…

Fragrant, thorny, robust, and lovely.

Fragrant, thorny, robust, and lovely.

Yay!  Today is going so smoothly…which, historically, would not be the case after a night of limited sleep, of poor quality, with plenty of wakeful moments, and waking well before my alarm and not getting back to sleep afterward.  I did try to go back to bad after waking around 3:45am…but the alarm goes off at 5am, and I know that, and so do my brain and my body. Sleeping more wasn’t super likely, and it seems I got enough real rest to get by on.  It helped that the small challenges of the weekend didn’t leave me in any sort of residual funk.  My partners were up in the wee hours, too.  We hung out together for a few minutes, and one by one we all went ‘back to bed’.  I didn’t sleep, but it was time well spent in meditation, and even gave me a couple of opportunities to practice some of the new things I am learning about managing my anxiety through self acceptance, and mindfulness; when the anxiety began to rear its head this morning, as I lay in the darkness, it seemed less…real.  I accepted that I have those feelings of anxiety, and I allowed myself some compassion for having to endure some of the negative messaging that plagues me (plagues us all, I’m sure), and simply sort of turned over those words and ideas, and tumbled them around a bit for a better look, without judging them, or even buying into them as being at all ‘valid’ ‘accurate’ or ‘real’… I mean, seriously? They’re thoughts. I can create anything with thoughts, even things I know damned well are not real, so, this morning, my anxious thoughts had no power over me, and went away without even grumbling very much in the background.  😀  That was delightful, and not expected or demanded – I’d have been content to simply accept myself, and coast awhile until the alarm went off.  Instead, I found myself relaxed and calm and quite serene when I rose with the beeping of the infernal alarm…and it’s a lovely day.

I took a few moments this morning, too, to consider my Big 5 of yesterday’s post…I focused on each for a moment or two, asked myself ‘what can I do today to honor this particular quality in my relationships?‘  For a moment I broke out in a cold sweat…and that anxiety started creeping in around the edges.  When I realized I felt intimidated by taking a chance on doing something I think, myself, is the right thing to do, I took a few deep breaths, considered the qualities I am working to improve, master, enhance, experience… it suddenly mattered much less that I feel unsure of myself, and much more important that I do my best to do what feels right.  😀   I am learning to take care of me, and as I get better at that, I find I am more easily able to treat my lovers well, too.  That’s very exciting!

‘Consideration’ is a tough quality to define… and it is one of the most important ones, I think, for living harmoniously with others.  I keep thinking about how difficult it was to Google it and get a clear definition, or something relevant that seemed also unarguable… so, on this one, I am going to have to figure out quite specifically what that means to me, and how to share that information, and also figure out what my lovers need from me in the way of being treated well, and with consideration.  The stack of lesson plans in the school of life and love doesn’t seem to get any shorter… and that’s ok.  I expect to be attending this school all my life.

Did you miss me? Ran out of internet while I was gone? Printed word long forgotten in the wake of local political scandals, fear-mongering news-media, and the impending zombie apocalypse? It is possible, perhaps, that someone out there in the wide world rolled out of bed, flipped on their technological connections to the world, and felt bereft of this fleeting handful of words we share between us so regularly… I might have doubted it, but for two things that were delightful reminders that we do indeed make our presence felt in the world, however small our piece of that puzzle happens to be; an email, and a conversation.

Saturday, as I rode the train home from a visit to a lovely big local farmer’s market, I had a casual meeting with a young man who, as it turned out, reads my blog. That was a little odd, and very serendipitous – what a privilege and an honor to see and connect with someone unknown who reads my words, and gets his own value from them…a stranger on a train…a moment of connection. I felt so open to the world, to my experience, to all the potential that exists for each of us as we move through the connected spaces in our lives.  It was profound and moving. [And hey, please thank your Mom for me for sharing my blog with you – and good luck with life and tough choices!]

Sunday a simple email from a cherished friend; a playful inquiry and a loving reminder that there really are people out there, reading my words, hearing me, and preserving our connection through this space.  I felt, for a moment, a tad neglectful of friends and loved ones, and let that go quickly; it was a wonderful weekend of connecting with people and experiencing moments.  It was a weekend rich with love, Love, fun, humor, and a very good slow roast of beef, and I can’t find fault with myself for enjoying that with my whole heart. 😀

Now, Monday arrived rather gently, and I woke slowly to a later alarm and enjoyed a solitary coffee as the dawn broke. I took time to meditate, and it seemed only moments had passed when the rest of the household woke, too, and we shared a few minutes of smiles and harmony before I headed to work. Even the walk in seemed gilded with love itself, and the birds enjoyed it with me, sharing their songs of morning, losing my attention only now and then – I am sometimes distracted by the sparkle of frosty dew on blades of grass.

I am finding today to be a very good day indeed.