Archives for posts with tag: how to love

Sometimes, being heard seems to be a study in actually listening, myself. Sometimes it is about speaking more clearly, more simply, or more explicitly. Sometimes being heard is about being the person listening most carefully to my own heart, my own voice; when I am “unable to hear myself think”, this is a real experience of being unable to hear myself. Sometimes, I am so attentive to the matter of “being heard”, myself, that I overlook the urgent importance of listening deeply. Thoughts over coffee.

The breeze from over the marsh and meadow is scented with flowers and although I have headphones on, as if listening to music, somehow I haven’t yet gotten as far as turning any on. lol It doesn’t matter. This morning, I am busy keeping track of other details – like the precise moment I can start that one load of laundry I need to do before I depart to meet my Traveling Partner at the designated rally point before a final gear check, and departure. Being late would be beyond rude; it would throw off plans and timing for other people, too. I’d like to avoid that. I’m good at deployment. I’ve had a lot of practice. 🙂

There’s a certain uncomfortable free fall in letting other people handle planning. I’m really good at it, and have learned over the years to uphold a high level of self-reliance, generally. It’s not explicitly stated, so I’ll out myself now; I am not so skilled at, or comfortable with, letting go and allowing someone else to plan and lead. So, this weekend – adventure, love, and all – is a complicated bit of life’s curriculum – advanced coursework, even. This weekend I learn to manage my anxiety around loosening my grip on the details, and allowing other decision-makers, other planners, other leaders, to step to the forefront, call the shots, and let the fun of our time together be truly collaborative. Wow. I break out in a literal sweat thinking about it, and I feel my core tighten a bit with anticipated anxiety (which is like, the dumbest and most annoying anxiety, ever).

I didn’t end up, in prior relationships, overburdened with planning and managing life events, travel, and adventure, because no one else was willing to adopt mannerisms indicating they might handle it – it was more because, at least at the outset, I simply couldn’t allow it. I had to have the control. Not knowing all the details of everything could really freak me out. I had to have things done “right” – admitting, even as I type the words, that my notion of “doing it right” was every bit as subjective and centered on my own thinking as anyone else’s would be. Of course, if I offered to do all of the things, the answer would be a relieved “yes” and we all moved on to our chosen roles. The resentment over time was just “a free service I offered” or… an unrequested… enhancement. LOL

I’m okay with learning another way. It’s been a really long time since I participated in an event of this sort – I have no idea what to expect, neither from the event, nor, frankly, from myself. I don’t even know what I want, beyond spending time chilling with my Traveling Partner, making memories. This could be an amazing shared experience…I have to be willing to allow it to be. (I am.) I have an opportunity to connect really closely with my Traveling Partner for a few days, and an opportunity to listen. (Which is, frankly, both more difficult and more important than talking.) Being heard feels really good. Like happiness, it somehow tends to skitter just out of reach if I chase it. On the other hand, in building the skills I need to listen deeply to others, to listen non-judgmentally, to really hear what someone else is saying – to meet that need to be heard for another – I bring profound new opportunities for intimacy and connection into my experience… that results in greater potential for being heard, myself. It’s my plan to practice listening more than talking, this weekend. There is much I do not know, and I won’t learn it by talking continuously. 😀

I heard my Traveling Partner last night – he communicated concern about his own readiness, and mine, and things he hadn’t thought of, and although he didn’t use simple frank language to get those points across, because I was listening deeply it was not so necessary that he communicate completely clearly. It was late. We were both tired. It would be very human and common and understandable if drama had broken out, or strong emotion, or missed understanding – instead, I listened. If I didn’t “get it”, I asked a direct question, no baggage. We narrowed down needs, wants, and expectations very quickly in this way, and my developing anxiety around letting go of control of all the details and all the knowledge quickly gave way to feeling prepared, content, and… ready for bed. lol

Assuming positive intent is a big help. Not taking things personally is a great approach, too. Understanding we are each having our own experience is also definitely an important tool in the emotional intelligence toolbox. Avoiding contradicting or disagreeing with people’s emotions is something I find useful as well (there’s just no disagreeing with emotion, people – those are facts of their own sort, and very subjective). So… here I go. It’s nearly time to load the car (my dining room is currently my “staging area” and everything is ready but the laundry), to do that one load of laundry, to meet my Traveling Partner, check gear and if necessary make a pass by an appropriate retailer for missed this-or-that we ought not do without (totally necessary; I’ve already made a list)… then… the journey. A destination. A weekend. Love.

54 and still daydreaming about love. 🙂

…The Love part is my favorite. 😀

It’s time to begin, again. See you on Monday.

 

I got stuck on a question yesterday evening. I recalled with some interest how my perspective on the question “what do you want?” had changed after I saw it presented as a philosophical point of difference in Babylon 5, years ago.

"What do you want?" he asks, seeking to gain power over individuals.

“What do you want?” he asks, seeking to gain power over individuals.

I struggled with understanding this question in the context of gaining power over an individual through their desires. I, being quite human, also desire things. I, too, have experienced moments in life when I could be controlled by my desires. (Probably will again.) I still think about the question. I mean, after all… what do I want? Is that even the question to ask?

I eventually found my way to the idea of sufficiency, as a route to mastering my own desires, and my own acquisitive nature, but… there’s that damned question, and sometimes I itch to answer it by way of things I lust after, things I crave, things I yearn for… and find myself wandering down that path of seeking to fulfill material desires at the expense of something more important (to me). Last night I had a moment, quiet and serene and understanding myself a little better (I think) (perhaps) (well, hopefully)… the question needed a bit of a tweak, as it turns out, and is now a better fit for who I am and where I am headed as a human being. Less about “what do I want?” in a material way and more – so much more – about “what do I want of myself?”, which seems to be a question I can answer every day, and find real satisfaction, without chasing material things. This is a question I can make real use of, every day. This is a question that can help me become the woman I most want to be.

Have I been here before? Have I considered these ideas before? Is this a  cognitive re-run? That happens for me, rather routinely, but I soothe my insecurity with the reminder that practices being what they are, a little repetition is likely more helpful than not. 🙂

Then there’s this, on the nature of thinking. A worthy start to another busy work week, and an opportunity to learn. I could say more, but it’s a lot of content for a Monday morning, and I’m still thinking it over. 🙂

Today is a good day to begin again, and a good day to understand more, differently. 🙂

Begin again. Seriously, whatever it is that’s just not working out well, take the morning as a starting point, and begin again. Do over! Be the person you most want to be – today. Now. The very next conversation. It may go very well, it may go very poorly – it may take practice to be who you most want to be, as a human being. The distance between one human being and her goals varies by human being. We are each having our own experience.

Begin again.

It may go well, it may go poorly – you can even begin again tomorrow. Again. Don’t like who you are, when you think about the person in the mirror? Make different choices. Use different words. Begin yet again. Do you. No one else can be the person that you are, yourself. There is so much more to being and becoming than school-job-car-career-marriage-house-children-retirement-death, isn’t there?

What about that story you want to tell?

What about that place you yearn to go?

What about that idea you have?

What about that skill you want to develop?

A novel doesn’t write itself when I am not looking at the keyboard. The beautiful poem in my  head doesn’t make it to the page without assistance. The walk toward the distance on which I might see many things isn’t going to unfold ahead of me without my also taking the steps. The painting I can see in my thoughts won’t hang on my wall – on any wall – unless I paint it.

This is my life. There are verbs involved. Every day, every moment, every choice, becomes an opportunity to be and to become more the woman I most want to be. I may never be a well-known author; I write nonetheless, and it is part of who I am. I am unlikely to be a famous artist; I paint, a lot, and the joy in it is the painting, itself. Over time I have come to accept as a given that it is the journey itself in which the value lies; destinations being so finite and limiting, are of far less importance. When I become focused on an outcome, committed to a result more than an experience, I lose my way, mired in bullshit, drama, and tedious details – and forgetting this is my life, worth living.

Is love a journey or a destination? Or... is love a verb?

Is love a journey or a destination? Or… is love a verb?

I spent last evening wrapped in love. I’m still so soaked, so saturated, so imbued with sacred sentiment it’s harder than usual to use practical language, clear simple words, sentences with proper grammar and form; my heart soars, and my thoughts are poetry. I love. I am loved. It’s so much more than enough…

…I am not so easily able to love like this, fully, reciprocally, tenderly, openly, and with great consideration, without loving the woman in the mirror, first – and with a very similar enthusiasm and passion as what I might show a lover. Of course, there’s always more to learn. I reach for “How to Love” for today’s studious reading, and “More Than Two“, also. Today seems a good day to study love, to give it the serious support and earnest dedication to learning that one might give to a college course needed to graduate. What could be more important to study than love, and loving? It’s certain that I could be better at it, however good at it I may be in some one relationship, or some one moment.

Today is a good day for love, for loving, for being the woman I most want to be. There are verbs involved. My results may vary. That’s all okay, too; love is enough. 🙂

I feel sure of quiet mornings. I don’t know why. I do know that serious disruption of a morning that starts well puts me at high risk of a crappy day; I don’t recover easily from having a quiet morning blown with OPD, emotional baggage, residual angst from unremembered nightmares, or anger. It has been awhile since I missed out on the simple joy of a quiet morning – and quiet mornings may be reason enough [for me] to live alone.

What is more representative of a quiet morning than my cup of coffee?

What is more representative of a quiet morning than my cup of coffee?

I’m not “a morning person”. I say that because it is true. It doesn’t show at all, here, alone on a quiet morning. I am content, and enjoying my coffee. A soft smile lingers on my face; it arrived while I showered, resulting from the innocent sensuous pleasure of water over skin. I feel good, and calm, and generally wrapped in a sense of well-being. How did I get here? Is that a question that needs an answer? There are choices and verbs involved. Some of them matter more than others. Emotional self-sufficiency – building it, and enjoying it – is an important piece of my puzzle, and I continue to work on it with the attention of a craftsman, and the commitment that results from a passion for living well. I am not yet sufficiently skilled, or strong enough, to be so sure of myself and my choices when I live with someone I care for deeply, and reaching that place is one of my challenges – not necessarily to then live in shared domesticity, but rather simply because it is a healthy goal that gives me more options.

One very important choice I have made along the way is to refuse to wallow in regret over small things. There are a lot of little things I enjoy greatly that I am choosing to do without day-to-day, in order to take care of me with greater skill over a longer time. I miss morning coffee with my traveling partner…I don’t miss arguments over small things, or emotional storms, that sometimes resulted because I just wasn’t yet quite awake enough to make sense, or to communicate easily, or needed a few more minutes for me. I could allow myself to focus on the regret and the loss, and sit idly by while resentment and hurt builds over time…I could take it very personally and blame him, her, them, the world, circumstances… oh the sorrow and the tears! It would get ugly fast, and then… where would my quiet mornings be? I might wake every day feeling only the losses. That sounds like a very poor quality experience. I didn’t understand, years ago, how much of my experience – and my emotions themselves – is chosen by me.  It isn’t forced on me. There are verbs involved. It matters not one bit if I refuse to recognize my choices, or the power of my will (or my won’t) – they remain steadfastly what they are. The outcome is generally quite predictable if I allow myself a moment of clarity to consider circumstances calmly, with awareness, compassion, and non-judgement. Meditation has been a tool with great value for me where perspective, awareness, compassion, and non-judgement are concerned; just ‘thinking about’ things takes me very different places than meditation does.

Begin at the beginning, it's a very good starting point.

Begin at the beginning, it’s a very good starting point.

I’m not saying that I ignore things that hurt me – emotional or physical – doing so tends to cause damage, and the wounds fester over time. Still, considering quiet mornings, why does acknowledging an experience I miss require me to raise hell with my traveling partner over it? What does my sense of loss actually  have to do with him, at all? My emotions are my own. Considering how much of my experience – and my emotions – are chosen, how does the hurt-angry-blame game even factor into it? Where is the utility? If drama and emotional weapons of mass distraction seem appropriate (or irresistible) in some moment, I will find that I have failed in some obvious and elementary way to clearly and effectively communicate some element of my values, my needs, or failed to share my expectations explicitly – or have callously forgotten that he has his own. That’s some bullshit right there, and it can be relatively easily managed, in the sense that there are choices to be made, that can be made – and it’s not that damned difficult from the practical perspective of making one better choice after another. (It does require practice, and your results may vary.) One of those choices [for me] is investing in the small victories, versus wallowing in the small losses; I enjoy quiet solitary mornings, smiling over my coffee, without regret, doubt, or insecurity – because quiet mornings please me so much, and nurture the best bits of who I am so well.

It's hard to go wrong with good basics...

It’s hard to go wrong with good basics…

This morning, I quickly backed out of Facebook after briefly checking it… my feed is filled with fear, hate, intolerance, doubt – did I mention fear and hate? Oh, and the anger. I don’t need it. Change is scary for people, and between marriage being legal, people who don’t want to see an antique flag with racist overtones flying over centers of government, and people in Oregon being allowed to smoke pot, there is a portion of the world just freaking right the fuck out over the terrible decline in society – I’d like to laugh, but frightened, cornered animals act aggressively, and there are few things more dangerous than feral humans acting out their aggressive impulses righteously in the name of their god, or ideology. That shit is damned scary. They are, however, human – we can’t just put them down, forcibly medicate them for their own good, or exile them for the good of society. When I have the energy for it, I do make a point of blocking all such relayed hate in my feed – regardless why it was shared, regardless which friend of mine that I know and care for may have shared it, I block the source (it’s easy to click ‘don’t show me stuff from ___’). Doing so certainly improves my feed over time, and I can’t be stopped from making the choice not to participate in hate. I even hope, in some small way, that perhaps I am ‘breaking the chain’ just by stopping more of it from reaching me; people who post hate often post hate regularly, people who post intolerance often post intolerance regularly, people who engage in trolling are often… trolls. Block. Experience improved.

A helpful practice, indeed.

A helpful practice, indeed.

Choice is a powerful tool. Making choices deliberately, with thought, with strategy, with commitment to my own values, unapologetically, frees my choices from the web of coincidence and happenstance; then the outcome is mine to enjoy, to be accountable for, to celebrate – and to change. I like that kind of power…the power to be. In circumstances where events are inflicted on me by others, I still have that power to choose, that power to be – because I can choose my reaction and choose to continue to live my own values. Viktor Frankl wrote a very important, rather depressing although enlightening book on the subject.

It’s a lovely quiet morning. Today is a good day to enjoy being and becoming, and to enjoy my power to choose – how vast and unlimited is that power?! Today is a good day to change the world.

I am sipping my coffee, listening to the demands of crows beyond the open patio door. The aquarium, behind me here, trickles softly; I almost don’t hear it moment-to-moment, I am so used to the sound of it. The sound of distant traffic is a hushed murmur still farther beyond, and not a disruption of the still morning – although when I am most stressed out the sounds of humanity are more than I can bear, even at a distance. I sift through ideas, and notions, musing contentedly about this-n-that, unconcerned about the passage of time and the still blank page. There is no point hurrying life, really, is there? Eventually the passage of minutes will take me to the edge of some moment that requires action, but that is not now.

“Now” is for hot coffee, birdsong, and words if I find them.

I have lived alone for a bit more than a month. Thinking about the date reminds me that I must pay the rent on my way to work…and that marijuana became legal in Oregon today. I’m not sure which is more directly relevant to me, today; I will spend the day at work, and certainly neither cannabis nor rent factor in that experience. It’ll be nice to come home to a home, though – so rent is clearly important. I’ll be coming home to cannabis as well, inasmuch as it remains the only medication that eases many of my PTSD symptoms, especially if I am in crisis. I don’t write much about it. I’m not sure I know how. I do know it works, and as of today being a consumer of cannabis is just a little bit less stressful in Oregon.

Worth paying for. The sticky note on the inside of my front door this morning says 'don't forget the rent!'

Worth paying for. The sticky note on the inside of my front door this morning says ‘don’t forget the rent!’

This morning I continue to experience a feeling that has been lingering in the background for a couple of days now; I feel a bit ‘over loaded’… or something. Maybe a bit distracted…by something…or something. I’m not sure quite what the feeling is, but I notice that what eases it most is solitude, and stillness. I get the solitude fairly easily by canceling plans and choosing to be alone. The stillness seems a tad more problematic, lately. The world throws distractions at me almost continuously, and I am again facing mindfulness as a beginner – perhaps I always must? No stereo this morning, or yesterday – I love music and dance, but those are not stillness. The last couple evenings I have struggled to choose wisely, often finding myself flipping on a video that I then do not actually watch, instead restlessly doing other things, and half listening to it. Sometimes I sit down to read, and manage a page or two before sleep finds me…or distraction pushes the book beyond reach and I pursue some other activity, but without real focus. I take steps to paint, and find myself hanging paintings instead, or only sketching rather distractedly.

I am frustrated in a small way by my lack of focus, but I don’t view it as any sort of personal failure or character flaw; more likely my broken brain is working on something I can’t quite get at directly, and the overwork in the background of my thinking fractures my conscious direction and intent. The stillness is needful, getting to it requires verbs, and more verbs after that – particularly some verbs that give every appearance of lacking actual action. Meditation. More meditation after I meditate, and perhaps, some more meditation after that. No, I’m not kidding, but I’m also not certain that I quite have the well-developed adult will and discipline to do this simple thing that I need for and from myself. I am a child. I am a beginner. I am unrealized potential. The choice is in front of me and there are most definitely verbs involved. There will be more practice. Everyday practice, every day.

I am not feeling critical of myself, and I am not disappointed with my choices thus far. I am keeping a lovely home for myself, and I have been enjoying cooking for one – and in some cases taking on some rather more complicated recipes that I might have, had I been concerned about the needs or expectations of others. It’s been fun playing house with myself. I tend my beautiful garden, and eat healthy food. I practice good practices and keep good company. I am enjoying my experience – but on another level I have been sort of ‘taking it easy’. There is more ‘work’ to be done sorting out the chaos and damage, and I have been, in a very real sense, taking a break from all that to settle in here, and get a feel for living solo. My recent level of distractibility – and willingness to be distracted – has been an emotional vacation of sorts. This morning I recognize it so clearly, and with the good-natured tolerance of any parent, I am ready to look into the face of the child within and remind her there is work to be done. There will be no shortage of healthy meals, good rest, excellent self-care, and fun – but there is a purpose to choosing this lifestyle that goes beyond contentment, and it is time to get back to work.

"The Shelf" - everything I need for being and becoming.

“The Shelf” – everything I need for being and becoming.

I suspect that my sudden urgent desire to organize the books on my book shelves was fueled, in part, by my recognition that it is time to get back to the demanding work at hand of healing, and nurturing this broken brain, and this fractured soul. The shelf nearest me while I write holds all the most critical [to me] reference material on which I rely for information regarding my brain injury, mindfulness practices, cognition, language, and relationship building (with self and others). No book ‘makes the shelf’ unless it proves itself worthy – otherwise, there is plenty of room on other shelves along the wall. My kindle also has ‘the shelf’; a collection of similarly prized and limited tomes, some of which are duplicated in real books in my library, others which I could not so easily afford to own in any format besides digital. (Some of the science books are quite expensive.) I am ready. I am capable. The trick, of course, is that there is only ever ‘now’ during which I can work on me, effectively. 🙂

The sweet fruit of commitment, will, and action await me.

The sweet fruit of commitment, will, and action await me.

It is a lovely summer. I have everything I truly need (and more). I am safe in my home and free to pursue any endeavor I care to. I have ‘now’, and I have all the words in the world. I have any measure of stillness I am capable of embracing, and sustaining. Today is a very good day to get back to work on this amazing project I call ‘me’.