Archives for posts with tag: incremental change over time

I could start with “I’m sipping my coffee…”, but I haven’t tasted it yet. It’s sitting here, hot, ready – too hot to drink, so perhaps not entirely ready. There’s probably a metaphor there, maybe one worth considering with great care.

It’s a rainy spring morning. I don’t mind the rain, so it isn’t the rain that has soured the start to this particular day… it’s just weather. So are these tears. Just emotional weather. Some mornings the challenges of making life in a share space with another human primate are emotionally difficult, frustrating, and push hard on every shred of resilience I’ve got. Living alone often requires more laborious work just getting everything done, but it does not require so much emotional work. It’s work that has to be done, in either case. Just work. Omg, though, some days I really just want to take things easy… where’s the fucking “easy” button around here??

My Traveling Partner comes in, rubs my shoulders and my neck, and says kind, tender words. It helps for a moment. I relax into his love. That helps, too. Love matters. As with other things requiring effort, avoiding the work involved in creating enduring love only results in love not enduring after all… so… we work at it. Humans being human. My partner knows this; he’s pretty skilled at love, generally. Still human. Very. We both are. We have shared much with each other over a decade, learned a lot (both of us) about love and loving, and living our life together while also taking steps to be the human being we each most want to be. There’s a lot of joy in this journey. Some stumbles. Some sorrows. Sometimes things seem quite complicated, other times very straightforward; I’m rarely certain whether the complexity of any given circumstance is self-imposed or imposed upon us.

I sip my coffee thinking about love – now that my coffee is cool enough to drink. I take a moment to give myself some credit for the pure ferocious sheer will-to-change (and grow and improve) that is characteristic of the way I love… and the frustration and resentment that can sometimes result from those efforts, if the result is successful (meaning the desired change was made), but… inadequate (in that it did not have the desired result). I have, over years and relationships, grown weary of being willing to change. It’s not fair to my current relationship that the baggage I’ve picked up over the years weighs us down, now. It’s just the nature of “baggage” to function in that way; it takes still more will to set that shit down and move on.

…This is a good cup of coffee…

I sigh aloud in this quiet room. It sounds louder than it is. I think about the day ahead, looking forward to an errand that needs to be run, trying to sort out my thoughts such that I don’t return home to discover there was one other thing that needed doing, or picking up from somewhere. Lately, I often feel as if I “can’t hear myself think”, or as if I’m struggling to hang on to a thought, however engaging, if there is any hint of a distraction of any sort at all. I sometimes feel as if I am being distracted from what I’m thinking about by the thing I am doing that I am thinking about. I only know one thing that seems to sort that sort of cognitive chaos out properly; solitude. My mental “buffers” are full, and in spite of sleeping decently well, I’m just not managing to process everything…and now my headspace is all clogged up with bulging random thought-clobs of garbage and jumbled nonsense, and it’s hard to finish any new thought at all. Or – so it seems to me, subjectively, as an internal experience.

It was August 2019 when I last went camping… perhaps I am overdue?

It’s lovely to have a home I can call my own. It’s especially nice to share this experience with my Traveling Partner… but I guess I still need what I need as this human creature that I am. Maybe it’s time to get out into the trees again, to sleep under the stars, to wonder with awe at my mortal fragility in a wilder world, to face my doubts and fears in a place from which there is no turning away from answering “the hard questions” in life? I didn’t camp at all in 2020 – pandemic closed the places that are my regular favorites, and later resulted in astonishing crowding at those that opened back up. I’ve had my vaccination… perhaps it’s time to plan a long weekend somewhere solo camping? I’ve had this thought several times, but each time I explored the idea further, it was clear that crowding in a lot of favorite spots is still an issue, and seriously the entire point is to get the fuck away from other human beings and the sounds coming out of their face holes, and yeah, even to get away from their mere presence in my awareness. Proper solitude can be hard to come by (and not everyone enjoys it – nothing wrong with you if you don’t!).

Coffee half-gone, thinking productively about how best to meet some of my emotional needs without placing a burden on my partner (who is also stretched thin emotionally by the challenges of pandemic life, himself), and how to be a better partner to him, myself; I’m feeling less weighed down by frustration and sadness. Work is work. Some things take quite a lot of it. Some challenges are more complicated – and often, as a result, more rewarding once overcome. Still, the journey, itself, is the destination; if I get hung up on outcomes and task completion, I lose so many opportunities to live joyful moments. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let go of random bullshit pinging on my consciousness. Another breath. Another moment…

…Another opportunity to begin again. 🙂

Some of my “favorite” practices feel the most difficult… or… it’s at least accurate to say that some simple-seeming practices present me with my greatest challenges. It doesn’t much matter whether it is the brain injury, or the PTSD, or the circumstances, or the particular relationship affected by either my ineptitude or the lack of proficiency on some thing or another… difficult is difficult. “Hard” is subjective, in this case.

This evening I’m watching the light fade, filtered through the window shade, and thinking about an important simple-but-difficult practice, “listening deeply“. Practices need practice. Maybe this is more accessible?

…Maybe this is relevant, too? (I know, I know, none of us want to think so, but, …_) I’m just saying.

Paying attention, really listening (instead of “waiting to talk”) isn’t “automatic” – and some of us really really have to work at it. I’m even saying that there is legitimate intimate and social value in doing so. It’s worth it to get to be a “good listener”. So… I focus on the practice.

I seriously need more practice, too… I cut people off while they are still talking, way too often. It really doesn’t matter whether I’m correct or incorrect about where the conversation is going – cutting people off that way, interrupting, is rude. I am aware this is something I need work on. I work on it. Practices need practicing. I can tell I still need more practice. So… yeah. Working on it.

…I get interrupted too. A lot. At work, at home, out in the world… I’m not the only human being who would benefit from working on my listening skills. I suspect maybe a whole bunch of us, maybe even “most”, would find life and relationships improved by tackling this important life skill.

So. Here I am. Sitting in the afternoon light of a winter day, and wondering “fucking hell, how do I still suck so much at this particular skill?” I mean… it’s meaningful to me, it matters to me, it is a lot of what I want when I converse with someone – that they listen to me. Just seems reasonable that they’d want the same…and yet… I still need so much practice.

…I sigh out loud, rubbing my aching neck…

…It’s time to begin again.

Sometimes I have to remind myself (yeah, and this at 57) that most uncomfortable or unpleasant situations I may find myself in, and very nearly all difficult interactions with other people, have within them an opportunity to learn and grow… if I can sort out what exactly the lesson is. Sometimes I find it less than ideally obvious what could be learned from some challenging moment.

I take a break from working to reflect on how conversations flow. I have a long-standing personal challenge with interrupting people. I’m sure it is a byproduct of impaired executive function, one of many pieces of my TBI puzzle. I’m not saying that to excuse it, I’m just pointing out that it persists for reasons that seem likely to be associated with the underlying nature of the issue. I continue to work on it. I continue to interrupt people. It continues to be unpleasant for those who are being interrupted – I know that with certainty, because I myself also dislike being interrupted (and as a woman in America often speaking with, among, or to, men, I experience it regularly, I promise you, but it’s not the topic today).

…I continue to work on it.

…I continue to interrupt people.

Fucking hell. I know that it’s necessary to begin again. Practice deep listening. Slow down. Find the balance point between considering what I’ve heard for so long that I’ve forgotten to reply at all… and jumping in to respond before someone has actually finished their thought. Make a point of really noticing, observing, when I “get it right”, and a conversation flows naturally, everyone feels heard, talking is in turns… savor the successes, to build an implicit comfort with that timing and cadence, generally. Breathe more. Speak in a measured, comfortable pace that allows me to continue to breathe.

…So much to practice…

I rather expect I’ll be working on this one until my actual last breath… but my results have been known to vary. I do begin again, pretty reliably, and we do become what we practice… eventually. 🙂 Consider this one a bit of self-nagging on the way to beginning again. 😉

We become what we practice. Now to practice not interrupting… 😀

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

Today is weird. I mean… I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a day. lol

The morning was lovely. I shared my morning coffee with my Traveling Partner. Mornings together over coffee are becoming a routine, which tends to crowd writing out of the morning plan. I enjoy my partner’s company. We never know how long we get to travel life’s journey with any one special human being, do we? I’m enjoying the moments as they come.

The work day became a busy bit of chaos unexpectedly quickly. I frankly over-reacted. Not in any notably dramatic way, I just took the moment more seriously than it proved to be worth, given time. One of those “oh. this is not an actual problem at all” moments. I would have benefited from taking a minute, taking a step back, and giving the whole thing some thought… Very much as I too-often, too-insistently, too-ineffectively sometimes suggest someone else do, in some other moment. Very fucking human. At some point, something clicked. I took a breath. I had more context. I rather literally “shrugged it off” with a shrug, when I realized how little the circumstances really mattered, in fact.

…Now I’m sitting here feeling just a little silly, and feeling vaguely fretful about purposeless anxiety and bullshit over nothing, and wondering again what the simplest steps to being the most balanced, calm, reasonable version of myself would be… I look to my day-to-day practices for some minutes, just “thinking things over”, then noticed something… I am finding myself “pretty balanced”, and I’m feeling very calm. There wasn’t anything particularly “unreasonable”, or unpleasant or harmful or rude, about my behavior at any point… just a day, with a bit of unexpected chaos. Handled reasonably. Progress over time. 🙂 Keep practicing.

I take another breath, and begin again.

This morning I am reflecting on a moment I experienced while I was meditating, before my coffee. My perspective shifted abruptly while I was meditating, I’m not sure why, and I was suddenly very “self-focused”, while also seeming to be a distant, objective, potentially remote, observer of this self that I feel that I am. I’ve had this perspective shift before, and it wasn’t so unexpected or alien as to be frightening, I’m just thinking about it, after-the-fact, while I sip my coffee. It is the sort of experience that seems to want additional reflection, for some time afterward.

The perspective shift is the sort of thing that gives me a moment to really “consider myself” – not how I am experiencing my life, more how I am delivering the experience of myself experiencing life to others. A bit like looking at myself from an outsider’s perspective – if that “outsider” was also truly me. It’s an interesting moment to participate in. Am I the woman I most want to be? Am I living up to my human potential? How am I seen in the world, if the world looking back is also me, shares my values, shares my perspective on life, love, and humanity? I find myself really letting my guard down with myself; being human it is very easy to cast myself as the good guy in every tale of adventure. I’m not. I’m human. Just that. One human being, being human. This moment, on this morning, challenges those easy comfortable assumptions, and takes another, deeper, look.

…Nah. I’m not sharing more details. lol. Go find your own moment to reflect upon. 😉 It’s your journey, and you’ve got to walk your own mile. 😀 I say this with kindness, and with a bit a frustration; it would be very hard to put my experience this morning into useful words. “Worthy moment of perspective” is accurate, but not useful in any practical “how to do this” way… and I’m not sure how it’s done. It seems to be a cheat to say “meditate, and eventually all will be revealed”, and I don’t know that that is actually true… it’s just sort of how it went for me. I “get there” sometimes unexpectedly. Like this morning. Perhaps with enough practice it will become something I could just do by specific choice?

I sip my coffee and continue to reflect… on reflections. Perspective shifts offer new perspective, and that’s generally helpful, I’ve found. 🙂

The morning is, generally, a pleasant one. The sky lightens slowly, revealing a gray rainy morning. My arthritis reminds me how human I am; I am in pain. My coffee is warming and pleasant. There is a small amount of traffic going by. The rainy street alerts me of each passing car with a shhhhhh-shhhhhh as the car rolls by. The computer’s cpu fan spins up, then slows down, as I write, pause, and resume writing. I listen to the day begin. A robin nesting in the hedge out front begins to call and sing as soon as there is daylight. I think about moving to another place, and wonder briefly what mornings elsewhere would sound like, and I recall the sound of mornings in other places I have lived. My favorites? Probably the humid summer mornings of childhood visits to the Eastern Shore, or on my grandparents’ pier jutting out into Weems Creek… or maybe those early mornings on guard duty, deployed at Ft AP Hill for military exercises. Funny that I don’t actually think of myself as a “morning person”. I’m generally up very early, often before dawn, and it’s a choice I’ve made for a long while, so… how not a morning person? Well… I’m not generally cheerful, merry, or inclined to “deal with” people until much later, after I’ve been awake for quite a while. Just… leave me alone until after my coffee, okay? lol I’m more than “kind of a bitch” in the morning, and yeah, it’s generally best to give me some distance until my brain is completely back on line. I’m not proud of that limitation, just aware of it.

…I’ve come a long way as a human. I used to be so vile in the mornings I didn’t even like myself, let alone liking any other people, or being willing to tolerate a word being spoken. You can, actually, have a conversation with me in the morning, now. I often enjoy coffee with my Traveling Partner in the morning. It’s pleasant. We enjoy each other’s company. Here’s the thing, though; I’m quite content to be alone in the mornings, and generally prefer that. The progress I’ve made is that I no longer “punish the world for existing in my presence” first thing in the morning. I’m not hostile. I’m not angry. I’m not ferociously, aggressively, distant. I give myself some space when I need it, but I’m fairly approachable. 🙂 Progress.

I’m not “a morning person” though. Given time, and no schedule, I slowly return to my “natural” sleep/wake cycle, which generally finds me staying up until some time after 2 am, and waking after 9 am or 10 am, depending on the quality of my sleep, and also napping almost every day. I end up on these early schedules largely as a byproduct of the work I do (or have done, in other jobs). Easier to simply maintain that than to bounce back and forth. Discipline becomes habit. We become what we practice. So, I tend to be an early bird – who is not actually a morning person. lol Being human is weird.

Well, damn. Here I’ve been just talking about me all this time… how are you? Are you happy where you are? Are you happy who you are? Maybe it’s time we begin again? 🙂