Archives for posts with tag: lead follow or hey go easy on yourself while you make that hard decision

I woke this morning, early, with a stern parental shout still ringing in my ears from my dream, “Slow down in this house! It’s not a race!” I turned off the alarm before it went off, and got up – making a point to indeed actually slow myself down; there’s simply no need to rush.

I make a point of planning my time so that I don’t need to rush in the mornings. This morning I made a point to really take that one to heart in a more mindful way, not just by counting on having more minutes before departure time, but also seriously slowing myself down. Meditation without a timer. Lingering in the sensuous warmth of the shower. Brushing my teeth awake and aware, and enjoying the sensation of tooth-brushing-as-a-process. Letting the casual touch of hand to skin as I dressed become something more like an appreciative caress. I spend a lot of a time with the woman in the mirror – I have no good reasons for treating her poorly, dismissively, or in any way lacking affection. I am enjoying the morning, slowly, patiently, attentively.

Making my coffee this morning became a further exploration of mindfully caring for myself. No stress. No pressure to achieve perfection. That’s not at all the point of mindful self-care; it’s just about being right here, right now, doing these things with great care, and great awareness, savoring the processes of life, itself. My coffee is exceptionally good today, without any particular additional effort; I simply made a point of showing up ‘in person’ – real, and awake, and aware, and comfortable with doing this thing, right now, with my whole attention.

A great coffee in the morning is a practice, a ritual, a measure of time, and a way to take care of me.

A great coffee in the morning is a practice, a ritual, a measure of time, and a way to take care of me.

Right now, too. This process is the one about writing a few words in the morning, getting my intellect and my heart synced up for the day, and moving forward together – if not with some plan in mind, at least able to capitalize on what I am learning, and able to understand that there is always more to this than what I think I know, and that we are each having our own experience. This moment in the morning, when I am most likely to write, is my opportunity to reflect, to gain perspective, and to do it in a safe space with good ground rules that protect me from poor practices, OPD, and self-defeating rumination. (When I write in the evenings, it is often because I am in emotional pain, and reacting to circumstances using any practical tools at hand to get a grip on myself – it’s quite different.) When I sit down very inspired, I sometimes fail myself on practicing good self-care practices, losing myself in the moment, slumped over my keyboard, leaning into the visual space of the monitor, typing away aggressively, enthusiastically, brains spilling all over fingers, becoming words – this morning, although I feel inspired, I approach my desk, and this process, with consideration for this fragile vessel. I begin with deliberation, and deep breaths. I am attentive to my posture. The resulting writing may not be of any different quality – but my back hurts less, I am making fewer spelling mistakes, and struggling less with my dying mouse.

When I rush through things, I make more mistakes, miss details, and feel a greater sense of urgency that generally becomes a more noteworthy amount of stress. This is an important detail, this morning; it is Monday. Time to get back to work after a long weekend. Definitely having the sense that my employer may have begrudged me the time I needed for me, there’s the temptation to rush into things. I could have gotten up quickly, thrown on my clothes after a bracing shower, and quickly marched into the office to become a good productive cog in the corporate machinery, getting a ‘head start’ on all the work I had ‘fallen behind’ on… just thinking the thoughts got my heart racing a little, my breathing became more shallow, my body began to prepare for fight or flight… Shit, it’s just a job! It does not require all that. So – yes. I slowed things down this morning, because there’s no reason to rush; it’s not a race. Remember ‘the rat race’? Sure, it’s still going – it’s a real thing, and lots of people participate, consuming themselves over the course of a lifetime for whatever pittance is paid to them for their trouble. My opinion? No amount of cash is enough to sacrifice the pleasure of really living life. Even my work suffers, when I rush myself. So… I’ve stopped racing. I’ll just walk this one, thanks. (It’s not as if there were ever any chance of ‘winning’ the rat race. “The cake is a lie.”) 🙂

Time well-spent following my own path.

Time well-spent following my own path.

The weekend was lovely. Long forest hikes among lush greenery, on twisting paths, up hills, and down…and relaxed evenings spent on creative endeavors. It mattered to get out among the trees. It mattered to have the powerful reminder in the ever-present sounds of distant traffic that the thing I was trying to escape is something I carry with me. It mattered to take a few days just for me, no interruptions from work, or routine communication from loved ones, or urgent pressure to get this or that done. My only fixed agenda being to take the very best care of me. It mattered to me to spend time sketching, writing, painting. I sought stillness – and I found it. Strangely, I found it at home, and within myself, to my very great delight (after the frustration of discovering I could not easily escape the sounds of traffic)…and yes, there are verbs involved (and my results varied).

The journey doesn't always take me far from home.

The journey doesn’t always take me far from home.

I reset my expectations of myself over the weekend. Had some important conversations with the woman in the mirror about how she makes use of her time. Set some important boundaries with myself about time, and what I want most of that precious limited commodity. When I am feeling more than usual stress, the easy thing is more distractions: YouTube videos, favorite t.v. shows, movies, Facebook… I can kill a lot of time with any one of those things. There’s no constructive point, later, in moaning about “not having enough time for me” if I am letting brain candy soak up those minutes of lifetime that could be spent meditating, relaxing in a hot bath, gardening, writing, reading, enjoying the company of friends in my actual presence doing some actual thing… It’s down to the verbs and the choices. It is sometimes necessary to slow myself down, to be aware of how quickly the time does pass. Being rushed stresses me out…slowing things down generally has quite the opposite result, and I face Monday feeling calm and prepared, unworried, patient with myself and the world, and feeling well-rested and well-cared-for. I found the stillness in the spaces between other things, once I slowed down enough to notice it waiting for me there.

A helpful change in perspective, and time spent listening deeply to my own heart, is a good place to find inspiration - and stillness.

A helpful change in perspective, and time spent listening deeply to my own heart, is a good place to find inspiration – and stillness.

Today is a good day for stillness, for calm, and for slowing things down long enough to savor both in the moment. Today is a good day to enjoy living life – without rushing through to the end. Today is a good day to decline urgency, in favor of appreciation, and to refuse to be hurried in order to enjoy right now. Today is a good day to slow down enough to enjoy the world.



Actually, it’s not that bad, I just woke feeling cross. Most likely cause, based on the sort of out of sorts that I am, would be hormones. That seems unreasonable and frustrating from the perspective of being ‘post menopause’…but I just barely claimed that prize, and I know the machinery is still winding down. I made a point to handle things very frankly, as gently as I could, and in clear simple language and a mostly cheerful tone when my traveling partner inquired how I am doing this morning. It actually required considerable effort not to launch emotional weapons of mass distraction, and since the effort was successful, it was also entirely worthwhile. No hard feelings, everyone safe and cared for; I am taking the morning to care for me, quietly.

A quiet bit of writing often puts my head right on the nastiness day…when I have something I feel moved to say, or reflect on, or even simply when some interesting bit of word play is stuck in my recollection from my dreams, or from the prior day’s interactions with others. Today… I don’t feel very inspired, just very cranky. There’s really nothing amiss. I slept well. I woke on time and feeling reasonably comfortable physically. My coffee is hot and tasty. There’s nothing more than the usual things coming up in the work day ahead of me, as far as I know now. It’s a day. A Tuesday, actually. Dinner out, after work, and I’m looking forward to the outing. Still, for now I am rather cross with myself, and potentially inclined to blame the world. It doesn’t seem very fair, and it isn’t very pleasant.

Meditation does help. I still don’t relish company in this state, and I continue to pass the time quietly, keeping to myself without rancor; I enjoy solitude, more than a little, and it is ever so much harder to hurt people I love casually through my irritability when I give myself room to have that experience without forcing it on them, too. I take deep cleansing breaths, do some yoga, too, and flip through pleasant images – beautiful photographs of things, places, flowers… my own pictures. I have no idea why they delight me so, and I find myself wondering what power they hold that such is true, and could I ‘reinstall’ my memory from my photographs, if ever there were a need?

The colors of autumn.

The colors of autumn.

Although it is more challenging to go through the steps when I feel so raw and irritable, I find significant value in the practical exercises from Rick Hanson’sJust One Thing” and “Hardwiring Happiness” this morning. The difficulty is just going through the steps in an open and sincere way, without caving to cynicism, doubt, or letting the irritability that I feel undermine the simple goodness that exists in the world – it so often seems just out of reach when I am cross. There is value in making the effort. Each success, over time, results in improvements in my implicit memory – my default settings are becoming more positive, more content, and I am less prone to volatility. I sometimes find it emotionally painful to consider my prior perspective; the pain and discontent I endured as part of my everyday experience seems pretty horrific now. Noticing now, that I am noticing that, I take time to feel compassion for that hurt creature for a moment, and to accept that she is me, and understand that I’m not there now. No tears, just a moment of compassion, and recognition, even some gratitude for having the strength to go on long enough to find my way somewhere else in life.

Patterns exist. We have choices.

Patterns exist. We have choices.

The irritability begins to recede into the background, and slowly starts to dissipate. There was a time when that alone would seem so significant I’d rush into the world eager to restore contact, and find myself overwhelmed, unprepared, and not in the great shape I thought I was in. I would rush myself, mostly out of some sense of obligation to others. This morning, I take time to enjoy the improvement, without hurrying to the next thing, recognizing that I’m still dealing with the challenges, and being patient with myself. It’s a nice change to take care of me. It’s seems somewhat amusing that the irritability got my undivided attention so readily. As it recedes, I notice the headache and the nausea that seemed so unremarkable when I woke. This makes day 5 of something vaguely like morning sickness…and another reason I feel fairly certain the morning’s crankiness is likely due to hormones. The machinery is winding down. Sometimes that seems sad, this morning it simply is.

Today is a good day to take care of me with the same loving kindness and compassion I would show a partner, or lover, or friend – or human being. Today is a good day to accept my very best treatment from me – and from anyone else treating me well. Today is a good day to make a clear distinction between how I feel in the moment, and the actions I choose to take. Today is a good day to invest in a genuine smile, because smiling even feels good. Today is a good day to change the world.