Archives for posts with tag: listen deeply

It’s been a few days of dealing with an “interesting” increase in my anxiety, recently. Like… a distracting, persistent, defiant amount of anxiety, of varying intensity… the sort of thing that surges back seemingly stronger than previously known (it isn’t, really), and difficult to manage. It’s been disrupting my sleep, and pulling my attention away from things that (truly) matter much more. Frustrating.

β€œAnxiety” 10β€³ x 14β€³ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

I woke early, pre-occupied with work, because that’s just the sort of thing Anxiety enjoys nibbling on before the day even begins. Any detail over which I’m less than entirely confident and comfortable with becomes fuel to her fire. Fuck Anxiety; she’s a liar. Anxiety forces me to view the world through a lens of fear, doubt, stress, and insecurity, and prevents me from embracing other qualities of my experience. I haven’t had to do such fierce battle with my anxiety in a long while. It’s fueled by the competing experiences of home-ownership and difficult (unpleasant) work-place relationships. The sense of obligation that comes of owning a home causes me to feel I “have to” endure more that is unreasonable, to set fewer clear boundaries, to be more reluctant to “draw a line in the sand” with higher ranking colleagues… all of which are uncomfortable, less than ideal, and probably also seriously bullshit. lol Anxiety, remember, is a liar.

I woke early, and spent my first minutes on meditation. It helps a lot. Coffee came later, because over the years I’ve learned too well that Anxiety likes a good cup of coffee every bit as much as I do, and not in a helpful way. lol Meditation first. Coffee later.

I looked over my work calendar, and quickly identified the source of my stress – it was really just one meeting on my calendar (that I own), and only due to a change of format being requested, for which I have had too little time to prepare. So… that’s not even “about” me. I reschedule the meeting to give myself (and another affected colleague) more time to make the requested changes. No harm done. Hell, it’s even a short week (after a Monday holiday) and so far it’s going very smoothly. Hard to argue with those results. πŸ™‚

I feel my tension ease, my Anxiety receding into the background, returning to being “anxiety” with a lower-case A. Nice. A good start to the work week… I mean… good enough. Amply adequate, for sure. πŸ˜€

The weekend that is now over was a lovely one. I sip my coffee, free of the crushing weight of the anxiety that had been nagging me earlier, and think about the lovely miles of trail walking, the scent of fresh baked cookies that filled the kitchen all weekend, and my Traveling Partner’s smiles. A good weekend.

Sometimes the obstacles along the way are small enough to just step over them. πŸ™‚

So, a new week, new beginnings – and new challenges. πŸ™‚ Sometimes the “new” challenges just happen to be old familiar ones – I just get to practice handling them, all over again. lol Didn’t think I needed to take that lesson one more time, but there it is – and we become what we practice. πŸ˜€

It’s time to begin again.

One step at a time, eventually measured in miles. One day at a time, eventually measured in years. One moment at a time eventually becomes a life well-lived, on a beautiful journey. ❀

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. πŸ™‚ Consider this one a bit of self-nagging on the way to beginning again. πŸ˜‰

We become what we practice. Now to practice not interrupting… πŸ˜€

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.

Look, sometimes shit gets real. No kidding. Happy life, good times, great friends, deep love, wellness, safety, security, luxury – you (or I) can literally “have it all” and in spite of all of that, sooner or later, tears will fall. I’m just saying – suffering is part of the human experience.

Sometimes shit hurts.

Sometimes we fuck up.

Sometimes people are dicks.

Sometimes the cards are stacked against us.

Sometimes the homilies feel disrespectful.

Sometimes the feedback feels like an attack.

Sometimes the suffering feels like the one thing it really isn’t; ceaseless.

No kidding. We can choose to stop amplifying our misery. We can choose to let more shit go. We can choose to take a step back and regain perspective (or gain it for the first time, yes, even that is within reach). We can choose to treat ourselves a bit better. We can choose to treat those we love better than we ever thought to before. We can right our wrongs – or at least make an honest attempt at it. We can be heard – and we can choose to listen.

…I did not say any of it is easy…

Begin again.

There is no “happily ever after” – do not be bamboozled by the sweetest of sweet moments; those moments, too, will pass. Hard times will come (again). S’okay. Expect it, be ready for it, and still let that go, too. Live. Love. Choose – and learn from past choices.

It’s not easy at all. My results vary. This morning’s tears, I hope, become tomorrow’s wisdom. Struggling with it? Fuck, yeah. Every time. I suppose I will have new opportunities to be a better human being than I was yesterday… every day. It’s sure true today.

…This morning’s failures can be a stepping off point for tomorrow’s success. It’s time to begin again.

…Again.

The cycle of holidays and seasons continues. I woke hoping to catch a glimpse of the Morning Star this morning (or, perhaps, this evening)… but no, it’s the Pacific Northwest, and the morning is cloudy, wet, and gray. No stars this morning. πŸ™‚

Winter Solstice at home, 2020, the year of pandemic.

Yesterday’s flood waters have already receded. The morning is balmy and feels strangely mild after a day of chill winds and pounding rain. It’s the Winter Solstice (and, I hope, a merry one for you). I am smiling and eager, sipping my second coffee. I’ve planned a day’s painting, a way of celebrating, of meditating, of committing this day to memory. It’s special; I’m here, at home. πŸ™‚

My Traveling Partner gave me some amazing gifts for Yule, and I opened them yesterday evening at his request; new paint, new brushes – and my lasting joy in this partnership reinforced, yet again, by his consideration. πŸ™‚ I’m feeling very loved. I’m eager to get to work on new canvases, in this new studio.

I think a point I am making is that dates on calendars come and go. What lingers is the joy we take from the precious moments we share – when we allow those to be the details central to our thinking, and our recollections. (I mean… there are other choices.) What we commit to memory, and those details we regularly revisit, become the defining details of who we find ourselves to be, and how we see life, generally. Joy is not exclusive to any particular holiday – or any particular moment. I try to find my joy everywhere I can.

…This morning I am spectacularly joyful, on the order of an excited child…

I smile and sip my coffee. The euphoria of this one moment will fade. Perhaps even the rich cherished memory of it will also fade, with time. Hell, with the passage of time I may forget which particular gifting holiday resulted in my having these exquisite brushes. I have this moment, here, now, though, and I have this joy to cherish. It’s enough. πŸ™‚

The morning sunshine breaks through the clouds. Perhaps a sunny day ahead? This studio has very good light on sunny days… I think it’s already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Merry Solstice, Humans. Here’s hoping we each find such joy as will sustain us through our darkest times, and my best and fondest wishes that we don’t need to use it that way, at all. πŸ™‚

Today has been as delightful as yesterday was difficult. I never did really figure out what was up with me, yesterday, or if it was me, at all. I let all that go. My Traveling Partner and I had several rather difficult, frank, conversations, that required greater-than-typical willingness to be vulnerable, and a level of “real talk” that pushed boundaries on both sides. The level of heartfelt consideration and and love involved made it possible. I wouldn’t call it pleasant, but the day was emotional wreckage (for me) anyway, why hold anything back?

(In practical terms, yesterday was a good day, we both got things done, worked productively, and got some leisure time. Stepping aside from the emotional baggage, personal hand-crafted bullshit, and narrative-editing foolishness human primates are prone to, it was actually a pretty good day. I just felt crappy, emotionally, as if I’d consumed emotional poison.)

We got to a place where we were both just being frank and real, just talking, not mean, not confrontational – honest clarifying questions, a straight forward exchange of information, no game playing – and it sorted some things out. Somehow, this morning, things are quite lovely, and life is as good as it is, and we’ve enjoyed each other all day. It’s lovely. πŸ™‚ It’s hard to understand how yesterday was the thing it was. I gaslight myself wondering if I imagined the shitty day I had, until I give up on it, distracted by something in my periphery.

Dahlias

There are flowers on my makeshift workstation. Dahlias. I enjoy them. A neighbor brought them down and took a moment to say hello. She had a chance to meet my Traveling Partner. I could hear them chatting briefly in the front door way. I heard my partner “…working from home…” I looked up and saw our neighbor. “Hi!” I called. She cheerily replied “Don’t you get up!” and waved. A few minutes later, my partner presents me with the lovely handful of purple, white, and pale yellow blossoms atop sturdy green stems. From our neighbor’s garden? She has a lovely cottage garden thing going at her place. (I remind myself to take a mask when I go to check the mail and stop by to say thank you… from a distance, of course.)

I sip on a glass of cold water and consider my neighbor’s thoughtfulness. She also brought fresh-picked ears of corn. (Does she have room for corn??) (How much room does corn really take…?) I find myself wondering which gift is most meaningful to me, and whether the flowers or the corn could compare with the gift of her simple thoughtfulness and consideration, at all.

My thoughts wander. I think about words and meaning, and how something as simple as the sight of a facial expression or the sound of a tone of voice can completely alter the way we are understood, and what we are thought to have “said”. I find myself listening to “Schism” with new ears. Consideration matters. Listening deeply matters. Finding the discipline to refrain from interrupting matters. Taking a kind tone matters. So many things that matter… so many verbs. lol

Lovely evening… I think I’ll begin again.