Archives for posts with tag: listen deeply

We’ve all got a story (or stories) to tell, haven’t we? (It’s a rhetorical question. We do.) So often, it also feels as if “no one is listening” – even if they just fucking asked for a bedtime story. LOL Being human sometimes seems needlessly complicated.

My Traveling Partner stopped into the studio with chocolates and a smile. I’d just finished with a phone call he’d earlier expressed interest about, wanting to know the outcome. So… okay… I start to share, but the timing is a poor fit – he’s livestreaming, and needs to get back to that rather promptly. I’m invited to come along to where he’s sitting, to share any relevant (to his experience) information. Cool. Awesome – I do that. Only… I’ve misread the moment and begin to go down the path of “sharing my story”, instead of simply “answering his question”. Those are rather different things, in any conversation. 🙂 I get it wrong a lot, and I work on it often. Story-telling is about a carefully crafted narrative with a “larger purpose” (sometimes educational, sometimes entertainment, sometimes something else) than just answering a simple question. Stories have meaning and context and plot and are about more than one question, one answer. He sets a clear boundary in the moment; he’s not available for a story right then, and recognizing that is already a win for me. 🙂 I answer the simple question and walk away, and although I still needed to deal with my momentary hurt feelings (no one likes rejection, and being shut down pretty much reliably feels like rejection, regardless of the intent), the interaction felt like a “win”, generally.

I get over my emotional moment pretty quickly. Realistically, his idea of an interesting story and mine are quite different, anyway, and I too-often overwhelm him with narrative details that are neither useful nor actually interesting to him. Better communication skills are still something I work on – a lot. Every bit of progress I make is useful in all my relationships (personal or professional).

I turn my head left, to my other monitor. Another sort of “carefully crafted narrative” is unfolding there, and I watch the video as it does. The work day is already over. I think about the afternoon ahead. Other moments. Other stories to tell. More opportunities to practice skillful communication, and more chances to be the person I most want to be. It’s a journey. I take a moment to think about the many miles I’ve walked on many trails… and the stories I could tell. They don’t all need telling. They don’t all have an audience, if they do. 🙂 Figuring out the difference is one more thing to practice.

The frown finally lifted. My jaw finally unclenched. My sheer-force-of-will pleasantness in meetings eventually resolved to simply being pleasant. I let go of being angry, in favor of feeling angry, which eventually let me look beyond my angry feelings to my hurt feelings, and then eventually to just letting shit go. Now? I guess I’m “quietly over it”, and it’s enough. Ideally, small things stay small. It’s not always easy to see that through from intention to outcome. It takes practice.

Neither societies nor relationships are (ever) “perfect”, not really; both are made up of human beings who are themselves entirely “human” in all the error-prone meanings of that word, and compounded by the very (very) subjective nature of our individual experiences. Hell, it’s not even a given that we’re all “doing our best” – or that any one of us is capable of a personal best of sufficient real-world value in any objective way. It’s an inefficient system, at best.

Work keeps me occupied. I pause for a break and reconnect with my Traveling Partner. The gray skies beyond my window seem to reflect back our own individual moodiness, today. Suitable backdrop. I think we’re past it, though, with “clearer skies”, though not exactly “sunny”. Metaphorically, I’m hoping for sunny skies (and sunny days) ahead. Funny thing though; the metaphor of climate and weather with regard to emotions and relationships breaks down a bit if pushed too far – we don’t control the actual weather, but do have substantial control over our emotional “weather”. Oh, for sure, not 100% of the control we might like to have, sometimes, and sometimes what we most want to control of the emotional weather isn’t ours to decide at all. Communication takes effort. Listening is work. Kindness requires practice – even for people in love with each other. “Being angry” is easier than taking the time and care to really process feelings of anger with real consideration, self-compassion, and without adding drama to someone else’s experience. It’s hard. It’s worth practicing, and improving over time. It’s worth failing at it and learning from that, and continuing to practice. Incremental change over time is slow – and it’s hard as hell to make the same room for someone else to fail and grow, as it is to do that for myself.

It’s a pleasant afternoon. My partner brings me a small serving of gelato. I take a break to enjoy that, and review what I’ve gotten done today, and what I’ve got coming up tomorrow. There’s so much to get done before the year ends – and it’s already time to begin again. 🙂

I’m annoyed over my morning coffee. It’s not something major, and a “more reasonable” person might not have reacted to this small detail the way I have. I’m working on letting it go. Anger “goes bad” – becomes toxic, generates problematic outcomes, that sort of thing – super easily, compared to so many other emotions. (I take a sip of my rather ordinary cup of coffee, and wonder briefly why that is.)

This morning I’m irritated – well, I guess that’s a step down from being angry, so… progress? It’s at least a start. A beginning. Another one. (Another sip of coffee, too.)

My Traveling Partner opens the door to the studio – and to reconnecting – and apologizes crossly for being cross with me. He makes a point to describe his experience to me. He makes a point to affirm his love, too. I make a point to listen. I make a point to demonstrate that I hear him and understand. Clear communication doesn’t feel particularly “easy” or “natural” this morning. I still feel fussy and irritable, rocked off my contented center by a moment of unexpected irritation first thing in the morning. We both do the things it takes to check in with each other, hear each other, and support each other. The verbs matter.

…I continue to reflect and sip my coffee…

I sat down to write, aware of my anger, aware of my frustration and irritability, and also aware of my affection for my partner. I sat down grateful, too; gratitude is my “go to” emotion-of-choice for a quick reset when my temper flares up. It’s super hard to be both angry and also grateful, in the same emotional moment. 🙂 With Thanksgiving being tomorrow, the timing is good for gratitude.

Wait…wait… what? What about… pilgrims? What about the heinous land grab that is our nation’s “original sin”? “Thanksgiving”??? Yes. Thanksgiving, which is to say a holiday on which I sit down to give thanks with those dear to me (I mean, yeah, when there’s no pandemic). I don’t place a positive personal (or historical) value on the celebration of Thanksgiving as some kind of glorification of genocide, at all. I do like the idea of a harvest-season feast day with gratitude as the theme, though. On its own, that’s a beautiful notion. It’s a lovely start to the winter holiday season. I celebrate that. I also acknowledge (and respect) the National Day of Mourning that also occurs on this date. There are for sure no pilgrims sitting down at my table. Genocide is a terrible violation of culture, and waste of human potential.

Anyway. Yeah, I do find that gratitude beats anger – every time. I’m grateful for so much this year. I feel fortunate. Good quality clean drinking water flows from indoor taps. The house is cozy and warm – and ours. The pantry is stocked and there’ll be no need to leave the house for shopping, tomorrow. I’m wearing comfortable clothing, appropriate for the conditions – and I had choices for what to wear this morning. The heat kicks on, and the soft sound of the fan blowing reminds me yet again, how fortunate I am. Comfortable bed…clean linens…a safe, secure place to live. Stable employment. I’m fortunate indeed.

I sip my coffee and think contented grateful thoughts – no anger to be found anywhere. Season’s greetings, y’all. Happy Thanksgiving. Here’s hoping you have much to be grateful for, and very little to be angry about. I take a calm breathe, and prepare to begin again.

Apparently the NOAA has determined that July 2021 was not just the hottest month of the year so far, nor the hottest in the recent decade. Nope. Bigger than that; it is the hottest the globe has been in (recorded) history. G’damn, that’s fucking hot. Now, you can dispute science if you choose to, but in this case, we’re just talking about data entry. Tracked numbers. Observations over time. I’m just saying… it’s fucking hot, and getting hotter. The weather all around the globe is weird and getting weirder.

…We could have done better by this planet than we have. I sure hope it isn’t too late to do better (enough) now…

I’m going camping next week. I’ll head out on Sunday, and don’t plan to return before Wednesday afternoon. I’m eager to get some solo time out in the trees (yes, even in the heat of summer). No news feed. No cell signal. No work. No work interruptions. No interpersonal stress, or miscommunications. No “interpersonal” anything, really. Me, the heat, the trees, the chipmunks (plague?), the squirrels (hantavirus?), the deer (ticks! lyme disease?)… I’ll just keep my distance. There’ll be plenty of that.

A different camping trip, a couple years ago; it’s been too long.

The heat is hard on me, though, I admit that. I’m in less pain of the specifically osteo-arthritis variety, but more, other pain – anything aggravated by the heat. I feel “puffy” and sluggish. Effort seems to require more effort. The heat is hard on my Traveling Partner, too, and since he is out in the shop, working in it, trying to stay focused, work with care, and get shit done, he’s sometimes cross, sometimes frustrated. I know it isn’t personal. (I can’t help but think he’ll enjoy a couple days of uninterrupted shop-time, particularly if the weather cools somewhat, as the forecast suggests it may.)

This morning, I went out to the car, and noticed one tire was weirdly low. I mentioned it to my partner who insisted, after filling it, that I go get it checked out so he won’t worry about it while I’m on the road. I agree to do that, although I was of a mind that it was probably “nothing”. I was entirely correct about that, too, if by “nothing” I meant that there was screw stuck in my tire that would likely result in a proper flat or a blow out on the road, if I didn’t get it repaired straight away. (Which is not what I meant by “nothing”, at all, and I was supremely grateful that my partner insisted.) I went ahead and got the oil changed (overdue) while I was at it, and had some basic (also overdue) service done. How did I fall behind on this?? I wonder, and then I let it go; truth is, there’s been so much “getting done” of shit in the past year, that it’s surprising that more hasn’t fallen through the cracks, than has. I breathe, exhale, relax, and let it go. “Doing my best” isn’t about doing all of the things, promptly and skillfully, without ever having a “queue” of pending shit to do piling up. It’s about doing what I actually can, as well as I actually can, and being as okay with that outcome as I am able to be. I am human, not machinery.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Speaking of a list of things to do, my list of things to do before I go camping is still longer than I’d like it to be. Probably won’t get to all of it, but I will make a point to prioritize those things most likely to aggravate my partner in my absence. (I rather like that guy, and I’d like to do my part to ensure my time away is also “down time” for him!)

…I guess that makes it time to begin again, in spite of the heat of the day.

Oh sure, it’s a few days yet before the Vernal Equinox, so Spring is approaching, but not yet here. Still feels more like Spring than Winter, this morning, and the song birds seem to agree; the morning air is filled with the sound of them, even though the sun is not yet up. The air is soft and smells like forest, even though it’s a bit chilly… it’s more like the chill of Spring than the frosty mornings of Winter or Autumn. I say this in spite of my recollection that yesterday morning was quite frosty. lol I’m eager to welcome Spring.

Already there are signs of Spring among the trees.

…During this year-long (and then some) pandemic, time has seemed more easily measured in seasons, than in days, weeks, or months…

My first week at the new job is nearly over. It’s been a peculiar week, in one very specific way; I’ve had the subjective experience of “checking off a list” in my head of things that have been unsatisfying or “problematic” at various previous places I’ve been employed, not because “oh, it’s that here, too…”, but because delightfully to the contrary, these concerns are explicitly demonstrably confirmably not issues at this new place. Wow. Powerful. My cynical side whispers “okay, but what is wrong here… what about that?”. So far, I’m tickled to shrug her off with a laugh; I haven’t found anything to give me reservations or hold me back. It’s seems to be a pretty healthy well-supported environment. I make a note on a future calendar date to check in with myself about my overall job satisfaction in six months, a year, two years. Looking over past notes, I can see that it is often the case that concerns I am aware of within 6 months often become the thing driving my departure at the two or three year mark. Interesting. (I’m a slow learner, I guess.)

…Pretty good start on this particular new beginning…

Last night went well, after my Traveling Partner and I sorted things out in the evening. Apologies that had been made were eventually accepted, and normalcy allowed to return. We hung out a bit. Soon enough it was the end of the evening. I enjoyed my first night of deep restful sleep since the DST change, and even slept through the night. It was lovely. I’m not at all annoyed that it took 4 nights to “get my sleep back”, either; there have been years when it took weeks.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced with seeking change, and with working to “stay on my path”, and in the pursuit of emotional wellness, has been allowing and accepting success when it comes. That’s been more difficult than I expected. Non-attachment (to outcomes, to emotions, to people, to the past…) requires committed practice, and self-awareness (which also takes practice), and my results do vary. Incremental change over time can be so slow as to seem undetectable, leading to some unpleasant “this never changes” feelings and unhappy “why do I even try??” moments. Harsh. Moments pass, though, and over time change and progress are revealed – and experienced. It does go faster, though, when I let myself have those wins without reservations or self-doubt. It’s all too easy to doubt, to resist, to argue, to refute, to turn away… because the things I am working to change are often “coping skills” that have their source in real trauma, and it can be tough to persuade myself, on some deep remote still-damaged level, that I don’t need them anymore. What if I do?? (So what if it does feel that way, though; is it the healthy way to cope? Is that way of coping “who I most want to be”?)

So, a pleasant Thursday morning begins the day. Another beginning. Another opportunity to practice the practices that best support me (and my quality of life, and my relationships) – and to become the woman I most want to be. 😀