Archives for posts with tag: listening deeply

I ran into a very senior colleague yesterday. She complimented my hair, the many blues and greens of which continue to change as they age. I make a point of commenting that this, in part, is the intent, and that planning the colors includes accounting for what the selections will look like as they age together, washing out over time, and fading in sunlight. She expresses interest and we continue to talk.

It’s no coincidence that I make my living in the realm of planning things and analyzing time utilization (fascinating stuff, time and how we use it); I feel more secure, personally, with a plan in place – for pretty nearly everything. Plans are, in a sense, the future potential of new routines. At least, I see an association between plans and routines… Something to think over more another time, perhaps. I make a joke about having no spontaneity at all, only plans, plans “B”, “C”, and back up plans, fallback plans, contingency plans, emergency plans – and a willingness to refrain from becoming attached to any outcome, which sometimes gives a loose appearance of spontaneity that can be misleading. She laughs, not understanding that the humorous tone is the only joke there; the rest is legitimately part of my experience. πŸ™‚

I love anticipation – hard to relish or savor that without some planning.

I love daydreaming – and it’s super easy for a day-dream to be gently nudged over into becoming the beginning of a plan.

I love the comfortable certainty and secure feeling of having a routine, which, when included in planning just feels oh-so-super comfortable and gives a sense that I am prepared for life.

Shit goes sideways anyway, of course. Plans are overturned so easily on a single decision, sometimes not even my own (often not my own). Rolling with changes is easier with additional alternate planning already available, and back up plans to those alternate plans, and contingency plans to those alternate plans – one never knows where chance may take the journey, but it’s easy to imagine a bunch of ways that it might, and plan for those. I like to feel prepared. lol I like to enjoy the company of far more spontaneous friends, and over a lifetime I have evolved a way of coping with change that involved more, rather than less, planning to account for the unintended consequences of life’s unexpected moments. I spend rather a lot of time thinking about the future. It took a while longer to learn not to become attached to a future (that does not yet exist), while still embracing all the many options (that may or may not ever be truly within reach).

I used to suffer a lot of despair and disappointment. Attachment to outcomes, expectations, and untested assumptions is a short path to heartache. Letting go of that attachment? It’s a race track to freedom.

This morning I am looking ahead only as far as the coming weekend. I have a plan. So far it is intact, and I am daydreaming joyfully about the weekend to come, to be spent in the good company of my Traveling Partner. πŸ˜€ We spent a long while on the phone last night, intimate connected conversation about our future. About my not-so-distant-I-hope retirement. About where we each live. About what we want of life. It was lovely. It felt like a date. When I got off the phone I sat quietly for a long while, just relaxing and savoring the feeling of being loved, and planning a future.

This morning I woke with a contented smile and a calm heart. My coffee is delicious. The world (at least this small piece of it over here) is quiet. I look around me at the many things to do, to change, to craft, even a few things yet to unpack (hey, it’s a process, it takes me time! lol). I won’t be doing any of that this weekend. I look ahead to the evenings between now and the weekend; I make a plan.

This is life. It is worth living. There is much to do. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I guess it does not “go without saying” that we can care for ourselves well, and also treat others well. There are certainly some moments in humanity’s “blooper reel” that highlight how easily we lose sight of that in practice; we can be well and also do good. Apparently Marriott’s slip and fall moment involved a passenger ship, and an opportunity to rescue human beings from an island after a hurricane devastated it, with another on the way. Instead of rescuing everyone they could, they rescued only their own hotel guests, and left with capacity for hundreds of other human beings, also in dire need of rescue. Go ahead. Google it. I’ll wait.

The justification for leaving human beings behind, stranded, without support, services, and in some cases without even shelter was… “policy”. Yep. Their hands were tied by “policy”. Β Their own policy. Let’s just admit right now that we all recognize what bullshit that is, most particular in times of humanitarian crisis. “Policies” are entirely arbitrary rules made up by people to account for most circumstances, and enforced through a filter of ordinary biases and willful exception-making (when it seems expedient). Using a “policy” to justify mistreating people isn’t okay. It is, in fact, cruel bullshit. Don’t be a dick. Don’t be one of the Marriott’s of the world. It isn’t necessary, it isn’t helpful, it isn’t kind, and it has no value to anyone outside the shareholder class, who (surprise!) may profit from it financially. Fuck that bullshit. Do better. Do good.

Take care of yourself. Definitely do this. Treat yourself well – and do it because you matter, too. I found it more challenging to learn to treat myself well than I expected to; I fought myself every step of the way. I didn’t understand that mistreating myself undermined my ability to treat others well, and also limited my compassion for others. It’s been an interesting journey with the woman in the mirror. We weren’t exactly friends 5 years ago. I put up with her bullshit. She put up with mine. We treated each other badly. Β It was a daily battle to get through all of my self-imposed obligations, responsibilities, tasks and chores, and… I had nothing left for me, and wasn’t doing much of value for anyone else, as it turned out. Awkward. I was just working hard at going through the motions. Life felt pretty empty, and chasing happiness wasn’t getting me any closer to it.

Let go of a few self-imposed “rules” and “policies”! Treat yourself and others truly well (shit, that sounds like a rule, or a policy, right there… lol). No guarantees that “happiness” will follow, although I find helping people fairly gratifying personally, maybe that isn’t you (yet). We become what we practice; if you practice treating people badly, you become a bad person. Just saying.

Too many of us Marriott our way through our lives. Managing clear boundaries becomes living by a set of restrictive rules used to exclude others from our experience pretty easily. Refusing to help because it is inconvenient, or may have some potential for personal risk, says a lot about how we feel about our fellow human being – and how we feel about ourselves. How tightly swaddled in your privilege are you? Do you know the names of the cleaning crew at your office? If you’re part of the cleaning crew at an office, is it comfortable to smile and make eye contact with “the suits”? When was the last time you reached across a social or economic chasm to say hello to another human being, without regard to what they can do for you? Are you making a practice of averting your eyes from the homeless? Do you turn your back on uncomfortable strangers riding public transit so you don’t feel the pain of not giving up your seat to someone who needs it more?

No one can do “everything” for everyone. Most of us have resources enough for our own needs, our families, perhaps if we are fortunate, for our extended families as well. I get it; it feels like there isn’t enough to go around. There is though – because small gestures matter, too. Ask people in distress if they are okay. That’s a good beginning. Then listen. That’s some great follow through. Maybe you can help. Maybe you can’t help. Sometimes people need a connection more than a solution. πŸ™‚ Sometimes though, you will have the solution, and the resources, and the time, and it’s all right there… don’t be Marriott.

Our choices can change the world. Isn’t it time to begin again?

I drove home through miles of choking smoke yesterday; Oregon is on fire. Scary. Not as scary as some of the alarmist images being shared on social media. So, I re-calibrate my understanding of what is real and true with something more reliable.

Fighting fake news with real data works nicely.

I arrived home to a very different homecoming than I might have experienced at the apartment, in a number of small but important ways. The house was comfortably cool in spite of the heat of the weekend, thanks to having A/C and a good thermostat. My new place also feels very safe – emotionally and physically, which is a win. Because I had closely followed a carefully managed “deployment plan” for the weekend, I also returned home to a nicely tidy apartment, suitable for really relaxing as I unpacked. It was a delightful homecoming with only one fairly obvious flaw. I already miss my Traveling Partner dreadfully. More than I generally do for having so recently been wrapped in his arms, and lit by his smiles. Manageable, fully human feelings of loneliness competed briefly with the all over ease of living in my own space. πŸ™‚

A lovely misty looking view from Sunday’s hike. The mist isn’t mist at all. It’s smoke from distant wild fires.

I drove home as quickly as I safely could, and it became clear it was a safer choice to eschew breaks along the drive in favor of getting to the other side of the worst of the smoke of the many Oregon wildfires currently burning; the air quality could easily be called “not safe to breathe”. My burning eyes, irritated sinuses, sore throat, and the cough I quickly developed in spite of having the a/c set to “recirculate”, were all the confirmation I needed that breathing more of that air more deeply at some “rest stop” along the way was just not a great idea. Visibility much of the way was down to only about a thousand feet. So I drove continuously, content to find relief from stiff joints on my yoga mat when I got home, with only one very brief stop to pee.

…And of course, there was traffic as I got closer to home. It was, after all, the end of Labor Day weekend.

None of the details of the drive are actually particularly relevant to my experience of the weekend, except to observe that the air down at my Traveling Partner’s current address was already pretty shitty from the smoke of the Chetco Bar fire. I got in one decent hike, over the weekend, but didn’t push myself because the air quality was so poor. I stayed on a well-maintained local trail, got some miles while he worked, and took some pictures of the local wild flowers. We stayed indoors and enjoyed each other.

A hike-able trail, a yoga mat and meditation-cushion waiting for me when I arrived; I felt so very welcome. I felt at home. Β πŸ™‚

My heart is still beating to love’s shared rhythm. It was a lovely intimate connected weekend with just enough hours in it that he had had to commit to work that I also got plenty of “me time” for meditation, yoga, and reading that I felt quite at home. I’m eager to find the perfect balance of proximity and distance and be close enough to spend a great deal more time together, more easily. I definitely want to spend more time together. πŸ™‚ I already miss him.

The details of the weekend itself aren’t really built of anecdotes to share, or life lessons of note. It was time spent on love and loving. That’s enough. It needn’t be anything else; love matters most. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee contentedly with a soft smile of satisfaction. It’s a good cup of coffee. It’s a pretty nice life. I return gently to weekday routines feeling wholly loved and appreciated, and ready to return to work for another week. Eager to begin all manner of things again, and follow threads and paths wherever they may lead me. There are verbs than want doing. Lessons to learn. Improvement to make. Calories to burn. Choices upon choices upon choices – all of which will likely result in changes. I still don’t know what the future holds, and I am unconcerned; I have now. πŸ™‚

I check the clock. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚


It’s not yet dawn. The sky is dark. The busy street I am on is still and quiet. No traffic. The neighborhood sleeps. Well, except for me – and of course, anyone else who is quietly up before the sun on a Saturday morning. πŸ˜€

My “bug out bag” is packed. The morning suddenly slows to a chill and relaxed pace; I’m already ready. I smile thinking about the drive ahead. On the other end of that drive – Love. Road trip!!

I sip my coffee and check off the last-minute details. I’m up early enough there is no need to skip any of the self-care niceties, and I am hopeful the drive itself will be pleasant and relaxed. It’s even a long weekend. πŸ™‚

My coffee is just dreadful this morning. I find no “perfection” outside my acceptance of my experience, my willingness to embrace sufficiency, and my relaxed nonjudgmental awareness of circumstances. I’m not the slightest bit distressed about my shitty cup of coffee this morning, it exists in the context of an otherwise nearly ideal moment. πŸ™‚ Will this mood last? Only as long as it does – like anything else. It’s not forever. Not the good. Not the bad. Not all of everything in between those two arbitrary points on an imagined spectrum snagged from one perspective of a carefully crafted narrative. lol What can I even know about “the true truth” or “the real reality”? I am mortal. A human primate with physically and cognitively limited senses. πŸ™‚ I’m okay with that.

I smile and sip my coffee, aware of the bitterness of the now-tepid brew, and still indifferent to it. Today, love. And love. Well, and…Β Love. That there is love matters so much more than a moment of bitterness. πŸ™‚

Metaphors in moments. Life lessons built on words and music. It’s a beautiful morning to travel. See you soon, Love. It’s time to share a bit of the journey. πŸ™‚

The weekend was busy. Like, busy to the point of not being at all restful and lacking some of the usual qualities of a weekend. It was busy, fun, exciting, and generally time well-spent. The weather was hot and sunny – summery. The performances I saw were worth seeing. I had great conversations with people I’d only just met. I got my eyes seen to on Saturday, and will pick up new glasses sometime next week. I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a very long time (years). I enjoyed an exceptional brunch. I visited the Farmer’s Market, and also the Portland Saturday Market. It was a fun weekend out in the world.

I also took time for quiet moments.

I woke to the alarm this morning. My bones ache and my feet are sore from a weekend of dancing in the sunshine. I’m not quite sunburned; I used plenty of sunscreen. I’m “still thirsty” from the days spent in the summer sun, and drinking water along with my morning coffee. I find myself trying to cram a weekend worth of “recovery” into the brief Monday morning hours before a new work week begins – unsuccessfully. It doesn’t work that way. lol

The self-care practices of the week ahead have become quite important; next weekend I will head down south to see my Traveling Partner, and I am eager to enjoy his company for a couple days, but there’s little about it that I expect to be “restful”. I expect to be joining him somewhere out in the trees for a bit of camping, but beyond that, I have no idea what the weekend holds. Love. I know there will be Love, and that’s enough. πŸ˜€

I read an article about mindfulness this weekend. I was prepared to argue with it, because of the rather confrontational headline, but as I read it, I found myself generally in agreement. It wasn’t attacking mindfulness practices, themselves. The article is critical of the commercialization of, and lack of understanding of the purpose of, mindfulness. I found the article insightful. I read it twice more. It’s not the sort of thing to change my thinking about my own practices, nor to discourage me from them, but it definitely supports (for me) a better understanding of “why it doesn’t work” for some people in the way that it does work for me. I’m specifically not using mindfulness to try to be more efficient at work, for example, or to eliminate stress from my own experience while I continue to deliver a stressful experience to others, or for financial gain. I use mindfulness to improve my emotional resilience so that I can continue to improve my emotional wellness, without turning away from the hard bits of work ahead, while also being a kinder and more compassionate human being out in the world. I use it to improve my perspective on my experience. It seems very effective for those purposes.

Mindfulness is also something that requires real practice. Daily. Not just demonstrations of moments of mindfulness (looking your way “mindfully eating a raisin” lol), I mean actual real-world practicing of practices that, ideally, result in being a better person than I was yesterday, and these are practices that require repetition (otherwise, they’d be “tasks”). We become what we practice. Sure, mindful awareness – totally worth practicing – and also “deep listening” (listening to others mindfully and fully aware and in the moment), and basic consideration. Think about that; simple considerate behavior towards others is a practice of mindfulness. We could hardly be truly considerate without being present, and being aware of that other person, and what they may need, themselves.

I start the week awake. Aware there is more to practice, and a journey ahead that is unscripted and unfolds moment by moment through my choices. (Yours, too.) I smile and sip my coffee. Mindfulness. Perspective. Sufficiency. Building blocks that led me here. Consideration matters too; I become what I practice. I am writing my own script. I am my own cartographer. Incremental changes over time built on the choices I make now. Fancy.

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

My coffee has gone cold. I finish it off and check the time. There is time for several little chores to be handled before I leave for work. The forecast suggests a hot day, and I decide driving to the office will be the better self-care choice, when I consider getting home in the heat. Each choice matters. πŸ™‚ I begin again. You can too.

Will you?