Archives for posts with tag: listening deeply

Oh hey, good morning. πŸ™‚

It’s true, by the way. I can’t “fix” you. (Maybe you aren’t even actually “broken” in the first place, however “broken” you may sometimes feel…) Similarly, you can’t fix that person who is dear to you, or even that yearning stranger seeking support. We are not machinery. What is entirely possible and totally within reach is to change our experience. We can change our choices, change our reactivity, change our potential for resilience, change our actions, change our words, and even change our thinking – which, as it turns out, is a very big deal. We each (all) have choices.

“Be Like Water” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and India ink. 2018

Pro-tip: If you regularly feel like you are spinning out of control and “have no choices” or “lack options”, taking some time to explore potential choices and options you have previously set aside as “impossible” or in some fashion unworthy, may be really worthwhile. If you’ve narrowed down the vast list of potential choices and options to just some small handful that from your present vantage point “all suck”, you’ve made at least one choice already; the choice to disregard some possible choices. I’m sure you have your reasons. Maybe handle that differently? Be open to more than what you, yourself, think is “obvious”.

Sometimes we need to step back to see things in context, or to gain perspective.

I spent the weekend delightfully, mostly painting and hanging out with friends. I provided comfort and support where it seemed needed. I felt valued and appreciated for “being there”. Realistically, I also know that I didn’t “fix” anything at all; I simply took time to allow friends to be fully heard, and supported their good hearts. Where helpful, I shared the practices that support me most, myself, hoping that these would be similarly helpful for my friends. I am aware, because this is how I roll these days, that very few of my friends will adopt practices that require real accountability, self-awareness, reflection, and… verbs. A lot of verbs, and slow incremental change over time, don’t sound nearly as enticing as a fad diet, or a horoscope, or a quick fix, or someone willing to tell us it’s “not our fault”. In a moment of emotional crisis, anything at all that helps calm the storm is welcomed. When the storm passes? Well… few people really want to do a lot work, though, right?

“So Deep” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glitter, and India ink. 2018

I’m not mad. I already knew I couldn’t fix you. I just want you to be well, and to be whole, and to care for yourself. πŸ™‚

I maintain a certain healthy distance from OPD (Other People’s Drama) as much as possible. This works for me. It doesn’t make me less sad, when I see a friend in tears, to maintain such boundaries – it does tend to make me less frustrated that I was not able to “fix them”, by allowing me to remain mindful that honestly I never could, and also, there are verbs involved – not all of those are mine. πŸ™‚ We each have to walk our own hard mile. We each have to face our own dark night. We each “hit bottom” our own way, in our own time, over the things that hold most meaning for us individually – our dearest loves can not save us from ourselves… But we can. No kidding. It’s just those damned verbs, and the slow passage of time, and the lies in our heads that tell us any differently. It’s just one more bit of resistance (within ourselves) to overcome when we undertake healing and change.

“Down by the River” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glow glitter, and India ink. 2018

Over the weekend, I also received the rest of my art work back. My Traveling Partner picked it up for me. I felt very relieved to have them returned to me. I find myself wondering about my attachment to them. It’s something for me to think over; it may be less than ideally healthy to treat them as literal pieces of myself.

“Because…Love” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and gold leaf. 2018

Here it is, time to begin again. Working from home, still sick, but I am at least sufficiently improved to work. That’s progress. πŸ™‚ What about you? What will you choose to do differently to improve your experience? What will you change to become the person you most want to be? What practices will you commence to become, over time, someone other than you are? Are you ready to become the person you most want to be? There are verbs involved… I can’t do them for you.

Here’s a great place to begin again. You’ll still need to practice. πŸ™‚

 

I’ll head out this morning, and in a relatively short time (hours) I’ll catch up with my Traveling Partner for the weekend. Friends. Music. Goings on. The weekend. Lovely – and I am so looking forward to it! I’ve missed him greatly.

I plan my route with care this morning. See, there’s this particular experience I have pretty much every time I make this trip, and it’s not pleasant. There’s rather a long stretch of “highway” that is almost always gridlocked, aggravating, and populated with frustrated aggressive drivers, a handful of unskilled ones, and lurking in the mix, one or two people who are actually straight up “up to no good” – you know the ones; folks that get angry, take shit personally, and then act out their anger in real life putting everyone else at great risk. Drivers who “brake check” someone following them uncomfortably closely, or who is simply driving faster than they are. Drivers who deliberately cut other drivers off – and then “brake check” them, to “make a point” or otherwise demonstrate dominance. Drivers who “match speeds” with a car in an adjacent lane specifically to prevent another driver from passing them. It’s dumb – and it’s dangerous. Fuck, people, just drive your god damned car, and do it safely. Focus on what you’re doing in the world, yourself. Shit.

See? I’m already caught up in a moment that hasn’t even happened yet. I don’t enjoy that, and I would prefer not to just hand over the keys to my emotional experience to some rando fuckknob in a car. lol So. I am replanning my route with greater understanding of what I want from my experience in life, instead of letting my gps direct me down the same road everyone else is taking.

I have the time to enjoy the drive. I shoot for making it enjoyable, instead of “efficient”. Can I literally not even travel that stretch of highway at all, perhaps? Looks like I can – on a smaller rural road. My gps would not ever even consider this route; it’s a bit too close to the interstate highway, and the gps doesn’t really understand why I would choose anything else. In miles, it’s a bit more distance to drive, but in estimated time it’s very nearly the same. Speed matters, and the section of interstate I won’t be driving rarely moves faster than a residential street as it is. Do I mind not driving freeway speeds? Not at all. Not a thing with me, it’s more about a comfortable experience ofΒ  being neither rushed nor crowded. I plan my route down this rural “state highway”, and find that it avoids basically the entire stretch of the freeway that aggravates me. Nice. What will the experience be like? I don’t know – I haven’t had it yet. I do know it won’t be “the same” – because I have chosen differently. πŸ™‚

It’s a metaphor. You have choices. Begin again. ❀

I’m sipping my coffee and staring at this blank page (well, it was, it isn’t now…). The future is a perpetual blank page. I hold the pen in the present. Whatever narrative I jot down, whatever map of the world I attempt to draw, it is done from this moment, from this perspective. It has so little to do with the actual future that will actually happen. It’s easy to overlook that detail, but it is significant and worth keeping in mind.

I spent the weekend in the studio. I didn’t finish anything. I started a bunch of stuff. It was a delightful and productive weekend, creatively. I am content and nourished by the time spent painting. I’m finding it rather challenging to “get my head right” for the compressed work week ahead; I am yearning for some vacation time, and the good company of my Traveling Partner and friends. I am distracted and energized, like a toddler after an espresso shot. lol

People are peculiarly resilient and adaptable. Have you noticed that? It’s an amazing quality. We can endure quite a lot, and still be hopeful. We can suffer immense trauma, and still find ourselves positive about life, and able to enjoy it. We can break trust, and rebuild it. We can choose poorly, act badly, or go to pieces – and often put things right nonetheless. Pretty amazing stuff. Yes, of course, there are verbs involved, and our results vary. Our intention, our will, and our actions all matter. Our words matter. The content of our character and the values we choose to live matter. Still… we’re pretty fancy primates with a lot of potential.

Today you can begin again. Today you can choose to be your best self. Today you can live your life on a path to the person you most want to be… You only have to choose to do so. πŸ™‚

Choose. Begin again.

I woke with a headache. No arguing with that; it’s a headache, it hurts, I feel it. Being a positive person isn’t about pretending there is no headache. That’s silly game playing that lacks consistent results. It’s more about… being aware that the headache is a temporary thing, that it will pass, and that it is only a headache. My choices still matter more than the headache itself.

We can do a lot to predict outcomes of events and choices, given a willingness to be self-aware, honest, and true to the data. Our choices still matter; our choices change the outcomes. Predictably enough, predictable outcomes change over time, as our choices are made, and our will brought to action. There’s no reason being angry about an outcome we’ve chosen, ourselves, with our actions; we could have seen it coming, generally, as human primates are fairly predictable. Even the unpredictable ones, if you’ve observed their specific ways long enough. Hell, the predictable nature of unpredictable people is so predictable, in fact, that fairly realistic scripts can be written of such things, for our amusement.

I sip my coffee and wish my Traveling Partner well. Day break soon. It’s been a rough couple weeks as his Other’s mental health declined, and her behavior spiraled out of control; that shit gets ugly fast. It was also fairly predictable, taken in the full context of my own experience of her. I take a deep breath and relax. He’s okay. Our friends are okay. Material losses are just things. Hopefully all that ugliness and stress is behind them, and everyone can move on with healing. Done with that.

Emotional resilience in times of turmoil is a big deal. If I don’t have it, I don’t bounce back from stress, and if I am not easily able to bounce back from stress, it begins to wear me down over time, becoming harder and harder to deal with, and as smaller things begin to loom larger in my daily experience, I become raw, emotional, off-balance… and I start to take shit very very personally (and almost nothing at all in life is actually all that damned personal). It all spirals downward from there. How is it that emotional resilience isn’t a common every day emotional wellness talking point? Why is there not elementary level course curriculum in emotional health in public schools? Why has it been such a struggle to get health insurers to cover mental health care fully and without limits? Who the fuck came up with the idea that emotions are the bad guy? Our ignorance about our emotions is far worse than any single emotional experience ever could be. Our personal demons are less likely to be our actual emotions than our lack of emotional intelligence, our lack of cultivated emotional resilience – and the ensuing chaos as our intellect attempts (and fails) time and again to “cut to the front of the line” in every experience. Reliably, our emotions get there first. Visceral. Raw. Real. Felt. Unavoidably we feel our emotions. (That’s why we call them “feelings”.) What we do about them is a wholly separate matter.

…Emotions are still only emotions, though. A reaction to stimulus. Sometimes that stimulus isn’t a high quality of “real” at all. We react emotionally with equal intensity to actual events as we do to imagined ones. Our internal narrative drives our emotional experience every bit as much as actual events and interactions do (for some people, less tied to reality, more so). This is problematic when our own lack of emotional intelligence, or a lack of developed emotional resilience, results in being unable to discern the relative value of whatever is the source material of our emotional experience.

If I am thinking about my Traveling Partner, and imagine losing him… forever… and I evoke an emotional reaction in myself with that thought, I may briefly feel a terrible grief. (No kidding – it won’t be anything like the real deal, but I won’t discern that difference in the moment I am feeling my momentary emotion.) Is the grief not real? Oh hell yes, the emotions are real! That’s what often undermines our ability to maintain resilience in the face of storms of hormones, as women; our emotions are entirely “real”. What is questionable is the quality of the source material driving that experience. Our emotions are bio-chemical. We’re literally on drugs when we’re enraged. On drugs when we are euphoric, in love, experiencing “new relationship energy”. On drugs when we are sad, feeling low, and overcome by ennui. Emotional intelligence is the quality that allows us to understand ourselves sufficiently well to say “omg this sucks, I’m not myself today, I need some space (or I need some hugs) and I’m sorry in advance – I’m feeling a little less able to find my center today”… without laying waste to the experience of our loved ones in a shitty moment by weaponizing our emotions and attacking the world. Over time, “I’m sorry” isn’t enough, if you regularly treat your loved ones poorly. Eventually, too much damage is done, and no apology eases the hurt feelings, or restores the lost trust.

“Emotion and Reason” 18″ x 24″ acrylic w/ceramic and glow details, 2012

We are creatures of emotion and reason. Understanding the complex interplay of intellect and feelings, of reaction and resilience, of emotional intelligence, cognitive skill, and intellect, goes a long way to making us seem more rational while we are also experiencing a rich and varied emotional life. Trying to tip the scales in favor of one or the other is an exercise in futility that weakens our ability to adapt to change and to overcome trauma. Avoid or shut down our emotions, and we become distant, tend toward callousness, prone to clueless insensitivity, unable to fully experience intimacy in relationships with others. Suppress our intellect, eschew a factual basis to life, and we find ourselves chaotic, reactive, and unable to gain perspective. Either of those results in our treating everyone around every bit as badly as we treat ourselves. (Well, yeah, because it’s a true thing that we do generally; we treat everyone as badly – or as well –Β  as we treat ourselves). Fuck all that – it is a more comfortable experience to walk my path mindfully as much as I am able, aware of my emotions, appreciative of my intellect and cognitive gifts, able to balance and use them both comfortably. I am able to bounce back from stress and trauma with greater ease. It does take practice. Yep. And, you guessed it, there are verbs involved. (And maybe a meditation cushion. lol)

Real is real. I still have choices. You do, too. πŸ™‚

It’s time to begin again.

I spent Sunday in the studio. It was lovely. Music, paint, and chill creative time – an investment in self. New work drying, waiting to be seen in sunlight, and a beautiful recollection of time well-spent. “Being a creative” – probably true for any sort of artist, really – is quite possibly the most precious and “important” part of “who I am” that I could ever think to share; it’s how I tell the stories I don’t have words for. It can’t actually be taken from me – by anyone.

I’ve been in some shitty relationships, and gotten tangled up with some human beings who did not actually have my interests in mind at all, and did not mean me well – but only one of those, ever, has dared to lay an angry hand on my art work. Her existence as a human being colors the way I feel about new relationships, sadly, making me very cautious, indeed. Generally, human beings I have been emotionally involved with have been pretty uniformly respectful of both my creative process and the resulting work. Not that one; it is clear that the behavior is willful, deliberate, and intentionally chosen for maximum cruelty and manipulative power. While that sucks completely, and causes me real pain, I know something she has not yet learned; tit-for-tat nastiness does more emotional damage to the person doing it than to the person being treated poorly. The damage to me amounts to only as much as I permit. Non-attachment is huge here. Having learned that lesson a very long time ago, there’s no reason to interact with her at all. (In keeping with my own admonitions “don’t take the bait”, I am careful not to allow myself to be baited.) Certainly I’ve no interest in game-playing or “pay backs” – what a waste of precious limited life time that would be.

Work in progress, not yet completed, inspired by an X. “Toxicity”.

Walking on from something as dear to me as my art work, when I know it is in the hands of someone who will (or has) destroyed it – and who I have clear confirmation has that potential, because she’s already damaged some of it (and won’t return the rest) – is uncomfortable. It’s hard. No lie. Is all that beautiful work lost? Maybe. It may be that I will have to handle it with a civil stand by, at a later date, or criminal charges, or a civil lawsuit, certainly, it is not necessary for me to “take care of it” myself. For now? I have other things to do with my life, and no interest in being emotionally manipulated. I let it all go. I walk on. I spend delightful leisure hours in my studio, painting new work.

I hear from my Traveling Partner late in the day. We talk. I feel wrapped in his love. That’s a story I will tell on canvas, in colors and brush strokes, for the rest of my life, and it is one that brings me great joy.

So much love it regularly spills onto canvas. πŸ™‚

Pay backs are bullshit. Don’t be tempted into playing that game; you’ve already lost once you allow that toxic mess into your thinking. Stay on your path. Be the person you most want to be. Don’t become a thing you despise because you feel hurt or angry. (I know, I know, there are verbs involved, and your results may vary.) Transcending the willful hurts delivered by another can be incredibly difficult, but… every time you do? You demonstrate the beauty of your fundamental humanity. Taking that “high road”? You show the quality of your character – to everyone. What that person so invested in hurting you thinks about you (or says) is irrelevant, to you, and to the world; they have shown who they are. Let them have their skewed world view, and walk on. “Being right”? Not as important as your life. You don’t need to defend yourself to others, or “prove” a point. Life your life. Live it well. Treat others well. Be kind. Be true to your values. Let go of whatever you have to, in order to break the chains that bind you to another by anything but your own choice to be with them (ideally because you mutually meet each other’s emotional needs in a positive supportive way, that encourages personal growth and nurtures you all).Β Β Just my thoughts on that sort of thing. It works for me.

Another day and week begin. A satisfying weekend becomes a new work week. Clearly, it is time to begin again. πŸ™‚