Archives for posts with tag: listening deeply

Yesterday, I had yet another opportunity to patiently explain to someone that they do not get to tell me what I think, why I think it, or how I came to the conclusion I did. It seems obvious, really; my opinion is mine to decide, and to decide even whether to share it. Attempting to force assumptions about my opinion, or my thoughts, or my feelings, upon me is… fucking dumb. A.) That isn’t how opinions or thinking work. B.) No one likes that shit or needs that from anyone else. Lastly, C.) Fucking hell, people, how hard is it, really, to ask a question and listen to the fucking answer?

It’s an extra special nightmare frustration when that person is a man and his tone is condescending and patronizing. I’m not a child or a little girl, and frankly, on its own maleness does nothing whatever to make any stated opinion or observed fact somehow more relevant, worthwhile, or legitimate, at all. I’m just… yeah. So done with that bullshit. lol I managed to walk on from that interaction without resorting to insults or name-calling, which turns out not to require any sort of heroic effort of any sort, I just reminded myself silently that I had things to do, and that arguing with an ass clown was not on my list today. lol

On and on. Trump didn’t change it – maybe didn’t even “make it worse” – but his presidency pushed it into the forefront (again)(I mean, really, we’ve fought this fight before, and had made a lot of apparent headway, but… no… here we are). Kavanaugh isn’t “new” or novel, or frankly even fucking interesting. Been. Here. Before. Been here all along. Maybe we can all work on this? We can do better. I mean, seriously America? Fucking Nazis? Are you kidding me?

Words matter. Choose them with care. Really listen to people. Really share your authentic actual thoughts with them (versus just quoting some regurgitated sound bite you lifted from a talking head on cable news). Connect for real. Ask the deep questions that matter most. Listen – really listen – to the answers. Put content over bullshit. Show your fellow citizens some “common decency”, consideration, empathy, and respect. Maybe even let “I disagree with that position” be the actual end of a conversation or disagreeable moment, and walk on.ย You don’t have to persuade or convince everyone that your position is right. Maybe it isn’t. Share it if you care to, then let that shit go, too. Quality of life is not about being right. Great relationships are not built on being right. Contentment and happiness are not made up of moments of being right. Fucking just listen once in a while, and even, now and then, accept that you do not know all of everything… or… just maybe.. in some particular instance… insisting on being right, regardless of perceived factual correctness, maybe be quite the wrong thing to do.

…Then… also… respect both your own expertise, and the expertise of your associates. Ask more questions than you answer. Listen to what you’re hearing, and really be present for that. Learn stuff. Grow. Assume positive intent. Have positive intentions yourself! Be authentically who you are – rightness and wrongness and error, flaws, mistakes, and character failures, and all; we don’t become who we most want to be if we can’t start from who we are right now and move on from there.

What I’m saying is, arguing is dumb. It wastes time, and people who are arguing are not listening to each other. Arguments are made up of people throwing their words at other people who are, at best, throwing words back – without listening at all. It’s ridiculous and gets no further toward truths than standing still quite silently would do, and quite possibly, standing still silently would be more effective. (It probably is, actually…)

Don’t argue.

Don’t yell. (Not really relevant, it’s just super unpleasant, and effective only for escalation the emotionality of the interaction in an unpleasant way; if you’re yelling to make your point, you already lost the argument. Just stop.)

Talk to each other. Really listen. Grow because you are hearing new information – or because you have the wisdom to refuse to incorporate ad copy, memes, or straight up misinformation, in your thinking, in spite of hearing it, again. Ask clarifying questions; there’s always more to know. Get context, and check your assumptions; you’re wrong more often than you realize (I promise you this is true).

People can be really fucking repetitive with shit they pick up along the way that they did not really think through themselves, or apply any critical thinking to, when they adopted it as their own. They cling to that shit. It’s tedious. Don’t follow the crowd. It makes for dull conversation, filled with half-baked bullshit, and actual lies.

Do better. Think your own thoughts. Use critical thinking skills to examine what thoughts you think you have. Check your assumptions for accuracy. Check your expectations to ensure they are shared, and realistic, and not left moldering in a corner all implicit and unverified and shit. Easy stuff. Slow the fuck down and ask yourself some questions about the thoughts you tell yourself are your own. Are they really? Fact-checked, lately, Bruh? Did you make any effort at all to determine whether the words you are about to say reflect who you truly are, consistent with the values you claim you have?

My coffee is tasty this morning. I’m mostly ignoring it. My nightmares were a tad too much “Handmaid’s Tale” for my emotional comfort, and I woke feeling confused, angry, resentful, irritated, puzzled, frightened, restless, and yearning for freedom. The conversation, yesterday, in which some rando man-human specifically told me I don’t think what I do, and can’t because I’m wrong about thinking it, was still grating on my nerves. lol At 55, I fucking well know what my political leanings are, what my philosophy of life is, and where I think my ideas potentially take me in life. I’m pretty over men thinking they have something to say to me about what I think. (Wow. I’m obviously still fucking angry about it, too… and only on this whole meta level as an archetypal conversation repeated over time, not the specific moment and individual. Wild. Why are we still here, at all?)

I grin when I think about the end of that conversation (for me). “I disagree with your position. We have nothing further to discuss.”

Sometimes, I gotta just walk on, and begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

What a weird day yesterday was. The work day was… shitty. It just was. It’s a thing, it happens. It’s over, and behind me, and today is a new one all its own. We’ll see how this one goes. ๐Ÿ™‚ It can’t possibly be as strange, that’s for sure.

The evening was a delightful counterpoint to the work day; no stress, no drama, just two people who love each other, spending time together. It was warm and joyful, and the connection was intimate, fully analog, and entirely in real life. It was sweet. No idea how long my Traveling Partner may stay… he’s thoroughly welcome. I don’t bother to ask what his plan is. He shares details as they occur to him. There’s no point being literal about those words – they often do not become actual experiences, for either of us. He will when he does. lol I am at least able to chuckle about that and give him room to be who he is. ๐Ÿ™‚ He does the same, generally, for me.

I sip my coffee. I contemplate the day ahead in the context of being so well-loved. It changes the way I see my experience, to see it in loving context. It’s a positive change that tends to push the negative emotions into the background, and pushes the purposefulness of my endeavors into the foreground, relevant, immediate, and worthy. My results vary. It’s less a matter of “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” and more a matter of “are you kidding me with this shit? have a little perspective” – and that’s enough to nudge me back onto a path of assuming positive intent, and generally enjoying my experience. I like contentment. Ya gotta run pretty fucking fast to “chase happiness” – contentment will let you catch up, no problem, and walk aways with you. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Choose wisely.

I look at the time. It’s already time to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s time to pay the bill. Every fun thing in life, every journey, every dream ever pursued, involved a cost. An investment in time, will, money, effort – coasting through life is an option, of course, but I suggest taking a second very careful look at the lives of those you think may be “coasting” through life. It’s not likely that they actually are, however different their choices may be from your own. ๐Ÿ™‚

There’s a place I know, where the rules are different, and the world seems built of love.

I spent the weekend wrapped in love, in the company of friends and my loving Traveling Partner, in a space temporarily re-made for the purpose. DJs, artists, vendors, and fans gathered. Family. Friends. Artists. Musicians. Dreamers. Visionaries. Performers. A small festival of like-minded folk, gathered in the forest to camp, dance, play, and experience life re-made to an alternate purpose. We celebrated. Even in hard times, celebration is a worthy endeavor – perhaps most of all in hard times. ๐Ÿ™‚

Put as much effort into celebrating as you do into working – or bitching – the return on that investment is so worthwhile!

I bailed on the fun a bit early. Friday was amazing, if rainy. Saturday was just… wow. Sunshine, forest, good company (a great breakfast) a feeling of purpose… I felt elevated, uplifted, and if not enlightened, surely I felt “made of light”. It was quite lovely – until my arthritis finally reminded me of years and injuries, and my joints began to stiffen quite irresistibly. I grabbed my cane as soon as my mobility became actually impaired. I didn’t really sleep on Friday night, ever, the music went all night, so did the fun, and although I grabbed a couple naps, it wasn’t enough to keep me from becoming fatigued. By late afternoon Sunday, on top of my arthritis, my legs began to remind me of other issues, and my steps and gait became affected, by those, compounded by my fatigue. The cane wasn’t going to be enough to get me through the night. I checked in with my Traveling Partner about “calling it” early and heading home. We were having so much fun it was a hard choice to make, and I wasn’t up to it without a bit of reassurance that he’d also rather I take the best care of myself, versus forcing myself to stick it out, slowly becoming miserable and putting that delicious vibe at risk, or wrecking my own delightful experience of the weekend. We were having an amazing good time together! It was hard to walk away from that. He is ever the supportive partner, and agreed that if I was already feeling worn down or struggling with impaired movement, it made sense to call it good and head out – if I were up to the drive. He offered me his place if I wanted to just go get some sleep and hit the road in the morning. Something nagged at me that it was likely a better idea to make the drive that evening…

What the hell? I hate late evening driving; it becomes night driving, and my night vision is frankly not ideal. Shit. Really? Am I going to do this? Yep. Doing it. I drank more coffee and hit the road.

The drive was uneventful. I took regular breaks at pre-determined times and locations. At the one point that sleepiness started to blur my vision, I stopped, got a big bottle of cold water (once it was clear iced-coffee was not to be had, there) and got back on the road. Water for the win. I didn’t expect that – and now I know to keep it in mind. I was thirsty, more than sleepy, apparently. I made good time, and the drive was stress free. Win and good.

This morning I woke at 4:30 am. I went back to sleep, after bumbling to the bathroom and back rather awkwardly. The somewhat less than 4 hours of sleep I’d had weren’t going to be adequate rest. I woke again around 6 am. Again, I went back to sleep. I finally woke shortly after 9 am or so, and got up. I experienced a moment of immense gratitude as I stood. It was the right choice to have made the drive the night before; it took real effort to get out of bed. Pain. Stiffness. More effort to slowly go through the motions of a morning routine. I’m still moving terribly slowly, with much effort. Everything hurts. Everything is stiff. Nothing is easy. “Freedom of movement” feels like nothing more than an advertising slogan. I feel as if I were the unfortunate recipient of a serious beating I don’t recall getting. lol This morning, I add sore muscles to the arthritis pain. I nonetheless happily “pay the check” for a delightful weekend of music, dancing, and enjoying the company of friends out in the woods. Totally worth it. I knew it wasn’t going to be any sort of “freebie”, and I took the time off I needed to, to make the best possible recovery before work. (I’m off tomorrow, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Painfully sore muscles. Aching joints that don’t move freely. Fatigue. A few hours of driving. A few dollars in gas money, meals, and gear. Time. Totally 100% worth the price spent to enjoy the time I did. I focus on that, and try to sort out which is the wiser choice right now; a nap (I’ve only been awake for 2 hours), or a nutritious meal (that it going to be painful to prepare, but I probably should have something…)? Time to get back to all the adulting. lol

I make another coffee, I start another “to do” list. I begin again.

Yesterday was weird. I was angry all day; I’m a women, living in a nation that does not respect or value women, facing the possible Supreme Court appointment of an accused rapist. Well, shit. We’ve already got that very same sort ofย grotesquerie seated in the Whitehouse, and unknown, uncounted, unacknowledged numbers of that very same bullshit in our Congress, the Senate, our government agencies, our workplaces, and yes, even in some of our homes. Don’t be afraid to feel angry; this shit is worth our anger.

Be angry.

Vote.

Anger is weird toxic shit, though. As with a proper fairytale curse, it inevitably spills back in some way on the deliverer. We carry our anger in secret – problematic – then explode – inappropriate, ineffective, and generally the consequences are unpleasant. We end up doing a lot of “damage control” and repairing our angry words with excessive apologies, even pleading, and submissive posturing. We could do better with our anger. We can learn to be more skillfully, relentlessly, effectively angry. I’m not there yet – but I believe in the possibility, and the helpful folks of the rich white guy frat boy club currently holding office are totally here to help; they are keeping me seriously angry. I’m getting lots of practice.

One challenge is holding focus and keeping my anger relevant, limited, and correctly directed where it belongs. Preventing my anger from spilling over everywhere, into every relationship, is sometimes hard. The lines between actual harms, and perceived slights, become blurry. Anger is powerful shit. Wielding it skillfully tends not to come very naturally to me after a lifetime of being told I can’t have mine, that it’s not appropriate to express my anger, that my anger is unreasonable… being told for a lifetime to stop talking, to sit down and shut up, to restrain myself… being shouted down and talked over, for a lifetime, in most relationships (whether work or professional)… the underlying chronic persistent repression, being robbed of personal agency, being provided a restricted set of human and civil rights (just for lacking a penis, for fucks’ sake)… Yep. Harnessing that massive seething roiling pent-up body of lifetime rage and very carefully directing just so, at a particular moment or movement or person… is fucking hard.

One challenge is not being convinced, by those well-meaning loved ones inconvenienced by – or frightened of – my anger, to dim my light, to mute my voice, to stifle my rage. Rage is scary shit. I’m keeping mine, thanks. I’m fucking angry. I’m not going to shut up about it. You can walk on if that’s a problem for you. I’m okay with that.

No yelling though. No yelling in the house. No yelling in the morning. No yelling in frustration. Just… no yelling. Yelling is triggering, and generally, once a person is reduced to yelling, no communicating is happening at all. Knock that shit off. It’s not useful.

Seriously. Man or women. No fucking yelling. Take a deep breath. Give yourself a moment to calm the fuck down, and try again – without yelling.

I want to live my life well and beautifully. I want to enjoy moments. I want to indulge in life’s pleasures. I want great conversation, with close friends, and people who care passionately about things in life that also matter to me. I want to enjoy lovely emotionally relevant art. I want to feel joyous and empowered. I want to approach my life as a journey that belongs wholly to me. I don’t want to be swamped by my anger. I don’t want to be incapacitated or overwhelmed by it. I don’t want it to become a festering wound that deepens over time. There is much to consider.

I sip my coffee and consider it.

I sip my coffee and consider the friendship of women, too. So many of us struggle with that; women have been divided, often. Women are powerful together. It’s time we reach out more easily to each other. Forge lifetime friendships that support, encourage, nurture – and take back our world. ๐Ÿ™‚

Last night I enjoyed the company of two women. One I’d met before, briefly, and one I had not met previously. Women of great heart and emotional depth. Women with something to say about themselves, and about life. Women with a trajectory – a vision of their desired future. Women who care. Women who laugh. Women who “get it”. We had a great evening of conversation. We were authentic and vulnerable. We were real and frank, and funny. We forgot to go to dinner. We overlooked the time. We talked – continuously, delightedly, eagerly – in that very specific way that generally leads to, in other homes, on other evenings, some man breaking in to announce he “can’t get a word in edgewise”, or to make a “playful” accusation that we talk to much, or to request some service or task that he could easily handle himself, or to point out that we are “chattering away” in some dismissive tone – as if our words with each other matter less than our willingness to put our attention on him. I am so fucking done with that. (Keep up, bruh, or listen politely and maybe learn something.)

This Kavanaugh bullshit has gotten me – a lot of women – pretty angry. We don’t feel heard. We don’t feel supported. It’s become too hard to avoid recognizing that women are specifically not valued, and are specifically perceived as property, even now, and even by the men in the fucking government (why the fuck have we elected this??). It’s hard. So… I converse. I converse with women. I’m not making any particular effort in those moments of conversation to make room for the care and consideration of men; I need to be heard. I also need to be educated… or… un-indoctrinated, at least.ย So I’m also reading. The titles are very telling, I suppose: “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny“, “Rage Becomes Her“, “Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower“… I am clearly not alone in my anger. I have spent far too long on the words of men. For balance, though, I’m also keeping “Resilient:ย How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness” close at hand. I do seek balance. Utility. Function. Effectiveness. I am not looking to loose the wild anger of my ancient pain on the world – just see through some changes that would improve the world for women, and thereby for all of us.

If you’re a man hoping to be some part of some sort of solution, listening is a good starting point. Really listening. Making room to understand that we (women) are having a very different experience of life than you are. (Please don’t push back on this with some sort of statement about your experience and your needs; we fucking know already, we live that reality for you every fucking day, it is part of our daily indoctrination, and even our formal educations. Knock it off for a bit, okay? That’s specifically the ask here; give us a moment of your time, really. Authentically. Listen deeply. Hear us.)

Enough with that. I’ve probably said enough. ๐Ÿ™‚

This morning is lovely and quiet, following a merry evening of lively conversation with beautiful well-spoken women. Powerful. I enjoy my coffee smiling quietly. It’s a good morning. I feel content, and whole. I am aware of my anger in the background – it does not rob me of this lovely quiet moment. It’s an extraordinary place to be with myself. I’ve come a long way as a woman, and as a human being, over the past couple years, and this feels like a reward for a lot of committed focused effort to be the woman, the person, I most want to be. I eagerly look ahead to seeing my Traveling Partner sometime soon, and sharing his energy, here, in this lovely space. We’re good together, and it feels good to be supported, valued, nurtured… Fuck. I miss him.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m betting that this visit won’t find my anger crowding out my love; there is room for all my emotions to exist in my experience. I am a human being – a creature of both emotion and reason.

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

It’s time to begin again. It’s time to change the world. โค

Yesterday was hard. Just watching the world watching the Kavanaugh confirmation stuff going on was sufficiently painful to make for a difficult day. He’ll probably be confirmed. It’s a damning indictment against all of us, and this world we’ve built. Seriously. (I’m quite serious.)

…Which leads my morning musings elsewhere, because there’s more meat on this bone than one man’s plum lifetime government appointed gig; it’s about all of us. It’s about the way we listen. It’s about the way we treat others in their moments of pain, grief, and stress. It’s about how readily and easily we dismiss the concerns of others, most especially if we don’t experience life the same way, or suffer with the same disadvantages. It’s about privilege, and the dichotomy of having it versus not having it, and how confusing the chrysanthemum flower Venn diagram of privilege actually is, with its overlaps, and intersections. It’s about how little we care about the pain of strangers, and how quickly we minimize the pain of loved ones because (although we likely mean well) it is uncomfortable to share it.

Be considerate. Listen deeply. Understand that the experiences of others may not be your own – and that this does not invalidate those experiences! It’s less about trusting their narratives, and much less about their veracity and your willingness to believe, and so much about “basic human decency” and being considerate, just generally. I’m saying we could all do better on this one, and that we all do well to make the attempt.

I’m pretty fucking done with angry men shouting me down. I’m pretty fucking done with angry men deciding what my truth is. I’m pretty fucking done with being dismissed, diminished, shouted down, talked over, or patronized. I’m done with a whole fuck ton of bullshit. I’m pretty fucking angry, myself. So… what am I going to do about any of it? Well… I’ll for sure be voting. That’s one thing I can do. Speaking truth to power is another. Refusing to soften my tone, or yield my position, these are also things I can do. Already am. All those things. Still… I could do those things more skillfully, I’m sure.

It’s time, then, to begin again? Isn’t it always? ๐Ÿ™‚