Archives for posts with tag: listening deeply

It’s almost routine, these days, to face stress with this internal reminder: breathe, relax, let it go, begin again. Individually, or as a sequence, it has given me the “moment I need” to bounce back from a stressful experience far more quickly than I once could. It’s enough. More than enough. With practice, over time, it has become something I can pretty much count on, rather reliably. Enough to make it especially difficult when it fails me – being human, that’s still a thing, too. 🙂

I am sipping my coffee, relaxing over a few minutes writing, starting my day a little later than typical. I smile thinking about my abrupt wake up call this morning. A literal phone call jerked me from my sleep in the pre-dawn darkness. It rang persistently from the other room. I was in motion before I was awake; a ringing telephone in the darkness is alarming. Distant family, friends, old buddies from military years… emergencies and bad news generally arrive via phone call in the darkness. I realized I was (sort of) awake when I heard my voice out loud answering the phone.

“…Hello…?”

My relief was immediate, and followed the audible relief in my Traveling Partner’s voice. He phoned because I am a creature of such regular habits that variance is noteworthy; he hadn’t yet heard from me, and it was nearly an hour past when I am usually up, and greeting him with a sticker or emoji. My face still hurts from smiling because I matter that much. I had forgotten to alert him that my hours would be different today. The one downside to regular habits (inclusive of habitually explicit clear communication) is that deviation from those routines can be stressful for others when it touches on their experience, too. We put each other at ease. I begin my day 7 minutes earlier than I’d intended – and with a wonderful moment of warmth and caring from my partner. Delightful. 🙂

…Sure, sure, I suppose I could have been irked to be wakened early, when sleep can be so difficult for me, but… no. No need to let something so small swamp the beautiful moment of awareness of how much I matter to this particular human being who also matters so much to me. 🙂 It mattered so much more just hearing his voice first thing.

Suitable for challenges of all sizes: breathe, relax, let it go, begin again. 😉

It’s a lovely morning, suitable for change, and for choices. It is a good day to start down a new path, or to continue to walk a path that is taking you in a direction you are seeking to go. It’s a good day for new beginnings, and for saving the world one moment at a time. It’s a good day to be civil, to be merry, and to celebrate small successes. It’s a good day to lift each other up, to express appreciation, and to share what matters most. It’s a good day to be our best selves. In all cases, of course, there are verbs involved; we have work to do, and choices to make.

Are you ready? It’s a new day. Let’s do better. 🙂

It can be a bit of work, support loved ones through difficult times. I remind myself that the circumstances change, but the humanity remains; we need each other.

We don’t need a lot of complicated drama and bullshit – but being human, we also, sometimes, don’t recognize where our choices may lead, before we get there. Once we’re there, we may have been slowly inoculated over time to the point where although it is obvious to a great many other people, we don’t see what a mess we’re in – or what a mess we’re making – nor how it affects other valued relationships.

If that’s what you’re waking up to this morning, you have my sympathy. I’m sorry that’s the situation – an expression of pure regret, without any personal involvement. Drama sucks unless it’s on a stage (even then, sometimes it still manages to suck; not all performances are equal). Here’s something majorly cool, though; you have choices. Seriously.

…so many choices…

The path (and practice) of non-attachment is a huge win for fighting drama demons. There are verbs involved, of course. Choices. But the simple (seriously simple) choice not to engage the trolls in our social network is incredibly effective. The choice to let go of whatever we’re attached to that is being used against us can be a radical move in the direction of freedom. Although it feels incredibly costly, often we can more quickly and easily move on from a negative experience, or toxic relationship, if we can make peace with the perceived “losses” that result from doing so. Bonus; few things aggravate a hate-filled troll more than being of no consequence whatever. lol So… there’s that.

It’s easy to recommend. It’s harder to put into practice. We’re so easily baited. We’re so heavily invested. We’re so reluctant to be fully aware that our emotions show up for every appointment before our reasoning thinking mind can even find a parking space nearby. lol I said it. The balance between emotion and reason tends to rest on an understanding that emotion is more immediate, more reactive, and less easily argued with – even internally. We tend to “believe” our emotions, even in the face of contradicting data. It’s both a strength and a weakness.

On the other side of the equation, if you are invested in your righteous rage, and lashing out while justifying your shitty behavior with smug observations of how “right” you are… maybe… just maybe… You’re not actually the good guy in this little scene? Think that one over. If your decision-making is more about the effect the outcome will have on another person – most especially if that outcome is intended to be difficult, painful, awkward, challenging, or “deserved” – you are definitely not living up to any aspirations you may hold about being a good human being. Just saying. You can do better. Don’t be one of the bad guys. Yep, even if the person with whom you have developed this drama “deserves”… whatever you think you’re so right about. That’s your opinion, based firmly in the context of your personal narrative, most of which you made up in your head. Leave room to be human. To be wrong. To do better. To be the good guy.

Or not… It’s your call, I guess. I’m just saying, stooping to bad behavior merely because you feel hurt by someone else’s words or actions, is… fairly stupid and short-sighted, and generally also quite counter-productive.

Here’s a flower. Let that shit go. Begin again. 😉

There should always be time for beauty. 😉

 

I’m sipping my coffee, well-rested, on a lovely summer morning. I scrolled through my news feeds, and at the end of it found myself feeling a bit let down with humanity, with my own relative powerlessness in the face of the world generally, with the drama and bullshit that we allow to impede our forward progress as creatures… We could do better. I mean, obviously. lol Hell of a start to a lovely Saturday.

I push my seat back, and carry my coffee to the deck, and enjoy the rustling leaves, birdsong, the smell of freshly watered plants, the sweetness of a newly ripe tomato fresh from the vine, and a few healthy moments of other thoughts and experiences than the embrace of an office chair, and the bright white pipeline of infotainment shoved directly into my brain through my eye holes. I get way too much of that, and too little of small brown birds daring to come closer to see if maybe I have another seed hidden in my hand. 🙂

When I came back in, I sat right down at my desk, and let the excess of words and pictures continue to stream into my brain. Damn it.

I get up. Again. I breathe. I do some yoga. Somewhere amidst this second flurry of activity, I have a second coffee that I’ve already forgotten now. Some mindfulness. (That’s sarcasm there.) I nag at myself about my baggage. I pause to feel annoyed with myself for nagging myself, instead of simply practicing.

I let that go, too.

I find myself, at some point, wondering about how I create the baggage I carry in life. I mean… some is picked up in some moment of trauma, sure, but what counts? Does it need to be major trauma? (You already know the answer, if you are honest with yourself; it could potentially be the most petty irritation, if allowed to fester.) I mean… hell… I even have baggage about this. Right here. Blogging. No kidding – did you not know? lol (“Do tell!”  “Okay, I will…”)

In December 2012, sometime, during a terribly dark time in my emotional life (one of the worst, darkest, most despairing times of my life had begun, and I was very much at risk of not making it to the other side) I began to consider starting a blog. I had mostly given up writing in a journal – a life habit of many years, that I’d found huge value in, but which had become a ruminating spiral of negativity that developed a fairly self-hateful feedback loop that supported the despair more than the woman writing about it. The saner choice, then, had been to just give it up, for at least awhile. I lost an important voice in my narrative in doing so, and I needed… something. A blog? Maybe; I’d be writing in a public place, read by anyone who cares to read my writing, which, I felt, had a chance of keeping me from falling to the demons of rumination and negativity, and maybe give me some purpose and focus,  a foundation on which I could… maybe… heal. Or at least feel heard.

I approached one of my partners (now an ex) at the time and brought the subject up. I viewed her as being “more internet savvy” than I was myself, and I knew she also had a blog. I suggested I was considering writing a blog, myself, and asked her for suggestions or recommendations for platforms. What I got back was… a hearty helping of ego and discouragement. “Oh, well, you shouldn’t expect anyone will read it, and you most likely just won’t keep up with it, and you’ll probably just abandon it. Most people are very bad writers, and don’t have anything interesting to write about. You should expect that you’ll get bored with the work of keeping it up. I have several followers and a very successful blog because people love my writing. It probably won’t be that way for you, and you shouldn’t be discouraged if it turns out no one cares and you’re wasting your time.” I felt astonished, first that she’d assume anything about my writing, when she’d never taken any interest in it, and also that she had no awareness that I’d been making a practice, my entire adult life almost continuously, of writing 500-3,000 words a day – entirely without a fucking blog. LOL I also felt hurt by the dismissiveness and lack of emotional support, particularly so early in our relationship (there was much about her, as a human being, I did not yet know).

…Then the insecurity kicked in. Maybe I’m not “good enough”? Maybe I lack worthy content? Maybe no one does care – at all? Maybe I am “wasting my time”? I almost didn’t start. I almost gave up writing entirely. A few more days of systematic discouragement at a difficult time in my life, and I even started considering ending it. My life, I mean. It was a dark time, indeed. Then I read her blog – looking for a clearer understanding; maybe it was “too hard” for me? (Clearly not.) I didn’t really know, and I wanted to understand more clearly what limitations I was truly facing as an individual. I read a bunch more blogs by great thinkers and writers, because it was immediately evident that little was to be gained reading hers. I looked over various platforms that support blogging. I asked myself what I wanted to say – and what mattered most about my writing, generally. Let’s be very real about this; I was attempting to do this while also wholly disrupted by mental illness, and family-life stress. I was in no shape to adult without supervision. I still needed to do my own homework; unavoidably, the advice of other people is shaped by their agenda and biases, and filtered through their own bullshit. It has limited value. Ever.

I’m smiling this morning as I sip my coffee. I value my time writing. I appreciate my readers (hey, that’s you!). Six and a half years and 1625 posts later (not quite one every day), and I’m still writing, still finding value in that practice, and still feeling heard. 🙂 I’m glad I didn’t let one voice of discouragement stop me from being the woman I most want to be… or the woman I am. 😀

Baggage is a funny thing. It lingers. I did pick up some baggage that long ago winter afternoon, talking about blogging; I occasionally still question my writing. It’s fairly public. There are some things, perhaps, that would be best unsaid? Should I mention my weekend plans? What if someone might use that to burglarize my house by noting when I am likely to be away? Should I mention when I am happy? Someone who has an agenda of minimizing my happiness may use that to undermine it… What about… her? Yep. Sometimes, even now, I consider the considerable drama, bullshit, and emotional pain she continues to inflict on friends and loved ones at personally inconvenient moments, and I can’t help but wonder… did my writing drive the timing? Am I feeding information to a human being who now places me in her world as an adversary?

…Should I stop writing??

More baggage. I laugh it off, and remind myself that she has no power over me that I don’t give her, myself, and no current place in my life, now, at all. Like any bad memory, or former association ended with cause, there’s no real need to revisit that time, place, or person, other than to heal myself. Certainly no reason to give it power over me now. lol

Consequences (of our words, or our actions) are real things, though, and I do consider the consequences of my writing; I spend far longer reviewing a finished post, and refining my words, than I do writing it in the first place. Consequences matter. People’s hearts matter. Being authentic, practical, and frank, matter. Being a better person today than I was yesterday matters. Sometimes I delete whole posts rather than publish something that might cause a stranger undue pain, or “out” someone’s private experience without explicit approval. or even just fall short of adequately expressing my thoughts in a true-to-self way.

What I’m getting at, I guess, is “do you” – support yourself in your endeavors. Don’t let “the world” slow you down or change your mind – but be prepared to face the consequences of your choices (good and bad), and consider them with care. Choose wisely. Be your best self… but do be you. No one else can do it so well, although a few bad sorts may try to steal your identity, your words, your very soul – authenticity can’t be faked, and over time, those stolen facades break down, revealing the real person beneath the lies. Walk on from that drama. 🙂 No direct confrontation can be sufficiently satisfying to make the fuss worth it. lol Life is too short to leave the trolls in charge. 😀

Bottom line? We really do choose – and carefully craft – most of our baggage in life. It’s okay to put that down, and walk on. Let it go. Just… let it go. Move on with life without it. It can be a choice… if we care to choose it. Yes – sorry – there are verbs involved. It may require some practice. You may have to begin again – any number of times. Still worth it.

It’s time to begin again. I’m sipping my coffee, well-rested, on a lovely summer morning, smiling, and content. I am enjoying the morning with the woman in the mirror – she’s a survivor, a bad-ass, and this morning? There is no other woman I would want to be more. 🙂

It’s morning again. I’m okay with that. I even find something to appreciate about the week hours when the world still sleeps and a mere handful of other humans are awake. I just heard a car going by. It’s very quiet this morning. The sky is just lightening, and appears to be a vague, soft, lavender steely gray, hinting at a cooler morning. No real knowing what the day holds – there was a time when that would have troubled me a great deal.

Today I am content. Sipping coffee. Thinking “about” nothing much. Taking some time for me. Feels good.

The titular “doing better” isn’t given any context in any specific way, because I’m honestly not sure quite what my meaning is. Maybe I mean I’m doing better? I’m definitely feeling pretty good this morning. Also, though, and this is important – “doing better” (than I am, than we are…) is a thing worth doing, and certainly I think, and talk, about that rather a lot. So… there’s that. Then, there’s “doing better”, where the emphasis is on the doing, rather more than it is on “better”, that reminder that there are verbs involved to get there seems pretty relevant in a world where so many people seem so very focused on doing less, more easily, with greater convenience and less effort. The doing – both the what, and the how, matter. We could do better. I know I could do better.

It’s a morning. The sky is a not-quite-indigo, like favorite faded denim. It’s time for another coffee, and some verbs. There’s an entire day ahead, and then… the weekend. A busy one at home, filled with visits with friends, chores, errands, and a photography gig… and at least one or two chances to begin again. So many verbs. LOL

What will I do this weekend to do better? Better than yesterday? Better than I have? Better than I see going on around me? How will I make the world just a little better? I smile to myself at the obviousness in this moment right here, because sitting here quietly with my coffee it seems so easy; I will be kind, helpful, compassionate, and treat human beings as human beings. I mean, if that was a universal approach, how much nicer would life be for how many more people? Just don’t be a dick to people. Don’t be cruel. Don’t put process (or laws) over humanity, use it, instead, to support humanity.

…Damn… I hope it is as easy as it sounds, from the vantage point of a quiet morning. 🙂

Are you ready to change the world?

We can begin again. Together.

It’s a good morning. It was a lovely weekend. There’s not much else to say about either of those things. 🙂 I miss my Traveling Partner so much this morning; the weekend was delightful, romantic, connected, and satisfying. I sit here smiling to have a partnership with someone of such heart, intelligence, compassion, and competence… who loves me in return. Pretty splendid. 🙂

We didn’t just fall into this Love, of course; we built it. We built it on choices, using values, and verbs, and good communication. We treat each other well. We support each other. We set and manage our boundaries, each of us, and we each respect the other’s. We take delight in each other’s joy – even when we aren’t sharing it, even when it isn’t about us, even when we “don’t get it”; it matters most that the other person feels something so beautiful. We recognize they are having their own experience, and value each other’s agency as individuals. We nurture each other, and support each other’s goals, and each other’s work. Authenticity. Real respect. Reciprocity. Consideration. Compassion. Openness.

My “Big 5” values became most clear to me as I learned to understand what makes this particular relationship so profoundly good compared to others I’ve had. Respect, reciprocity, consideration, compassion, and openness are my Big 5 relationship values. I (now) build all of my relationships on a foundation that rests on these values. Why not? They are strong and steady, and foster solidly good relationships. Notice that “trust” isn’t there? Yeah… I am not convinced that “trust” is a strong value on which to build human relationships, personally. Honesty, sure, “trust? Not so much. I often hear tales of hurt, deceit, and woe, in which lost trust, or misplaced trust, or a lack of trust is a feature, and people somehow manage to feel fairly terrible that something they could have seen coming caught them by surprise. I’d prefer to know people, to see them as honestly as I can as who they actually are, based on behavior they actually provide, every day, as sample material. I don’t find it helpful to require people to affirm they are something other than they are; it only sets me up to be surprised and injured, when they turn out to be the person they have been all along. Better to see them clearly, accept them as they are, risks and flaws and all – and work to mitigate the potential harms in other ways, or walk on. For example: a friend known to gossip? Yeah… don’t share information or secrets with that person (and if they are doing you harm, are they a friend, in fact?). That’s a very simplified example, but it works with all sorts of character flaws.

Asking people to be someone they are not, however well-intended, then staying around to bear the consequences every time they disappoint us, or treat us badly, is one of the stupidest relationship models ever, of always (or so it seems to me). Choosing relationships with people who don’t share your values is fraught with complications and predictable painful moments. Sure, you can ask for change, demand it, even expect it; but the change is theirs to choose or to make. We make better choices when we are honest with ourselves about the people around us. Seeing them honestly, and recognizing who they are for real, without talking ourselves into anything, is a great beginning. I value authenticity… and real is still real if someone is really out of step with my values, but I don’t choose them for a partnership, or, maybe, any association at all, so there is real value in seeing people as they are as much as possible. If, for example, I know someone builds their life on deceit – why would I ever choose to become entangled with them romantically, however pretty they are, or funny, or willing to say nice words to me? Me, personally, I would not. It just doesn’t make sense to do that. I get the fuck out of there, fast, if it seems I have become involved with someone who’s relationship values, themselves, are so out of step with mine as to hold potential for emotional or physical injury. At least… I do now. It took practice, and a lot of self-reflection, and there were verbs involved.  🙂

The weekend with my Traveling Partner contrasted sharply with goings on in other lives, shared with me while catching up with this friend, or that one. Other People’s Drama. I listen. I can’t say I “understand”, exactly; I choose differently. I mean… I “get it”. I’ve been there. I’ve been the one hurt by lost trust… in the context of a relationship in which “trust” was a soap-bubble built on a fantasy that existed only in my head, in a relationship wherein a simple honest look around me would have told me the truth about all the lies. lol Yeah. I’m laughing. I’m laughing because crying about it is unproductive. Don’t like being lied to? Don’t make relationships with people willing to lie to you. Begging for their honesty and offering them your trust is… well, it’s what they’re counting on, because they are likely gonna lie to you, if that’s their way. Just saying. That’s how character works; people are who they are, based on the values they hold, themselves. Only. What they say to other people about their values is not relevant to the values they actually hold. The honesty I know I need to be able to “trust” most is my own. 😀

Not my circus, not my monkey. 🙂

This weekend, particularly, was super low drama; my partner and I enjoyed each other. Drama stayed outside our small world with each other. although there was plenty out there. It was a lovely break to share. Weekends do end, though… and… look at the time! It’s already time to begin again…

…You can too. You have choices. There are verbs involved. You can start again now – or any time. You’ll probably need practice; your results may vary. Choose wisely – you matter. 😉