Archives for posts with tag: love

Sipping my coffee on a routine workday morning, the answer seems pretty clear; wherever I choose to go, is the “where” that answers the question “where do I go from here?” No guarantee of an easy journey, obviously (isn’t that obvious? It is obvious, right? I mean… seriously?),  but generally speaking, we chart our own course, as individuals, so long as we have the will to do so. I mean… the choices are ours (even the choice to refrain from actively choosing, which is, nonetheless, a choice). Getting hung up on outcomes and destinations is a lot of what makes the journey so fucking complicated, and often difficult. 🙂

Here’s a video my Traveling Partner shared with me the other day. It continues to resonate with me. It seems a timely share so soon after the New Year, particularly if you are prone to “resolutions”. 🙂

Today is a different day than yesterday. My Traveling Partner and I got past my bad moment. The connection and intimacy we followed it with resulted in some deeper conversations, about things troubling him, about things that continue to cause me unexpected distress and uneasiness. We are each so very human. We each do our best to soothe and support the other. We gently align on some basic ideas for the coming year (primarily the need to focus our attention, financially, on some specific things important to a comfortable future). The evening ended pleasantly. I slept fairly well, waking once or twice, briefly, but getting the rest I need. I woke in the wee hours, shortly before the alarm, just as he came to bed. We cuddled a while, until it was time for me to acknowledge the new day, and get on with things. I silently wish him “sleep well and rest deeply” as I rise from the bed, gently, to avoid waking him, hoping that thoughts he wrestled with through the evening and night give him some peace, at last.

How did we get past our rough moments in the morning, though? It was a small thing. He approached me so gently, checking in with me, and as he walked away, he said “I love you”. I didn’t expect it. I still felt so raw, so disrupted, so disappointed with life. Those simple words, in a dark moment of doubt, of feeling uncertain of being worthy of love at all… they turned my head, and reminded me more clearly to be kind to myself, too, and to give myself a break. Clearly, my partner was not rejecting me as a human being; once I could see that, once I allowed myself to see that, it was easier to let my own bullshit go.

Still… I’ll point out what looks obvious from the perspective of a new day; I get more “bang for my buck” resilience-wise, when I “work from within”, instead of allowing any measure of my sense of self, or sense of personal worthiness, to rest on the impression of me someone else may have. That may not be 100% realistic, as goals go. Love can complicate things a bit. We want the affection of those we love, so very much. Our individual baggage about love and relationships can twist our heads and hold us back. Yesterday’s challenge is a good reminder, too, that we can hold a lot of power over how someone else may feel, and without intending to wield that power at all a poorly chosen phrase, a careless word, a moment of anger, any of these can topple a lovely experience. It’s important to continue to choose to be the person I most want to be, and to continue to practice loving kindness, deep listening, and, yes, non-attachment (because so often, it is my attachment to “being right” or “being heard” or “being understood” that stop me from making room to really listen, and to make the wisest choices in my relationships).

This morning is a new day, a new opportunity to be the person I most want to be, a new set of choices, and a new moment to be present for. I’m good with that. I like a new beginning. 🙂

 

It’s been a wonderful weekend with much to celebrate and very little stress. 🙂 Life doesn’t always hand out such lovely weekends, uninterrupted by bullshit and drama, characterized by laughter and love; warmth and affection saturated each welcome moment. It was beautiful. I’m sipping my coffee and smiling, and taking time for gratitude. I can even pin-point what made this particular weekend so incredibly delightful; kind words.

It is not an exaggeration to observe that when most people talk about giving “feedback”, they are talking about negative feedback. Let’s be real about that; negative feedback can also, generally, be called “criticism”, and being criticized, especially if it is a regular thing, is not pleasant. It’s quite difficult to give negative feedback in an encouraging way that lifts someone up, and promotes improvement and positive change. It fairly commonly feels like a beat-down, discouraging, punishing, and devaluing. Yes, even when well-intentioned, and particularly if there is no balancing positive feedback or encouragement offered. Negative feedback is hard to do skillfully, and can be damaging.

You know what isn’t all that difficult? Positive feedback – encouragement. You know what is also fairly easy to do skillfully, and rarely causes damage? Kind words. Yep. Negative feedback isn’t nearly as effective, but it does provide a certain something for the giver-of-feedback (that isn’t at all needed by the person receiving it); the satisfaction of insisting on being heard. Many people avoid clearly understanding what the negative feedback experience feels like for the recipient – until they are, themselves, receiving it. It’s a shame, because positive feedback, encouragement, and kind words, given honestly, and from an authentic place, work in the most remarkable way to actually change behavior over time. Seriously.

(No one is talking about “white lies” here! Or lies at all.)

The key to both positive and negative feedback is the honesty and authenticity, but without kindness and encouragement, negative feedback is often just… mean. Whether we intend it that way or not. It’s just that no one likes being criticized. Feeling rejected actually causes an experience similar to physical pain. It does not matter in the least whether we are “right”; negative feedback stings a little every time, and if it comes as a barrage of nagging and complaints, all the positive intentions in the world won’t ensure the person we are speaking to thinks of it as “helpful” or “welcome” or will recognize that we are well-intentioned, at all. It’s often what comes to our attention most commonly, and most quickly, though – all those things we see as “could have been done better”. We notice that immediately. We are irritated by things that aren’t “right”. We speak up quickly to offer “feedback” – or feel like we’re not being “heard”.

Kindness does take a bit more effort; it’s important to actually notice real things that please, impress, or support us, or which we want to acknowledge and reinforce. That means actually actively paying attention to that person we care enough about to give feedback to. It also means understanding what is important to us, and being very aware of words and actions that support what we see as something that “matters”. Where negative feedback has it’s own notification system in place to let us know when something isn’t quite right, positive reinforcement doesn’t seem to do that, and puts the burden of awareness in our relationships where it belongs; it our here and now, a practice we practice. Can you even count the number of kind things, encouraging words, that you’ve said to your partner or a dear friend in the past 24 hours? If you’re like most people, that number is pretty low, most of the time, and the number of criticisms, “negative feedback”, and back-handed compliments are probably pretty high. It’s a pretty sad state of things considering that there is science to support the need for healthy relationships to have a high ration of positive to negative interactions. Just saying. Do better. Be kind. Be present. Be encouraging. 😉 Have pleasant weekends. 😀

…Now, having said that, it’s also a real thing that if we’re not playing the game of life by the same rules, within our relationships, it can get weird and unpleasant very quickly when we make a change in our behavior of this sort. If a person living in the context of a very negative, sarcastic, gas-lighting relationship starts trying to embrace positive feedback and kindness, it’s not going to “fix” the other person, or the relationship. It’s just not. (I’m not saying negative feedback and criticism are therefore the way to go; sometimes the way ahead isn’t easy, and a few small changes just aren’t adequate to put things right, generally.) What I am saying is that otherwise generally emotionally healthy people do well to treat each other truly well, placing more emphasis and priority on positive feedback, encouragement, and kind words, than on negative feedback.

This past weekend really proved that idea for me. The once or twice I was offered any sort of negative feedback in the moment completely fades from my recollection. I remember the points being made, and the suggestions, but not the negative words or moments. What I remember most about the weekend was the kindness, the compliments, the encouragement, the supportiveness, the listening, the connectedness, the shared humor… it was a wonderful weekend. I felt valued, appreciated, and loved. Words do matter. Assumptions do matter. How we approach each other as human beings does matter. All weekend long I’ve felt the heartbeat of this partnership in a warm, positive way, wrapped in love and held in high regard. So much kindness and tenderness. 🙂

There are subtleties to consider. The difference between “a helpful suggestion” and “unwelcome criticism” is in things like tone, context, and intention; it’s super hard to make useful “rules” about how to do that skillfully, that I could share and someone else could make use of. I am painfully aware of the complexities and required nuance – I’m learning as I go, myself. (Sorry for the extra “homework”!)

Empty compliments are hollow, and don’t work as positive feedback. Content, authenticity, honesty, these things matter. The moment matters. The choice of words matters. Tone of voice matters. Sincerity matters (we can all hear a passive-aggressive “tone”, or sarcasm.) It does take some practice, particularly if we’ve tended to be very negative in our life (possibly framing our choice to be so as “taking care of myself” “expressing my needs” or “setting boundaries”). If you find yourself reading these words thinking “well, except for so-and-so, because I literally have nothing good to say to them”, well, now you’re in “if you can’t say something nice…” territory. Seems unlikely that any one individual could be someone with literally no redeeming qualities of any kind worth reinforcing or encouraging… certainly seems unlikely you’d have chosen to marry such a person, or build a life with them, or develop a deep friendship with someone like that, right? So, start where that positive feedback and those encouraging kind words will make the most profound difference; at home. This holiday season, don’t be a dick. 🙂 Tell the people who matter to you that they do matter. Say nice things more often than you criticize or “correct” them. Trust me; it’s painless to be nice. 😉

…And if you just have to offer up a “correction” or “criticism”, definitely try to at least soften your tone! Sounding angry or irritable is real communication of emotions. It’s helpful to be at least aware that the emotional experience we’re having is our own, and to acknowledge that honestly and not try to put it on the person we’re talking to in some kind of blame-laying way. 🙂

Are you afraid of fucking this up? Are you worried about “being wrong” or “taken the wrong way”? I get it. Change – however necessary, or desirable, can be hard. Fortunately, there are a ton of opportunities to begin again. Go ahead – take a chance on being kind to people you care about. Hell, it’s the holiday season, be kind to everyone, as though each person you meet is human, and really matters. (They are, and do.) If you don’t like who you become, the new year is here, soon enough, and you can begin again, again. 😀

I’m sipping my coffee and listening to some “deep house” music, and thinking about change. I’m smiling, and enjoying the steady low thump of the beat, and looking around my messier-than-usual studio; signs of change. My smile deepens to a grin, and I think about the lovely evening my Traveling Partner and I shared, and how strange it is that the joy of the evening was the shared experience of embracing change. 🙂

…It was sort of spontaneous. I’m not sure whose suggestion it was, really, a change of arrangements, furnishing, spaces, things could be moved… from here… to there… I’m not usually especially open to such things (no reason to resist the admission, I have real issues with my environment being “disrupted”, and have had some fairly childish tantrums over something being “in the wrong place”).  There we were… the idea out in the open, and it didn’t feel scary or unsettling or disruptive at all; it just made obvious sense. I’m pretty sure it was not my idea, but on hearing it, I was almost immediately taken with the common sense of it, the improvement in flow of daily life, the efficiency, and yes – order – to be gained. We went from idea to “let’s do this thing” in actual seconds. We were off our asses and actually making change happen within minutes. There’s more to do, but we’ve gotten well-started on the thing, and, yeah, I really like it.

…I slept better. Weird, because the rearrangement of objects and placement within the household did not have anything whatsoever to do with the bed, bedding, or nighttime qualities of the room in which we sleep (it was mostly about closets and bathrooms). lol I definitely did sleep very well last night. 😀 Related? Unrelated? Doesn’t matter. I enjoyed the positive experience of change, and the changes we made result in our shared space feeling even more like “us” and quite a bit less like “my place and my partner is moving in”. Feels really good, honestly, and more… coherent. More orderly.

I’m feeling pleased and comfortable and contented; a very positive reaction to change. I don’t always feel this way about such things. I take time to savor it. I’m honestly so tickled, I also try a different perfume today. lol I’m possibly less pleased with that outcome, but admittedly; change can be hard for me. It’s a small step forward to be open to novelty, even on a small detail like fragrance. It’s a small step that needs to be taken again and again, to preserve “neuroplasticity“. Good stuff there. A way forward. A way through. It’s one of the foundations of “beginning again” and practicing practices for making the long journey from trauma to being the person I most want to be. 🙂

I glance at the time. Finish my coffee. Today is my Traveling Partner’s birthday (certainly one human life I am eager to celebrate!) – and it’s time to begin again. 😀

No kidding. Damn little gets more “real” than actual reality colliding with the fictional version of reality we generally live with in our heads. :-\ It’s a bit like petting a beautifully fluffy strange cat on the basis of how cute and soft it appears; sometimes those’ll bite back unexpectedly – and it’s not even personal… “cute and soft” are simply not reliably the most important things to know about a strange cat.

I’m still getting over being sick, and my defenses are down. My ability to “get” humor is rendered somewhat unreliable. My will to accept as humor those “zingers with stingers” falls short of the need, sometimes. I end up taking something small quite personally, and end up with hurt feelings. My temper flares more easily, while I also need more tenderness and patience. It sucks more than a little when the result is conflict, particularly when what I wanted is affection. Sometimes reality can be more than a little vexing.

Yesterday at work was efficient. Purposeful. Challenging. Satisfying. Also – short. I went home a couple hour early, still committing to self-care. Still getting over being sick. Unfortunately, I’m not over being wholly made of human, and much of the evening in no way met my short-term, or long-term, self-care needs. My Traveling Partner and I did not make as much of the opportunity to spend that time together as we could have, and the result was some unpleasant back-and-forth that, looking back, doesn’t seem very productive. No epiphanies, no light bulb moments, no feeling of greater connection or shared relief on the other side… We sort of just picked ourselves up from each difficult moment and began again. It wasn’t satisfying. It wasn’t pleasant. It didn’t feel connected (just frustrating, and, well… hard). I should be more clear here; I’m only talking about my own experience, subjectively, and while I seriously doubt his was better than that, it may very well be that it was worse. It’s hard to know.

You know what I do know? I know that love requires effort, and care, and reinvestment… and I know that we (both) give it those things. Last night sort of seemed like neither of us saw how much the other does put into it. Like I said, it was less than pleasant, and rather unsatisfying. I’m not sure the specifics of the underlying circumstances really matter (or what they may or may not really have had to do with our difficult moments last night). It felt a little existential at points. I’m making a specific point not to cast blame, or attempt to triage in a more detailed way, primarily because doing so doesn’t hold value in this moment, right here; I’d rather focus on growth and healing, and where still needed, self-soothing. I can easily see points at which I could do a better job communicating my needs, my boundaries, my thoughts (likely, nearly always, so, yeah, definitely with regards to yesterday). I give those things the thought they deserve, and sip my coffee… thoughtfully. This human being I love so well, this partner who gives so much, certainly deserves that consideration. 🙂 I have a responsibility (and opportunity) to make time for it – and it is a worthy endeavor for a partnership so dear to me. Love takes some work. Love is worth the effort.

…So… sipping coffee, thinking thoughts. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. The winter holiday season begins with gratitude. That’s a lovely beginning. I borrow that theme for my morning, and give myself over to considering all that I am grateful for in this relationship, in this life, in this moment. I feel it ease my very human (and in at least one case, fairly silly) hurts; it’s hard to be petty and grateful in the same breath. 😉

Damn I love that man. Doing our best isn’t always enough for any one circumstance, moment, or conversation, but I am most definitely confident that he is doing his best for me, and for us, pretty much 100% of his time. That’s a lot to ask of a person who also has to deal with their own bullshit and baggage in life. I don’t think I can claim to do more/better, at all. I make a mental note to be kinder… to keep practicing taking that breath before I react to some small thing in some larger-than-necessary way… to treat love well. To listen. Really listen. Like… a lot more.

…so human… and adulting is so… complicated…

I take another sip of my coffee, and prepare to begin again…

Don’t get sucked into the hype. I mean, generally, right? Also – here. Good advice from random internet strangers is… random, strange, and if one is very very fortunate, may also be “good”. No reason to assume it is accurate, or going to work for you, or reliably successful for everyone who tries it, or even a good value. True of the internet, of holiday catalogs, of Black Friday sale prices… Yep. If someone is pushing hard for you to buy one, try one, or trust one… there’s likely some measure of profit in it for them. Just saying. 😉

This cup of coffee is good. I slept well, besides the strange dreams about spending too much for too little. lol

Last night was fun, and tiring, and I have happy memories and another pair of shiny boots. Not as shiny as the pair my Traveling Partner shined for me; I’m out of practice. By the end of the evening, my shoulders burned from the effort. Still, we had a great evening, spent in each other’s pleasant company, while I shined my boots. He coached me through details of the way he does it, himself, I did what I could to pay attention, while not becoming distracted from the actual process I was actually doing. 🙂 I’m happy with the results. Ordinary enough Chelsea boots become beautiful, gleaming toes seeming to smile at me. Like a delicious emotional sundae, contentment, satisfaction, and love all swirled together. 😀

I crashed hard at the end of the evening. I slept through the night, deeply, as far as I can tell. I woke easily, at the end of my dreams, shortly before the alarm. A nearly perfect night’s sleep, for me. I woke feeling pretty good, and with my sense of self-in-space (proprioception) decently accurate (so, not clumsy), and not in any noteworthy amount of pain. Nice. I sit with the comfort of being me in this moment, for a few moments more. It’s not only pleasant to feel good, to feel comfortable in my skin, it’s helpful to make a point to enjoy that, explicitly aware of it, and unashamed. I find that it helps shift feelings of “always hurting” or “always being sad” that built over time (a long long time), to a more contented sense of self, less focused on the pain I have (when I have it).

…Lots of parentheses this morning… I wonder what’s up with that? 🙂

My eye lands on the elegant holiday catalog on my desk. Beautiful photographed foods, advertised as “gourmet” and certainly presented in a most spectacular way… prices that seem very much consistent with the visual appeal. I’ve order such things, a time or two, for special occasions. I almost always end up less than ideally satisfied with them; the pictures and descriptions are a fantasy. I think I am paying for a reality. The results vary. lol I’d be better off learning to make/cook the item I think I want, in most cases, or finding a local retailer of fine foods, or goods, or services. Shopping appeals to my nature. Laboring to learn a new skill, and practicing to become sufficiently masterful to get a “catalog quality” visual result to present to guests, or give as a gift, or even enjoy for myself? Maybe just a bit less enticing. lol It’s a lot of work, and “easy” appeals to my nature far more. Guess which is likely to be the emotionally and cognitively healthier choice? Yeah… not “easy”, for sure. Easy gets me fat. Easy finds me becoming lazy and slow. Easy feels so good, though… like streaming an endless video playlist, or having a favorite beverage on tap, or having household automation, or… yeah. We don’t serve ourselves well to make our lives to “easy”. Effort is part of our experience.

…Still sucks to work hard, to want to rest so badly, and to have to just keep on going. It’s part of what drives us (me, for sure) to seek “easy”; fatigue.

This morning I sip my coffee, occasionally peaking at my shiny boots, which are so beautiful and so satisfying, and then at that catalog – so enticing and colorful, so convenient! There’s a lesson here… about ease… about value… about moments… I haven’t even opened that catalog this year. I’m definitely wearing the hell out of these boots. 😀

Where will you begin, when you begin again, this morning? Chasing ease, fighting fatigue, grasping at convenience? Sitting down focused and purposeful, handling a task that matters to you, satisfying yourself with your own work? Something in between? I admit; I want the outcome I get from my efforts to also be convenient and easy. It’s not a thing, really. lol My Traveling Partner loves me enough to endure my somewhat irritated look, when he reminds me I set expectations about doing a particular task for myself (nearly always some self-care detail) – less nagging than I sometimes suggest. He cares. He knows how good it’s going to feel, for me, to wake up the next day with those boots shined, or the kitchen tidy, or… whatever it is.

Holy shit, though, that guy… not only does my partner shine a wickedly gleaming pair of boots, he pulls his weight on the housekeeping, too. I came home to a place so tidy, last night, it was (and is) “catalog ready”. 😀 He even made a point of locating, and bringing in, all the holiday decoration stuff for me – adding ease to my experience. Even found an excellent spot for my rather ridiculously large holiday tree. lol So much wow. A proper partnership. I sure hope I said “thank you” enough… I feel very loved, this morning (and, honestly, most days, more so than I can adequately – or comfortable – describe). 😀

My mind wanders away from love, past “easy”, and on to the many things I see around me that I’d like to get done. This studio isn’t going to tidy itself up! And oh, hey – it’s time to begin again. 🙂