Archives for posts with tag: MBSR

I’m sipping my coffee and marveling, a little awestruck, but not in any pleasant way, really, at the quantity of posts, reposts, and shares in my feed that are seriously… emo. Like… bleak. Self-denigrating. Depressed. Blue. Despairing. So many of these are also coming from friends and associates I understand to be lovely people, from the perspective of my experience of them as individuals, in some cases gifted, warm-hearted, and thoroughly promising samples of what humanity is capable of, which… is weird. People who simultaneously appear to be on a journey of growth and improvement, and also appear to be mired in negative assumptions and self-loathing. That’s a lot to take over a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. (Personally, I’d rather not have to wade through all that suffering; I’d rather have brunch.)

I find myself wanting to answer each such post. To correct the thinking errors. To correct the mis-assumptions. To fact-check. To lift people up, by giving them tools to prevent themselves from drowning in their own bullshit. It’s not that easy, is it? A lot of people are ever so carefully crafting that experience. Building the narrative that supports it, with great care. Seeking emotional support and feedback from others who will nurture the suffering – instead of nurturing that human being who is their friend. Drama creeps in from the edges pretty quickly. I breathe. Let each one go. That is my own challenge; to refrain from reacting to each new outrageous self-deceit posted by a friend. Sometimes, attempting to correct these things only reinforces them by way of repetition and sharing. (See? We have learned something from social media!)

For fuck’s sake, people, try not to hate yourselves. Let go of hating each other, too. Try to assume positive intent. Oh, I know, you’ve been hurt – or soaked up the residual lessons resulting from the hurts your parents and community perceive, invent, or celebrate. (Quick aside for the white people in the room; no, this doesn’t get us off the hook for being aware of our privilege, or make it okay to shrug off generations of abuses delivered to others, or in any way defend the heinous institutions and practices that have held back our brothers and sisters of color. You’ll want to let that go, too – real wrongs definitely do need to be made right, and I am calling bullshit on racism, sexism, and xenophobia, just in general.) It’s time to let go of treating yourself like shit. That’s what I’m saying.

If nothing else, don’t be a dick. Not to yourself. Not to other people. Not – perhaps especially not – because you think it’s “just a joke”. When the humor comes at the expense of someone else’s injury, it’s not funny. If you’re laughing at other people’s pain, maybe spend some money on therapy instead? Sort that shit out. Why do I care? Because when we treat ourselves poorly, mock others for our amusement, and allow the world to strip away our humanity, we create a shitty experience for everyone involved. Why does it even have to be like that? Truth: it doesn’t. We can each choose differently.

My friends are all – each and every one – so special to me. I see your charm, your wit, your heart. I enjoy your merry laughter, your presence, and your forward momentum in life. I worry when you are in distress. I celebrate when you triumph over adversity. I celebrate your milestones. Your self-loathing? I’m betting neither of us really benefit from that. Maybe consider letting that go? You are so worthy. ❤

Really? You only need to begin again. Like, but a whole lot of times, probably, and yeah, it’s a slow transformation. It’s there for you, though. So am I.

It’s a journey with a lot of stairs to climb…

There are other voices than mine. There are other lived truths than the truth I live myself. There are other perspectives, other viewpoints, other angles from which to consider each very human moment. There are other tales to tell, told by other travelers. Each existing alongside all the others, their existence, itself, does nothing to diminish the truth of the others; these are narratives. Subjective experiences of being human, in all its wonder, glory, pain, and joy. I tell mine here, my way. 🙂

A friend posted on Facebook recently that she is undertaking her own healing journey, walking that hard mile, processing trauma, seeking healing, and that she had started a blog. She started a group, to post to, understanding that perhaps not everyone wants to share that journey with her. I appreciate the consideration. I respect the journey; I’ve been on my own such journey for a while now. I reflected back on that moment when I decided to start a journey, and a blog, and considered how that “went down”, and the reactions I’d gotten at that time, from friends and loved ones (a fairly discouraging mix of disinterest, distance, and patronizing comments, generally, and a couple folks sincerely interested in being supportive). I asked myself, explicitly, “how do I want to ‘be there’ for my friend, and her experience, right now?”

I provided a reply I hoped would be welcoming and supportive, and accepted the request to join her group. Why would I not? Reluctance to be triggered? I grant you; it’s a risk. (People in my life spend a lot of time opening up to me about trauma, as it is. I’ve survived it so far.) People need to feel heard. They need emotionally secure relationships in which to open up about what hurts them. Me, too. Can I “be there” to support that? Of course I can. It’s on me to set and manage my boundaries, if it gets to be too much, and even that is a way of being there for a friend or loved one, setting that powerful example that it is also okay to set boundaries, and showing what that looks like, in practice. Practice. Yeah – and also, because I, too, am entirely made of human, I need practice, myself. Practice at listening deeply. Practice at maintaining perspective on past trauma. Practice understanding that we each walk our own hard mile. Practice at “being there” for others. Practice, frankly, at being the woman I most want to be – in every interaction, every moment, on every day. Words are just words. It’s the verbs that make changes come to life. It’s what we practice that matters; we become what we practice.

This morning I read the first of her posts (that I’ve read). I savored her voice. The difference in her style of communication. I read from a place of non-judgmental acceptance, and non-attachment. Her tale is not my tale, however similar some details may seem; she is having her own experience. I listen with empathy, consideration, compassion. I listen deeply. I recognize her humanity, her unique experience. I acknowledge the human experience beyond the words. I nod quietly, more than once. “I know you,” I think to myself. Still, I also allow her her moment; we are individuals, with our own experiences, our own pain. We’re in very different places on our individual journeys. That doesn’t matter as much as “being there” – being present, aware, and compassionate – because although we are each having our own experiences, we’re also “all in this together”. I sip my coffee and contemplate the journey stretching ahead of her.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs. Begin again.

I am sipping my coffee, and taking a few moments for myself at the start of the day. Another work day. One of just 4 remaining at this job, which admittedly feels strange. At this point, it’s mostly meetings, and writing process documentation for things that simply must continue to get done, in spite of my departure, which has nothing at all to do with me. Right now, moments for me are rare. Purposefully winding things down at my job, while I am in the office, and, at home, committing most of my limited leisure time to listening to the tales of a traveler. 🙂

My Traveling Partner is moving in, and there is newness and adjustment to be had for us both. The first time we moved in together, I’m pretty sure I did most of the talking. I had a lot to say. I hadn’t been really listened to (and certainly did not “feel heard”) for what felt like years. I talked. He listened. I needed that consideration and moment of regard. I earnestly needed to feel heard. I’ll be real about it; the person who wasn’t listening with the most commitment to oppression and disregard was actually me. I didn’t understand that, and I would have no idea what to do about it, once I did. It’s been a journey.

We each have to walk our own hard mile. Along the way, I’ve learned how much listening deeply really matters. I’ve also learned that it is a skill that must be practiced, and takes time to develop. I’ve learned that I’m not “naturally good at it”, myself, and that means practice must be committed, and undertaken from a position of presence and self-awareness (otherwise, I just start talking again). At this point? I’m often pretty good at it. (Still takes practice, presence, and self-awareness, as well as consideration for another.)

This time, as my partner moves in, he talks. I listen. I’m learning a lot about this human being I hold in such high regard. My affection has deepened with the telling of the tales. I wrap my lover in listening. We all want to be heard – to feel heard. I do my best. The listening matters more than any observation or reply I could make. This is not the time for my words. I continue to listen, setting boundaries gently when I need stillness, or a distraction, or a break from an intense moment; listening deeply can be work (it’s a bit topic dependent). We set explicit ground rules together, as partners, about things like checking in and making sure it’s a good time before starting down the path of discussing childhood trauma, or very emotionally intense topics likely to evoke a visceral reaction. We check in with each other when we see a micro-expression suggesting emotional pain, discomfort, or something left urgently unspoken that perhaps could best be shared.

About listening deeply… deep listening, as a specific practice, is simple enough to describe, and I’ll spend a lifetime practicing, because practice is what is required to become skillful. Deep listening only requires that I set aside all else, and just listen. Only that. No “waiting for my turn to talk”. No impatiently fidgeting with a reply I just want to get out there. No interrupting to make “corrections”. No taking what I hear personally. Just listening, present, aware, and also non-judgmentally. Asking clarifying questions can be part of listening deeply, but I definitely have to be very aware, such that I am not interrupting in order to do so. Deep listening is not a passive process, and I have found myself unable to hold onto hostility or to be confrontational, while also listening deeply. There is compassion involved, gratitude, appreciation, awareness, and yes, even love, and certainly consideration.

So, yeah, in general, this change in my lifestyle is still feeling pretty… well, “effortless” is the wrong word here, because unpacking things, moving other things, doing housekeeping, fixing small broken things, moving stuff around, all that stuff that goes with moving, well it all amounts to effort, for sure. It’s just not “hard”, and feels pretty natural. Like having my best friend move in – which makes a lot of sense, since he’s been my bestie for close to a decade. 🙂

There will no doubt still be moments ahead of us when, perhaps, one or the other of us is taken over creatively by a moment of inspiration, with no bandwidth remaining, at least temporarily, to give over to our lover. There may be moments when tempers flare, or we’re cross with each other, purely as a product of being very much made entirely of human. It’s hard to worry about it; things are very excellent, deeply loving, and connected, right now. Right now is enough. 🙂 Still… it’s helpful to practice those practices (such as listening deeply) that nurture and connect us so deeply. It’s helpful to be mindful of my Big 5 (respect, reciprocity, consideration, compassion, and openness), which have stood so many tests, so well. I can always use more practice. 😀

It’s time to begin again.

Winter finally attempted to prove some point, yesterday, with a bit of snow, and a lot of cold. The furnace ran most of the day. The roads were icy. I worked from home.

It’s not a lot of snow, it is, however, more ice than it appears to be. I chose safety.

I have recollections that there was some past point at which an ex, with whom both my Traveling Partner and I had cohabited with (together), had chronically complained how difficult it was to work from home, when he was also at home. I do not find it so, and the day passed well and productively. It was pleasant to make conversation over a break, and to finish the day in the company of someone so dear to me. It was a quiet day. Have I grown? Has he? Are we different people than we were then?

An afternoon visitor on a snowy day.

Actually, those aren’t even hard questions. Sure, we’ve both grown. Both worked through some individual baggage and bullshit. We’re different people than we were, because we have grown. That growth, chosen or forced on us by circumstances, isn’t the whole of the matter, though; we’ve also made room in our hearts and our awareness to acknowledge both our own growth, and our partner’s growth, too. We didn’t just become different people than we each were, we also accept, appreciate, and acknowledge those changes. We enjoy each other now, every bit as much as we enjoyed each other when we met – in some cases for new reasons. Love evolves. Love deepens.

We take time with getting more deeply re-acquainted. Listening to each other talk. Connecting, sharing, and discussing the past and the future – and just loving each other. We spent happy minutes discussing a bird on the deck I didn’t recall seeing before. We cook for each other. Tidy up together. It feels good.

It’ll be days, even weeks of settling in together, sorting things out, moving things around, adding things, removing things, changing things that may suit one or the other of us, but that don’t suit us both, together, in a similarly pleasing way. It’ll be months of talking, planning, sharing, experiencing – and yeah, more growing. We are not nouns, to paraphrase R. Buckminster Fuller.

Here it is, already morning again, already a new day queued up, ready to be lived. So many choices to make, so many moments to experience. It’s hard to contemplate getting in the car to drive in to the office, but it looks pretty do-able, so… yeah. lol Another day. Another beginning. 🙂

 

I’ve been sleeping decently well for a couple days. In spite of that, I am still quite fatigued, and right on the edge of that human condition in which I might actually start acknowledging that I am indeed quite exhausted. It’s a thing that builds over time, and that I stubbornly, more often than not, pretend is not a thing until I just… can’t. The result? I wake each morning grateful to have slept well and deeply – and already explicitly excited about more sleep at the other of the day. I’m much less focused on any daytime successes or goals than savoring the moment I woke slowly this morning, and wondering how much more delicious that will be tomorrow, on a Saturday, with no alarm clock. Omg. So good.

I sip my coffee and pull my focus back to “now”. I encourage myself to engage the day ahead. To wake the fuck up completely. To ready myself for work, properly. lol I feel like I’m fighting a young child who doesn’t want to go to school. More coffee? Is that the answer? Well… it’s an answer. I’ll go with that.

Life is on the verge of a lot of changes. (Change is a constant. I giggle at the thought.) The wheel continues to turn, always. My anxiety about my own missteps, errors, and the everyday risk of poor decision-making competes for my attention with my general excitement about a future that isn’t here yet. No point being overly emotionally invested in any case; the future isn’t “real” in any particular sense. That forward look? It’s imagined. Part of my internal narrative. Prone – very much so – to conflation, to exaggeration, to thinking errors, to poor assumptions, and expectations not tied to reality, thinking about the future is more like reading fiction than anything else. Some of it is excellent, insightful, work – some of it is just story telling. I breathe. Sip my coffee. Let it go.

Life has been filled with change – and turmoil – and trauma – and tedium – and opportunity – and also love. My “hustle” isn’t the same hustle as yours, but we’ve all gotta hustle, right? I smile at the open manuscript on my laptop. Where will I take this journey? I give silent props to my writer friends. There is a canvas on my easel; it too is a tale of past experiences. I smile a silent “thanks” to the friends who inspire me, and the artist friends who have work in progress staring back at them, too. I think about the trails I have already hiked, sitting here wearing boots worn down lovely through three re-sole-ings. I think about gardens I have grown. Pictures I have taken. Lovers I have loved. I sip my coffee and let those things simply be what they were, and what they now are; memories. I let that go, too. I don’t find my future living in my past, generally. 🙂

The wheel keeps turning. Change is. The next moment will be here when it arrives, and it will be as “now” as all the others. Impermanence.

I finish my coffee as I realize I am “pruning my dreams” as I sift through my thoughts; some dreams need to be let go, too, not due to any inherent flaw with the dreams themselves, but rather because they skipped over the part about having a shot at ever realistically being part of the present, at all, and have gone from the future directly to the past, unnoticed, unfulfilled, unrealistic from the vantage point of “now”. Why isn’t that more poignant? It feels so… practical.

I’ll raise my now empty coffee cup in a vague gesture of salute to life, on my way to the kitchen… it’s time to begin again. 🙂