Archives for posts with tag: MBSR

I read a post online today that frankly offended me. Did you see it, too? It was so… well, you saw, right? :-\ Lingering outrage is a pretty common reaction. Sharing it. Talking about it. Coming back to it again and again. Writers, advertisers, and media outlets count on it; it drives “engagement” to get people mad or to offend them. Engagement means $$, or so goes the common thinking about such things. It seems to be true.

I didn’t link the post, no. That was deliberate. Why would I need to link it? Are we not offended, equally, by all the same things because all such things are entirely obvious?

LOL You know I’m messing with you there; it’s a ridiculous idea.

My apologies for messing with your head. Here’s a flower. ๐Ÿ™‚

We are each having our own experience, and the fun meme that made you laugh sooo hard that one time? Maybe that was a thing that hurt me to my very core, leaving me shaking and triggered. Isn’t that possible? Isn’t it equally possible to simple reverse the circumstances – you offended, me amused? Sure, it is. That’s the thing about being so individual, and why the idea of “equality” can be so tricky, linguistically. It’s tempting to let the abstract word games obscure our awareness that real people are really affected by… all of it. The words, the choices, the actions, the memes, the assumptions, the reactions, the excuses,ย  – every bit of all of it is part of a very complicated larger whole thing. We are human. We are all quite human. We are each having our own experience. We are unique and individual. We are a lot alike. We are all in this together. We each have to walk our own hard mile.

Are you right about what “is” offensive? Am I? Even if either of us are “right” about something we understand individually to be “offensive”, what is the value of our individual experience relative to the existence of all of the individual experiences of each of the other human beings also having their own experience? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… Don’t kill me. Don’t confine me. Don’t coerce or force me. It’s that “pursuit of happiness” that is such a challenge, is it not? Do I get to pursue my happiness in any way that undermines your ability to pursue yours? I would not expect to. Perhaps you think differently? Then what? And what of being “offended”? If I am offended by your words or actions, but those words or actions in no way do me any damage, risk my life, reduce my liberty, or stop me from pursuing my happiness…? What if it is my actual existence that offends you? Do I no longer have the right to be? It doesn’t follow that such would be the case, does it? We know better than that, at least …don’t we?

Here’s the thing about “being offended”; it’s an emotional experience. If I feel “offended”, that’s mine, and it can’t be taken from me any more than my anger or my sorrow can be taken from me (i.e.; only if I allow it); my emotional experience fully and wholly belongs to me. No one gets to tell me how to feel, how I “should”ย feel, or that my feelings are not “okay”. Having and experiencing my emotions is mine. Changing how I feel? Mine, too. People sometimes do or say things that result in my having an emotional reaction to what was said, or done. My emotions are still my own to experience – and mine to manage. It was a long journey getting to that understanding. Understanding that my feelings don’t dictate reality or obligate others to action was farther still to go. Understanding that my feelings are only feelings – sensations, emotions, perceptions – which are also exceedingly easily manipulated, was a bit farther still.

I generally don’t continue relationships with people who regularly do or say things I find “offensive” or specifically hurtful to me. I am learning over time that ending such relationships is important self-care. It’s not for me to choose someone’s values, or dictate what they may find amusing or acceptable; if I am offended by something, that is a reflective of my own values, and for me to resolve. Taking care of myself isn’t on their “to do list”. Simple enough, generally. Having taken this approach, as an individual, though, I find myself occasionally in the awkward situation of interacting with someone I’ve offended (usually with some thoughtless remark), who clearly has the expectation that I will take steps to “fix” the situation beyond a sincere expression of remorse for causing them upset, and making a point to understand their experience in context. I mean… yeah. I wouldn’t cause offense willfully, with the intent of hurting someone. That’s just mean. That’s not who I understand myself to be, at all. I am, however, capable of causing offense just by being the person I am… depending on who you are yourself, offense could occur. I’ll apologize for offending you, I surely will. Next step is for you to walk away, if there is a fundamental mismatch of values that may cause the offense to recur. Take care of you. I’m not likely going to be changing the person I am solely to avoid offending you, under most circumstances

On another hand, though, I do enjoy authentically connecting with other people, and I don’t enjoy hurting them. So, when I learn that something I am likely to do or say, particularly with any regularity, or by any preference or defining characteristic of self, is reliably offensive or hurtful to others, I take a long close look at that, and ask myself if that is who I truly want to be, and does it really reflect my values? Because it matters. Because I do care. Sometimes, I even care enough to change who I am, or how I express myself, in order to be a better human being, just generally. Sometimes, upon reflection, whatever the potential offending moment is doesn’t seem to be a thing I want or need to change, for myself, and I choose instead to stand firm on those values, understanding that my choices reflect my character, my values, and define who I am. I recognize that not everyone is going to find me likable. That’s okay, too.

My swearing, and sarcasm, are good examples to use to illustrate my point.

I swear. I swear rather a lot. I sprinkle my writing and my speech with swearing. Feels naturally expressive, and I use it as a sort of verbal punctuation. There have been times in my life when individuals of varying closeness have expressed a distaste for, or even been offended by, my swearing. I reflected on that long, and often, and chose not to change, other than refining the way I do use such language to be more limited, more specific, and less likely to be a direct attack on another person.

Sarcasm, on the other hand, once flowed from my lips like a singer’s song, and as it turns out, I’m also a bit “tone-deaf” in that form of speech. I can dish it out, but don’t understand it reliably when I hear it, and did not understand when I was much younger how easily people can be hurt by sarcasm, or how easily confused if they don’t recognize it, or at the extreme edges of the verbal form, how little difference there may be between sarcasm and, say, gas lighting or deceitfulness. It has a lot to do with whether or not the listener realizes what they are hearing is sarcasm. Turns out quite a few people, including me, often don’t recognize sarcasm when they hear, or read, it. I reflected a lot on sarcasm, and how I used it, how I received it, how I understood it – and how commonplace it is that someone else doesn’t realize what is being said could be being said sarcastically, resulting in misunderstanding. I chose to change. I rarely use sarcasm, even as humor, at this point in my life. Now and then, and usually without realizing I’ve done so until too late to reconsider, one might still hear sarcasm from me. It’s rare. Very rare. More common is to hear sarcasm in my speech and misunderstand me – because I wasn’t being sarcastic, I was perhaps, just… wrong. Or thinking I was being funny (I’m not that funny, and I have a very weird sense of humor based, primarily, on wordplay, and the layers of meanings of words). These days I try to stay very deliberately away from sarcasm. It’s hard to do well without hurting someone.

When do words matter? When don’t they? Language functions by agreement. Communication is most effective when we understand each other. We build healthy relationships most easily when we don’t use language to hurt each other. Explicit clarification of our position is more readily understood than implicit acceptance of assumptions. These things seem obvious to me. They resonate with me, personally, as fundamentals of speaking, of listening, and of being heard. I found it worth changing, to make use of these principles with greater ease. There are still verbs involved. I’m quite human. I still find it necessary to “check myself” now and then in a moment of frustration, or annoyance. Still, I have a good idea of who I want to face in the mirror each day, and what her values truly are. I make mistakes. I can begin again. I become what I practice. ๐Ÿ™‚

Work gets super busy. I get pulled in a lot of directions, and there are a lot of things to get done in a day. Life gets busy at home, too, and there are so many tasks to complete, and moments to live. A single distraction can become a cascade of distractions, and suddenly I’ve got no bandwidth for what matters most… whatever that may be. I don’t think this is unusual, and I’m pretty sure we all deal with it.

I’m sipping my coffee this morning, contemplating the distraction that is the cough heard from the other room. My Traveling Partner, awake early. Very early. No telling if he’s starting his day (seems rather early for that)… and my mind is now occupied with the distracting puzzle; do I abandon my morning writing, and routine, to just chill with him and sip coffee until the clock ticks past the usual departure time? Do I remain steadfast in my commitment to writing, and meditation? I’m not even certain, myself, which way this goes – now that I am distracted. lol

Holding my focus in the midst of distractions is still a challenge. It’s one of the things I “broke up with Facebook” over; the loss of focus it was creating in my consciousness. The cognitive “tic” that had developed over time (the compulsive checking of social media accounts) definitely interferes with my ability to focus. It very nearly destroyed my ability to watch a movie (too long) or read a book (too slow, too much work). I wasn’t willing to give those things up.ย  The “tic” is still with me; I reach out and touch my phone a lot, then realize why, and just let it go. Over and over. It’s less now than a week ago, which reminds me it will eventually be just a former habit, that has been extinguished through disuse. ๐Ÿ™‚ It is a reminder that we become what we practice – for good or not so good.

I set my sights on more constructive, suitably useful practices that help me become the woman I most want to be, and begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

Things have been so peculiarly perfect in some regards, it’s been easy to become complacent about how good life is day-to-day, and how content I feel, generally. Tactical error, I agree.

I woke groggy this morning, head pounding from the headache I spent the night with (not a metaphor – I wish it were). I woke with Pink Floyd in my head. I don’t know what that says about anything. I also woke feeling vaguely embarrassed and slightly ashamed of myself. No point to any of that, it’s just my demons enjoying their moment to shine. I’m over it already. Drinking coffee, beginning again.

Frustration is my kryptonite. Last night, yet again, the closed captions on YouTube videos were on (I don’t use them, haven’t turned them on). This has come up before. It frustrates me, and creates some internal resistance to conversation, some irritability, and causes me to question my sanity – and to feel as if my partner questions my competence, every time he seeks to help with this. Hell, depending on which device I access, the closed captions are not even turned on, at all. Glitch? Bug? Well, maybe, maybe not, but it irritates the hell out of me, and leaves me feeling as if the fucking internet is gas lighting me.

…Do you see where this is headed?

So… yeah. My partner offers to help. I perceive “a tone” (doesn’t matter whether there was a tone, it’s the perception that triggers the reaction, and I explicitly understand this). I react, rather childishly, and although it wasn’t any sort of “thing” really, it created an uncomfortable moment rich with hurt feelings on both sides. I could almost hear my fucking demons laughing their asses off. We got past that; we’ve been together too long, and worked too hard on our own issues, to let something so ridiculous ruin a lovely evening. My headache wasn’t helping. Still, the evening ended on a good note, affectionate, connected, and real. It wasn’t left to chance. I made a firm point of very specifically letting all that bullshit go, even announcing that it was my intention to do so – which is probably a weird thing to say out loud, however effective it may be. It was still some minutes before my chemistry began to return to some sort of normal. (I find it helpful to remind myself that as with ingested substances, our chemistry can provoke “a high” specific to the chemical involved, and the “come down” – both in intensity, and in duration – varies with the circumstances and with the chemistry.) I still felt a bit distant when I finally called it a night and went to bed. I wasn’t sure I’d sleep with this headache…

…I guess my headache got some sleep too; it’s ready for a new day, today. lol (groan)

I drink my coffee. Reflect on my good fortune. Take time for a moment of gratitude, and to appreciate my Traveling Partner; he “gets me”, and understands my issues nearly as well as I do myself. We do okay. Last night fell short of supremely awesome, but it was still spent in the good company of this human being I love. That definitely matters more than a moment of stress. Life is filled with moments. A few of them are going to be more challenging than delightful. That’s just real. I’m okay. There’s no lingering ill effect, which is lovely. This moment, right here, is just fine – aside from the headache, which will hopefully pass. My coffee is warm, and delicious. The workday ahead should be a more or less routine one. I decide to ride the light rail again this morning, for ease, and laugh at myself because I said as much yesterday, ended up driving in and parking on the waterfront. (Yep. In the minutes between deciding to take the train, and getting the car onto the street to go to the park-n-ride, I entirely forgot that was my intention. lol) This morning, I think I’m firm on the decision-making… I’m probably not; I’ll know when I get in the car and “feel the day”. Maybe a lovely drive before dawn on a Spring morning is exactly what this headache needs?

I smile, thinking about my garden. There are flowers sprouting in big colorful pots, already. A couple of the roses have buds on them. I came home yesterday to an excellent new hose, and a new spray nozzle, which delighted me greatly. I sip my coffee reflecting on that moment, and enjoying how well-loved I am, and feeling an intoxicating mix of gratitude and love for this human being who loves me so. I notice the time, and instead of rushing off promptly, I remember that my day needs to end a bit later than usual, and so I have time to linger. Feels good. I hear my partner stirring in the other room. Coffee together, too? Maybe so… Great start to the day.

I begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have a wee garden. It’s a container garden on a decently large deck. I currently have no new pictures of it, although I spent much of the weekend in the garden, doing Spring sorts of things. There’s not yet much to see.

In the same moment that I consider the words “nothing to see here” as I sit down to write, and enjoy my morning coffee, it occurs to me that it is a matter of perspective whether that is really the case. There are containers large and small that have been filled with soil. Older containers have been carefully weeded. Rose branches that died back last year have been pruned away. The thyme and the oregano are looking very fresh and healthy. Containers have been moved into their Spring-Summer-Autumn locations, here and there and on deck rails. From the base of one of the “dead” miniature roses, a couple new shoots prove me wrong. So much to see! I just didn’t take any pictures. Too engaged in the moments spent living to think to take a picture. There are metaphors here. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s already Monday, and already time to return to work, for another week. I don’t feel hassled, or regretful, just ready for it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Quite a bit of the weekend was spent in the company of friends. The smile on my face lingers from a weekend of jovial connection, and contented intimacy. Hearing rain beyond the window, I decide to ride the light rail today, and find myself – still smiling – appreciating the options.

A life well-lived isn’t necessarily about Lamborghini’s, mansions, jewelry, or money; it’s about moments. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s at least my own perspective on the matter. Of course, I don’t have a Lamborghini… so… what do I know about that? (Aside from enough to avoid getting hung up on expensive things I don’t actually want or need. lol) My genial contentment in life definitely finds some basis in sufficiency and non-attachment. ๐Ÿ˜€

Well… my coffee is gone. It’s already time to leave for the train, to do work things, in work places. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s enough. It’s also time to begin again. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I woke to the sound of a phone ringing. At 4:00 a.m., that’s alarming. In the case of waking me on a Monday morning, literally so, since I then turned off the alarm and got up to start the day, after a few moments of considering the sound, silently, in the darkness. I couldn’t go back to sleep; who phones at 4:00 a.m.?

As it turned out, there was no phone call. No ringing phone. Just a sound in my dreams. lol

It was a lovely weekend. It ends with some dangling loose ends, like laundry “finished” – but not actually folded and put away. I woke aware of it, but without any particular sensation of anxiety, disappointment, or frustration.

I spent some of the day, yesterday, out in the sunshine, in my container garden. I took stock of roses that died during summer heat, and succulents that died during winter cold. I moved containers away from the warmer locations against the wall of the house, into the sunshine. I planted early seeds. I weeded. I swept. It felt productive, and celebratory. I felt productive, and celebratory.

…I just now remembered, again, annoyingly enough, it was also “St Patrick’s Day”. Omg. So over it. Americans who love to drink, drinking to excess on the excuse of… of what, exactly? Exactly what is “St Patrick’s Day” celebrating if you are neither Catholic, nor Irish? I’m asking, because I still don’t find an obvious connection between the narrative of the saint, himself, and the celebration of enthusiastic over-consumption of alcohol to which green coloring has been added. So, to be clear? My own celebratory moment in the sunshine was nothing to do with “St Patrick’s Day”, and everything to do with Spring, itself. lol

A good day. A good weekend. Another work week begins – and, potentially, with it, a whole cascade of new beginnings. I don’t know how the week will unfold. There are no promises that every day will be a garden in the sunshine, or a shared moment with a loved one. I’ve got this moment, here, with which to craft a lifetime of experiences. I choose a lot of what that feels like, and in some cases, quite willfully. Those choices are huge. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a dream, clinging to an outcome that is not yet, and may never be, and lose sight of all the precious opportunities in this “now” moment, just as it is. I sip my coffee and contemplate the day ahead. I make a point of letting go of attachment to a variety of imagined outcomes to imagined scenarios (“what if…”), and breathe in the now. It’s enough, just as it is.

It’s time to begin again.