Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness

I’m thinking about patterns and routines as I sip my morning coffee. Specifically, about a pattern I’m noticing rather a lot lately, one where I have something clear and complete to write in the evening, and such an evening seems regularly followed by a morning on which I’ve either entirely forgotten those thoughts, or can no longer hold the relevant circumstances also in my memory; either way, I’m not writing that post. It’s gone. lol

…But writing first thing feels so… natural…

I am having to consider that this particular timing of this particular practice is not suiting me well, at the moment. Changing the timing is something I’ve approached before. I used to write in the evening, very reliably. There was a time when writing at lunch time was the way I handled “when to write”. I’m considering returning to that one, for a while, at least. Maybe. Probably.

…Maybe…

…First things first? This post, and this cup of coffee. This moment. “Now”. I’m definitely into it. Lovely quiet morning. Delicious cup of coffee. I feel good in my clothes. I feel comfortable in my skin. It’s enough to start the day well.

…And it’s already time to begin again…

It’s been a strange week, in some respects. I’m sitting here with my morning coffee, mulling over the strange sights I have seen, standing in front of the office, taking an occasional break from working. I see a lot of things. Our building is immediately opposite a large hotel, and surrounded by restaurants, banks, businesses, public gathering places, and transit stops. There’s a lot to see, is what I’m saying. Homeless people. Busy people. Angry people. People who are lost. People who are pre-occupied. People who are exceedingly well-dressed. People who are dressed, well, as though they are in Portland (it’s pretty casual here). People with ear buds in their ears, talking to unseen others over wireless connections mingle with schizophrenic people; it’s not always possible to tell which are which simply by the conversations.

…It’s a city. There are a lot of people. Human experience is vast and varied. I see a lot of things passing by, as I stand quietly enjoying the theater of humanity existing. Too often, I find myself wondering how long this will last…? Humanity, I mean. We’re doing a pretty poor job of thriving, as a species, it seems.

Yesterday, I walked past a man laying on the pavement, flat on his back, head lolled back and somewhat downwardly, past the curb, sort of (but not quite) into the street. Nothing about it looked comfortable on a freezing morning. He was not wearing a coat, or wrapped in a blanket, or covered up at all, really. He did not appear to be “sleeping” so much as unconscious. People passed by, glancing down, walking past. He was in front of a Starbucks. Some time later, he was gone.

Later, I was startled to see a man run screaming and yelling from inside the hotel across the street. Not a guest, obviously, from his clothing; a homeless man, perhaps, unkempt, and pants literally around his knees as he ran, hobbled, up the street and away from security, who chased him half-heartedly. I heard later, from the doorman of the building I work in, that the running, screaming, man, had been defecating in the actual lobby of the hotel.

I saw a well-dressed woman, obviously a professional woman of some sort, well-groomed, and precise, talking on her phone outside the building. She was sort of fixed to the spot where she stood. Face tense. Jaw clenched. Trying to “hold it together”, until her emotions broke like waves against the stillness of her face, and she began cursing and weeping at the person on the other end of the call. In an instant, she was as human as anyone. In an instant, people began to avoid her physical space, and turn their faces away from her suffering.

I saw a younger woman on a bus stop bench, rocking and crying, making her misery quite public, while she stayed somehow still very private, herself. People simply walked past.

Misery is pretty common in a city. Maybe everywhere. I used to be immersed in it, myself. I have cried in public, unable to hide “the shame of my emotions” at a time when I found them shameful, but too far gone in the experience to care about it anymore. I have run screaming, angry, or hurt, or frightened. I have had tense public phone calls that would have been better handled privately, personally, and face to face. I have laid still, sick or injured, immobilized by my circumstances in some other part of my life, stalled by the chaos and damage.

…Fucking hell, I am so glad I stand where I do, today. It’s been a bit of a journey getting here. I don’t take my current good fortune for granted; it could happen to anyone. Frankly, any of it could. It’s oneΒ  of the fundamentals of our humanity; in spite of the wealth of variety in the human experience, misery is both plentiful, and tediously similar, no matter the circumstances. And any one of us could be “stuck there”, at any time. No kidding. If you aren’t miserable, right now, take a minute to really feel how good it is to feel a bit better than that. πŸ™‚ Celebrate getting to this better place, or celebrate having never had to experience real suffering (if you are that fortunate, thus far in life) – it’s worth a moment of recognition and appreciation.

The fact that Thanksgiving is behind us, already, is not sufficient reason to turn my back on gratitude. Gratitude is lovely all year long.

I arrived home last night, after a somewhat trying commute, and there was my Traveling Partner, relaxing, waiting for me. The house is spotless, aside from my studio, and I’m committed to tackling that this coming weekend. Moving things around improved how comfortable things are, and somehow I’m not completely disrupted. It’s pleasant. I am enjoying the changes we made, together. I take a moment to sip my coffee, and feel grateful for all of this, too.

Reading the news, or observing the passing theatrics of human misery standing on a city sidewalk, it’s easy to forget the joys in life. They’re worth experiencing. They are even worth wallowing in, if you’ve got enough joy to do so. πŸ™‚ It’s okay to enjoy life’s pleasures – I try to avoid being a dick about it, though, and refuse to avert my eyes from human suffering. I’m not sure what to do about it, sometimes. (A lot of times.) I think, probably, we could do more, better, to alleviate a great deal of suffering in the world… probably harder to do that, if I’m not willing to be aware that it exists. I think about an X who tried to “buy her way into heaven”, unsuccessfully, of course; heaven is not for sale. We build heaven with our actions (there are a lot of verbs involved), our compassion, our concern, our authentic resolve to change the world – did I mention action? Yeah… this planet isn’t going to take better care of itself. We’ve got work to do.

Don’t like what you see around you? The answer isn’t in turning away from the problems. What are you going to do, to change the world? Check the time. It’s already time to begin again.

This morning it takes me awhile to get where I’m going with this. Please forgive. Short night, early morning, sluggish thinking.

Sometimes patterns of light distract from illumination

Is it really notably different whether you are being obviously aggressive to someone, or acting out passive-aggressively? I personally don’t think there is, aside from the lack of forthrightness, and personal accountability. Micro-aggression fits in there, too; it’s in the intention, it’s in what the underlying feeling is, it’s how the person attacked feels the harm. I think most of us dislike feeling attacked, whether or not it is provoked by obvious ill-intention, or subtly camouflaged.

With overt aggression, I am at least certain I’ve been attacked. There’s an honesty to it. A certain… certainty. It’s not pleasant, but it’s clear. I may be taken aback, or wounded, but I also have unmistakable means to deal with it. Passive aggression is sneaky, sly, and dishonest. The attacker masquerades as well-intentioned, in some cases convincingly (to outside observers). The attack is no less damaging. The attacker no less intentional.

I try to avoid passive-aggressive attacks, and micro-aggressions (sometimes complicated by a lack of self-awareness), as well. I’m not a perfect human being, but a willful, considered, attempt, and a good-heart, go a long way. There’s less I understand to do about my own potential for overt aggression, beside stifle it, keep it in check by force if necessary, and continue to work on not having to deal with it, by making it less a part of my implicit thinking, and “natural” behavior – by practicing other ways with a firm commitment, and apologizing swiftly and without reservations when I recognize I’ve hurt someone.

…I’m my own human being. I find living with other human beings incredibly difficult. I’ve been badly damaged by violence, aggression, passive-aggression (and her evil twin, gaslighting), and the scars are, in some cases, still very raw, the wounds still easily re-opened. Healing from this kind of damage can take… a lifetime. I’m sitting here at 56, feeling rather as if I’ve used up most of the time available, without much improvement. Oh, I take the improvements I do get. I value those (they are the thing that makes life livable). I keep at it. There’s plenty to work on. It’s true, too, that the only thing I can truly effect change on – talking about human beings, human feelings, human experience, here – is this one. Mine. Me. What I do, what I think, how I behave, how I feel – all mine to work on, and perhaps improve. There is literally no realistic potential to change anyone else’s behavior, or how they interact with me. It’s hard, if I hold onto a perception that “they” are the cause of my experience.

Stare at something long enough it may appear to be more significant than it is

Sleep matters too much – even to love. I don’t get enough good sleep. It affects my cognition. It affects my emotional balance. It affects my ability to reason. I take some pretty profound steps to maintain good sleep hygiene – because it’s necessary to ensure I get the minimum amount of rest necessary to sustain human life. It’s been two weeks since I last got more than an hour of deep sleep, according to my sleep tracker, and that was interrupted and in smaller increments. Before that? Back in September, same thing; interrupted, 5 and 10 minute chunks of deep sleep, interspersed with light sleep and wakefulness. I have to go all the way back to July to find a night when I got more than an hour and a half of continuous deep sleep. I’m often short on REM sleep, too, mostly just getting “light sleep” that is neither deep or REM sleep. It’s no wonder I’m tired so much, and I guess no surprise that my resilience has been reduced, and my temperament more irritable, over time.

…During my first (very violent) marriage, I went nearly a decade without actually sleeping more than an hour or two a night, mostly just resting motionlessly, and sleep-walking through my “waking” life… My sleep issues are not about my current relationship, they have been with me a long long time, even into childhood.

I don’t have any idea, just now, what to do about it. “Stop being annoying” and “stop being irritable” are bullet points on a long list of things to change that don’t work that way. I know to start with improving my self-care. Meditation matters that much. I know to harness the power of gratitude when I am feeling resentful and hurt, and to let go of small things, understanding that we are each human, each having our own experience, and that taking things personally is what allows them to hurt so much in the first place – as well as giving others power over my experience. Even the most direct actual-no-bullshit-fully-intended-to-specifically-hurt-me attack isn’t all that personal; it’s usually an expression of that other person’s own pain, frustration, challenges, hurts, and baggage. Often, people don’t know another way to behave. They do what has worked for them in the past. Taking that shit personally just piles my baggage onto their baggage, and it all gets very heavy – for everyone.

It’s not as if people who favor aggression or passive-aggression are actually enjoying all that stress and agitation. (The sorts of human beings who enjoy that kind of thing are a wholly other sort of monster, and I do my very best to stay far far away from those.)

is there really a pattern, or is it a trick of the light?

Then, too, there are so many circumstances in which my own understanding of “what’s going on” is colored by my baggage, my perception altered by my own pain, and I see an attack – or an attacker – where there is really only another human being, being human, and it just happens to conflict with me, also so human, being human, myself. My own feelings of being hurt, or my own petty resentments, build up a foe in my thinking – an opponent, a challenger – against whom I struggle…

…I’m nearly always, in truth, struggling with myself. There’s a lot of bullshit to let go. There are a lot of great reasons to let go of my own bullshit. (No good reasons to hold on to it.)

I sit here this morning sipping my coffee, past feeling sorry for myself, around the corner from feeling aggrieved by the brief restless night. I am listening to my Traveling Partner working out his feelings his own way, tidying things, handling chores that nag at him visually, checking things off his “to-do list”. It was a brutally early morning for both of us. Neither of us slept well, I’m fairly certain. It wasn’t personal, or chosen, or intentional, or deliberately inflicted in any way. No bad guys. No real “good guys”, either. Just people. Human beings who choose love, but struggling in the moment to live that intention, gently. Too real? Too common, for sure. I listen with care, identifying the tasks by the sounds, mentally refreshing my own to-do list as I hear him move through the house.

I used to think love wasn’t a “real thing”, because it isn’t easy, and requires actual effort. lol I’m grateful for love, even when I am frustrated or confounded by what love asks of me, as a human being committed to love and loving – and doing so well.Β  That’s really where it gets complicated. Every-fucking-body is so damned human. I can love haplessly, without real skill, and it doesn’t take too much work… aaand.. doesn’t last too long, flaring up and flaming out, leaving chaos and sorrow in the aftermath… that’s the “easy” way (and most common outcome). Harder is working together, listening deeply, fostering a long-term sanctuary in our hearts, keeping a welcoming embrace always at the ready, and seeking to build, approach, support, and persist in our tenderness and gentleness, day after human day. Life is a long journey – I’m fortunate to have the Traveling Partner I do; we chose each other. Some days we have to reach across a very human moment, to choose each other all over again. (So worth it, rarely effortless.)

sometimes it is enough that there is sunshine streaming through a window; it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that

He puts his head in my studio, makes eye contact, asks a question, starts a conversation – builds a bridge. Love is worth a little bridge building, when our very human stormy weather floods our path. He gets it. (Usually before I do.)

I finish my coffee and begin again. πŸ™‚

 

Yesterday was a difficult day. Summarized in that brief fashion, it seems so much less noteworthy than it felt at the time. This morning, I wake with some effort, and struggle to get past feeling groggy and vaguely “hungover” – the “hangover” that is the after effect of profound or frequent shifts in emotional chemistry, but, nonetheless, very much consistent with a hangover from other intoxicants (this headache, my acid stomach, and feeling vaguely dizzy, for instance). I sip my coffee seeking salvation and relief in a porcelain mug (it could be so much worse).

…All this over work

What’s funny is how hard it was to “let it go” at the end of the day. I fussed and fretted throughout the commute. I struggled to distract myself (even with meditation). When I went to bed, feeling wholly relaxed at long last, and definitely sleepy, I did not fall asleep for hours, even though I was steadfastly “letting all that go” with real commitment. lol

…And now this fucking headache. lol

I take another sip of my still-too-hot coffee, and look at the day ahead with new eyes. Yesterday (a Wednesday) held within it the power to more or less derail my workload for the whole of the week, but today I have the power (and potentially also the bandwidth) to catch all that up and finish the week in the most ordinary way. That’s the “win” I have my eye on this morning… Feeling reluctant to build that up until my expectations can’t possibly also occur in real life, I take a deep breath, exhale, have another sip of coffee, and let all that go. πŸ™‚

I pull myself present, back to this moment, here. I answer a message from my Traveling Partner. More work stuff. Different work stuff. Another sip of coffee. Still fighting this headache. I notice the time… oh, yeah; time to begin again. lol

Sipping my coffee this morning, thinking about time. No particular reason, and thinking about it doesn’t have any notable effect on time, itself. Random bits of consciousness are sort of just… milling around bumping into each other this morning. I take a breathe. The AC comes on. My thoughts move along to other things.

Life’s mundanities sort of take over my awareness for a little while, as I sit with my coffee in the stillness of morning. A hair appointment (time to get the color refreshed)… A business trip (I get to do these now??? wow!)… A painting I notice I haven’t signed (not my first)… The work day ahead of me (it can wait)… The weekend that follows (just in time!)… Bills that need paying (seriously routine stuff)…Β  I think “nothing to see here” and sort of nudge myself along a different path. πŸ™‚

I take a few minutes for myself, still, quiet, reflective.

Life feels good right now. I savor this moment, present, and aware. This, too, shall pass; that’s just real. I take time to properly enjoy it, content with it just as it is. πŸ™‚ It’s enough.

…All that, and a good cup of coffee. It’s time to begin again. πŸ˜‰