Archives for posts with tag: practice the practices

Notice how I did not say “here’s the thing, though”…? Yeah, I can’t be sure, generally, if some noteworthy notable notion, or thought, or moment is the totality of such things, which would warrant the use of a firm and defining “the”… but… still… here I sit, with words, moments, notions, things, and thoughts… some of which may be worth sharing.  😀

I feel pretty good about finding that comfortable. It took a while to get here. I used to crave certainty, firmness, and a clear dichotomy to feel comfortable with my place in the world. It was not only limiting, it was bullshit. lol I’m glad I’m generally free of it.

There were verbs involved. This is a journey. I have made – and continue to make – choices. Some choices are less obvious than others. Some are less effort than others. Some are less profound than others, as changes go. Some are more of all of that, and then some.

Choose.

Don’t sit there being miserable, filled with frustrated rage, stalled, wounded, or oppressed. Choose something different… and yeah, maybe even if that means walking away from everything you have chosen before, to choose differently, with greater wisdom, with more self-reflection, with greater awareness, and more commitment to the person you most want to be.

I did not say any of this is easy… but…

…Maybe you need to hear this…? You did not “ruin everything”. You are not “a complete fuck up”. You are not “the reason all of this went wrong”. You are neither master of the universe nor the single cause of all the world’s ills. You just aren’t. You aren’t that significant, actually. Neither are you unimportant. You matter. You just aren’t to blame for every fucking thing. Ever. Let that shit go? If nothing else changes, today, in this moment, you can choose to let  that shit go…

…and begin again. ❤

I woke ahead of the alarm, and realized groggily that I never wrote a word that wasn’t in the service of my employer yesterday. Wow. So unlike me. I’m tired. The lovely weekend comes at a price, and that price is fatigue. My disrupted sleep unavoidably has its moment to weigh in on my well-being.

I scroll lazily through my feeds, not really reading, just skimming headlines and posts in the weird “I used too few words” extra-large font. I’m not yet awake. The delicious fragrant mug of chai tea (with almond milk) definitely takes longer than a cup of strong coffee. I’m sneezing a lot this morning. My throat is a little… raw. Shit. I hope I’m not coming down with a cold. The timing is poor; I have a life to live and shit to get done. lol

Walking and thinking – a favorite practice for gaining perspective.

Yesterday, I forgot I had a late meeting on my work calendar, and got into the office at the usual very early hour. Early enough to get a lovely 2 mile walk in, along the waterfront. Early enough to get back to my desk, still quite a bit earlier than I had planned to be in – or needed to be. It was a long day, with very little leisure in it. I was pretty glad, by the end of the day, to have taken that walk in the morning. I was less pleased with the commuter traffic when I hit the road heading home around 5:30 pm. Wow. So glad I am generally home earlier. lol

This morning I find a lot to be content with, and it feels good.

I sip my tea and let my mind wander to the day-to-day misery and drama of being a woman in America. My feed is filled with it. Fuck. I’m grateful for menopause, and being generally beyond many of those storms now. You could not pay me to go back to being in my 20s (or 30s), particularly if it meant also having to return to that volatile emotional world of extreme highs and lows, and strange chaotic emotions. I wish I could sit with each of my agitated, distressed, sorrowful, wounded, beautiful friends, listen and let them feel truly heard, give them hugs, and maybe, just maybe find some way to share practices – or perspective. It’s a chasm that is quite difficult to cross, though. I can remember so many similar situations in which an “older sister” or elder in my life did attempt to communicate to 20-something me that this would pass, that I could master and, yes, even control my reactivity – with practice. I could not really fathom what was being said to me. I didn’t believe what I heard when it was shared with me. I did not follow through on any of the practices that were suggested. It was all completely out of reach. I wasn’t ready.

(I still try.)

I’m not saying their experiences “aren’t real” – not at all. Those chaotic emotionally difficult experiences are wholly real, in the sense that they are being experienced, for real. Totally real. Even, in fact, and like it or not, entirely appropriate and reasonable, from some points of view. Culturally, we don’t treat women well. This has unavoidable outcomes in the emotional health of women. We each play a part in creating that culture, and hurting our women. We could do better. (They can do better, too, but it’s a tale for another day, perhaps.)

This morning, I’m just sipping my tea and trying to wake up, and wondering how it is that so many of us, as human beings, being human, are so terribly unhappy… and wondering what I could do to help in any small way. Incremental change over time is slow. So slow. Change does happen, though, and we do become what we practice…

It’s the practicing that’s the challenge, isn’t it? Yeah. Here, too. I do “try”… but… and this is a thing… it’s really more about doing. Many of the practices that have helped me most with emotional volatility require me to “let go” – to practice non-attachment – which means having to yield to circumstances, and give up that righteous feeling of whatever I am feeling so righteously. lol An urgent desire to “be right” – and holding on to that feeling – creates so much fucking misery, and often on many sides of a discussion. I noticed more than once or twice that once I am attached to feeling righteous about something, I’m no longer willing to listen at all, and everything I hear is run through a filter that demands my position be defining for everyone’s experience. I gave up, quite purposefully and deliberately, the “need” to be right. It’s not helpful. (I learn more if I’m wrong, anyway, and often circumstances just aren’t even that clearly defined.)

Listening is hard. It is quite frankly one of the most demanding practices I practice each day. I often thoroughly suck at listening deeply, listening with my full attention, listening skillfully… It takes a ton of practice. Here’s the thing, though, a lot of my experiences of contentment, and balance, have their source in listening – and rarely have their source in talking, in expressing myself, or in “being right”. (Here’s where I slip in a reminder that “listening deeply” needs to be something I also do for myself; really hearing the woman in the mirror, understanding my experience and needs, also requires practice.)

One very cool thing about practicing practices, though? It doesn’t matter at all how many times I fail to “get it quite right”… I can keep practicing. I can begin again. 🙂

I woke up early. It makes sense. I went to bed early, too. I woke during the night. No surprise there, I often do. There’s no stress over any of that. My head is a jumble of random beginnings of thoughts seeking a narrative in which to play a role. My morning is a strange sequence of broken routines and randomness. I’m not concerned about that, either. Again and again, I pull myself back to this moment, here, now.

I sit down with my coffee, eventually, some two hours after waking (which is only one of many odd random bits of altered behavior that seems without cause or purpose).

The first track on my playlist right now is an old favorite. I want very much to play the bass line; I am not yet sufficiently skilled (and realistically, there is chance I never will be). I can try to play it, and fail. I could do that repeatedly. I could do that repeatedly until I am frustrated to the point of disliking what I am doing, although I am doing it because I enjoy it… a lot of people approaching learning something challenging in just that fashion.

I take another approach, instead of “trying”… I practice. That’s it. My approach to a lot of stuff I’m not good at, don’t yet know, haven’t yet found my way around, through, over, or into, or need to do and don’t quite “get”, yet. I practice. I practice the basic skills that would be required to do the thing. Too complicated? I break those things down further, to more elemental basics, until I can begin assembling simpler behavior or actions (or understandings) into more and more complex combinations, and – if all goes well – have learned to do the thing, have gained a new understanding, have completed some complicated task… whatever it is. Most things seem to work out pretty well this way, although it is not the fastest process by which to achieve success. It’s a bit like… a through hike on an unmarked trail, while all the way along observing what appears to be a freeway almost within reach, on the other side of a fence. I could waste time trying to reach that freeway, or I can walk on.

I still get where I’m going. That’s enough.

It may be an uphill climb, some days. I still practice taking time to enjoy the journey, and to look for beauty.

I enjoyed a strangely intimate and emotionally nurturing yesterday. I hung out with a dear friend of many years. We haven’t made time to hang out in about 4 years, and it was overdue, welcome, and comfortably intimate. She is someone I love, though we’ve never been lovers. We’re at very different places in life, and that has been an interesting characteristic of our friendship all along. She was the friend who said to me, so many years ago, “have you heard of ACT?”. Words that would later prove to be another piece to the puzzle of healing and learning to care for the woman in the mirror, because they would still be lingering in my consciousness on that grim December day when I began checking off my list of things to do before I would end my own life. That last item? Try therapy one more time. Her words were a hint at a new direction; “third wave cognitive behavior therapy”. There are several, some very rigid and formal, others less so.

Have we covered this before? Sure. It’s buried in the details, in much older posts. The eagerness of this new way to experience life, more authentically, with greater self-compassion, erupts in my words post after post after post. Life happens. I write about that too. Now and then I add something to The Reading List; my journey is paved with stepping-stones made of books, and practices, and the words of dear friends.

A current favorite track on my playlist feels timed for the moment. My heart fills with tenderness, and gratitude. I’m glad I stayed. Warm tears splash my glasses, and my shoulders shake with sobbing, and I’m just fucking crying now… I’m not unhappy. I’m relieved. I might have missed this precious moment right now. I might have missed yesterday… the lovely color work I got done on my hair… the phone call with my Traveling Partner later in the day… the conversations with friends. Fuck I am so glad I stayed around awhile longer… My heart aches with a powerful need to say “thank you” or.. “I’m sorry”… or… something.  There are literally no words for this strange strong emotion of thankfulness I feel that I chose to live. I’m okay with that too. I’m not afraid to feel.

Another good morning on which to begin again. I don’t know that I’ve done anything that changes the world, but so much as changed about the woman in the mirror. 🙂

Yesterday was lovely, end to end, in spite of the short, restless, night before. It was a pleasant day of healing self-care, relaxation, and mindful attention to the woman in the mirror…

…[It was pleasant] after having a deeply intimate discussion with my traveling partner during which I revealed to myself (and him) that I’ve been quietly struggling with feeling beat down and dismal, fighting off feelings of being irrelevant, “expired”, no longer useful in the world…because I’ve tended (all my life that I recall) to define myself (in the context of relationships) based on my sexuality and sexual availability (and skill), and my ability to reliably bring in an adequate steady income. Sex and money. I’d convinced myself at some distant point that what I bring to a relationship that has any real value is sex and money, just those. I literally don’t have a good understanding of what else I may offer a partner that has “real value”. No wonder I lost my shit the other night, feeling criticized in some implied way over the housekeeping, my weight/fitness, or my current state of non-employment (outside the home); I felt worthless. Yikes. I have some things to think about, and I definitely need to ease up on the woman in the mirror. She’s doing her best, and it is enough.

A walking meditation on a sparkling summer morning.

A walking meditation on a sparkling summer morning.

I spent the day after that feeling rather tender toward myself. I have the sense that I treat myself generally well, day-to-day, these days and it came as a surprise that I’d snuck in such a hurtful bit of messaging, playing more or less continuously on repeat in the background of my consciousness. I was feeling unwanted – but not saying so. I was feeling “out of date” and “superseded” and worthless – and wasn’t even giving myself the courtesy of hearing it, murmured so quietly, so deeply within.  Acknowledging these feelings came with a measure of awkward sad embarrassment, because I was holding on to the assumption that I “know better” now, and would not choose such a thing willfully with my eyes open… only… I did. It was buried in the fine print on the choices day-to-day made to ease the social tension that sometimes develops around my rather intense emotional life; if I choose to disregard my emotional life in order to be polite, to be practical, to be “grown up”, and then fail to follow-up with myself later to make room for my feelings and deal with my needs and hurts, I am going to pay for it, and so will everyone dealing with me when it finally goes down. I do not always make the wiser choice. I’m very human.

It’s the weekend, and it won’t be quite so hot today if the forecast is accurate. (Remember terrible inaccurate weather forecasts? Is that still a thing at all?) Today is a good day to treat the woman in the mirror well… It’s going to take some practice. 🙂

Something woke me during the night, around 1:45 am. I finally got back to sleep sometime after 3:30 am. The alarm clock seemed an unkind thing at 4:45 am. I feel… groggy? No, something subtly different… my perceptions and sensations are somewhat surreal spin-offs of the ordinary. Coffee helps. I struggle to sort out my thinking this morning. I go through the motions of tasks intended to help me re-engage the moment. I can’t claim any great success. I am thankful I have no plans after work; an early night seems likely.

I think about the day ahead, and the weekend just completed. It is a poor morning for complex thought. I let my thoughts drift through my awareness as sand through a sieve. I think about the nature of values, and how regardless what we say our values are, our actions demonstrate the truth of our values which can’t be denied. I think, too, about ground rules in relationships, how they are decided upon, and the purpose they serve. I muse a while about equanimity, reciprocity, and ‘fairness’. I contemplate the fallibility of memory, and the nature of revisionist history. I think  about cats, kittens, and just about the time I find myself wondering why I haven’t got one, I remember why I don’t. It’s that sort of morning; my consciousness is filled with thought-confetti, colorful, distracting, disorganized.

The weekend was mostly spent rather satisfyingly helping my traveling partner sort things out for his comfort here. Some of that was more emotional for me than I expected. Something to meditate on at some point when I am not so tired.

Today it will be challenge enough to get through the day’s workload efficiently, to get home still feeling merry and encouraged by life, to end the day more or less content with things, and without causing any stress or drama with fatigued clumsiness or confusion. It’s a sufficiently lofty goal for today, and I will do my best – that will be enough. 🙂