Archives for posts with tag: RTFM

Generally speaking, it makes a lot of sense to cook from the recipe, particularly considering I am neither a trained cook or chef, nor am I an amazing natural talent in the kitchen. I’m just a person cooking food. 🙂 The traditions of my family’s kitchens are not astonishing. They are a fairly commonplace hodge-podge of German, English, French, Slavic, and Mediterranean cuisines, with hints of flavors borrowed elsewhere. Ordinary “American food”. I was fortunate to be exposed to more foreign flavors and food experiences through my military service, and family members who traveled the world in their own endeavors. I enjoy food. I’m less of a fan of kitchen work (chopping, preparing, measuring, cleaning up, doing dishes), but… if I don’t cook, I have far fewer choices of what foods go into my mouth!

…If I want to reproduce a food, meal, or flavor I fancy, I pretty much have to follow the recipe with care, though, is my point…

“Follow the recipe” sounds rather a lot like “follow instructions”. There is, for sure, a time and place where/when not following instructions may be the wiser course, but let’s be real; those times/places are by far the exception. In general, it makes sense to follow directions, instructions, recipes, how-to guides, care manuals, safety warnings… all of that.

I had a powerful lesson in following the recipe over the holiday weekend – and it was tasty and delightful. I (re)learned how to make scrambled eggs (that are actually worth eating)! Doesn’t sound that exciting, I’m sure. It was delicious (but now I can’t say I don’t like eggs). I also (re)learned to make really good waffles. So much yum. 😀 Super delicious, and I got there by reading with care (in this instance equivalent to listening deeply), following the recipe, and practice. Totally worth it!

…Then, I ruined the wire whisk for my Kitchen Aid mixer by throwing it into the dishwasher carelessly (acting on the recollection that it is dishwasher safe – it isn’t – from a much older model that had an all-stainless whisk attachment – that still had care instructions, by the way, that said “hand wash only”). Well, shit. Harsh reminder that “rules is rules”, and in some cases (often with safety instructions or care instructions), those rules are there for a legitimately good reason. In this case, the dishwasher efficiently removed the coating from the zinc-containing base metal of the attachment’s hub (the wires themselves are still stainless), creating a safety/health concern, and also just generally an icky inky mess any time I touch that whisk.

I woke to a polite note from my Traveling Partner, who had emptied the dishwasher this morning. It included a frowny face, and a reminder that he’d specifically reminded me not to put these accessories in the dishwasher, and asking me to toss the ruined accessory and order a new one. Fuuuuuuuuuck. Damn it. Shit. I’m annoyed with myself. Learning new shit sometimes means unlearning old shit – and guess which one of those things does not come naturally to me?? (If you guessed that I may have some challenges unlearning habitual behaviors, you are correct!)

Follow the recipe. Yes, maybe you have a tweak in mind that could be really good… I’m not saying don’t explore or adventure, just noticing how much more successful I tend to be, in a great many circumstances, when I follow recipes – whether those are recipes for waffles or recipes for success is not relevant here. Recipes. Instructions. Warnings. Care guides. RTFM. Even I know that. Here’s the thing; I’m learning that there are elements of recipes one can adjust more or less to preference or with wild abandon… and others that can’t be adjusted without wrecking the result. Some substitutions work. Some don’t. Some changes affect flavor. Some changes don’t. Some changes result in the chemistry of the recipe breaking down completely (go ahead, leave out all the eggs, cheese, proteins and starches from your “casserole” – let me know how that one goes). So. There’s that. One more challenging bit of skillful adulthood to tackle. LOL

…Note: there’s really no version of “changing the recipe” that applies comfortably to actual safety instructions. Just saying, be safe.

So, this morning I’m sipping my coffee and shopping for a replacement wire whisk, and feeling grateful to have a partner who is fairly patient with me day-to-day, and feeling grateful to have reached this place where I am also patient with myself. There’s a ton of practice involved in changing old habits or frankly-less-than-ideal behavior. My results vary. I definitely have to begin again, like, a bunch. It is a process.

Heading into the new year, I’m not even upset over it, just mildly frustrated, a bit disappointed with myself, and eager to begin again. 🙂

I talk a fair bit about journeys, paths, traveling, my Traveling Partner… these are literal experiences, and also metaphors. I figure mentioning that is worthwhile, now and then. I use these concepts to give context to bigger questions. “Journey” is pretty vague… by intent. There are so many sorts of experiences of journeys, you see, everything from paved freeways with plentiful amenities along the way, and handy GPS, to unmarked trails through wild spaces, no map, no milestones, no safety net – you need something, you better bring it. The options are numerous, as are the choices.

How we prepare, and what we bring – as tools or baggage – matter to every journey we take, and ever day we live life.

Maps are handy… definitely bring one of those along on any journey… if one exists, at all. Sometimes, some journeys, there is no map and we’re utterly on our own, blazing our own trail through life’s wild spaces. It often feels that way, even when we have an actual usefully accurate map in our hands. Think that one over. How often has someone given you useful worthwhile truly helpful advice, or recommendations, that you disregarded… discovering too late that it really was just the thing to have done, to get the result you were seeking? 🙂

Sometimes I over-do the planning, packing, and preparation, and get part way along my travels heavily encumbered by a ton of crap I did not need to drag along with me. Baggage comes in a lot of forms. I definitely try to set as much of that down as I possibly can. “Traveling light” has this tendency to make long miles feel shorter. Everything we carry with us feels heavier over time. We become fatigued with the weight of what we carry, particularly if it does not serve an immediate necessary purpose.

The nature of the journey we set ourselves upon matters, too…

Sometimes the journey is a rough trail, steep, muddy, and treacherous…

…Sometimes the way ahead is obvious, the journey level, and paved…

I’m just saying, as metaphors go, journeys offer a nice assortment of meaningful options to reflect upon. 🙂 Where will yours take you? Do you know where you’re headed?

It looks like a good time to begin again… “Don’t forget to bring a towel!”

Be who you are. I say it. Other people say it. I think when it is said, it’s generally well-intended, and a sincere expression of an understanding of being that implies being all of the best of who we are, and hopefully still contains a kernel of awareness that reducing ourselves to our own worst qualities, as we understand those ourselves, is not at all the intention. But… just in case… I’ll go ahead and say that, too; being who you are implies being who you are wholly, with skill, and with your fundamental good-nature and humanity intact. Don’t just dissolve in a heated moment, becoming your inner most slime mold. lol That’s less… yeah. It’s less. Less well than you could choose to do. Less pleasant among all your character qualities. Less ideally you than even you would have you be. Yep. Still a shit load of verbs involved there, and some willful decision-making, and the needs to manage your chaos and damage with a modicum of adulting – and you will fail. Sometimes. Other times, you will rock the shit out of all that adulting, and friends and loved ones will be astonished by your general awesomeness and ability to love and treat others well. Mostly, I’ve found, I fall somewhere between those two extremes, day-to-day. Doing my best. Capable of improving on that. Working to improve over time, and become more the woman I most want to be.

Authenticity is a big deal. You really are you, and not someone else. Becoming the person you most want to be isn’t about faking something, or wearing a mask, or playing dress up. When I say I want to become the woman I most want to be, I mean in all the best ways I see myself, and then maybe improving on that – in a bunch of other ways I would like to see myself, but don’t yet, because I’m legitimately not that, yet. We become what we practice. If I want to be accepted as being gracious, calm, and loving, it is necessary for me to practice actions and behaviors that are gracious, calm and loving. Those qualities don’t become “who I am” until there has been so much practice, sufficiently skillfully, and entirely sincerely, that over time the behaviors themselves become my default behavior, and the thinking behind them has become, over time, my natural way of thinking. Am I “faking it” in the meantime? Nope. I’m practicing. Still has to be “the real deal” – I can’t grit my teeth, clench my jaw, and go through the motions (that’s not practicing a behavior, that’s enduring having to comply with a commitment, perhaps, but it’s not “practice” – which requires a certain amount of “buy in” and willingness to change). “Fake it to make it” isn’t a thing I do, myself, because I don’t think that works for me. The key is in the word “fake”. I prefer to rephrase that well-meaning sentiment as “we become what we practice”.

Don’t be fake. Get real.

Who do you most want to be? Behave as though you are already that person – because those behaviors align to your values. (If they don’t, is that really who you want to be, or are you just saying that because someone else wants that of you? Something to think about.) Sure, there is awareness and effort involved, and every day choices matter a lot. It helps, too, to have an understanding of who you already are. Ask the hard questions of yourself. Look yourself in the eye and call shenanigans on your own bullshit – leave all those other people out of it, they’ve got their own hard mile to walk.

Being authentically this person that I am doesn’t permit me to be nasty to people and just say “well that’s who I am, accept me” in any comfortable way (I’ve seen a lot of people take this strategy, though). I find, instead, that it forces a certain uncomfortable obligation to be authentically vulnerable about where I could improve, or change, based on my own understanding of myself and what I want of me. Yep. Being authentically me, accepting of myself, and non-judgmentally aware of “who I am right now” doesn’t alleviate the burden of self-reflection and personal growth, and it doesn’t allow me to break my social contract with the world (which is basically an agreement to treat others well, based on certain common standards). What it does do is place my growth and progress in life in my own hands, based on my own choices. I can choose to be the worst of what I am capable of – or the best – or I can fall somewhere between the extremes. I can choose to progress, to do nothing, or to fall behind. I can act using my own will and agency, or allow learned helplessness to stall me in the moment. All choices. I can choose authenticity – or I can choose to go through the motions, resenting my lot in life.

Thoughts on a Wednesday morning, as I prepare to begin again. Real-ly.

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. 🙂

Or, for that matter, what it isn’t.  These are subjects for another day – soon.

Today I am focusing on openness and intimacy, fearlessly approaching and being approachable. Eye contact. Observation. Being in the moment, because the moment is what I have. Making room to feel, to be involved in my own experience. Breathing, and finding that still calm place.  Taking practices of mindful self-acceptance, compassion, and gratitude, and applying them to my relationships with others.

Today I find balance, because I choose balance, and compassion because I choose compassion. Today I will change the world.

Every moment holds all the potential that exists to choose well.

Every moment holds all the potential that exists to choose well.