Archives for posts with tag: self-reflection

This morning I am reflecting on a moment I experienced while I was meditating, before my coffee. My perspective shifted abruptly while I was meditating, I’m not sure why, and I was suddenly very “self-focused”, while also seeming to be a distant, objective, potentially remote, observer of this self that I feel that I am. I’ve had this perspective shift before, and it wasn’t so unexpected or alien as to be frightening, I’m just thinking about it, after-the-fact, while I sip my coffee. It is the sort of experience that seems to want additional reflection, for some time afterward.

The perspective shift is the sort of thing that gives me a moment to really “consider myself” – not how I am experiencing my life, more how I am delivering the experience of myself experiencing life to others. A bit like looking at myself from an outsider’s perspective – if that “outsider” was also truly me. It’s an interesting moment to participate in. Am I the woman I most want to be? Am I living up to my human potential? How am I seen in the world, if the world looking back is also me, shares my values, shares my perspective on life, love, and humanity? I find myself really letting my guard down with myself; being human it is very easy to cast myself as the good guy in every tale of adventure. I’m not. I’m human. Just that. One human being, being human. This moment, on this morning, challenges those easy comfortable assumptions, and takes another, deeper, look.

…Nah. I’m not sharing more details. lol. Go find your own moment to reflect upon. 😉 It’s your journey, and you’ve got to walk your own mile. 😀 I say this with kindness, and with a bit a frustration; it would be very hard to put my experience this morning into useful words. “Worthy moment of perspective” is accurate, but not useful in any practical “how to do this” way… and I’m not sure how it’s done. It seems to be a cheat to say “meditate, and eventually all will be revealed”, and I don’t know that that is actually true… it’s just sort of how it went for me. I “get there” sometimes unexpectedly. Like this morning. Perhaps with enough practice it will become something I could just do by specific choice?

I sip my coffee and continue to reflect… on reflections. Perspective shifts offer new perspective, and that’s generally helpful, I’ve found. 🙂

The morning is, generally, a pleasant one. The sky lightens slowly, revealing a gray rainy morning. My arthritis reminds me how human I am; I am in pain. My coffee is warming and pleasant. There is a small amount of traffic going by. The rainy street alerts me of each passing car with a shhhhhh-shhhhhh as the car rolls by. The computer’s cpu fan spins up, then slows down, as I write, pause, and resume writing. I listen to the day begin. A robin nesting in the hedge out front begins to call and sing as soon as there is daylight. I think about moving to another place, and wonder briefly what mornings elsewhere would sound like, and I recall the sound of mornings in other places I have lived. My favorites? Probably the humid summer mornings of childhood visits to the Eastern Shore, or on my grandparents’ pier jutting out into Weems Creek… or maybe those early mornings on guard duty, deployed at Ft AP Hill for military exercises. Funny that I don’t actually think of myself as a “morning person”. I’m generally up very early, often before dawn, and it’s a choice I’ve made for a long while, so… how not a morning person? Well… I’m not generally cheerful, merry, or inclined to “deal with” people until much later, after I’ve been awake for quite a while. Just… leave me alone until after my coffee, okay? lol I’m more than “kind of a bitch” in the morning, and yeah, it’s generally best to give me some distance until my brain is completely back on line. I’m not proud of that limitation, just aware of it.

…I’ve come a long way as a human. I used to be so vile in the mornings I didn’t even like myself, let alone liking any other people, or being willing to tolerate a word being spoken. You can, actually, have a conversation with me in the morning, now. I often enjoy coffee with my Traveling Partner in the morning. It’s pleasant. We enjoy each other’s company. Here’s the thing, though; I’m quite content to be alone in the mornings, and generally prefer that. The progress I’ve made is that I no longer “punish the world for existing in my presence” first thing in the morning. I’m not hostile. I’m not angry. I’m not ferociously, aggressively, distant. I give myself some space when I need it, but I’m fairly approachable. 🙂 Progress.

I’m not “a morning person” though. Given time, and no schedule, I slowly return to my “natural” sleep/wake cycle, which generally finds me staying up until some time after 2 am, and waking after 9 am or 10 am, depending on the quality of my sleep, and also napping almost every day. I end up on these early schedules largely as a byproduct of the work I do (or have done, in other jobs). Easier to simply maintain that than to bounce back and forth. Discipline becomes habit. We become what we practice. So, I tend to be an early bird – who is not actually a morning person. lol Being human is weird.

Well, damn. Here I’ve been just talking about me all this time… how are you? Are you happy where you are? Are you happy who you are? Maybe it’s time we begin again? 🙂

Yesterday was delightful. My Traveling Partner and I spent the day together (how else, in this time of pandemic? lol). We played video games – not generally my “thing”, and I’m not very skilled. My partner was terrifically patient with me, giving me room to play, learn, and grow, while gently offering some useful tips, and coaching with great care to respect my autonomy, and consideration for the time it takes (me) to learn new skills. So much fun! It matters a lot for the quality of such experiences, when he is patient with me.

…Illustrating that point, I took 2 years of keyboard lessons, and never learned to play keyboard, at all, mostly due to my grandfather’s impatience with me just completely sucking the fun out of the entire experience and totally “putting me off” of it, permanently. Same thing when I sought to learn to play guitar, only that time the impatience was my Dad’s, and my instructor’s. It’s been a recurring theme affecting a number of experiences over the course of a lifetime.

…Sometimes my own impatience with my humble efforts, and frustrations with understandable failures during a period of learning, have resulted in dropping some hobby or eagerly sought experience, simply because it was not enjoyable, at all. Why would I put myself through that misery? Hasn’t been worth it. So… my skills and developed competencies are a strange hodge-podge of things that were sufficiently easy to learn that I learned them, or sufficiently engaging to learn that I overcame beginner’s frustrations with pure will. My aquarium(s) fit in that latter category. I love them and delight in them too much to abandon the work needed to “level up”, learn new skills, and take on the real work involved.

I sit here contemplating the new shrimp tank (formerly know as my “thug tank” due to being thrown together to house some aggressive skirt tetras who persisted in hassling my betta, and eating my shrimp). It’s… kind of a mess. lol Oh, not in any horrifying way, but less tidy than it will become over time, while also “too sparse”. I have to wait (patiently) for plants to take root and begin to grown in. I am also waiting for some varieties of plant to simply fail, being less suited to the water conditioned; trial and error on plants and livestock has been a small source of frustration. Everyone who writes or presents content on the topic of aquarium keeping has their own thoughts on the matter, based on their own experience in their own environment, with their own water sources, and their own research. My results vary, whether I follow them, or learn on my own. I do both. My results still vary. lol Patience is necessary.

This tank looks very different now, than it will in a couple weeks. Patience is necessary. Gaming with my Traveling Partner is very different right now, than it likely will become, over time. I am capable of learning. Sometimes it takes me a while, sometimes a ludicrous amount of repetition is needed – sometimes my “learning curve” is dependent on the kind of thing I am trying to learn, and how many “learning styles” it uses (or requires).

I learn best in an environment of positive encouragement and autonomy. I learn fastest when I do the work involved, myself. I learn most durably when there are a lot of opportunities for repetition, fairly consistent in frequency, over time. Few things shut down my learning process faster than impatient frequent criticism. I have only gained this understanding of myself with this much clarity fairly recently – a byproduct of self-reflection on this aquarium-keeping/game-playing path. Fewer distractions. More focus. No real opportunity to wander away in a moment of frustration.  Even learning these things about myself, which promises to improve future learning experiences, requires some patience – and a willingness to be vulnerable, and honest with myself about my specific challenges. Now I celebrate! Right?

…Um… No. There are still verbs involved. The map is not the world. The journey is the destination. We become what we practice. My results will still vary. lol This is a very human experience. I’ve simply added some depth of understanding, and a smidgen of personal awareness, to my approach to learning new skills – if I can hold on to that. Maybe I have already learned this before, and forgotten it, and now I am learning it all over again? That’s a real thing for me. This morning I laugh it off; it doesn’t change the joy I experience from watching the fish and shrimp in my aquariums, or the delight I feel when I score well on a game I am playing with my Traveling Partner, and hear his merry exclamation at how well I have done.

Being patient with myself (and therefore, also, being patient with other people) is so worth it!

…It’s time to begin again. 😀

Damn. Fuck this week. Already. Shit.

I say “this week”, but in all reasonable ways, and well-considered perspectives, this has been building slowly, event by event, detail by detail, day by day, and stitched together by threads of good intentions, affection, kindness, and commitments. I’m still having some moments of major anxiety as delicately balanced circumstances teeter on the edge of not going very well at all, which is stressful on a level I don’t recall feeling in a long time. It’s hard.

…Every new responsibility adds to the burden.

…Every new need piles on still more to a growing list of shit to do.

…Every new moment of stress dials up the intensity of the anxiety in the background.

…Every day… each moment… add another… then another… now one more… still standing? Here, have a little more extra… and more… and again… and still… and even… and then… and now… wait…what?? No time for questions – go go go!!

I caught myself “screaming into the void” on the commute home – a solo rant, with some ferocity, something on the order of a spoken word performance, or poetry, only much less pleasant. lol Not tearful, not exactly frustrated – just mad… about feeling anxious. Mad about feeling ill-equipped to be fully adult, even now. Mad at circumstances that could be just the tiniest bit better and end up quite splendid. Angry just to feel these ancient-seeming feelings of “shouldering the load” again. It’s not any one thing. It’s not any one individual. It’s not specifically work or specifically personal. It’s not lacking in context. I’m not “in it alone”. I’m just one human, having this human moment of mine, myself, and really feeling it. Which is… uncomfortable.

Mid-rant I remembered something I have been finding important; I don’t grow much through experiences that are comfortable, or reliably pleasant, or completely planned and predictable… or easy. That’s just real. Ease does not correlate with personal growth. That thought shut me down completely for a moment. I even stopped being so aggravated by that ludicrously slow driver ahead of me (15 in a 25 – one lane, no passing room) maintaining easily 3 car lengths of distance from the car ahead… during the evening rush hour commute… down a road with intersections more frequently than every quarter mile… with bumper-to-bumper traffic behind him for many blocks (I could see when I got a good view from the top of the hill in my review mirror). Yep. Even that stopped bugging me in the moment that I realized I’d been handed something precious – discomfort, anxiety, and a chance to work through those things and grow.

I’m pretty committed to my personal growth as a human being – I don’t know how much time I’ve got to complete this project, really, and I’d like to get as far along as I can toward being the human being I most want to be. It’s a real and true thing, that “doing better than I did yesterday” is a bit more complicated if the days roll by so gently that what I feel most of the time is delicious simple contentment, wrapped in the affection and high regard of those who hold me dear. I can choose change, but I won’t kid you; I’m not likely to choose to be uncomfortable, stressed out, anxious, fearful, worried, nervous, or in dread of what comes next out of this craze-tacular fun house of chaos and human drama. I like it easy.

Well it doesn’t feel fucking easy right about now. I’m having to bring a lot of attention to maintaining good self-care practices in the face of a lot more stress than has been commonplace for a couple years now. I’m having to skillfully practice “letting shit go” when holding on to it only creates more stress, and has no productive outcome. I’m having to really search for perspective, really work to find balance, and really practice the practices that have brought me so far in such a short time – as if failing to do so could send me crashing into a pit of despair (which it easily could). So many verbs. So little time. 😉

Tonight I’m not doing beginnings – just practicing. 😉

…A soft autumn rain begins to fall beyond the open window. I chat a bit with my Traveling Partner. The scent of petrichor wafts into the room, filling the space with fragrant reminders that this too will pass. Summer is ending. The tightness in my chest and shoulders begins to diminish. My breathing becomes deeper as a smile starts to transform my face. I’m okay right now. I let my thoughts glide over my day gently, finding a kinder truth in tense moments that are now behind me. I listen deeply to my internal dialogue, pointing myself to a compassionate path, reconsidering human beings in the context of their humanity. Reminding myself to assume positive intent, each time I note that perhaps I had not done so. I take time, too, for gratitude; a lot of people came through for me today, in so many small ways. My smile feels pretty steady, and I feel pretty much at ease; the anxiety in the background is subtle now, less a plague and more a pimple. (…Maybe if I don’t fuck with it, it will clear up on its own?)

I listen to the traffic go by outside. The house is very near to the street, and the walls don’t keep out much noise. Right now it isn’t bothering me; I am aware of the open window. That makes a difference to me for some reason. The noise doesn’t matter. The smile matters more. This gentle moment matters more. Taking a little time to enjoy the moment matters more. Following through on moments and smiles may not save the world, but right now, in this moment, it’s enough. 🙂

How do you know who you are, specifically? Is it a question you easily ask and answer, or does the “who are you, really?” question mess with your head? I suppose I revisit this question rather frequently, and with little stress, these days, and sometimes with some surprise (as in “Is this who I am?”). I’ve changed a lot as a human being over a lifetime. (You’ve probably changed some, too – haven’t you?)

When I think about who I am, who I have been, and the journey between those points (and, frankly, extending well beyond my current understanding of self, into the murky unknown of the future), I prefer to rest comfortably on what I know of myself, personally, understood in the context of my own values, my own experience, and my own understanding of the world. There is value in hearing the perspective of others, and honest self-reflection on the words and impressions of others can be an eye-opener worthy of deep listening and consideration…but… at the end of the day (any day), the greater value is in self-knowledge, self-awareness, and an internal dialogue that is frank without cruelty, I find. It is a literal truth that no one knows me like I know myself.

How do I know if my internal dialogue is sufficiently honest? I guess only by being honest with myself about that, too. There are choices involved. Awareness is a good starting point on any journey.

Why does this matter today? Well, I guess because (to me) it matters every day…but… tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day will (if all goes well) follow it fairly closely. 🙂 I celebrate New Year’s as a simple enough turning of a calendar page, and I celebrate it as the end of the winter holiday season, and also as another opportunity to begin again. No “resolutions” – change doesn’t work for me quite that way. I’ll sit down with myself, reflect on the year that has ended, consider the year to come, and look at the journey I’ve made in life so far. I’ll look ahead to destinations I hope to reach, successes I hope to achieve (larger or small, it’s not really about scale, more about trajectory), and changes I hope to make for myself to improve my quality of life, or to be more the woman I most want to be. I’ll consider the things I didn’t reach along last year’s journey, without diminishing myself or treating myself poorly. I’ll give myself the opportunity to learn and grow from both my successes and my failures. No shortcuts. No self-deception. No looking away from the harder moments, or less pleasant truths, and also willfully and eagerly embracing the lovely moments, the delights, the wonders, and the joys.

I use an assortment of tools, tasks, and practices to consider and reconsider the year behind me, the year to come, and the woman in the mirror poised between them. I spend time writing. I update my “Life in Weeks” calendar and reflect on how I have spent my time, and what I can do differently to better meet my long-term needs in life. I meditate. I meditate on questions I may not previously have thought to ask… sometimes it helps to have a tool for that. I take a walk along one path or another, sometimes new, sometimes more familiar. More than anything else, though, it is a matter of taking the time for constructive self-reflection, and placing enough value on that time to fully respect it, to set boundaries, and to take care of the woman in the mirror. Once a year? I definitely have time for me once a year. 🙂 Over time it has proven to be a worthy investment in self, and so I continue the tradition year after year.

Today I will get the housekeeping out of the way for the weekend, run errands, do chores. I’ll treat myself exceptionally well by preparing in advance for deeply satisfying celebratory self-reflection and leisure to come. No discomfort, no guilt, no reluctance; I enjoy this time I spend with myself each year, and invest some effort in making it a moment worth savoring. Other people, other celebrations, this is me, doing New Year’s my way. I’m okay with that; it’s enough. 2017? Bring it!