Archives for posts with tag: The Big 5

I woke feeling content and smiling, and even after I reached for the alarm to shut it off and felt the unexpected (expected) pain reminding me I am not 23 anymore (or 32, or 45…), I continued to smile. The morning has been easy on me so far. No  dishes in the sink (thanks, me!). A clumsy moment sent my phone tumbling toward the toilet bowl, and in an instant of exquisite good fortune, it landed on the floor. Time feels neither stretched nor compressed, and the details of the day to come begin to assemble as an orderly thought, over my coffee.

My coffee tastes good, unusually so, and I find myself wondering if a “bad mood” can be enough to throw off flavors? Maybe this has occurred to me before, in some other moment of wonder. I am content to have the thought now, and to recognize that the sense of novelty is likely born of an injury determined to mislead me without intent. I often experience things as either quite familiar or quite new seemingly at random, and without any particular connection to whether they are new or familiar. Objects. Ideas. Faces. It can be inconvenient, to put it mildly. lol

Watching the rain fall.

This morning even my quirks of character and of mind do not distress me. I am even eager, strangely enough, to proceed with the work day. The weekend was lovely. I spent yesterday quite gently, tidying up and giving myself a manicure, reading, hanging out with friends, and watching rain showers sweep across the meadow and marsh beyond the patio door.

4 years ago, life didn’t feel like this. I smile contentedly; it is enough, this morning, to be grateful, to acknowledge change, and to move on with the morning. There have been a lot of verbs involved, and a lot of practices, and incremental changes over time (sometimes to subtle to account for in brief moments). This morning, this lovely gentle, simple, morning, it is enough to smile, and to begin again. 🙂

Yesterday quickly descended into further emotional distance, and definite anhedonia. I found myself asking “the” question, too: “Am I depressed?” It had crept over me fairly slowly, then finished with a slam – the house I was going to go see, out in the countryside, went pending right about when I got in to the office. I was bummed.

There are sunny mornings.

This particular source of frustration comes up pretty regularly, and house-hunting is becoming a big downer, mostly because frustration is my kryptonite, and also because the process itself brings me into regular contact with an industry built on corruption, with little in the way of healthy pro-consumer regulation. (Seriously, I’d be pretty appalled to walk into, say, Ross and pick out a pair of jeans, carry those to the register, and have some other customer take them out of my hand, step in front of me in line, and firmly tell the cashier “I’m willing to pay more than you are charging for these, so they’re mine.” That’s hard to deal with over and over again.) I just want to go home. No, I mean, seriously, for me the entire process of house-hunting is 100% only intended to let me “go home” – to a home that is mine, that I can count on, that I can make my own and improve or change, and make more secure and comfy and safe. Having to throw regular exposure to frustration into my day-to-day experience by choice (particularly over something so heartfelt) is … yeah. Hard. Icky. Discouraging.

There are mornings that seem strangely gray.

I reached out to my Traveling Partner and let him know my weekend was upended and as a result quite unplanned. I was mostly venting, and not reaching out to change his plans. He understood – and we miss each other regardless of our plans. He suggested coming to hang out, if that sounded good to me. I was still struggling with anhedonia; nothing sounded good at all.  He helpfully prompted me to consider my experience through another perspective; my physical health. Recognizing my pain management challenges, my poor quality sleep, and the basic frustration of  house-hunting and how that affects my mood, generally, put me in a better place for the day, and I even found my to making new plans that really suited where my heart is, combining some hang out time with scouting other areas for livability, that might be good choices for future house-hunting.

Each moment, however similar seeming in some detail or another is entirely its own experience.

I committed to sleeping in today, and I did – I woke at 6:30 am feeling fairly rested. A leisurely shower felt delightful. My coffee is hot, and I feel fairly chill and merry this morning. Sleep is a very big deal.

Yesterday’s sunshine has given way to today’s steady drizzle. Fuck I hate driving in the rain. LOL Still… lovely day to enjoy a drive in the countryside, in no hurry to get to the end of the day.

A different morning, a different place, another moment to begin again.

…I guess I’ll begin again. There are verbs involved. 🙂

Last night I dealt with my anxiety, and comfortably resolved that. Win! Progress. Practice. It wasn’t any sort of trophy-winning event, and my “victory lap” will be just this handful of words, a later reminder for another day, perhaps, that it does pass, and it can be eased. It wasn’t over anything consequential, but it was very real, very visceral, the sort of mind-binding gut-punch of stress and fearfulness that anxiety is so famed for. Meditation still works. It still wasn’t “easy” – and I’m honestly not even sure I would call it meditation, considering the challenge I had calming my monkey-mind even long enough to take a few breaths…but…I went easy on myself in the moment, emotionally, understanding that the anxiety itself promotes a certain restlessness. I patiently returned my consciousness to the moment, to my breath, to a timeless mental space in which anxiety cannot thrive. No tv. No music. Just practice. It was, after a time, highly effective. There were indeed verbs involved, and even moment by moment my results varied. There’s no fighting it, though; we become what we practice, and continued practicing of calm… I became calm.

I slept poorly last night, although I did sleep more or less sort of through the night (my sleep tracker notes periods of wakefulness, and very little deep sleep, but I have no clear recollection of waking so often). I woke with the alarm, head stuffy, eyes watery… back aching. It’ll be a good day for physical therapy. I hurt. I manage my pain in a similar way as with anxiety; practices that tend to offer relief, practiced routinely, and given still more attention when I hurt more than usual. In this case, appropriate medication, yoga, yes meditation for this too, and a little later, dancing (to sort of force those stiff joints into a state that accommodates movement). I also spend more time considering things that don’t hurt than things that do, and once my symptoms are properly treated, I move on to distraction; shifting my attention to something else quite engaging, and letting the awareness of my pain recede into the background.

It’s a pretty ordinary work morning. Nothing fancy. Nothing noteworthy, really. Ordinary stuff right here. If I let myself get all worked up over a moment of anxiety, or a painful morning, I have the power to amplify both. If I take care of the woman in the mirror in the best way I know how, I have a shot at easing both. So many choices, so many verbs, so many results vary; it’s a very human experience.

It’s time to begin again.

Three words, and a very challenging practice.

“Assume positive intent”… well… that seems generally like a very good starting point in most relationships. Certainly our loves can be assumed to have positive intent (elsewise perhaps we benefit from choosing our loves with greater care!) The average stranger in passing rates an assumption of positive intent, and even in the face of moments that might suggest that a stranger’s intentions are less than ideally positive; it’s highly likely that it is my own narrative coaching me to a different outcome than any action, choice, or intention of that stranger. Most of us, much of the time, are far to self-involved to willfully and deliberately, with consideration of the consequences, and planning of the details, do each other some harm. Hapless inconsiderate douchebaggery notwithstanding, most people, most of the time, are mostly doing something that is more or less, in that moment, their rather human “best”.  Assuming positive intent applies a little social lubricant to my interactions, rather in the same way that saying “please” and “thank you” do. Assuming positive intent is the flip side of being courteous.

I write this morning, thinking about “assuming positive intent” in the context of three experiences.

The first of these was a gentle chiding by a professional peer in response to a cynical remark I made in the office. She had replied, with some firmness, “you aren’t assuming positive intent”. She was right. I have since thought it over a lot. It was an important observation. Too often past pain and trauma in relationships, or current struggles that linger, become source material in my thinking and decision-making in the present. I can do better than that – with practice.

The next experience was my homecoming last night. It was obvious my Traveling Partner had been and gone. It was obvious because my produce delivery had been brought in, and because there were coffee cups and glasses left on end tables here and there, and a cushion moved to a “comfortable guest spot” in the living room (I’d left it by the patio door). A used tissue on the floor. A small decorative container I’d left closed, was left open. I started to be annoyed about having to pick up after people I didn’t hang out with… which was tested by also being pleased about the produce being brought in. An assumption of positive intent helped out here; by choosing willfully to assume positive intent, I was reminded that my Traveling Partner had a super full calendar yesterday, and likely hadn’t intended to linger at my place at all, possibly rushing off without double-checking that things had been tidied up. It made it a lot easier to get past an “I’m not the maid” moment.

The third experience was waking up this morning and reading (again) about the United States dropping a fucking “MOAB” on Afghanistan. Yeah. I’ll admit right now; I can’t find any room in my heart to assume positive intent on this one. There is no moment at which taking a human life by force holds an assumption of positive intent. Dropping a big ass bomb far away hoping to kill a couple dozen people just seems like … heinous short-sighted crassly violent stupidity. So we killed some people we’ve decided to define as “bad guys”, based on our own narrative… but… what about the other effects of slamming the planet with a big ass bomb? What about the earth itself? What about other people? (“We have no evidence of civilian casualties” is a pretty pitifully insensitive remark to be making, when the bomb that was dropped likely obliterated everything within a substantial radius, entirely.) What about… other life forms than human beings? Seriously. We’re just not “everything that matters”. What about desert foxes, wee mammals, birds, reptiles… what about the fucking environment we all live in? This? Not the time for assumptions of positive intent, because right here, it is plain to see the aggressive, violent, damaging action we’ve taken. It isn’t pretty. It’s not okay. It was toxic muscle-flexing, stupid, short-sighted, gross over-kill. Not an action taken from a position of assuming positive intent, or with any wholesome outcome in mind. The dead were the bad guys? Yeah, well – apparently so are we; dropping a bomb is not a good guy moment.

I take a deep breath and another sip of my coffee. I look back on a lifetime of experience and acknowledge that I didn’t always feel the way I do now about war – or assuming positive intent, either. Growth and change – and practicing practices, and choosing different verbs, and walking this path through chaos and damage, working to heal, and finding other ways to be than continuous raging fury – have taken me a very long way from that woman in the mirror that I was at 23. 53 is nearly over… 59 days remaining, then I’ll get to take 54 for a spin, and see how I like that one. I know one thing; I’ll be practicing assuming positive intent – and I won’t be dropping any bombs.

We change when we grow. There are verbs involved. I’ve had to begin again a whole bunch of times, and walk on from discouragement, from pain, and even from friendships that could not be sustained any longer. I’ve made choices to change. I’ve had change forced on me unexpectedly. I’m having my own experience. 53 is among my very favorite years of life… it’s had some lovely moments (quite a lot of them) and some interesting challenges. Totally worth all the verbs and practicing. 🙂

I look at the time; it’s time to begin again. 😀

I lost my taste for gaslighting after I lived with it for years. I gave up on April Fool’s Day entirely as a result. I mean, think about this “celebration” with great care… Is it kind to willfully mislead people about the nature of their reality? Who does that? Even as a prank, it’s a dick move. So… I stopped doing that shit because it isn’t actually funny. Just as with humor based on Schadenfreude; it isn’t funny for the person having the experience. Our amusement over it? If it’s based on cruelty, it’s cruel. Tit for tat? Not funny. It’s a dick move. We’re very fancy primates… which means our animal nature is not above that sort of bullshit, and, sadly, some of us actually go for wallowing in our worst potential.  We are too easily entertained by the human equivalent of throwing poo.

Am I being curmudgeonly? Perhaps. I just don’t care for people treating people poorly, (I definitely don’t want to be the person doing it) and in an era of serious challenges with bullshit and lies being passed off as news and truth, we’re all fighting for our sanity as it is. Don’t be a dick today. Consider that other person and what it means to be treated poorly solely for the amusement of others, and this just because the calendar turned over by one day. April Fools are the people playing the pranks, not the pranks themselves. Can you not pass up the chance to be foolish? Really? Is this the best of who you are?

You do you, though. It’s not my call. I’ll be over here, enjoying a lovely Saturday on the first day of April, staying away from social media, and treating people as well as I am able to do. 🙂 I’m not saying I’m any better than you, or even different – I’m just walking my own path. There are verbs involved, and I live within the confines of my own perspective. I have to face this woman in the mirror, a woman who knows what being gaslighted feels like, who understand how cruel practical jokes are for the person on the receiving end, and for whom frustration is real kryptonite. Gnothi seauton… eventually. 🙂

Is it clear I didn’t start here?  …I did have to begin again. It has been a journey, with missteps, and choices, and things to consider further. I’ve fought and resisted a commonly enjoyed cultural practice. That’s okay. I’ve made progress over time, and that’s enough. I awoke to the understanding that this practice of pranking people is cruel, and my understanding changed my choices and my behavior. That’s sort of how the whole growth thing works, actually, and it’s a very singular personal journey for each of us.  🙂 Today is a good day to grow and to choose. It’s a good day to take another look at the day and ask myself “why this?” and “why today” and “who might this hurt?”. It’s a good day to change the world.