Archives for posts with tag: we become what we practice

What a difference it makes to get a good night’s sleep. How different from each other can two mornings be? I am making a point of savoring my mood and my experience of morning, this morning, because it is mild, pleasant, quietly joyful, and a total departure from yesterday’s crossness and irritability. I lived a great many years thinking every moment of my life was misery, and finding out that some portion of that was entirely a matter of perspective (and choice) wasn’t just an eye-opener, not merely a good-to-know insight, but wholly useful. I also now know to take time to savor, appreciate, and linger in these lovely quiet moments, and to allow them to become memorable.

(If the only emotional experiences you linger over, invest in, dredge up for later discussion again and again, are the painful and unpleasant ones, the whole of life eventually may feel painful and unpleasant; we become what we practice.)

I find, as with breathing, a hidden gem of a practice within the simplest experiences of pleasure, contentment, and joy – simply that of taking time to experience them fully, to linger over them in my recollection, to “share the story” (however silly it may seem to say aloud “I am having such a nice morning!” to someone else). Allowing our quiet moments of joy and our incidental experiences of pleasant living to become memories, by investing our time and attention in them, ensures that our implicit memory of life in general doesn’t become wholly negative, and instead, supports a steady sense of self, over time, that feels generally quite positive. That’s what I did to become “a positive person” by the way; I took the slow route through practicing “taking in the good” and over time shifted my implicit memory in a more positive direction. Incremental change over time is a thing that happens; we become what we practice.

…Think that over, though, “we become what we practice” – that’s all of it. Everything we practice routinely becomes part of who we “are”. Over time, anything we practice regularly, whether we like it or not about ourselves, becomes who we are. Good and bad.  Choose wisely. 🙂

Thanksgiving is almost here. There was a momentary thought in the background, something like “Oh no – what if I forget the ____?!”, and then I grinned at myself as it slipped away. I’m not especially spontaneous, as people go, but I am adaptable AF. lol I have options. Life’s menu is vast. This matter of living it is not like riding a train; it isn’t on rails, I have choices, plans change with circumstances. Missing ingredients become opportunities to explore new recipes, that’s all. It seems doubtful that anything could really “go wrong” with the holiday weekend ahead. I will cook a holiday meal, it will involve food – tasty and nourishing – and the excellent company of my Traveling Partner. We’ll hang out and enjoy each other for a couple days. Perfect! lol Sufficiency for the win. 🙂

Toward the end of the long weekend, after my partner has departed, I’ll get started on putting up the holiday tree. 😀

Quite a few folks in my network, and community, find Thanksgiving somewhat distasteful, these days, and there is little talk of pilgrims. I find there is definitely room on my calendar for a repurposed harvest season holiday build around a feast, and a feeling of gratitude and community, with which to kick off the winter holiday season. I continue to celebrate Thanksgiving as the holiday it is named to be; a celebration of gratitude, appreciation, and simple joys, a good meal shared in good company, and a long weekend with which to prepare for winter. It is also a season for charity, for giving to others, for reaching out and helping those in need, for doing a little more for people who are not me. It seems a wholesome and well-intended holiday, and I cherish it in that spirit, myself.

I wish you well this Thanksgiving – and I hope you have much to be thankful for. If it is hard times, I hope that you find sufficiency and contentment (and prosperity at some point, too). If you have plenty, I hope you share it. If you have little, I hope you enjoy what you have without guilt or shame. I hope we all find a moment that matters, and take a good opportunity to begin again. 🙂

This is a story about coffee – sort of. 😉

It’s a metaphor.

Small things sometimes stall me. I know I can, I have the experience, but lacking a clear recollection, I hesitate, stymied by nothing more than my lack of clear recollection. Hesitation becomes fear becomes inaction. It’s a thing. Today, it’s a thing about coffee. lol

At some point, living at #59 (my previous apartment), my Traveling Partner left some of his things with me, and one of those items was his espresso machine. Nice one. Too big for my space, so it was being stored in a closet. I have considerably more counter space in the kitchen, here in The House Where I Live (so much more delightful, it gets named instead of a number). I put the espresso machine on the counter, when I moved in, and have since sort of just… kept it clean, and “worked around it”. I hadn’t turned it on, or made use of it at all. Nothing stopping me but fear.

The fear started off simply enough; it isn’t actually my espresso machine and I didn’t want to “break it” (which, realistically, should not be such an easy thing to do, considering what it is built for). I put off re-reading the manual, or looking at a YouTube video for days. Well… for 60 days, actually. I smile realizing I’ve been here just two months (a whole two months!). Over the past 60 days, that hesitation to act became insecurity about acting, reluctance to follow through, and finally just a straight up failure to act that was at risk of persisting indefinitely, with the final result that I would have a rather large fancy paperweight on my kitchen counter serving no purpose. Silly.

I put “reboot espresso machine” on my to-do list days ago. I ignored that for a while, fearfully. This weekend, however, has been all about being present, being at home, and working down the list of tasks I had in front of me, many of which fell into this same “tread carefully” category of odds and ends I felt uncomfortable with. Like the sub-woofer. Like the espresso machine. So, yesterday I read the manual. I watched a manufacturer-sponsored video on using the machine. I bought almond milk made specifically for making espresso beverages (different texture than the usual sort). I had already emailed customer support and specifically inquired whether there would be gaskets needing to be replaced after 2 years in storage (there are not, they said). Finally – verb time. I filled the machine with water. Turned it on. Ran some out as hot water. Ran some out as steam. Checked the settings on each feature… and by the time I’d done all those things, it was much too late in the day for strong coffee, and I’d run out of courage. lol I talked myself out of making a coffee, and put that off for the morning.

I woke peculiarly early today. Like… seriously. 2:51 am. Somehow, I managed to be so entirely awake that getting up to pee did not naturally result in going back to bed, and I got up. Fuck it. It’s almost 3:00 am, and 3:00 am is “almost 4”, which is only half an hour from when the alarm would go off, so… Right. I’m up. Coffee time!

I hesitated, again, as I stood in front of the espresso machine, watching it heat up. My eye slid to the right; I could make a pour over… Then I glanced left; a cup of coffee made in the Keurig is drinkable, quiet, and efficient… I recalled the video, which had reminded me how easy it is to use this espresso machine (a semi-automatic), even first thing in the morning. I recalled how many times I have actually made coffee using this very same espresso machine, when it sat upon the counter in my ex’s house, where we all lived together. As the machine continued to heat, I recalled, too, that my Traveling Partner and I intend each other nothing but love, and share everything we have with great joy; there isn’t really any chance that I would willfully damage his espresso machine, nor is there any realistic chance that he would take it badly if something were to go wrong and it got damaged without ill intent. So… what’s the hold up? Well, at that point, just waiting for water to heat up. 🙂

The beans were fresh. The grind may need some adjustment, but that’s fun for another day, preferably a day with plenty of time in it for drinking coffee. lol The puck was quite perfect, the smell of freshly ground coffee was enticing. The shot I pulled wasn’t my best – perhaps in another lifetime, I’d have poured it out and used the opportunity to begin again. At 3:15 am on a Monday morning, I found I was just as content to let it be, and embrace imperfection – and coffee. 🙂 I steamed the milk, enjoying the ease of it far too much for the simple process it is, as enthusiastic as a toddler turned loose in the toy aisle.  I took that first sip, of that first latte made by my hand in my own home in a bit more than 2 years (has it only been such a short time?). It was warm, and tasty, and seemed to me in that moment to be quite perfect – even as I recognized opportunities to improve my craft. There was no room for criticism in that moment; it was enough to be drinking a latte I made for myself. 🙂

Contentment is something I have found I can build. I can craft it from fairly simple ingredients; moments that are enough, small successes, and letting go of attachment to outcomes and expectations. Finding that I can build contentment, and sustain it, has resulted in so many lovely moments – even actual genuinely happy ones that linger in memory and sustain me through tougher times. It’s nice. It’s a process. There are verbs involved. My results vary. Sometimes… yeah, I’m so human, sometimes I have to overcome my fears. Incremental change over time requires practice. 🙂 We become what we practice.

I smile at the clock and sip my latte. I have plenty of time to begin again. 🙂

The weekend was busy. Like, busy to the point of not being at all restful and lacking some of the usual qualities of a weekend. It was busy, fun, exciting, and generally time well-spent. The weather was hot and sunny – summery. The performances I saw were worth seeing. I had great conversations with people I’d only just met. I got my eyes seen to on Saturday, and will pick up new glasses sometime next week. I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a very long time (years). I enjoyed an exceptional brunch. I visited the Farmer’s Market, and also the Portland Saturday Market. It was a fun weekend out in the world.

I also took time for quiet moments.

I woke to the alarm this morning. My bones ache and my feet are sore from a weekend of dancing in the sunshine. I’m not quite sunburned; I used plenty of sunscreen. I’m “still thirsty” from the days spent in the summer sun, and drinking water along with my morning coffee. I find myself trying to cram a weekend worth of “recovery” into the brief Monday morning hours before a new work week begins – unsuccessfully. It doesn’t work that way. lol

The self-care practices of the week ahead have become quite important; next weekend I will head down south to see my Traveling Partner, and I am eager to enjoy his company for a couple days, but there’s little about it that I expect to be “restful”. I expect to be joining him somewhere out in the trees for a bit of camping, but beyond that, I have no idea what the weekend holds. Love. I know there will be Love, and that’s enough. 😀

I read an article about mindfulness this weekend. I was prepared to argue with it, because of the rather confrontational headline, but as I read it, I found myself generally in agreement. It wasn’t attacking mindfulness practices, themselves. The article is critical of the commercialization of, and lack of understanding of the purpose of, mindfulness. I found the article insightful. I read it twice more. It’s not the sort of thing to change my thinking about my own practices, nor to discourage me from them, but it definitely supports (for me) a better understanding of “why it doesn’t work” for some people in the way that it does work for me. I’m specifically not using mindfulness to try to be more efficient at work, for example, or to eliminate stress from my own experience while I continue to deliver a stressful experience to others, or for financial gain. I use mindfulness to improve my emotional resilience so that I can continue to improve my emotional wellness, without turning away from the hard bits of work ahead, while also being a kinder and more compassionate human being out in the world. I use it to improve my perspective on my experience. It seems very effective for those purposes.

Mindfulness is also something that requires real practice. Daily. Not just demonstrations of moments of mindfulness (looking your way “mindfully eating a raisin” lol), I mean actual real-world practicing of practices that, ideally, result in being a better person than I was yesterday, and these are practices that require repetition (otherwise, they’d be “tasks”). We become what we practice. Sure, mindful awareness – totally worth practicing – and also “deep listening” (listening to others mindfully and fully aware and in the moment), and basic consideration. Think about that; simple considerate behavior towards others is a practice of mindfulness. We could hardly be truly considerate without being present, and being aware of that other person, and what they may need, themselves.

I start the week awake. Aware there is more to practice, and a journey ahead that is unscripted and unfolds moment by moment through my choices. (Yours, too.) I smile and sip my coffee. Mindfulness. Perspective. Sufficiency. Building blocks that led me here. Consideration matters too; I become what I practice. I am writing my own script. I am my own cartographer. Incremental changes over time built on the choices I make now. Fancy.

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

My coffee has gone cold. I finish it off and check the time. There is time for several little chores to be handled before I leave for work. The forecast suggests a hot day, and I decide driving to the office will be the better self-care choice, when I consider getting home in the heat. Each choice matters. 🙂 I begin again. You can too.

Will you?

Got that splinter removed. 🙂

 

 

I woke to the sound of the rain. I found it a soothing counterpoint to my lingering horror over yesterday’s acts of domestic terrorism, racism, and violence. I enjoy the rain. I opened all of the windows to let in the fresh rain-washed breeze. Same number of windows here as in the last place, but here the breeze more easily finds its way in. I stand sipping my coffee in the patio doorway. I stand because one must stand for something; the metaphor reassures me, and gives me something steady to lean on, for a moment.

It’s been a long fight, hasn’t it? For all of us, I mean. Hanging on. Hanging in there. Fighting for change. Let it rain. Our tears, each of us, all of us, matter in this moment; fight on. Fight on, and let it your tears fall like rain. Rage against hate, weep for the pain of it. Weep for the lost. Weep for the wounded. Never forget? Never forgotten. Share your story. With no one coming to save us, we must save ourselves.

I remind myself to get some rest; it’s a long fight ahead. Lessons to learn. Lessons to teach. Experiences to have – so many we must each have our own. We’ll need to begin again. We’ll need all the verbs we can handle. Our results will vary – but incremental change over time is real, reliable, and we become what we practice.

I sip my coffee, and listen to the rain fall.