Archives for posts with tag: what are you practicing?

Yesterday I prepared a meal for my Traveling Partner and a visiting friend using vegetables from the garden.

We walked around the garden together, as I harvested peas and radishes, Swiss chard and daikon, and took note of which crops have been doing well, and which have been lagging behind. It’s been a slow chilly spring. Almost summer and the daytime temperatures are still generally in the high 60s to low 70s (Fahrenheit). The peas have been doing incredibly well. Radish, daikon, and bush beans appear to be doing very well, too. The recently planted peppers and the eggplant are doing well, but it looks like it’ll be awhile before I’m harvesting anything there; they need a few more sunny days and some warmer afternoons. The container garden, other than the peas, is not doing so well. Germination rates are poor, and this is likely because the first plantings were mostly “old seeds” that had been kept around from previous seasons, but stored in paper in a haphazard way. I find myself wondering is I might want to abandon those grow bags in future years for all but proven partial shade crops – like the peas, which are just exploding with eagerness to provide, and beautifully weighed down with young pea pods.

Veggies from my garden.

…There’s a metaphor here…

The planter box, so carefully built and filled, and planted with seeds chosen with care, is very successful… even the recently planted melons have sprouted in a promising way. Seems so obvious this is the way to go, right? Except I’ve got a wild “garden helper” fucking shit up out there, digging, and eating seedlings. LOL

What I’m saying is that even when we “get all of it right”, we may face some challenging circumstances in life, in love, in our professional endeavors. Just keeping it real. Do 100% of everything correctly, make all the “right” choices – still no guarantee of success. There’s a lot of “good fortune” involved in our individual successes, and a lot of help. We’re interdependent. We rely on each other. The well-chosen seeds planted in my garden? Yeah, I didn’t grow the plants that produced those seeds. I selected them from an online catalog from a vendor I felt I could trust. Interdependence. I didn’t built that planter box (although I helped a little bit, the design and effort were not exclusively mine). Interdependence. I was not the first to spot the handiwork of my wild garden “helper”; my Traveling Partner spotted the missing melon sprouts opposite the undamaged hill with healthy green seedlings before I did. Interdependence. We don’t walk our path alone.

A wee snake traveling through a flower bed. It’s easy to overlook fellow travelers as they make their own way.

…It is as important to choose our traveling companions on life’s journey as any other detail. Whether they are merchants who provide the goods and services we favor, or our friends, and even the loved ones we keep close and connect with frequently. These choices matter every bit as much as healthy self-care and wellness practices do. They affect our health as directly as the food we eat, and the media we consume.

I’m not telling you anything new. I’m also not telling you what changes – if any – you might want to make. I’m just saying; our relationships matter and affect the quality of our experience. Build good ones.

Like adding compost to my garden, it makes sense to cultivate healthy relationships. There is value in expressing gratitude and appreciation. There is value in participation and giving back. There is value in listening deeply, and checking assumptions and expectations. There is value in making choices with care – instead of free-falling through moments with strangers and shopping Amazon for every-fucking-thing. There are no “bootstraps” with which to pull yourself up, all alone and utterly independent of the goodwill and effort of others. That’s just… fucking dumb. Trace things back, you’ll find that you had help. 🙂

Never too late to begin again. To connect. To care. To choose. It’s a journey, and there are opportunities to take detours and choose another path. It’s your journey.

What might you see along the way, if you change the way you’re going?

…It’ll be another. 🙂

In this case, it’s a lovely sunny Spring morning, a Friday. I took the day off because I’ll be on a plane heading to a work conference late tomorrow evening, sleeping thousands of feet overhead as I wing my way to the conference location. I’m not exactly excited about it… I’m not exactly not excited about it. I spent so many years as the partner staying behind, staying home, venturing out seldom, that this still has some novelty and interest – especially after two years of pandemic life. But, whether I am excited or not, I definitely do want and need time to chill, to plan into it, to prepare with care – because when I give up that time and don’t do those things, my experience feels frenetic, chaotic, and stressful. Besides all that, a Saturday departure makes a short weekend with my Traveling Partner (who is the more likely of the two of us to be staying at home, these days). I didn’t want to undermine those limited precious minutes we share, so taking the day off results in something more or less like a normal weekend, at least in duration.

I’m sipping my coffee contentedly. Just finished off the payday stuff – that’s a pretty low stress endeavor these days, and I feel that. The lack of stress, I mean. It’s pretty splendid that the mere mention of a payday, or a bill, or indebtedness, or budgeting doesn’t send me into a massive anxiety attack of some kind, or trigger my PTSD. A lifetime ago, being even a penny off on the painful process of balancing a checkbook with my first husband would almost guarantee I’d have terrible dark painful new bruises afterward. Literal violence, over pennies. What a lot of horrible bullshit. I can look back now and see that I should have walked away much sooner, but it wasn’t so obvious at the time. Understanding now that I was also viewing life through the lens of a fairly serious brain injury that was not actually rehabilitated (and that I was not, at the time, aware of), I am much more compassionate with that younger version of me.

Have you ever thought about that? How easy it actually could be to cut your younger self some fucking slack? Bad decisions are pretty commonplace when we’re young; we have limited life experience, and we’re the sort of creatures that commonly learn best through our mistakes. So… yeah. Every one of us has fucked something up, probably pretty badly. The world is going to make a point of ensuring we get a proper reckoning, more often than not. We could at least be there for ourselves, after the fact, right? We could bring our wiser perspective to our recollection of events, be kind to that younger self who just didn’t have all the tools or knowledge to do things much differently, and be just a bit more nurturing of ourselves on that look back – couldn’t we? And why not? The events of the past are past. Treat yourself more gently now and then. It’s okay to be your own best friend.

I’m not saying ignore warning signs that you need real help – definitely seek out and get the help you need. Think your mind “doesn’t work right”? Get therapy. Just like you would if you had a broken bone, or a terrible case of flu – get qualified help. Get treatment. Embrace change. Don’t like who you are? Make other choices. Change your thinking. Change your practices. Walk away from a situation that you are not thriving in. Jobs? There are plenty. Find one that you enjoy and doesn’t entirely drain away your joy in life! Relationships? Yeah, I know, we get attached, we feel that connection, we hope… But a bad situation is a bad situation. You could walk away. Maybe you should? Don’t like where you live? Move! Okay, resources are limited, so maybe that feels out of reach – but setting a goal is within reach. Making a plan is within reach. Exploring options is within reach. Steps. Incremental change over time adds up.

Anyway. It’s a lovely day, in spite of this being a world filled with violence and chaos, and threats to our freedoms, and shitty entitled ass-clowns seemingly just every-fucking-where… it’s okay to choose joy, and to live life. Savor what feels good. Seek to change what isn’t working so well. It’s okay to look back on yourself with kindness, and with respect for what you have endured so far, and how far you’ve come to get where you are now.

…It’s okay to begin again. 😀

I’m annoyed. Not my best look. I don’t like how feeling aggravated feels. When these feelings, so personal, crop up in interactions with friends or colleagues or loved ones, it’s worse. I guess I kind of expect strangers to be occasionally unpredictable, occasionally unpleasant, or antagonistic, or irritable. I suspect I don’t leave enough room for people close to me to have those moments, too. I feel reliably hurt when someone “comes at me” unexpectedly over something that seems, to me, to be inconsequential – or at least not worth all that negative emotional energy suddenly coming my way. It’s too easy to center my experience as what matters most. Hard to find the right balance of agreeable, kind, compassionate, empathetic, approachable… and do that while also managing skillful boundary setting, deep listening, and non-attachment. It’s a very human experience. I get mixed results.

…I keep working at it…

I take a breath, have a glass of water, and walk away from the moment. “Let it go,” I remind myself, “it isn’t personal; we’re each having our own experience.” Words. For an instant I feel myself resist – embracing those hurt feelings, and my initial flare-up of my own anger and aggravation feels so… important. At least momentarily. I have that “what about me?” moment. Very angst-y, very cross. Another breath. I let it go. Again. I sit down at my computer to work it out in words. (Thanks for listening.) I put on a video – rain falling on a country road. It’s the background noise I’m looking for. It tends to help push the tinnitus into the background; it’s loud today.

…My Traveling Partner comes into the studio with an ice tea for me. He glances at the title, and back at me, as he hands me the tea. “That’s nice.” he says. I think I detect a hint of sarcasm. I’m not certain. I’m a bit tone deaf to some of those conversational nuances (and it’s why I have worked at not using those sorts of things myself, with mixed results). I worry that he thinks I am writing about him. I figure he’s probably been with me long enough not to read into one of my titles what my intent – or content – actually may be.

…The iced tea is very pleasant, but with a hint of something… bitterness, maybe? He had said he did not like this batch. I don’t taste bitter very well (at all?)… and many people dislike bitter flavors if they are strong. So… maybe that’s it? Maybe there’s a metaphor in there somewhere? Something about individual perspective, and subjective experiences…?

I feel like a jerk when I take some small moment of discord as a personal attack. I guess that’s appropriate; it’s not ideal, and hinders pleasant social interaction. I contemplate whether an apology is due (usually, if I’m wondering, then yeah, it’s due)… and what, precisely, I am considering apologizing for – because that matters. Sarcastic non-apologies, or defeatist passive-aggressive attacks phrased as apologies are neither helpful, nor are they any sincere reflection of regret. I reflect for a moment on what it is I regret, from that moment, right now…

There is a bee, in spite of the chilly day, nosing around in the pear blossoms beyond the fence. I only see the one, and I wonder if the bee feels like it has happened upon amazing abundance… or is just doing bee things, unaware of it’s solitary moment in the pear tree? You can spare me the word of caution against anthropomorphizing the life of a bee. I get it; bees are not people. Well… I mean… they are not what we understand ourselves to be as people…but I’m not sure we truly know all there is to know about the consciousness of other sorts of creatures than ourselves. We barely have any fucking idea how we work, or what our consciousness “is”. lol

Chilly day. Tasty iced tea. Pleasant bite of lunch with my partner. A moment of human failure worth a word of regret. All part of this very human experience… I breathe, and get ready to begin again.

It’s definitely Spring. The earliest seeds are starting to pop – pea seedlings (bush peas) are making an appearance, and the pea plants (climbers) are looking around for something to climb. It’s an exciting season filled with growth and newness. It’s a good time to plant things… seeds… ideas…

Pea seedlings breaking through.

I’m having my second coffee with a friend this morning. Nice day for the drive. Serendipitous that I managed to overlook one wee otocinclus yesterday when I took the livestock from the aquarium and transported them to their new home. It gave me a specific reason to reach out to my friend and meet up for coffee; they have an aquarium and a suitable home for this one little oto, and are much closer than the distance I traveled yesterday.

I returned home from my errand yesterday feeling surprisingly light and free, and okay with my decision to empty the aquarium and sell the equipment. In fact, I felt so relaxed and contented with myself that I sat right down and did the taxes for the year. lol There’s no real connection between aquarium maintenance and annual tax filing activities, but I was willing to capitalize on the moment of additional motivation. 🙂

Yesterday was a good day. Today is shaping up to be similarly pleasant, so far. I make a few garden notes. My Traveling Partner checks in on my outing, and we talk about whether to make it a shared adventure, deciding to make the trip to a retailer of interest, together, on another day. My partner’s smile is warm, merry, and filled with love. It’s a good day for love.

It’s said that we reap what we sow. Makes sense. We become what we practice. What are you planting in the garden of your heart, this Spring? Maybe it’s time to consider a new crop?

This morning I am grooving to the sound of new beats from an old friend. I’m sipping my coffee, feeling relaxed, loved, and even “merry”. It’s a pleasant, leisurely Sunday morning. My pleasant moment is interrupted by a commercial interruption on Soundcloud; an ad break between tracks. I roll my eyes, look for any chance to skip it (that doesn’t amount to paying for a subscription to a rarely used service), and settle on ignoring it for the required 31 seconds. It’s a distraction, and not a pleasant one; this is “where we are” culturally – our attention held in servitude to commercial endeavors, with or without our consent.

I sip my coffee and think about the media, my shorter attention span, the nature of likes, clicks, and views, and the monetization of human attention, and individual data. I think about our “global culture” – and how it sometimes seems “the fabric of society” is being torn apart…only… that’s just one perspective on a very complex, only somewhat shared experience. While there certainly seem to be “norms” and commonplace expectations of a dominant group in our social hierarchy being challenged, undermined, and perhaps also “misused”… There are also huge swaths of humanity who were never invited to that party, who don’t (and did not) have the advantages that are said to be being “undermined”, and for whom the system as it is has existed is punitive, hostile, prejudiced, and has long prevented them from thriving as groups. Labeled, cut-off from the benefits of “mainstream” society, and worse still often shamed for “doing it to themselves” instead of humble acknowledgement of inequities in our laws and institutions, so many people in so many places see patterns that amount to willful inhumanity. Fixing that mess… now that’s a global challenge for a global society. Will we fix our mess before the clock runs out on humanity’s presence on this planet?

I let the beats carry my thoughts onward… sipping my coffee and a glass of water, sort of in alternation.

I think about the day’s housekeeping tasks ahead of me. I think about getting a walk in on some nearby trail – if the day warms up just a little. I think about maybe baking brownies and trying a different recipe, seeking that exceptional brownie result. None of these thoughts, however delightful, have anything whatsoever to do with the actual outcome; that requires some verbs. Real action. Choices. Follow-through.

…Another fucking advertisement begins to play in the background. I do not give a shit about the advertiser or the product. I tune it out…

Patterns in my life; I do housekeeping on Sundays, generally. When I write, most of the time, I write in the morning. There is a cadence, a rhythm, to the day-to-day, and to each week. When I write, or think, or reflect, or daydream, there is often some kind of thread that connects my thoughts. When I struggle, there is often another sort of “thread” that, once tugged, begins to unravel some bit of baggage or bullshit. Noticing a pattern, pulling on that thread, following a path; all these things lead me onward. Even these beats in my ears right now, and so also in my head, guide me along my human experience, giving me a pace, a flow, a sort of carrier wave upon which the signal that is my own individual experience can be layered. My breathing shifts; slower and more even with the chill ambient beats. Glacial. Slow perspective. Ease.

Another advertisement? Really?? Fucking hell…

The beat shifts again, energizing me, lifting me, bring a smile to my face and an eagerness to my moment. My breathing is a bit faster. I feel an increasing readiness to move on with the day. There is a rhythm to the tasks and habits and routines I set for myself. It works for me, mostly. When it doesn’t, breaking down the missed moment, the lost beat, the unraveling thread into smaller parts gives me a chance to understand myself a bit better, and to creep ever closer to being the person I most want to be.

…It’s not “everything”, it’s only “something” – sometimes something is enough. 🙂 It is, at least, enough on which to begin again. 😀

Today, I’ll do my best. I’ve got a list. I’ve got all day. 🙂 It’s enough.