Archives for posts with tag: what are you practicing?

I enjoyed a lovely handful of days out in the trees. Relaxing? Sure. Good hikes? Definitely. Even challenging. Restful downtime? Yes. Time for deep reflection? Quite a lot. Did I write? No, not really. Read? Barely picked up a book. I mostly sat around watching the clouds drift by between naps and walks. It was time well-spent.

Here’s a question that crossed my mind rather unproductively, though… Who exactly are “the good guys”? Seriously. I don’t think a rational person can call our US government a governing body of “good guys”. The media? Doubtful. They have challenges with fundamental truthfulness, to varying degrees that seem dependent on how much profit is in the lies they may be inclined to tell, or the revenue generated by their clickbait articles. It’s frustrating to try to “read the news” these days. How about “every day Americans”? Are we “the good guys”? Considering how commonly people act a fool, or lash out violently against other “every day Americans”, it’s hard to call us, as a group, “the good guys”. Other governments? How different are they, really? People are people. Human primates are barely domesticated at all, and find endless rationalization for treating each other like crap, individually or in groups. It’s pretty horrific. We’ve done some terrible things as creatures.

…Before you go making excuses (“something, something, in the past things were different…”), keep in mind that every single day someone just straight up kills another person, often someone close to them, even a partner, a child, a lover… just… yeah. Every day. Domestic violence. Gang violence. Racially-motivated hate-driven violence. Institutional violence. “Criminal violence” isn’t even the largest portion of violent crime being reported. Shot at a gas station during a robbery? It happens. Not as often as an angry spouse lashes out at their partner. That domestic violence even exists at all still shocks and horrifies me, not just as a survivor, but also as a human being. I mean, for real? What the fuck?? Seriously? How is that even a thing, at all? How does any one human being reach a place where they can justify an act of violence against another human being – particularly one they say they love. Truly horrifying.

I’m grateful to have escaped with my life, to have survived, and to have found my way to a healthy authentic experience of love with a partner I know cares for me deeply, and truly loves me. I literally can’t imagine him ever raising a hand against me. Love feels comfortable and safe. How could it be any other way and still be “love”? 🙂

Seems strange to find it so needful, so often, to want to suggest people “stop hating”. Are we truly such barbaric vile creatures that it is necessary to point out the value of basic kindness? (That’s rhetorical; we’re obviously not drowning in kindness, consideration, compassion, and tolerance, and there just can’t be too many reminders to be better people, when being a better version of ourselves is so readily within reach for all of us.) Just… do better.

Begin again.

This is me, beginning again. Right here. Now. I take a breath. I change the playlist. I change the view. I change my perspective. I practice the practices that work best for me. I pick myself up when I fall, and get back on my path. Easy? Easy enough to do it as often as I need to (which is, I admit, often).

Sometimes just watching the clouds scoot by is enough.

My computer locks up. No, I don’t know why, I just deal with it and move on. Re-center myself after the briefest moment of frustration, and pull myself back into the pleasant moment I had been enjoying, flipping through pictures from my camping weekend…

Lovely moments spent meditating in lovely quiet places are worth savoring.

I recently read an article about the negative consequences of venting when we’re angry. I mean, sure, it feels sort of gratifying to “get it all out”, but, and this is real, it also tends to cement that negative experience in our implicit recollection and boosts our negative bias. The outcome is different when we look for opportunities to learn from challenging experiences, seek other perspectives, and “focus on the positive” (in an authentic way). That seems worth exploring…

We become what we practice. Are you practicing being angry? Are you practicing prolonged frustration? Reactivity? Shouting? Maybe practice other things… 😉 I’m just saying there are choices. We can each choose to be “the good guy” more often than we likely do.

…And we have the opportunity to choose differently, and begin again.

Happy Monday, y’all. It’s been hours since my morning coffee, and the afternoon is heating up quickly. I’ve got my bottle of cold water at my desk, and a covered mug of hot noodles for a quick lunch. My Traveling Partner is in his shop, doing shop things. I’m staring into an abyss of spreadsheets and a to-do list that is frankly embarrassing in length. I take a long drink of water and remind myself it is a job, and I’m being paid to do it. This time is not my own (well, I mean, right now is my lunch break, so… that’s mine).

I breathe deeply. My exhale becomes a heavy sigh. I’m mostly fine. I’m just sort of cross. This has, so far, been one of those days that seems as if every attempt I make at affection, appreciation, positive connection… any bid at all really, directed to my partner is met with… a surly, rather terse, somewhat parental tone. I’m annoyed with that. It’s not at all where my own head is at. I’m finding, as a result, that I’m just irked with the whole fucking day I find myself wrapped in. I’m okay with saying I’m annoyed by it. Real enough. What to do about it is another matter. So far, continued attempts are not being met well, so I’ve sort of given up on it for the time being. I’m in “task processing mode”, focused on practical matters and getting shit done, one step at a time, without becoming emotionally invested at all. Considering how much I enjoy my partner’s appreciation, affection, and approval, it’s sometimes very tough to let it go and hold on to the awareness that we’re each having our own experience.

Honestly, we’re a hilarious partnership. We adore each other, and generally manage the day-to-day with humor and delighted affection for each other. Sometimes it’s not that easy, and my brain injury definitely gets in the way of things now and then. I try to be patient with myself, even when he’s having trouble being patient with me, himself. I work hard on not taking his impatience with me at all personally; I know that it is not. I can be surprisingly clumsy sometimes, or awkward, or hapless, or somehow offset from his understanding of whatever the hell is going on at the moment. We are each having our own experience, that’s unavoidable. We are not one being, one mind. We’re two entirely separate human primates, making a go of life together. 🙂 A shared journey, not an identical one.

I give my noodles a chance to cool a bit. I don’t really feel up to adding a burned mouth to my list of bullshit to deal with today. lol I have choices. I can change my experience – and change my perspective on it (I was pretty irritable and on the edge of tears when I started this, now I’m just hungry*. lol). Resilience doesn’t seem to be about never reacting, or avoiding the occasional bad mood, so much as being about shortening that period of time between when a feeling or experience develops, and when I’ve gained useful perspective on it. It’s enough to be able to make that journey. I sometimes even feel that I’m getting pretty good at doing it with a measure of skill. 🙂

…I sure know how to begin again… 😀

*By the time I finished writing through my lunch break, and having a bit of a pleasant chat with my partner about shop-related matters, and connecting in a loving way, I was once again in a comfortable place emotionally. Feels good. Didn’t honestly take that long to get from “there” to here, and the lack of residual negative emotion clogging up my experience of self (and this Monday) speaks volumes for how far I’ve really come since 2013. I’m sometimes pretty blown away when I reflect on the likelihood that a bit of emotional weather of this sort could have been days or weeks worth of feelings of despair, futility, and irritation. That’s a long way from where I am now. 🙂 Worth celebrating. I slurp my noodles contentedly. This works.

The waves hit the beach in a regular cadence, still managing to be quite varied and individual. The sound of it is thunderous through the open balcony door. The sky is azure, broad, vast, and seemingly infinite-of-horizon. The mild beiges and tans of the sandy beach separate land and sea quite conveniently. The numerous rocky outcroppings of various sizes just “offshore” become a fun festival of tidepools when the tide is at its lowest. The weather is “perfect” (for me), neither chilly enough to require a fleece or sweater, nor hot enough to make bare feet on sand uncomfortable. I walked miles yesterday, and again this morning. It feels good to feel so solitary, so conveniently. I’m not far from home (about an hour’s drive), and the beach is certainly not deserted, but in every practical way, I am far from the routines of every day life, and wrapped in solitude in spite of the nearness of other stray human primates scattered along the beach, walking with their thoughts, their dogs, or their families.

…I even went walking among the tidepools before I had my coffee this morning! I did not want to miss the revelations that low tide has to offer. 🙂

Tidepools to explore

I returned to the room after coffee and a bite of breakfast – a bit of a luxury. [Side note: I love “brunch”. My Traveling Partner is less enthusiastic about being up and dressed and out the door dealing with other human beings first thing, just for a meal as easily made (and often better quality) at home. I enjoy the variety and lack of effort (no cooking, no clean up). So, when I take time away, I definitely look for a choice opportunity to get breakfast or brunch. 😀 I’d even plan an entire weekend away around a really noteworthy brunch… I’ve got one or two of those on my “do this someday” list. LOL ]

Today, I’ll spend more time writing, reflecting, and letting my brain “get caught up” – clear that overloaded buffer – and then return to the beach for more miles and minutes.

I’ll be quite content if this little getaway is no more productive than a series of walks and naps, honestly. This is one way I recharge. 🙂 Making a point to take this time to recharge is one way I ensure I am most able to be my best self, and fully participate in a wholesome healthy way in my relationships. When the relationship I have with myself is not sufficiently nurturing or self-supporting and emotionally self-sufficient, I lose traction on being able to skillfully provide loving support and nurturing to my partner. 🙂 That was a hard won lesson to learn, and I sometimes feel I must be quite a bit stupider than I feel day-to-day that it took me so long to understand that.

…I do miss my partner, though… funny how these emotions exist side by side, mixed up together.

The coffee in the hotel room is quite horrible. I have no idea why otherwise nice hotels persist in providing these absolutely shit little drip coffee machines, with ancient packaged ground coffee of similarly terrible quality in these rooms. It would not be notably more costly to do just a little better than that. Hell, an electric kettle and a good quality instant would be an improvement. LOL I knew what to expect, so I made a point to bring along a better quality of coffee, so… it’s at least drinkable, more or less.

The beach, easy to see through the open balcony door, begins to fill with people. It’s after 10:00 am now. Time to begin again. 🙂

I can’t even string together enough swear words to adequately describe the pain I am in this morning. It’s just physical pain. It’s even mostly the “healthy pain” of spending a day working in the garden, stooping, bending, lifting, digging, kneeling, standing, reaching… all good stuff. Fuck I hurt though. That pain on top of my arthritis, on top of my [whatever the fuck is wrong with this bullshit] neck/headache pain – it’s a lot. I’m sipping a very good cup of coffee this morning, working on shrugging off the pain, to get started on the Sunday routine – housekeeping, chores, upkeep. The details of having good quality of life do not take care of themselves. (Note: if you think that the details of having good quality of life “just sort of happen”, then I suggest you look around for that person who is clearly caring for your clueless ass and say “thank you” once in a fucking while, and oh yeah – how about helping out?)

It was a lovely day in the garden, yesterday. There’s more to get done (I didn’t quite finish, even with my Traveling Partner’s help): there are yet a handful of dahlia tubers to plant, some final tidying up of beds (for this go ’round), and tools to put away. I enjoyed the work, and the effort. I am pleased with the results. I focus on those things, and turn my attention away from the pain I am in. That, and good self-care now, are the best I can do. Some yoga and pain management first thing when I woke, and hopefully once this coffee is done, I’ll be in fair shape for the chores ahead.

If you’re reading this as a healthy fit twenty-something, feeling immune to the aches and pains, and possibly just the tiniest bit dismissive or smug about your fitness, I have only this to say; your turn will come. 🙂 I don’t mean in a harsh way, I’m just saying that I understand that you “don’t get it” – we don’t know what we don’t know. I didn’t get it in my twenties, either. I couldn’t. It was outside my ability to truly understand. Enjoy ease and comfort and freedom of movement while they last you, my healthy fit friends of all ages. We’re all at risk of losing that fitness – whether through age or adversity – and once it is gone, it can be damnably difficult to get it back. (I keep working at that. Slow progress is still progress.)

Be kind to people. It’s unlikely that we know what someone else is really going through – even if they do try to tell us. Our own pain is typically the worst pain we know – and if it “isn’t that bad” we may not have a real reference with which to understand what someone else is going through. That’s as true for me as for anyone else. My partner tells me when he is in pain. I tell him. We hear each other. We earnestly seek to support each other with real care and consideration. We still can’t really know the pain the other one is experiencing. How bad is it, really? Well… I suspect it is always 100% “bad enough” that we do well to be kind to each other. I mean… that’s a small thing, isn’t it? So huge for the person we are being kind to, though. Oh, and when we’re in pain? When we’re suffering with it? Still, be kind. Sure, it’s an excuse one can offer for being a jerk to someone to say we are in pain. It’s even pretty real, right? Be kind, anyway. Pain hurts, for sure, and it can be a huge fucking challenge to muster one last shred of resilience to make that effort… but when we treat people poorly because we hurt, that person doesn’t feel our pain – only their own. From being hurt by being treated poorly. By us. Are you seeing how cyclical that can be? I’m just saying… it may be worth the effort all around, for all of us, every day, to be kind.

“I’m just being real.” I’m suggesting be kind instead. (Or, you know, in addition to being “real”… how about that?)

“I’m just giving helpful feedback.” I’m suggesting that if you must, that you do it in a kind way. Legitimately kind. If you can’t? Maybe don’t bother – especially if you weren’t asked for feedback.

“I’ve got my own shit to deal with.” Don’t we all? I’m just suggesting it may be less of a burden if you are also being kind to people you interact with.

“I’m all about ‘tough love’ and I’m only kind to people who deserve it.” It’s possible you’re missing the point of both “tough love” and kindness and I’m not sure what to say about that, at all. “Tough love” is about love. (It’s also about setting reasonable boundaries to avoid letting someone abuse your affection… seems like it would be possible to do so with kindness, too. I don’t know. I’m not walking your mile.)

Kindness may not save the world, but have you seen what the lack of it does to the world? It’s in the news a lot. Hate crimes. Road rage killings. Family violence. Kindness is a lot less news-worthy, generally… but the outcomes are far better.

I feel like I’m on a bit of a rant. 🙂 It’s just the pain I am in coloring my experience. That’s why I’m on about it; I expect to needs these words, myself, as soon as I interact with my partner, neighbors, or the community beyond. This is a blog post I’ll re-read a number of times, today, as pain wears me down and I fight back for one more shred of resolve to get one more task completed. 🙂

Take care of yourself today. Take care of those dear to you. Be kind. We all need more kindness, day-to-day. If we’re not willing to provide it, how will those around us understand to proceed, themselves? “Please be kind to me, I’m having a tough time today” are not easy words to say… maybe we would do well to practice, that, too? Anyway… practices need fewer words, and more practicing, and here it is, already time to begin again. 😉

Raindrops on a rose bud.

My Traveling Partner and I celebrated our anniversary this past weekend. 11 years as lovers, 10 years married. We didn’t do much about it, aside from noting the moment together, enjoying each other’s cooking, hanging out, and spending precious moments together. It was a very human experience; we also took turns dealing with our own, and each other’s, physical pain, and occasional off notes in love’s symphony. lol So human. We enjoyed good conversation, a deep connection, abiding affecting for each other, and some great music. Again, nothing particularly fancy or extraordinary, and with the pandemic being what it is, we spent our time together at home. 🙂 It is enough.

On one of my walks, I noticed the wild roses preparing to bloom. So soon?

It was a lovely weekend, and that’s how I remember it when I look back, in spite of being also aware that there were some moments I could have handled better (and some that perhaps he could have handled better). Yesterday I was in so much pain, generally, that by day’s end I’d maxed out on OTC and Rx pain relief, and still hurt enough to just call it a day quite early, thinking I’d just read quietly until whenever I felt sleepy… I don’t think I ever even picked up a book (or my Kindle).

I woke ahead of the alarm, with that painful day quite behind me, and an entirely new day ahead of me. I got up. Dressed. Went for my walk. Returned. Showered. Made coffee. Greeted my partner as he started his day. Now… here I am. 🙂 Sipping my coffee. Writing. Simple verbs. An ordinary morning.

Which moments are worth celebrating? Milestones like anniversaries seem an obvious choice. Perhaps it is less obvious to celebrate a routine pleasant Monday morning and a good cup of coffee? There are so many moments of suffering in a human life… I find value in celebrating even the small successes, and easy wins. Doesn’t seem to do me any harm to do so, and it tends to fill my day-to-day experience with small celebrations, which, generally, is quite pleasant. So… I do. 🙂

“The Alchymist” finally has a proper home in my garden. 🙂 Worth a moment to celebrate a very long journey to “home”.

A neighbor gave me a hand digging the hole for my only full-size potted rose, yesterday. I didn’t expect it, and was astonished that it was done so quickly. It was splendid to successfully replant The Alchymist into the garden from the big nursery pot it has endured for so long. 6 years? 7? (Could be going on 10…) I smile thinking of the remaining 3 roses that will go into the ground this Spring. I’m delighted that I have, thus far, managed each replanting without killing new growth, tearing off or breaking new shoots, or knocking off buds. 🙂

I was surprised how many buds there were on the long graceful canes of The Alchymist, already. Last year it only had one flower. LOL

…Small celebrations…

I remind myself to take a moment for life’s goodness, however humble, and to celebrate successes, however small. These moments are worthy of taking note, of savoring, of really enjoying – however brief they may seem, however modest in scale. An amazing, beautiful life can be built on small moments. 🙂

…And already it is time to begin again. 🙂 What are you celebrating, today?