Archives for posts with tag: what matters most?

The morning seems peculiarly physical as experiences go. My hair feels very soft. My coffee? This morning, the heat seems more noteworthy than the flavor of it, and I appreciate the warmth of the mug in my hands, in the chill of the morning. The headache, the arthritis pain, these too, are physical experiences. I notice the “taste of sleep” in my mouth, and remind myself to brush my teeth.

I don’t feel particularly emotional, at all. I am. I feel. This moment now, right here, is what it is. Is there more? Well, sure, but here, right now, this is enough. Later I will go to work. Do the things that provide the resources to continue on to do other things that make it easier to live a beautiful life of contentment, emotional safety, and modest comfort. I’ll go to a job. I’ll return home. I’ll do some chores. There are verbs involved (and just as many, regardless whether I am taking care of emotional needs, or physical ones).

This shit isn’t magic, People; there is will and decision-making involved, and even that won’t get many people to their goals. There is effort, commitment, and actual real work that has to back up our choices. Don’t like dishes in the sink? Do the fucking dishes. It’s that kind of basic stuff we so often get stuck on, isn’t it? Let something go in one moment, end up pissed off and fixated on it in some other moment. lol Stop letting shit just go. Build the life you most want to live – starting with your choices, and followed by your actions, and repeated in endless iterations until you stand contentedly in the midst of the life you have chosen to live.

Where you find yourself in life largely depends on the choices you make along the way.

It’s really that easy.

It’s also really really that hard.

It’s also your choice whether it is easy or hard; it won’t be without effort.

It gets way more challenging when it’s not just one person, living alone in a house, I get that. I hear you. When we share our space, explicit expectation-setting becomes critical, as well as quickly making it apparent how important shared goals, values, and willingness to work can be. I could not comfortably live in a house full of people and be the only person doing the fucking dishes, or cleaning the bathroom. There’d definitely be some fucking… “clear expectation-setting”, and it might get uncomfortably frank. (Easily summarized as “I’m not your fucking maid”.)

A lot of people enjoy a beautiful well-kept comfortably luxurious environment – it’s lovely to live that way – but the set of “all people who enjoy living beautifully” and the set of “all people willing to do the work to live beautifully” is not two identical sets of people, at all.Β That gets awkward fast if just one person willing to work for it is overwhelmed by the lack of consideration, or investment, or will, or ability, of several other people – who may only be willing to live that way, not put in the time, effort, or resources. Harsh.

Do your part. Whatever that is. Do it. Anything less makes a person just another “taker”, more often than people want to admit about themselves. Fucking hell, at least offer to help and really mean it. Be aware of the potential for resentment in your relationships, if you allow someone to carry more than their fair share of the work involved. Be willing to look in the mirror honestly; are you part of the solution, or are you holding things up, or worse – are you part of making extra work for everyone else?

I’m sitting here, comfortable at home, sipping an excellent coffee, prepared in a clean kitchen. Those things are what they are because I do the work involved. This morning, I am smiling, because my Traveling Partner, when he is here, also does the work involved, ensuring that I am not treated as a servant, or overloaded with housekeeping, or feeling resentful over “doing everything around here” when he is here at home. It’s quite a lovely partnership in that regard. There are no dishes on my counter. πŸ™‚ I’m not working any harder – and maybe, actually, a little less hard than I ordinarily would; I have help. Instead of gaining the stank and mess and workload involved in picking up after more people, I gain the extra time to enjoy life implied by having help with all the work, because I’m not alone here right now. It’s lovely. πŸ™‚

It’s also not perfect. I don’t have that kind of energy or time, and yeah; there are very human details and a touch of untidiness here and there. I’m comfortable, and content with my choices. πŸ™‚

I’m not meaning to be critical of your lifestyle – that’s not my point. Live as you wish. If you wish to live well, to live beautifully, though? There are verbs involved. There’s work to be done. If that beautiful life you seek is in the context of shared cohabitation in some form, it’ll be much easier if every-fucking-body does their part. No kidding. Everyone who uses the kitchen? Well, if they are all committed to cleaning as they go? The kitchen stays clean. Same with the bathroom – you use it? You help with cleaning it. Do you walk on the floors? I guess you’ll also be taking a turn vacuuming, and helping out by not dragging in mud and dirt from outside. Your dog, cat, other? You’re making sure, full-time, on the regular, that their waste is managed – promptly, and hygienically? It gets gross fast, if you’re not. Seriously – it’s a lot of work. All of it. It’s still got to be done, if the choice in life you want to make is to live well and beautifully. It’s one of life’s non-negotiables, actually.

This is not a dichotomy. It’s a not a single choice between live in filth and live beautifully. There’s a whole lot of choices here. Maybe you and your housemates really just don’t care about dishes at all, but the condition of the floors is a real quality of life headache? Maybe everyone really wants a sparkling clean bathroom, but the general tidiness around and about is less of a big deal? It’s something to discuss explicitly; what is the shared vision? And what is to be done if there’s just definitely that one person who wants to enjoy it all but has no interest in helping out? May I suggest that they be directed to relocate? No kidding, I don’t think I have another solution for that, unless pure resentful rage and constant very direct bitching until they move out counts. I’m sorry. I legitimately wish I knew how to get people to be more committed and helpful at home about quality of life matters that matter to other people.

Isn’t that a challenge that occurs in life, just… a lot? Lack of will. Lack of consideration. Lack of interest in doing the work. I mean, I go through it too. How many years did I waste in therapy because I kept looking for someone or something to blame for my pain, rather than allowing myself to simply accept that, being in pain, I needed to make some changes to ease it? The verbs were mine, all along. lol

How do you want to live your life? What does your vision of comfort and contentment look like? Are you doing the things it takes to have that experience?Β Maybe, just maybe, you could. Start small. Change one bad habit, because the outcome matters to you, every day. Keep at it. Fail and start over. Improve over time. Move on to another less than ideal habit or practice. Make a change. Repeat. We’re closing in on a whole new year – are you even well-informed about what you would do differently if it were entirely up to you? What would your life look like, if every detail were as you wish to see it? Is your vision truly your own? Is it practical and achievable? Can it be scaled back to get started in a more achievable way, if it is so exceedingly lavish as to be wholly impractical and unachievable right now? I’m just saying; more of this is within your control than you may realize.

…And it’s a wonderful time to begin again. How will you live your life? What is the change you wish to see in your world, right there at home? πŸ™‚

It’s basic troubleshooting, right? I mean, at least it seems to be with a lot of stuff. Not working? Restart it. Computer lagging? Have you restarted it? Vacuum cleaner stalled? Have you turned it off and turned it back on? Internet connection isn’t delivering on its promise of connectivity? Have you power cycled your router?

…Literal new beginnings just every where…

I sip my coffee and struggle to wake up. My coffee is good. Hot. Carefully brewed. Tasty for such values of flavor as are available for coffee in the first place (realistically, if it was about flavor, I could do better than coffee lol). I’m satisfied with the coffee, but less so with my state of relative alertness, this morning.

Yesterday evening was peculiar. I got mired, briefly, in the search for a carefully saved file I did not want to lose track of and could not find, and instead of finding it, went on a strange journey through saved photos and rediscovered all (I think) of the missing photos I thought I’d lost after my apartment was burglarized back in 2016. That discovery still has me smiling and a little astonished. It’s not the real point, though (wait – why isn’t it?) – the point is, I didn’t actually need the file I was looking for – I just got hung up on finding it, once I couldn’t. I had an alternate solution that was perfectly feasible and practical in every way. Once I finally gave up on insisting on finding that file, and actually just took care of the need (which amounted to taking a picture with my camera, seriously, it was nothing), I immediately found that fucking file.Β I’d ever so carefully saved it to my desktop so I wouldn’t lose it. LOL

Damn it. So human.

About those pictures. There are some wonderful shots that I’d thought I’d lost forever. There are a lot of memories saved in those photographs. I felt, as I scrolled through them, that I had regained something tangible that had been lost. More wonderful even than that? By the time I had scrolled long enough to satisfy my curiosity and emotional appetite, I was also very much aware that I had not really “lost anything” at all, in the sense that my memories of that time were intact – even without the pictures. Wow. I mean… wow. Really? πŸ˜€

I’m sipping my coffee, now, with a happy smile as I think about how good it feels to have memories of pleasant moments. πŸ™‚

I think about that a bit longer, sipping my coffee, almost losing track of time. It’s a work day. I think about my challenges in the evening, yesterday. I think about how easily a quick “restart” works out for me, so often. Another glance at the time…

…Already time to begin again. πŸ˜€ I’m still fairly groggy. Time to restart the morning… I’ll take my coffee to go. πŸ˜€

It’s funny, isn’t it, that things change so much in such a short time, and often in such unexpected ways. Sometimes subtle, sometimes quite obvious, sometimes in unimaginably pleasant ways, sometimes less so – change is.Β 

I smile and sip my coffee. This morning it is exceptionally good. I feel well-rested, content, and calm. The morning begins well. I enjoy this feeling, savoring it, lingering with it, not asking it to be anything more than what it is. Grateful for it, and appreciative.

Some lovely fun hours in the company of dear friends, and my Traveling Partner, were a nice addition to the weekend. I am still enjoying those recollections, too. I think about all the many small commitments to mutual support, and shared experience, that make up these relationships – as much about “family” and community, as they are about friendship. Our relationships are so much of who we are. Almost a “living mirror”, in a sense; we see reflected back what we are able to deliver, ourselves. It’s a lot of work to maintain a low-drama experience in the context of our relationships, sometimes, but it is possible. I smile and think about that for a few minutes more. How do we share the best of who we are with the people most dear to us? How do we encourage them to do the same?

I glance at the time. It’s an ordinary enough work day, and I’ve commitments aside from those to family, community, home, and hearth. There’s also the work thing, and it’s already time to begin again. lol

…Are you ready for a new day? What will you do with it? πŸ™‚

It’s a Saturday morning. I am awake early. I make a delicious cup of coffee, and later a couple of eggs, prepared simply, with a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper. I feel content and satisfied. I scroll through my feeds; too many memes and shares, not enough original content. I move on. I do some self-study on topics currently most interesting to me. I take time to meditate.

I feel good.

I think about these things before I sit down to write. I consider how routinely I “begin again” and how often I suggest it as a great practice, recognizing what I’m really saying is something as elementary as “don’t beat yourself up over that, just start over”, which is less succinct, and less likely to become clear programming. I find myself wondering if that’s really enough to be at all helpful for friends or readers who haven’t yet tried a new beginning in that sense that I mean, and don’t quite know what to do with that moment of transition between the end/consequence of the one moment, and the fresh-start newness of the next.

I drink my coffee and mull that over. Is it a complicated question? “How to Begin Again” doesn’t seem the sort of thing that would, generally, require explicit instruction… but… I already know I’m wrong about that, a lot. So…

  1. Step one, well, I guess something’s gotta end, or be completed, or fail horribly leaving us feeling wretched and lost, or at loose ends, or puzzled, or discontent, or… Yeah. I guess step one has to be the end of something or other. Let’s start there. πŸ™‚
  2. Now begin again.

Okay, okay. I’m being a smart ass, and a bit flippant, and maybe that’s not appropriate for you, in your circumstances, right at the moment? Got it. I’ll… begin again.

  1. Let’s go ahead and still start with something that ends. πŸ™‚ A circumstance, a moment, an experience – and hey, maybe that’s your “now”, right now, and it hasn’t ended yet, and you’re really quite unhappy and miserable and feeling beat down by life, or overcome by ennui or sorrow, or frustration… damn. That sucks. Let’s step 2 the hell out of that, shall we?
  2. Breathe. No kidding. Take a moment and just get some wholesome cleansing deep breaths. Let that other shit go, just for a moment or two at least? Surely that’s fine? It’s a choice. Take a moment for you, and just breathe.
  3. Even while allowing yourself to consider what has passed, whether success or failure, however miserable, worried, or anxious, please also work on letting go of your attachment to the specific outcome, and let go of any expectations you were holding on to. Let yourself have a clean slate on this – it’ll be okay to do that, I assure you. πŸ™‚ The map is not the world, and clinging to an understanding of an experience or circumstance can definitely color your future experience and decision-making.
  4. Go ahead and feel your feelings. Yep. Feel ’em. Emotions are not the bad guys here, and we can develop a less reactive, more awareness-based approach to our emotional life. Finding balance between emotion and reason is a very nice bonus to all this practicing. πŸ™‚
  5. Still breathing? You’ll want to keep that going, generally. πŸ™‚
  6. If you are wanting to literally re-start whatever you just failed at, now’s the time, perhaps, to consider what success really looks like – and maybe also ask yourself some questions about why you view it that way? Is that your own legitimate authentic honest assessment, or have you borrowed someone else’s opinion’s or values there? Please consider usingΒ  your own. πŸ™‚ (Much easier to succeed in life when you are pursuing your own goals.)
  7. Make a plan. Oh, I know – an ever-loving fuck-ton of you, out there, are not planners at all. I’m not saying a word about whether or not you execute a specific plan. I am most definitely suggesting that you still sketch out some sort of loose notion of what you want to get done, even if it’s only in your head, and even if you follow through completely differently. When we feel prepared, our stress level in life is generally lower. Just saying. Think it through. Consider your next steps, and your goal. Consider alternate outcomes – a lot of them. Be okay with as many of those as you are able to allow yourself to be. Consider how those alternate outcomes may also be quite okay, maybe in totally different ways. (Some people might call this “daydreaming”, but it can be done very productively.)
  8. Allow yourself to acknowledge what is and has gone well. Contemplate for some moments all manner of similar experiences or circumstances or events or relationships that have turned out quite well, based on your choices in the past. Consider them. Savor these memories of success and sort of “fill up your consciousness” with the things in life that you appreciate, and have turned out quite nicely.
  9. Still breathing? Don’t forget to breathe.
  10. Now’s the time. Whatever it is, take another lovely deep relaxed breath, recognize and enjoy your humanity, and be aware that through our challenges is our path to growth; we don’t learn much from our successes, or the easy wins in life. We don’t become stronger by way of experiences that don’t test our strength. We can’t fathom the depths of our capacity for joy or love without also experiencing the weight of our pain and sorrow.
  11. Ready? Do the thing. ❀ (All sorts of different steps and verbs go with this one, obviously. You get to choose those; that’s on you.)

I still think it’s fine to just… start with step 1 and finish with a step 2… but… I’ve been practicing for a while, and at this point, it does feel pretty natural to sort of cram all the rest of that between them. LOL

I smile and think about this journey of mine, and how far I’ve come from that hurt creature uncertain life is worth living… that was only… 5 years ago. The world isn’t really a “better place” than it was then, in most regards, and actually, it seems a bit worse, in a number of ways. Still… I feel better, about the world, about myself, about my life, about my ability to love and to heal and to nurture, and to make wise choices. I treat myself, generally, reliably well. I treat others better than I was ever able to before – or knew how to do. Strange to consider how all this progress has been built on so many small beginnings.

Sipping coffee, thinking about self-care, reflecting on visits with friends and weekends when my Traveling Partner is here at home. I smile, a deep, lasting, crease-this-face-permanently sort of smile when I think about his time here in terms of his being “here at home”. Damn, that feels nice. πŸ™‚

Words matter. Our narrative matters (to us). How we phrase things, the context in which we put things, the assumptions we allow to live in our thinking – all of that matters, because all of it colors our day-to-day experience over time. We’ve got so much control over that it can literally change our experience of living our lives to change the way we understand and think about pieces of that experience – even without changing the underlying facts of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Interesting. Promising.

I enjoy a few minutes of conversation, mixed in with my morning writing. I lose the flow of my thoughts, while gaining a feeling of being connected, supported, understood, recognized, and well-regarded. It’s hard to call that a poor trade-off. πŸ™‚

It’s the winter holiday season. There’s a lot going on right now. I meditate more, and more often, but easily lose track of basic self-care practices (including meditation) in the excitement of time spent with loved ones, the busy-ness of the season, the flurry of social events, and yeah – colored lights reflected off of ornaments and objects that I only see for this handful of weeks, each year. lol It’s an important time to also keep self-care well-managed; mistakes in this area can result in all manner of weird holiday drama (that is actually so very common). It’s easy to overlook ourselves in the rush to do things for others; taking care of ourselves, though, fuels our ability to care for others.

Hey, reminder, in case anyone’s forgotten, the self-care I’m referring to when I say “caring for ourselves” is not about buying ourselves things, keeping things for ourselves, getting loaded on exotic intoxicants, or selfishly hoarding time, goods, money, or our presence. I’m talking about getting the rest we need, taking care of our basic hygiene skillfully, eating nutritionally dense calorie appropriate meals, taking medication on time, and creating an emotionally nurturing internal world view that is so inclusive we are even able to love and appreciate that human being in the mirror, while also extending our compassion, empathy, and kindness to others. Fuck. That’s a lot to take in.

Are you taking care of yourself? Drinking enough water? Getting enough rest? Spending some time walking in the sunshine and fresh air? Eating healthy meals prepared from safe, nutritious ingredients? Laughing? Enjoying the company of those dear to you? Limiting your work hours so that you also enjoy some leisure? Seriously – someone cares about you (and, one of those someone’s is ideally you, I’m just saying…) so take care. Please. πŸ™‚

Oh, hey, will you look at the time? Already time to begin again. I’ll start with self-care. Will you? (Please?)