Archives for posts with tag: what matters most?

Sipping my coffee and listening to the rain fall. Artificial rain…although… it is raining outside this morning. This particular video also has the sound of a crackling fire, a river flowing nearby…and honestly, sounds rather like a rainy day here, in my own living room, on a day when the creek is flooding. It’s a relaxing soundscape, and tends to push distractions out of my immediate awareness very well.

…The relaxing, soothing, comforting, background soundscape tends to be very helpful with managing my anxiety, which has been coming and going rather a lot the past week or so. I could have expected it, I suppose. When my values and my circumstances feel as though they are in opposition to each other, or somehow at odds, I don’t feel “comfortable”, and the longer it goes on, the more my anxiety increases in intensity, and the frequency with which it surges into the forefront of my consciousness also increases. It’s an “early warning system” that there may be a decision-making point coming up very quickly, or that the time to reflect on things and make other choices may be upon me. I could “fight it” with soothing sounds and do nothing more. I could meditate regularly, “accept my lot in life”, and struggle with the anxiety and discomfort – or attempt to medicate it away – and settle for quiet misery.

…Or I can acknowledge that I am unhappy, seek to determine what the primary cause of that discontent may be, and consider other options… this is particular effective if, after all that, I’m prepared to choose change. I mean… maybe the options aren’t really an improvement? That’s certainly a scenario that comes up now and again. I’ve often found that getting to that place where I can critically consider and factually determine that the present options don’t result in a clear likely improvement also serves to reduce my anxiety – it’s more about giving the matter real thought, and allowing myself the consideration and respect required to resolve my discontent with action, where action would do so.

I would use the example of working a job that isn’t ideal. Maybe it really is a poor fit, and making a change would be an improvement? Maybe the available options would not actually present a legitimate shot at the desired specific improvement at all, and would therefore be of no real use? Maybe the options are “more of the same” and “more of the same-r-er”, and time would be better spent in improving skills, and investing time in other endeavors during leisure hours? Maybe it really is time to move on to some other thing? I’m not a fan of reacting in the moment with drastic action built on an emotional moment. Personally? I like self-reflection. I value introspection. I seek self-awareness. I’d ideally prefer all of my decision-making be built on those qualities, and a hearty helping of perspective, self-respect, and non-attachment, besides! 🙂

“Having it all” comes in many forms. What do I really want? What matters most? Where does lifelong fulfillment lie on this path? Am I headed down a path that even leads me in the direction I hope to go? No map.

I’m sipping my coffee and listening to the rain fall. It’s not relevant that the sound of it “isn’t real”, particular when I’m seeing the rain fall beyond the window. What I see and what I hear are well-aligned. Isn’t there real value in also having my circumstances and professional values also aligned? I’m just saying; I have choices. There are verbs involved. My results may vary…

…And I also get to begin again. 🙂

My coffee has grown cold. Second cup, busy day. I’m thinking over some things I’ve read recently (or watched) that “spoke to me”, and letting these things “seep in” and become more integrated with my own thinking. I think of it a bit like being on a journey without a map… and getting to peak at the map in the hands of a passing traveler, for just a glimpse.

This video really gets some important ideas about “following passion” as a way of doing life. I think it’s more than commonly clear on the subject.

Then there’s this article about de-escalating heated conversations. It’s given me quite a lot to think about, specifically about how complicated it can be to attempt to “enforce” calm on turbulent emotional states for me, and the real value in mastering the skills needed to do so.

I watched this video, which turned up randomly courtesy of the YouTube algorithm… it’s a good practical cautionary tale about seeking fame (or, at least, not doing things in one’s present that might prove problematic if one were to become famous at some future point).

Then, the article that keeps me returning for further reflection and consideration, and a fairly wholesome sense of renewed purpose, which is one about interrupting (a known challenge for me). I can’t even say, with any specificity, why this article got my attention with so much commitment. It did.

I sigh out loud and push my hair back from my face. It’s a long day of work ahead, today. I’m okay with that, it’s work I enjoy. I found a lovely bit of background noise to keep me focused, and it’s time to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping the last of my second cup of coffee. It’s a Friday; I might have a third, later. I’m in pain, mostly managing it. I’ve felt the tiniest bit “under the weather” since yesterday, as if fighting off a head cold. I feel… tired. Bone-deep fatigue unrelieved by a good night’s sleep. Rested – still tired. I struggle to fully engage routine tasks. I don’t feel wholly alert. I struggle to resist distractions.

I find myself becoming annoyed with myself over my “lack of motivation” at the end of what has been a ridiculously busy work week. My inner dialogue begins to become aggressive and adversarial, and a tad “punishing” and disrespectful. I could take time to try to sort out where all that garbage and mess comes from… or I can take the break I so clearly need, and do a good job of that, instead. I mean, clearly I learned this self-abusive unproductive bullshit somewhere, but those sorts of ugly relationship dynamics are not a regular part of my everyday life now. I can just “let all that go”, and make a point to willfully treat myself with more kindness and understanding. To embrace my own “Big 5″ relationship values – even in my relationship with myself.

I’ve got a long weekend coming up. I feel my shoulders relax when I think about spending time in the studio painting. As I imagine the moment, and anticipate the feeling of “treating myself” to that creative time, I feel my shoulders relax, and a smile begin at the edge of my mouth. I imagine hiking my new favorite local trail, again, and doing some sketches there, and returning to canvas and paint at home. I imagine sleeping in, and waking slowly. I imagine waffles for brunch, and little breakfast sausages, piping hot, fat crackling and popping in the pan. I imagine putting my feet up with a new book, and sipping a glass of sherry as twilight becomes nightfall. I imagine spending quiet time with my Traveling Partner, and long leisure hours discussing one plan or project or another. Rest and art and love seem like good things to spend the weekend on…

…I straighten my posture, and look over this spreadsheet, feeling just a bit less beat down, and ready to finish this week… One more way to begin again. 🙂

I’m sipping my coffee, and starting my work day. It’s pretty ordinary in most respects. The rain continues to fall. By itself, the fact of rain falling is insignificant on a winter morning in the Pacific Northwest. Rain falls. It’s a thing people know about. 🙂 We are powerless to stop the rain falling. (I’m sure there’s a metaphor there, somewhere…)

It’s actually been raining, specifically here, where I am, for days. There are flood warnings. It’s a legitimate concern.

The “creek” beyond the retaining wall is generally just a trickle.

Rain. Floods. Storms. Weather exists. It comes and goes. I sip my coffee grateful that I’m not also dealing with a major power outage, as some colleagues just a few miles north happen to be, this morning.

…Few experiences define “feeling powerless” the way being without power can… I mean… for obvious reasons.

An anxious younger colleague reaches out for suggestions on coping with the lack of electricity. I share tips, practices, and perspective gained over years. Most of those are fairly practical, some of them are not helpful unless available in advance… still, it’s often helpful simply to “be there” for someone feeling anxious, so I did my best. 🙂 Then, I found myself reflecting on my own general “preparedness” for such emergencies in life…

  1. Big bag of tea lights for lighting the darkness? Yep. I’ve got those.
  2. A supply of safe drinking water? Yep. Just in case.
  3. Non-perishable snacks and camping food that can be prepared without cooking (or just boiling water)? Definitely; I try to stay “ready to camp”.
  4. Some way to boil water safely? Yep. Jet-Boil is handy. There are others. (And it won’t matter, anyway, if there’s no fuel for that stove…)
  5. Adequate canned fuel for the camping stove. (I’ve got that, too.)
  6. A lighter can be very handy. I have a couple around. (Matches, too.)
  7. Something to do besides doomscrolling and feed-checking? Books, board games, decks of cards… yep. On hand, always. 😀 (And it’s a good thing, too, since batteries have a finite charge!)
  8. Back up power? This one is tricky… an assortment of power bricks, charged, are available, so we’re good for sufficient power to check email, make phone calls, and provide limited connectivity for a short while. Better than nothing. Having a small generator would be cool… that’s a very different level of preparedness, and I’m not there yet. lol

Now… all that is well and good and super helpful… but only if I can find it in the dark. Can I? Hmmm… generally, yes. We moved recently, though, and I realize when I think it over as a potential crisis scenario; I can’t find the camping food/gear in my head with the specificity I’d need to go directly to it in the darkness. I know it is “in the garage” – which is my Traveling Partner’s wood shop, also (and which has an ever-changing purpose-driven arrangement of tools and work space, by design). Daylight means I would not need to stress over this detail; I can just open the garage door and see what I’m doing… but if I had to find my Jet-Boil stove in the darkness? I don’t think I could, right now. It’s a small detail, but one that reminds me that moving in, for me, is a fairly lasting process of many weeks – and I’m not “there” yet. I can’t find everything in the dark, yet.

I sip my coffee and think about power, powerlessness, and feeling prepared for life, generally. I could do better, I can see that. 🙂 I make some notes to myself.

It’s time to begin again. 😀

Sometimes I have to remind myself (yeah, and this at 57) that most uncomfortable or unpleasant situations I may find myself in, and very nearly all difficult interactions with other people, have within them an opportunity to learn and grow… if I can sort out what exactly the lesson is. Sometimes I find it less than ideally obvious what could be learned from some challenging moment.

I take a break from working to reflect on how conversations flow. I have a long-standing personal challenge with interrupting people. I’m sure it is a byproduct of impaired executive function, one of many pieces of my TBI puzzle. I’m not saying that to excuse it, I’m just pointing out that it persists for reasons that seem likely to be associated with the underlying nature of the issue. I continue to work on it. I continue to interrupt people. It continues to be unpleasant for those who are being interrupted – I know that with certainty, because I myself also dislike being interrupted (and as a woman in America often speaking with, among, or to, men, I experience it regularly, I promise you, but it’s not the topic today).

…I continue to work on it.

…I continue to interrupt people.

Fucking hell. I know that it’s necessary to begin again. Practice deep listening. Slow down. Find the balance point between considering what I’ve heard for so long that I’ve forgotten to reply at all… and jumping in to respond before someone has actually finished their thought. Make a point of really noticing, observing, when I “get it right”, and a conversation flows naturally, everyone feels heard, talking is in turns… savor the successes, to build an implicit comfort with that timing and cadence, generally. Breathe more. Speak in a measured, comfortable pace that allows me to continue to breathe.

…So much to practice…

I rather expect I’ll be working on this one until my actual last breath… but my results have been known to vary. I do begin again, pretty reliably, and we do become what we practice… eventually. 🙂 Consider this one a bit of self-nagging on the way to beginning again. 😉

We become what we practice. Now to practice not interrupting… 😀

It’s a journey with a lot of steps.