Archives for posts with tag: what matters most?

I’m sipping my coffee and reminding myself – again – to stop picking at my cuticles. It’s more like a “tic” than a “habit”, and it comes and goes with my background anxiety or general level of stress. I’m less than ideally skilled at managing it. I sigh out loud and begin typing. I know that I can’t pick at my cuticles while also typing…so… there’s that. Helpful.

A glance at the news doesn’t need to go any deeper than headlines. Click-bait-y or not, the news in the world is pretty grim. Earthquakes. Murder. War. Femicide. Sexism. Racism. Xenophobia. Greed. Human primates are a fucking dumpster fire of mistreatment and poor decision-making. It’s ugly out there. I feel “the weight of the world” as a big disappointing bummer. A metaphorical weight holding me down. Bleh.

I feel, momentarily, that I have little power to change the world. I guess that’s mostly pretty true… another sip of my coffee. I think about the coffee itself. Where it likely comes from, far away, in a hotter climate, and likely the product of a great deal of back-breaking manual labor that was not well-compensated. I frown at my coffee. At the world. We could do better. Every fucking one of us, most likely. Me too. You too. All of us.

Another sigh. Another sip of coffee. A glance at my work calendar for today. I’m feeling low and unmotivated. My dreams were troubled and my sleep was restless. If it weren’t a work day, I’d maybe just go back to bed and hope to wake in a different place, emotionally. So much less work involved than trying to sort myself out in this moment.

…”Do better.” I remind myself…

I take a breath. Take a break. Walk around the block feeling the cold morning air on my face. Funny – I don’t recall ever needing to take a break while I was writing in the morning, before. Strange. It’s not about the writing. It’s about the human being doing the writing (clearly). I take a minute to think about things that make me feel good. I think about love. I think about my Traveling Partner sleeping at home. I think about sunshine, Spring, and meadows covered in flowers. I think about forested trails and the sound of a creek flowing beneath a bridge. I think about rain showers and days at the beach. I think about quiet afternoons with a good book. I think about the many beautiful miles I have walked in a lifetime, and how many more miles there are to walk that I’ve never yet set foot upon. I think about the beautiful things my Traveling Partner has made for me (or us) since we moved here to this little house. I think about his smile and his laughter. I think about the warmth of his embrace and the way he misses me when I’m not with him. I think about the first time I ever heard The Sultans of Swing on the radio. I think about my first set of oil paints, my first really good brushes, my first easel. I think about the roses in my garden, and my plans for Spring this year.

…There’s more good than bad, more delightful moments than unpleasant ones, in this one life of mine. I’m fortunate. Trauma has left some scars, and imprinted me in some unfortunate ways. We are changed by trauma, it’s true. I still have choices. I still have opportunities to grow, heal, and improve. I still have so much to say about how I experience moments – even if I can’t do much to change the world. (Individual people do change the world… it’s just fairly unlikely, statistically. lol) Still… our choices matter. How we treat each other matters, and the small things we do to be our best version of ourselves, and enjoy our lives and lift each other up all make an huge difference… if only in small ways. 🙂 It’s still worthwhile to do our best.

…and then do better than that, too…

One moment at a time. One choice at a time. Today I’ll just do my best, and hope to get it more right than wrong, and do better tomorrow. 🙂

I’m ready to begin again. Again.

How funny that this one got saved as a draft, and never published…? Strange. Here’s a peak back at 2015.

It’s been a lovely weekend, so far. There’s a bit more to it, yet, and I am smiling, and feeling unhurried. I spent yesterday enjoying me, and completing some practical tasks with a hint of the artistic to them, like hanging a few more paintings, and beginning re-organizing all the shelved books into some arrangement that is both visually appealing and allows any one book to be located…ever.

When I moved in, I simply shelved all the books to get them out of boxes (because boxes take up precious space) – in general I have no idea what books are where. Yesterday I carefully went through all the books and identified a handful that I don’t find worth keeping at this point in my life. The minimal square footage requires that I be frugal about possessions, keeping only what actually has meaning, value, or utility. Today I will begin the more complex process of sorting them by author or by topic, and re-shelving them in a more logical way that permits research, and of course simplifies grabbing a particular book before bed, if I choose. 🙂 Truthfully, sorting tasks are a favorite of mine; I find them calming, pleasant, and likely to promote clear creative thinking. I have spent the weekend sorting things…books…small parts and fasteners…canvases…thoughts. It has been a singularly self-nurturing weekend without stress or urgency.

I enjoyed the morning with my traveling partner, and he indulged my longstanding fondness for breakfast (or brunch) by taking me to a favorite local breakfast spot. Now that we don’t live together 24/7, each moment we do spend together is something I willfully and mindfully cherish. At some point during his visit, hanging out at my place and talking about books, paintings, and when to wall mount the big monitor, he made the observation (rather astutely) that I had ‘tolerated’ (or was it ‘endured’?) living with him because I adore him so, but that it has become obvious that my clear preference for myself is to live alone. It’s true. My traveling partner is quite literally the only person I’ve ever really enjoyed living with…and even so, would prefer, generally, to live alone. Living with other people has been some degree of mostly miserable, for as long as I can remember – even as a kid. Some of the broken bits, and chaos and damage, just don’t make cohabitation easy for me, and having to share day-to-day space with other people just doesn’t feel good – or easy. I end up spending a lot of time with my teeth clenched, feeling tense, angry, irritable, trying to find some space for myself in which I will not be intruded upon – and it’s not because other human primates are any more fundamentally flawed than I am, myself. I don’t know that I have a solidly rational explanation, and making the attempt holds plenty of risk of hurting feelings, or creating imagined sorrows. It is enough, I think, to say that I prefer to live alone, and that I am comfortable with solitude day-to-day.

This has been a fantastic weekend. I have spent most of it quite alone, not even venturing forth except to do a little gardening yesterday evening, and breakfast out this morning, followed by the briefest possible trip to the market for coffee beans, and dishwasher detergent. I am understanding something differently about myself, as a result of this lovely [and much-needed] solitary weekend; loneliness is not about solitude at all, at least not for me. Ah, but my traveling partner is so right about the things phrased in the negative – knowing what loneliness is not about is far less useful than understanding what it is about. Perhaps I will learn that some other day? I won’t be learning much about loneliness this weekend – I am enjoying the solitude. 🙂

Contemplating patience, incremental change over time, and the tender ongoing exploration of self that my move as supported got me thinking about the idea of ‘pacing myself’ – taking my time with things in a mindful way makes so much sense. I tend to rush. I am enjoying the outcome of slowing things down in both life and love, and investing in quality of life through careful choices, mindful actions, and a willingness to practice being present in each moment without sham efficiencies masquerading as ‘multi-tasking’. I am ‘pacing myself’. I am living my life thoroughly, and enjoying how naturally my home seems to have become a ‘no stress zone’.

Today is a good day to slow down and enjoy each task, and each moment. Today is a good day to love. Today is a good day for stillness, for solitude, and for contentment. Today is a good day to create the world I prefer to live in. [Your results may vary.]

That was quite a long time ago, I suppose. Have things changed? Sure. I live in a home in a small town. I’ve got a mortgage instead of rent. My Traveling Partner lives with me and is my fond and adored companion on life’s journey, every day. My garden is a little bigger. My job has changed (and changed again). Have I learned to slow down and pace myself? Well… a bit more than I once knew how, yes. My results still vary.

…And it’s time to begin again.

I’m sipping my second coffee and smiling. It’s a lovely morning. I woke from a strange (and amusing) dream that had been influenced by recent videos my Traveling Partner and I had watched together. He made an appearance in my dream. We laughed together over coffee when I shared the details (and did a fairly good impression of my partner’s “exasperated-still-loving-you” tone). It was a wonderful start to the morning just to share conversation and coffee together. 🙂 Ordinary stuff – but so so sweet.

…Don’t forget to enjoy the small things; sometimes they matter most.

The morning is still dark. The weather is relatively mild (especially so for January, but, you know, the climate is changing). I look over my “to-do list” for tasks I may have been dodging – maybe get one or two of those done today? I smile softly to myself. Mornings like this make everything that follows feel easy.

I pause my writing to do a bit of travel research I’d promised to take care of for my partner.

I glance at the time as I hit send on the email… already time to begin again. 😀

Maybe skip this one today? This entire article is mostly me just beefing about shit that irritated my consciousness after reading through the business news this morning. Mostly irrelevant to the usual themes, and if that’s what you are seeking out, this may be a disappointment. I do get there eventually, but… tl;dr? Do your best today. Do better than that tomorrow.

Cities are not built by gold. They are built by labor, and by working hands.

I am sipping my coffee and reflecting on items in the business news this morning. Layoffs. A relatively tasteless (in context of layoffs) comment from a CEO that “ChatGPT is a free employee” that businesses need to learn how to use. Massive greed. Fraud. Companies paying for luxury entertainment at fancy conferences – while doing layoffs. Shareholders looking for another nickel. More frauds. Crypto scams. People being treated as machinery. Businesses looking for new ways to pay people less for more work. The media working hard to peddle controversy and keep my attention.

…I think we’re getting a lot of this quite wrong, somehow…

How do you define success? Take a while on that one, please. No rush. It’ll be important to you later on.

What about “greed”? How do you define greed? Do you apply the same definition to your own behavior and standards as you do to those around you?

What are your thoughts on how businesses treat employees? Is that a reflection of your own perspective as a working human being?

What do you think about pay equity? Should people doing the same job be making the same money? Do you think it matters where they live or what demographic they are part of? Why?

Perspective really matters on a lot of this. The perspective of someone in the position to be an oppressor is unlikely to be the same as the perspective of someone among the oppressed.

…The perspective of someone looking to cash in on simply having an opinion for sale is quite its own thing…

[I wrote some relatively radical pro-labor ranting, which I subsequently deleted. I’m not here for that. Not really. (I really should not read the news in the morning. Not even the business news.)]

This really isn’t even about that.

I’m thinking about how much I’ve personally grown over time. How my thinking has changed. The woman I am today, and how I seek to treat the people around me, is not the woman I was at 19. At 25. At 37. It’s been a hell of a journey of evolving thinking and changing values. (That’s a good thing.)

One of the things I’m finding … interesting… is that the woman I was at 19 would have been defined today as a “conservative” but made shit wages in a low-skilled job with far fewer protections as a worker than exist today – and often voted to prevent that from changing for the better! I work very differently now. Think differently. Vote differently. I’m definitely not “conservative”. I seek different outcomes – equitable, beneficial, positive outcomes that provide for the betterment of folks who need that support most (instead of for “the shareholders” or “the company” or people who are already affluent) I’d ideally like to get that result without destroying the one planet we have to live on right now.

Why would anyone want to get rich at the expense of the survival of the entire planet?

…Why we’re at it, why is “getting rich” such a common measure of success for so many people, at all? Seriously. Is counting money all that damned interesting once you have everything you need in life to thrive?

…Wouldn’t it be interesting if businesses took their measure of success not from their gross margin or profits, but from their contribution to society in the form of taxes paid and outcomes achieved?

Why aren’t we (as a global society) making sure that (all) people have the basics that they need in life to thrive? Globally we appear to have the resources to do it. Solving the “how” is what matters… so… why does so much of the discussion seem to be about whether we should?

My coffee has gone cold already and I haven’t even solved global poverty, the plight of the working class, or figured out the easiest way to communicate how problematic greed is. lol Oh, I wasn’t really trying to. I’m just trying to say “we could do better than we do right now” and that we could put some fucking attention on that… even if only over our morning coffee.

…Isn’t it important enough to talk about? Rhetorical question. Of course it is. It’s just necessary to also do more than talk.

I sip my coffee. It doesn’t much matter that it’s cold. I’m privileged to enjoy this cup of coffee. There may come a time in my own lifetime when coffee isn’t so widely available in such good quality. I make a point to appreciate it, in the early morning quiet.

My Traveling Partner finished building a new sit/stand desk for my office space at home. It’s the same space that is my art studio. I feel “wrapped in luxury and good fortune” to have an office at home – or a studio. It’s beautiful, and functional, and I feel loved. Amazing. Took a lot of work and time to get to this place. It required some lucky breaks. Some thought. Choices. It absolutely required a good partnership – one that supports my growth, and my fondest desires. I did not get “here” alone.

Alone? Alone I’ve only ever gotten… nowhere.

…My emotional wellness has been a similarly long-time, challenging journey – the success of which has been built on luck, effort, happenstance, choices, time, practice, failure, and a good partnership (or many). Just saying; we don’t get where we’re going alone, even though we’re walking our own hard mile.

…And we can almost always do just a bit better than we did… before we knew we could…

So.

It’s time to begin again. Do better though. Do better than yesterday. Every day.

One at a time. Keep practicing. Stay on the path.

So far…, so… I’m not perfect. Not even close. If “perfection” were the measure of human success, I would be an abject failure. Just saying, there’s something to appreciate that a. the bar is way lower than that and b. we even get to “set the bar” for most values of “success” in life ourselves and then also score the results. “It’s not that bad.” describes a lot of things. Pro-tip: there’s real value in pausing to reflect on how good it is and how bad it isn’t now and then. The results may surprise you.

“Good enough” has to be good enough, sometimes. 🙂

Are you wondering why I linked that track in paragraph 1? Here it is again with the lyrics. 😉

Last weekend I was ill. Like, dragging myself to the bathroom for multiple episodes of all manner of biological disaster through the night on Friday, and running a bit of a fever all day Saturday after my guts were utterly emptied from both ends. Yick. Horrible. My fever finally broke in the early evening on Saturday. Yesterday I was exhausted (in spite of drifting in and out of a restless sleep most of Saturday), and a bit faint and dizzy feeling. I managed to push a couple loads of laundry through the machines, and even put away most of that, but anything more was honestly beyond me. My Traveling Partner was super helpful and supportive and kind, and the only moment of discord between us was a bit of frustration with me over my relative incompetence in that state that made it super difficult to do the one “thinking task” (and it was a way easy ask) that he called upon me to do late in the afternoon. Thankfully, he saved me from possibly bricking an expensive laptop by being more aware than I was that I had “gone down the wrong path” on that task. My own frustration with the situation resulted comically in being mad enough to “storm off” to take a walk… which amounted to going to check the mail because I did not even have the strength to take a real walk of any distance. Hilarious. Had to come home and fucking behave myself and work on making things right with my partner like a grown-up.

Today feels like “just another work day”, but with a helping of “why did I think I would actually be fully up to this already?”. I didn’t sleep well, either. I had slept so much (I suspect) in the prior days (without drinking much coffee) that I ended up “over slept”, and since yesterday I did have coffee… I couldn’t sleep. Since I didn’t have quite half my usual amount of coffee, I also ended yesterday with a wicked headache (or was still sick…?), and the medication I took for that tends to result in not being able to sleep deeply. The result was a restless night. Funny… I’m okay though. There are things that matter more. Life? Love? Beauty? This quiet contented moment of reflection? The grocery list I don’t want to forget to shop for later. lol

I yawn and rub my eyes. I pause and write my Traveling Partner a love note. I fucking love that guy. I also appreciate him. I take a sip of coffee and a big drink of water and get ready to begin again.