Archives for posts with tag: who are you?

I am sipping my coffee and… yeah, just sitting here quietly, sipping my coffee as the minutes tick by gently. It’s pleasant and easy on my consciousness. Feels nice. I’m not pushing hard in any particular direction. I’m not trying to provoke suitably shareworthy words, or insightful thoughts. I’m just… being. Nice morning for it. I’m not specifically meditating. I’m also not not meditating. I am simply sitting here quietly with my coffee. Well, I was. Now I’m writing about that moment. lol

One of the things I’ve been wrestling with internally, for the last week particularly and also since I destroyed 20 years of pen & ink journals, is the question of “who am I?” or, more particularly, to narrow that grand question down a bit, who am I when I’m alone – the “real me”, the me that is mostly truly me, without the add-ons of external inputs, fears & doubts, insecurity in my relationships or professional role… the real actual me person that I am because this is who I have chosen to become over time. My “me”. How I see myself. As near as I can get to an understanding of this self that I am, and the woman I most want to be… without regard to what anyone else thinks about me – or her. It’s a surprisingly difficult exercise in self-reflection. It “feels important” right now.

…I’ve been through some shit over the course of a lifetime. A lot of it has “changed me”…but now I’m wondering what does that really mean? Changed how? Some of the changes that trauma makes on a human being, in addition to being “lasting” changes, could be described as “involuntary”, and potentially “undesirable” – what does that mean for “who I am” – or who I want to be? What parts of me aren’t “really me” or feels as though they “aren’t mine”? How much of me is me, and how much of me is “chaos and damage” and evidence of lasting trauma? Is that a fair question to ask – and what does the answer even mean? Yeah, I find myself going deep on this one. Not sure why it keeps coming back to me among all the many things upon which I could choose to reflect, but there it is. I want to understand this better.

Why should anyone at all – or any event – have more say over who I am than I do myself?

I think about it awhile longer. I don’t have any answers today. It’s just a Friday morning and a good cup of coffee in a quiet place. Seems a worthy opportunity to reflect on this journey of self.

I glance at the time. This doesn’t end here…but it is time to begin again.

I am sipping my coffee – an eggnog latte, my fond seasonal weakness coffee-wise each autumn as the Yule season begins. Thanksgiving… holiday parties… Hannukah… the Solstice… Giftmas (more commonly called “Christmas”)… Festivus… Boxing Day… Kwanzaa… it’s a season rich in celebrations and merry-making. Oddly, it wasn’t what I was thinking about over the weekend, in spite of Thanksgiving being just days away…

I sit in the stillness of a local co-work space, alone with my coffee. It’s quiet. The usual background music is not playing, and the stillness feels complete, interrupted by occasional trucks passing on the street outside. I came into “the office” early this morning to avoid waking my Traveling Partner. He’s put in some heroic hours laboring in the shop, making it ready for the new (larger) CNC machine that will arrive soon. He was obviously exhausted by the end of his day, yesterday, and I sometimes rattle about rather noisily in the mornings. It’s not any particular inconvenience to go into the office and give him a better chance at deep sleep, and when he actually asked me if I would, I readily agreed. So… here I am. 😀 Getting some quiet time to write, and sipping on a delightful holiday beverage. It’s a promising start to a Monday.

There have been a lot of items in the news (I’d say “lately”, but truly it’s a relatively common thing) about various celebrities, sports figures, cultural icons of one sort or another, and some problematic tidbit – something they’ve said, or not said, or some bad act (some such are fairly petty or trivial, others quite horrible). We lament the fall of our heroes, when we’re honest enough to accept their human failings at all. Other times, we can’t accept what we’ve seen/heard… and we make excuses for their shitty behavior, or seek to explain it away. We do it for star athletes. We do it for actors. We do it for politicians. We do it for friends and loved ones. We do it for the gods we created in our own image.

I didn’t link any examples, and that’s intentional; we all experience this toppling of our heroes at some point, even if only in the discovery that our own parents do not know everything and don’t get everything right, or perhaps that first time we correct a teacher on some small detail of a subject we study passionately, that they were simply incorrect about.

…It’s hard to separate the art from the artist, isn’t it?.. To separate the author from their story? To separate the musician from their music? The soldier from their service? We are each so human…

Why the hell do we so often set ourselves up – and each other – for failure by creating a heroic caricature that no one could possibly measure up to? Why is it so difficult to “hate the sin” and still deal with one another entirely humanely? Why are our expectations of one another so complicated and often so unreasonable? What are we even doing here??

I only have questions on this one. Catchy bon mots and conveniently pithy slogans of one sort or another came and went with my thoughts over the weekend. I never really got anywhere besides “human beings are not heroes and neither are the gods they create”. We begin life with no perspective, experience, or wisdom, but commence judgment and decision-making immediately… we age and our thinking changes over time as we do, but entirely too late to change our previous decisions or actions based on flawed thinking. If we’re fortunate, we get somewhere good with all that mess. More often, it’s … complicated.

I remember how I felt upon learning that John Lennon mistreated women. “Heartbroken astonishment and disbelief” describe the initial feeling, but it quickly morphed into just disbelief, and from there? Apologist nonsense. Took me awhile to get to a place in life where I could both enjoy his music and also accept that he was a flawed human being, possibly even one I could not personally respect and might not wish to hang out with. Some of his music remains personally meaningful to me, in spite of who he was or may have been. This is just one example. There are so many others! (You, too?) In some cases, I couldn’t get past the human being behind the art, and I avoid it altogether. It sort of depends on how great the art, and how terrible the failure, sometimes. Over the years, I’ve become much less inclined to make excuses for human failings, and also much more inclined to be compassionate. It’s… complicated. I do think that when we insist on super-gluing our heroes to their pedestals in spite of their failings, we set ourselves up to treat people around us more callously – because we’re insisting on preserving the lie of heroism. There are no heroes. Only people. Some people are pretty fucking horrible. Other people are damned nice. No people are living embodiments of perfection in life (don’t argue, just look closer), and we’re each having our own experience. We’re walking our own paths, doing our own best, and generally hoping the outcome will be good more often than not. Can we each do better? Yeah, probably. Having a “role model” feels helpful sometimes. Making our role models over in the image of a god or a hero is probably not. (It’s also probably a lot of weight to have to carry, being someone’s hero…)

What do you value? How do you live that value in your life every day? What do you need a hero for? You have the path ahead, you have the choices in your hands, you have this day. Topple your heroes, then… become the person you most want to be.

Begin again.

I’m not a perfect person. (Who is, though?) I need practice – at most things, honestly. I have an idea who the woman I most want to be might happen to be. I can “see her” in my mind’s eye. I hear her voice as an echo; something I could have said better than what I chose to say, or speaking truth to power in a moment when I failed to do so. I hear her speak up for herself, when I don’t. I hear her set expectations and boundaries more skillfully than I often do. I have a sense of “who she is” and the values she embraces. Me? I’m still practicing all of those things. She listens well and deeply, with real attention and consideration. Her answers are thoughtful – and insightful. She’s clearly well-informed on the issues that mean most to her – and she’s kind about education and informing others. She’s patient with people, even when she’s in pain. She’s no saint, she’s lived a real life and she owns her mistakes. She takes time to reflect on her thinking, instead of following the crowd on commonly accepted opinions. She’s fearless about disagreeing – and committed to collaboration and skillful communication. She likes to be on time, but she’s not a jerk about people being a few minutes behind on plans. She’s fucking amazing.

…She’s the woman in my mirror – mostly. She’s who I see in my best moments. She’s my destination, and when I stay on top of my self-care, and committed to healthy practices for emotional regulation and communication, she’s my journey – walking with me, guiding me, picking me up when I fall and lighting my path. Of course I am “a work in progress” – we all are, if we are wise about being and becoming. 🙂 That’s my thought on it, anyway. I keep practicing. Keep walking my own mile. I’ve got choices, and there are verbs involved. I know my results will vary.

This isn’t an awareness that makes anything any “easier”. I am prone to being deeply disappointed in myself (to the point of catastrophizing, sometimes) when I fail to meet the rather high standard I’ve set for myself. Being practical and kind to myself, and allowing for my own humanity is all part of that journey, too. More to learn. More to practice. Keeping it real? I fail all the fucking time. LOL I’m very human. I pause to reflect. Begin again. Continue to practice. Seems a worthwhile way to spend a life. 🙂

Yesterday in the evening, for some reason I don’t recall right at the moment, tempers flared between my Traveling Partner and myself. Raised voices for a moment, a few spilled tears, some impatience, some anger, some frustration… we got past it, it was just emotional weather. My partner pointed out some things that matter to him a great deal. I swallowed my pride and listened; it’s always hard to hear I’ve failed as a partner or lover in some way (however small). Yeah, I still need practice. Even the fundamentals of living well and treating others well can easily erode and slip away from me without practice. Doesn’t matter at all if the speed and ease with which my habits quickly extinguish with even brief lack of practice is related to my brain injury; the solution is to continue to practice (and that includes self-compassion), and to begin again when I fail myself. That’s enough. It’s all there is. 🙂

Being between jobs is an interesting space to grow within. That 40+ hours lost to employment every week, generally, becomes time for study, for practice, for growth, for exploring the unknown, for trying things out… in that respect, it’s a wonderful opportunity. Today, I spent much of the day with my camera, and learning related software. What about you? What did you learn today? 🙂 It may keep you young to keep learning. It may keep you alive (depending on what you learn, and what life throws your way).

I notice that the interface here in WordPress looks… different. I find myself wondering what I clicked on, although it could be that the user interface actually changed, again. Not ideally helpful for folks who are “other than neuro-typical” (probably pretty aggravating for just about anyone who has mastered some software or other previously, and logs in to find it changed). It’s weird and annoying, and I let myself be distracted by music videos, instead, and wander off for a few minutes of conversation with my partner. Life. No pressure, just living. 🙂

It’s time to begin again; there’s so much to practice. 😉

Hot coffee. Sunny summer morning and one day remaining in a long weekend. I don’t have much to say about the 4th of July holiday, really… I used to make jokes that the entire nation came together as one to celebrate the end of my first marriage with me. lol It was on the 4th of July that I finally walked away. It was an important moment, but… at this point? Just one of many in a long life rich in ups, downs, good fortune, poor choices, and a lot of opportunities to pause, rethink, and begin again.

My Traveling Partner and I enjoyed the day, and each other’s company. I went out into the world, into an actual retail space, and actually did a bit of shopping. I don’t mean that I went into a store masked and distanced, quickly identified what I came for, and quickly made my exit, not that at all; I shopped. I even – are you ready for this one? I tried on clothes! Wow. The freedom. 🙂 (The lingering “end” of the pandemic found me with a lot more “comfy clothes” and a bit short on suitable work casuals, and suddenly I’ve got a business trip on my calendar, and colleagues eager to meet me in person for the first time… so… seemed wise to do a bit of shopping rather than showing up in yoga pants or jammies. LOL)

Today? Just a day. Most of them are, aren’t they? Today it’ll be housekeeping; it is functionally “the sunday” of this particular long weekend, and that’s how I do; housekeeping on Sundays, get the place ready for the new week. It’s a practice that is all about beginning again, and meditation, and mindful service. Sometimes it’s also tedious and annoying. Sometimes it feels like a huge effort, and even a burden. I will straight up admit that I loathe most housekeeping chores, completely. I like to take things easy…but… I also enjoy, prefer, and thrive in conditions of “orderliness”. So, Sunday is my day to fight off the chaos with restored order, and a bit of tidying up. Has to be done, if I’m committed to the life I most want to be living. 🙂

I put on music that makes me want to dance. There are clean clothes to put on after my shower, and sunshine streaming through the blinds, filtered and soft, tempting me to step outside. Pleasant day. That’ll do nicely for all manner of new beginnings, I think. 🙂

I sip this coffee, smiling, and listening to tunes. Mostly rap, this morning, mostly women: Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Saweetie, Snow Tha Product, Nicki Minaj… there are quite a few really good ones, and my play list is filled with their power, their juice, and their joy. 🙂

…This coffee is almost gone, though… and that means it’s 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.