Part 2: Finding a Different Way

Pixabay: 947051. Free for commercial use; No attribution required

I want to prepare meals with Bubba without getting defensive and having a tiff. But what if defensive is ok?

Bubba and I have relationship patterns that sometimes scuff up against each other. It can result in momentary relationship glitches. Or derail a day.

Some are random and rare; others, predictable and more frequent.

In A Wretched Mess, I wrote about a common kitchen scuffle we experience: Bubba offers to help me cook, and I resist it, experiencing his help not as help, but as a statement I’m doing it wrong.

Bubba wants to enjoy making meals with me. My getting snippy takes away the fun, so he leaves the kitchen, usually with disapproval.  His leaving means we’re not doing it together, plus we’re both upset. It all feels crappy.

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Part 1: A Wretched Mess

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Do you ever respond to something—or someone—in a way you wish you didn’t? Yet you respond that same way repeatedly, butting heads in a familiar dance pattern?

When Bubba and I started living together, one place we ran into relationship speed bumps was the kitchen, usually when I was preparing food. I rarely work off a recipe, so my style is free-form. I don’t actually know if what I’m making will work, but based on having watched mom cook—and enough personal success of my own—I’ve been content with my approach.

Then Bubba moved in. He’s comfortable in the kitchen. Sometimes he cooks; sometimes I do. When I’m cooking, he often offers to help. But instead of welcoming his offers, I’ve often resisted them; gotten defensive.

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Why Do I Buy Stuff I Don’t Need?

Pixabay: evita-ochel. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

I think I’m in control. Until I come out of a store having bought something that was not remotely on my mind when I went in.

What did I spend $40 on at Marshalls?

I was returning things I’d bought a week earlier and grabbed the receipt.  A $40 item jumped out at me: Gourmet Housewares followed by a string of UPC numbers that provided no further clue as to what it was. What could I have spent $40 on at Marshalls? And, more surprisingly, why couldn’t I remember what it was?

I tried recalling the Gourmet Housewares section I’d shopped in, and what items I’d considered. I did a mental walk-through of my house, trying to envision each room, striving to recall if there was something I’d needed—or wanted—for that room. Blank.

I could identify the other four, modestly-priced items on the receipt; how could I not remember the most expensive thing?

I swiveled in my chair, scanning my office space. Then I saw it.

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The Power of 10 Motivates

Pixabay: Clker-Free-Vector-Images. Free for commercial use; no attribution requiredYou’d think if I said I wanted to do something, I’d do it, right? Eat less? Exercise more? Sounds easy, and yet, when I take it head-on, it often doesn’t work.

Self-control, self-motivation, self-discipline all depend on one thing: the self. Problem is, in my experience of life, I often don’t have a single, dominating self operating. Different selves want different things, and the self that wants to exercise is met with resistance by a self that, well, doesn’t.

The self that doesn’t want to exercise doesn’t want to mind the self that does.

“You’re not going to tell me what to do,” it huffs, even though the you resisting is also the me wanting. It gets confusing.

Because I have multiple experiences in life where my own mind doesn’t agree with itself, I’ve come up with ways to overcome competing internal characters.  My trick-trash for uncluttering is one of them.

The Power of 10 is another one; a mental tool to help me navigate inner conflicts.

The Power of 10 defines success as 10-minutes of something: weeding, walking,  meditating. Whatever I’m resisting doing, I only have to do it for 10-minutes.

As long as I do it for 10-minutes, I feel good, because I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve.

Funny thing is, a lot of times I do more than 10-minutes. Willingly. Because the hardest part of getting going is, well, getting going; overcoming the inertia that keeps me from starting. Overcoming my own resistance.  Once the engine gets going, keeping it going takes less effort.

But if after 10 minutes I want to stop, I can and will. With a feeling of satisfied accomplishment.

It would be great to be that person who does what they say they want to do, without resistance. But I’m not. I was struggling to get back to blogging. I got this post written by telling myself I only had to write for 10 minutes today.

My fifth 10-minute timer just went off. Time to review, tag, and post.

The Power of 10.

 

Photo source: Clker-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay


 

Moving Slowly in a Fast World

Pixabay: nandhukumar. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

The world feels fast: fast food, high-speed trains, supersonic planes. Tech companies move fast and break things. People want things now, resulting in instant Jell-O, instant messaging and Instant Pot.

I’m slow. I read slowly, write slowly, learn slowly. I’m thorough; detail-oriented.

This fault-line between my slow-motion style and the world’s fast-motion expectations sometimes leaves me feeling deficient, concerned I lack a societally-valued trait.

My discomfort intensifies when I try to learn something new. I plod through my learning while images of Neo from The Matrix appear, skills and knowledge insta-loaded into his memory.

I’ve wrestled with this aspect of my personality, being self-critical when I take too long to learn something, aching to speed things up.  Expecting something other than what is.

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I Was Raised in a House of Heels

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I was raised in a house of heels. And now I’m done with them.

High heels were a family thing. Dad bought them. Mom wore them. And I adored them. Many came from Frederick’s of Hollywood, a catalog company carrying sizes large enough to fit mom’s feet, with a selection not available at our local shops.

They were usually stiletto’s, tall and sparkly, with a heel strong enough to be used as a weapon. For me, they were real versions of Barbie’s peep-toe mule sandals. When mom and dad were going out for a night of dinner and dancing, these are the shoes mom would wear to finish her outfit.

I loved watching her get dressed up. I loved watching her glow as she slipped on the magical shoes to complete her outfit.

She’d come down the stairs and swirl before dad. Her full skirt would rise, revealing a bit more of her long legs, their curve enhanced by the heels. Dad, watching appreciatively, would emit a low whistle.  Mom beamed.

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Lessons in a Puzzle

Walk the Goats

1,000 pieces. That’s what the puzzle box said. I bought it. I’d try this puzzle thing.

Last time I was around a puzzle was 2-years ago. I was at a birthday party and the puzzle was 2/3rd complete. The remaining pieces were nicely laid out, face up. Several folks were standing over the puzzle, chatting, while scanning and trying to fit pieces in. I hit 3-clean picks in a row: snap, snap, snap. It was satisfying. “I’m a natural at this,” I thought.

I figured I’d buy a puzzle and try it at home. Lots of folks like puzzles. Maybe I’m one of them.

A thousand-piece puzzle is not a good place to start, if you aren’t sure you love puzzles.

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Nudged Toward Retirement

111_NudgedTowardNotWorking2_3-6-19Given the nature of life, sh*t happened this past year.  The same month I started blogging, mom almost died. She didn’t, not then, but 6-months later cancer got her. My blog turned out to be an unexpected blessing; a place I could try and make sense of mom’s last months. Who would’ve known when I launched WTG it would give me a place to unpack stuff, and get support from fellow bloggers?

At this time last year, I was still working, self-employed. After mom’s first hospital scare, I scaled back my hours to be available. It allowed several trips east to help navigate mom’s health issues. After her death, I called it quits, claiming sabbatical, but wondering if I’ll ever go back to seeing clients. I was ready to stop; this was an easy nudge.

Given the time I’ve spent helping dad with things—some of which mom used to handle—I’m grateful I’m not also juggling a full-time job. Between mom’s-post-death stuff, Board duties, Bubba-relationship, and blogging, my days are filled.  As some commitments fade away, I’ll see what new interests reveal themselves.  Maybe National Novel Writing Month?

Not working is intriguing.

Friends thinking about retiring fear they won’t know what to do with their days.

Friends who’ve retired say they’re always busy, although half-the-time they admit they can’t figure out what they did all day. They share a persistent wondering: “how’d I used to work full-time, raise kids, do the shopping, run errands, make meals, clean the house and occasionally have fun?”

Sabbatical is my version of not working; certainly of being busy while not getting paid. My experience throws me solidly in the how’d I used to manage all that stuff camp.

I’m getting a taste of not working; feeling a nudge toward retirement. I like it.

How about you? If you’re retired (or nearing retirement) or on sabbatical, what inner voices chirp away in your head? Are you embracing or resisting it? Scared by or excited by it?

And if you’re fully immersed in it, what fills your days?

 

Photo source: geralt on Pixabay


 

The Vein-ity of Giving Blood

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I donate blood regularly. I’d like to say I do it strictly for the do-gooder character in me, but, like so many things, multiple characters influence my blood-donating habits.

Mom volunteered for Red Cross Blood Drives when I was growing up, so when the blood drive came to our high school, she encouraged me to donate, reassuring me over my needle-queasiness and worries about having blood taken. The character who wants to please mom is definitely in play

I’ve varied between being an occasional—sometimes lapsed—donor, to being consistent, donating regularly at our local firehouse, which hosts a blood drive every 8-weeks. My lapses were often due to inconvenience—no local blood drive—or too busy.  With our local firehouse setup, it’s easy to give. My do-gooder character believes in the value of donating, so making it easy helps me stay aligned in this corner of my mind.

My every-8-week donation plan sometimes gets thrown off schedule when my iron count fails.

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Road Lesson #3: Don’t Take it Personally

106_RoadRageLesson3_2-26-19I’ve written two blog posts inspired by a place I dubbed mindfulness intersection. It was a stretch of road I drove regularly, giving me plenty of opportunities to practice mindfulness.

My first lesson was about my rage at another car cutting in front of me.

My second lesson had me being the cutter, at a different, but similar, intersection.

My third lesson—I’ve stopped saying final because life keeps surprising me—I tell here.

This lesson captures the essence of Don Miguel Ruiz’s second agreement—don’t take anything personally—in his book, The Four Agreements.

“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”[1]

This third lesson, surprisingly, happened while I was walking. Having had a disagreement with Bubba, I was outside, stomping up the street, trying to clear my head and make sense of what had just happened.

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When Things Go Awry, Agitation & Self-Talk

Pixabay: johnhain Free for commercial use; No attribution required

Sometimes small things agitate me; today it was forgetting to bring my health insurance card to a medical appointment.

As soon as I walked in to the lab, I realized my new insurance card was at home. The sign in the receptionist’s window said cards were required for service. I hoped they’d let me email them a copy when I got home; I feared they’d tell me no card, no service, and I’d have to go home and get it.

This would be an unexpected change in my plans; a change I didn’t want. Unmet expectations are not uncommon in life; they are what they are. But sometimes those unmet expectations—things not going the way I want them to go—can trigger an inner reaction.

When that happens, I’m trying to pay attention to how my body reacts; because my body usually sends me signals before anything else.

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I Have 340 Separate Account Log-Ons

Pixabay: Pixelkult. Free for commercial Use. No attribution required.

There’s a reason people use the same log-on name and password on every friggin’ site on the internet; they do it because every friggin’ site requires we establish an account in order to interact with them beyond looking at their offerings through the internet-window.

You want to come in and browse? Set up an account, create a user name and unique password, give us your personal data, and then—and only then—will we let you in to see our wares.

Imagine if that happened at retail stores? They would have collapsed sooner than their apparent, imminent collapse.

I have 340 web sites that required me to set up an account with them in order to engage.  Really? Did all 340 of them really need me to set up an account? I don’t even know if some of the accounts I have exist anymore. I’m pretty sure my MySpace account is defunct, but who knows, it could still be sitting there.

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My Costco Greatest Hits

Pixabay: Geralt, free for commercial use, no attribution required

I asked a friend once why she didn’t shop at Costco.  “Because when I do, I buy stuff I don’t need.”

With another friend, I joked that it was hard to get out of Costco for under $100. “Under $100?” he quipped. “More like $200!”

I’m of two minds about Costco; I’m drawn toward it, and have resistance to it.

There was my misfortune a few years ago with Costco’s red, medium sticker on my sweater, worn at a memorial service; no, it wasn’t Costco’s fault, but it remains a well-seared-in, unpleasant memory.

Costco is to blame, though, for being a place with too much tempting stuff; I’ve admitted to having a love/hate affair with stuff; Costco takes those feelings and gins ‘em up.  So, yeah, I have some Costco…baggage.

But there are also things I love about Costco; things that keep my membership alive and active.

Here are 5 things I really like about Costco. They’re my Costco Greatest Hits.

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I Love Stuff. I Hate Stuff.

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I have a love/hate relationship with stuff.   I own too many things.  Not all of it sparks joy, that Marie Kondo test to decide whether to keep something or eliminate it.

I’ve gotten rid of things along the way, but unless I move and have to do a major purge, things flow into my house at a faster rate than they flow out. Having lived in the same place for nearly 20 years, stuff has accumulated.

The percentage of stuff I use regularly is…small.

Some of the stuff is seasonal, stored until the season rolls around again.

Some is aspirational: those pants I’ll fit into once I’ve dropped 10-pounds.

Some is, if I’m brutally honest, fantastical: am I really going to read Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human or George Lakoff’s Moral Politics?

Continue reading “I Love Stuff. I Hate Stuff.”

Road Intersection Lesson #2

Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos / 19628 images CC0 Creative Commons

Have you ever thought you’d squeezed every morsel of learning out of some lesson, only to have it say, wait! there’s more!

My Road Rage story was like that. I dubbed the location where I learned to reduce my road rage, mindfulness intersection. After blogging about it I thought, ok, that intersection is dry; I’ve learned all there is.

But life continued. And I realized so much depends on perspective. When I first wrote about taming my road rage, I wrote about it from my perspective: the one pissed off that another car cut in front of me.

My second lesson had me being the cutter.

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Tilting at Windmills

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I love moments when I see my perspective shift on something.  I tilt my psychological head and, bam! things are suddenly different.

I was driving to the hospital to see mom. The Vermont hills, peppered with farms and cows, rolled before me, small towns and communities rising up and fading away.  The green scenery swaddled me in its splendor; an occasional tree hinted at autumn.

I rounded a turn. There on the hill before me was a display of a half-dozen windmills.

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Road Rage Lesson #1

Alexas_Fotos / 19406 images. CC0 Creative Commons

You know that road rage emotion? That righteous anger that feels good because you know the other driver is an absolute, f’ing moron behind the wheel?

Yeah. That road rage.

Ever hear the quote, “holding grudges is like taking poison and hoping it kills the other person”?

Replace “grudges” with “anger” and…same truth.

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How Many Days Left?

Dazzleology on Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons

“My mom will be alive for at least six more days. Now five.”

A countdown had begun in my head.

They were unsettling thoughts, this countdown to…what? A renewed chance at life? Or death. I wasn’t thinking these thoughts; they—and the associated fear—were just…there.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t want them.

My 88-year-old mom landed in the hospital multiple times this year, starting in March, when my 94-year-old father got her to the ER just in time.  By summer, after multiple hospital trips, doctor visits and medical tests, they had her scheduled for heart-valve surgery in June; told her she needed a new hip; and informed her she had a slow-growing cancer. It was a layer cake of issues.

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The Judge and the Dishes

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When Bubba and I met, we each had years of experience loading dishwashers. The thing is, we didn’t load them the same way. And since each of us was sure “our” way was the “right” way, we had to deal with some relationship hiccups as we figured things out.

Routine aspects of life give me regular opportunities to “figure things out.” That usually means trying to understand the inner voices that chirp away when, for instance, I see Bubba do something my Inner Judge insists is just not right.

Maybe he’s putting forks into the dishwasher tines-down.

“The tines won’t get properly washed!” The Judge says, absolute in her declaration.

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