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.

Continue reading “Moving Slowly in a Fast World”

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Saying No to Re-living Old Pain

Pixabay: Hans. Free for commercial use; no attribution required.I recently wrote about a friend’s suicide, an act that took place 21-years ago.  As I read a poem I’d written after his death, I sensed a character shuffling about the edges of my consciousness.  The character was carrying a cloak; a cloak of sadness, anger, guilt and despair, brought forward from those tumultuous days.

I realized this character wanted me to wear those emotions again.

It was as if this character believed there were proper responses to a suicide—no matter how long ago it had occurred—and knew the cloak carried within it acceptable ones.  Here, wear this, she said. In case of suicide, feelings of sadness, anger, guilt and despair are allowed. I was tempted.

The thing is, I didn’t want to feel those things. I looked outside my window and the sun was shining; flowers were blooming.

Donning the cloak-of-past-emotions would not change the past.

It would, however, overshadow a beautiful present with emotions completely unrelated to the now.

I didn’t want to relive those old emotions.

I had a choice. I said no to the character and her cloak.

 

Photo source: Hans on Pixabay

 


 

A Friend’s Suicide Remembered

126_SuicidePainPoemOn Memorial Day weekend in 1998, an ex-boyfriend committed suicide. We had lived together for three years and had broken up less than a year earlier. Three weeks after his death, churned by emotions, I struggled to find ways to express the turmoil I felt.  I came across a poem I wrote back then; an attempt to describe the indescribable.

Reading it, I have memories of those days, of multiple characters in my head navigating their conflicting feelings triggered by his suicide: sadness, anger, guilt, despair. They were all part of the chaos.  At the time, I fully submerged myself in those feelings; their presence defined me. I didn’t see my emotions as the response of characters, but as me. I was the pain. I was the anger. I was the guilt.  There felt like no me beyond the emotions.

And yet, there was.  There always is, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Continue reading “A Friend’s Suicide Remembered”

My New Swear Word

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

I have a new swear word.

Actually, it’s less a swear word and more a cheery way to acknowledge a minor mishap.

The word was born in the kitchen, while scooping quinoa out of a bag and into a pan. No matter how careful Bubba and I were, grains of quinoa always leapt from the measuring cup onto the counter.

Have you ever found yourself muttering under your breath about being clumsy, careless, stupid over something minor? Over something you’d never criticize a child for?

Well, when the quinoa fell, our voices muttered.

Some things are habitual; tracks laid down years ago and reaffirmed so often they’re solidly etched into being automatic.  Bubba and I have a few of those tracks; we work at counterbalancing their automaticity with more intentional responses. Sometimes we find something that works and is fun.

It was in the kitchen, with quinoa falling and voices muttering, that we found our counterbalancing tool: the quinoa itself.

Quinoa, when spoken, sounds like keen-wa. Which is quite fun to say, especially if you elongate the vowels.

Now when the quinoa falls, we call out keeeen-waaaa! with a cheery voice; it’s so much easier to feel upbeat when the music is soaring. It’s become our way of simply recognizing what is—the quinoa is going to leap—rather than responding as if it shouldn’t be doing what it’s doing.

It’s been so effective at quieting our spilled-quinoa-muttering-minds, we now use it regularly, in all sorts of situations. Because, at least in our house, life serves up plenty of spills, drops, tumbles and minor mishaps.

Spilled milk?

 Keeeen-waaaa!!!!!!!

 

Photo source: ponce_photography on Pixabay


 

Meditating with Headspace

98_headspace-meditation6_1-27-19In my last post, I wrote about a decision I made years ago that helped me navigate the self-critical voices in my head and challenge their disapproving chatter. As a result, my inner-landscape-thoughts turned in a new direction. The directional change was slow, but that decision led me to experience myself and the world as kinder and gentler. The outside world hasn’t gotten any kinder; but my inside world has.

A few years ago, I made another good decision: I started meditating on a regular basis. Meditation takes the learning from that earlier decision and deepens it. It helps me tap into greater equanimity and contentment. I feel more balanced, less tilted toward finding things wrong and getting upset.

Andy Puddicombe is my meditation guide, his lessons delivered via the Headspace app.

Bubba discovered Headspace after coming across a talk Andy did at Google in 2014. Andy is the voice and experience of Headspace, having spent ten-years studying meditation before being ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

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Tug-of-Wars Within

Pixabay: Dark Cordial. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Have you ever felt a tug-of-war taking place inside you?

Not just a tug-of-war between two teams, but between multiple teams. Two teams tug on the smart/stupid assessment rope, each at opposite ends. The stupid team pulls furiously, dragging you slowly to their side.

Two other teams tug on the attractive/ugly rope; the ugly team manages to find enough “evidence” to give them the win.

Other teams tug on more self-images: kind/unkind; generous/stingy; strong/weak; on-and-on, dragging your esteem through the mud. The teams that pull on the dark traits seem to win more battles. Their voices are loud; insistent; convincing. The Judge stands over the games, hears the critical voices, and declares the winners. The Judge’s scales tilt in favor of the demons; somehow those voices are easier to believe.

Those battles went on in my head for years. They were torturous and painful and left me feeling at times as if a dark, wet blanket were draped over me.  Battles still occur—they always will—but I have more tools available when they arise; light exists to counterbalance the dark.

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Dating and Baggage

Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos CC0 Creative Commons

When I was single and dating—a divorced adult with a child and more than one serially monogamous relationship in my backpack—the word baggage was often used.

Baggage: past experiences or long-held ideas regarded as burdens and impediments.

Burdens and impediments.

Not exactly a super-hero word in the world of adult dating. The sentence used to illustrate the word—the emotional baggage I’m hauling around—conjures up Pig-Pen from the Peanuts comic strip; the dirt and dust trailing behind him his emotional baggage.

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Tilting at Windmills

VIVIANE6276 CC0 Creative Commons on Pixabay

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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Ice Cream, Safeway and Letting Go

Dustytoes on Pixabay CC0 Creative CommonsIce cream is the secret to a long and happy life. My dad, an almost daily eater of ice cream is, at 94, my evidentiary proof.  If red wine drinkers have convinced the world of the medicinal argument for their lust, I’ll go with the longevity argument for mine.

So, I eat ice cream, leaning toward anything with salted caramel in it.

Continue reading “Ice Cream, Safeway and Letting Go”

Good Things in Unexpected Packages

BlickPixel on PixabayI know people who seem perpetually positive and upbeat.  I’ve known them for years. They’ve been dealt some rough hands in life, so it isn’t that they’re simply Pollyanna’s.

Despite dark events casting shadows their way, they continue to show up with an attitude that fearlessly affirms the “rightness” of life; of their life, just as it is.  When they face bad shit and say things will be ok, I’m convinced they believe things will be ok. If they’re feeling any doubt or uncertainty, I don’t feel it.

Which has me wondering: do they get “down”? Do they feel doubt?

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My New Apology

I posted my Habit of Apologizing blog post to Facebook.

A friend suggested I say “f*ck” instead of “sorry,” to help me break my habit of non-apology apologies.

“Why not,” I thought.

I’m trying to practice using this replacement word.

Leaving an Easter brunch today with Bubba, I realized I had forgotten our casserole dishes inside when leaving. It was just Bubba and me at the car. He spun around to go back and get them.

“Sorry,” I blurted out.

“F*ck,” I quickly said.

Followed instantaneously by…

“Sorry.”

I laughed. This could take a while.

3 Day, 3 Quote Challenge Day 3

 

Day 3-QuoteCrazy Lady In My Head nominated me to do the 3 Day, 3 Quote challenge. Today is Day 3.

Rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.

2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day).

3. Nominate three bloggers each day.

Quote #3: 

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Anaïs Nin

I like to think that starting this blog–and exploring the characters running around in my head–is a form of risk. Lovely to imagine a bud opening up to its full potential.

Three bloggers I nominate to participate:

  1. White Privilege Syllabus
  2. Inmate Blogger: A site that is a collection of blogs written by inmates. I just learned about the site so this links to the platform, not to an individual blogger. Yet.
  3. One Day at a Time: “To stop a whirlwind”

Feel free to participate if it’s your thing. If not, I hope a few new people find you through this.


 

Uncluttering Thoughts and Beliefs

20_IdenticalYou know how some people hold onto stuff and others seem to be able to freely let go?

I often have to trick myself into letting stuff go.  Because, you know, stuff is worth something. Especially once I own it.  It’s the endowment effect, “the hypothesis that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them.”

That’s true for me. My stuff is worth more once it’s mine. The identical item in the store? Not worth as much as mine on my shelf.

My attachment seems to be enhanced if there’s a story around the item: it came from a garage sale; a dear friend gave it to me; I got it on vacation as a trip memento; it was my great-great-grandmother’s; it was a super-bargain. Any and all of those stories burnish the value of the item for me.

Even if I know an item has lived beyond its usefulness, I frequently still hold onto it, often to be reminded of “the story.” Even if it’s in the way or possibly holding me back.

I’m aware of this dynamic when it comes to stuff. Once “stuff” becomes mine, it’s hard to part with. It’s suddenly shinier; prettier; sticky-er.

Recently I started to wonder if this tendency applies not only to things, but also to thoughts and beliefs.

Continue reading “Uncluttering Thoughts and Beliefs”

Blogging as a Spiritual Workout

16_Provoke_Blog Spiritual-croppedThe world is awash in words. Words meant to inspire, encourage love, espouse hate. Words intended to inform or designed to deceive. Words unrestricted by paper shortages; digitally unlimited.

Bloggers number in the hundreds of millions. Social media allows us to reach out and touch others. How far our reach goes depends on whether or not what we have to say resonates for others and how good our marketing is.

I’ve joined that blogging world. Twice.

I started my first blog, Pursuing Podcasts, last year. It was about podcasts. About other peoples’ work and thoughts. It continues to exist, albeit lightly used.

My second blog, Walk the Goats, I started on March 1, 2018. This year. Fifteen days ago. Walk the Goats is about my thoughts, thoughts from my inner landscape.

I write about things Bubba and I talk about: relationship stuff; “divine” versus “relative” selves; internal “characters” who show up to deliver their lines and take their positions when they hear their cues. I write about things I think about and want to share, including observations on personal growth and life and aging and random other stuff.

Continue reading “Blogging as a Spiritual Workout”