NaBloPoMo 2021:  Do Good, Kid

Day 30!!  Thank you to all readers, and my fellow challenge tacklers, check them out–

Nancy over at Thoughts From the Back,

My fellow woman physician writer at Passion…unbridled, and

One of the most voracious readers alive, Love 2 Read 365!

Life is such a beautiful, terrifying, awesome, and dynamic balance of so many things, no?  I want this, the last post of a 30 day challenge with special meaning, to shine as a worthy conclusion!  I also want to have fun writing it, relieve myself of perfectionist pressure to ‘produce’.  If I had infinite time and inspiration (and required no sleep), I could write so many more ethical earworm posts, right?

Always Do Your Best—If You Can Figure Out What That Means

Sacrifice, But Not Too Much

Vet Your Sources

Nod to the Cosmos

Forgive Yourself

Find A Why

What else?

What a long, strange trip—the past month, the last two years—life. I bought a customized ring with ‘one breath’ imprinted, to help me remember to stay in the moment, to ground. I like it, and ordered three more for friends also weathering hard times. I still fall down—catastrophize and freak out so much more than I want to admit. I can find peace, then it escapes me. But my friends refer to the ring and remind me: One Day, One Moment, One (deep) Breath at a Time—ODOMOBaaT. Maybe it was my subconscious finding the win-win, sharing a centering life mantra with dear friends, so they could then reflect it back to me? Nice, how that works out.

Do you wonder about Sven? Happily, I can report that it is alive and well on the bottom shelf of the fridge. I continue to learn and experiment, to growl in frustration and keep trying—I will get the hang of this one day! Meanwhile, a little yeast assisted sourdough (YASD) makes for fluffy loaves that family and friends enjoy. And what am I after more here, mastering a challenge, or sharing yum with loved ones? It’s both and, of course, but when push comes to shove, I can let up on perfecting Sven bread (for now) and simply enjoy serving something warm that brings folks together in love and connection. ODOMOBaaT.

Will I have I done enough for Son to launch into independence by next fall?  What’s around the corner for Daughter, Hubs, MaBa, Sibs, my three friends, work?  Am I aging okay?  When will I finally feel solid in these healthier eating habits?  How can I write daily and get enough sleep, OMG?  When will we finally arrive at some stability and equilibrium with COVID?  How can I help people treat one another with more curiosity, kindness, generosity, humility, openness, and love?  ODOMOBaaT.

Self-awareness, self-regulation, connection.  It’s all an ongoing practice, an infinite game, no question. 

Our challenges loom.  Our gifts can shine, proliferate, amplify, and overcome—if we work together.  So much to do, so little and so much time, infinite chances—every encounter, every breath an opportunity.  Onward in solidarity!

As Mary Oliver asks, what will we each do with our ‘one wild and precious life’?  We don’t have to decide right this minute.  OD.OM.OB,aaT.  It will all be okay.

Give Thanks, Duh

NaBloPoMo 2021:  Do Good, Kid

Some time ago a high school classmate suggested on Facebook that we all post daily gratitude for the month of November.  Many of us participated, and I liked it.  The first year of this blog, I did “November Gratitude Shorts” for 30 days, my first NaBloPoMo.  In 2019 I wrote a thank you message a day for the whole year, whether by hand, email, or in some other medium.  It was meditative and grounding.

In this month of recording my most heartfelt adulting skills for mindfulness and posterity, how has it taken me this long to write about gratitude?  I noticed the deficit about a week ago.  Maybe it seems trite?  I mean in November, blog about gratitude, meh.  It’s not that I don’t feel it.  I do feel it, deeply, every day.  And it holds me up.

I come down the stairs in the morning, in this house we bought just before Daughter was born.  It’s where the kids have grown up.  It’s messy and wonderful, I love it, and I pinch myself that I get to live here.  I go home to my parents’ house, where I grew up.  That Ma and Ba are healthy and living a happy, connected life fills me with pride and joy.  We all go to the mountains, a place of meaning and memory for all three generations now.  We have roofs over our heads, food in the fridges and pantries, funds to travel, and places to go where people love and welcome us—how could we feel anything but deep gratitude?  *sigh*

Friends.  Extended family.  Education.  Nature.  Technology.  Work.  Science.  Art.  Music.  So much, so much.

Ya.  Much to be grateful for, today and all days… Even—maybe especially—in crisis…

My prayer:  May this feeling, this deep knowing of wholeness and connection in thanks, live at the front of consciousness for us all, holding hands with love, leading us always toward one another.

Tell Another Story

NaBloPoMo 2021:  Do Good, Kid

What emotions and attitudes underlie the chronic and automatic narratives we harbor in our lives and relationships?  It’s a hard question, and well worth asking.  A couple days ago I wondered about stories I tell about someone after recurrent negative experiences with them.  But what about stories I tell about other people based solely on my own issues?  We each carry around a unique knapsack of biases, overt and occult.  They weigh and slow us down; they hinder our ability to connect with one another.  What relationships do we miss, damage, or destroy because of them, without even knowing?

So what about the driver who cuts you off in traffic?  Conventional wisdom tells us to imagine that they are having some kind of emergency; they are not a bad person.  I agree, we should not assume they are ‘bad.’  But let’s imagine there’s no emergency.  They drive without regard to others’ safety or traffic law every day.  So they’re rude, disrespectful, a menace—that’s another plausible, albeit still judgmental, story.  They’re not like us, we’re not like that.  So we are justified in our angry outburst at their insolence…  And now we’ve given away our peace for no benefit, and we have separated ourselves from another person, if only abstractly.

What do we imagine causes a person to behave—to live—without regard to others?  When have we behaved like that ourselves—maybe not behind the wheel, but in other situations?  What was driving us to do that?  Where is that our default pattern?  What self-justifying story do we tell about that?  Some would argue that when we knowingly harm others or put them at risk, it comes from our own places of pain.  We are wired to survive, and striking before being stricken works well for that.  We succumb to innate negativity bias, zeroing in on what could harm us and deflecting or destroying it, before appreciating what helps us, and then attracting and manifesting that.  The rude driver cuts us off, we call them a (jerk).  Everyone for themselves, check.

What if I tell the story that that person deserves more love and appreciation, more opportunity in life, than they are used to getting?  When I behave like that, don’t I have some unmet need that I’m advocating for, however subconsciously and ineptly?  What other, more fundamental question, helps us to ask when engaging with people who put us off at first?  When I tell a more empathetic and compassionate, or at least less judgmental story about others and myself, how does that affect my general outlook, and then my behavior, my relationships, and my overall satisfaction with life?

Envy.  Insecurity.  Hurt.  Disappointment.  Grief.  Disdain.  Pride.  Self-righteousness.  Loneliness.  Stories grounded in these emotions tell us about scarcity and competition, which may be real, and also incomplete plotlines.  If survival is all we can hope for, these stories may suffice.

Generosity.  Kindness.  Curiosity.  Humility.  Fairness.  Honesty.  Connection.  Love.  These themes paint a different story mural, one with more color and light, and much more depth and complexity.  Beyond survival, such stories hold the possibility for abundance, thriving, flourishing, and synergy. 

I’m not saying we should whitewash destructive behavior and waive responsibility for any harm we inflict on each other.  Accountability and compassion are not mutually exclusive.  I do think that we too easily throw each other and our connections away based on behaviors (or opinions, positions, and causes) that do not necessarily represent our whole selves.  We tell harsh, oversimplified stories based on sparse information and copious judgment.

Telling more stories is like choosing the wide angle rather than the zoom or macro lens.  It gives us an opportunity to see a bigger, more coherent, unified picture.  Exploring alternative explanations, beyond our automatic assumptions, enables crucially broader perspective.  Applying this practice regularly can help avert myriad conflicts based on miscommunication and misunderstanding, and clear the brambled paths between us.  It is yet another vital tool for connection and peace.