Always Be Learning

NaBloPoMo 2021:  Do Good, Kid

There is always something to learn!

Every encounter, every event, every conflict.  Every book, movie, article, conversation.

It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, and we don’t have to brag or talk incessantly about it every time we learn something new.  It’s just good to notice when we find something we’ve never seen/heard/known/expected before.  File it, save it for later, make connections in experience for broader perspective and application.

I think it’s a mindset, really; one that encompasses curiosity, humility, and systems thinking, among other things.  This is the second time my NaBloPoMo life ‘action mantra’ says to ‘be’ something rather than do something.  And it’s okay.  Donna reminded me today of the Being::Doing polarity.  Learning is something we do; we can choose to do it actively—I bet the lessons stick better this way. 

But a Learner is something we are.  We can also choose to see ourselves as such, and I think it makes a difference in our attitudes, behaviors, and relationships—for the better.

It is how and who we are that manifests in what we do.

Persist

NaBloPoMo 2021:  Do Good, Kid

 “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Thankfully, growing up I never heard adults say this too seriously. It was always tongue in cheek, almost with a wink, acknowledging the inevitable inconsistencies between parental admonishments and actions. I took the implication as, “Be better than us; we want better for you.” There was also a sense of unfairness, a double standard lurking. But I think I forgave it quickly, understanding that parents are imperfect beings doing their best.

“Shame on you,” a patient once said to me when, in an attempt to empathize with his perfectionism, I admitted to some lapse in discipline I had committed around some health habit. It was early yet in my study of self-compassion, but I managed to not take his shaming as a reflection of my own character. He might be ashamed of himself if he were me, but I did not have to accept that projection.

Hypocrisy: Oxford Languages defines it as “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.” The opposite of ‘walking the talk’. A friend very gently challenged my current sleeping patterns, pointing to the inconsistency in what I practice with what I preach (nightly blogging does that to me, and I’m a night owl in general anyway). Does that make me a hypocrite?

I have always been a hoarder. I buy clothes I love and don’t wear them, in case they get dirty or ruined. I stockpile stickers, stationery, stamps, journals, essential oils, socks, scarves, washi tape, and now, (*sigh*) sourdough starter (seriously, that realization today was eye opening).  Ever since I read The Art of Possibility, I have honestly embraced an abundance mindset, evangelized for it.  There is enough of everything; we can all get our needs met.  And yet, if I look at my habits and patterns of behavior, it is quite obvious that I live in an internal world of scarcity. Otherwise why would I hoard?  Is it because I’m a hoarder, I know it, and I don’t like it, that the message of abundance resonates so strongly? Maybe this is another example of cognitive understanding and acceptance, coupled with considerable lag in limbic apprehension and realization? 

So do I still get to speak and write about abundance, even as I grapple to live into it fully in my own head?  Do I have the right to counsel patients about healthy habits in sleep, exercise, nutrition, stress management, and relationships, even as I fall down every day in each of these domains? 

Yes, I do.  Because I persist in my own efforts, continuously, courageously, despite my recurrent failures.  I’m getting better—last week I wore ‘new’ skirt, boots, and coat (ranging from 2 to 7+ years old) to afternoon tea.  I can slow and divert from hoarding impulses better today than a few years ago…sometimes.  Progress is detectable over the long arc of my lifetime thus far, and I’m confident I can stay the course.  Persistence pays rewards, even if long delayed.

We are all in the same boat here.  Old, entrenched habits of thought and action are hard to break.  Perfection is a myth.  Outcomes vary according to so many factors, and intent still matters.  Despite my humbling realization today (I now have a plan for using my copious Discards of Sven), I believe I still walk my talk.  Because my talk is not, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  It’s, “I know how hard it is.  I struggle too.  I’ll keep going with you; we are all here doing our best.”

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.