Posts Tagged With: being late

Day 535: Making sense of it all

This is one of those days where I’ve REALLY given myself a challenging posting task. How the heck am I going to make sense of it all, in one post I make up in an hour?  I’ll be lucky if I make sense of some cool photos* I want to show you.

As I often say, I shall do my best.

Yesterday, my local car mechanics did not return my phone calls about my flat tire. I didn’t know how to make sense of that, since they’ve been very helpful in the past.

Sometimes, when people don’t respond quickly to a request, I can feel helpless and upset. Yesterday, I was  mindful of that old pattern and changed it, by taking a helpful action.  I drove to another mechanic, whom I knew from previous experience, near where I work, and arranged for the car to be worked on today.

After making a sensible plan with this mechanic, I realized I was probably going to be late for a group I run at work.

Usually, when I’m late, I can feel helpless and upset. Yesterday, I was mindful of that old pattern. I was also aware of what I tell every new member, before they join one of my groups:

It’s better to get to the group on time, because then you’ll get the most out of it.  However, life happens, and you may be late. There is no judgment or shame about that. If you are late, just enter the group room quietly, because we may be doing a mindfulness exercise.

 

So, I said to myself yesterday: maybe there’s no shame for the group leader being late, either. That didn’t make total sense to me, based on my training and value system, so l  called Jackie, at the front desk, so she could inform people that I would be a little late.

As I made my way to my group, I had old, familiar images and thoughts about my being late. These included visualizing the group members disappointed, disconnected, or otherwise disgruntled.

When I got to the group room, I found people acting the opposite of these fears. Instead of being upset, the group members were already on their way of making sense of it all together, without me.

For the rest of that day, I had many places to travel. But I needed to go slow, because of that temporary spare tire still on my car.

By traveling so slowly and carefully, I observed many interesting things. And, because of my state of mind, I did not need to make sense of everything I saw.

I shall now present photos I took yesterday, in order of appearance (as is my usual pattern). How do you make sense of these?

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I can help make sense of that last photo, for sure. That’s Harley, one of our cats, out on the front porch.  Also on the front porch with Harley?  My boyfriend Michael, having returned yesterday from a week-long work/cooking adventure away.

Everything makes more sense, with Michael around.

Thanks to my car mechanics, to the members of my therapy groups, to Anne Tyler, to indoor and outdoor cats,  to actors and other expressive artists everywhere, to people who do their best to make sense of it all, and to you — naturally! — for journeying here today.


* Calling these photos cool doesn’t really make sense, for two reasons: (1) Who is to judge whether these photos are cool or not? (2) Since I readjusted the greenish-blue filter on my iPhone yesterday, all of today’s photos are, literally, less cool.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 263: Bad Day/Good Day

In my therapy groups, I sometimes do an exercise where people write about bad days, good days, and the differences.  I don’t have the actual worksheet with me as I’m writing this post, so here’s an approximation of it:

Bad Day/Good Day Worksheet

  1. Write about a bad day  (including  details about thoughts, feelings, actions, choices, etc.)  You can describe a specific bad day or bad days, in general.
  2. Write about a good day (including details about thoughts, feelings, actions, choices, etc.)  You can describe a specific good day or good days, in general.
  3. What do you notice about the differences between a good day and a bad day, for you?

Right now, I can’t figure out how to insert spaces between the questions, above, and still keep the numbered formatting the way I want it.

Hmmmm. I wonder if that would be an indication of a bad day or a good day for me?

Maybe it would be helpful to jot down some answers to that Bad Day/Good Day worksheet, right now.

Answer #1. A bad day.

When I’m having a bad day, I tend to feel isolated, alone, helpless, powerless, and with much less hope about the future.  I am usually focusing less on the moment and more on worries about the future and/or regrets about the past. I am judging myself and others, with disappointment. No matter what is happening around me, things look dark and flat. Joy is absent. I tend to isolate. I assume that people are seeing me in a negative way, or sometimes I feel invisible.  Nothing seems to matter.

Some lyrics that capture my experience of a bad day:

People are strange, when you’re a stranger,

Faces look ugly, when you’re alone…

Streets are uneven, when you’re down…

No one remembers your name
When you’re strange.*

(I’m guessing that Jim Morrison had some bad days, people.)

Answer #2.  A  good day.

When I’m having a good day, I’m much more in the moment, accepting of where I am, where other people are, and of everything that happens. I’m a lot less self-critical and I have faith that whatever comes along, I will figure things out, well enough.  I am not mind-reading what people are thinking about me or if I am, I recognize that I’m doing that, and I let those thoughts go. When worries or regrets come into my mind, I recognize those for what they are, and let them go, as soon as I can.

I feel freer about expressing all the different parts of myself, including goofiness (e.g., singing out loud when I’m walking down the street),  sadness (e.g., if somebody is leaving), whatever. I am more aware of the choices I have, in every moment, and I recognize that it’s okay to make mistakes in my choices, because I can continue to choose and improve a situation.

I’m more aware of my accomplishments, and less focused on mistakes and What I’m NOT Doing.

While cognitive distortions — like all-or-nothing thinking or shoulds — may still creep in to my thoughts (because I’m human), I’m much better at spotting them, naming them, and ….

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Answer #3.  The differences between a bad day and a good day.

For me, often the differences have to do with my internal interpretation of what’s going on out there.

Obviously, some days are going to be worse, because of events we can’t control. (What’s coming to mind, right now, is the day this year when my son had a collapsed lung.) (And, of course, April 15th, the day of the Boston Marathon bombings.)

And some days are going to be naturally better, like two weeks ago today, when I gave a really good presentation about group therapy at work.

However,  in most cases, how I interpret, internally, what’s going on out there, is key. Often, it’s everything.

I’m thinking about a day I had last week.  It was “one of those days” where everything was going wrong in the morning. It was important for me to get to work on time, and no matter what choices I made, there were obstacles, some of them unexpected and improbable.

However, because I was in an accepting and hopeful place that day — aware of my options and  feeling competent enough — none of these obstacles were bothering me.

Over the two years I’ve been working at this job,  I’ve had the time and experience to develop a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C for getting to work on time. This day, I had gone to Plan C, which involved driving directly to a parking lot near work, where I would need to pay some serious parking $$, but I had decided it was worth it.

And as I was approaching the finish line of my drive to work,  it looked like I was going to make it on time, with even some time to spare.  I was feeling pretty smug, I have to say.

Then, just as I was about to enter the parking garage ….

… the gate broke.

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The automatic gate (similar to that one, above) which allows cars to enter the lot, suddenly stopped working.

Another car had just entered.  But when I pressed the button to get a ticket and lift the gate, nothing happened.

Now, this would be the perfect set up, for me, to freak out. It had all the necessary Freak Out Elements:

  1. Possible lateness.
  2. Disappointing somebody.
  3. A machine breaking, for cripe’s sake.
  4. Why (only) ME???

However, I didn’t freak out, at all.  Instead …

I thought it was absurd. And funny.

REALLY???** The friggin’ gate broke?  Just when I thought I had made it??

And I stayed in the moment.  And I realized that somebody must be nearby, who could help me.

I looked around and spotted somebody, in the distance, who looked like he worked at the parking lot. I yelled something, to get his attention, and then realized he already had noticed the situation.

Then, things got “worse” (if I had been interpreting things that way).  That is, that person didn’t have what he needed to fix the gate. He contacted somebody else, who didn’t have the correct key, who contacted somebody else, who did.

But i still thought this was funny.

How is that possible?

Well, I was on guard for my typical types of unhelpful thoughts (e.g., imagining the dire consequences if I were late, including  the possible ire of the person I was meeting).  And I was batting those thoughts away, immediately.

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I was also staying in touch with the options I had (e.g., calling the person) and letting go of perfectionism (“You don’t have to be exactly on time, Ann!”)

And eventually, the gate lifted.

And as the Man With The Right Key was writing out my entry time on a parking ticket, I asked, smiling (because I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask), “Do you think I could get a break on the fee, because of the inconvenience?”

And he smiled back and said, “We’ll see what we can do.”

The punchlines?

I got to my meeting on time.

My parking fee was reduced.

And it was a great day, people.

Thanks to Jim Morrison, Betty Boop, Lorena Marie, and to you,  for reading today (no matter what kind of day it is).


* “People are Strange,”  by the Doors.

** “REALLY???” is also a “shout-out” to   The Culture Monk, a blogger I’ve been reading lately.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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