How are you doing?

As I write this it’s Sunday afternoon, in early December in the year of 2020.  

How are you doing?   

While I’m busy soldiering on, doing my daily Work, things are getting a bit scary out there Covid-wise again.   

As always there’s lots I could be doing. And there’s lots I want to be doing. Hell, there’s lots I am doing. (Here, I’m noticing the my good ‘ol productivity gremlin is up on my shoulder whispering in my ear).

Anyway, here’s what I’m aiming to get to today: there’s a lot of stress and anxiety out there right now, and my won’t is to do my best to ignore it and mule on through the month. Maybe yours is too? 

But ignoring it doesn’t mean I’m invulnerable and nothing is affecting me. Things are hard right now. For me, it’s important to stop and admit it. Then I can take a breath, look around the living room,  actually feel my experience while noticing I’m cradled by a good amount of relative safety.  

Taking a breath and taking and feeling my experience means I have to stop my deep dive on the daily news and Facebook for a moment or two—maybe stretch a little. Turning off my internet connection couldn’t hurt. Going for a walk is never a bad idea either.

Anyway, I wanted to check in.  

How are you doing?  

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Befriending Myself

The following is an email from the past, composed on June 27, 2020. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org.

Dear Future Timmy,

I’m working to look out for you better. Even now, as I write this, I’m noticing a habit I have of denigrating past Timmy.

I can imagine this letter arriving in my inbox in six weeks. Sometimes I receive an email like this and think Timmy a fool, a naif for dreaming, for being aspirational. A message like this arrives and I’m mortified. Embarrassed that past Timmy could believe some present-Tim in the future would follow through. Or would want to read these words that an angry, embarrassed future Tim may want to call drivel.

Recently, I reread Liz Gilbert talking about her stewardship of her self. How she cares for, attends to, and respects herself. She even befriends herself. Applauds herself. Hi-fives and offers joyful standing ovations for her own actions. A part of Timmy perks up his ears on high alert to danger when hearing these stories. There’s a part of Timmy that says I don’t dare do that. That part looks at other parts of Timmy and imagines they need stern words and harsh treatment if there’s any hope for Timmy to be responsible, to fit in, to be worthwhile.

I wants to experiment with Liz’s way of doing things for a while, for future Timmy’s sake. Which means I thanking past Timmy. Thank you for your hope and aspirations for me. Thank you for the reading you’ve done. Thank you for all the songs you’ve written and the people you’ve reached out to bravely. Most recently thank you, past Timmy for all the hard work you put into The Creative’s Workshop. And into training to be a coach for others, and a friend to me.

Sending my best,

-Timmy

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Writing is a gift

A while ago, I began writing the word “gift” on the page on which I’m songs. (Or, when forget, midway through). It’s a small reminder. The gift could be for me, or for someone else. I aspire to offer some small joy, insight or surprise in what gets written. I want it to be something a person will find useful and fun. 

Socks are useful, but aren’t fun. Revenge can be fun, (or exhilarating at least), but it’s not useful. A good gift offers some amount of joy. A great gift offers a quality of inevitability and surprise, something wanted but unimagined. 

That’s hard to find of course, but it’s worth seeking out. And aiming for that target I’m likely to stay away gifting socks, revenge, or self-serving cleverness. Writing “gift” aims me toward what I can offer and generosity.

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The Gardener

Here’s a little note I sent to myself across time via FutureMe.org: 

Thinking today again about how I might fertilize and make my “garden” more lush. What are the things a good gardener does to keep things lively and rich in a garden? Rotating crops, churning the soil, watering plants, building lattice work for vines that things that need them. He let’s nature do it’s job by observing the world around him and working with it. Sometimes he gets rid of things, weeds and prunes where needed. If he’s a wine maker, he likely takes a long view. New grape vines take at least 4 years to produce fruit. Sometimes producing less means producing a better quality product in the end. Old vines–30, 40, 60 year vines, maybe 100 year vines produce great fruit if tended well.

As a gardener what are the things that I want to produce in my life? What are the qualities that I want my life to have? I like interaction and play and intellectual pursuits. I love music and stories. I love the idea of simplifying things.

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It just Sounds Good

There are five notes in a pentatonic scale, and as long as a person plays them in in key none of them will ever sound bad. It just sounds good. Maybe not great but good. That’s a strong place to start. 

The truth is, when I was first shown the pentatonic scale, I wanted the secret to being a better guitarist than other people. Being merely good wasn’t good enough because I thought my value came from my abilities and performance. Any slip and I might become worthless. Yet, generally something can’t be great until a person has done it (and failed at it) countless times, over many many years. That’s a long time to wait for worthiness. 

This is where a sense of inherent self-worth could have been preferable. Inherent self-worth gives me a foundation on which I can show up as I am, learn, and grow.  With inherent self-worth something which starts as “merely good,” (or even awkward and halting), has space to develop, to become a skill. Given enough time a person might mistake that something for an innate talent. 

Inherent self-worth is like the pentatonic scale. It’s merely good. It’s hard to “sound bad” if I’m playing with inherent self-worth. It’s a strong place to start. If I aspire to be better than others, I’ll never be enough. But if I’m willing to show up as I am I can learn, and grow.  That’s inherent self-worth.

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