akienm: (Default)
"Well, how else would I deal with it?!" he demanded.

"If that's a serious question, then I do have a couple of observations for you..." she replied.

"Fire away."

"The first is that you love her, but her being poly makes you feel like you can't be in relationship with her."

"Yeah..." his tone was dubious.

"So let's see if I have this straight... You love her, but if only she were different, then you could love her. Is that right?"

He looked shocked. "Uh...."

"So maybe you love her, and you have feelings about her being polyamorous. Those are your feelings. They are not her fault. You knew this about her on the first date. The feelings are yours. They come from your expectations about what a relationship is supposed to look like, and how this one doesn't meet those."

"So what do I do?"

"You comfort yourself when you have feelings. You remind yourself 'Bob, these feelings are echos of the past caused by stories we don't believe in anymore'"

"What you'll get if you do that is what love she does have to give, rather than losing all the love she has to give. Work on loving yourself, Bob. You are the one person you know you're going to be stuck with for the rest of your life. Do you want to be stuck with the guy who ran from love and has to justify that to himself by being angry with the other person... Or do you want to be the guy who rewrote his habits of thought to allow for love that looked different than he expected? It's up to you."

"You also don't have to devote all your thoughts to her. Have boundaries around how much of you you share, if you need to. Being in relationship doesn't have to be a yes or no choice. Let her be who she is and decide how close you want to be to that."

"For me, doing that has allowed me to be have really fulfilling relationships, deep connections were able to form by letting them just be who they are."
akienm: (Default)
She said "I know I should have told him then, I should have done better."

He replied "Given your needs, did you know a way to do better?"

She looked confused "Er, no…."

He chuckled, "So let me see if i have this right, you're down on yourself because you should have done something that you didn't know how to do. Do i have that right?"

"I… I hadn't looked at it that way…"

He urged "If you want to become better at this, find someone who knows how to do it well, and just watch them do it. Take it in. We monkeys learn through mimicry, so take advantage of it. Find someone who does this well enough that you can admire them for it."

She smiled, "Thanks".


Aug. 23rd, 2017 05:28 pm
akienm: (Default)
she asked "so, how do you deal with jealousy?"

he replied "the short answer is that jealousy is a collection of habits of thought. as long as those habits were strongest, i would feel jealous. i had to develop new habits.

"what habits do you have now?"

he looked thoughtful for a moment. "i pay attention to the feelings in my body, not the looping in my mind. i comfort my primate self, literally imagining being the child i once was and being held and comforted by the kind of parent i wished i'd had. i remind that child that we're just having a feeling, and nothing needs to be fixed, it will go away as soon as the adrenaline wears off. i remind myself that the wounding is in the past, the feeling today is just an echo. i keep my inner dialog focused on the present. i remind myself of all the things i have to be grateful for."

"how long did it take to habituate that?"

he laughed, "i still work on it every time something like that happens. i have many years with the old habits wearing grooves in my mind. the new habit's grooves will never be quite so deep, but the path to those grooves is part of what's changed. it's a process."
akienm: (Default)
Quite possibly the single most important lesson i have learned:

Whatever my attention is on, that is what my world is filled with.

When my attention is on my pain, the world is filled with my pain. when i express that pain fully, then i am able to turn my attention to other things. when i am unable to resolve my pain, the only course of action I know of is to remind myself that i have done all i can for now, and that the best way i can take care of my monkey is to turn my attention elsewhere. even if my attention doesn't want to go. it becomes a kind of meditation.

being aware that my world is filled with whatever my attention is on is what has enabled me to really own responsibility for my feelings.
akienm: (Default)
i am a big pile of habits & stories

habit - a behavior or thought that results from neurons firing in a concerted way repeatedly enough to strengthen those pathways, and thus they occur in preference other pathways. being triggered is an habituated response. so is walking.

story - a habituated interpretation… eg, reason, as in "he walked where it was dry because otherwise his shoes would get wet". the habit is walking where it's dry, the habituated stories are 1. that walking in the wet will get water in the shoes and 2. that water in the shoes is undesirable. i find that i tend to assume unquestioningly that the story is right unless a clear failure of the story occurs, at which point i am usually brought up short.

counter-story - a new interpretation or memory deployed to help elicit a new response to a given stimuli. reframing is one kind of counter-story. Reminding myself, in a jealous moment, that my partner has stuck with me through the hardest part of my life is another counter story. It runs counter to the story that my relationship with them will be harmed by them seeing other people.

I love you

Aug. 23rd, 2017 05:25 pm
akienm: (Default)
"What?!" she said...

"I love you"

"How can you say that?" she demanded. "You already have a girlfriend".

"Yes, I know."

"Are you trying to cheat on her with me?!"

"No, in fact she knows that I love you."

"What if I don't love you back?!"

"That's OK. When I say I love you, I am stating what I feel. That's all. I do not require you to love me back. I do not require that you have time for me, nor interest in me... I do not require that this 'mean something' beyond my statement of feeling".

"So then why are you telling me this?"

"Because it is what's true. And because in this life, love should not go unsaid."

"Why do you love me?"

"Because I see the things you struggle with in life. I see how you care about people. I see how you prioritize the needs of others. That care of others needs to be supported wherever it occurs. Imagine if every good deed were met with kudos, how different would the world be? So, I do what I can to make the world better."

"You're weird."

"You're not the first person to say that, nor will you be the last. And I'm OK with that. You, the things you do, the way you do for others... You are a gift to the world. And that should not go unrecognized. Thank you for having been part of my life."

Love 100%

Aug. 23rd, 2017 05:25 pm
akienm: (Default)
Love isn't a commodity to be traded or brokered. It isn't to be hoarded. It is to be given freely without condition. Give yourselves to each other with your full heart and soul. The more you give, the more you all will have to give.
akienm: (Default)
The question is often "Why aren't you meeting my needs?!" rather than "Which of my needs can you meet?"

The answer to the former assumes a static set of needs, and a static ability to meet needs.

The answer to the latter can change from day to day, and affords both parties the freedom to be who they are, right now, today.

It does however lack the illusion of security of the first question.
akienm: (Default)
He told the therapist "all I ever hear about is the things i've done wrong, she never appreciates the things i do"

She replied "but it goes without saying that i appreciate those things"

I learned two things in that moment... The first was: If it goes without saying, it should *never* go without saying. The second was: #cultivateappreciation
akienm: (Default)
2017 01 06 Random Thoughts on The Outdoors

I was watching a Rick Steves' travel video last night, and it happened to be on the Camino de Santiago. The walkers talked about the reverence of being out in nature, which is cool. But there was something about the way one of them said it... Then they said something about many people not seeing this living in the city and all.

And I realized in that moment that this person was talking about themselves... That they had never spent any significant kind of time out in nature. That this experience of being out in nature was completely foreign to them. And by extension, there are other people like this too.

This was somehow a realization that struck me deeply. Growing up on the farm, all the camping trips I've been on, nature is just nature to me. I mean, yeah, it's awesome and all (and I mean that in the original definition of awesome), and sacred, but it's also ordinary. For me. But not for them. I just couldn't really conceive of that before that insight. Wow.
akienm: (Default)
This past election cycle had me spending a lot of time thinking about 'how to show them the error of their ways'. Me and about a zillion other people on both sides of the divide, I'm sure.

One of the more influential things I ran across during the election cycle was a vlog entry by Mike Rowe. He wrote about how he couldn't in good conscience advocate using his celebrity status to exhort others to get out and vote. His reasoning was that voting was a privilege not a duty. That electors (us) were expected to educate themselves on the issues and then vote what they saw to be in the best interest of everybody. That's how this country was designed from the get go. The idea left me very thoughtful.

One of the other things I ran across (in many places) was how folks on the liberal side would often not bother to vote. Another was how conservatives were more likely to vote just out of a sense of duty. Another was how on both sides, too many people didn't understand the issues, and were simply on the bandwagon of their particular media outlets. Also thoughtful making.

I suspect that for some of us (me for sure), we become less likely to vote when we're unsure of the outcome. The story I seem to have inherited from my culture says that liberals are, on the whole, more educated than conservatives. Now I have no idea if this is a causal relationship, but it does seem to me that if we're more educated, that we'd be more likely to see both sides of something, and so more likely to be unsure.

Don't get me wrong, the nutjobs on the left are just as bad as the nutjobs on the right, for any random definition of nutjob. Educated or not. More education won't completely fix that.

But whether there's a causal relationship or not, it's starting to seem to me that having all the electors more educated might be a thing. That what may be in the long term highest good would be for everybody to have their highest possible level of education provided by the state.

Now, I must admit, I come to this position from a place of being rather anti-formal education. I came to it via a few significant influences.

First, I grew up in a privileged culture… And in particular, ours was a blue collar household. When the CWA went on strike, my dad stopped going in to work, and instead drove me and my siblings nuts. The message was "just do your work, keep your head down, and everything will be OK".

Second, I saw my dad as successful. Many of my peers seem to have learned to think of success as meaning money. For me, it was about having a happy primary relationship. My folks relationship was not without its problems, but we kids mostly didn't see them. My folks seemed reasonably happy. The message was "this is the ideal I am supposed to strive for".

Third, during some key moment in my life, my dad said I'd never amount to anything without a college education. Now mind you, he didn't have one. And he was successful. And I was probably in a particularly rebellious phase. The message was "Oh yeah? I'll show YOU!"

Fourth, I was ADHD boy. I listened in class, did great on tests, completely forgot about homework. And so got poor grades. I was told I was really smart and could do anything. And pretty much, I seem to be able to figure out whatever you put in front of me eventually.

Related to that, I grew up in a region with a lot of high tech jobs, and at a time when demand for labor outstripped supply. And while I had some collage level classes with microcomputers, everything about what I do today, I taught myself.

The message became "Conventional school doesn't work for me, I can figure out whatever I need to". Which has been mostly true.

But more recently, I have spent the last couple of years watching most of the Crash Course videos, along with a host of other educational YouTube content… And basically started giving myself some start on the same kind of educational overview I would have gotten in school. And this learning has made many small differences in my everyday life. Things I already knew, but now knew in more depth. Things where the understanding of them has changed since I learned them. Things I never would have seen with the limited view of the world I got as a kid. Things I am much more empowered to do something about. Things I now recognize as things that should be questioned, rather than either simply accepted or simply rejected. And even a better idea of how to do that questioning, how to determine if a claim is true.

I still think education needs to be smarter than it was when I was a kid, and I think it's in a process of improvement.

So all of this leads me to believe that universal education to the highest possible level for each person is how we build the best electorate, the best culture. We humans are most powerful when we cooperate. We cooperate best when we understand each other.
akienm: (Default)
coriander seeds
cayenne pepper
Cumin Seeds
Cardamom Pods
Rose Petals
akienm: (Default)
I remember...

I remember watching you cry
as I slowly made love
to every inch of you
I asked you why
You said you didn't deserve it
I replied that touching you
was like playing music
Listening to the feelings I brought up
was the joy of listening to the music
That loving you
was as much a gift for me as for you
And we held each other
akienm: (Default)
2016 09 07
I remember...

I remember when I finally figured out that pragmatism gave me an edge.

I had been told who I should be when I was a kid. Sometimes directly, sometimes very indirectly... In words, in media, everywhere. I learned that I was supposed to be a stable husband, I learned that I was supposed to always be productive, I was supposed to be honest, I was supposed to be smart, thoughtful, giving, strong, creative, i was supposed to be able to sing love songs to my partner, I was supposed to be able to figure out how to fix *anything*...

And I really have been those things sometimes. But it's also the case that the *requirement* to be those things made it harder to see when I wasn't being those. I couldn't easily own that I wasn't living up to those ideals. And the *habit* of hiding from those shortfalls made it hard to change them. If I was upset about not meeting those ideals, then all the jumping up and down which all that upset caused might make me feel like I would make a change, but mostly history wouldn't bear it out.

I learned that change comes from being able to accept where I am. With enough compassion that I can have the mental equilibrium to compassionately notice the failure, rehearse the new behavior, and pat myself on the head for doing the things required to build a new habit.

Being pragmatic, being willing to be connected to what is, made me more powerful to change was is to what I would like it to be.
akienm: (Default)
I remember…

I remember figuring out that there was a formula that I used when I successfully changed a habit. I don't even remember now what habit I was trying to change. :)

I realized tho that a couple of times in a row, I'd developed new habits like so:

1) Decide what the undesirable behavior is
2) Through introspection, figure out what need the behavior was trying to meet
3) Figure out something else I could do that would meet the need
4) Commit to myself that I'd do that new behavior, including rehearsing it in my head.

This was all well and good, but I kept not doing the new behavior. Sometimes it was because the new behavior didn't actually meet the need (which meant more introspection to identify that fact and to develop another alternative behavior)… But most often, it was because I was trying to learn something new, and I just hadn't habituated it yet. So…

5) Notice, after the fact, with compassion, that I hadn't done the thing.

The first time I did this systematically, it was like two weeks after the event that I realized I hadn't done the new thing.

6) Reward myself with an "attaboy" for noticing the failure.

It wasn't until much later that I realized how crucially important that step was to keep me going.

7) Commit once again to the new behavior, and rehearse it again.

What I noticed was that with each successive miss on performing the new behavior, the interval between the miss and my noticing the miss got shorter and shorter. Until eventually, I was able to notice in real time and make a conscious decision to do the new behavior.

This has been one of the two or three most important skills I've developed.
akienm: (Default)
2016 08 08
I remember...

I remember the first time I changed a habit deliberately. I was 19 I think, maybe 20. I had just locked my keys in the car a second time in six months. I decided I needed a physical habit, something I did every time I turned off the car. I decided to turn the key to off and remove it in one smooth motion. And as soon as I was out of the seat, I'd slide the key fob into my pocket.

A little while later, in response to the second or third time of leaving the lights on and running down the battery, I added reaching up with the other hand at the same time to make sure the headlight switch was pushed in, into the off position.

These aren't big habits by themselves. They saved me a little stress. I couldn't have known how big a role habits and the changing of habits would play in my life. These were the first deliberate habit changes as such that I remember.

For all the things I need to get better at, this pair of habits has served me very well indeed.


Dec. 7th, 2015 10:42 am
akienm: (Default)
This was originally noted as being "for beef", but turkey is also amazing with it.

Prepare at least a day before hand: Put ingredients into gallon ziplock bag. Put meat into bag. Seal bag. Slosh and shake until well mixed. Vent all the air from the bag. Put into freezer.

4 tablespoons soy sauce (gluten free)
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I use Fish Sauce)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce (I use coconut aminos)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

And, depending on the shape of the cut(s) of meat, possibly a little water, just enough so there's marinade and/or plastic bag in contact with the entire surface.

3 to 4 hours before serving:

Beef: Put frozen bag into sous vide. Set to 120F. 15 mins before serving, remove from bag. Pat dry and coat lightly with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place onto broiler. Check every 5 mins until golden brown and delicious. Optionally turn over and repeat for other side. Serve. NOTE: Beef that cooked using a sous vide does not need to rest before serving.

Poultry: Put frozen bag into sous vide. Set to 145F. 15 mins before serving, remove from bag. Pat dry and coat lightly with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place onto broiler. Check every 5 mins until golden brown and delicious. Optionally turn over and repeat for other side. NOTE: It's recommended that poultry is cooked to 165F for safety, that is because 165F will kill everything in about 60 seconds. 145F also cooks to a safe temperature, if cooked at that temp for 35+ minutes. There's a curve of time and temperature. As you go up in temp, the time to kill everything is reduced. SOUS VIDE IS A VERY TIME INTENSIVE COOKING PROCESS. COOKING TO 145 IS SAFE WHEN COOKED FOR 3+ HOURS, AND WILL RESULT IN A MUCH MORE MOIST END PRODUCT.


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Akien MacIain

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