I realized I want to find some positive music to listen to . While some of the stuff I've been playing helps as a cathartic to release negative emotions, I really want something new and upbeat to help assist in making my mood positive, not just getting out bad feelings. I realize that my focus has been more of the cynic, be it politics, economics, music, looking at computer vulnerabilities, and even how to train martially and look for weaknesses (though to the martial training credit, it is more balanced). If I want to have a more optomistic outlook, I should look for the positive in all of my experiences. I always consider myself to be more pragmatic, and that my perspective has been a way to identify problems so that I can work to resolve them, but I see how often it has been exaggerated to the point of feeling helpless (esp. in politics or economics, things outside of direct control). I do good things in all of those fields, but I plan to change and focus differently so that I feel better about those contributions and that I'm making them.
Anyway, with positive music, I'm not too sure where to start. Cocteau Twins I always liked, but maybe there's some good electronic music or even tribal stuff that would be powerfully positive, I like Infected Mushroom and Magic Firesheep as upbeat interesting electronic music, but I have never found much on CD. Maybe it would be good to even break away from electronics a bit. I'll see what I have in my collection, and maybe go to a CD store soon as well and see if anyone could recommend something along those lines. I have enjoyed revisiting things that I had left neglected for a while, like music and friends, but at the same time I want new good things in my life, not just going back to the old, especially when I am working to break habits and build new fulfilling experiences.
On that note, the near daily walks have been great. Not only for my health, though I've lost a lot of weight and am having to wear a belt and down 4 notches already! But sharing the time has been great too. My wife and I shared a walk two nights ago, and last night I went just with my son again. Even if I'm not with a friend or family, being in nature is its own bit of sharing, be it the trees, the animals, or the moon. Man, I love living near the ocean!
On the drive to the concert on Friday I talked with Kevin a lot about surfing, and though he is very advanced such as finding remote beaches, big breaks, using short boards, even dealing with aggro locals/groups, etc.; he says he wasn't doing much surfing while in school due to his schedule. Now that he's done with school Kevin is going to a gym and getting in shape and said that he'd love to go out with me sometime, especially since he'll be getting his feet wet all over again. He gave me some good pointers too, told me to rent a board or buy a used one and go to Cowell's for a while until I see whether it's something that I want to do more and then it becomes more economical to buy a board. He also talked about the buddy system that he has employed, though he said if I'm just at Cowell's, there are usually enough people around to help out, and that it's a great spot for beginners. I'm going to find out the rental shops hours, I've already got a wetsuit and booties. I'll call Jeff too and see if we could meet up sometime since he's local and has been surfing for about a year now.
I don't know if I need to live right next to the ocean, but I love being near moving water, and at least a short drive away would be OK. The biggest thing is just timing I think. The weekends in Santa Cruz get really crowded with out of towners, especially as the weather has improved, and early morning or evening I don't know about rental stuff. Those seem like ideal times however, I will look to find a used board, or borrow someone's to not worry about that hassle and just start doing it. Especially early morning, I see some surfers go down to the lane right at dawn on my early morning walks. They look so peaceful and chill, surfing as the sun rises. It's calming just watching them. What a way that would be to start the day! And it would be before the family is up, so I wouldn't be missing any time with them, I think that would be my ideal time to surf - but it's hard to know until I start doing it and seeing what works.
As far as the mornings, I have to admit I enjoy making the family breakfast, it starts the morning off on a much calmer cooperative note. Well, honestly I had been making our son breakfast most mornings (he starts most days asking for waffles!), and even my wife a couple times a week (or well, at least some tea or picking up a breakfast burrito or something after dropping of my daughter). But with my daughter it has been a great change. She's been extremely appreciative, accepting, even excited, though that depends more on what I make, if it's a favourite like pancakes or mangos. We both end up in a better mood, and we are both a lot more conversational on the drives to school. We are talking about a lot more than just school now: her interests, her friends, what events are going on in her life. I really enjoy the bonding, it's only getting better and easier. For so long it felt awkward to connect, the distance was palpable. I really feel like when I had to act more as a father and enforce discipline instead of just being friendly, about a year or two into my wife and my relationship is when things changed between my daughter and me as we got along great at the start.
Focusing on the present, now my daughter is meeting my efforts to change and be more connected and supportive in kind, and I really see a difference not only in how she and I interact, but in how she is interacting with others. She is much calmer, happier and less jumpy or critical. She gives me comments and perspective that have blown me away with her insight now that we're not just talking about the superficial like toys or tv shows. I regret that for many years I had acted so distant, but now she is showing me that it's never too late to get on track and has been really warm and receptive to my efforts to change, and even empathetic when I tell her I'm having problems, she actually expresses her care and compassion. She hasn't just quiet and tight lipped so much as in the past if I said I was tired or had a rough day. As she says to herself, and I like to reinforce, she is the best. ;)
I think it would be nice to make more dinners come to think of it, it's something we used to do a lot - but in recent years, being so busy with a young child, moving hectically and erratic work hours - we ate out a lot more. Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic restaurants around Santa Cruz, and I think my enjoyment of them had contributed to my waistline growing. But the occasions where I (or even better, with my wife or as a family) make dinner, it is also really calming. Last week my wife got the ingredients to make Matzo Ball soup. Something she, and well I, had never done before. It took a while, but was a lot of fun - our son even helped. The end result, filled with chicken stock I didn't partake in, but merely the process of creating something as simple as a meal was very rewarding, and it was really enjoyable to take a breather with the family and cooperate like that. The 2 hour preparation process itself to me was far more meaningful than sitting down to eat for 20 minutes after it was done.
Man, where am I finding all the time to write this stuff? Well, work has been really supportive of giving me time since I've asked. I appreciate that so much, everyone has really been considerate of me and offered to help. And it feels good to ask for what I need and get it. I realize that now that I am asking for the time, I don't feel so overworked. Granted, there are still a lot of projects to get done, and I've been a bit more distracted than usual, but the understanding and support has been fantastic! Going out to lunch with some coworkers was never too regular, and to be honest I actually like to have a breather to myself, but it has happened a couple times in the past two weeks, and some people are just being there for me without asking details and understanding that I don't want to complicate things - that respect alone has been appreciated.
Breaking my focus on being "right" and instead just flowing, has been a challenge. Especially since my habits in the past have been so introspective. This is most pronounced in martial arts class, where I am getting over the reaction of stopping or pausing when I screw up, and instead am starting to jump back into the mix, or take a breather for a moment and come back rather than wear myself out. These same changes are going on throughout my efforts in life, and it's really different for me to distinguish between getting caught up reacting to flowing with the changes, taking where I am given something, giving where I am asked of something.
I do not have it figured out yet, but I'm working on it, it is really hard some times, but the challenge is worth it, and the more I change my habits, the easier it seems to get. Slowly. It finally feels like I'm on the path I've wanted to be on for a long time, instead of just sitting in park, talking or thinking about where I wanted to be, now I'm working towards my goals and really committing to my family and work and what's important to me, committing to myself. It's a little bit of a "who moved my cheese" but part of it is that as I move, it's all relative, and some of the things I thought I wanted I don't even understand why I did, or regret that I did because they were so trivial to what has always been important to me and is more clarified now, even as the opportunity might now and then present itself.
I feel a LOT right now, pain, pleasure, a million emotions and feelings, it's a tornado or a crashing wave, but in some ways it's so much better to be feeling the ups and down than plodding along distant. I see this as different from my other stumbling blocks in my past, where the pain felt all consuming, now hopelessness is balanced with hope, things are shifting, changing, mistakes are being made, but I am aware of them and not repeating them endlessly. I am not perfect, I'm not out of the woods, but I'm beginning to appreciate the journey.