my prime directives

This post is based on one that Steven posted about a week ago, titled the same. As he says in his post, which you should definitely read because it’s funny and thoughtful, we all have rules we follow to get along in society, but we generally have rules that we use to just… get along in life. He wrote about his. These are mine.

1st Rule : Be kind.

This rule is stolen straight from Steven’s list and placement, though I hope there are many of us who would start here. After being an unkind person way too often in my youth, I made a commitment to myself to do better. In the first couple of years of this conscious effort, I remember literally biting my tongue all day long just to stay on the path, and it is one of the greatest achievements of my life to say that now it comes as naturally as breathing, almost all of the time.

I truly believe kindness is the best path, but — to be clear– I believe in the kind of kindness that has a backbone. The kind of kindness that tenders people, tends to people, speaks up, and speaks out. The kind that looks forward.

2nd rule: Be gentle.

I remind myself that the cookies taste different if the batter is folded or beaten. Gentleness has real effect. I try to be gentle with how I talk to others, and how I talk to myself. I try to be gentle in how I wash my hair, and how I take off my shoes.

3rd rule : Really listen to myself.

This is a two-sided rule.

Firstly, I listen to myself in the sense that I consciously pay attention to what I’m outputting into the world.

I look at my Instagram profile and click through my blog, and read through my sent emails to really get a sense of the overall message I am shouting from my little corner of the world stage. I pay attention to how I speak to strangers and friends, and what I speak about. If it ever feels inauthentic, or when it feels lopsided, I fix it. One of my best measures of this is when I meet someone who only knows me through others, or my writing, or my blog. I give myself a gold star every time they say, “You are exactly the person I imagined.”

Secondly, I listen to myself in the sense that I try to really hear my body when it pushes for rest, or says it is full, or feels afraid of a person, or challenged by an idea. This does not mean I shield myself from science, experiences or experts that might upset those senses, or outrank them. I don’t need me to blindly follow my every instinct and feeling. I just need me to really hear myself.

(I know people who trust their instincts above all else, but I just can’t. After all, my body is absolutely convinced it should be allowed to snuggle a bear. It needs guidance, friends.)

4th rule : Make. Support making.

I really believe in the power of making. Metaphorical world-building, and real tangible tangled knitted pasted sculpted stuff. I believe in taking words and making them into something. And I know it isn’t always easy to do in a world of noise and mayhem, so I believe in supporting the makers. Sometimes this translates to supporting Patreon’s and Ko-fi’s, and sometimes it’s bringing cupcakes to events where makers gather, and often it’s cheering them on. Comments on posts. Likes on the ‘gram. Reshare. Word of mouth.

There’s a lot in this world that needs tearing down. I want to make sure I spend twice as much time on building.

5th rule : Always have neat nails. Never eat blue food. Honor my quirks, as long as they do no harm.

I was slow to the world of beauty, but having nice nails is something I have embraced wholeheartedly. If my nails are a mess, the day is cancelled. And I’m sure I’ve covered blue food before — no, blueberries don’t count– but peaflowers do. Both these rules fall into a larger rule about honoring your oddities. Over the years, through therapy and other diagnosis, I’ve learned that some of my strange little habits are divergences, an indication of how differently my brain is structured. And some, like these two, are just good ol’ fashioned weirdness. They are a part of me. I honor them.

6th rule: Re-examine everything, even this list. Especially this list.

I pay close attention to everything I think I know, and am always testing it to see how it feels to my soul, to see how it serves my world. I make adjustments and add caveats as necessary. Life isn’t stationary, it’s important not to holy every compass.

I think of everything I thought I knew only to find out I was wrong. I think of everything I knew nothing about only to discover a whole new universe. And of all the things in my life, I have loved this the most. The constant discovering. The always learning. The driving curiosity. I wish that on myself always, and it starts here, by thinking of everything I believe,

and holding it up to a bright light so it doesn’t get dusty, and it doesn’t get rusty, and no monsters get a chance to hide underneath.

Day 28 of 30

Upside-down Pepper over the words "NanoPoblano2020 -"

27 thoughts on “my prime directives

  1. I love your list, especially since it started with kindness. Sometimes I feel like this world has forgotten the art of being kind. Supporting the makers is important as well as accepting oddities. I love the way you ended with the idea of re-examining everything including the list.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is a marvelous list, Ra, and also thank you for the linkback.

    You voiced something that I didn’t clearly articulate in my own post, when you said,

    “but — to be clear– I believe in the kind of kindness that has a backbone.”

    This is so, so important. You can be kind without also being a pushover, and it was a minor failing of me to not specify that in my own post.

    I don’t think I knew about your preference to avoid blue foods; that’s fascinating and I totally get it. Although Boo-Berry Cereal should be an exception.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought I scheduled this for 2:30PM so I was super confused but this comment and then I got a spam comment that somehow got through about herpes and I thought strokeBrain was acting up 😂 but it all makes sense now.

      And yes, I know our kindness align in this. 🙂 This year, seeing people use kindness as a shield for accountability, or to overlook oppression and obstruct justice— I was acutely aware of how different my definition of kindness is from most.

      Words mean things, but they often mean different things to people 😂🙂

      And hard pass to the cereal but since I mostly eat cereal dry, sometimes I’ll pick around blue bits. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed reading this, Ra! The self-reflection part and giving yourself a gold star every time someone meets you and tells you that you are exactly what they expected. I think you are a good, clear communicator. I love the things that make you, you. The fact that your brain is different is the gorgeousness that makes you who you are, and the attention to the nails, which is your thing. I think of so many people I could have been, and I’m surprised to find out how I show up. I don’t know about my PDs yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I think of so many people I could have been, and I’m surprised to find out how I show up.” I love this. I think this is all of us. I just try hard to stay in front of the shifts, for no real reason except that I like to. 😂

      My prime directives didn’t come to me till I started writing. 🤷🏽‍♀️🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed this list and clicking through to read Steven’s list too (and I like that the link to Steven’s blog is really long but so obviously you😊)

    Like most of the other commenters, I don’t know what my Prime Directives are but it’s something to give serious thought to. Different aspects of myself have been called into question this past year. I don’t think my values have changed but the way that I measure how i’m living them has.

    I would hope kindness would be in there but, as I said on Steven’s post, I’ve learned over the past year that being kind is not without cost. Some forms of being kind can ultimately be harmful for me.

    I suppose the kind of kindness I should strive towards is one that centres others but leaves space for me too. The kind of kindness that is forgiving towards myself: that sometimes the kindest thing for me is to take that step back. To not be the one that can heal all wounds. Recognising that, when I feel so helpless at the state of the world and the hardships my friends are going through, being kind to myself is just as important as projecting that kindness outwards.

    I love that you ended on revisiting and reinspecting these directives. That is, again, very much you. You have a way of looking at the world that sparks joy and a way of digging into the root of things that inspires. I’m sure however this list evolves with you, it’s one that I could look at again in ten years and still recognise you in it x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Like I said to Ra in one of the other comments on this post, there’s a fine line between being kind and being a pushover, and it’s important for your own well being that you find and hold that line.

      “You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An excellent list Ra. Kudos for the self-knowledge, but then I’m not surprised by that from you. It got me thinking about my own list.
    Don’t judge others for being the way they are. Be kind (like you I’ve had to really learn that one). Self-acceptance (the more I do this the less I judge others). Be creative. Exercise – the body always thanks me for it. Always question beliefs. There are probably more but that’s enough for now.



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