Flavors of Wisdom- What’s Yours?

Yesterday my friend brought me to do an important errand for getting my massage license in Texas. I’ve been putting it off for years and now I am stepping back up to the plate. We began talking about how to make money.

“My wish for you is that you just see what you’re worth. Your time, your knowledge, and your energy is worth a lot more than I think you think it is.” She said, or something close to that.

I realized as she spoke that she was right. I’ve studied massage, but also herbalism and reiki and alternative heading treatments. Before that I studied psychology and Buddhism. I traveled to India to learn from Tibetan monks and traveled around my own country in vans and hitching rides with truck drivers in the south. I’ve lived with old gem collectors, farmers, herbalists and beer brewers. I’ve delved into the minds of con artists and traveling artists, meditators and masters of running away.

I have a lot to draw from.

Recently I went through a break up that I saw coming before the other person did. I know how feelings tend to work, especially when other people come into the equation. What hurts is the feeling of calling it, knowing it, and being told it simply isn’t true. Until it is, and I feel taken off guard and lied to.

I see now the problem wasn’t that he lied, it was that I saw what was happening before he did. I just believed him over myself.

Maybe it’s my personality, maybe it’s growing up as a woman in this culture, maybe it’s a lot of things. But I definitely have a strong tendency to doubt myself and assume anything I offer is a meager second-rate version of what someone else would offer. My friend and her words to me make me want to spend a decent amount of energy paying attention to this.

I’m sure that for all of us, there are experiences that feed our view of the world in ways that give us extra insight. Sometimes we forget how these experiences actually enhance our “value” in every area of life we choose to engage with. Sometimes we doubt the plain and simple truth because we start thinking too much about how other people see it, and just like that, it’s as if all the time we spent on our passions and indulging our curiosity is wasted in a way because we aren’t listening to it.

But I would like to do a better job of listening to and respecting my own flavor of hard-earned wisdom, and respecting the same in others. I wonder how it will shift the daily flavor of my existence to do that.

How about you, do you feel like you have life experiences that add to the way you are able to assess situations now differently than some people you are close to?

Do you doubt yourself a lot, is that a problem?

Can you think of ways to be more aware of your gifts and share them with greater confidence so the world around you can benefit from your unique flavor of wisdom?

Can Mindfulness Melt the Snowball of Numbness?

A couple of days ago, I meditated for almost five minutes. I used to do 20 minutes every other day as a bare minimum. I realized that after sitting, my mind was so much more in perspective.

I think that I’m a person who has a lot of thoughts. Maybe not more than most people, but more than some. My mind knows how to race and when I start to take every single thought seriously and try to weigh them against each other, I feel almost like I’m drowning. It leads me to making parts of songs and parts of blog posts pretty frantically, without actually finishing or loving any of them. Maybe there is no room for the stillness and experience of love when the world is racing so fast.

The sitting practice helps me to remember in a very experiential way that each thought is simply a thought, and that I can let some of them go without any horrible ramifications. It also seems that the farther I get away from that practice, the less I engage with other mindfulness activities like Yoga or even just basic stretching. I start getting addicted to the madness and afraid of the silence and stillness that I pretty much forget is even there.

It makes me wonder about addictions in general. The more frantic my mind gets, the more I start turning to alcohol and coffee and cigarettes to find some sense of comfort and ground. Of course, all of these things provide the exact opposite in most cases. But that doesn’t stop the craving for them when my mind is in such a state.¬† Partly because the thought “I should go get beer” is harder to see in perspective when I haven’t been engaging in my sitting practice.

Another thing that happens, which is pretty embarrassing to type, is that my mind tells me that the chaos and substances will help me to be more creative. Of course, I start writing more often sometimes when I’m in that state, but it’s not usually writing that I end up being proud of or using for any real project. It seems to be a rationalization built out of an addiction to numbing behavior, and as long as I can call it that to its face every once in awhile, it’s rather easy to get out of.

I wonder how many other people experience the swing in the way that I do, where it seems like the farther away I get from health and groundedness, the more I begin to seek out that chaos instead of things that bring me back. It’s quite interesting.

I hope you are well and I hope that getting back into my practice will leave me with more semi-useful things to blog about rather than the zillions of half-finished posts that you never get to see :)

Do you have numbing behaviors that seem to snowball into each other?

Are you just always able to be healthy and happy and motivated to be good to yourself?

 

 

 

Cleanliness and Creativity: Nourishing Your Future Creative Flame

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This is a concrete tube that I sit in during my lunch break. I love it. It’s the perfect shape to let my feet and back rest while I listen to music and eat my lunch.

At my new job, one of the things I’m learning to do is to keep the register area meticulously clean. At first it was almost impossible to be paying attention to the customers and merchandise, while also hand-writing receipts and using the confusing cash register and credit card machine and also keeping that area neat.

Now, even with a half a moment between customers, the stapler is in the right spot and the wrapping paper is tucked away. As it turns out, this has some pretty cool implications for enjoying life and creativity.

It began with my kitchen. Anyone with a kitchen knows that it is a haven for projection and sublimation. It is a place full of tools and sustenance and bliss. Or chaos, confusion, and chores. Often times, all of the above. It has bravely stepped up to be the object of arguments between lovers, and has selfishly taken up more than half of many communal house meetings.

I began to be diligent in my kitchen. I noticed that to be able to clean dishes right away, I had to have space on the dish rack. Every time I noticed dry dishes, I put them away. It seems simple enough; but if you are like me and do not yet have a solid grasp on this one slice of adulthood, you understand that I was basically achieving superhero rank.

But there’s more. I noticed that I began to naturally apply this to other areas of the house. I put clothes directly in the hamper instead of letting some collect behind the closet door first. I removed anything from the coffee table that didn’t live there, promptly and effectively. I called people right when I thought about doing it, and checked my email and bank balance without putting it off for ten minutes to check Facebook.

Life is pretty cool this way, I gotta say. And I think that it’s more than just having a clean house and effective systems.

Cleanliness and Creativity

I read a quote recently about how when you feel the fire and the urge to write, you should do it while the flame is hot. A lot of us know that to be true. The problem is, you never quite see it coming.

Maybe you have a week of uninspired days, and then you suddenly are filled to the brim with ideas. You want to write them, draw them, sing them, whatever them. But there are dishes to be done before you can make a pot of almighty coffee and the area in which you want to work is not workable, you have to clean it. That gets in the way. By the time the space is possible to work in, the flame might be out.

But by being diligent with the day to day, you are taking care of that future self, that future chance. Unless you have your environment made into a welcoming atmosphere for whatever arises, you are basically leaving today’s trash for tomorrow’s self. That’s not generally useful, and it’s also not respectful. If you have a guest coming over, you clean. But you are going to be a person tomorrow that you don’t even know yet today, perhaps a person with a huge creative burst. Don’t you want to have things wonderfully ideal for that version of you?

Living Now Instead of Playing Catch Up

I’m wondering if one way for me to enjoy life more is to stop playing as much catch up. To be fully able to be present where I am without having to take care of yesterday’s issues beforehand. Being able to just exist in a home is a blessing, being able to cook effectively and sit and enjoy the space is a great gift. In the past, some of us were given that gift by guardians who payed rent or a mortgage, or older siblings who cleaned up the kitchen. But now it’s not going to happen without our own awareness and attentiveness to our space and what makes us thrive.

Maybe your ideal art studio is a full blown mess. But it’s a certain type of mess, I would imagine. A mess of art supplies that can be worked with. A mess that lets you be your creative self, rather than a mess that gets in the way of that.

Just imagine that your favorite musician, artist, writer, or researcher called and told you they were coming over tomorrow and really hoped they could get some work done at your place. How would you set up your space for them? Don’t you deserve at least that?

Preciousness of Time

Another factor in this for me is the preciousness of time. Suddenly, free time to enjoy my space is much smaller than it used to be. It makes me extra motivated to keep it as wonderful as I can so that when I wake up on my day off, after a quick vacuum and a pot of coffee, I am ready to enjoy myself and the day without having to spend an hour cleaning up what I mindlessly left behind.

Plus, if I do feel creative or an urge to just relax, I can do so. I don’t have to let those gosh darn dishes get in the way of that.

How about you, do you set up your space so that your creativity has a space to thrive when it arises?

Do you think there are things you could do that would make your space more welcoming to your creative bursts?

Do you think keeping a clean kitchen is super easy? What are your methods for doing so?

Busy Being Humans

An old song of mine that has words related to duality http://jenniferstuart.bandcamp.com/track/let-the-noises-in-2

An old song of mine that has words related to duality http://jenniferstuart.bandcamp.com/track/let-the-noises-in-2

The Buddha pointed out long ago that we do not have a solid self. The denial of this fact can lead to suffering.

I’m noticing that we are expected to feel, often times, one way. Either hurt or happy, sensitive or tough, falling apart or totally together.

I’m noticing that this isn’t true to most of our experience.

If someone gives me criticism, it is one of the most potent times for me to notice that split. On one hand, I may really try to take in what they are saying so that I can fully absorb it. On the other hand, I may be a little hurt in a little kid way. On the third hand, I might be touched and thankful that they actually gave me feedback at all.

But it’s hard to put all of those things into a tidy sentence in the moment, or to wear it as a sensible facial expression.

When you think about how we are presenting ourselves to much of our world right now, via Facebook and texts and twitter and anything else, this idea is even more pronounced. You write a single status update, for every single friend. You send a text with no voice intonation, maybe even to someone you just met who doesn’t know the nuances of your speech patterns. We constantly seem to be in situations where having one thing to say or feeling one way is appropriate, expected, and normal.

This seems simple enough, doesn’t it? I think it’s a nice thing to think about, especially as we listen to other people talk. It’s sometimes useful to remember that every feeling has a whole lot of others that are also there, not always expressed, and not even always incredibly conscious.

My theory is that the more we all are aware of these things, the less we will feel like we are “doing it wrong” when we actually are just being humans, and the expectations apply more easily to robots. And the more we allow for this type of thing in others, the more everyone else gets to feel less isolated themselves.

I just lost my well-loved job. Now is a time of many mixed feelings. Maybe that’s why this topic is on my mind in this way. I spent a lot of the day making jewelry on my living room floor, listening to local music and thinking about the future. I have to figure something out soon, and until then, I’ll sell¬† necklaces at little markets and spend what I saved as little as possible while I wait for more potential work with the same organization to come back.

But yes, these are interesting times. I hope everyone is well, and I hope that I’ll be writing more often soon, I know it feels so great when I do!

Do you think that you often times feel just one way, or is it usually a mix?

Do you feel like it’s easy to express that mix in a way that people understand?

Do people ever expect you to feel one way when you don’t?

How a Garden is Like A Mind

This is a 50-pound cement unicorn I recently obtained. I love it.

This is a 50-pound cement unicorn I recently obtained. I love it.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my porch garden recently. There are a few things I’ve been learning about, and yesterday it dawned on me that there was a blog worthy metaphor lingering there, ready to burst with the cosmos buds and nasturtium flowers.

It all started when I watched this little grey bug sitting on a stem of a morning glory. It was spitting little tiny drops of water over and over, they were falling to the ground. My curiosity was devouring. I looked at it for so long, trying to imagine what it would grow into. A gecko? I like geckos. But no, it had too many legs and a different type of personality. I held up random objects to catch the water it spat and examine it. I longed for a microscope.

I asked my Facebook friends and found it to be some type of aphid, which I should get rid of. Either with ladybugs or dish soap/water spray. I longed for ladybugs. Instead, I flicked him and his entire family off at every chance I got.

A few days later I saw a cluster of red ant-like scrawly things all clustered on a cosmos stem. I watched them, they didn’t seem nice. I did some googling and found them to be another type of non-desirable aphid. Apparently not dealing with them soon could mean trouble later. So I flicked them off.

Planting seeds is a commitment to having plants, which attract bugs. Some bugs are good for the plants, some bugs are bad for them. Knowing which is which can be useful because you can prevent a problem before it starts, sometimes, by flicking your fingers instead of having to spray your food and flowers with toxic things.

We plant all kinds of seeds. We may join a book club or reading group. We may buy a journal. We may throw away all of the sugar in our house and buy some flax oil. We make commitments to growing certain seeds in our life all the time.

But what about the bugs? We notice them when they are in full swing, don’t we? Some bugs can devour your entire porch garden and chomp on all the leaves right before your eyes, leaving you no option but to start over. Self-doubt can creep in to your budding writing group and tell you that you have no right to be there, you’re a crap writer and none of the other people like you anyway. Maybe it kills that plant in your life.

Unless you see it coming, identify it, and flick it off the stem before it has a chance to grow and eat all of your hard work.

Some bugs are good. Like ladybugs. And mud wasps. They eat the stuff you don’t want, the circle of life works in harmony with what you want on the tiny piece of the world you started relating with. Are there good bugs of the mind, too? Some people use affirmations. Some use meditation. Some use Yoga. We nurture these actions because we know that they tend to live off of and consume the small aphids of our minds- the doubts, the self-criticalness, the insecurity.

Just some thoughts on gardening and the mind. Hope everyone is well!

Do you have seeds that you plant in your life, do you enjoy the blossoms or fruit that they bring?

Do you have a garden, have you ever seen those little spitting bugs?

Do you have actions that you nurture in daily life to take care of the small little metaphorical aphids before they devour your entire garden?