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?

 

Stuckness

Old rainbow

This new song has double the listens of any of my others.. http://soundcloud.com/starshipjenerprise/twine-by-jennifer-stuart

A few things have happened recently.

One is that I turned 30.

Another is that I got a music fan who is 9 years old, and more badass than I’ve ever been.

A third is that my morning glories have started thinking about blooming.

I go through rapid phases of self confidence that comes from my heart and a feeling of utter insecurity and doubt. Usually they follow each other in annoying little circles.

I wonder if I’m addicted to attention, or if I’m becoming that way. Or if I’m delusional, or if I’m just very, very smart and if eventually that realization will stick.

A big lesson lately is that things don’t last. Not good things like love and dogs, but things like anger and repulsion towards someone or myself. These things pass. It becomes really clear as I continue my work in a contemplative community where being present is key.

When I’m present, I’m not attached to the mean things someone said to me last week when I see them this week. I know that anything can happen, and I know it from experience. Most importantly, the more I can let go of the assumption that the icky feelings will last, the more open I am to having new fresh exciting and possibly pleasing ones come in.

This is all for now. Thoughts, reflections. Vague, but possibly more universal than they feel at the moment. 

On a side note, I have a column in Kickass Women’s Music magazine. You can find my first entry here. The column itself is about Music and Mind and relating to various aspects of playing music with mindfulness. There’s an audio thing that pops up with a lady talking, just mute it if you want to read instead. 

I hope everyone who still reads Enjoy Life for Once is well, I hope to make more posts soon and more potent and pointed ones, but right now this is all I’ve got.

Are there any feelings that you’ve had for a really long time about someone or yourself that feel permanent?

If you could change one feeling that you have, for someone else or yourself or a situation, what would it be?

These are fun things to think about, even if you don’t want to comment on them. Just imagining the changes is sometimes a good step in the direction of actually allowing the stuck things to move.

Try it out. :)

Life Lessons from ACL Music Festival

Clouds like music, too.

As any of my Instagram followers are all too aware of, I spent this weekend at Austin City Limits music festival. This post is about the life lessons that can be found at music festivals but can be applied to everyday life, insecurities, bad moods and anxieties.

Choose Your Stage

ACL has quite a few stages and they do a good job of balancing it out so that you can hear the group you are watching. Sometimes, like when Steve Earle went on, other bands like Bassnectar seemed to have more than their fair share of sound space, but that’s all right. When you walk around between stages, there are times that you can hear more than one band at once.

During some of those times, you are thinking, “Where should I go?” Maybe you don’t know any of the bands enough to make a choice based on the past, so you have to just go with what you feel.

That is an awful lot like feeling various moods starting to happen and realizing that you have to make a choice, isn’t it? If you’re like me, you can sometimes feel the little tingle of a bad mood or fit of grouchiness long before it gets a stronghold. You probably see some signs. The slight overreaction to stubbing your toe, the scowl on your face when you realize that it’s too humid for your liking. Whatever it is, you have a sign.

That’s sort of like hearing the strong bass of a song nearby, and wondering if perhaps you’d like to go join the people there. Maybe at the same time, there is a mellow bluegrass jam happening in the other direction. In terms of moods, that would be like noticing that even though you sense the bad mood, you also see the dog’s smiling face, the sunshine amidst the mugginess, the feeling of the ground, anything that is not the grouch-mood.

You can walk towards one song or the other based on what you feel  in the moment, which is little bits of both. If you acknowledge the existence of multiple stages, multiple moods and feelings, then you at least have a bit more of a choice, even if you can still hear little bits of Bassnectar when you are really focusing on Steve Earle.

The Things You Don’t See

At a music festival, there is plenty that you don’t see.  Our neighbor gave us wrist bands that got us into certain backstage areas, so we got to see things from different angles than most. During one of the smaller bands, I spotted a girl doing Yoga in the safe darkness under the stage.

Some wires going into the ground.

I’m sure nobody on the other side of the stage thought about her existence or even considered it. If you asked them, “Hey, do you think there’s a girl doing Yoga under the stage right now?” They probably wouldn’t doubt you too much, but it would just be something they never even considered.

I wonder how many things like that are happening at this very moment. There’s always something unseen, unthought of, undreampt. Does anyone else find that to be comforting?

What Does The Downpour Feel Like?

During a band called the Big Gigantic, there was a rain storm. Since I don’t have a good phone case, I don’t have pictures; but the crowd was wild and we were in the middle of it. It was surreal to see people getting extremely happy during the downpour. Maybe next time an intense mood or bout of anxiety happens, I can enjoy the intensity of it, the sheer power of it, rather than judging it as “bad” or “good”.

Standing in the rain and not being afraid of it or running away from it was incredibly fulfilling. Feeling it on my face, my hair, soaking my clothes, getting all over my stuff; there was simply nothing that could be done. The rain simply felt wonderful in that moment because it was clean, new, wet, alive. There were people, there was music, there was a sky and a ground and things were just lovely because they were there.

Comparisons Don’t Work; Leave Room For Being Surprised

This may just be my brain, but when I’m in a group of people and feeling some anxiety, sometimes the comparison-function starts to kick in.

This was the first big festival I’ve been to in many years, and I’m almost 30. Since most of the crowd seemed to be made of attractive young people, my brain started beating me up rather quickly.

For awhile, my self-esteem sank to the very ground that everyone was trampling. I’ll never be as in shape as these people, I’ll never have awesome shiny hair like these people, I’ll never get to be young again, yada yada yada. It took awhile for me to seriously put a halt to all that nonsense.

A new friend brought us up to a platform on the side of the stage. It gave me a perspective that was hard to come by in such a literal sense in that crowd, but easy to come by metaphorically during other times, like right now. I think it’s called “taking a step back.”

Enjoying a beer and waiting for the Chili Peppers

I looked at those people and started to realize that maybe things weren’t so bad for me and my aging self. Maybe there were benefits to getting older, to having experience, to not being 15 and hormonally insane.

The crowd stretched farther than a picture could capture. There were people excited to be in the front, happy to be in the back, and happy to be behind the stage, watching the show on a TV screen around a circular open bar. I watched through the sides of the stage, watching the crowd going mad over the music. I was happy to be where I was, and everything somehow worked. Like a giant puzzle. Everyone brought their own little piece, and no two bodies were occupying the same spot at the same time. It all worked and everyone was different, with their own beauty and their own grace. It felt so clear; we were all in this together.

 

My Intentions
I would like to always leave a little room for my mind to be surprised by what is happening. I’d like to have fewer expectations and comparisons and gracefully step up into the older years of my life without fighting them, because they are coming for me anyway. And I would like to never forget that. I may not get to be a teenager again, but I can watch the youth of today having fun just like I can watch the Chili Peppers crowd dancing and jumping while I enjoy the whole thing from a different vantage point.

I can look at the same mood or mindset differently, experiencing the intensity like a rainfall during a wild song, feeling it as exciting instead of scary or uncomfortable. Life is happening always; might as well experience as many stages as possible and from many angles while I still can.

How About You?

How about you guys, have you gone to many music festivals lately? Do you feel like you can pick between moods like different stages, or is it more like you are in one crowd and the band keeps changing on you?

Do you feel like your brain compares you to others too much, not enough, or just enough?

When’s the last time you felt a real raindrop falling on your face?

 

Mediating My Media: Am I Old, or Am I Sam Elliott?

If I picture that I’m Sam Elliott, somehow Pinterest becomes less annoying.

The other day I wrote an article on an herbalism website with a cute picture of my dog. I proceeded to pin the picture, and then tweeted the pin.

I realized that if I was more skilled, I’d probably have facebooked the tweet of the pin of the picture. Or maybe that’s the dumb thing to do. I’m not sure.

And that’s what makes me feel old.

I have nothing against technology itself. Not a darn thing. I don’t have a problem with the act of facebooking a tweet of a pin of a picture, but…what if someday there are more?

What then? Can I keep up for forever when I’m barely hanging on a thread now?

How Do The Kids Do It?

The kids do these things so seamlessly; it’s as if their very blood and brains are pumping with html code and built-in photo filters.

(Once, I had a dream that the world started to look like Instagram to save everyone trouble. It was horrifying.)

Last night I had a revelation. The fast-growing importance of the Internet is scary, but not like horror movie scary or even Lifetime movie scary.

It’s more like the wild frontier. The buzzy glowing pulsating world of the Internet is unfolding before us in previously unknown glory, and it is up to us to make the most of it.

Sure, there are some strapping young cowboys and pretty maidens that have an easy time fighting off plagues and jumping from rock to rock over the swift chilly rivers of change, but that’s okay. Good for them. There’s also Sam Elliott.

And he’s not young. But he is awesome.

How Can The Old Folks Do It?

There are plenty of writers that have embraced technology and seem to be dancing over the rocks on that river. Jeff Noon, for one. His blog Metamorphiction is pretty amazing. It is as if he is living in the realm of the Internet and manipulating all of its features like play dough.

Probably because he isn’t afraid of it. Isn’t afraid of learning, isn’t afraid of letting it all in and not resisting the shifts that are happening.

The Truth

It’s time that I fess up that many of the grievances I have towards technology are really my insecurity. Well, some of them at least. I’m afraid that things are progressing so fast that I am having a hard time maintaining speed, and if I fall too far behind at any given moment, maybe I’ll end up in a stampede of gigabytes or an avalanche of megapixels and never find my way to the gentle warmth of the sun again.

Worse, I fear my writing will never find its way to an audience because I won’t know where to put it. I’ll be sticking the newfangled CD into the familiar old VHS slot, when really neither are working because it’s the wrong television set entirely.

So there. I got that off my chest, and also shared my secret.

When in doubt, just be Sam.

Your Turn!

Now, how about you? Is it easy to tweet your pins of Facebook updates, or whatever it is you do?

How many sites do you think we will have to maintain in the next year, four years, five years?

Or are things just fabulous either which way and none of this matters and good writing will find an audience even if the writer is just pretending to understand how to use social media?

If You Don’t Want to Be A Zombie, Wake Up!

Have you ever been talking on the phone with a good friend and they start laughing for no reason, then get very focused on something else, and then their voice trails off mid-sentence…and it all seems to have nothing to do with what you are saying?  You suddenly aren’t sure if you are crazy or if maybe they are.

Your Friend is Not, In Fact, A Zombie.

You find that they are actually playing a video game, watching a show, looking online at videos, or texting someone. It dawns on you that you could have better spent your time talking to the dog, because at least he would be paying attention. You feel silly for having been talking at all; duped out of some of your precious minutes on this planet talking to a zombie that temporarily took over your friend.

Our ability as humans to multitask is rather phenomenal. But I fear it can get out of control. Have you seen the movie Wall-E? In it, people are riding around on hovering chairs, talking on the phone to each other even if they are a foot away. Food gets served automatically, and their feet never touch the ground. They don’t have to use their muscles, and they are doing everything all at once.

Have you ever texted someone just because they were downstairs and you didn’t want to get up? I have. It starts there, and only gets worse.

I was talking to my sister about making this very post, and as I was talking to her I was also writing a zip code on an envelope; my voice trailed off and the taste of hypocrisy rushed in. She hardly noticed of course, because she was playing a game on her new iPhone and listening to some horrible music. Zombies talking to zombies.

What to Do?

My goal is to start to become more aware of when I am multitasking and when I am not so that a choice can be made.

Maybe I’m fully capable of talking to someone while checking my WordPress stats and also looking at Facebook and researching something for my job. But what about just talking to my sister, what about just looking at Facebook, what about tasting the feeling of one thing at a time? I can choose to do this more often than not if and only if I am aware of the difference. But why is this effort even necessary; why not just live in a multitasking frenzy?

Writers Need To Experience Things

The best writing, to me, is in tune with reality. Whether it is fictional, fantasy or non-fiction, it is using elements of reality to evoke a response.

Details are going to come through in my writing more successfully when I witness them fully. I want to be aware of how it feels to speak to my sister, to hear the nuances in her voice, to listen to what she is saying and how her voice rises and falls depending on the topic. I want to feel my own heart beat faster as we start laughing about something, to feel the edges of my face lift in a true smile as she tells me about one of her accomplishments. These are things I cannot notice if I am half-listening to her and half-checking to see how many people are clicking on my blog’s fancy new Facebook page (hint, hint).

Let’s Look Out For Each Other, Shall We?

This can be a community effort, on some level. Your friends don’t want to disrespect you. They don’t want you to hang up the phone feeling awkward and misled. But you need to tell them how this makes you feel; we need to stick together so that we don’t end up as a bunch of osteoporosis-riddled people on hovercrafts with no ability to look each other in the eye.

In order to be a good writer, you need to be willing to live, to listen, to experience. Otherwise, all you have to go off of is hearsay. And that is boring; even a zombie could do better. Let’s not let that happen.

Do you prefer to multitask and get lots of things done at once?  Does that somehow help you improve your skills as a writer, blogger, mother, artist, or any other talent?

Do you think that you have a good ability to do one thing at a time?

Do you think it really matters, or am I just bonkers?