Archives for category: gardening

I spent yesterday focused on self-care. I slept a lot. I also canceled prior plans, rather than expose friends to yet another opportunity to get sick. I drank water. I sipped broth. I soaked in a warm bath. I enjoyed a hot shower. I took a small amount of symptom relieving medication. I ate soup. I stayed home. It was all very dull. I was still sick enough that my most notable companion was the cough that developed during the week. I couldn’t focus very well, and reading just put me to sleep over and over again; sleep was likely what I needed most, anyway.

I slept like hell last night, waking around 1 am, coughing. I was up with that awhile until it settled down, and the next round of symptom relievers kicked in. I went back to bed, and slept badly awhile longer. I woke slowly around 8:00 am, which could have been sleeping in, if I hadn’t been up for 3 hours during the night, coughing.

…So far, I’m not coughing much this morning. This is a sign of real progress. I’m not “over it” yet, so today is a day to continuously remind myself not to “over do it”. The upcoming work week is a short one, and I can’t afford to lose even an hour of productive work time. I feel annoyed to catch myself balancing the needs of my employer against my own, as I consider the upcoming week, but this, too, is a sign of slow recovery. I may be properly well in time for Thanksgiving. I frown when the thought crosses my mind that if I’m not well, I should stay home from that holiday event, and let friends and fam enjoy it without me, rather than risk getting them sick. The thought of doing so saddens me, though it would certainly not be the first time I ditched on a holiday rather than get people sick. I really try not to share contagion.

I look around me this morning, and another sign of wellness as it returns to me is that I am very much aware (and self-conscious about) the disorder that has crept in all around while I have been too sick to care much about any of that. The dishwasher has clean dishes in it left from the last time I ran it, and there are dirty dishes covering the counter by the sink. All the soup mugs and most coffee mugs, many of the glasses, then the bowls, all of the flatware… I am annoyed by the disarray, although I don’t give myself any shit about it; I’ve been sick, it’s to be expected. In the bedroom, the general sense of order is lost to the visual chaos of piles of laundry here and there on the floor, obviously not sorted, just… clothes left where I dropped them. The vanity counter mocked me with the untidy display of cold remedies, an empty tissue box, and the earrings I was wearing when I came home from work early last Tuesday. This is unquestionably the worst my residence has looked… since the last time I was quite sick. This was supposed to be a weekend to clean house, bake for the upcoming holiday, and get some downtime, instead I’ll spend it attempting to prevent myself from “over doing it” on all the shit around me that clearly wants to get done, because if I throw myself into the matter energetically, without mindful self-care, and an awareness that I’ve been quite sick for several days, I’ll find myself exhausted and miserable tomorrow, and possible sicken myself all over again for the week to come.

Adulting is hard. lol

I start a load of laundry, as I head to the shower. No problem with the water pressure, and the load in the wash is cold-water wash, so no concern about cheating myself of hot water. It’s a time management win that doesn’t add a ton of additional effort to my experience. From the shower to the kitchen. Dishes now? Dishes later?

Coffee. Coffee first.

I sit down with a notepad and make notes instead of rushing into a ton of verbs without any organization at all; I’ve probably only got so much energy in me, today. Self-care has to stay at the top of my list. So… I put it there.

There’s something about a list on paper that just works for me.

I sip my coffee and consider what matters most, and start there. Obvious stuff, mostly: do the dishes, put them away, do laundry (already started), and put that away, too, take out the trash, break down the recycling and take that out, too. I stop there. I sip my coffee and stare out at the deck awhile. “Peanuts”, I think, as I watch the leaves shift in the wind beyond the sliding glass door, “I’m almost out of peanuts for the squirrels.” I add “get peanuts” to the list, and then, “get gas”. It’s enough. Could I do more? No idea, yet. This will be enough, though, and even gets me out of the house briefly. I consider whether to visit a local market, too; it would be a pleasant outing, and it is perhaps encouraging of further wellness, just that I am interested in considering the excursion. I make that one a maybe, and finish my coffee.

Pacing myself doesn’t really come very naturally to me. I grew up in a sort of “do something, even if it isn’t right” culture of taking action and initiative. Those aggressive cycles of activity and exhaustion make planning and following through on plans more difficult, though, and taking the approach that action comes ahead of thoughtful decision-making got me (someone with a dis-inhibiting executive function impairing brain injury) into way more trouble than it was worth! It’s not my way, these days. I follow a path of consideration and planning, and reliably careful execution, tempered with comfortable adaptability when plans fail. (My results vary.) Plans do fail. That’s just real. πŸ™‚ No point taking that shit personally. Panic and drama are not welcome.

The wind is blowing furiously today. I watch the leaves skitter across the deck, even being lifted from the damp pile of reds and golds back into the air to twirl and drift back down. Autumn. I do love this season. It is my favorite. I’m tempted to take a short hike today. I correct myself to consider only a short walk, instead. Even that might be a bit of a stretch. I sigh quietly; it’s hard to pace myself. The moment I begin feeling better I want to race out into the world in a flurry of activity. It’s a poor choice. I lead my thoughts back to my list, and my more modest plan for the day. It’ll still be autumn next weekend. πŸ™‚

I finish my coffee, and prepare to begin again. The day unfolds ahead of me, built on a gentle plan, and my reminder that self-care is still my highest priority.

The weekend was relaxed and I spent it mostly in a state of general contentment, hoping to get over the latest ick going around, before the few symptoms I was beginning to experience could fully develop. The focus on self-care may have been worthwhile; I’m feeling okay this morning. πŸ™‚ Definitely well-rested.

One last autumn rose in my garden

The foggy autumn mornings became sunny warm-ish afternoons, which then led to orange-glow sunsets that filled my living room with hints of gold. Twilights were chilly, in shades of mauve, deepening to night fairly slowly. Days are shorter. Sunrise comes later. Sunset surprises me by arriving so soon. Seasons change.

I spent the weekend reading. Taking care of myself. Getting enough rest. Bringing order to chaos. Even turning inward now and then, and reflecting on how best to become the woman I most want to be. It was a lovely weekend, well-spent.

I miss my Traveling Partner. I’m still glad I took the weekend for self-care instead of travel. πŸ™‚ Hilariously, I am already looking forward to next weekend; I’ll probably make the down/back round trip, then. πŸ˜€

I look around my studio. No spiders. That’s a relief, actually. lol I’m eager to get some things done, artistically. Feeling well-rested also finds me feeling inspired.

This feels like an easy morning to overlook the potential in a new beginning; I could coast on this now, right here, and be content. There’s more to do, though. More to learn. A better human to be than the one I was yesterday. It’s a journey, and as lovely as life is in this moment, right here, there is more living to do in the moments ahead.

It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

The quality of the sleep I am getting seems good. I’m not waking during the night. I’m getting to bed at an hour that results in no less than 7 hours of sleep, which I seem to be getting. I’m consuming carefully measured quantities of caffeine, and limiting that to early in the day. I mentally run down the list of carefully selected good sleep hygiene practices that I rely on to get the most out of my resting hours…

…Regardless of all that, I am particularly groggy upon waking to the alarm these last couple work days. My body feels rested. My brain feels unready for the new day. I’m doing my best to properly wake up, to be thoughtful, coherent, ready for the day. So far this is more an exercise in effort than any sort of effective achievement.

A moment in the garden on a summer evening.

I sip my coffee and contemplate the summer heat. The garden isn’t as lush as I’d like it to be. Summer heat. I’m often away all weekend. The time taken to water during the week, before work, and again in the evening as the heat slowly begins to fade to cooler night-time temperatures, really makes a difference when I’m not at home to do it on weekends. This past weekend many of the roses bloomed in what seems a rather early second blossoming of loveliness and fragrance. I take a moment to feel grateful to have gotten to see it.

This year, just one flower.

Peeking out from the summer foliage, a single flower blooms on Nozomi, a delicate miniature rose that is a long-time favorite that I’ve had since… 1993? This year she’s only bloomed this once; she is usually among the most prolific bloomers among my roses. I make a mental note to re-pot her this winter.

“Feeling overwhelmed” is an experience fairly common to being human. Seems more common these days, for more people, although I’d begun to experience it much less myself. Starting in November, 2016, it has become, once again, plenty common for me, as well. “It’s all just too much” is the feeling. I give myself a little internal moment of real understanding, because, as feelings go, the most appropriate response to the feeling of “it’s all just too much” is simply “yes, yes it is” followed by “we’ll get through this, together”. A deep breath. A sigh. I move on from the moment; every moment passes.

I think over an interaction with a friend from earlier this week. She was feeling overwhelmed to the point of tears. “It’s all just too much!” A moment of sympathy and support rather quickly became quiet frustration and puzzlement, as it became apparent that she was investing in her feeling of being overwhelmed by building that and growing it, rather than sorting it out and easing her own suffering. Attempts to support and help her weren’t seeming either supportive or helpful, as she quickly interrupted anything helpful, soothing, or perspective-offering, (that could have just as easily been used to calm herself) to reinforce her self-inflicted, home-grown, utterly subjective internal experience with quick contradictions, veering tangents, and distractingly vague exclamations of distress. She quickly shored up her powerfully negative narrative each time I attempted to bring clarity or calm to the shared moment together. So frustrating. Eventually, the time-sensitive nature of schedules and calendars intervened. I went on with my day. She went on with her tears. I am still puzzled at the whole thing; it’s hard to fathom someone not actually accepting the help and support they’ve sought out. I still just don’t get it.

…I don’t have to “get it” – a lot of what is going on just isn’t at all about me. Not my circus. Not my monkeys. That’s not only okay, it’s necessary; I can’t shoulder the burden of all the world’s chaos and damage alone. I manage my piece as skillfully as I am able. I try not to add to the pile. πŸ˜‰

Still groggy, I check the time. Well, damn. It’s already that time again. I hit that metaphorical reset button, look out the window into a pre-dawn sky that reminds me summer will end, and likely sooner than I expect. It’s a good opportunity to begin again. πŸ™‚

I’m sipping my coffee, well-rested, on a lovely summer morning. I scrolled through my news feeds, and at the end of it found myself feeling a bit let down with humanity, with my own relative powerlessness in the face of the world generally, with the drama and bullshit that we allow to impede our forward progress as creatures… We could do better. I mean, obviously. lol Hell of a start to a lovely Saturday.

I push my seat back, and carry my coffee to the deck, and enjoy the rustling leaves, birdsong, the smell of freshly watered plants, the sweetness of a newly ripe tomato fresh from the vine, and a few healthy moments of other thoughts and experiences than the embrace of an office chair, and the bright white pipeline of infotainment shoved directly into my brain through my eye holes. I get way too much of that, and too little of small brown birds daring to come closer to see if maybe I have another seed hidden in my hand. πŸ™‚

When I came back in, I sat right down at my desk, and let the excess of words and pictures continue to stream into my brain. Damn it.

I get up. Again. I breathe. I do some yoga. Somewhere amidst this second flurry of activity, I have a second coffee that I’ve already forgotten now. Some mindfulness. (That’s sarcasm there.) I nag at myself about my baggage. I pause to feel annoyed with myself for nagging myself, instead of simply practicing.

I let that go, too.

I find myself, at some point, wondering about how I create the baggage I carry in life. I mean… some is picked up in some moment of trauma, sure, but what counts? Does it need to be major trauma? (You already know the answer, if you are honest with yourself; it could potentially be the most petty irritation, if allowed to fester.) I mean… hell… I even have baggage about this. Right here. Blogging. No kidding – did you not know? lol (“Do tell!”Β  “Okay, I will…”)

In December 2012, sometime, during a terribly dark time in my emotional life (one of the worst, darkest, most despairing times of my life had begun, and I was very much at risk of not making it to the other side) I began to consider starting a blog. I had mostly given up writing in a journal – a life habit of many years, that I’d found huge value in, but which had become a ruminating spiral of negativity that developed a fairly self-hateful feedback loop that supported the despair more than the woman writing about it. The saner choice, then, had been to just give it up, for at least awhile. I lost an important voice in my narrative in doing so, and I needed… something. A blog? Maybe; I’d be writing in a public place, read by anyone who cares to read my writing, which, I felt, had a chance of keeping me from falling to the demons of rumination and negativity, and maybe give me some purpose and focus,Β  a foundation on which I could… maybe… heal. Or at least feel heard.

I approached one of my partners (now an ex) at the time and brought the subject up. I viewed her as being “more internet savvy” than I was myself, and I knew she also had a blog. I suggested I was considering writing a blog, myself, and asked her for suggestions or recommendations for platforms. What I got back was… a hearty helping of ego and discouragement. “Oh, well, you shouldn’t expect anyone will read it, and you most likely just won’t keep up with it, and you’ll probably just abandon it. Most people are very bad writers, and don’t have anything interesting to write about. You should expect that you’ll get bored with the work of keeping it up. I have several followers and a very successful blog because people love my writing. It probably won’t be that way for you, and you shouldn’t be discouraged if it turns out no one cares and you’re wasting your time.” I felt astonished, first that she’d assume anything about my writing, when she’d never taken any interest in it, and also that she had no awareness that I’d been making a practice, my entire adult life almost continuously, of writing 500-3,000 words a day – entirely without a fucking blog. LOL I also felt hurt by the dismissiveness and lack of emotional support, particularly so early in our relationship (there was much about her, as a human being, I did not yet know).

…Then the insecurity kicked in. Maybe I’m not “good enough”? Maybe I lack worthy content? Maybe no one does care – at all? Maybe I am “wasting my time”? I almost didn’t start. I almost gave up writing entirely. A few more days of systematic discouragement at a difficult time in my life, and I even started considering ending it. My life, I mean. It was a dark time, indeed. Then I read her blog – looking for a clearer understanding; maybe it was “too hard” for me? (Clearly not.) I didn’t really know, and I wanted to understand more clearly what limitations I was truly facing as an individual. I read a bunch more blogs by great thinkers and writers, because it was immediately evident that little was to be gained reading hers. I looked over various platforms that support blogging. I asked myself what I wanted to say – and what mattered most about my writing, generally. Let’s be very real about this; I was attempting to do this while also wholly disrupted by mental illness, and family-life stress. I was in no shape to adult without supervision. I still needed to do my own homework; unavoidably, the advice of other people is shaped by their agenda and biases, and filtered through their own bullshit. It has limited value. Ever.

I’m smiling this morning as I sip my coffee. I value my time writing. I appreciate my readers (hey, that’s you!). Six and a half years and 1625 posts later (not quite one every day), and I’m still writing, still finding value in that practice, and still feeling heard. πŸ™‚ I’m glad I didn’t let one voice of discouragement stop me from being the woman I most want to be… or the woman I am. πŸ˜€

Baggage is a funny thing. It lingers. I did pick up some baggage that long ago winter afternoon, talking about blogging; I occasionally still question my writing. It’s fairly public. There are some things, perhaps, that would be best unsaid? Should I mention my weekend plans? What if someone might use that to burglarize my house by noting when I am likely to be away? Should I mention when I am happy? Someone who has an agenda of minimizing my happiness may use that to undermine it… What about… her? Yep. Sometimes, even now, I consider the considerable drama, bullshit, and emotional pain she continues to inflict on friends and loved ones at personally inconvenient moments, and I can’t help but wonder… did my writing drive the timing? Am I feeding information to a human being who now places me in her world as an adversary?

…Should I stop writing??

More baggage. I laugh it off, and remind myself that she has no power over me that I don’t give her, myself, and no current place in my life, now, at all. Like any bad memory, or former association ended with cause, there’s no real need to revisit that time, place, or person, other than to heal myself. Certainly no reason to give it power over me now. lol

Consequences (of our words, or our actions) are real things, though, and I do consider the consequences of my writing; I spend far longer reviewing a finished post, and refining my words, than I do writing it in the first place. Consequences matter. People’s hearts matter. Being authentic, practical, and frank, matter. Being a better person today than I was yesterday matters. Sometimes I delete whole posts rather than publish something that might cause a stranger undue pain, or “out” someone’s private experience without explicit approval. or even just fall short of adequately expressing my thoughts in a true-to-self way.

What I’m getting at, I guess, is “do you” – support yourself in your endeavors. Don’t let “the world” slow you down or change your mind – but be prepared to face the consequences of your choices (good and bad), and consider them with care. Choose wisely. Be your best self… but do be you. No one else can do it so well, although a few bad sorts may try to steal your identity, your words, your very soul – authenticity can’t be faked, and over time, those stolen facades break down, revealing the real person beneath the lies. Walk on from that drama. πŸ™‚ No direct confrontation can be sufficiently satisfying to make the fuss worth it. lol Life is too short to leave the trolls in charge. πŸ˜€

Bottom line? We really do choose – and carefully craft – most of our baggage in life. It’s okay to put that down, and walk on. Let it go. Just… let it go. Move on with life without it. It can be a choice… if we care to choose it. Yes – sorry – there are verbs involved. It may require some practice. You may have to begin again – any number of times. Still worth it.

It’s time to begin again.Β I’m sipping my coffee, well-rested, on a lovely summer morning, smiling, and content. I am enjoying the morning with the woman in the mirror – she’s a survivor, a bad-ass, and this morning? There is no other woman I would want to be more. πŸ™‚

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about life as art. Authenticity, creativity, beauty… transcendence of pain, finding voice for those things in life for which we lack language or words… isn’t a life well-lived, itself, an artistic endeavor? Life, lived, as an art form, itself… means… what? Another day in the studio. Today, a lot of questions, consideration of the day behind me, work already started, unfinished – like life.

Who is the artist?Β A question for answering, individually, subjectively, personally. There is only one answer, for any one artist, really;Β gnothi seauton. The journey to the answer, is the life as art.

A woman told me, once, some long time ago in another life altogether, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body – I’m not an artist. I don’t do anything creative.” I took that at face value, at the time, and it fit my understanding of the world, then. I later saw her in her home. Her home struck me as a piece of fairly wonderful artistry, and the lack of paint staining her jeans, or dust under her nails, or bits and pieces of creative moments needing to be cleaned up didn’t detract from that impression at all. Her home was lovely, orderly, cared-for – each piece of memorabilia, each ornament, carefully selected, an impression exquisitely crafted – how is this not also art? Wherever she moved, she appeared to be quite carefully placed to communicate a mood, a moment, or an idea of beauty. The point I’m trying to make is that, as an artist, it isn’t really for me to define “what is art?” – only to define who I am, as an artist, myself. Those choices are not made of words – they are conveyed by my actions. By my art.

Words over coffee. It was a good day in the studio yesterday. Playing with paint – and chaos. I choose my materials with care.

A pair, 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and UV. “Chaos Theory”

I did several pieces as pairs yesterday, specifically indulging my fascination with chaos theory. I started with two canvases, the same palette of colors for each, the same measured amounts of those pigments, placed similarly on each canvas, the canvases placed side by side, and worked as a single larger piece, to the same playlist. Mood, movement, brush strokes, technique – all as much the same as I can easily make them.Β  In every instance, of course, two different canvases still result. Not just different-as-in-separate-and-individual, but also just… different, as in – not the same. It was a fun day in the studio, playing with science, chemistry, and philosophy.

I spent the day in a meditation made of movement, color, and music, contemplating differences and similarities, considering the way I’ve carved up my life into “separate canvases”; the life of the artist, alongside the life of the analyst. The lover, alongside the angry woman. The professional, alongside the free spirit. The citizen, alongside the protester. I spent the day thinking about life as art, and contemplating this vast broad canvas of experiences as a single unified whole. I spent the day free of any constraints aside from those I have assigned myself. I answered a few questions – I asked a lot more.

I spent time in the garden, too. Another living metaphor.

I gardened later. I grilled a lovely summer evening repast. I meditated as evening came, and watched the dwindling twilight become night. It was the sort of day I could single out from among many and say “this is some of my best work”, as an artist.

Happily enough, it’s already time to begin again. The day stretches ahead of me, a blank canvas. You, too. What will you do with it?