Archives for category: Parables

I often think of life as a metaphorical garden. (Isn’t it?)

I sometimes stray down the path without tending the garden.

The healthy tilth is a good starting point; planting seeds in crags and rocks may not yield a generous crop of fruits, vegetables, or flowers. Understanding what is fertile ground, and how to prepare ground for planting has value.

Composting scraps and garden waste skillfully results in more fertile soil… but which scraps are suitable, and which will ruin the compost? Not all that is waste or scrap is worth keeping.

Lush and beautiful, chosen with care. We reap what we sow, and how we tend our garden matters.

Choosing seeds and plants with care, understanding the climate, and the seasons, locally, in my own garden, really matters; however fertile the soil, planting something that can’t thrive in my climate puts my garden at a disadvantage.

A weed in one context may be a crop in another.

Taking care, every day, to nurture my garden, to fertilize when needed, to water, to cut back spent blooms, to weed out noxious or invasive intruders that consume resources, but yield nothing, matters greatly over time. If I am not present, some plants may thrive, willy-nilly, coincidental to the luck of the rainfall and the weather, but the outcome is left to chance – other plants will wither and die. My harvest may not be plentiful. My blooming season limited.

My roses suffer my lack of attention; this is true of most things that require attention.

Self-care works very much in this same way. I don’t suppose I need to spell it all out more factually – if you already keep a garden, you already get it. 🙂

My results vary, as does the weather.

I haven’t been home much, lately. Most weekends I am away. I travel to see my Traveling Partner, catching up with him wherever he is. I travel to see friends. I travel for this or that event or festival. I travel on a whim. I catch myself yearning to be at home, in my own garden…

…Yes, it’s a metaphor. 🙂

This weekend I am at home. I am in my own garden, tending it with care, making up for lost time, present, and appreciating this moment, right here. It’s enough to be here, now, and there is no need or time for self-criticism, or what-ifs, or if-onlys. This is now, and now is enough, and I am here, enjoying it with the woman in the mirror – who has been missing this quiet place, and time.

Be present. See wonders. Experience the moment, fully.

The morning started slowly, and auspiciously enough; I slept in. I woke gently in the twilight of a new day, the room turning light in spite of the curtains, as day broke. I got up. Showered. Found my feet carrying me toward the car as soon as I was dressed. Coffee-to-Go and a breakfast sandwich on a hilltop looking out across the countryside, with a view of Mt Hood beyond. Bare feet. Damp grass. Contentment. No firm plan, and coffee finished, I found my way to the farmer’s market, then heading home with fresh local strawberries, fully ripe – the sort one never finds in a grocery store. The scent fills the car.

I arrive home, smiling so hard my face hurt, in spite of the peculiarly moody dark sky, threatening imminent rain (that has only now started to fall, some hours later). I make a Turkish coffee, melt some chocolate, and feast on strawberries dipped in warm chocolate, sipping coffee, in my garden. I raise my cup cheerily at a robin who joins me, watching me from the deck rail. There is work to do in my garden, metaphorical or otherwise, and I have been away far too much for my own good. I finish my coffee, then finish the spring planting, finish the weeding, finish the watering, just in time to head indoors before the rain comes. I leave a strawberry, fat, juicy, and fully ripe, on the deck rail… in case of visitors. 🙂

Rain is definitely coming.

Inside, my metaphorical life-garden greets me, and here too there is work to be done. Untidiness has crept in, a corner here, a stack of paperwork over there, a piece of gear that was not put away, a book askew from all the rest, a stray sock left where it fell, unnoticed, and so much laundry that very much wants to be put away… I’m still smiling. It’s a good day to begin again. 🙂

I am sipping my coffee, feeling well-rested, and contemplating the weeks ahead. I’ve got a couple weekends here at home, and a rather lengthy list of “shit to get done” – mostly stuff that’s fallen a bit behind because I spend so many weekends away, these days. It’s basic housekeeping stuff: a handful of “still haven’t finished moving in” sorts of things, some common enough household repairs I can easily handle myself, and some overdue errands… real life, in list form. The list has grown long.

I’ve been enjoying life, without regret, and without allowing the list to get in the way. It’s all stuff that does need to get done, though. I’ve got a couple weekends ahead with which to do it (I am clearly not getting much of it done in the evenings after work). I find myself thinking sternly that it is time to find a proper balance between relaxing and finding chill space, contentment, and a drama free zone… and getting shit done. lol

I listen to the birds singing as day begins to break on the slim slice of horizon I see beyond my studio window. Physical limitations are hard to argue with. Cognitive limitations are hard to argue with. Shit still needs to get done. Every. Damned. Day. It’s only Wednesday morning, but since I returned home Sunday afternoon, I’ve managed to use every glass in the place – and I know this, because they are all neatly lined up on the kitchen counter, above the dishwasher, which is full of clean dishes that need to be put away (from Thursday morning)… except glasses, which I have removed from the dishwasher one by one, to use, then placed neatly on the counter. Omg – am I fucking kidding me??? Not okay. lol

I breathe. Relax. Feel my shoulders drop back down where they belong, after having crept upwards with tension, as I considered the dishes that desperately want doing. I dislike dirty dishes on this whole other “I will have a motherfucking breakdown if this shit does not change!!” sort of level – it’s been an issue for many years. Doesn’t matter that it’s me leaving the mess behind (that may make it matter more, actually) – it just needs to be handled. So human. I don’t think that is really going to change.

I smile and turn the page on my lengthy list of things to get done; it’s grown quite long over weeks and months, and it has become a source of frustration more than a list. So. I turn the page, and I begin again. A literal new list, a list for right now, and that lists some low-hanging fruit, and things that matter most. A list for evenings after work, leading up to this next, one, weekend. Only that. This is a less daunting list, already, and I find myself rather strangely already more motivated to get started.

…I can do the dishes before I head to the office this morning.

It’s time to begin again.

Oh hey, good morning. 🙂

It’s true, by the way. I can’t “fix” you. (Maybe you aren’t even actually “broken” in the first place, however “broken” you may sometimes feel…) Similarly, you can’t fix that person who is dear to you, or even that yearning stranger seeking support. We are not machinery. What is entirely possible and totally within reach is to change our experience. We can change our choices, change our reactivity, change our potential for resilience, change our actions, change our words, and even change our thinking – which, as it turns out, is a very big deal. We each (all) have choices.

“Be Like Water” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and India ink. 2018

Pro-tip: If you regularly feel like you are spinning out of control and “have no choices” or “lack options”, taking some time to explore potential choices and options you have previously set aside as “impossible” or in some fashion unworthy, may be really worthwhile. If you’ve narrowed down the vast list of potential choices and options to just some small handful that from your present vantage point “all suck”, you’ve made at least one choice already; the choice to disregard some possible choices. I’m sure you have your reasons. Maybe handle that differently? Be open to more than what you, yourself, think is “obvious”.

Sometimes we need to step back to see things in context, or to gain perspective.

I spent the weekend delightfully, mostly painting and hanging out with friends. I provided comfort and support where it seemed needed. I felt valued and appreciated for “being there”. Realistically, I also know that I didn’t “fix” anything at all; I simply took time to allow friends to be fully heard, and supported their good hearts. Where helpful, I shared the practices that support me most, myself, hoping that these would be similarly helpful for my friends. I am aware, because this is how I roll these days, that very few of my friends will adopt practices that require real accountability, self-awareness, reflection, and… verbs. A lot of verbs, and slow incremental change over time, don’t sound nearly as enticing as a fad diet, or a horoscope, or a quick fix, or someone willing to tell us it’s “not our fault”. In a moment of emotional crisis, anything at all that helps calm the storm is welcomed. When the storm passes? Well… few people really want to do a lot work, though, right?

“So Deep” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glitter, and India ink. 2018

I’m not mad. I already knew I couldn’t fix you. I just want you to be well, and to be whole, and to care for yourself. 🙂

I maintain a certain healthy distance from OPD (Other People’s Drama) as much as possible. This works for me. It doesn’t make me less sad, when I see a friend in tears, to maintain such boundaries – it does tend to make me less frustrated that I was not able to “fix them”, by allowing me to remain mindful that honestly I never could, and also, there are verbs involved – not all of those are mine. 🙂 We each have to walk our own hard mile. We each have to face our own dark night. We each “hit bottom” our own way, in our own time, over the things that hold most meaning for us individually – our dearest loves can not save us from ourselves… But we can. No kidding. It’s just those damned verbs, and the slow passage of time, and the lies in our heads that tell us any differently. It’s just one more bit of resistance (within ourselves) to overcome when we undertake healing and change.

“Down by the River” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow, glow glitter, and India ink. 2018

Over the weekend, I also received the rest of my art work back. My Traveling Partner picked it up for me. I felt very relieved to have them returned to me. I find myself wondering about my attachment to them. It’s something for me to think over; it may be less than ideally healthy to treat them as literal pieces of myself.

“Because…Love” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and gold leaf. 2018

Here it is, time to begin again. Working from home, still sick, but I am at least sufficiently improved to work. That’s progress. 🙂 What about you? What will you choose to do differently to improve your experience? What will you change to become the person you most want to be? What practices will you commence to become, over time, someone other than you are? Are you ready to become the person you most want to be? There are verbs involved… I can’t do them for you.

Here’s a great place to begin again. You’ll still need to practice. 🙂

 

This guy writes way better than I do, and this morning I am reading his work; the new post from Wait But Why. He knows the map is not the world, but also understands that we are each our own cartographer. He writes using allegories, metaphors, and analogies. He’s funny, smart, and on point.  So, this morning, I am just going to enjoy my coffee and read. Totally time well spent. Join me? 😉

I spent Sunday in the studio. It was lovely. Music, paint, and chill creative time – an investment in self. New work drying, waiting to be seen in sunlight, and a beautiful recollection of time well-spent. “Being a creative” – probably true for any sort of artist, really – is quite possibly the most precious and “important” part of “who I am” that I could ever think to share; it’s how I tell the stories I don’t have words for. It can’t actually be taken from me – by anyone.

I’ve been in some shitty relationships, and gotten tangled up with some human beings who did not actually have my interests in mind at all, and did not mean me well – but only one of those, ever, has dared to lay an angry hand on my art work. Her existence as a human being colors the way I feel about new relationships, sadly, making me very cautious, indeed. Generally, human beings I have been emotionally involved with have been pretty uniformly respectful of both my creative process and the resulting work. Not that one; it is clear that the behavior is willful, deliberate, and intentionally chosen for maximum cruelty and manipulative power. While that sucks completely, and causes me real pain, I know something she has not yet learned; tit-for-tat nastiness does more emotional damage to the person doing it than to the person being treated poorly. The damage to me amounts to only as much as I permit. Non-attachment is huge here. Having learned that lesson a very long time ago, there’s no reason to interact with her at all. (In keeping with my own admonitions “don’t take the bait”, I am careful not to allow myself to be baited.) Certainly I’ve no interest in game-playing or “pay backs” – what a waste of precious limited life time that would be.

Work in progress, not yet completed, inspired by an X. “Toxicity”.

Walking on from something as dear to me as my art work, when I know it is in the hands of someone who will (or has) destroyed it – and who I have clear confirmation has that potential, because she’s already damaged some of it (and won’t return the rest) – is uncomfortable. It’s hard. No lie. Is all that beautiful work lost? Maybe. It may be that I will have to handle it with a civil stand by, at a later date, or criminal charges, or a civil lawsuit, certainly, it is not necessary for me to “take care of it” myself. For now? I have other things to do with my life, and no interest in being emotionally manipulated. I let it all go. I walk on. I spend delightful leisure hours in my studio, painting new work.

I hear from my Traveling Partner late in the day. We talk. I feel wrapped in his love. That’s a story I will tell on canvas, in colors and brush strokes, for the rest of my life, and it is one that brings me great joy.

So much love it regularly spills onto canvas. 🙂

Pay backs are bullshit. Don’t be tempted into playing that game; you’ve already lost once you allow that toxic mess into your thinking. Stay on your path. Be the person you most want to be. Don’t become a thing you despise because you feel hurt or angry. (I know, I know, there are verbs involved, and your results may vary.) Transcending the willful hurts delivered by another can be incredibly difficult, but… every time you do? You demonstrate the beauty of your fundamental humanity. Taking that “high road”? You show the quality of your character – to everyone. What that person so invested in hurting you thinks about you (or says) is irrelevant, to you, and to the world; they have shown who they are. Let them have their skewed world view, and walk on. “Being right”? Not as important as your life. You don’t need to defend yourself to others, or “prove” a point. Life your life. Live it well. Treat others well. Be kind. Be true to your values. Let go of whatever you have to, in order to break the chains that bind you to another by anything but your own choice to be with them (ideally because you mutually meet each other’s emotional needs in a positive supportive way, that encourages personal growth and nurtures you all).  Just my thoughts on that sort of thing. It works for me.

Another day and week begin. A satisfying weekend becomes a new work week. Clearly, it is time to begin again. 🙂