Letting Go and Going with the Flow
I’ve reached a point in where I could easily just set this space aside and let it float through internet space for the summer. It’s been years—a decade? More??—since I’ve taken any considerable time off, more than a week or two, from writing online. I think we were living in Miami at the time, our little apartment on the edge of Kendall and the Everglades, and for whatever reason I went months without writing. Then I came back, of course, kept going through thru-hikes, field work, and having a baby.
But I feel like I’m teetering on a ledge, ready to kick the blog into the atmosphere to fly off somewhere else for awhile. I’ve not outgrown it, I love being here, but the problem is my mental space—it’s too cluttered. A combination of the time change and a toddler entering a different life phase has thrown me for a whirl. Something else I’ve come to realize is that I find myself not living in the moment, striving for the next thing, what I ‘should’ be doing. Some of that mental clutter was covered in the Creative Priorities post earlier this month and now that I’ve had some time to sit with it even more, I’m coming to new conclusions.
I was digging around into my really old archives, looking for something one day, and came across a few posts that were nearly in the same vein as the Creative Priorities post—just written 10 years ago, or nearly that. I laughed to myself because some of the same sentiments I was expressing then I was expressing now. I suppose I just have an overwhelming urge to create and do-all-the-things and the ideas just keep coming. The irony is that I had a lot more free time to dedicate to that back then and I most certainly didn’t dedicate the time I could have to the things that I thought I wanted. The funny thing about all of this is that the things I was doing then, the ones that if I look back at now as the obvious ones that are most important to me, they are practically the same things as the ones that are important to me now, the ones I dedicate my creative time to—being outside (hiking, exploring, kayaking, etc), gardening, photography, reading, and writing a blog. Sure, there are all of those supplemental hobbies that I fit in wherever I can, then and now. Some of them are certainly seasonal or episodic.
And I guess that last sentence is what I am realizing needs to happen now, to free up some of the shoulds and musts with what I actually feel like doing and what I can logistically dedicate my time to. And so I have to set some of that stuff free for the time being, to come back to it eventually, in a different type of year or another year completely. Looking back at the Creative Priorities post, I think that was where I was heading but it took some more thinking to come to that conclusion. I definitely lead with my gut and my intuition for a lot of my decisions—how I feel about something in the moment is where I typically go. That would be the F talking of my INFJ personality. Of course this can be problematic sometimes where there might be a real goal at hand (see: editing/reworking my book) but at the same time maybe those things can be shuffled to another season, when the time is right.
As an introvert I spend quite a bit of time in my head, talking to myself, which lends itself to the mental clutter situation, hence writing things out. In all of that thinking time I realized that I spent the last two growing seasons feeling lost because I wasn’t able to garden like I wanted—you know, the first year there was a baby constantly attached to me and the second year was a small toddler who had no attention span, and there was massive flooding and rain events derailing gardening at every turn—and here a few weeks ago I was trying to be upset about not doing other creative pursuits? Seriously, Self, get with it! And so I have come to slap myself back into reality with being in the moment and enjoying what is in front of me. Yes, this sounds incredibly simple, something we should all be doing, but I think we all fall into the trap of not relishing the thing we are doing that we enjoy that is right in front us. That we spend some of our time stradled between two planes, the here-and-now and the next thing we’re going/shoulding/suppose-to-ing/musting to be doing.
In the mental clutter situation, I’ve also pretty much stopped following politics. I dislike that I had to do this because I really enjoy knowing about politics, but my sanity was really starting to go. The man being dragged off the airplane a few weeks ago finalized that. I found myself getting an elevated blood pressure from seeing the video and the constant asinine commentary from the news and was done. I had already stopped listening to NPR after inaugration and had switched to KPFT, a local listener supported news station that would broadcast Democracy Now in the mornings. But I even quit that. Now it is classic rock or a local 80s and 90s mix. I’ve been listening to CDs and plan to dig out more of them to keep in my car. I’m currently flashing back to 2005-2009, the era in which I was listening to The Weepies, Chantal Kreviazuk, Feist, and Regina Spektor. I may have to load up my Pandora stations from that era, too. I even locked down my Twitter account, which was my last vestige of news. I found myself getting irritated with the same outrage cycle and feeling completely helpless in everything going on and I had begun just unfollowing, blocking, or muting people. It wasn’t fun anymore. I hesitated from deleting it totally but I took the app off my phone and logged off the computer version, making it as difficult as possible to sign in. It’s been about two weeks and it feels great! If I can make it two years (and counting) without reactivating my Facebook account, I’m pretty sure I can go awhile without Twitter. Yes, I know just about nothing of the news (though I just saw someone mention something about national monuments and Bears Ears and I’m going to have a shit fit—-well, crap I just Googled and yes, now I’m just angry. When you are a liberal with gleam in your eye for the second Bush era, something is wrong.) See? I can’t do it. I can’t do the outrage cycle. It’s one damn thing after another.
With the news out of my mental space, though always lingering back there with some knowledge that I will eventually want to jump back in, I’ve been focusing on gardening and reading. I became interested in knowing more about herbs and herbal remedies a few months ago and have started looking into that more. I have flagged tons of books, not just herbal or gardening related books, to read on Hoopla Digital (they make it so easy to favorite and go back to borrow later!) and on Goodreads. My pile of interesting things to learn about is ever growing and of course I have my own bookshelves to pull from as well. I jumped into the herbal stuff by starting with trying to make a plantain salve. I’ve heard about the healing qualities of plantain for years when used in regards to stings or minor wounds and figured I might as well try something simple like that to start. Plantain (Plantago sp.) is growing all over right now so it was easily found and I harvested enough plants to make a small batch to start. I’m currently in the sit-in-oil phase and will let the leaves continue soaking for another week or so before I finish up the salve. I figured with the new bee hive that it would be worth having it in the house. I was stung on the arm while pregnant and our Bradley birth teacher was at our house when it happened and brought out a salve from her purse that really instantly took the pain away. I never followed up with her to figure out the magical salve but I suspect it was plantain salve. Anyway, I’m just feeling this real need to do more with our plants, to use new herbs and try to be more diligent about effectively using the things we grow to our advantage.
Well, I feel better after writing all of that. Writing really does begat writing—creating begats creating. There’s a lot going on here in the yard, the seasons are moving right along. I have a lot of photos to process and hopefully I can get some things written this weekend and scheduled for next week. I’ve been listening to Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and have been taking it super slowly. It’s a 16.75 hour listen and I’m only 40% done, not speeding up the audio this time around. It is a book to be savored and I think I’m going to have to find it to have for reflection and re-reading later. It kind of helped push me into this mindshift switch, to return to focusing on being a better steward for the environment. I’ve also got a hankering to return to being vegetarian or reducing my meat consumption, but that’s another post for another day.
And I’ll sign off my rambling for tonight. What are you up to? Drop me a comment or an email.
Patrice La Vigne
I am so late to this post, but I just wanted to comment how funny (ironic?) it is that you battled the same priority demons with more time??? I feel like my life less ordinary affords me the opportunity to do what I want when I want, but I still only do the things I really want to do. You know? There’s always that list. Always that yearning to do more, creatively and productively. But you’ll never be able to do all you want to do!!!