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?


Mini-Post: Bringing Life to the Dead Zones of Routine

I’m experimenting with a mini post. Life is all about trying new things, right?

Today Enjoy Life For Once’s Facebook status was:

Pick a routine today, especially a dull one. Doing the dishes, tidying the living room, packing your bag. Devote ten seconds of the time to just paying attention. Feeling the water on your hands, feeling your legs. Notice the colors, the sounds around you. Bringing fresh attention to the dead zones of your day is a great way to start making friends with the present moment, which is where your power to change is.

Do you ever try this technique? What kind of results do you see?

How many times during the day do you think that you are unaware of things where you could be more present?


For me, I noticed that when I spent time paying attention while doing the dishes, the routine became more enjoyable. I felt more collected afterwards, and even felt moved to clean up the living room a bit, noticing the weight of each pillow in an enjoyable way.

It was nice.

I would like to try doing that more often, since “doing the dishes” is one of those things I always assume will be horrible.

Are there routines that you despise, that you do begrudgingly, that could perhaps get some fresh life into them if they were less bothersome?


Are the Famous Magic Words Really Just Poisonous Routines?

We say things every single day that are rather predictable. We ask polite questions. We say we are sorry. We even say please and thank you. I’m realizing lately that these things mean absolutely nothing without the associated feelings; and the feelings that are required are insanely hard to feel.

Think about saying you are sorry.  Think about the origins of the phrase in your life. You were little, you probably broke something by mistake, and an older person told you to say you were sorry. So you said it, and magically, the situation was better. You were forgiven because you said that you were sorry.

But what did you mean? What did you feel? You were probably just mimicking the tone of voice of that older person, since you didn’t see what was so wrong with hitting that baseball into the ugly lamp, and you probably did a pretty darn good job. That trick turned out to work for a long time. It still does to the people who want to simply hear you say these words.

I wish that when I was little, someone taught me that words are more than sounds. That saying I’m sorry is not the same as forgiving myself. That saying please is not the same thing as truly respecting the giver. That saying thank you is not the same as feeling gratitude.

I wish that someone had taught me to stop, to check in with my feelings and my body, and see what it was I was feeling before saying these magic words. I wish someone had taught me that living a life is not the same thing as talking about one. I can put a lot of energy on these things now, but it seems like there are many automatic processes that are so deeply ingrained that it is hard to uproot them all as fast as I’d like.And everyone, from the adults to the kids, seem to be following these unspoken rules that words are enough on their own without the associated feelings of vulnerability, pain and forgiveness.

These things only matter when you feel that ache and void that is telling you that you are not fully living. Something inside makes you feel like your own ghost, and you can’t quite put your finger on why that is. This is one place to start. Think about the things you say the most often, and pay attention. Pay attention to what they are supposed to mean, in their greatest sense, and what you are actually feeling.

And do the same to other people. Notice when someone says they are sorry and means nothing. Notice this because it is going to show you that you are not crazy for feeling odd about their apology. Notice that the reason you may have a hard time with truly being compassionate to some people is that you are listening to their words and expecting them to mean something. A lot of times, they do not.

Before you begin analyzing others, you have to begin with yourself. And before you begin to judge how you feel when you say these words, you can think of how you want to feel without those words. Sit down and feel what it is to be sorry, and to forgive yourself. Feel these things without habitual phrases justifying your tendency to flee from them. Then, feel what it is like to say please, to truly ask for something from someone, and respect them in that process. Think of what “I love you” means to you, and the feeling that is associated with it. Feel these things without the words.

Then, let the words come back.

The truth is that people love to avoid feeling vulnerable, feeling pain, and going through the effort it takes to actually forgive themselves. It is much easier to say some magic words and move on to the next thing. But I personally believe that this cultural process of ignoring the deeper reality and sticking to the surface is much like teaching our children that you can climb a picture of a tree, if only you look at it and say “I want to climb you, Mr. Tree.” It will never happen, and that kid shouldn’t grow up thinking that they have climbed a thousand trees just because they have said the magic words and looked at a picture. Climbing the tree takes more strength and intention than looking at a picture of one, and the feeling of accomplishment would actually be there in the real situation.