Does it hurt that we take away the plants you've grown, season after season? Pull ploughs through you every year, leaving nothing to just live for more than a few months? Use you this way?
"Ha! No, not like this. Of course not. I am the Mother. I feed, I provide. Oh the big stuff hurts; I find it hard to recover and sometimes I don't. I have wounds. But smaller fields of plants that feed you and other animals - that's not so different from what I've always been. As long as you treat me with love and respect.
Here, along the edges where you live, you see me both farmed and wild and those states are not so dissimilar. In both I give shelter and food. Tell me, where do you feel most nurtured and nourished by me?"
Well my instant reaction would be, 'in the woods' but actually I also love the crop fields. I love the paths left by the tractor wheels, the views over open land across the county, the smell of turned earth, the sea of grain moving in a breeze, the straw bales at the end of summer, the fossils thrown up by the ploughs.
"So you love me when I work and when I rest. When I make money for humans and when I just let life live. Is the value of one diminished by the other? Is there not beauty and worth in both?
Listen. Do no harm. Do what your soul must do. Do it honestly, to nurture and nourish, and without exploitation. Work and rest and be ashamed of neither.
I am the Mother. I love you anyway."
Here's #321 in my series Posts Based On Bad (And Entirely Intuited) Science. You're welcome.
I was listening to Jonathan Fields's (yes you can, when it's a name) latest Good Life Riff: Life is a contact sport. It's one of those little gems that states the bleedin' obvious* in such a way that you actually hear it. He talks about how easy it is to keep spinning around your plans and ideas in your head, looking for all the answers internally before you dare to send it out into the world when hey...the answers are OUTside. *You have to put this stuff out there to get the feedback and learn. You have to make contact with the outside world.
And so I got to thinking... (because I once watched Sex & The City)...is this sticking point more engrained in introverts?
My own brand of introversion is fairly hard core. I find it difficult to put ANYthing out in the world. Feelings, spoken words, creative output, ideas. I do it, sure, but I can't sustain, I get exhausted very quickly and back I go, inwards, where everything makes sense and I feel strong. Where I believe I'll get all the answers. It's not about fear of failure/success or much of anything else. It's about feeling like a discarded snakeskin within about 45 minutes.
And maybe that makes me very, very good at falling into the trap that Fields describes.
What's the answer? Well, on a social level, if I have been able to spend a lot of time alone - a lot...a big lot - then I'm as up for a small-gathering-of-like-minded-people-with-whom-I-can-discuss-the-big-ideas-and-maybe-listen-to-some-non-intrusive-music as the next guy. I can par-tay. Kind of. I can do 'outwards'.
So perhaps my ability to put my ideas and work outside my head and heart also depends on how well my introvert batteries have been charged. Perhaps I need to understand that my output is not that regular, not that frequent and not even all that sustained. Because I need to spend a disproportionate amount of time on the inside and that. is. fine. Also, while I'm in there, remember that the aim is ultimately to step outside to see what happens next and that 'outside' might only be my front step, which is also fine. Because not everything good and fulfilling is internal or waaaaay out there.
Do you think, perhaps too much, before you 'step outside' or does it come naturally? Have you a method for turning it all inside-out that works for you?
Y'know that thing? That thing where you have nothing at all to say and you have way, waaaaaay too much?
There's this huge, enormous, land magic thing that's going on with me but I don't feel I can write about it because it's crazy talk. Only it's true. Perhaps not meant to be written about. Yet.
There's musing on daughter-hood and what it means to me as someone who has always felt responsible for (and expected to be) fulfilling a large part of the role my own mother should take in my extended family.
There's a handful of health issues among that extended family that are taking up big parts of my heart.
There's the integration of Digby, our new four-legged family member, which is going spectacularly well and fascinates me more than it does anyone else so I'll just shut up. And fill my Instagram feed with dog photos.
There's SPRING! #sunshine #plants #flowers #gardening #rebirth #new beginnings.
There's day-to-day, happy, family life and deep gratitude for it.
There's just so. much. stuff. And yet I seem to be sitting in the middle of it, just observing the quiet tornado, not really engaging with any of it for any length of time. It's weird.
It's my birthday this weekend and while I doubt very much that anything other than a normal weekend will happen, that Return To The Start vibe...the completion and the beginning again...oh it'll probably just give me a whole new lot of things to think on as I sit amid the spiraling trees, dogs, pills, flowers, text messages, dreams, laundry, crows, and the strangest feeling that I am being pulled by some invisible magnet towards something I cannot yet imagine.
Thoughts I am thinking this morning: it struck me as - at early o'clock - I cheerily headed out with the dogs, then made their breakfasts and found time to give each of them a morning cuddle, that I do this 365 days a year. Without a second thought. Come what may from all other angles of life, whatever the demands of pre-work and school days, I get out of bed and I do this. I don't think about it (much), I just do it and enjoy it. Every day it is its own reward. I remember feeling this way on Katherinenhof where my aunt and I worked in the 80s, looking after a large number of Egyptian Arabian horses (her skill set, not mine; I just got lucky). Those early starts were hard core in the depth of a north German winter, but every time the horses looked up blinky-eyed, straw sticking out of their manes, as I switched on the barn lights, I was happy. It still works that way now but with dogs. And a bit less straw.
So what is it that inspires that commitment and dedication which, if applied to a creative endeavour, would make me super-productive?
There's my deep love for the animals concerned.
There's the constant feedback of affection from them.
These are nurturing acts and that's a big thing for me.
I'm wondering - given my frustration with myself around giving time to creative work and sticking with it - is there any way I can reproduce that for something without a pulse?
Reading that back it's pretty damn obvious - it's the maternal/nurturing instinct. Scientifically, I get a big old kick of oxytocin or whatever it is. In real terms, I love the dogs to pieces and love makes me feel good. Seeing them thrive physically and emotionally makes me happy to my core.
How do we transfer that? Can we love an activity the same way? Does it simply mean loving ourselves the same way?
I can see from these thoughts that I am capable of commitment and dedication and infinite follow through. I am not somehow 'broken' in that respect. Again with the positive feedback.
Of course this love and devotion also shows up in the way we parent and the way we nourish an intimate relationship, but it's clearer with the animals because so much of it is routine and repetition.
I have no answers yet, I'm just Stream O'Consciousness-ing about it. I'd love to know what you think. These days I'm really only blogging so I get to chat with you in the comments.
In this space I am always honest. I love many styles of blogging but when it comes to writing about my own life I'm not comfortable with anything other than what is. I'm certain that no one wants to read about the minutiae of my domestic life so I don't write about that but, hand on heart, I promise that what I do write here is real. True. I have no agenda to promote so there's no point in anything else.
Sometimes I'll write about an emotional situation and maybe some will think I'm over-sharing. I write because it helps me put things in order in my head and maybe someone reading will relate and feel better for some company (hello to my fellow 'terror gal', Lis). What it's not about is point-scoring, territory-marking or creating a persona.
I was touched by sweet thoughts from Alison and Sarah when I wrote about my struggles with letting something go - they wished me healing too. Thanks, both of you, I'm on it - the path I'm taking to ease these final steps in that story were chosen to make sure I was included. Healing, like charity, begins at home.
Recently Susannah asked me if I'd like to take part in her gorgeous April Love event (sign up here). Once I saw who else was contributing I got a major case of imposter syndrome. Ha! I must be the only person there who doesn't have an impressive mailing list. Because I don't have a mailing list at all. I imagined people nodding their heads in recognition and then thinking,'WHO? ' and, to quote Evie, it gave me LOLz.
Here's the slightly uncomfortable honesty...I also started thinking,'Crap, what can I do? How do I define myself? What is it that I do on my blog? What is the point of it? I need to have that old elevator pitch ready.'
Only no, I don't. I am much relieved to report that the knee-jerk reaction fell away within the hour. It seems I am learning. I'm not entirely free from vanity, I submitted a 'somewhat filtered' image of myself to go on the promotional materials (btw, is anyone else irritated by the way Photoshop has become a verb? Just me then. Okay.). Then this morning while clearing some images from my phone I realised that I like this one better.
My hair was typically unbrushed, I'd had a tiring day at work, just done the washing-up, taken the dogs out, and the light wasn't great. But I was happy because these days I am, to my bones. And if this is what I look like when I'm happy, then I give that an almighty #fuckyeah. That person there is what I am. And, with a little more respect, I also rather like this quote from the real Mr T:
Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have but you cannot lose something that you are.
~ Eckhart Tolle
Spring is happening and that means plants. And plants - intrinsic value and beauty honoured and blessed - mean nourishment, health, flavour and stepping up to take our place in the cycle. Eating a healthy plant-based diet is a way for us to help support and sustain life - without getting into the nitty gritty too much it's all about recycling, yes? You know what I'm saying. Whereas when I think about eating animal products for me it feels like simply ending life. Full stop. I know not everyone feels this way and I know not all animal products are the same. These are just my feelings on it.
Through winter I've slid back into some not-so-good habits. I'm one of those people who feels the cold and whinges about it endlessly so hot food is a must for me. My raw-til-4 eating stopped. I still ate raw fruit and veg every day but it was likely to be accompanied by something hot and carb-y. Then there's my chocolate cravings. I'm thinking part of that is a magnesium issue as I also crave spinach and almonds, natural sources of this essential mineral.
I know how good I feel when I respect what my body knows and asks for and I'm not going to lie, it's much easier to listen when the sun is shining and the markets are full of every plant you can imagine. As for what to do with them, beyond juice, smoothies and a frickin' salad, I'm not exactly a culinary genius. Thank you internet for saving me from my own incompetence and making it enjoyable. I'm looking forward to making some plant magic. Here we go:
The First Mess
My New Roots
Post Punk Kitchen
The Plantpower Way
Gluten Free Vegan Girl
The Vegan Stoner
Oh She Glows
Oh My Veggies
Garden of Vegan
Straight Up Food
Late addition: Peaceful Cuisine on YouTube. It does me good just watching. Thanks to Anthony and Mel for the link.
I'm also toying with the idea of growing some food again but this might be because I've yet to be confronted this year with the Chalfield Slug Army* that always strikes and wipes out All The Plants. I'm not sure I'm ready for that early morning heartbreak again. But I discovered recently that Diggers The New Dog is just like my old terrier boy, Jackson, who really loved me working in the garden. While Nell would sunbathe, Jackson would be nose to fingers with me while I dug, planted and weeded. He was especially fond of stashing old plant pots behind the sofa. As I began clearing out a flower bed a few days ago I found a similar tan and white head joining in. He even carried a few sticks I'd dropped up to the compost heap with me.
There's a holiday weekend coming up and we're promised good weather. Time spent with my hands back in the dirt, then whipping up a tasty bowl of whole plant food for us all sounds like good medicine to me.
* What do you do about slugs that doesn't involve killing or throwing them?