writingmybrain

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Embracing Imperfection

I am building a deer fence around my garden. It all started with a pile of dirt dumped in my yard last summer when my son was reconfiguring his back yard.  It came in two dump trucks— full— one good dirt, the other considered great for back fill. Recently my daughter took the backfill to use to grade a slope away from her house, the other remained with me.

Since coronavirus and possible food disruptions here in my neck of the woods, I have thought it prudent to transform the dirt into a vegetable garden. Here deer are rampant and graze unmercifully through the garden year-round. So bushes, trees, flowers, anything green in fact are considered food.

Before any grass greens, before they leave town to birth more deer, the ones that remain become entirely indiscriminate. They are in survival mode, and while I don’t appreciate the damage they impose, who can blame them? Who encroaches on whom? Our gardens are fair game for these creatures.

To my garden and mind chatter. First I rounded up pallets. I have heard that some people in the neighbourhood call my place the Pallet Palace. Why? You’ve guessed it. I use pallets—a lot! I enjoy the aesthetics as well as their versatility. They are born for re-purposing and that appeals to me greatly. Surrounding the dirt with pallets wasn’t hard although my physical limitations made the progress slow.

I knew I must elevate the pallet surround to prevent deer from eating any food grown inside the garden. With chicken wire and necessary 1”x2”’s in hand I set to work. Up until this point I was happy in my process, although with one hand that doesn’t grip and physical limitation, I frequently meet challenges— usually quite openly. I am used to it, and for the most part appreciate my ability to move through the challenge until earlier this week when monkey mind and judgement came out to test my resolve.

Simply, my back neighbours had a similar idea to build a garden with raised beds and a deer fence. Between them there are six pairs of hands and a carpenter! My mind chatter escalated with comparison and judgement. It got so loud I had to quit my own fumbles.

Now, I know my daughter and a friend will come to help. Didn’t they do an awesome job! However, what I found interesting was how mind chatter, monkey mind created such nonsense, and how easily I believed such prattle, even though I knew it was foolish. I was crippled by comparison of my own making.

For example: my neighbours were doing a good job; theirs looked so much better than mine etc. All none-sense. Of course each garden is different; much like how each of us is different. It is our differences, in what we do, appreciate, think, resolve, and pay attention to that makes us who we are. My neighbours were busy in their process, as I had been until crazy-mind entered.

Fortunately I had the wherewithal to stop and contemplate what was really going on for me, and find a resolution for myself.  Taking that time-out was and is essential for our health and wellness. Without the time for contemplation non-sense can escalate so much it can overwhelm us, and cause dis-ease in our emotional or physical bodies.

It is important to stop, take time, and discover what mind chatter is really showing us. It is about embracing our imperfection and loving ourselves regardless that makes a difference for us individually and collectively. Finding our balance connects us all, and the pen remains my faithful tool!

Writing Practice:  Recently, have you encountered a similar example of dis-ease, mind chatter, or non-sense that has entered your awareness and became too loud to ignore? Write about it. What is under the noise, the language, the experience? Explore and communicate with it through the power of the pen. It is cost-effective and a great way to address niggles.         


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Let Our Root Systems Nourish

june15-blogOn the- job-training for a hero….Theoretically I know I am a heroine but today it is a story and I choose the concept alone, rather than a gender specific term. Why? Because I choose it, and on this glad-its-raining-day the earth is being nourished once more—plus—really, the story is not about me.

The earth has been parched having leapt from winter where there were deep snows to summer with its harsh heats. Somehow, within the transition spring was leap-frogged over preventing moisture to seep into the earth gently, nourish the soil, heat up the earth and gradually allow roots to grow deep in search of sustenance strengthening their growth.

A common comment I hear this year is that starter plants have poor root systems. From experience I have planted tomato and pepper plants, and I am uncertain they will survive because the usual maize of roots are lacking. I am hopeful—always hopeful—that with gentle rains that seep into the earth, growth with emerge, and the heat of the sun will bring a strengthening and growth.

Gardening like so much of life is unpredictable, and in its changeability there is much to be grateful for—like the possibility of seeds, the optimism of life held within each seed for growth, fruit, and propagation. I am perpetually in awe of what each seed holds, and given the necessary ingredients for emergence—light, moisture, heat, attention and time—how it transforms and gives such abundance and nourishment to us individually and collectively. It is a magic of sorts that is often bypassed in our rush to the grocery store to find this and that.

Digging in the dirt, connecting to the earth, allowing its mark to touch our faces as we brush hair away from our faces, let the soil get under our finger nails, embrace our feet in our shoes is such a simple joy—one we can all experience when we choose.
Just like seeds have an irresistible accord to come into being, I see that we also have this pull. I am struck by the agreement that seeds, birds, animals, fish and insects all have within their DNA to come into being when certain conditions are met.

This year I almost didn’t garden. In part due to a physical disturbance, in part due to water restrictions, deer grazing and my own reticence, that could be named apathy, but then I chose differently. It didn’t begin with a decision per se—it was an awareness of sorts that grew.

I looked at my raised beds, looked at their possibility, saw the compost that an eighty five year old woman hauled and spread for me in those beds last year with gratitude, saw the hokey deer fence I build last year—an entirely intuitive endeavour with found and recycled materials—and started to plant seeds, water a little, and began to appreciate my connection to the dirt. It’s life force just waiting to be embraced by me, seep into my bones.

When I play in the dirt, I connect to the earth. I remember that I too am part of the DNA of it all, and taking one step at a time towards that reconnection is something I can do in simplicity. Here was a choice I could make to the earth, for others, and myself because when I allow that connection and reconnection I know my reason for being. We are all one, and an invisible thread connects us all.

Writing Practice:
My almost two year old grandson loves to play with two things at the moment. Dirt and rocks! Throwing rocks into a river, a bowl, a hot tub (!) making mud pies, smearing dirt on sidewalks, going barefoot in dirt, sand, mud etc. It is experiential, tactile, science and so much more. He is learning about the world. As adults we often loose this connection through busy-ness, business, and life!
Make a connection to the elements (singularly or jointly) through touch, sight, smell and sound. Journal your experience, insight, consideration, outcome, connections, memories and emotions. How does this outcome impact your health and wellness? Offer choice to you? Move you forward? Express you?

For more information about writing clinics please go to write4health.ca

 

 

 

 


Earth’s Manifesto

Do you wake at night and wonder
at the groan of Gia?
Is she labouring under neglect?
we impose by our disregard?

At first I thought it an excavator
moving the earth, digging
through landscapes of indifference—
then I thought—how unusual to be working
under a night sky—then I wondered
if it were the voice of Gia, I heard
speaking, or the sound of planets
taking communion—only to be heard
during a still night—

Of course I wondered
at my sanity—really tho’ what if

It is the groan of Gia speaking
in sounds we choose not to hear
during the day—are deaf to—
tuned to another frequency?

It is at night, I hear it—the voice
persistent. I hear heaviness;
a call for recognition, for help perhaps,
or—is it a hum for humanity asleep
to wake-up, tune in, listen—or—

just plain happiness—hum,
humming along? I wonder

©April 9, 2018—angela simmons

Poster: Earth’s Ten Commandments: text ©1990 Ernest Callenbach; illust. ©1990 David Lance Goines; Celestial Arts

Writing Exercise: On Earth Day (April 22) find a quiet place-preferably outside, take out your journal, or sketch pad and embrace the five senses, capture them on paper in words or image. Take photographs. I particularly like what I call 360 degree photography. I take a light chair/stool into a natural area, place in a space I can swivel my butt around on in the chair/stool, and contemplate what I witness. I am always delighted at what is revealed to me from just that one spot as I slowly (in a meditative, reflective  space) rotate. Later choose an image-or series of images-and write capturing again your experience. I feel certain that these practises-or one of these practices-will move you to personal and planetary health and wellness.  Here’s another thought-make every day Earth Day. It is in our hands…

 

 


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Ice Circle

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In October I was out in the garden beginning to build a stand with pallets for a water tote to hold rain water for my garden next year. I didn’t have a plan, I had an idea.

I have found that plans are a tad daunting—for me at least. Going out and creating from an idea is a wonder-full process—for me. I am invariably surprised at how well for example pieces of wood fit together that were without purpose for a long while, lying around—and how, with attention or perhaps trusting the process allows both opportunity and synchronicity to fall into form. I am no carpenter (as the last structure buckled under the weight of water will attest), no craftsman—but I do trust the process and allow its magic to reveal itself to me step by step.

It is that de-light-ful moment when they come together and there is recognition of that trust that makes me smile. It is a smile of remembering interconnection and knowing grace is there to embrace and evoke that memory. Training our eyes and heart to witness those links and moments is a life time journey; one of practice, one of miss-takes (my favourite), one of attitude. It is how our attitudes and perspectives have the capacity to influence and alter outcomes, and that our choices make it all possible.

The thin ice of the circle frozen on its container reminds me of fragility. In the time it took me to level the first pallet it melted one drip at a time. Its beauty and wonder held captive for an instant in its perfection. That fragility and perfection surrounds us. Recognizing it is magical.

write4health.ca offers writing possibilities for personal and planetary health and wellness through practice.


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The Litle Things…

iceart copyWorking in the garden today, covering my hugabed (hugelkultur beds) for the winter and discovered wonderful ice art made by the first frost last night. This particular one caught my attention. Not having the ability to draw per se, I have to imitate what already is—which really is art isn’t it?

However, I am unable to take credit for its formation. That is the wonder of nature, it already exists. It is the human eye that is able to capture it—or not, and humankind that is able to preserve and conserve its wonder through stewardship—or not.


Connect, Reconnect & Interconnect— the choice is ours…

connectIt’s been raining now for five days steady- not continuously, gradually, and in the past night and day perpetually. It is coming up to the anniversary of the big flood of 2013 in Southern Alberta and while last year knocked out bridges, water supplies and people’s houses in a flash flood as mountain snow gushed down mountainsides, this year – after the big re-build and reconstruction— it is quite different.

The steady rain is much what I imagine Noah’s flood to have been. Not biblical in stature, simply on-going. Water barrels are overflowing, and the ground is saturated having soaked up gallons- okay litres of water.
In contemplation of the cycles of life, I am in awe of its complexity, simplicity and its intricate interconnection, and how as humans, we have no control. We “kid” ourselves that we gain it, have it, and know how to handle it-—but guess what—it’s purely illusionary.

I am reminded of a poem written at nine that has this refrain “…and I thought in my mind of the cruelty of man, that one day nature would repay.” And as odd as it may seem, now fifty plus years later, I sense that same sentiment.

In our eagerness to control and exploit our environment to a lesser or greater degree to feed the industrial complex and our consumerism, we have trodden violently on this land. I can’t help myself from seeing that with global warming, ocean toxicity, deforestation, loss of habitat, and agricultural monocultures that we are eating-up Gaia’s abundance and generosity at a ferocious rate; hardly sustainable, untenable at best.

This is not new. Many of us feel it, sense it and wonder how to change it- and many of us do it in baby steps.
Today, I have just celebrated a friend’s birthday with a potluck lunch. As always at these gatherings there is great food, conversation and opportunities to connect and reconnect.

Personally I am delighted to be part of such a rich community and friendship—whether talk is about the town’s decision to allow a chicken pilot project within town limits, local bee hive keepers excitement about bee behaviour and worker bees feeding their queen, gardens growing with the moisture or grass fed animals and happy chickens being raised and farmed locally—conversations centre on connections, reconnections, and the interconnection of all things.
The thing is—it’s about taking baby steps, building community one step at a time without the mindset that more is better. It really isn’t- and most of us know it, and don’t know how to change. There lies the crux and choice. The choices we make today are reflected in our tomorrows. How we make those baby steps is created by the choices we make each and every day, and through an awareness of the interconnectedness of all things.


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Stillness- a way of life…

Stillness blogStillness is one of the twelve Vision Cards- a visual reminder and/or prompt for the Possibility PLAYbook to be published in July. The PLAYbook  is the final piece of the Health and Wellness Package– an outgrowth of the past seven years of recovery from a motor vehicle accident that changed my life on January 12, 2007.

In search of a way to climb into a new life with a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and multiple physical injuries, I sought PLAY (Purpose, Lightness, Action, Yes), once I was able. PLAY became my path. When I faced any challenge, I sought ways to play with it in simplistic ways. This was about eighteen months after the accident. Subsequent years have been about recovery, one step at a time, and exploring the tools of PLAY.

P: Finding purpose is essential to anyone, especially when something interrupts the flow of one’s life- be it an event, dis-ease, a physical and/or metaphoric death- anything that shatters and/or alters our life journey.

L: Lightness is an ability to bring “light” (and laughter) into anything and everything that we face on our life path. It is a capacity to find a gift of any traumatic event and reframe it in a lighthearted way in small and significant ways. It is about shedding “light” into the dark, and darkest places of our lives, and allowing that “light”—those tiny tendrils of grace— to filter down on us that offer choice.

A: Action, is about embracing those tiny tendrils of grace, however they show-up, and taking baby-steps along our life path—especially when everything in us, in saying “no”—taking any action, helps “stuck” energy to move, change and transform.

Y: Yes, is about simply saying “yes” to life.

YES I can…involve trust, seek stillness- two Vision Cards highlighted in this blog so far. There are ten more to go…

Today, I “pulled” the Stillness Card. I’ve just returned from a 1,600 km road trip. The good news is that I was able to do it, although it took two days going up and back- a total of four days- which is the good thing. Seven years ago, I could have driven one-way in a day- and three years ago I could not have driven half-way. I call that progress- slow and steady, just like the tortoise!  That is what health and wellness is all about- never say never, and, one step at a time.

For the next two weeks, I want to contemplate stillness in my life. While the image itself is static, it indicates constant movement- the sky, the sandpiper, the waves, the sand crawling with life. It is like much of our life—constant movement— and in many cases that unbroken demand is a mere perception. Taking time-out and finding stillness within in our daily activities comes from the inside out, and becomes an opportunity to ground ourselves, and move forward in equilibrium.  Join me…