The infinite loveliness of nothing

There is a certain loveliness in nothingness, in unencumbered stillness, in silent empty space. In this absence of something there is a void that aches to be filled. Therein lies potential and that potential is infinite.

At least I tell myself this as I sit at the back door watching the trees dance in the wind. It is early morning and I am in the process of appreciating some idle time.

I still wake up at 4:45 a.m. A feat that has taken this once proud night owl years of cultivation to achieve and I will get as much down time as I can get even if it is in the early morning. Nothing lasts forever and this extra time will not.

In order to appreciate this time that I have seized for myself in an act of desperation, I must engage myself in the art of doing nothing.

My last job was in itself a culture of stress. I worked in a very busy call center in the public safety sector. There was high expectations and a rigid adherence to numerous and various state laws and regulations that required me to make statements that made callers confused and upset, this made customer service difficult at best. My days were timed to the tenth of a second, over one minute late and you have an “occurrence” and points were given, points that added up very fast for some and there was/ is a high turnover rate. I did well though. My calls were listened to and graded. I was thought of as smart and competent , I took  direction well and after a while I did start to sound like the others: A caller once told me I sounded like a robot.

I almost cried then.

There was a reason why I wasn’t the only one who had constant migraines there.

I felt I was drowning, gasping for air.  I felt desperate. An anger rose up in me that was not me at all.  This started to effect my relationships with my husband and family. I felt sick  to my stomach and my energy was zapped. I felt like a zombie just trying to get to the next day, to the weekend where I would try to cram as much living as I could in 2 days.

I bet my former coworkers would have been surprised to know that I am on the Autism Spectrum, I have masked it pretty well my whole life but that takes its physical and emotional toll on me and that job was not the best for someone with sensory issues, it may be one of the worst. 47 hour weeks of this for nearly two years did me in and burned me out. The job that gave me and my family health insurance made me sick.

 

Before I gave my notice I obtained a part time temporary gig in retail. It pays the bills, just almost. In the two months I have been there I have been much happier and healthier. I am getting myself back.


To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
Lao Tzu

East bank of the Willamette River

Nothing gives birth to creation.

It provides the empty space for something to occur. Nothing is an empty cup waiting to be filled, it is up to us to fill it.

The only real commodity is time. We are selling hours of our lives for money. Money we need to survive. Most of us have no control over this and have to spend much of our lifetime devoted to that task.

There is no time for nothing. There is no blank canvas on which to create and on which to write the narrative of our lives. Some fortunate people have jobs that them happy, that happiness is reflected in their work and everyone around them can share in this happiness. They are excited to get up and start working for the day. I want to be one of those people.

I believe that I can contribute to society in a greater way than I am now, I should say in a better way. Whether I am baking bread, selling jewelry in a store or writing something that makes people laugh or cry or think.

This rat is so very tired of the race.

And so I sit here at the back door, feeding a few squirrels that have gathered. My mind has time to reflect, my writing voice is coming back, the one that has lain dormant for a few years. I hear it speaking in whispers, I can barely hear but I am listening.

SBI

 

**

“And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money, I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.”

Mary Oliver

Free the Marijuana

There has been some backlash to a recent complaint made by the newest member of our apartment dwellers association. The complaint was regarding the sweet but pungent smell of marijuana that has at times lingered around our community and the wide availability of said and I may note legal marijuana products in our city of Potland, I mean Portland.
This has made “the mean looking guy upstairs” enemy number one in certain circles and a protest protesting the persecution and harassment of natural medicine enthusiasts, patients and supporters will be held today in the amphitheater.

I will be selling my homemade brownies to the participants to make some extra cash, stop by and pick some up while they last.

Update****

It began peacefully enough but when the protesters starting shouting “Free the Weed!”, “Free the Weed!” the amphitheater became swamped with crazed people looking for the free weed. FREE WEED!!

At first I was afraid. I was petrified as the crowd swelled to massive size! Quick thinking saved the day. I told them the marijuana was in the brownies and they cleaned me out of all 5 dozen in an instant, most of them tipped and handsomely too as stoned people are known to do. I walked away from the maddening but happy crowd with a few bucks to buy me some new kicks.

😀

**Seriously, marijuana can be medicine and its consumption, medical and recreational is legal where I live and becoming legal in more and more places. Below are links to some interesting sites regarding the subject. **

Medical Marijuana By Harvard Medical School blog

Medical Cannabis by MedicineNet.com

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Cannabis (2020 Update)

and now a quote from...

DR. SANJAY GUPTA:

“I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have ‘no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.’

They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works…

We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”

Aug. 8, 2013, “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed,” CNN.com

Muddy trail kind of life

The air is fresh and chill. The wind blows tiny droplets of rain onto my face. I close my eyes and it feels like I am flying but the honking of geese above me remind me that I am not. I am walking, and walking on a muddy trail at that. My eyes quickly scan the ground and I scamper up a rocky hill like a little mountain goat.

These trips have gotten me in great trail shape. I spend a good portion of my free time out here in the wildish trails around my home in Portland, Oregon. It is a necessary component of my life to get out in whatever nature I can get to. We have no car, by design , my husband and I. We walk, bike or take public transit which is pretty good here. We like this sort of life, this muddy trail kind of life. I am very fortunate to have found someone who likes this as much, or more than I do. We are best friends, pals and companions as well as a loving married couple. He encourages me to be me and he smiles and shakes his head in amusement as I run up and down hills and even sometimes climb into the trees to snap pics and talk to the animals, real and imaginary. This is great fun to us and we are lucky to live where we do. So in spite of the rain or maybe because of the rain we are here at one of our favorite spots.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a swampy, wetlands area smack daub in Portland, Oregon. Lots of birds live here especially ducks. I like to greet them as we pass by. We see lots of animals on our adventures. We have seen deer, beavers and nutria,  possums and a plethora of birds especially the waterfowl.  This is one of the places we go in all kinds of weather. Today it is super rainy and the trail is super muddy but we love this.

Pluviophile. a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.

 

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”~ John Muir
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. -Mother Teresa

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a city park of about 141 acres in southeast Portland, in the U.S. state of Oregon. Located in a floodplain along the east bank of the Willamette River near Sellwood, the park is known for attracting a wide variety of birds. Wikipedia

 

Errol Heights Natural area is cute in a boggy sort of way. This is a short walk  but has become a favorite of ours since it is so close in the city.  On our first visit we met a curious man who popped out of the bushes.  He told us in breathless Kiwi accent about the 10 beaver dams there as he was running around trying to photograph all of them in order before the sun set.

One meets all sorts of interesting people in places like this.

Beaver Dam

 

The beavers are pretty shy but you can see evidence of them not just by the dams but but by the trees they are in the process of cutting. Many of the tree trucks are protected by wire netting but there is still ample wood available. The birds are typically out in full force here as it is a haven for waterfowl and songbirds. I love to just stop and listen to their beautiful music. Today the soundtrack is dominated by geese who fly overhead in their famous V formation. It is amazing a place like this exists in the middle of the city.  We are lucky to live here.

Dusk at Errol Heights Natural area

Errol Heights Park & Community Gardenlocated at SE 52nd Ave & Tenino St, is 12 acres acquired by Portland Parks in 1996. Its amenities include a great walking path through the site with views of the Errol Creek wetland area. Many native plants and shrubs thrive in Errol Heights – part of the Johnson Creek Watershed.

Plague Everyone with Joy

I wasn’t always so sunny and happy. People were always telling me to smile. I have noticed that my face will typically give me away and that when I’m lost in thought, which is often, it looks like I am angry.  I’ve made it a point to watch this. I have also made it a point to watch my thoughts.
For much of my life insecurities and doubt have plagued me. I have hurt myself with negative messages that became my mantra that ran constantly inside my head. This made me miserable. My negative energy attracted even more negative energy from others. I struggled with not being understood but it never occurred to me at the time that I also needed to try to understand others.
I decided to be kind to myself and forgive myself for being so very imperfect. I thought I could change my inner dialog to something positive and I looked for the good in me and told myself good things about myself, even if I didn’t believe them.  More importantly I took this same love and understanding that I was finding for myself and turned it outward. I made it my “job” to reach out and say something kind or supportive to people especially those who seldom hear that sort of thing. I made sure my compliments were honest and true. I learned that I could find something encouraging and positive to say to almost everyone.
 Not that this is easy all the time for everyone. I am a naturally shy introvert. It has taken many baby steps to get to where I am today. I have tried to plant tiny seeds of sunshine wherever I go.
And more and more I find these seeds have sprouted.
By spreading the love it comes back, absolutely. 
 I don’t mean to sound trite or come off with some well worn out syrupy platitudes.  I have heard people complain about the unauthenticness of the idea that thinking happy thoughts and that an attitude of gratitude is a cure-all. It is perfectly normal;  healthy, in fact to have a wide range of emotions including sadness. Emotions are colors on a palate and life is art. We as artists can make our lives masterpieces when we use a full range of hues.
That being said:
I find touches dark blues,  patches of deep purples and deep black hues to be in beautiful contrast to the soft pastels and sunny oranges and yellows, it is in that contrast that I find beauty in, but a little of those darker shades goes a long way. Life provides us enough of those. If I can, it is the sunshine I will spread.  Makes me happier anyway.
I can make the conscious choice of letting the darkness that hits me in life stop at me. This is how I cope with the crap that hurts me; with my refusal pass it on.
I am so blessed.
So if I seem a little pollyannish or silly remember I didn’t start out that way and that really, no one can be blissfully happy all the time.   Happiness requires the decision to be happy. Just the simple act of smiling is powerful magic in itself.  Science has shown that the simple act of smiling can boost your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.
 I think to stay happy we need to spread that joy around like it’s the damn plague especially on those days when we do feel like crap.
So get out there and plague everyone you meet with joy.
Watch its boomerang effect come alive.

 

 
♥ Nancy

.

We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy.
― Swami Satchidananda
*
Related and Unrelated Articles
 JOY to the World–Three Dog Night

 

*

Garden of the Mind

 

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece

~Claude Monet

 

We all engage in self talk. A running inner dialog that writes the script of our lives.

Seldom are we completely aware of just how influential we are on ourselves. We definitely live up to our own expectations. Positive or negative.  Problems arise when insecure feelings begin to dominate the conversation. And rarely do we share these dark thoughts with others. They are hidden behind a wall of bravado we put up between each other. This causes us to see only the exaggerations put together by our imaginations not the full scope of reality.

Insecurities are kept in a secret place locked inside ourselves in that dark closet of pessimism, where fear lives. It is fear that leads us to lie to ourselves in the first place. Much of the negative crap that our own insecurities whisper to us is not accurate or realistic at all, but these hidden feelings do have a profound effect on our behavior. Only when we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect can we begin to rebuild and replace all that negative crap with good crap.

I liken a life to a garden. What grows in our garden is what has been planted.

 

 

The lives which we are living now are the result of our past actions and those past actions were the result of our past thoughts. The seeds we planted long ago are sprouting now.

We truly are what we have cultivated. We can thrive in a colorful vigorous and sunny garden or we can wallow in the dark. and it is that simple… of course surprises can spring up

Life is random and certainly not fair. We are subject to the whims of that randomness…

…and no matter what we do surprises can spring up…

Sometimes squirrels can dig up your tulip bulbs and plant them in your neighbors backyard…sometimes a spring hail shower can wreck havoc on your tender pansies. There have been times when a black cloud descended into my garden and left it cold and dark. There have been times when I thought that the sun would never shine again…

And then I found the sunshine within myself and lit up my garden with hope, faith and blind determination.

 

 

These are the times when we have to rely on that sort of sunshine to make our gardens grow.

…that’s why you need a good dose of it stored up in your pocket for a rainy day.

 

 

Determination: Yes. Work: Most certainly. Anything worth anything takes work and belief. That is your sunshine and nothing will shine without it.

Gratitude is like water. It nourishes life in our garden. It makes what grows grow. Without gratitude we will never find the happiness and contentment we seek.

Attitude. How we frame the picture we see.

What some may interpret as a raging storm can seem like a gentle shower watering a summer flower.

 

Seeds are the ideas we present to ourselves. We can plant what we want.

 

Being afraid; having social anxiety…the alien-ness I felt being on the autism spectrum…my alcoholism.. these were symptoms of a greater problem these were/are my challenges. I on instinct planted seeds to counteract the ones planted many years before which led me to feel so sad.

How do I do this? I change my inner dialogue. I forgave myself. I saw myself as a poor damaged thing that needed sympathy, love and understanding.  I began to treat myself more kindly; I began to lie to myself but in a good, encouraging way.

I told myself wonderful things about me; things I didn’t believe. But I kept planting and counting.

I counted reasons to be grateful. I thanked God or the spirits that be. I thanked the universe for my good fortune. I embraced mindfulness and tried to enjoy every passing moment for what what it is without expectation. I found worthiness in contentment and strength in humbleness.

 

I wrote words like”optimistic” ,”happy”and “Yes” in bright colors and tapped them around the house.

I found solace in the colors of music and the sound of the rain.

I refused to be daunted by a reluctant sun so I made my own.

 

What began as a tiny spark has grown larger and my garden is growing with colorful, green, growing wild things.

I continue to plant seeds whenever I can. My garden is a work in progress. Always planting something, digging, weeding, taking it all in.

Despite changes and setbacks I am here to encourage other gardeners who may be discouraged. Maybe to make myself feel a bit better too.

 

As Ram Dass once said: We’re all just walking each other home.”

And I say that it’s damn good to have a friend to walk through the rain with. 

 

~nlm

 

 

 

Related Articles

Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy

Mister Rogers Remixed | Garden of Your Mind

Words Can Change Your Brain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selfie Me

“From where I’m sitting, I AM the centre of the Universe!”

― Sebastyne Young

 

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Andy Warhol was famous for saying that in the future we will all have our 15 minutes of fame. Well my friends the future is now and many people are already famous inside their own heads.

I am talking about that phenomena that’s sweeping the globe:

The Selfie.

selfie gif

A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone, digital camera or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

I see more and more people doing this… MM calls it “selfing”.

And not just adorable little blondes with cutesy pink phones…people from all walks of life, actors, artists, men on the street, ladies of the evening, cats, babies and even presidents and leaders of people.

How did we get so obsessed with our own image?

The first selfies; born out of “necessity” for most of us.  Since the advent of social media and as more and more of us are becoming social online we need a profile pic.  It’s not something anyone really planned, it sort of just happened. We could blame Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook who thought of the world as one big yearbook with a sea of faces with which one could compare against each other and judge.  The selfie does predate Facebook and MySpace, where the term was first generally used.  Taking a photograph of oneself started with the invention of photography. It has only been lately that it has become an obsession for some, a joke to others. Whatever it is–it has become a part of our social landscape and our common global culture.

I am mysterious and sily
I am mysterious and silly and my table is messy.

Speaking for myself; I took my first one in the Autumn of 2012. I “needed” an updated Gravatar for this very same blog.  I was hesitant to ask anyone to take my picture because it sounded so weird and self-indulgent. ( Of course I am not one of those people.)  I snapped a few shots myself with my webcam, it was so easy. We are humans and social media is a place of social interaction between us.  Our faces convey so much to each other, so much emotion, feeling.  Many of our electronic communications are littered with emoticons.   Mere words cannot give the entire picture.

I am human
I am human

We have a need for each other.  A need to meet others to express thoughts and ideas. To be understood. To reach out and make that connection. To share ourselves with others.  Running the gambit of emotions; happiness to sadness and back again… from the amazing to the mundane.  We have a need to belong and to be looked upon favorably by our peers.   Selfies can be fun.  Some are very inventive and creative.  I don’t think they are necessarily a bad thing or a sign of the moral decay of our civilization and subsequent doom. I think they can be empowering for people and a way to boost self esteem.  There are  groups that embrace the idea of the selfie and encourage people to submit their own self portraits 365 days a year.  I have explored some of the submitted images. Some of it is quite artistic; there are talented photographers out there snapping pics of themselves every day.

Whoo-hoo!
Whoo-hoo!

The internet has put so much of our lives on display for one another. This puts the viewer of such display in the judges seat. It is tempting for anyone to judge given some of what we see and it’s easy to assume some find themselves on the short end of the comparison.  People’s opinions of each other unfortunately are swayed by appearance; the appearance of wealth, youth and good looks…the appearance of happiness….no one wants to look like a loser, or old or fat or bald or whatever.   Simply put, we care what other think about us and this very human truism is being played out on a grand scale throughout the digital world.

We call them selfies, we take them of ourselves but do they truly reflect our real selves?  I have seen quite a few of them and rarely are they realistic.

 

I Work out!

The selfie is a way for many to become the self they have always wanted to be.  I googled “selfie fails” and found a plethora of examples of Photoshop gone wrong. Men and women with obviously unrealistic bodies and faces, freakishly thin waists, bulging chests and completely unlined faces.   The pull is strong to want to doctor ones photos. I myself I am guilty of erasing a line or two here and there.  Who doesn’t want to be younger; to look 25 again? Who doesn’t want the perfect body and the perfect life?  We see them all the time…these people with the perfect everything.

The perfection hype we buy into is sold to us by the media.  The Joneses we are struggling to keeping up with don’t even exist.

The perfect job, mate and kids, the perfect parties and friends. These people go on exciting and exotic vacations with all the other beautiful people living perfect lives. We know this because we see it in their selfies. The ones they are nice enough to share with us so we can “like” them and comment; tell them how wonderful they are and how young they really do look. All accompanied by smiley faces and hearts.

o-WOMAN-SELFIE-570
LOVE ME!!!

 

Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?

Andy Warhol
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And we like them every time they put up a new one, every week even if it’s every day. Some people change theirs constantly; living a life in front of the tiny screen. Every minor event documented and accompanied by the same needy almost pleading stare. Just like anything else selfies can be addictive and perhaps that in itself is a sign of trouble–a cry for help.

sexy- selfie  -fails-chocolate-sauce
Watch out ladies it’s “Hot” Chocolate!

I also saw some other types of selfies on my googling adventure into this odd and narcissistic world. There were the funny ones, the amazing ones, the clever and cute ones, the silly duck faces and the ones with the bizarre backgrounds. But there were some sad ones as well. I was stricken by the number of photos taken by women, apparently mothers in bathrooms and other places with big mirrors posing for suggestive selfies in front of their small children.

...help
…help

I am a bit naive but this shocked me. It came off as desperate, so sad and lonely. And then I began to look at all the selfies in a different  light. Maybe they are not  just a sign of our collective narcissism and self-obsession, maybe there is something deeper; an underlying anxiety of separation, a feeling we are losing ourselves, the dissolution of the family unit. We are spending longer hours in the office, on the road, increasingly we are spending more and more time apart from each other.

Like me!
Like me!

We need to be accepted and understood. We need to be connected and have others think well of us.  Unfortunately this need to be liked and accepted maybe envied or idolized has become an obsession for some.

And maybe…just maybe, if we can have the perfect selfie we can get a little piece of that perfect life too…

As with everything else; nothing is all black or white…

…points to ponder…

.

 

 Have yourself a wonderful day!

Nancy

 

 .

 “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”

~Marilyn Monroe

Norma Jean Baker in 1946, photographed by Andre de Dienes.
Norma Jean Baker in 1946, photographed by Andre de Dienes.
Related articles and items of interest

 

365 Days The Challenge: Take one self portrait each day for a year.   (Fickr group)

 

The selfie  (wikipedia.org)

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THE SELFIE SYNDROME (feeldesain.com)

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 Scientists link selfies to narcissism, addiction and mental illness  (trueactivist.com)

SHY

 

shy girl

 

“My feelings are too loud for words and too shy for the world.”

― Dejan Stojanovic

*

I have always been shy. There has never been a time in my life when I wasn’t to some degree or another. It’s not just that I don’t know what to say or how to say it, I am afraid to say anything at all.

It is embarrassing and what’s even more embarrassing is that it is so evident. You can’t hide shyness, it is tough to cover. The shy person may look like everyone else on the outside but on the inside he or she doesn’t feel the same.

 

 

me at age 6 001 eyes

I remember when I first started kindergarten at age 4. It was my first exposure to a large group of other kids and it was very odd and surreal to me. Everyone seemed so at ease with being themselves. They could move around gracefully whereas I was clumsy. They knew what to say, I never did. I couldn’t understand how they could know what to say.

This was so evident from the very first day. I didn’t understand. It was as if these other kids had been told how to act or if they just knew instinctively.

In my whole school “career”  I never spoke up.  I never raised my hand or even  asked a question, not once. I would willingly take a lower grade in order to get out of public speaking.

All I could do was to try to blend into the background as best as I could. Most of the time it worked. At other times, it did not.  From time to time some idiot would make it a point of drawing attention to me and my shyness by making stupid and sarcastic comments about it always within earshot of a crowd . This was horrible and it only drew me more inward.

 

 

 

 

 

As an adult shyness has held me back from life. I remember so many instances when I felt I needed to speak up, to say something but so many times I never did.  I just let fate and circumstance dictate the direction of my life and to be brutally honest; I haven’t gone far.

Shyness has held me back in life. It has been an albatross around my neck and I want this to stop.

I am better today but it has taken a long time to get where I am now and I still have a long way to go…

quote lonesome in a crowd marilyn monroe

 

 

 

Shyness is a prison. It holds its captive in a state of the perpetual outsider even with one’s own family.  A shy person rarely makes friends with another, it is the other who must make friends first. For two mutual sufferers of this affliction to meet and later become friends is a very rare and beautiful occurrence indeed.

woman sitting on rock sunset shadow contemplation

 

Often shyness is mistaken for indifference, aloofness and downright coldness. I know when it is happening and I can feel it. There  seems to be a wall or some sort of  invisible barrier between myself and everyone else. It’s as if it is written on my face,  this social awkwardness. I suppose that is why I am telling you this painful embarrassing stuff about me.  There is always that one in the crowd, the one that stands a bit a part from everyone else, the one who is always left out of the loop, the one thought unapproachable and unfriendly, may be a warm soul who would love to make a friend but just doesn’t know how.   Shyness is not a choice. I do not choose to be this way. It has stunted my growth and my life and as I scramble to make up for lost time at 44 and I feel the need to call attention to the plight of the shy person.

So if you see one of us out there trying to blend into the background wearing an insecure scowl offer up a warm smile or a simple “hello”. This sort of thing spreads. Insecurity and shyness are often go hand and hand. If you see something wonderful in someone, tell them, perhaps they will recognize it too and eventually in time it will be they that say hello to you!

 

We all have own strengths and weaknesses, no one is perfect. It takes time to get to know someone but it is well worth that time. Shy, not shy…whatever. It is healthy to want to reach out, some of us just need a little help on what may come naturally to others. No one wants to be left out entirely.   We are all human with human needs and wants including friends.   That’s all. 

 

 

vintage-friends beach fun madness

 

 Have an excellent day!

Nancy 

 

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“If you’re an introvert, you also know that the bias against quiet can cause deep psychic pain. As a child you might have overheard your parents apologize for your shyness. Or at school you might have been prodded to come “out of your shell” -that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and some humans are just the same.”
― Susan Cain

 

Related articles

 

Pink Floyd – Outside the Wall (With Lyrics) 
Social Anxiety Disorder & Social Phobia–Symptoms, Self-Help, and Treatment (helpguide.org)