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…

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 Have yourself a wonderful day!

Nancy

 

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 “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)

SBI’s Tips for Instant Health and Easy Weight Loss

Haha….got you with the title didn’t I? I’d like to think I fooled you but I know you are too smart for that, but it did get your attention did it not?  I’m not above cheap theatrics; I’ll freely admit, but I do have a bit to say on this subject because there are many who do fall for this sort of nonsense all the time.

The quick and the easy

People want big results with little or no work. It’s an American thing, this instant gratification. Pair it with another very American thing; our fixation on looks, endless youth and vitality. We are talking some serious stars and stripes here.

We are a nation obsessed with health or at the least the appearance of health. People want others to think they are really healthier and more together than they really are. We  have this desperate need to show others what a full life we are leading,  jam packed with triumph, success and over-the-top uniquely unique experiences.

What trumps being perfect is at least looking perfect….and we are a self loathing society.  33.3 % of Americans are overweight and 35.9% percent are considered obese. Our ideal of beauty does not configure to the perfection that most of us can never live up to.

strong-woman-vintage exercise

This is not to say that being overweight is not a health hazard, it is, but there are a number of other factors that contribute to good health and beauty for that matter than just what is considered the ideal weight and shape.

I have spent most of my life hung up on my weight. Starting with my first diet at the age of 9, continuing on through my teenage years and then onward into my adulthood. I was caught up in the angst of weight worry and denial. Following one crazy dieting idea after another. Denying myself and denying in general that the way I was going about it was well, stupid and all so wrong.  I once spent two years of my life, two years..denying myself ice cream, yes ice cream!

Like so many others my self-worth was hung up on body image.  I would compare myself to the ideal airbrushed “perfection” the media feeds us all. Of course I could never come close. No one can.

vintage woman tape worm diet exer

There are a million promises from a million sources who will tell you they are the ones with the secret to slim perfection. Just promise to pay the shipping and handling and it will be sent out immediately.  One thing these empty promises provide is at the most, false hope with none of the hard work or willpower that accompanies eating a sensible diet, getting regular moderate exercise, time and patience. Nothing is easy and nothing is free. (except for love)

Sometimes there is temporary success but these fad diets and insensible lifestyles are difficult to keep up. It is easy to feel like a failure. It is also quite common for let-down people to comfort themselves with food and overindulging,…the very activity that is a major culprit in weight gain.

because of fat women exercise vintage

It’s big business; The health and weight loss industry. Add the beauty and fashion industry and you have a powerful bloc of economic players and reapers of piles and piles of big money. These companies get richer while we get more unhealthy.

They play on our fears and insecurities; pointing out what we “lack” and selling us a bottle of the stuff. Let’s stop buying it.

Tell them to keep it and let it rot on the shelves until they see that there is nothing lacking in us– it is they who lack. They lack the obvious; they cannot see the beauty that is inside us all. What a shame is that. Let us not be manipulated any longer…

We are all beautiful. Damn what they say, that  media which feeds us stale perfection for us to consume.

quote beauty old-smiling-woman

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

YOU are a beautiful being.  Believe this. Know it.

Some people have a spark; a special something that transcends the physical.  It is the belief in oneself.

What matters is one’s inside. It is the light of the soul and the love in the heart.

Beauty has a way of shining through.

Beauty is kindness and compassion. Beauty is strength and resilience. Beauty is devotion and gentleness. Beauty is quiet. It doesn’t declare itself it.

Beauty just is.

Strawberryindigo.

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people vintage girl smile flickr

 References and Related Articles

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How Does it Feel to be One of the Beautiful People?  (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

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Diets Through History: The Good, The Bad And The Bizarre  (huffingtonpost.com)

Food Faddism (Wikipedia)

10 things the weight loss industry won’t tell you (smartmoney.com)

The Facts on Fad Diets (everydayhealth.com)

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This has been the 200th post on this blog. (Yay!)

The Neon Cheesy Dust of Self Importance

ego photo credit carolina engman in public domain
Say “CHEESE”

It all started with an idea. A grandiose crazy idea, some of which I am about to tell you, most of it I must keep to myself for now but suffice to say it will be my first big move into the fast paced grown-up world of freelance writing.

So I got this idea; a flash of brilliance that almost blinded my cat Mario. I was so excited by this that I started to jump up and down and instantly without thinking, I plunged my dainty hand straight into a bag of Doritos and started to consume it’s overly cheesy contents. I am a mom and I preach ad nauseam against this sort of activity but there I was munching away; my eyes ablaze waiting for MM to come through the door and then suddenly: there he was, and there I was, and then I just blurted it out: “I want you to be my manager.” I managed to stammer, eyes wide, mouth full of chips. “You’d do what you’re doing now except that you could call yourself my manager…of course, I couldn’t pay you” I added sheepishly.

As you may have guessed; he jumped at the chance!  So there we were jumping up and down like lunatics in the kitchen. By then Mario, my famous cat, had darted out of the room, but we didn’t care. We were hugging and I was getting neon cheesy dust on his back and I didn’t care and he didn’t know, but that’s OK–I do all the laundry. It was an amazing moment for both of us…

… It is also amazing how a person can pump themselves up with a basically unearned  and certainly at this moment in time, worthless highfalutin title. Just like that.  It is at these moments that I am proud to be an American!

american cheese public-domain-american-way-

And that reminds me…did you know that Americans are the most narcissistic people in the world? Well…I bet you knew that but did you know that I am NOT one of these narcissistic Americans?  HA!  I bet you didn’t know THAT! Yes, it’s true. I was a bit curious about the subject so I started reading a book on narcissism; its fascinating stuff. The book contains a short test which I took, and to my surprise and embarrassment; I scored pretty low…so low that I think I may suffer from low self-esteem with a shot of delusional over-thinking and obvious long-windedness. Apparently just thinking I may be narcissistic may disqualify me.  Well I guess I still have some work to do….

…but now I have a manager and a goal…it’s nothing to choke on your Dorito over, but it’s a start.

Wishing you a fantastic day full of big dreams and junky neon cheese!

Strawberryindigo.

DORITOS_NACHO_CHEESE__Flavored_Tortilla_Chips in public domain

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Narcissism Personality Disorder Traits (mayoclinic.com)

Narcissism Test (personality-testing.info)

How Narcissism Can Be Good for You (psychologytoday.com)

What’s Really In Nacho Cheese Doritos (eatthis.menshealth.com)