Monday, June 24, 2013

Mind Less Summer Monday

Mind Less Monday
A Case Against Being Mindful
on a Summer Day in June

I want to mind less that this book project/mess awaits me.  

Mind Less. On Monday, I mind far too much. I do so little on Sundays that Monday is a locomotive that rolls in to a cluttered house, a sink full of dishes, an overflowing hamper, a full inbox, and pages upon pages of documents awaiting my editing eye. My mind is more full, not to be confused with mindful, on Mondays, even though I try to clear it before I settle into the week. I cannot give carefulmindfulattention to everything the Monday locomotive brings to my station. Therefore, today I’m telling it to hold it’s steam because the last Mind Less Monday I had was far too long ago—February 25.

What I Will Mind Less Today

I don’t mind a bit that I no longer need the mask hanging here.
The bulletin board is full of dust-covered recipes, a name/photo tag from my fortieth reunion (three years ago), a business card for a dentist I wanted to try who has been our family dentist for at least six months, a mask I used in the hospital to visit my granddaughter when she had pertussis, a contact for manure, a bloodwork order from far too many months ago. It’s hard to mind it less because I see it so often, but I shall try to not mind it for a few more weeks. Instead, I’ll mind only today's essentials and look forward to a visit with my healthy granddaughter.
On Mind Less Monday, I’m happier about reading rather than purging books.
Books, books, books! I started a book-clearing project two weeks ago and quickly ran out of steam. Instead, I spent several hours finishing Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins and beginning Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires, the Life of a Critic in Disguise. Books have their place—and time—and I don’t mind a bit that I spent some of that time reading rather than clearing.
I’m paying no mind to what needs to be planted.    
I will mind less that I haven’t planted enough hot weather flowers in the bed near the doorway. Instead, I will treasure the colors of the sunflowers that greet me and be grateful that the purslane (portulaca oleracea) and moss rose (portulaca grandiflora) are already tucked into their hot-weather homes in the dirt.

I pay no mind to September killing frosts with this Vero Beach basil.
I will mind less that I haven’t yet started my kitchen pesto factory for the year. I will keep clipping the tops, let some go to seed, and even plant more. I don't have a bit of worry about a killing frost in September because that just won't happen this far south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Instead of berating myself about the basil, I shall enjoy the luscious leaves of the caladiums that are sprouting and showing their colors. I shall intensely enjoy that I found them in the clearance section and spent less than $1 a pot for each of the four that now overflow.

I will mind less that the e-mail inbox is still full because I know I have extra time now that my magnolia is blooming. More time? Of course. I no longer must hide behind dumpsters in fast-foot restaurant parking lots and sneak to back corners of deserted strip malls to find lonely magnolia blooms to bring home (steal) for my sensory pleasure. When Monday's locomotive leaves, I shall end my mind less Monday by burying my face in magnolia scent.

What are you minding less this summer Monday?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Make a Path for the Muse: Clear the Chaos

Life Takes Time 
Clearing the Chaos and
Making a Path for the Muse

A sense of order invites creativity into my life.
Discouraged was the description of my mindset as I began writing today at 10:08 a.m.
“I have been awake four hours. I haven’t wasted time on social media. I limited myself to a two-minute peek. I haven’t written or read endless e-mails. I haven’t cruised my favorite news sites, well, maybe only one or two. Now the jangling cursor awaits my words. And I have them, waiting to spill onto the document.
The four-hour interlude between the time I woke and the time I sat down to write spawned my discouragement. I decided to put aside my “to-do” list and scan my “done” list. Wrote in journal, fed and walked dogs almost two miles, practiced yoga, fed cats, cleaned two bathrooms, prepared and ate breakfast, read the newspaper, cleaned kitchen, emptied cat litter, watered plants in front yard, showered, dressed, started laundry. I didn’t rush through the “done” items, but nor did I poke along.
As I pondered the annoying jumping cursor, I studied my feeling of lack of accomplishment. I had those feelings because I considered my priorities skewed (they weren't). Shouldn’t what I love—writing and gardening—take precedence over the daily chores and obligations? Perhaps, but I recalled that in The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says that a professional must get rid of disorder and mess so “the Muse may enter and not soil her gown.”
Any chaos around me distracts me. I can’t work in mess. Any dirt or disorder calls out, “Nanny, nanny boo-boo” when I’m trying to do my work. I am affected by my environment. Tending to that environment frees me for creative time because I have silenced the chastising chant of the undone.

A clean kitchen means it's fine to invite the Muse for tea.
This morning, although frustrated by my lack of creative accomplishment, I recalled that everything I did is part of my life, part of what keeps my personal machine well oiled. It’s life, and I said aloud: “Life takes time.” Four hours of "life" free the remaining hours for creativity, for my real work.
Better yet, when the muse steps on the walkway to my door, she won’t say “Goodness! These flowers need a drink; they’re so wilted. Maybe I'll come back later after you’ve watered them.” Instead, I can invite her inside and I won’t be embarrassed if she needs to visit the powder room. The odor of cat litter will not soil her delicate senses. I will be wearing clean clothes, and I will greet her with a sense of calm and well-being because I walked and did yoga. I can serve her tea in a clean kitchen. And then, we can sit down together and get our real work done.
* * * * *

What daily routines free you for creativity? Does chaos or disorder distract you? What works to balance your "life" with your calling?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Forcing Forgiveness

Being Compelled to Forgive
Often Doubles the Hurt

Pressure to forgive someone for a grievous wrong means being injured twice. The act that causes your pain is the first instance. The second is when you feel guilty for not being ready, willing, or able—at least not yet—to forgive.
Forgiveness has its place, certainly, and affords freedom, light, and beauty to replace the ugly act that inspires moving toward the gesture of forgiveness. Arriving at the place of forgiveness is a step only the forgiver can take. That step has its own rhythm—one that only the person doing the dance of forgiveness can find.

The preceding was inspired by a discussion of forgiveness and Simon Wiesenthal’s book, The Sunflower, On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. Recounting an experience when he was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Wiesel eloquently shares the deathbed incident when he was unable to offer absolution.