Messy Beauty

 

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I’m always in awe of my flowers blooming from seeds that I planted in the spring. Planting, growing, and blooming happens year round all around us every which way we look, but each time I take a closer look I am impressed by nature. Oddly enough even in the face of such miraculous beauty,  I noticed that when I want to take a picture I search for the so-called perfect flower. I notice if the petals are a mess or out-of-order I look for a more perfect flower. It seems so silly and absurd when I think about it now, a more perfect flower? All the flowers are perfect. I stopped myself and really examined my thought process. I then took a whole bunch of pictures of this imperfect perfection found in the flower garden. I was looking at them differently. The beauty in the flower is the flower, not the perfection that we impose upon it. The best picture, in my opinion ended up being the great big sunflower bloom with the petals split at the top. I could have “fixed” the flower, or the picture with editing, but I thought better of it. That day took me back to a Ram Das talk that  I love about seeing people like trees. In this case flowers, but the same idea. Here’s one quote from his website talking about it.

I think that part of it is observing oneself more impersonally. I often use this image, which I think I have used already, but let me say it again.  That when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.

-Ram Das (https://www.ramdass.org/ram-dass-on-self-judgement/)

So, in my case I was actually judging flowers at the moment I realized my mistake. I am a product photographer for catalogs and web pages so my eye is trained to look for a lack of balance or symmetry. I am editing a picture in my mind before I take the picture. So I have to catch myself when it comes to photographing nature and people to see the natural beauty that needs no editing or filtering.  This thought experiment led me evaluate how I was looking at myself and others in my life.

I tend to get lost in self-improvement and trying to be better so much that I lose sight of the beauty of where I am now and loving this moment. Nothing is wrong with trying to be better, but when we don’t allow for the place we are right now to be acceptable we lose something precious. Just like I looked at the petals that were bent instead of the whole flower, I look at the my own flaws and magnify the imperfections instead of seeing myself as a whole human being perfectly imperfect.

I practice being mindful of how I see others and drop the assumptions and judgement and allow for that person’s beauty to be seen like a tree just growing this way and that. I allow the same for myself and try to remember that I was just a seed, and I am growing like a tree bending towards the light, living, breathing and being part of the miraculous world which is all interconnected and growing and learning how to love.

 

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Quit Something Hard like Facebook

 

 

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Peace of Mind

I have worked really hard on breaking habits so I feel like somewhat of a professional. So far here is what I’ve learned.

  • My positive reward 100% has to outweigh the punishment of not getting what I want.
  • My old habits need to be replaced with a new habits to fill the void.
  • I need to set goals, –little ones, big ones and way up in the sky ones!
  • I need to allow for mistakes, setbacks and obstacles.
  • I need to be excited about the new things I am learning.

It’s a great big world out there and there are so many ways to fill your time. One habit I quit was Facebook and guess what? There are other websites on the internet! I have found other apps to fill my time that don’t send me on an emotional roller coaster of endless searching, judging, and gossipy pathways as Facebook did for me. I would spend an hour looking at people’s pictures, someone’s new life and sometimes I would feel jealous of the facade of happiness, or feel better about myself peering into what seems like a crazy mess of someone’s life and so on. There are healthy ways to be on Facebook, but for me it was not making me feel good. So, I deleted my account and I am happy to be free from it.  I replaced that with an app called Duolingo to learn Spanish. You can spend a little bit of time each day learning a new language for free! It’s fun and I find the practice to be a bit like meditation because I am just lost in the new language.

I am also on Instagram where I mostly follow travel, photography, inspirational quotes and some comedians. I feel like these things make me feel good and help to expand my horizons in terms of world sight seeing. I will travel to some of these places in the future, but for now I can only see them through the lens of people all over the world. I also share my pictures of natural landscape.

Another habit I quit was drinking, a much larger beast to tame, but one that has given me more rewards than I ever could have imagined. I replaced drinking with walking and exercise and it’s paying off. I am rounding the base to 40 this year and I want to be in the best shape of my life by November. I am feeling confident that I will get there. I have set little goals of jogging for 1 minute up to where I am now of 17 minutes as my longest jog time. I’m not setting any world records but I am making progress. The positive rewards for getting in shape are long-term so it’s important to set up other rewards for yourself too. I bought a new pair of running shoes at my 90 days without drinking. I link all my goals together sometimes. I can practice Spanish while walking on the treadmill or stretching on the floor.

Meditation is another tool for relaxation that I have used to replace my evening drinking. Here I found an app called Insight Timer that is free also to download to a phone or tablet. This app has thousands of options for guided meditations, sleeping, sound therapy, binural beats, chanting, chimes, bells -whatever your jam this app probably has something you will like. Of course you can go to YouTube or search Google for whatever meditation you seek and it’s there. We have the world at our finger tips now so technology is a good thing.

I watched part of an interview with Dan Rather and Kid Rock of all people. But he was talking about addiction and his battles with it. He said, “I figure if you can’t put something down, then you best not pick that shit up.” And really that statement sums it up. That attachment feeling with anything is a bad habit, so breaking it is probably a good idea.

 

Stop and Take a Breath

It was empowering to stop and take a breath even if it meant being a few minutes late to work. For a moment I exited the rat race and went away from the usual routine and it felt amazing. I posted the pictures on Instagram and other people liked them too. I felt like I made a little ripple in my world pond for that moment and for that day.

I drive by this park on my way to work every day and often I want to stop and just take a few minutes to enjoy it. So on this day, I stopped. I took some pictures as the sun came up and I took as many deep breaths as I could. I applied a filter to the picture to make it look like a painting and to express the surrealism of that moment.

It was empowering to stop and take a breath even if it meant being a few minutes late to work. For a moment I exited the rat race and went away from the usual routine and it felt amazing. I posted the pictures on Instagram and other people liked them too. I felt like I made a  little ripple in my world pond for that moment and for that day.

Now, when I look at the photo I can remember that it’s okay to step away from the world and take a breath, in fact it’s crucial that I do it more often.

Small shifts in our thinking and in our routines can have huge impacts on the rest of our lives. Many people have suggested this practice of doing one thing different to expand your consciousness, just one thing.