Mindfulness, trendiness and gardeny-ness

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It has been AGES but I said I would start blogging again and so I am. Hello!

My pain is still disgusting, I have some new meds, a TENS machine (fun to play with) and am about to have a ketamine infusion*;

I am not dieting AT ALL but still trying to appreciate how lucky I am to be able to eat lovely food (and ignore all the messed-up attitudes to food that are constantly going on all around us);

Work is in a state of flux but I feel generally positive; and

JUST as I feel I have finally started to crack the whole Mindfulness thing to assist with chronic pain, it’s about to become trendy and hip.

WHAT IS WITH THAT?

If ‘mindfulness’ becomes the next pulled-pork-amusing-moustache-salted-caramel-red-velvet-ironic-poverty-vintage-sundress-mason-jar I will probably become allergic to it and be unable to use it any more. Why does this keep happening? ***

Anyway I feel that I should make the most of it while I can still discuss it without people breathlessly telling me about how they are doing this totally cool Mindfulness Challenge thing, it’s great, all the celebs are doing it, it can (deep breath) boosttheimmunesystembalancethechakrasmkeyouloseweightpreventscancergivesyouglowingskinmakesyourichcuresasthmadiabetesandcolic and it only costs $59.99 per month. Extra if you add the juice cleanse.

I still need practice at mindfulnessing too. On good days I’m all: lalala look at me! I’m meditating! That was yogic breathing, guys! So mindful! But on bad days I’m still inclined to hunch my shoulders and whine and indulge in unhelpful thought-cycles and catastrophise everything.

But at least these days I am often able to recognise these habits for what they are, and the Captain is very good at letting me know when it is happening and coming up with
suggestions for distracting myself, such as patting the dog or going for a walk or just drifting around the garden, chatting to the plants and my worms. *****

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They don’t have much to say

About that garden. I have been learning (slowly, by trial-and-error) how to grow vegies and flowers. I want to become a decent gardener, and I gather the best way to do that is through doing it, and also maybe by reading a lot and asking experienced people for advice.

My ultimate aim is to grow a portion of our own food, and to contribute in some way to the environment through keeping carbon where it belongs, and encouraging biodiversity – insects and spiders, birds and lizards, microbes and nematodes, bats and possums, and other beautiful things.

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Beautiful things

But my garden has also become my mindfulness focus. I have found that, in spite of all the little dramas (pests, drought, dead plants, mossie bites) the garden is a rich source of the sort of deep inner peace that makes me use really annoying phrases like ‘deep inner peace’.

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Deep inner peas (sorry)

I am drawn frequently to just drift around it, doing little things here and there, but mainly taking satisfaction in seeing and feeling and smelling and tasting. And the other one: hearing. That too.

Working in my garden occupies my body and makes me sweat and is good exercise, plus it distracts my mind nicely. When the pain is bad I can indulge instead in reading about gardening, and planning ahead and recording my garden diary.

When I am stressed or upset, being in or even thinking about my garden helps me to calm down and feel in control. I apologise most sincerely for using terms like ‘mindfulness focus’ and ‘safe space’ but, well, that’s what it is. A lifelong ongoing project that is good for body and soul.

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Buzzy friends

Don’t mistake me: I’m a rank beginner. I have lost plenty of plants and made some cracking mistakes and I appear to be a naturally talented earwig breeder. Also, in spite of having a whole huge yard to play with, mine is entirely a no-dig container garden – in fact much of it is in those big tough green plastic grow-bags. I don’t have the physical capacity to make or tend to a traditional bed garden. The containers allow me to manage without bending over too much, and control my soil a bit more. So I don’t have the foggiest idea about a lot of aspects of traditional gardening.

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Potatoes on a chair – our earwig-defeating solution

But I love my green plastic paradise and am managing to grow quite a lot so far. Right now I no longer need to buy salad greens, peas, celery or herbs, and I have a lot of other vegies on the go for summer.

The best bit is that, even though gardening periodically becomes hugely trendy, I seem to be immune to this particular trend-allergy.

Gardening (unlike eating your morning porridge from a sodding glass pickle jar, even though perfectly good ceramic bowls still exist) is so intrinsic to human experience that it rides right over hipster trendiness and can still be regarded as ‘normal everyday behaviour’, unless done wearing vintage wellies that have been painted with winsome floral designs by a traditional artist from Appalachia, and source as part of a curated garden collection by a white-clad celebrity.

Have you encountered the new mindfulness trend? Any advice for what I should do if it really catches on? Perhaps call it something different? Suggestions welcome.

Also if you ever have the urge to eat your breakfast porridge out of a jar, don’t.

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* It will involve a stay in the hospital, a cannula and IV line, a large amount of ketamine, a lot of fiinger-crossing and, I’ve been promised, some fairly psychedelic dreams.**

** And I’m FINE with that. Bring it on, Zebedee!

*** AND I’ve started to hear perfectly healthy able-bodied people making reference to their ‘spoons’ just lately, which is a bit off-colour and appropriative. Let’s hope that one doesn’t catch on. Spoon Theory is a useful shorthand for daily energy but also a real basis for community and identity for people with chronic illness and disability: and what a shame if it is lost to us.****

**** Like brain fog! Everyone has little brain farts and does odd things because their mind is momentarily distracted: yes. This is fairly different from actual Brain Fog when the mind is PERPETUALLY distracted by huge amounts of pain and fatigue, causing a genuine inability to function normally, including such delights as disassociating, losing the capacity to use language, and becoming completely disoriented in familiar settings. Which is not only frustrating, but also scary and debilitating. So if a Spoonie mentions brain fog to you and you are tempted to reply with ‘Oh yes, happens to me all the time!’ my advice is: no. Shh. Be quiet.

****** So far none of them have chatted back, which is good because, as I mentioned, I am on new meds.

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