Monday Morning Pages: Keeping a Joy Garden

by Rebecca A. Watson on February 24, 2014

in change, habits, Just Be, Monday Morning Pages, time

Since my last post, I’ve discovered that Pandora has stand-up comedy stations. So I just plugged in Louis CK and bam! I was listening to comedy for the next several hours.

My favorite time to do this is when I’m jogging on a Saturday morning. Few things puzzle the Germans more than a woman running on her own laughing loudly.

10k freiburg

Don’t you know this is serious?

Something I’ve noticed is that I can’t handle too much sensory input. It’s the introvert in me. So although I’d love to listen to comedy 24/7, it’s just not going to happen. I’d be a twitchy mess by the end of the second day.

I need quiet time. I need to just be. How do I reconcile that with the fact that I’ve decided my mission is to have fun and enjoy life?

In my 2012 journal I wrote this, after a quote from Ani Difranco popped into my head:

How grateful can you say that you are just to be here and live through it? That’s the theme.

It’s a good question really. In fact, the whole stanza got me thinking:

How pleased can one
Sun setting make you
If you humble yourself to it?
How grateful can you
Really say that you are
Just to be here and live through it?
And when beauty asks a question
How often do you reply?

As I read through more of my journal for the week, it stuck in my head. Partially because it’s a great song ((You can listen to the whole thing here. The entire album is fantastic, really. In fact, she’s just terrific. I seriously celebrate her entire catalog.) but there was something else. I just wasn’t sure what it was until I turned to my 2013 journal:

I’ve also really thought about tending to my joy. I mean yesterday I was stressed trying to get everything done, and I realized while I was folding laundry that I used to enjoy all of this. So I slowed down and savored the life I live and how I dreamed about having it for so long and now I do. So perhaps it’s time to stop dreaming and enjoy reality.

gran canaria rainbow

Because this is my reality.

Part of having a good time and relishing life (which is, I think, the reason we’re put on this planet) is to just enjoy what we’re doing. Enjoy the moment, whatever that may be.

So yeah, I may not be able to listen to comedy all day without flipping out, but I can certainly savor the five mile run I did, especially after my neighbor said she was living vicariously through me when I went out. She just had a hip replacement and is re-learning to walk. Talk about reminding me to be grateful for what I have.

Or instead of worrying about how I’m going to get dinner cooked, a blog post written, a workout finished, three topics of research done and find time to get coffee with friends, why not just do them? One at a time, following my own advice of slowing down time.

And how about maybe enjoying them? I enjoy every single one of those activities. All of them sustain me and nourish me in some way. Why, dear goddess, would they stress me out? It’s because I’m not living in the moment, right? I’m thinking of what I’ll do afterward. I’m counting the minutes and subtracting. Do I have enough time?

And this is an ingrained habit. I mean, like, instinct to me. How do I know that? Because even the German phrases that get stuck in my head have something to do with it.

Du hast kein Zeit = You have no time. 
Was hast du gemacht? = What have you done?

Yeah. So I think my quest to have fun and enjoy life has to include more gratitude and trying actively to live in the now.   And I struggle with it sometimes.

Yes, I do guided meditation many days. Yoga helps. I finished The Power of Now recently, had a more profound impact on me than I thought it would. (Sometimes if things are really popular, I think they can’t possibly help me or be any good. It’s my inner-hipster.)

When I read that phrase I wrote, tending to my joy, I think of a garden and one of my favorite phrases:

you reap what you sow

When I harvested my first crop as an adult gardener, I finally understood. It doesn’t take but a little work every day to create something beautiful, delicious, nourishing and plentiful. Life works that way too.

I don’t have to be some guru living in the moment all the time. There is no perfect here. If tending to your joy is anything like tending to a garden, yes there is a daily monitoring of it all — pulling out a few weeds here and there, watering as necessary, perhaps keeping out the occasional gopher— but most of gardening is waiting.

Patience.

My daily meditation told me this a few days ago:

Today I recognize that my bursts of growth are accompanied by backslides and I accept this as a natural learning pattern. … New behaviors and awareness stabilize with practice. … I will understand that accompanying a large step forward is a small step backward. I will allow this to take place, trusting that my experience of growth will integrate naturally if I allow it to.

You can over-water, over-fertilize, over-mother your garden. Just like I can over-mother my joy by insisting on comedy and parades and confetti all day, every day! So just because I have this new awareness that life is supposed to be filled with joy, it doesn’t mean I need to be singularly focused on it.

In fact, it’s OK for me to freak out that I haven’t done the laundry yet today. It gives me the opportunity to see where I’m regressing and re-learn my lesson, which just makes the lesson stick that much better in my brain.

Because life is long and I want my joy to have deep roots. So I’ll nourish it the best way I know how and do what isn’t really my (or many people’s, really) strongsuit: Wait and trust.

Wondering what this Monday Morning Pages thing is all about? Read how it started. Or check out all the archives.

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