“Let’s water the seeds of joy!” I just told my writer friend as we signed off our daily 5/5. It’s Saturday and it’s almost 7am, 6:55am to be exact. It feels good to be up earlier and getting our 5/5s, our quick dip into our novels, out of the way. I actually thought of three scenes that haven’t been written that could be added into the novel revision for later.
Yesterday, my friend reminded me that showing up for ourselves like this, showing up for our fiction, was actually action towards watering the seeds of joy. A meditation teacher and Buddhist studies professor, my writing friend had taken this from Thich Nhat Hanh:
Your mind is like a piece of land planted with many different kinds of seeds: seeds of joy, peace, mindfulness, understanding, and love; seeds of craving, anger, fear, hate, and forgetfulness. These wholesome and unwholesome seeds are always there, sleeping in the soil of your mind. The quality of your life depends on the seeds you water. If you plant tomato seeds in your gardens, tomatoes will grow. Just so, if you water a seed of peace in your mind, peace will grow. When the seeds of happiness in you are watered, you will become happy. When the seed of anger in you is watered, you will become angry. The seeds that are watered frequently are those that will grow strong.
I realize that working on my novel, on any creative writing, is an act of watering happiness, of watering seeds of joy.
Also this morning, I woke up with the realization that taking action on stuff I’ve been procrastinating, out of usually the most irrational of fears, is also part of watering the seeds of joy.
Stuff I Want to Take Action On:
– Finally writing that draft to help a friend.
– Work tasks I’ve been putting off for clients related to social media posts, podcast work, copywriting, ghostwriting blog posts, transcribing interviews, book reviews
– Truly doing more work on my novel, especially with the novel revision tasks on scenes, characterizations, dialogue, structure, plot, research on timelines
– Other creative writing I’d like to write, edit and submit (to add to the Literary Rejection Tracker I’m gonna make in either Google sheets or my bullet journal)
– Earn more money by actively searching for another client or two. Or a gig/job. With the goal of helping my family and helping others (I’m inspired by this article about Keanu Reeves and his approach to money — wow. Just wow. Instead of making money the end-all-be-all reason to be “successful.”)
– Having an honest “Money Meeting” with myself and partner about how much more money we need to earn to truly feel financially secure and not stressed out about bills
– Learning how to spend less and budget, having a better relationship with money
– Planning my week, quarter, year (thanks Aypril for telling me about Kate Northrop’s DO LESS book and planner!)
– Tax related stuff (ugh) for my freelancing business – writing, editing and virtual assistant work
– Getting back to people on email, calls, texts, IG, FB, WhatsApp. (Now why are there so many ways to contact people now? More ugh.)
– Organizing all my post-its, file folders, organizing my laptop desktop
– Unsubscribing from newsletters and shrinking my 40K emails in my in-box
– Planning meals so I don’t get bored, feel deprived, or eat out
– Reading the books and articles I’ve been wanting to read
– Doing the many e-courses I signed up for (or truly let go of ones I know I’ll never do)
– Coming up with an exercise plan I can follow most of the time (that isn’t taxing on my body and hormones as a woman in her late 40s)
– Cleaning out my closet, donating stuff,
– Signing up for places and/or orgs to volunteer that I care about
Why Taking Action Is Important to Reducing Stress and Fear, Helping to Water the Seeds of Joy
Taking “action”, Marie Forleo says, “is the antidote to fear.”
Every podcast and book I’m reading talks about how STRESS is the major culprit to inflammation, even if you’re eating all the right things. If you’re so stressed out, it can wreck your gut, your ability to even digest nutrient-dense foods, so the more I can reduce unnecessary stress in my life, the more mentally and physically healthier and happier I’ll be.
I realize that much of my stress in life comes from anxiety about what other people will think, a form of social anxiety. Fears about perceived judgements, criticisms and rejection. So I take on more and more stuff. I promise others and myself that I’ll do x, y and z. I give out dishonest yes’s when I should have given out more authentic no’s.
Now my life has become a mountain of perpetual procrastination. Procrastination that leads to shame and guilt and stress. I begin to think negatively of myself, worried even more about what other people must surely think. Especially now that I’ve let so much time pass by and still haven’t gotten back to them, missing deadlines, often even ghosting people and feeling more and more like an asshole.
Yesterday, I heard Kate Northrop (in her DO LESS cyclical planning workshop) say something that really resonated with me:
“Procrastination is your body trying to keep you safe.”
She said her own focus right now is on “healing my central nervous system. Her focus was to…
Find tools to “activate the parasympathetic system, to rest and restore,” tools such as:
- Shaking – Honestly, I have never heard of this or tried it. But I just watched this video I found via Dr. Google. It’s a technique called TRE. (Not Time Restricted Eating, which my partner and I like doing most of the time, but this TRE stands for Trauma Release Exercises.)
- Breathwork – “Your breath is filling out your back ribs” (How Kate describes it)
- EFT/Tapping – This I’ve tried taking a virtual writing and tapping retreat once with Kate Marillat that was really healing; my other writing friend in Hawaii also introduced me to Nick Orner’s free tapping summits
- Yoga – I used to do this a lot, but hardly do it anymore, except once in a while when I can’t sleep or relax, I’ll pop on one of these Yoga with Adrienne sleep videos before bed.
Here are some tools I’ve learned that activate my parasympathetic system, that water the seeds of joy:
- Meditation – This is usually done once to twice a day before I’m in fight/flight mode to help me learn how to have more spaciousness in my life, to quiet my mind before the day begins, and ideally a second time in the afternoon around 2 or 3pm — I learned this via ZIVA, which combines breathwork, mindfulness, meditation and manifesting into one sitting; but as of late, have been having trouble fitting the second meditation in
- HeartMath – This really has the ability to make me feel relaxed in a few minutes, especially when I combine that with remembering a person or animal or time and/or place that gives me bliss, and I remember that time I did LSD, truly integrating this one-time experience in my life and imaging that into my cellular memory; another memory is of a dog we fell in love with named Merci at the RV park in La Paz, Baja Sur, Mx, who sat on our RV mat every morning, tail wagging, waiting for us to appear.
- Massage – I really need to do this more often. Seriously. I don’t remember the last time this even happened. Actually, it was a year ago on my birthday in Mexico, when we were still living full-time in our RV, while passing through Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. I had an energy healing combined with some massage, plus a reading via the Mayan Calendar with a former-writer-turned-energy healer-and-shaman.
- Walk with peaceful/healing/inspiring music – Like this.
- Creative Writing – When I’m really in the flow like the time at April’s online writing retreat, when I felt expansive, not constricted, eager to create and explore, no sign of fear. Or Kiala’s online writing circles where she presents us with a prompt, often from her creative writing prompt deck or Tarot card.
- Doodling/Art Journaling/Collaging via Soul Collage – My other writer friend who is also a creativity and business coach has amazing creativity online classes and retreats. She’s the reason I was able to transition from working as an English instructor at a community college (a job I simultaneously loved–for my students–and hated–because of ridiculous rules, bureaucracy and my then-crippling-social-anxiety) to a remote freelance and location-independent worker who mostly does client work wearing nothing but PJs–or sweats–most of the time.
- Bullet journaling – Planning or tracking or taking notes in my bullet journal calms me down like meditation does; I get such pleasure out of tracking and planning by hand. I’m a lover of minimalist bujos. Especially hers. My own bullet journals tend to look sloppy and not so minimal. But hey, I like to try.
- Being out in nature – Like many of the times we were living full-time and traveling in our RV, boondocking next to a river, a desert, a canyon, a lake, the beach, the sea, the ocean, under the trees, on top of a mountain.
- Psychedelics like psilocybin or LSD used with the intention to heal. The one time I did it as an adult at Burning Man a few years ago, it was better than any spa experience: no worries about time or ego, just plenty of love and compassion for self, seeing the world through child-like eyes with wonder and awe. It was truly better than any spa experience I’ve ever gone to. To let go of any anxiety or worry about anything or anyone: now that is true freedom, true bliss!
- Brainspotting – I was a guinea pig for my therapist friend, Karen, who had me try this healing tool that immediately made me feel relaxed. Amazing just how moving your eyes on the X/Y axis can help you to stop stressing so much, within minutes!
- NADA Protocol – I can’t believe I stumbled onto this free community wellness hour in Austin via the AOMA graduate integrative school of medicine that offers this acupuncture protocol that helps with addiction or healing emotional trauma. You sit in a circle of strangers as interns stick paper-thin needles into your ears and you meditate in silence for 30 minutes or so, followed by a guided meditation and visualization through Julia. Funny story: I actually discovered her while searching in MAPS’ directory for therapists/healers who can integrate psychedelic experiences shortly after attending MAPS’ first psychedelic science summit in Austin this past November. Her website listed her free community wellness hour and I decided to go. Now I have designated Wednesdays for self-care when I can happily go sit with strangers sticking needles in my ears in sublime silence!
- Playing music – Either on the piano, keyboard, or guitar. We used to have a keyboard but it’s somewhere buried in our storage unit. But when we first began our RV trip, Darrell picked up a steel-stringed guitar so we could possibly learn it as a family. Except for a few times we tried to learn in front of a campfire in the Southern California desert, we’ve largely abandoned it, using the guitar as a decoration in our new apartment. Well, last night, after listening to a podcast with Abel James discussing music’s role in neurofeedback and neuroplasticity and their combined love for playing music, I had a sudden craving to learn how to play guitar. I can read music from years as a kid playing piano and Jehovah’s Witness songs for my mom on demand, but I can’t, for the life of me, understand how to play a guitar. That changed when I discovered Fender last night. I started a free 14-day trial and decided it would be a gift to myself. The hours flew by and I actually learned how to play my first chords! (I.e., G and C chords). And I played a riff from The Rolling Stones: “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. Talk about activating your parasympathetic system!
- Prolonged Fasting with Low GKI (2 or under) – Around Days 3 or 5 I tend to get into a state of utmost euphoria, noticing how vivid the colors are in nature, more aware of my senses. The anxiety is gone, especially social anxiety, and I just feel calm, grounded and focused without much internal drama or rumination. Note: When my husband had cancer in 2014, and I wrote about it here, and was using a therapeutic ketogenic diet formulated for cancer, he aimed to have his GKI where Thomas N. Seyfried recommended it to be: As close to 1 or under as possible “to blast insipid tumors.” While doing my last 7-day water-only fast, there were several days my GKI was hovering under 1, and those days I was especially calm in my mind!
- Eating Keto or Carnivore with a Low GKI (3 or under) – If I’ve been staying fairly strict keto or carnivore, and build up a string of days with a low GKI, I tend to notice that I’m less stressed or anxious, able to focus more. I recently experimented with going off carnivore for a week after going for 30+ days and this past week, my GKI has shot up sky-high, at 55 or 60 (I check and track my GKI via Heads Up and Keto-Mojo), or a non-existent GKI due to zero or “lo” ketones on my Keto-Mojo and higher than usual fasting glucose numbers above 100 mg/dL; remember that you are in ketosis when you have a GKI of under 9. Even my functional nutritionist reminded me to anticipate potentially stressful situations by lowering my GKI. She has seen the GKI graphs I send her via Heads Up. And knows about my many years of tracking that marker, as well as how I’ve noticed a correlation between higher anxiety and depression when my GKI is high or completely non-existent due to having zero ketones.
Anyhow, today’s goal is to take action on some of the tasks I’ve been putting off due to fear. I think the more I can chip away at taking actual action to face the fear, and fit in tools of bliss like the ones mentioned above throughout my day, and life, the healthier my mind and body will become. (Not the LSD, of course, as I have no idea how to even begin to get that stuff, nor do I believe that I’ll need it in the near future–just the mere memory of that day can activate my parasympathetic system!)
A Reminder About Fear for Myself
I can either …
Fuck Everything And Run (F. E. A. R. – the very definition of procrastination).
OR I can
Face Everything And Rise (F. E. A. R. – the very definition of a badass!).
You know what? I choose to be a badass today! I choose to water the seeds of joy.