Keeping Yourself Intact

Last night, I stayed up until one in the morning, grooming a 4 page file that will print into a stair step fold on synthetic treeless paper and offer the words I have read forwards and backwards after waking and writing them at odd hours throughout the year, all lined up with inspired artwork, imagery and packaged up in a signature out side of the box idea.

It has been a labor of love and I can only pray with fingers crossed that this next proof has the measurements right so that I can confidently move all in on the next step.

One of my favorite parts of last night, was reading to my sister over FaceTime while she worked on a puzzle. I still can’t quite read the end without crying and when I got through it, I laughed through tears and looked at my sister. Who normally has quips and ideas and thoughts but in that moment, just looked over while still working on the puzzle – had tears in her eyes as well – and said, “that’s awesome.”

It is awesome. It’s a stew of memory, real stories, and intention.

Lately, when I feel like I absolutely have bitten off way too much, what helps me is that this project is actually awesome.

See, I don’t yet know how all the yoga fits with the self-publishing my personal canon fits with raising the dogs fits with perfecting the homemade biscuits supports the new marriage helps with the step parenting guides the getting one kid off the college informs the shaping the upcoming driver tends as the helpful daughter makes space as the committed granddaughter.

But I do know life is not right without it all.

And I do know the one consistency in all of it is my need to “not quench the spirit”.

Which, for as important of concept in my day to day life, ironically is the theme of the devotional I just cannot seem to get off the ground.

In conversations lately, I have heard several friends expressing a desire to be out from under the microscope, relieved from the tone police, allowed to live their life, trusted.

I find this theme is as present in my day to day (through my own experience or in listening to theirs) as the theme to not quench the spirit, and both ideas are equally present in my ambition – my active, iterative task list – my yoga life.

Again, this leads me to this question: how does it all tie together?

Keeping yourself intact when you feel ripped a part or scrutinized takes an enormous amount of mental resolve. Mental resolve takes patience.

One of the original Greek words for patience was “long suffering”.

What I have learned in my creative process and the requirement to “hold the line” of concentration in order to bring all of the inspired bits and pieces into one completed work, is it is an active state of listening. At least, for me it is.

Does “long suffering” get easier when patience isn’t working through something, but listening through something?

Relationally, I know the more tense I feel equates to the need I have to defend myself or explain, to accommodate or justify.

I have learned over time, becoming witness and listening helps any emotional mess that wants to cause erroneous emotional labor in my emotional world stay outside of my world. Similar to my midnight hours last night, it is all about listening. Responding, not reacting.

Keeping yourself intact, I do believe, requires you know the root truth of who you are, what you are trying to accomplish.

These motivations help you say yes and allow or to say no and avoid.

My file is at the printer this morning. I am hopeful about it. I am excited. I listened last night. I stopped when a part of the layout didn’t fit easily together. I picked up what felt right. I went back and forth, pruning, twisting, loving, allowing.

More than anything, I feel I have matured in my ability to avoid letting unanswered questions – the general unfolding of life – make me feel unworthy or unable to get something done. It looks different than I thought it would at first, but the spirit is well hydrated. :)

If you feel like you are emotionally man-handled, I would love to know some of the ways you recognize when something or somebody is creeping into your world and loosening the threads. It’s a really common theme for a lot of people. You aren’t alone.

Trying noticing if silence helps you. Use the breath. Make some art.

What Blog?

Rumor on the street is that blogging is making a comeback.

I suppose it makes sense. For most of us bloggers, (Frozen Spaghetti started in 2011), we started a long time ago in a way that appeased an early ambition for a side hustle. As Instagram grew and gave the impression of a blogger interface with a shorter, less expectant time frame, I know for me, at least – I came to LOOOOOVE how easy IG made it to get to the point.

I had a major pause in posting here on WordPress.

Where a picture of a Horse Ear on Frozen Spaghetti made me sit for multiple nights – even coming back to the post years later – trying to capture my draw to the horse ear, Instagram gave me permission to simply post a picture of the ear with whatever I felt in that very moment. “Do you hear what I hear?” and people who wanted to would get the point.

No uploading, arranging, bolding and emphasizing needed. Maybe a heart emoji… but even that came later.

As aforementioned ambition for a side hustle grew into actual side hustle grew into hey-yo this is my profession, a lot of those early blog loving content creators had to trade their storytelling in “to the man”. I think the cup of tea & foggy morning approach to writing on WordPress became the long lost best friend to those for whom the visual arts, sound entertainment and quick byte culture proved itself capable of being quite time-consuming, frustrating and – well, expensive as they require a whole new assembly line for a product that needs to sell the actual product.

As a blogger who doesn’t even ask you to “chip in a dollar” to “buy me a cup of coffee” to “show your appreciation for the work”, I will tell you an artful blog (who eats the $99 for you to read my nonsense ad free) is the still IG picture post in a world full of “Grandma’s Best Thanksgiving Stuffing Ever this FALL FAVORITE BEST did I say BEST already it’s Thanksgiving and this is my FAVORITE BEST STUFFING EVER, I LOVE Grandma! Best. Stuffing. #Thanksgiving” .

Was that obnoxious? Good. I thought so.

As a person who loves a good reel, my most popular reels in terms of views and shares have been off content I have taken on the fly, mixed in a minute and shared with pretty must little to no thought other than whatever comes from the core of the operation: my inspo.

The ones I tried to do? Ugh. Gross. Made me stop doing it.

Why do I bring this up? Well, primarily because one of my closest friends is passionate about this – so, she naturally inspires me to, at minimum, reflect.

Keyword: Inspires.

So here is my reflection. Reels, Blogs, Posts, Sound, Pin.

How about we all agree marketing is best when inspired?

(Or Is that too Emily in Paris of me?)

It takes talent to write an artful blog. It takes strategy to write a successful one.

But both take inspiration.

Heart. Patience. And People.

My blog was for me. But now it’s also, in a way, for you.

179 people get an email in their inbox when I hit the blue “Publish” button, and – you know what? That’s kinda cool.

And, real quick, going back to what I said about not having a donate button. For me? I don’t want YOUR money.

I want a publishing house and a Netflix deal and maybe a ride at Disney.

And then I want those people to go get all the money for me. hahaha :)

I don’t need you to buy me a cup of coffee (though I will let you take me out to lunch) when I need my writing to buy me a house. <SO TRUE>

“What you can offer now?”, you ask?

What matters to me?

A: Your listening ear. Your attendance.

Sharing a post or writing a review or inviting somebody to a class.

I for sure get SO much encouragement chatting with your relaxed self after an experience stretching, listening, sharing or singing along.

You can start with a comment on this here blog post. I got TWO the other day and THANK YOU Alyssa & Anonymous. Made my freaking day.

Every single part of my evolution thus far in my life has been off of my distinct belief that you cannot be wrong unless you’re trying to be right, that what comes natural to you should be what you spend your time doing and – lastly – above all costs, take care of your heart & treat with respect your power to form an opinion and…

well…

That if I ask for a fish, I won’t get a serpent.

Live your life according to your values, know who you are, and stay true to what you truly want.

The rest will unfold exactly as it should, which will partly be unforeseen & surprising.

Live inspired. Reel or Blog. Church or Studio. Hike or Kayak. Whatever. Just live your life.

And maybe, while you’re at it, enjoy Grandma’s Favorite Stuffing and make the Best Thanksgiving Ever come to life.

“Be Like Water”

A friend of mine was over once while I was doing my beloved once in a couple years ritual of shuffling notebooks, ripping out concepts and organizing ideas, fiction, etc into piles with clips and re-used folders.

She opened a blood orange Moleskine journal and read the first line out loud, “Be Like Water”.

“Erin.” She said.

I remember her looking at me and telling me how true that felt.

Mobility, Flexibility, Adaptability.

Relaxed, Able, Life-Giving, Refreshing.

To be these things allows peace.

Even the most turbulent water ushers in a quiet after math; the settling in of the new day, the next morning, the next step.

For me, as a parent / stepparent of 5 kids in a young marriage, being like water means changing ideas I have settled into over the course of my life in order for the days now to feel more at ease. It means changing my opinions on timelines and holidays and plans and schedules.

There is a stoic thought I use when I teach on self control. It’s from Marcus Aurelius Meditations 3.9, “Treat with respect the power you have to form an opinion.”

“Treat with respect the power you have to form an opinion.”

Marcus Aurelius Meditations 3.9
(PS: Buy the book using this link and support the blog!)

I find awareness of when you are exercising an opinion or experiencing an emotion bc of an opinion is so helpful in strengthening the muscle you ultimately need to use to curb major habits, make big decisions, trust the overall process enough to try something new.

Self control in exercising an opinion or controlling the extent to which an opinion (yours or somebody else’s real or assumed opinion) is affecting your reality is a pre-req (imho) to experiencing peace.

Why?

Peace is – by definition – stillness, tranquility, freedom from anxiety / distraction.

One of the most common causes of mental unrest? Competing opinions.

One of the most common disruptions of a good night’s sleep? Back and forth judgments, self criticism.

One of the most common reasons we feel trapped? Because “WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?!?”

By seeing that all of these things boil down to “an opinion” at play, you can then also see why treating with respect the POWER of forming an opinion even matters.

Because… it is powerful. Opinions drive things.

Opinions change things or do not change things.

Opinions decide. Judge. Invite. Exclude.

To Be Like Water means you move and adapt to the conditions: around bends, simmering when heated, becoming still when cooled. It means you are connected with others who are also like water, similar in essentials and different in qualities. Imagine if we were all aware of this!

The idea of connection and adaptation to conditions brings freedom as life is no longer about being right.

It’s becomes about being aware of who and where you are…

Aware of the ever-changing conditions…

Aware of the over-arching connection…

In hopes of the ever-lasting…

Namaste.

Erin