Tag Archive: Mindfulness

Growing things

15 - 2

Fire oasis :)

My fingers are numb, and I’m walking like a bent zombie thing. I wake up every morning and pop Tylenol, cursing mildly because I want Aleve but I promised family I wouldn’t take it anymore (I’m on blood thinners, and apparently this is more than mildly unhealthy to do). I make that groaning growling noise old people always make when getting out of a chair, and stumble to find the coffee.

I’m sore, beat, achy, and ouchie. And I’m so happy. Because I am getting stuff done, you see. I’m not blooming where I’m planted (I hate that!), but I have been planting blooms, and larger things. This year we made the big dirt fire area into an actual fire “pit,” although pit is not the right word. How about oasis? Can there be a fire oasis? It’s not fancy, but it means the world to me. Oh how we’ve bickered through it all, and discussed, and dreamed. And then we just made it happen. Well, I made it happen, and my husband was a wonderful sport with an equally sore back!

15 - 18

“Before” picture. We still had a lot of fun with fire back then.

When it was finally done, I should have rested. I should have helped John plant the vegetables, something he’d put on hold while I went slightly berserk for a few weeks. I should have started writing the book I’m plotting out in my head. Oh do I have “shoulds.” So naturally, I started another project, the beginnings of what will someday (soon) be a zen/fountain area. I lined the space with rocks, filled with mulch, placed a few plants. And when that was done, I noticed how much I hated the bushes by the side of the house that were blocking the view of the fire oasis from the deck. I began to trim them. A lot. I overdid it but I felt victorious as I limped inside, which was getting to be a regular thing. The next day, I yanked three of the bushes out with some sort of crazy fury. And a shovel.

As I started on the fourth and last bush, something inside my back decided the mild warnings weren’t cutting it and sent a serious message. I begged John for help, and he got the last one out for me. Mind you, these were big things, even after the huge haircuts I’d given them the day before. And John was just trying to work on his vegetable garden in peace. I think this was the day I went inside and begged him to get me one of those old oxycodone pills I’d kept since my back surgery several years ago while I forced myself to be still, but the frenzy is all blurring together now.

15 - 4 (3)

Yes, that’s a gnombie. And an unplanted electric dog fence. #howweroll

The next day I moved the heavy edging blocks into place and built a nice garden area on that side of the deck, mirroring the other side. I moved 25 of those things, and yes I counted through the pain. I also didn’t worry too much about leveling anything, because ouch, screw it. And the day after that I was out buying replacement plants, nothing too tall of course, we must be able to see my fire oasis from everywhere. Then home to plant, a little more mulch, and… Next project!

A landing in the yard by the deck stairs. Someday (soon is likely) it will lead to all the pathways I’m going to make. It was a bigger project than I planned, and my math skills failed me. My wonderful husband spent part of last Saturday running to the store with me for more gravel, and then later by himself for more sand. At some point, he gently tried to tell me one more time about his vegetable garden, and I finally snapped out of this crazed thing I was/am in enough to say oh, crap, I kind of suck, sorry. Then I went and mulched the “island” we’d created last year. And the next day I devoted to helping him by cleaning out the veggie garden area and making a much better looking spot for his new worm growing project among other things. See, the good news is John is also always making big plans, so as annoying as I may be, surely he has to understand at least a little!

15 - 17

The dogs grooving on our hard work.

Yesterday we finished the landing. John was much more involved, and I think full of forgiveness because I finally helped him like I should have all along. Of course, there’s more to do, more more more. This morning I announced to him that my back was really pissed at me and I planned to do no heavy lifting when I got home from work. I may or may not have been lying.

See, the one thing I can’t seem to get enough of is this crazy hard work/progress sweat. It stings my eyes, curls my short hair into some sort of bad 80s perm look, smells ranker than the middle school locker room, and feels… amazing! I look around in wonder at what just a month or two ago was just a mess of dirt and some crappy bushes, and I think, wow. I think holy shit. I made this. I mean, John made it too, but I’m sort of glowing in the I can do it mode of someone who only ever dug holes to play in the mud before this. I’m a steward, I’m growing things and growing myself, and no wonder I’ve been acting like a crazed lunatic, it’s addicting as hell to create and nurture.

15 - 9 (1)

Birds’ eye view

Did I mention the birds? They love us so much. Sunday John asked me, over coffee on the deck, if I’d seen any hummingbirds yet this year, and I said no, not yet, and five minutes later I heard this noise, which I rudely compared to our largest dog Snoopy passing gas, and there it was,  feasting at the feeders John had hung with homemade nectar. I couldn’t get a picture, but I succeeded in scaring it off. By the time John came out with more coffee five minutes later, two more hummingbirds had visited, and I knew what their chirps sounded like. How had I not noticed that sound all these years?

15 - 5

Hops and hummingbirds and Buddha :)

Anyway, there’s a lot of metaphors I could put here, which is what I usually do. But the truth is, taking care of nature feels exactly like taking care of nature, and taking care of myself feels like that too. I’m always all too aware that I have lost the chance to raise my daughter, and I think maybe all of this madness has come from rediscovering that I have a lot to offer to the world. I am nurturing, something I’d allowed myself to stop even trying for far too long. I’m good at it, and I’m loving it. Someday maybe I’ll show her all the things I’ve grown into since she left.

In the meantime, there’s some pathways to build!

Yes, that says "live worms" - cracks me up!

John’s veggie garden. Spray paint says “live worms” – cracks me up!



I lie all the time. I tell people I’m fine. Dandy. I mean, sure, there are some hard times, but you just gotta breathe. Go with the flow. I seem so wise, right? I mean, even *I* believe that I’ve got it together sometimes.

Well, that is until my tooth hurts so much I can’t chew, or let any water flow to that entire side of my mouth, and the dentist, who I took two weeks to call, says well dear, you’re cracking your molar from clenching your jaw shut all the time, that’s very bad. And then I get fit for a night guard, and told to use it during the day too when I can, because this isn’t just a night thing, hasn’t been for a while now. And the dentist, who FINALLY pronounces my name right by the way(!), says wait, your kids are all out of the house, what do *you* have to be stressed about.

And so I lie again, and say absolutely nothing that I know of should be stressing me out, I can’t understand it myself (which wasn’t really a lie, because I’m just dumb sometimes). And I go home and my own guts start to try to kill me with (ahem) very unpredictable and unpleasant behaviors. So I wait another few days, miss a day of work, and finally get my butt to therapy, where truth happens in spite of my best damn efforts.

Headaches, jaw clenching, gut issues, messed up shoulders and neck. Hmm, what do we have here? Well, it might just be stress. Let’s look deeper, shall we?

Oh my, the stress isn’t just simply daily stuff getting to me, it’s me trying to hold back anything, no, everything unpleasant, which works fine for a little while until the stuff all builds up and I’m trying to dam the whole ocean, which is really a terrible idea as it turns out. Scratch the surface of the dam and I start to leak, and please pass the tissues and just hold on tight because this might take a while. And I’m drowning in sorrow which is NOT depression (phew, for now), but still sort of just, well, awful. And it’s all this close to Mother’s Day when strangers ask about your kids, and friends ask about your kids, and why is this stupid holiday a thing anyway?!

I miss my kids, all of them. But mostly, I miss my girl, because I can’t even say hi to her and get a hi back. And I miss the promises life made to me when I pushed and pulled her out into the world, the ones that said I’d have a hard time with this one, she’s stubborn, and I was excited to suffer the future because I could raise her in love, and it was an adventure and I was up to it. I was, and I am. I was ready for the work. I wasn’t ready to lose the chance, and I’m lying whenever I say I’m fine about it. I’m not fine. But I’m okay. Or I will be okay. Or I’m lying again.

Either way, doctor’s orders, I’m working on a self-care regimen. My go-to method of coping is to not cope. I don’t know how to focus on myself for very long, and it makes me all weird and self-conscious. I don’t know if I should be around people or alone. I don’t know if I should write, read, or just watch re-runs. I don’t want to get a pedicure and I don’t think it will help, but oh I really do need a decent haircut. And some clothes that fit this stress-fed body. But but but I don’t know how to start. Also, where the hell did I put my night guard?

Treading water

Day 25: Write an across the sea poem

Treading water


If life is an ocean then I need swimming lessons
Because my head keeps going under
And I’m not the biggest fan of salt
But I’m still out here treading water
And breathing deeply in between the waves
Wondering if I’ll know when I’m ready
To just let go and feel my body wash ashore


~ Liesl Dineen 2015


Day 16: Write a science poem



She takes a breath, as deep as she can

And as her muscles contract she pushes

From places she only knows in dreams

Things are happening around her, noises, movement

But she is the push, only the push

And the sweat and the shaking

Somewhere inside her head she knows

The science of it all, the words

Somewhere there’s a plan that she wrote herself

But she no longer speaks that tongue

She is an island of becoming

And can only feel the waves

That push her faster and faster

Toward her making and her unmaking

And into the greatest mystery

That science and man will always

Fail to explain


~ Liesl Dineen 2015


Day 15: Writer’s Digest prompts us to write an adjective poem. “Pick an adjective, make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem.”



I’m trying hard to keep it real

But sometimes the walls turn all liquid

And some piece of me just walks out on the rest

And heads for the woods to search

For something I lost years ago

I don’t know what I lost or what it looks like

Because I’m stuck inside forgetting

I can’t grasp it in my fingers or my head

But I wonder how many pieces of myself

Are out there wandering in the woods

And what will happen when I finally find

What it was I lost so irresponsibly

So please I’m begging you forgive me

When I look like I’m not here with you

I swear to you with everything I have

I’m trying hard to keep it real


~ Liesl Dineen 2015

Target practice

Day 6, prompt from Writer’s Digest (http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2015-april-pad-challenge-day-6)

“For today’s prompt, write a things-not-as-they-appear poem. Poetry is filled with metaphors, similes, symbols, and layered meanings, so this should be a softball prompt. If you’re struggling, look at your current surroundings, pick an object, and turn it into a metaphor for something. Or think of somebody in the real world (mail person, gas station attendant, etc.) and make up a secret double life for them. C’mon, you can do this.”

For Ace.


Target practice


You are a bow, it’s your job to let go

Every arrow flies all on its own

Just focus and aim, carefully stake your claim

All you launch ends up right where it’s thrown


Don’t look at clocks, when opportunity nocks

You will get a new point with the shaft

Ignore what is past, best not dwell on the last

Every shot makes a new final draft


Sometimes it’s a feather, or maybe the whether

There’ll be something you cannot control

Settle down with your quiver, know that you can deliver

Just by noticing you have a goal


~ Liesl Dineen 2015


[Part of a five-day art challenge in February]

Sometimes you have to
Put away the thesaurus
And put away the rhyming dictionary
And just let the words
Into one another haphazardly
Like a tangled knot of puppies
Wresting feverishly until they fall
Exhausted on the ground
In need of a healthy helping
Of mother’s milk
And a nap

Sometimes you have to
Let the storm happen
With the sky dark and swirling
And just let the words
Violently on the shore
All criss-crossing chaos
Full of push without pull
Until the moon reaches out
And stills their defiance
Bringing them to heal again
In waves

~ Liesl Dineen 2015

practice never makes perfect

[Part of a five-day art challenge in February]

There’s some things you should know
And I’ll try to start slow
But sometimes things speed up the longer I go
No, it’s not for show, it’s just, well you know,
The way that things shift
When they blow in the breeze
And puppy love feels when it knocks at your knees
While it frees your poor mind
From rewind and despair
Bringing back care
So you make the switch from repair to replace
Because your saving grace
Will be facing today with no leftover traces
Intention is everything here
So dear grab a beer
And sit down in this now
Think about how you can manage to breathe
Make a vow
To let go and let flow take its course
Use no force
Drop your shoulders, those boulders
That you muscle ache through
And forget about me
And forget about you.

~ Liesl Dineen 2015

Sunday prayer for inner peace


To be an elephant, unchained, unhunted, free
Born into the belonging and the breadth
Of trails to walk and streams to visit, of family

To be closer to whatever gods are watching
Than we, glaring upward from freshly-mown divisions
Demanding retribution for petty crimes, can conceive

To swallow such grace that it fills my sharp edges
And leaves my dried-up skin of anger and rejection
To decay under the weight of heavy feet and abundant souls

~ Liesl Dineen 2015

Outside the lines

I don’t believe in lines
In the sand
Or lines in time

I don’t believe in clean slates
And Mulligans without memories

But there’s always room
For more layers

And every moment
Every breath, every thought
Covers you like skin

Rebuilding you again
And again
And again

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

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