Tangled Up In Blue And Green

I’m not a planner. I am a “jump in with both feet and see what happens” kind of person when it comes to anxiety projects.

Okay, not just projects. Life in general. Normally, this is where I say that my approach hasn’t worked out too well for me, but I don’t think that is fair.

I am here. So my approach can’t be all bad.

I talked a while back about needing a project. Having a that project requires repetitive motion is my “go to” when anxiety burns like an unholy fire.

I thought I would start with a painting project, but ended up gluing beads to a wire plant stand.

It took a few months of gluing stuff to things, but I did get it done. The final product doesn’t much matter, it’s the process that I need.

I have been told many times to try meditating. I have tried. I have tried so hard. So far, this is as far as I’ve gotten with meditation:

This is dumb.

How am I supposed to think about nothing? I can’t think about nothing. I can’t think about fewer than ten things at a time. I’m never going to get to “nothing”. I don’t think I can get to seven.Β 

I’m bored.Β 

What I have learned, if I occupy the part of my brain that won’t cooperate with meditating, I can at least come close to a meditative state. At least I think I do.

I feel more calm when I’m done and the obsessive, circular thoughts go away.

My finished product might look like the work of a toddler.

I do not care.

My plant stand is gaudy and messy and doesn’t match anything I own, but to be fair, I’ve never been overly concerned about shit matching, so it’s all good.

One evening, as I glued little plastic beads to a wire plant stand, I was reminded of my mother.

I grew up in a ramshackle house owned by my mother’s aunt. We lived in Covington, Ky and could see the Cincinnati skyline from our house. Well, very nearly.

I had neighborhood friends, but my school friends all lived in a subdivision. All the houses were the same and had rec rooms and the basements weren’t terrifying. They also didn’t live directly in front of a cemetery. I wanted to live where they lived so bad.

The living room ceiling and the walls by a big window were water stained. We lived in our house for free and were poor, so obviously, hiring a contractor to fix the damage wasn’t going to happen.

This was the seventies, so all the colors were earthy and there were a lot of stripes. My mom stapled yards and yards of blue and green and black striped material to the walls and over the ceiling to cover the water stains. In retrospect, I think it probably looked really cool.

At the time? I thought it was the most stupid thing ever. My friends had houses with pictures of windmills and waterfalls on the walls, not funky blue and green and black striped material. At my friend’s houses I saw things like Hummel figurines and rec rooms that had wallpaper with playing cards on it. Β At my house, they saw art projects in various stages and a TV with a wire coat hanger for an antennae and a pair of pliers to change the channel.

It occurred to me the plant stand color scheme was the exact same color scheme my mother chose to cover our water stained walls.

Do I think I did that subconsciously? Probably not. I had a loose idea for color scheme, but the bead colors available at the grocery store played a part in that decision.

I don’t care if I meant to do it or not. I’m glad they’re the same color scheme. I am glad that gluing stuff to things triggered a memory that ended up being good and comforting.

I’m going to have to start a new project now.

I took Randy back to Pennsylvania this weekend so that he could help out a family member for another week. I am glad he is there to help, but it’s hard when he’s away.

I think I will do something that doesn’t require the use of a glue gun as I would like to give my fingertips a break from the constant burning.

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  • I find art meditative too. And ironing and washing dishes but I don’t jump to do those. Need to find more time for art and less for Twitter I guess. Except for you, of course. Keep ’em coming…

  • Try knitting or crocheting. It’s repetitive (once you learn, which isn’t hard), and you also have a useful object when you are done. Knitting has saved my sanity more than once

  • Well I think it’s pretty…and good for you for finding a project. I too have a problem meditating and my daughter is a yoga instructor and teaches meditation. So I keep trying…I lay there and look at the ceiling and think, the ceiling has a crack..but I do it! Just keep trying!

  • I take a pottery class. Well, series of classes, but it’s the same instructor and it goes for eight weeks then there’s a break of a few months between them. Everything I make is stupid and looks terrible, but the important thing is that it all starts with a process called “wedging”, which is really “beating the shit out of the clay to get all the air bubbles out”.
    It’s the one thing I’m good at and it’s therapeutic.
    I had a point here when I started, and it’s something something cool plant stand.

  • This is so relatable. I love activity that forces the mind to walk, not rum. It reminds me of doodling while you’re on the phone to keep from interrupting.

    Thinking too about your observations of the past and how you bring them back as needed. Your relationship with life is inspiring and I’m not kidding.

  • Meditation is what you make it.
    Like religion.
    And God, for that matter, in my opinion.
    And in my experience.
    I couldn’t meditate for shit, but I was really good at the Yoga ending, Shavasana, the corpse pose, so I had something to work with.
    That’s when I started exploring ways to ‘quiet’ my mind while it whirled around with words and thoughts.
    My first writing class when I went back to college had the required ‘research’ paper, so I researched different ‘mind enhancers.’
    I wanted to use my research wisely and this was definitely something I wanted to learn about and to make a long story short, I now have a meditation process that allows my mind to work with the sound and color frequencies while I slow the blood flowing through my veins and allow the oxygen to even out my breathing.
    Just like gluing beads to a plant stand.
    Like it or not, you were meditating πŸ˜€
    The colors you ended up with, choice or forced settle, worked with your subconscious to calm you and even out your breathing.
    Blue is for slowing the blood flow and communication.
    Green is for healing and matters of the heart.
    Black is for repelling negativity.
    And I bet you had music playing πŸ™‚
    I LOVE your beaded plant stand.
    It represents your ability to recognize your distress, and, it snuck in a ‘Mama memory turned good.’
    That is what meditation is supposed to do!

    • I love this response. I agree that meditation doesn’t have to be done in the traditional way in order to quiet the mind. Of course, I don’t get my point across as well as Lisa K or you, Michelle but I hope you get the gist. I knit, as was mentioned before, play piano and have a horse on which I take jumping or dressage lessons as well as pleasure ride. All these activities require concentration (aka my kind of meditation) which takes me away from the worries and anxieties I put myself through. I am an amateur in all these activities. I have numerous knitting projects that are so close to being complete, yet remain undone. I often take them apart and start again just before they are wearable because it is the process of creating them that I enjoy. Anyhoo. I am rambling. The beaded plant stand is awesome. Namaste.

  • Stick a fern in it and it is a gorgeous living piece! Yoga and running and meditation do not work for me. I am a task needed to rest the mind person.
    I sew. Easy peasy projects, not quilts or clothes but fun stuff. I cook and bake. In summer I weed the garden. If the task seems less relaxing and more chore like, I put an audible book in my ears. Works for me!

  • Knitting is great for disconnecting the brain, especially if you’re not terribly concerned with producing anything. Just sling some stitches on a needle and get knitting, same basic stitch over and over and over and over – when you feel like you’re done, stop, and whatever you’ve got, decide what you want to do with it. Bonus: you won’t burn your fingers.

  • I took up crochet last year (with the help of one free class at our local library and a lot of You Tube tutorials). Totally relaxing, & meditative too, except you have to concentrate on counting stitches a lot of the time. But that, in itself, is very freeing. Keeps you from wasting thoughts on all the other stuff you can’t really do anything about anyway. And in the end you have something you can either wear, put under a vase, or give away. By the way, I love your plant stand, and the memories it teased out of the shadows.

  • I used to write in my journals when playing guitar wasn’t doing it for me. Those times sort of piled up and one day I found myself with a stack of full journals. I lost most of them in a “distressed” move, but I still have like five or six that I filled up since then.
    It’s a little funny, in the last one before my stroke, the time between entries keeps getting longer and longer, and one of them admits that the whole activity was being displaced by that internet thing I seemed to be using all of my “spare time” on. It’s title is “Chronicles of interrupted connectivity- why do I only do this now when the internet is down?”
    I would suggest learning an instrument, as the actual doing of it is very similar to what you just described (except that you don’t have an artifact when you’re through like you do with art or craft projects) but you’ve probably already thought of that. You could pick up a cheap-ass electric guitar from Craigslist and play it without an amp, which offers the dual benefits of being easier to play (less string tension) and not making your most embarrassing mistakes (which nobody cares about but you) into loud noises.
    Everything you need to learn is available for free on the internet, so you don’t need to pay anyone to teach you.
    It’s a bigger feeling of accomplishment than it would seem when you find yourself playing a song you actually like and have liked for a long time, and you never run out of new things to play or learn. That’s my two cents, anyway. My friend Jack used to try to persuade his non-playing friends to learn, and they would mostly say that they didn’t want to because “It will take me five years before I’m any good at it” to which Jack would reply “OK, so where are you going to be in five years if you don’t?”
    I like your plant stand. My friend Zsuzs is moving, and she has this whole garden of plants and large wood chunks (stumps and the like) and we are storing it for her in the back yard right now, and some of the things the plants are on are similar, with “found art” kind of things and stuff she made herself. The cat really likes it a lot, and that’s the most important consideration in any situation…
    So I hope your week goes well, you don’t miss Randy too much, and your anxiety cowers in the corner away from your total awesomeness…

    • Randy plays guitar and I’ve picked his up a few times, but I just don’t feel any real connection to it. I LOVE music, I listen all the time, but I don’t want to make it. I am so grateful for the people who do.

  • That is really cool! And even better that it brought back what is a happy memory. There are times when one doesn’t appreciate things at the time but after some removal, it serves as nice fuzzy thought. I can’t do crafts to save a life.
    My brain does not have an off button. I’ve heard to try meditating with a sound of water or something in the background. The sound of running water just makes me want to pee. And listening to Rage Against the Machine like has been my go to music lately would probably defeat the purpose of meditation.
    My brain does have a veg mode though. I use the fuck out of it right before bed or on rainy weekends. Veg mode unfortunately does not work at bedtime though.

    • My mom got me a zentangle book and I’ve been tangling ever since. I LOVE IT. I’m going to tangle a whole cabinet in my kitchen. I think that’s my next project.

  • I started woodturning (you know, on a lathe) a few years back in a continuing ed class at a local state college. It’s just incredible how zenned and zoned I get shaving off bits of wood and shaping a bowl or candlestick. Time passes and I forget all the shit back IRL, like a brief, restorative holiday.
    Look at all the creative things we all do to stay sane! You’re not alone πŸ™‚

  • I hear ya sister. That’s why I design websites. I can just zone out but having something to concentrate on (or try to). I have to say that growing up in a subdivision isn’t any guarantee believe me! I’d hate for Pat to be gone like that too. We don’t do well seperately. When I get all stressed out I say, I think I need to get in your front pocket. That means I’m feeling overwhelmed help!

  • I can’t meditate either but I can calm my mind from making lists by walking. The first few days my mind is active but then it settles down. Or the coloring! Find what works for you and do it.

  • I hear you on the need for a project. I have to keep busy. Busy. Busy.

    And wow. Your plants will surely do well in that colorful piece. They might even think they’re in some sort of tropical rainforest…or seventies disco den.

By Michelle


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