Introducing My Plant, Minty

I was feeling down late last night. I knew spending time with Minty would be just the ticket, so I put on an old movie, took out my paper and coloring pencils, and got to work on her portrait.

Minty smells good, especially when I play with her long, curly tendrils. When I spray her with water or give her a bath, she laughs and laughs and splashes me back with cool fragrant currents of minty-ness.

She is very beautiful and knows it, yet she is not conceited.

She’s laid back and relaxed. She accepts people, places, things and situations as they are, and is, therefore, very serene.

She was a sixties flower child in San Francisco in her previous incarnation. She wore flowers in her hair and dressed in long, soft, tie-dyed cotton maxi dresses and sandals. She wrote poetry and drew flowers. She was at the first Love-In and Be-In. Sometimes, when I’ve played “Abraham, Martin and John”, I’ve seen a little tear slip down the side of her planter.

That’s not to say she is a sad plant. Far from it. She just has feelings, and lets them come out. It keeps her healthy.

It cheers me up to see her each morning because she is so happy to be alive.

One day, I was dancing in the living room. Something moved me to dance over to Minty. I asked her if she wanted to leap her spirit onto mine and dance with me. As I continued twirling and dancing through the room, I felt her tendrils flowing from the ends of my fingers.

Last night, she told me it is part of my soul’s journey to learn to create a sense of wellbeing on my own, independent of other people’s opinions and treatment of me. I also need to learn to trust my own reality, even if the whole world denies it.

I said, “It’s so tough to do sometimes, Minty.”

She said, “For sure.”

I said, “I survived as a kid by pretending my family’s version of reality was real and true, and then almost coming to believe it–when the truth was my family was not reflecting reality at all. As an adult, it’s still hard sometimes to trust my own reality when others vehemently deny it.”

She said, “That’s how you know it’s a life lesson. It keeps coming up over and over again.”

I said, “It’s a drag, man.”

She said, “I hear you, sister. Just remember, it’s all about love in the end. It’s the only thing that matters. All else will fall away one day, but that. When you are feeling down or wake up in the night empty and sad, focus on love. Think of the things you love, the people you love. See them in your mind’s eye.”

I said, “You are so wise, Minty. But I just have to say—you are such a flower-child! Did you like that song, the one that goes, ‘If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair’?”

She said, “He wrote that for me, you know.”

I said, “No way!”

“Way!”

Isn’t Minty the coolest?

My Portrait of Minty

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Minty in Real Life

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Stresshead

Sometimes after people have heart surgery, their personalities change for a while. They might get depressed. Often they feel angry, irritable, or grouchy. Their tolerance for stress is lowered. They call it “Pumphead”.

Thank God, Jack’s personality didn’t change, although his tolerance for stress was reduced. I got him a new smart phone and he had understandable trouble adjusting to it after using a landline all his life. One morning, he was very frustrated trying to work it and began swearing. He had no idea he’d hit my speed dial and left a litany of swear words to greet me when I woke and checked my voicemail. Dear Jack. He was mortified.

If he has Pumphead, I have Stresshead.

It’s like my brain is overloaded and I’m in a kind of daze lately. In conversation, I become suddenly inarticulate. I reach for simple words and can’t find them. The ping of an iPhone-text startles me, makes me jump. Then I know I’m in survival-brain hyperarousal mode and my neo-cortex has gone a little dark.

I need to step back when that happens. Do some pranic breathing. Eat something. Do Trauma Releasing Exercises. Talk with Jack and tell him how I feel, how my body feels. Listen to certain songs. Dance. Do mindful meditation. Anything to let my body/brain know I’m safe and pull me back into the here-and-now.

The reason I’m a little freaked-out is because we just decided to move from Chicago to Arizona by September and I’ve been overwhelmed contemplating all I need to do.

We decided to get in the best shape of our lives—mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically—before the move, so we’re the least stressed doing this.

I’m pretty good during the day and early evening when I’m busy with workouts, errands, cooking, etc.

But late night has traditionally been the time I’m most likely to be hypervigilant or feel afraid and vulnerable. Sometimes it’s hard to shut my brain down then.

Last night was one of those times.

After Jack went to sleep, I felt agitated. My hypervigilance was on high.

All of a sudden, I heard someone singing “Vogue” in the living room. I immediately went out there to see what was going on.

It was Ivy.

And not only was she singing, but she was doing poses!

Who knew?

I said, “Ivy, I had no idea you could Vogue.”

She said, “I’ve got all kinds of abilities, sister. But let’s talk about you a minute. You’re nervous as a bug tonight.”

I said, “Yeah, I can’t settle down. I keep thinking about the move, like how can I safely transport you guys, where we’ll live and so on.”

She said, “You know it’s all going to work out one step at a time.”

I said, “Sure, but you know me. I get hyper when big changes are coming down.”

She said, “You’re hypervigilant-ing all the way across the country, girlfriend. You need to pull it in and deeply focus on just one thing, so you can rest later tonight.”

“I know, but what?”

She started posing and singing “Vogue” again.

I said, “Ivy, can I do your portrait?”

So Ivy posed for the picture below. While I drew and colored, she talked about all the wonders out west: the mountains, the billions of stars at night, the wide open spaces, the fresh air, the energy vortexes in places like Sedona, the shamans and energy healers, the wildlife. On and on she went, putting me into the most beautiful, dreamy trance.

Thank you, dear Ivy!

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