On fear, finding your focus, and getting back to the Garden (Yoga style)

Those of you who follow this blog may have noticed that if it weren’t for Bad Joke Mondays happening, you probably wouldn’t hear much from me. There’s a reason for that.

Reason being: I’m suffering from Pudding-Brain.

That’s the technical name for it. It’s the rambling, jacked-up mess of ideas, fears and imaginings that clogs up your creative flow during a pandemic.

Anyhoo, I figure the only way through it is just to let it all out. So, apologies in advance if this comes across like a rambling, jacked-up mess of ideas, fears and imaginings. Right now, it’s all I got.

First up, I have to show you some pictures of my garden. This is where I go when I’m feeling particularly jacked-up. It grounds me. Often, literally.

Of course I’ve told you of the birds we get here. Did I tell you about our cute little chipmunks?


Man, if only I had the focus of these two cats watching a chipmunk…

Feline concentration

They sat like that for over ten minutes. Seriously, ten minutes! Of course, I only know that because I watched them for ten minutes, so…

In their defense, our chipmunks do seem more brazen this year. Coming all the way up to the patio, climbing up on the chairs. Hanging out and taking it easy.

The other day, I think I saw one with a margarita. I could be wrong though. It could have been a mojito.

Speaking of jacked-up ideas, have you ever noticed how keeping up with politics makes you lose all faith in humanity?

I mean, I used to be of the opinion that we all wanted the same thing, just had different ideas on how to get there. And I’m pretty sure I’ve used words to that effect on this blog.

I no longer think that. I think there are people who want very bad things and could care less how they get them. And I think we have people like that in positions of power.

And yeah, I know, there have always been people like that in positions of power, but I chose not to think about it. Only now I’m sitting at home on account of my work hours getting slashed, watching cats watching chipmunks and keeping up with the news, so now I’m thinking about it.

You know how in the creation story where every day God makes stuff and says it’s good and then on the sixth day makes humankind and says it’s “very good”? I’ve been asking God if he wants to take those words back, but so far it doesn’t seem likely.

Anyway, been baking a lot of bread lately. As in, A. Lot. Of. Bread. Even cast my lot in with the Sourdough Community.

You know things have gotten serious when a person turns to sourdough. Sourdough isn’t a recipe. It’s a relationship.

This takes commitment, baby.

sourdough bread

Really proud of this one: Sprouted Wheat Berry bread with walnuts and cranberries, made with no commercial yeast. Not even in the starter! (Find the starter recipe here.) By the way, this bread makes the best toast.

That’s my starter in the jar next to the bread. I found out a lot of people name their sourdough starter. One woman calls hers Herman. (Herman is over 20-years old.) I’m considering naming mine either Bertha or Agnes. (Thoughts?)

Let’s pause here a moment and just consider how marvelous sourdough starter is. Just flour, water, and the wild yeast that’s in the air. Amazing, is it not?

Honestly, our world is so fascinating. Even if at times it can be downright scary.

sandwich bread
Sandwich bread – with no commercial yeast!

Back to something sad: my phone showed me “One year ago” in pictures. They were from last year’s Synod School… which was cancelled for this year.


These were the classes I was going to take but now can’t (wah!):

  • Yoga: Vacation Style
  • A Divine Madness: Mysticism and Mental Illness throughout Christian History
  • Demolition Day: Deconstructing Gender
  • Synod School Concert Band

I could have gotten some great blog posts from those, don’t you think? Alas, it was not to be.

*shakes fist in air*
*has another slice of toast*

I’m hoping they’ll repeat the courses for next year. (I’m hoping there will be a next year?) Meantime, I continue practicing my clarinet with the idea of a Synod School Concert in my future.

Yoga though — I need that now more than ever. With the gym still closed, I looked to YouTube (we can access it on our TV).

Ever hear of Yoga with Adriene? I hadn’t, but she’s quite the sensation right now. (Apparently the pandemic is proving beneficial in some quarters.)

I’m on Day 19 of her 30-day Challenge and in my estimation, she’s deserving of the hype. Her voice is very calming, she’s easy to follow and already I can feel myself getting more flexible and toned. My breath is stronger too, which helps me on the clarinet so that’s cool. She can also be funny and will sometimes break out in show tunes.

Best of all, each day of the Challenge you are given a word to focus on. A few days ago the word was “Return” and I liked the way she introduced it. I’ll try and paraphrase it for you:

People often come to yoga wanting to achieve something, whether it’s a goal or just an image of themselves as a healthier person. But consider this: the yoga practice is not a means to turn yourself into something that is not already there. Whatever it is you seek, it is already there inside you waiting to be revealed — waiting for your return.

Pretty deep for a YouTube video, don’t you think? I got to thinking about this in terms of my faith.

By the way, if you’re new to this blog, this is who I am. My regular followers have learned to put up with my God-talk. (Thanks guys!)

In nearly all religions, not just Christianity, there’s this word “Repent.” It’s been bastardized over the years and turned into something terribly unappealing. It’s not about getting slammed with guilt and rending your clothing. It means to turn back. The path you’re on is not good, you need to move in a different direction.

In religious terms, turn away from where you’re headed and turn back to God.

And I’m rephrasing it: Return to what God created us to be: Good. As in, very good.

See what I did there?

I think this applies whether you’re religious or not. Where we put our focus matters — whether it’s toward chipmunks (nature), our homes, our loved ones — these things are vital for our souls.

So while it’s important we stay abreast of the news, it’s even more important we remember to breathe and focus on the good.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. –-Philippians 4:8 (NRSV)

But just so we’re clear — I am not saying for one second that we pretend nothing is wrong and turn a blind eye to injustice, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Quite the contrary. True religion… true love… true goodness leads to action.

And if that sounds like I’m turning into a hippie… well, I guess I should start shopping for bell bottoms.

Because we gotta get ourselves back to the Garden.

And so ends my ramblings.

You’ll have to excuse me now. I’ve got some weeding to do in my garden…

34 thoughts on “On fear, finding your focus, and getting back to the Garden (Yoga style)

  1. I wanted a ‘love’ button for this one, but there is only ‘like’, so it will have to do I guess.
    I’ve been working on ‘Back to the Garden’ on my ukulele (Joni Mitchel version; CSNY is too complicated for me). Calms my hippie soul when the panic of our current reality hits from time to time.
    – Elise
    (I also love Yoga with Adriene. She’s awesome!)

    1. Thanks, Elise. Our hippie souls find union with Joni, even after 30 years.
      And yeah, Adriene is the best, right? Her video has become my favorite part of the morning… well, after my first cup of tea, of course.

  2. I think your blog is a good place to dislodge your pudding brain. Covid has really turned us upside down and I hope we learn from it, but it has also brought tremendous hardship, despair and tragedy to the lives of so many. I keep wondering at the spotlight it has shone on the stupidity, selfishness, and egotistical behaviour of a lot of us, too. Covid has not brought out the best in some people. When I start having all these thoughts rolling around, I get the pudding, too. 🙂
    You have a beautiful yard with lots of kitty entertainment. 😉

    1. You’re so right on that spotlight shining on our worst actions. I’m hoping there’s a bright side, that maybe people will be forced to deal with those negative traits and make amends. Though I’m not naive, our ability to rationalize our actions is pretty strong. Even so. I have hope.
      Our kitties are in full agreement with you on their entertainment channel. Several windows, no commercials!

  3. Loved this! You and I are on the same planet – just not sure what planet that is right now. Anyway, I have been saying that about turning back into a hippie and being more natural. So true about the chipmunks. They run right over your feet these days and seem to think they own the place. I have even had issues with birds flying at me.
    Lastly, my first concert when I was 15 happened to be the first tour CSN did without Neil Young and Joni Mitchell was a surprise guest and guess where it was …. Madison Square Garden! I had know idea that she really wrote that song – very cool!!! xo

    1. We can be hippies together! So much more fun when you’re not alone. 🙂
      Secondly, I forgot to mention how brazen the birds are! Yesterday I had to refill a feeder and a woodpecker was at the feeder next to it. I stood there waiting for him to fly away, but he wasn’t having it. He actually let me walk up next to him — I didn’t try touching him though. That beak looked sharp!
      Thirdly, I’m so jealous! My first concert was the Beach Boys at the Arizona State Fair. My friends and I made it through two songs before one of them got sick and we left. To be honest, I wasn’t disappointed. It was so crowded, loud and hot, I was feeling a little ill too!

      1. Speaking of hippies, I find myself looking at the pretty flowery, flowy dresses. I don’t think I ever saw the Beach Boys? But honestly, i can’ t remember all the concerts I saw for reasons we won’t talk about on here. 😉 Maybe the same reasons you were feeling a little ill. I was not a good teenager! xoxo

  4. Once again, you’ve presented us with another wonderfully-balanced take on things. You testify and teach instead of proselytize and preach. (If that makes any sense, and no offense to Hubby, it should be noted. I think you know what I mean.)

    I want a chipmunk. I don’t need one, and Cleo the Cat will riot, but that thing is so dang cute!

    I want to bake more bread. Fresh is so much better. But as you can attest, bread-baking can be an intense process, and I just don’t have the focus.

    But I’ll be right there with you at the resale shop, The Faded Roach Clip, picking out gently-worn bell bottoms and humming Joni Mitchell tunes…

    1. I asked, Hubby is not offended. 😉

      The chipmunks are every bit as adorable as the picture shows. The cutest thing about them is when they get mad about something — say a blue jay is messing with them because blue jays are badass — the chipmunks start… well, chipping. There’s no other word for it. So cute!

      You sure you don’t want to become a baker? Pounding the dough, the aroma of it baking, there’s no greater stress reliever.

      A friend showed me how you can take a normal pair of jeans, slit the outer seam up to the knee and add a triangle of cloth for DIY bell bottoms — we could add a flower print! FLOWER POWER! ☮️

  5. It was great to read your mind dump on all this going on. Where some people in this country are coming from I just don’t get at all, but I’m trying to understand – not making much progress.

    Your yard is beautiful and obviously an excellent place to take refuge and find solace. I commune with my yard every morning and evening. We have about a hundred hummingbirds converging on our two feeders – it’s a madhouse. I watched two chipmunks on my bathroom windowsills the other day (mind you, on the 2nd floor) and they were hilarious! Since they’re Colorado rodents, most likely stoned, not drunk.

    We tore out a closet wall to rescue a mouse – yes, it’s true. I couldn’t call myself compassionate and let another one suffer. I’m really going round the bend, I guess. Time to texture and paint!

    That Joni Mitchell video is heavenly. Wow!💕😇😮

    1. Honestly, I’ve come to believe most people (especially in the U.S.) are driven by fear. They’re afraid of losing something, especially their security.

      You have more than one hummingbird coming to a feeder at a time?! We had one claim our yard in Phoenix and he didn’t allow anyone to enter his turf. They’d try, but he was having none of it.

      I love your mouse story — it made me smile! Though I can well imagine common sense played a role as well as compassion, right? You wouldn’t want a dead mouse in there! 🥺

      Can you believe she was 20 when she wrote that song? I don’t think I was that deep at 30!

      1. I agree that fear has become an operative factor in American life. Maybe that’s the curse of having too much to lose.

        We have two feeders and They are close together. I was told it keeps the Rufus ones from dominating and it does work. Not all 100 birds are at the feeders at the same time – they only hold 10 a piece, but there are many more swarming around waiting their turn.

        Unfortunately there were already many dead mice in that wall. But hearing a live one and knowing its fate was too much for me.

        I can’t imagine writing anything that good, even as I approach 60!

        1. Ironic, isn’t it? The more you have, the more you fear losing it. (Sounds like Scrooge!)

          Our buddy in Phoenix was an Anna’s — they’re a bit bigger than most and very vocal. I will always remember being entertained one afternoon as he hassled the sparrows who built a nest in our Cape Honeysuckle. Those sparrows were so damn angry, I’m pretty sure in bird-speak there were many F-bombs getting chirped! 😀

  6. What happiness! A huge dose of Christi pudding, a new sourdough recipe and Joni all in one email. Sweet!!! In our slice of the Western Slope I have deduced that the chipmonks have waged war against the “mini whistle pigs” across the road for rights to the fallen mountain apricots. During that chaos the hummingbird hens are conspiring against the dive-bombing males. I suspect (from all the empty bottles on the lawn) they all regroup together with hard lemonades after we’ve taken the dominoes in for the evening. Film at 11… Good to see more of you again, Christi! ❤ ❤ ❤

    1. As appreciative as I am of your praise (YOU’RE SO SWEET!), you really have me scratching my head at “mini whistle pigs.” After much contemplation (10 minutes is all I’m good for), my guess is prairie dogs? Am I close? 😉

      And may I just say, the image of your wildlife partying with hard lemonade makes your comment the most glorious one I’ve read in a long time. Looking forward to the film adaptation!

  7. I love this post, Christi! Agree with the comment above that you “testify and teach” as opposed to “proselytize and preach”. And the pics of your yard are wonderful! What a sweet spot that must be to hang out in!

  8. Those chipmunks are very cute, your garden is pretty and you are wonderful. Gardening will ground you and return you o what matters in life – growth. Chipmunks (and cats remind you that life is fun if you focus on the “now” each day. Love your post Christi, stay safe.

  9. Getting ourselves back to the garden…:) Great Woodstock reference and couldn’t be truer these days..:) Of course bread always makes anything better. Stay well..:)

  10. I love your photographs and drawings and Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and the rest of CSN… I’m so glad we had the best music for the best generation. Start with the Beatles and don’t look back… jc

  11. Regarding the creation story, when it gets to the part of man being “very good”, you ever wonder who’s writing this creation story down? Yeah. Spin doctors, even back then. If God wrote it, it’d probably be in N-dimensional physics and man would be about on the level of viruses. Now dinosaurs… 😉

    Perhaps the writer of Philippians was a hippy. Wearing robes and sandals, and grooving on positive affirmations.

    1. There are those who say we are on the same level as viruses and bacteria, so…

      As to the write of Philippians (Paul), would you believe he was in prison at the time and facing death? Yet it’s probably his most positive, groovin’ writing of all his letters. Which just goes to show, sometimes it takes losing everything to find your hippie soul. 🙂

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