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Weather-wise, this summer was the best one since we moved to Ireland. Otherwise, it was the most miserable one. I certainly had some good times also this year, but as I mentioned in my last post, I had high hopes in the beginning of the summer that we were looking forward to better times, and then the Delta misery came and took all hope away from me. However, let’s ignore that and talk about what was good, or at least interesting.
In the garden
Most plants in front of the house seemed rather unhappy this year. We had cold weather for a long time and quite late in the spring. When plants started growing and blooming, everything was sort of… scarce. The butterfly shrubs have been slow to grow and haven’t had many flowers, and the potentilla bloomed in May and then stopped. They just recently started blooming again.
However, the roses – although they’re in front of the house – were the happiest I’ve ever seen them.
The roses have grown so much this year that I had to move the Gertrude Jekyll to another location – but in the same bed. When I first got it, I read that it can be a shrub rose OR a climbing rose, and it seems it has decided it wants to be a climber, no matter how I cut it. So now I’ve moved it to an area where I can let it be a climber.
The plants behind the house instead – they have been happy!
The catmint has really been thriving, but I need to move it elsewhere next year because this box really is too small for it. That’s a good thing though! And I’ve found a new type of bumblebee (carder bee) that I didn’t see here last year. That makes me happy.
This is a perennial I bought this year that is quite nice, but I need to give it more TLC next year. Much of what I put into the new planting box was to test how they would behave, and many of them are too large for this area. This one should be fine in the box, while I’m going to move the catmint and sage to a new garden bed down the hill.
I decided to stop cutting the grass at the lower area of the down-the-hill part of the garden. The insects have better use for that area than we do.
Oh, the blog. How I’ve been rambling with it this summer. I was unhappy with the setup, mainly because of overthinking but also because I decided, yet again, to try to get into freelance writing, and I needed to have my blogs “look good” – so I tried to somewhat follow the current ideas of what your blog “should” look like, while mostly keeping the content in my style. What BS. I don’t even like most blogs that follow the “blogging guru guidelines” format.
However, in July I decided to ditch a lot of things I’ve been
wasting spending time on, and after that I fixed up the music blog and kept a small, simpler, website to share photos in case I would want to do that. I felt fine about it, but couldn’t find ANY inspiration to write, not even about music.
Lately I’ve been settling down with all that. I’ve quit the “blogger shoulds” ideas, and found peace with doing my own thing.
I have some affiliate links now to try to make some small money on the blog if possible. Probably a mixed topic blog of this type won’t get any high traffic, but just in case I happen to inspire someone… the banner link is there. It’s a company I’d promote any day and I’ll always have reason to talk about them from time to time.
Regarding the freelance writing, for various reasons I ditched the idea. But it’s possible I’ll get some writing jobs for a Swedish company my sister works for, and that’s fine of course.
This summer was difficult music-wise. I had lost my practise routines and got obsessed with certain techniques. This meant I practised these techniques a lot, which has led to improvement, but also that I’ve sort of lost the joy in practise. However, we’ve had many enjoyable jam sessions in the kitchen, we started our YouTube channel, and even played music with some friends one evening in July.
And a couple of weeks ago we went to a bluegrass festival! What joy! The weather was amazing and the location couldn’t have been better.
I’ve renewed my subscription at Artistworks to continue studying bluegrass guitar, and in August I signed up for a second workshop – bluegrass vocals with Michael Daves. I’ve just barely started but it’s already making a difference to my singing! He’s a very pleasant, inspiring teacher, an excellent singer, and seems to be very supportive and friendly. Last night my husband came across another workshop also run by Michael Daves – it’s on Zoom and covers the history and development of bluegrass vocal styles, we’ll learn ornamentation and other techniques, classic songs, and there’ll be good discussions etc.. how could I not sign up for that? Doing such a thing on Zoom is super scary, but I don’t care! This will be so much fun, so good for my singing, and a very good challenge. It’ll also give me something positive and inspiring to focus on, something I really need right now.
The downside is that obviously this teacher is in the US so the classes will take place in the middle of the night for me. But I used to be a night shift worker, so I can do it! A nice coffee after dinner and I’ll be fine. I’m really looking forward to this!
The inner game
My guitar teacher frequently talks about a book that originally was intended for athletes – about performance and “that voice” that tells you you’re not good enough, you should have done better, you will fail, and all that. This gets in our way and hinders us from reaching our potential, perform well, learn, and much else. It definitely is a big problem for me and also after I started working on believing in myself, “that voice” stops me from doing a lot of things, I still get into episodes of negative thinking and self-doubt, and it definitely gets in my way when I try to improve my skills, in any performance situation, and when I record myself, especially when I try to make videos for my guitar teacher for some reason.
There is a series of books about the inner game. The inner game of tennis, The inner game of golf, The inner game of music. I found some workshops on YouTube as well.
I bought The inner game of music recently on Apple Books, and started reading it this weekend. This book certainly will improve my experience of playing music, as well as my photography, design work, and most other things I do. The concept “the inner game” refers to your thoughts and how they get in your way. It describes your “self 1” that tells you that you will fail, and then “self 2” that includes your true potential and abilities, that are endless unless disturbed by “self 1”. The concept describes ways to understand how to quiet “self 1” and be able to relax, focus, learn, and perform well – and to get into what is named “relaxed concentration” – from the definition I see it as the same as what I think of when people talk about getting into the “flow” state. I’ve only read two chapters so far but it’s already making a difference. I think all the books are available on Apple and I saw at least two available on Google Play, and then obviously in traditional paper format. I think The inner game is relevant to all of us, it applies to so many areas of life!
We made a new video for YouTube on Saturday, and in the middle of my solo my thoughts started spinning and I started to get nervous about making mistakes. Then I thought of what I had learned from the first chapters of The inner game of music, ignored those negative thoughts, and just played.
The video isn’t perfect but I felt that it’s the best performance that I’ve ever done. Next video will have better image quality – I’m exploring different webcamera options right now.
With the good weather we’ve had, I don’t mind having the autumn upon us. In fact I’m looking forward to it – at least until the storms arrive!
See more bloggers at Denyse Whelan’s #Lifethisweek, that has been going for 5 years now!