Express Your Mess: The Wild + Cultivated Way

My daughter, moments before a "weed" let her blow wishes into the wind...

My daughter, moments before a "weed" let her blow wishes into the wind...

This week, I'm writing from the heart. Or said another way, I'm writing from the wild within.

I never come to you dishonestly, but I sometimes come ... filtered. Prepared.

Those ways of conversing aren't bad. Those words might be more coherent than the following will be. Those words do offer a contemplated message with powerful inspiration behind and within them. Those words are valuable.

But / And honestly, creating and shaping and revising and editing those words for that type of expression is exhausting.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just this week. Maybe I'm being lazy or not a "real writer". Maybe next week, I'll come back to you with a beautifully prepared, easy-to-read, super-impactful string of paragraphs.

Or maybe ... just maybe ... it's time for all of us to get a bit messier. It's time for us to get a bit more raw, a bit more honest*, a bit more in touch with our wild within.

(*To cut this off at the pass, I'm not talking about cruel, don't-care-how-it-affects-another-person type honesty. You know, the kind that is spewed all over social media these days. I'm talking about honesty within and with yourself, and a vulnerable honesty with others that radiates from that practice.)


My fingers have hovered over my keys for a good 10 minutes now. I'm on my second cup of coffee. (It's a tiny cup, she says, justifying each sip.)

We are living in messy times, no?

Whether it is a cause or symptom of the collective mess, I've noticed that almost everyone I talk to is an inner mess as well.

It certainly isn't anything new to feel uncertain, overwhelmed, or as though you aren't fitting in (to your culture, this world, your family, etc).

But these days, we are living in a world that offers us unparalleled amounts of perspective. You can hear stories from around the world with the click of a button, read hundreds emotions and viewpoints (soft and harsh) within a span of minutes by scrolling, witness countless "reminders" of who you could (or should) be in just a few pages of a magazine or in passing just a few city signs.

There's a lot of noise.

There's a lot of mess.

And there are a lot of individuals (99% of us, I'd guess) walking around, adding to this mess because we were born into it and know no other way of existing.

For example*:

You are born into a home where, if you are lucky, you are given instruction on what to do. (How to walk, how to not touch a hot stove.) You move into a school system where you are given instruction on what to learn. You graduate into a world where you are given (implicit) instruction on what to do: earn money to purchase shelter and transportation and food and a cell phone. To do this, you enter into a work environment where you are given instruction on how to behave, perform, and - if desired - succeed.

(*I fully acknowledge this is one example from my perspective, from my tiny spot in the world, from my society + culture.
Billions of others are born into far different messes than this.

At some point, you probably question why this instruction is the way it is. You might feel bored by it, or confined by it, or angry about it. You might feel alone in your questioning.

You might reach your "mid-life crisis", which is when the "acceptable" time of questioning occurs. Now is when you are supposed to freak out and wonder what life is all about and lament that you've followed those instructions for so long. You buy some fancy new car or quit your job to run off to a new adventure or keep it all inside and just keep chugging along. There still aren't the clear answers that you were given as a child and throughout school.

All the while, the inner mess remains.

One guess I have as to why? Because the mess is our nature. The mess is our wild.

And we struggle with that because we believe that the mess is wrong.

Perhaps a mess is only one because we call it so - just like a weed is only such because we designate it as one.

Case in point: The definition of a weed? "a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants."

I looked that definition up after I came up with the analogy and now I've blown my own mind. And I have to pause again in my writing. And get a third cup of coffee. (It's a SMALL CUP.)

The wild, growing where it isn't wanted, in competition with what is cultivated.

Pause with me and think about that.

Then read on ... (This might not go in the direction you assume.)


I could now encourage us to live wildly. Maybe, at another time, I will. It's our nature, right?

But I happen to think that cultivation is just as beautiful and necessary as the wild. (Wait, WHAT?)

I adore the look and scents of a wildflower field.

I am equally enamored with a beautifully manicured English garden with intentional and winding paths and intermittently placed benches for resting and taking it all in.

And I love the raw, playful nature of a mind unfiltered - a being who gives no fucks what the world may think of their quirky existence.

I equally love the centered, calm woman who has spent decades in the playground of her own mind, who has tended to it with delicate care, who shows up in the world with an honest and cultivated presence that is intoxicating to anyone around her.

Neither way is inherently good nor bad.

What I do notice is that in our centuries of learning how to cultivate - how to provide instructions and seek answers and order and rights and wrongs - we have come to view the wild as undesirable at best, something to be feared at worst.

In so doing, we are always seeking answers that don't actually exist - answers that instruct us how to fully cultivate the wilderness. We look for the answers that will tame our pain, erase anger, confine sexuality, sculpt bodies, and soothe discord.

Yet the weed still sprouts up between the sidewalk cracks. And we find ourselves frustrated by such disorder. So we make a product to kill it, another pill to soothe it, an additional program to overcome it.

All the while, the inner mess remains.

You know what I think?

It's time to express your mess.


So what is this messy, yet refined way of being? Well,

A Wild + Cultivated Environment is a fascinating one in which to live.

It's one where you plant flowers in rows and shrubbery, trimmed into neat little balls (or perhaps animals) ... and where you don't fret over and try to kill the weeds that pop up alongside.

It's one where you wake for work each day ... and you sing out loud on the way to that job and indulge in dessert at lunch just because it's Tuesday and shout across the street to the stranger to let them know how much you LOVE their hairstyle.

It's an environment where logic and emotion are explored and expressed with equal value and respect.

It's an environment where much-loved-but-never-worn dresses or stored-away costume jewelry pieces are worn in the minivan and at the Saturday morning soccer games.

It's an environment where powerful 16-year old teens speak their truths with emotion and ferocity in places where unproductive talk and platitudes are usually the rule. (Thank God for those truths being spoken.)

Are you still with me?


When you think about expressing your mess, I'm guessing a lot of resistance arises.

Fears of how you'll be seen, uncertainty over what happens AFTER you express yourself, a clinging to the comfort of a cultivated life.

I can't tell you what is best for you. But I'm starting to feel more and more these days that I know what is better for us. Because of that, I'm just inviting you to consider that maybe ... just maybe ... it's time to get a bit more honest about your mess and to take responsibility for your inner tending.

Maybe everyone else is longing to do so as well, and if you start, they will follow with gratitude.

Maybe you've spent far too long cultivating and rejecting the wild that the wild is now threatening to overtake you ... and maybe if you let it out bit by bit (like slowly opening the lid on a shaken-up, carbonated drink), you won't explode.

Maybe the mess isn't bad. Maybe it is just who you are. And who I am.

And God, wouldn't it feel so good to just BE??


A final thought about this: Expressing your mess is going to look and feel MESSY.

It's funny how we've even cultivated the concept of unique self-expression, of being "wild".

There's the wake-one-morning-and-quit-your-job-and-run-off-to-pursue-the-adventure-you've-always-wanted-to-do type of wild.

There's the toss-your-old-wardrobe-and-wear-deeply-unique-clothes-all-the-time type of wild.

Those wilds are awesome for the few that they fit. But you can't create wilderness - you have to discover it.

I'm certain, if you think about it, that you have some sort of idea what being wild and free looks like. It might be a good idea to run head-on into that idea and completely mess it all up like a toddler running into a playroom. Destroy that concept as thoroughly as the toddler destroys that room - so that your mom would walk in five minutes later and be so overwhelmed that she just turns around and walks right back out.

A Wild + Cultivated life isn't something with a specific look. It's more steeped in a way of feeling (that usually ends up looking chaotic - not like the pretty, pulled-together wild that those few unique individuals create). And it is constantly changing.

Embrace the mess.

These seemingly conflicting desires you have, the wild or dulled emotions, the despair and never-ending hope, the love and the hate, the relief of clean countertops and the frustration of laundry piles ... the days that feel amazing and the days that feel deeply painful ... it is all part of LIVING.

We are all tending to our own inner messes. As we practice expressing the messes, it's going to look comical and terrible and frustrating and FEEL vulnerable and uncertain.

And as we practice cultivating in and around these messes, it's going to feel sacred and beautiful and weird.


Side note to ponder:

We are going to have to move a lot slower with our expectations in order to live like this.

Just wanted to throw that in there in case you didn’t have enough to contemplate.


This entire spread of words above has been an example of a Wild + Cultivated practice. I set my thoughts free. I went back and pulled a few weeds (those things that I didn't want) and challenged myself to leave some of the more non-pretty things alone.

Today - what will your Wild + Cultivated practice be? In what tiny little way will you express your mess?

Let me know....

(Leave me a comment or Join us in the conversation HERE or HERE on Facebook to chat with others about these ways of living)

Here's to our practice, one breath at a time ... and maybe with just one more cup of coffee. (Don’t judge.)

Lisa WilsonComment