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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


Fractal Flowers

Everything is connected. At least, theoretically.

And even if it isn’t, we can pretend (or assume) that within the world of you and your you-ness:

Connections are everywhere.

This comes in handy whenever things get overwhelming. Or when your to-do list is seventeen million miles long.

Look at the garden.

It’s a beautiful garden. It’s the place where all your projects, hopes, possibilities, things that might happen and gwishes are growing.

But there are way more things growing in this space than you could ever possibly tend to.

Sometimes it seems like there isn’t any point in taking care of any of these flowers, when taking care of one means abandoning all the others.

Luckily, these are fractal flowers.

Also possibly magical. I’m not really sure how it works.

Here’s what happens.

You just decide.

Every time you lovingly, intentionally do one caring thing for one flower, something about that act and the process is secretly working to nurture and support the other ones.

Even the most sloppy, half-assed splashing of water in one corner counts. Fractal magic.

And so you keep doing just one thing.

Any thing at all, really. Just one thing.

Today I will not be able to accomplish the shocking number of things that are asking for my attention.

But each piece will count. And somehow it is helping the entire garden.

Getting the Playground ready for the cleaning crew will somehow — symbolically or otherwise — help clear out my head as well.

Buying a toothbrush will somehow do something for the upcoming Rally (Rally!).

Walking briskly around the block will somehow lead me to a clue which will reveal the insight that will make this weekend’s workshops better than they ever could have been.

Time with clients will activate underground creative processes and I have no idea what that will lead to but for sure it will end up being good for everything else in the garden.

So I don’t have to do everything.

Even though the urgency monsters say that actually I do.

One thing at a time.

Each thing activating, untangling, supporting and helping all the other things.

Even if I can’t see it or feel it. Even if it’s underground.

I’m going to let the fractal flowers do the real work, and I will do what I can, in the way that I can. Trying to trust that every piece counts.

Play with me? Thank you.

48 Responses to Fractal Flowers

  1. Eve
    Twitter: evejacques

    Oh, I needed this. Love to you. And praying for you to have a glorrrrrrious day. xxx

  2. Tori Deaux
    Twitter: ToriDeaux

    Oh Havi, this is exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve somehow acquired deadlines this month (Deadlines! Whose idea was this? I don’t *do* deadlines!) and I’ve been running around like a check-in chicken being chased by an iguana. I’ve been slowly doing small bits, step by step, trying to have faith, but the monsters have been making *such* compelling arguments about how I never accomplish things and shouldn’t obligate myself to *anything* and and and… well, you get the point!

    But this fractal flower garden thing? Love. The monsters love it, too! I can see them now, bustling around the garden tending to the soil, checking on the connections, smiling. SMILING! Sure, a few of them are a bit scary when they smile, but it’s well intentioned.

    Thank You, Havi. Thank you, Fractal Flowers! (It’s Just One Thing)

  3. Cathy
    Twitter: cathyyardley

    Oh, I love this. I needed this reminder.

  4. Kylie
    Twitter: kyliewriteshere

    Yes, this is the inkling I’ve been having lately. Even (dare I say especially?) when I’m deep in my practice of self-care, I’m working on my business.

    I go to acupuncture, and my routines become more routine-ey. I exercise, and my ideas get more invigorated. I journal, and I have an epiphany about the process I go through with each client.

    And always, always, I must remind myself: just one thing. Just one.

    *On another note, has Fractal Flowers been a fake band of the week yet? Because that sounds like the most fake-bandy sort of name I’ve ever heard.

  5. pearl mattenson
    Twitter: pearlmattenson

    Oh my yes— taking in the timeliness…
    gave myself a rally morning (RALLY!) and returned to the project I started at the Playground.

    The one thing I did, was make a list of the next 15 things that need to be done. And then I went into avoidance mode. and then I used some destuckifying techniques. (because somehow my project that I love became an iguana. huh?)
    Then I sent my monsters off to shiva nata training. (they are on hold with the airlines as we speak).

    And so now I am going to do ONE THING, and activate a fractal gardener’s force field: in it I know and trust that i am tending to the whole.

    thank you…

  6. claire
    Twitter: claireofRA

    Ah, like this one a lot. Very reassuring. Thanks!

  7. Mari says:

    Fractals!!!! These are a passion of mine! And what a fantastically fitting image. It works beautifully for where I’m at right now. And I love that I can be working on one thing and everything at once.

  8. Sami says:

    oh boy, urgency monsters and fractal flowers. These 2 concepts are so very clarifying. The idea of fractal flowers is so helpful, so hopeful. Once again Thank you!

  9. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    Ahhhhh… *deep breath*

    I needed to hear this. I need to believe this.

  10. Maryann Devine
    Twitter: maryanndevine

    The fractal flowers concept has really been getting me through my days lately. Work on one thing, or even DO one thing, and trust that the others are in process, too. Thank you!


  11. Imbrium
    Twitter: nerdknits

    This post makes my heart fluttery, in a good way. Thank you.

  12. Dawn says:

    I deeply appreciate the hope, and the visual image this gives me.

  13. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    Thanks you guys. That is VERY cheering!

    And I have to say… it’s helping me too. And even more than it usually does, so maybe some part of writing this down helped me internalize this stuff on a deeper level.

    Woke up this morning in a blind panic, reminded myself of fractal flowers and just DECIDED that the flowers would do their fractal thing this morning while I just worked on my One Thing.

    And you know what? I feel SO much better right now. It’s kind of astonishing. Yesterday I tried to do a bit of everything and give each flower one drop of water, and it was disastrous. Today I spent the whole morning with ONE flower, and for some reason I’m no longer worried about the rest of them. Trippy.

    Anyway, thanks for doing this with me. I love having company.

  14. Beth
    Twitter: bethwodzinski

    What a lovely, lovely thought. I have a hundred thousand things to do today, but will console myself with this thought as I do ’em one at a time.

  15. Mikeachim
    Twitter: Mikeachim

    So timely. Thank you.

    The art of single-tasking is so very neglected in my life. I pretend – I sit and open things up (books, spreadsheets, large notebooks with Dynamic Motivational Titles, etc) and flex my fingers in a clear let’s-get-cracking message to the world, I do that elbows thing that Olympic swimmers do just before they dive into the water, and…

    And by then it’s too late. The clamouring voices, the “Me me ME!”, the little hands in the air, in my head, the billion distractions and urgencies. They all derail me.

    I’m at the point where just One Thing won’t cut it. The only way I can unfog my brain and still my jitters is to do Just One Thing That I Love Enough To Obsess Over. A few things fall into this category – working on novel and radio script ideas, playing guitar, going for a run – but they’re by no means *all* the things I should be doing every day. The other things? (Financial stuff, career-development stuff, etc). My brain can’t get a grip for long. It’s like clutching a bar of soap with the rain coming down. The harder you grip, the further it’ll eventually fire away into the gloom…

    I used to be able to do one thing at a time. I remember. But then multitasking became this Big Thing at work, and computers made it easy to divide your attention until the individual pieces of your thoughts were actually too small to be individually thunk, and then really I lost my way.

    That said, this is helping: http://zenhabits.net/focus-book/

    But this is a personal challenge for 2011. To relearn to think in serial, not in parallel.

    I’m new here. You’ve almost certainly tackled this before. Pointers? Ta. :)

    • Karen J says:

      Thank you, Mikeachim – from a long time from now – for the notice-ing that computers have slivered our thoughts into such tiny pieces that ‘they can’t be thunk’!
      Hint, K: close most of those 247 tabs in 19 windows! And fersure, don’t open ’em all back up after you put the beast to sleep so you can sleep!
      Karen J recently posted… Little K at 5, or yesterday

  16. steph says:

    I saw my doctor this morning for a regular check-in/check-up, and in the context of one of the conversations we had, I said something to the effect of, “…and I’m not sure if this is related, but I suspect it probably is, because *everything* is related.” I really love this concept, in part because it’s so true. But I hadn’t metaphorized it into a garden before, and I like that even better. And even better still I love saying ‘fractal flowers’. :)

    Thank you, Havi!

  17. Sue T says:

    I really like the idea of connecting fractals to iguana piles as inside-the-house gardening!

    I *know* this is how it works in my (real) garden, which is waiting for it to get warm enough for me to come out and take care of it for the first time in three years.

    Some of my monsters are not so sure about this for gardening inside. But I’m going to remind them we’ve been doing a bunch of “just one” things this week and you can already see some very useful and artful changes.

  18. Christine Myers
    Twitter: ladychrismyers

    Click! Bing! Whiz-bam!

    Reading this immediately caused a gorgeous visual to spring up in my mind.

    I pictured myself in a flowy, goddess gown with flower in my hair sitting on an old stone bench in the center of a garden.

    The garden populated itself instantly with color and variety and winding paths, plots of order and ramblings of wildness.

    The best part? I was laughing, glowing with the abundance and the chaos and the myriad colors. . .I was totally okay with how much there was, even knowing I couldn’t possibly tend to each thing in one lifetime.

    As others talked about the effect on their monsters, mine discovered our garden and with wide-open eyes set off to do monster-distracting activities.

    And there was a general feeling of joy, acceptance, sovereignty and safety.

    Ahhhh. . .

  19. Cherilyn
    Twitter: Bikeblisschick

    Yeah, baby! It’s funny how often we need reminding about this simple truth. Thanks, so very much.

  20. Amber
    Twitter: AmberStrocel

    Oh, man, did I ever need this today.

    Today, I will trust that by making ice cream I am bringing space into my life, which will in turn help me in my goal to help others do the same.

    And I will trust that by going to sleep early, I am doing just what I need to do so that my 6-year-old’s birthday party goes smoothly this weekend.

  21. Rupa
    Twitter: theyogaofliving

    Your beautiful image of fractal flowers brought to mind one of my favorite of your posts, Havi, Nothing is Wasted: http://thefluentself.wpengine.com/blog/stuff/nothing-is-wasted/

    (Not exactly the same idea, but also based on the concept that things are connected and that every little thing we do is of value –so comforting and true).

    Thank you for sharing your process.

    Love always. x

  22. Ruthie says:

    You working on your stuff makes my working on my stuff less scary. And more pretty. I was at the dollar store and picked up a couple of glittery pinwheel flowers that remind me of fractal flowers just so I remember to take a deep breath and do ONE THING.

    Glittery pinwheel flowers (in my front yard!) now make me doubly happy.

    Thanks for sharing your process and shedding light on mine.

  23. Silvia says:

    This is brilliant! I’ve quit one of my part-time jobs due to complete overwhelming-ness and stressing-ness, but have felt so bad about it. But seeing your words

    “something about that act and the process is secretly working to nurture and support the other ones.”

    helped me let go of those negative and unhealthy feelings. Thank you.

  24. […] Brooks, The Fluent Self: Fractal Flowers, […]

  25. katarinka
    Twitter: katarinka

    Oh Havi, this is *so good*. I’ve starred it so I can read it again and again to remind myself of the concept of connectedness. I was working on a music project a while ago trying to convey this as well, and hit a bit of a road block, BUT this and a recent conversation with a friend has really given me energy again.

    Thanks! I adore you.

  26. […] to notice that there is trust and relaxedness inside me, excited because I know of the principle of fractal flowers – that working with one thing actually works on […]

  27. […] overwhelming projects all at once. Some of them are ladder-steps to each other, so tending one fractal flower in the garden will actually help me get to the others, […]

  28. Qrystal
    Twitter: Qrystal

    While reading this, my leg stopped twitching under my desk. I think it twitches when I’m trying not to think about all the things that I’m not doing but should be doing—ooo it just twitched again, twice, as I wrote that! Zing!

    But when my leg stopped, I felt a little more awake… maybe even more connected to what I will choose to do next, because (of course!) I know it will help with all the things I need to do. ONE is PART of ALL! You can’t have the ALL without each ONE inside it! (And yes, @Mikeachim, I agree that playing guitar can totally help with everything else!)

    I love @ladychrismyers’ description of the visuals invoked by Fractal Flowers, and I am in awe of the idea that these words can inspire such loveliness.

    What came to mind for me was something completely different: something about the mathematical nature of fractals. I started to write it here but found it getting crazy long, so I think I’ll put it on my blog instead, since my blog is in dire need of attention anyways. Just like everything else… twitch…

    Trying to think of the flowers! Since it’s winter here, it’s easier to think of a garden in the tapestry of my life, where each thread is connected through many flowers. Anything I add can be woven through anything else, adding extra colour and texture and completeness to the picture!

    Bless your beautiful thoughts!

  29. Sandra
    Twitter: sandrajapandra

    Man, that really hit the spot for me. Thank you!

  30. Cranky Fibro Girl
    Twitter: CrankyFibroGirl

    Just printed this out to post above my computer so I can remind myself of this all the time. Because otherwise I tend to get frantic (and even a bit manic).

    Thank you for this :)

  31. […] since I’m invoking the spirit of how you do anything is how you do everything to the power of Fractal Flowers (a shit-hot formula, if ever there was […]

  32. […] Her thought-process and writing is exquisitely attuned to the non-linear, intricate, multilayered, fractal-flowered nature of reality; hence, she understands the profound error and eye-roll-inducing horror of […]

  33. […] -Clean off your table. Make some space. That was a fairly non-scary way to make some room in my office, and then make some room in my brain by giving myself some clear, white space to look at. It was also a nice, non-scary way to practice choosing, and deciding Yes or No, and releasing things. Definitely a Fractal Flower. […]

  34. Meg
    Twitter: bemorefearless

    Aaaaah, yes! Of course! Havi, as I mentally fill up my weekend before it even begins, and panic that I cannot do it all, your fractal flowers come in and make everything alright.
    Of COURSE it’s all connected, and the conscious decision to let it be so is enough. A beautiful, beautiful image. Thank you.

  35. […] not perfection,” and that reminds me to move forward without obsessing over the details.  Fractal flowers are mentioned as well, but not by name.  Risk begets risk and action begets action.  Or, making […]

  36. […] discover Fractal Flowers and Perfect, Simple Solutions wherever I […]

  37. […] It seems so obvious in retrospect.* If I can’t find a good reason for choosing the next right thing, and if it’s not intuitively clear, the best option is to do something. Anything. And trust that even if it isn’t exactly the right next thing to work on, I’ve at least done one thing instead of getting stuck in an endless loop of stuck. Plus it’s likely that working on one thing actually helps me work on all the other things too. […]

  38. […] calling on the power of fractal flowers and trusting that the qualities here will ripple out those other doors I want to close. Dear […]

  39. Hannah_Savannah
    Twitter: Hannah_Savannah

    just read this back and read

    “each peach counts” instead of “each piece counts’

    and now

    Each Peach Counts

    is sooooooo my new colored playing phrase in my journaling book!

  40. […] invoking fractal flowers, Havi wonderful concept that reminds me that we are anchored in wholeness. And because we’re […]

  41. […] part of what Havi calls fractal flowers. This idea that everything is connected, and because everything is connected, working on one thing […]

  42. […] Brooks talks Fractal Flowers. Share this:More This entry was posted in Transformative Technologies by Eoin Keith Boyle. […]

  43. […] Brooks calls this “watering the fractal flowers”, i.e. being willing to ask yourself, “How will doing the laundry help me write this grant […]

  44. Karen J says:

    Fractal Flowers – oh, yes!
    Thank you – I will keep remembering that *I* don’t have to do everything to keep everybody happy. I don’t even have to do everything to keep Me happy – but I can keep working on it, little bitty steps at a time.

    ~ breathe ~
    Karen J recently posted… Little K at 5, or yesterday

  45. […] and compassionate mindset as I watched them bubble up from the depths of my psyche. I wanted to “water the fractal flowers” (as one of my favorite coaches says), use this time to get more connected to myself, and let the […]

  46. […] reminded of a concept I learned from Havi over at The Fluent Self website. She calls it “fractal flowers.” Basically it means that whatever you are working on or dealing with right now is secretly […]

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