Gratitude Moment: A Child’s First Seed

Just when I thought gardening could not bring me more pleasure…insert child!  Ok, maybe not ANY child, but it’s certainly true of gardening with my niece.  I had a little taste of this last year when my neighbor’s little girl “helped me” with the bamboo extraction project….which elevated the experience from pure drudgery to something more as she laughed with joy as she repeatedly climbed and slipped down a pile of dirt.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to introduce my niece to gardening.  I’m not sure how much she really understood but you could see the wonder and excitement in her eyes as we gathered our tools, seed packets, and pots and started playing the dirt.

SFS1The first project was to fill her pot with dirt. After she chose her seeds she soon realized she needed a bigger pot, which was even more exiting because she got to select another pot and move more dirt!


Then she used her brownie pan as her square foot garden guide.  Given the size of the seeds she was actually placing 1 or 2 seeds per slot was impossible…which really wasn’t the point…it was fun just trying ( a perfect lesson of enjoying the process over results).


With the seeds placed and the pot watered she chose the perfect spot and placed her label.  Then we put away our tools and started our clean-up (of course while singing the “clean-up” song).


I can’t tell you how good it felt to introduce my niece to gardening and to show her how to plant her first seeds.  The gift for me was seeing life revealed through her new eyes.  Everything became magical…from picking the tools from the wonderous array of options hanging in the potting bench area, picking the seeds from the pile of colorful options in the seed box, to the amazement of just moving gravel with Aunt Cathy’s rake.

It can’t be said enough how much we can learn from children.  I am so lucky to be exposed to these lessons through my nieces.  When life becomes overwhelming, when work becomes stressful, when I start to “worry” about the future instead of “experiencing” the present moment – all I need to do is visit my nieces –  and pay attention.  If I do this with the open heart and mind of a child, I always come away with a different perspective and a renewed love of life.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

– Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki

Wrapping up 2012

After my post Accepting Life Unconditionally back in September, I had a short burst of posting activity and then fell off again…2012 has been a tough year…major ups and major downs.  As 2012 draws to a close my goal for January is to update folks on all of the major projects I started last year and to start planning for 2013.

I began this blog with the intent of documenting my journey into Biophillic Design, the “understanding the human-nature connection and designing with that in mind“.  My focus has been on my immediate surroundings, my house, and neighborhood, and my community.

Given the massive personal changes that occurred in my life during the last 9 months, my journey has been more inwardly focused than I expected it would have been when I started this in March. The turn of the new year offers a fresh start, if even just a calendar event, it gives us the opportunity to review the last year, appreciate and show gratitude for the happy events, accept the hardships and take the lessons offered from both into the next year.

When I look at the last year at the highest level I have definitely begun to shape my physical surroundings to be more in sync with Nature – which will be the focus of my upcoming posts. But the biggest lesson for me from last year is to live in sync with the Natural Rhythms of life. Birth, Death, Love, Loss, Gratitude and Acceptance.

Gratitude Moment: My Body and 10 Tons

I live in the Pacific Northwest (USA), and despite what anyone might tell you (they say we lie about the rain to keep peole from moving here), it rains here ALL THE TIME.  The weather has afforded me a rain induced break from my outside activities for which my body is grateful.  As I’m documenting this journey via this blog I can more easily reflect on the last few weeks and marvel at how my body has kept up with my demands.

I broke my toe (yes it’s a toe – but I really broke it – in a couple of places and where it attach to the rest of my foot) back in February. I broke my toe a week before a trip to Spain for work, bad timing to be sure.  But even though it was very painful, my body stepped up to the challenge and helped me navigate that trip and the next few months.  I’m also just outside the grasp of  THE PLAGUE, which knocked me down for a good 3 weeks.  I started this spring project after being inactive for the better part of 3 months.

These last 2 weeks in the yard have been slower than usual due to The Toe and The Plague, but my body has come through and then some.  Instead of getting down on my body for being sick or slower, I truly appreciate what I’ve been able to accomplish.   Things that normally would have overwhelmed me, I’ve taken bit by bit, and the reward has been well worth it.  After the 1st day of clearing I thought that I wouldn’t be able to move the next day (or maybe ever), my arms and legs were shaking with muscle fatigue.  I literally collapsed.  I woke up the next day a little stiff but I actually felt fine and was able to do even more.

Between Clearing, Irrigation, and Raised Bed Building – I’ve moved over 20,000 pounds of “stuff” in the last 2 weeks (really over about 5 days).  That’s pretty stunning to me – 10 tons!  Bricks and dirt for the irrigation were at least 6 tons.  I calculate the wood for the beds to be about 2000 pounds total and I’ve moved that wood at least 4 times – which is another 4 tons.  During the clearing I moved 100 sq. ft of wet plants, I have no idea what they weighed (a lot).

Needless to say, it’s a remarkable number to me when I add it all up.   Also, most of the work has called for deep knee bends to save my back (lots of crouching), which has asked a great deal from my knees.  My back and my knees are doing great and ready for more!

I want to take this moment to thank my body for always being there for me…for better or for worse…despite my abuse and neglect…

“M2R” Practice Opportunity: Admiration, Jealousy, Anger, Regret, and Self Loathing

I’m presented with many opportunities throughout my day to practice my “moving to the right” philosophy.  Just last night, while doing some research on vertical gardening, I ran into a blog of a young woman who just graduated from Mechanical Engineering school, and while in her first year of employment became accurately aware of the incongruities of how she was spending her time and what she really cared about (totally resonated with me).  So…she made a change.  She was laid off, which helped, but she chose to not go back into that life…at least right away…and now is travelling, blogging, and just exploring her interests and passions.

OK…here how I reacted (simulalated timeframe: approximately 10 seconds to get to self loathing…another 5 minutes to return to admiration):

  1. Admiration (5 sec):  Wow – that is so cool – good for her!  I’m going to follow her blog, she is inspiring!
  2. Jealousy (1 sec):  Damn…how lucky is she…I wish I would have done that…(day dreaming inserted here)
  3. Anger (2 sec):  Wait a minute…Why doesn’t she have to play the game and get a real job like the rest of us?
  4. Regret (1 sec):  I had that same realization when I had started out…I was compromising and I knew it…but I did it anyway
  5. Self Loathing (1 sec):  Ugh…why didn’t I do something different back then?  Was I too fear driven?  What was wrong with me?
  6. “M2R” PRACTICE (4 min):  OK…Breathe…Create Space…GET OUT OF THE PAST…take the focus off of MYSELF and put it back on HER.  What can I learn from this/her?  Remind myself that I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had, and mostly, for the people in my life, and my choices to date have made both of those possible.
  7. Gratitude & Acceptance (1 min):  Honest gratitude for the life I have and acceptance that I made the best choices I knew how to make back then…and I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be professionally.

This is just one example of how I can take a simple random encounter and almost instantanously jump into a “pain and suffering” loop.  These things happen fast, and they past fast, but I am trying to recognize them when they are happening and redirect my thinking – to make a habit of it.

Life Lessons:  Gratitude is Powerfull Tool & Self Acceptence sometimes hides in Uncomfortable Places