a milestone to celebrate

Last year, I wrote this post on this date and reread it this morning as a reminder for my soul.  Five years post surgery in the world of cancer or illness is something to be celebrated with much joy.  I am also embracing this milestone with much reverence and gratitude as I have known many who have not made it to five or who continue to struggle with disease.  ~cameron

This date holds a special anniversary for me–it is the day four-years-ago that I had surgery which unexpectedly also removed cancer from my body–a miracle of sorts.  In the last few years, I intentionally chose to walk (and even skip!) down some new paths on my journey, and here are a few things I’ve learned.

1.  It is never to late or too early to live out your dreams and passions.  This little farm has been my inspiration for this life lesson, and I do not regret the day I said, “To heck with the grass, I’m going all garden!”

2.  You are never too old or too young to ask for help.  It is amazing how free you feel when you surrender to the fact that you can’t do it all.  And hey, why would you want to?  It doesn’t leave you with any time to play, garden, or laugh.

3.  Being outside everyday is critical to our wellbeing.  There is nothing more healing than feeling warm sun or cool breeze on your skin or standing still long enough to observe a ladybug travel across a leaf.  Nothing makes me feel the magic of childhood wonder than experiencing a sprouted seed or woven nest.

4.  Important life lessons come from trying new things.  Forget the fear of failure and making mistakes.  Goodness, how boring would life be if we mastered everything around us.  Stretch yourself, think outside the box.  (And remember, you don’t have to tell anyone about it so what’s the harm?!)

5.  Live simply.  I work on this one every day.  It’s not a goal to be attained but a way of life I want to embody.

6.  Take time to “just be.”  Most of you know, this is my mantra.  There is nothing “slack” about taking care of yourself or taking a life “time out.”  In fact, it is probably one of the hardest things you may accomplish each day.  Mindfulness and contemplation create peaceful souls.

7.  Grace is available to each of us.  We all live in God’s garden, and God tends to each of us as needed.  It is more than having a second chance or a do-over; it is about a way of life, knowing that we are being nurtured to be the best we can be.

And so today, I will celebrate life.  I will plant seeds in the ground.  I will sing loudly to my favorite music (to my teen’s dismay).  I will run with my dogs, kiss my child on the forehead, put my laugh lines to good use, and create something just for me.  I will love and be loved.  And I will give thanks and say a prayer for the journey that brought me to this day.

holding a little piece of creation in your hands

This weekend, I will begin some indoor starts for spring and summer veggies and herbs.  It is quite possibly one of my favorite activities on this little farm, for it is humbling to hold a little piece creation in your hands and nurture the journey known as “life.”

This year, my order from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange arrived on Christmas Eve.  This gardening girl couldn’t ask for a better gift!  I love everything about these little goodies–their artistic packages, their earthy smell, their distinctive shapes and sizes.  Ask my daughter–when the seeds arrive at our home, I’m like a kid on Halloween.

Typically, I don’t celebrate the New Year by staying up until midnight or hanging out with friends.  You can usually find me on my couch with my gardening journal deciding what will be planted first and how I’m going to maximize the space in my little indoor greenhouse.  It has become a symbolic celebration of sorts, honoring my stepping into another year and a new season of growth.

By mid-January, I find that I am beside myself with excitement.  I cannot wait any longer, and I pick a weekend to begin the first starts.  Preparation is a bit of a ritual for me, one that is sacred and involves intention and mindfulness.  In its own way, starting the seeds is a prayer ritual just like canning.  It is not something to be rushed or multitasked.  It is an opportunity for me to celebrate the great Gardener and Creator and the invitation I’ve received to be involved in creation care.

seed starts supplies

As I sit here this morning writing this meditation, I find my spirit smiling and my heart peaceful.  What a delight and honor it is to engage in such a simple act but one that resonates so deeply in my soul.

 

 

 

rainy days got you down? ideas for gardeners on a rainy day

seed startsGod made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.  ~Author Unknown

It’s a cool, rainy  day here–the kind of weather that makes me want to lie on the couch and doze on and off, dreaming of warm, sunny days and veggies growing on the vine.  Sadly, however, the inside of my house beckons me.  She’s a bit jealous that I’ve been spending so much time outside recently.  It’s hard to justify indoor chores when I could be doing a number of outside tasks that fill my spirit.

So , what does a farmer or gardener do on a rainy day?  Here are some thoughts:

  • Get outside anyway:  Wet ground = Let’s transplant!!  All those great plants that are ready to split (lillies, hostas, iris, ajuga) will survive much better if moved to damp soil in weather that won’t dry them out.  You’ll spend less time having to care for them if you transplant sooner rather than later.
  • Plan your gardens.  Look out the window and think about where seeds might go or where you’ll put the new yard art your going to make from a Pinterest post.  Get out some paper and markers or colored pencils.  Enjoy it, be creative!
  • Speaking of Pinterest, get on there and see if you can find some great new ideas–vertical trellises, pallet gardens, yard sculptures.  Who knows what you can find to do with all those things you’ve been upcycling.
  • Plant some seeds.  It was a great day here to plant sugar snap seeds–wet ground will help them soften up so they can sprout more easily.
  • Start some seeds indoors.  Get going on those more tender plants that require indoor growth.  If you’ve already started seeds, check for dampness and size.  Make sure your seedlings aren’t overcrowding each other.
  • Try a little homesteading project.  I’m ran outside this morning and pulled up the mint taking over my kale.  Voila!  Time to start drying the herb for winter mint tea.
  • Pull out the cookbooks.  Get excited about harvesting all those great fruits and veggies by looking up some new
    recipes and putting sticky tabs on the ones you want to try.  They might even encourage you to grow something you’ve never attempted before.cookbooks
  • Pick out a new gardening/farming/homesteading skill and research it.  It is never too late, and you are never to old to learn something new.

So, next time you feel like the preteen who walks around saying “I’m bored!  There’s nothing to do,”  consider this list or challenge yourself to add a few other ideas.  And if you’re still bored?  There’s laundry to wash, floors to mop, and dishes to dry. . . . .  uh, huh, that’s what I thought.

lessons learned: simple living

Living simply was something I experienced as a child but lost somewhere on the journey to adulthood.  It included playing in the backyard, gardening with my dad, cooking with mom, and loving on my grandparents.  We climbed trees, visited with the neighbors, picnicked on Saturdays and went to church on Sundays.simple living

As a young girl, I remember the large garden in our backyard.  Dad used post hole diggers to make room for the long poles, then he used natural twine to make his own trellis between the poles.  Beans would climb the up the strands, and in the summer, you could smell the twine baking in the hot sun.

We planted corn on the left side.  The silk tassels tickled my chin as I’d carry arms full up to the back deck.  We’d sit out there and shuck it then Mom would boil it for dinner.

In the summers, we’d pick berries, and with purple fingers, prepare them for freezing or canning.  Canning wasn’t limited to jam but also included spaghetti sauce and pickles, lots and lots of pickles.

Fall brought with it leaf raking and jumping in piles in the front yard.  We talked with neighbors as we played outside on the weekends–that was easy to do because you didn’t have to yell over leaf blowers.

In the winter, we sat in our kitchen window and watched the birds feed on pine cones covered in peanut butter and bird seed.  Before upcycling was fashionable, Mom propped our Christmas tree against the the dogwood outside our kitchen so birds could perch and eat and keep warm.

Simplicity seemed to go her merry way as I entered college to prepare for my professional career.  Upon moving into the real world and learning real life lessons, Simplicity definitely moved beyond my reach.

At 40, I was determined to reconnect with Simplicity–having cancer and midlife occur in the same year will do that to you.  Thankfully, I have found her again, and here is what I’ve learned:

  • Simple living is available to anyone who is willing to make it a priority.
  • Living simply doesn’t mean you give up important things, it means you find out what is truly important to you.
  • Simplicity involves slowing down, appreciating the baby steps, and being patient.
  • “Simple” can be synonymous with “mindful” or “intentional.”
  • Simple living includes reconnecting with traditions and practices that bring you peace.
  • Living simply includes an appreciation for nature/creation and our role in it.

“Simple living” is more than a catch phrase on a magazine cover.  For most adults, it can mean to “just do” a little less and “just be” a little more, to get back to the basics or go “old school.”  Turn off the technology, use tools or equipment that doesn’t require electricity or gas, and clean out the clutter, then be ready–you won’t believe the amazing gifts that will be waiting for you.