It's been a while. Between spurts of outlining and drafting my next book, I've been spending so much of my free time in the garden, lately. In the pics (clockwise): a new pink Hydrangea to compliment the blues. And I've already forgotten the name of the top right... gladiola? Then, a young Japanese Maple. And an old remnant of fallen wood from many years ago. I used to sit on this warped log as a young girl and set out piles of flowers and treats for the fairies. Yes...it started young. So, I'm just delighted to have freed it again. Perhaps, my son will enjoy sitting on it now, dreaming his own dreams. You know, I often get funny looks when I blither on about the garden... (is there NOTHING you'd rather be doing?) Well, there are actually oodles of folks who love gardening, for different reasons, but I'll tell you why it's so good for me, because I like to share.
Here's what I know: I am someone who loves beauty. That's what it is; when we boil it down. As much as I can feel into the world and the trauma and pain that exists, I also see and experience beauty in the world, and now I am enhancing that. I am creating a beautiful life. I like beautiful food. Beautiful music. Beautiful scents. Beautiful souls. Beautiful eyes. Beautiful smiles. Beautiful landscapes. Beautiful moments. Beautiful joy and passion for life.
"Planting a garden is to believe in tomorrow..." - Audrey Hepburn
And I suppose, much like writing, or any art...I'd like to harness the beautiful ideas from my head, my dreams, my heart...and create them, physically. It's simple. And it brings me peace. Sanctuary. When we are spiritual seekers, dreamers, believers, doers, creators...we can often get lost in the ether. In the awe and magnificence of things. The magic and wonder. The connection. Or, it can be the reverse. We can get lost in the dark, as well, and in the momentum, the wants, the greed, the desires. Getting grounded is vital. Working with the earth, respecting each creature that comes to visit...the birds, the insects, a rabbit here and there...it connects me to my soul, to everything, in a way that I can't describe. It brings me home. It quiets my mind. It's...healing, for me. Getting dirty up to my knuckles, feeling worms wriggle between my fingers, witnessing the color and beauty of each new flower, shrub, stone...it reminds me of who I am and where I came from. It fills me with gratitude. The cool earth balances me, much like the water does. Also, I've always been a self-proclaimed "black thumb." But, I've been rediscovering myself lately.
I thought I hated seafood. For my entire life. And now, oysters are one of my favorite things to eat. Who woulda thunk it? So, I figured...let me try the gardening thing. And guess what...I love that, too.
In my reading about different cultures, religions, traditions; I came across shadow energy. What this means is... there may be things that we fear or have a strong dislike for. So we avoid them and dismiss them entirely, without understanding them. Extrapolate that...to anything. Experiences, situations, people, animals, insects, anything that we see as a dislike or aversion. This is the shadow energy, and it presents us with great opportunities...it challenges us, confronts us, repels us or ignites us in some mysterious way. So, I've found that if I have a predisposition toward something, instead of a natural curiosity, as it should be, it becomes a challenge to investigate whether I really feel that way...or whether it was something that I made up about myself, or about the situation...who knows when, based on who knows what? And so it was, with seafood and gardens, among other things.
"No man ever steps in the same river twice; for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." - Heraclitus (or woman...just saying.)
Seafood...was a fear of the unknown, mostly, but also it was a texture issue that I had as a child. I've grown past that, and realized...it doesn't all taste the same. Some I still don't like. Some I really do like. Gardening... was a patience thing. When I was younger, it seemed like a waste of time to spend hours moving dirt around, or I'd forget to water the plants, and so on. Now, I find indescribable peace in it. So, I would recommend to anyone to try things again, if you can't explain your dislike. Our tastes can change, or we could just be full of it, stuck in a story.
The other great thing about my new love for the garden and putting my hands into the earth...is the reminder, that she is our Mother. And working with her, knowing her rhythm, her responses, her preferences...is life-changing. How? Well, in honoring and showing reverence for Mother Earth, we are reminded about the feminine side of divine energy. And what came to me...out there in the soil...is how important that is. A mother nurtures, provides, loves, sustains, teaches, and heals us. And in return, she should be respected, cared for, tended to, valued, and appreciated. Do you see where I'm going with this? What does that say for how we treat our planet? Are we respecting our Mother, who has always sustained, fed, and nurtured us? And in the microcosm, are we respecting our women? Are we valuing, protecting, and caring for our women? And women...are we valuing and loving ourselves, setting healthy standards, are we celebrating our gifts, or hiding them? Are we respecting the feminine energy within all of us -- to nourish, nurture, emote, lift up, heal, inspire, and love each other?
"Let us dedicate this new era to mothers around the world, and also to the mother of all mothers -- Mother Earth. It is up to us to keep building bridges to bring the world closer together, and not destroy them to divide us further apart." - Suzy Kassem
This is why it always starts within. If we know who we are and value and cherish ourselves, as we are, and we are open, caring, generous, and nurturing with ourselves; we can then send that love out. To heal. Heal each other, lift each other up, empower each other, walk with each other...and maybe our dear old Mother Earth will get a spa day and some needed love.
The hard truth is...she will be fine. Our planet will do what it needs to do to heal, with or without us. But we need her: We must bring back the balance. Let's create a beautiful, nourished Earth. Where food is grown -- naturally, beautifully. Where each species, including humans, can co-exist in harmony. Where the power of God and Love is revered and honored, but religion doesn't divide and destroy us. Where the circle of life, the balance of all things, is respected, honored, and practiced. Not perfection, not utopia...but a healthy, sustainable balance. That's the best that any of us can ask for, and work toward. For ourselves, for our home. For tomorrow.
What a few days it's been...
I took a much needed detox from social media, among other things, and wow...what I've missed.
I was severely saddened to read about Prince leaving us. What a unique and expressive soul. But rather than write a soliloquy to Prince, as the Internet now drips with memes, videos, slogans, articles, and quotes that honor his life...I will just say that I'll enjoy his music, all memories from my youth, playing on the radio in memoriam.
Anyway. I have been OUTDOORS lately. It's been absolutely lovely in my neck of the woods! So, in my near-separation from social media, which did me a world of good, I have reconnected to my heart: nature. The green Adirondack chair in the photo below, is my favorite spot. I call it my Walden chair. I just sit there and let the birds sing their secrets. The wind fills me in. The treetops sway and lean, and come back to center. They're flexible. They bend, sure...but they bounce right back. And my birds...Cardinals, Blue Jays, the Robins building their nest in the old pine next to the garage. I had a little bunny hop by today. I name every wild "street bunny" I see, Nacho. I don't know why, it's a thing I do. So, Nacho the bunny sat back: his little nose twitching a thousand beats per minute, nibbling some crab-grass. He was watching me break up sod and turn some dirt over this afternoon. I didn't have my camera, then. I never have it ready when my animal friends show up...maybe...they just know. He only stayed a few minutes, anyway.
So, I finished up my project today. Four glorious, back-breaking hours under the sun, covered in dirt. And I've never felt more at peace and inspired. Warm sun, fresh breezes, the sound of the birds, my hands in the earth, relocating grubs, keeping the worms (earthworms aerate the soil, they're keepers.)
I now have a bed of freshly turned and nourished earth, ready for planting...to let Mother Nature do her thing and turn bulbs into flowers. It's a bit early, for this area, to do a full planting of crops or flowers (I still bought two potted plants, though. Stubborn I am)...we might still get a snap of cold air. But bulbs? They get tucked away, covered by the soil, and warmed by the natural fertilizer (I found an awesome non-GMO, all-natural, non-toxic mix to feed the soil with. Forgot the name, but they exist. No contaminants, and safe for creatures that might visit your garden. Including curious toddlers.) The bulbs are protected from the elements under there, and come summer, we'll have lush, colorful, vibrant dalias, lilies, gladiolas, and I can't even remember what else. But I am excited to bring the life and beauty of these blossoms and blooms into the backyard. Next month, veggies. :-)
I had used the rest of my basil-in-a-bag from the grocery store, and there was a root-bulb at the bottom. So...yes. I stuck that in the dirt. I hope it regrows more basil!
So friends, beyond soaking up the sun, breathing deep, trying out a new restaurant called Thyme (outstanding!), I don't have a whole lot of profound or exciting things to report to you. But here is the sum-up... I did learn a few things this week, continuing along my self-love month (I think really, this is just how I'll be now...even when April stops):
1. Train Trouble
A friend of mine gets her hair done with some sort of special treatment...and must go to Queens to get it done. She told me all about her recent experience... She took the train (LIRR, which was already running 7 minutes late) to change at Jamaica, and found out on the Jamaica platform that the connecting train would not be stopping at Woodside, due to an emergency on-board. But...my friend's hair appointment was in Woodside. NOW WHAT? She was already running late because of the first train.
She waited for the emergency to be sorted, pacing, checking in with train personnel...nervous, annoyed, frustrated, the works. She thought about just going back home, or calling a taxi, or finding a bus...but at the very last minute, as the doors to the departing train began to close, she heard the train worker yell to her, "they're stopping at Woodside, they cleared it up!" She ran in, quickly.
She arrived in Queens, and found the location of her hairdresser. However...as she approached the building that she'd been to so many times before...she found it was closed; boarded up. She shook her head; confused. Once again, she was ready to give up and walk away, back to the train...and just go home. But simply out of bewilderment, she turned around. She did a complete 360, and viewed the whole area. Her hairdresser...had moved directly across the street. She dashed in...and was first in line for her hair treatment. She was quite pleased.
What if we didn't worry? What if...it would still be there, whatever IT is? What if we just relaxed into the train ride and enjoyed the scenery, without watching the clock? Would we still get there? I think so. Did the frustration and pacing make the emergency on-board get resolved more quickly? I don't know. I doubt it.
The more I learn about life, people, motivations and communications...the less I know, in general. Truly.
What I do know...is that we can become addicted to these screens. The messages, the statuses, the videos, the interchange...at times it feels like a whole other world, another layer of existence interlaced with this one. It's immediate, it's thought-to-thought. Instant gratification. But...it's not. We are living in the matrix folks...take a few solid days away, with no contact, no status updates, no flashing screens and so on...and see what happens to your mind. To your headspace. To your own, personal freedom to think and clarify and understand yourself. The Internet, just like TV, and all the rest...can brainwash us, if we let it. The more you ingest, the less you think for yourself. Don't get me wrong, it's a great tool. My mother lives in another state and I love sharing photos with her, for example. I have friends spread out across the globe, and Facebook helps connect us. There are positives, to be sure. It's the culture of addiction that worries me. A world of folks who'd rather read and repeat than understand and make a choice. Go wild and think for yourself...it's thrilling, liberating, to live life answering your own questions.
And how vital and important it is for us to interact with each other, face to face. We are losing our social skills to machines, and I think it has huge implications for the younger generations. I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to go frolic outside, just because I love to. We are all different, and different things motivate and drive us. But we need to keep our social skills alive...whatever your interests are, even if you're spiritual. And I'm not one to judge...maybe for some...God, magic, connection, and beauty, are found in cyberspace. Maybe that's the most adventure they get, due to other limitations. For me, it's all found beyond. In the natural world and in the silence of the mind. This is where the divine flows through and inspires. For me.
I am very grateful for those parents, and I know that you're out there, who insist upon outdoor play, playdates with other children, throwing a ball, going to a museum, etc... At the risk of repeating myself, I say again...I think digital technology is important and a great tool for us. But not at the expense of our social skills, of knowing how to have conversations, of knowing how to make eye contact with people. Sharing a smile. Laughing. Crying. Uniting for a purpose.
I have a friend who once told me that he would rather stay in a room all day connecting with his social media friends, than engage the outside world. And, to each their own, to be sure. But I think we have a responsibility to the next generation to lead and model healthier behavior than that. To breathe in life, to gaze at the sky, to appreciate natural beauty. To support and visit our parks and fresh-air spaces. To know what a praying mantis looks like. If our kids don't care about the natural world...why would they be motivated to help us clean it up? Why would they want to help us heal Mother Earth, if they never witness her majesty?
So, it's fitting that my learning curve is centered on nature...for Earth Day.
It was delightful feeling the fresh earth in my fingers, the worms wriggling, the grass beneath my knees, the wind in my hair. I am grateful to have the opportunity and the perspective to enjoy such simple things. I feel blessed that I am someone who feels at home outdoors, not everyone does. So I'm grateful for that connection. Oftentimes, I don't even need to sit and meditate. Just being outdoors does this for me. It plugs me in, clears out the cobwebs from my mind, and helps me to regain clarity. Focus.
Thank you, Mother Earth. You're beautiful and exquisite, and like a great mother, you know just how to heal me. I'll take better care of you, from now on. I'll do my part. <3