Tag Archives: garden

From Intent.com: Grow Where You’re Planted

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The term “FOMO” has become a real thing for my generation.
It’s been defined as the “fear of missing out”. I think it’s safe to say we can always assume there’s something we’re missing out on, we can’t be everywhere all the time, but never before have we had such a visual reminder of all those things. Social media makes it really easy to see just how green the grass is on the other side. Continue reading

Is Your Life A Super Highway or a Garden Path?

gardenSo many of us feel like our lives are a race – a dash. We are sprinting through the events of our lives to get them “all done.” We have amazing to-do lists; we are compelled to achieve and accomplish; society says this is how we get ahead. We pride ourselves on being so productive.

But what if, instead, the value of life were not in the dash and amount of things we do, but in the quality of life’s events – in the time we spend enjoying, connecting and becoming part of what we do? What if life were more like a garden path than a superhighway?

My dad was an amazing gardener. And the garden was the learning ground for so many lessons in life.  The greatest lesson I remember is the role of the garden path.

He explained that the garden path is designed to help us slow down and connect to the Earth, Mother Nature and the amazing flora around us. A path zigs and zags – it is never a straight line. The straight line pulls us to a destination; we feel obliged to keep moving – get someone where. The meandering garden path, on the other hand, encourages us to slow down and to spend time on each curve, connecting with and admiring each new view because at each bend in the path, the view is entirely different. There is so much more to see; there is so much more to be part of.

It is the same with life. With each new event in life, we see things differently. We learn. We appreciate. We participate more fully when we slow down and become more present.

Life on the straight path – on the superhighways – encourages us to move quickly; the garden path encourages us to slow down and connect with our amazing planet, nature and the beauty of our environment. We show up more to the moments of our lives. Life is fuller. Life is richer. Life is more amazing.

For my family, planning what was planted along the path was a labor of love. We would visit nursery after nursery, looking at plant size and colors (in all seasons), and sampling fragrances. The walk along the path was to be a full sensory experience – to hear the wind in the foliage, to see the colors in the flowers and leaves, to smell the scents and to touch the textures. Our gardens were outdoor masterpieces – works of art that were inspired by love and created for the benefit of all who would commit the time to come off of the highway and intentionally choose to walk instead of run, notice instead of ignore and share instead of take. Heaven.

My dad is no longer with us, but his love of gardening, plants and nature courses through the veins of all of my five siblings and me. Though we are also a family that can get comfortable on the superhighway – focused on achieving and doing – we always remember the valuable lesson of the garden path – I lesson I am glad to share. We know that there is more to life than a grand to-do list. Life was not designed for the dash; it was designed for the meandering walk along a great garden path, to appreciate and be part of the things along the way.

Here is one of Dad’s favorite garden poems that my siblings and I now keep posted on our fridges or computers – to remind us of what he used to regularly call to remind us: go out in the garden, life is beautiful there.

There’s peace within a garden,

A peace so deep and calm;

That when the heart is troubled,

It’s like a healing balm.

 

There’s life within a garden,

A life that still goes on,

Filling the empty places

When older plants have gone.

 

There’s glory in a garden,

At every time of year;

Spring, summer, autumn, winter

To fill the heart with cheer.

 

So ever tend your garden,

Its beauty to increase;

For in it you’ll find solace,

And in it, you’ll find peace.

Be intentional about your time with the gifts of our planet, that generously share themselves with those who take the time to notice.  Go out in the garden.

What Your Home Environment Says About You

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 10.37.07 PMI’ve written before about Christopher Alexander’s brilliant, strange book, A Pattern Language. Few books have made such an impression on me and the way that I think. The book sets forth an archetypal “language” of 253 patterns that make the design of towns, buildings, and–most interesting to me–homes the most pleasing.

This book doesn’t need to be read from front to back; I often just flip through it and study the parts that resonate with me–and look at the pictures, too, of course.

I’m a very text-centric person, and not very visual, and this book helped me to identify the elements about spaces that I like, or don’t like. I’m able to see the world in a new way, and as a consequence, I’ve been able to do some things differently in my own space, to make it more enjoyable.

Here’s a list of some of the “patterns” that I love most–and I even love the aptness of the phrases used to describe them:

Half-hidden garden–this is an example of something that I love but just can’t put into practice in New York City, alas.

Staircase as stage–ditto.

Cascade of roofs–once I started looking, I realized that many of my favorite buildings had a cascade of roofs.

Sleeping to the east–after my parents moved to a new place, they both remarked, independently, how much they enjoyed having a bedroom that faced east.

A room of one’s own–yes!

Light on two sides of every room–after I moved to New York City, I became acutely aware of the importance of light, and it’s true, having light on two sides of a room makes a huge difference.

Six foot balcony–this pattern explained something that had always puzzled me: why people in New York City apartment buildings seemed so rarely to use their balconies. It turns out that when a balcony is too narrow, people don’t feel comfortable on it. It needs to be at least six feet deep.

Windows overlooking life–our apartment has good light, which I’m so thankful for, but we can’t look down on any street scenes, just the sides of buildings; it’s surprising how much we miss being able to overlook life.

Sitting circle–odd to me how many people place their furniture in ways that don’t make for comfortable conversation.

Ceiling height variety–I was astonished to notice how much more I enjoy places that have ceilings at different heights.

Built-in seats–yes! Window seats, alcoves, banquettes, love these. Especially window seats.

Raised flowers–yes!

Things from your life–in Happier at Home, I “cultivated a shrine” to my passion for children’s literature, as a way to make a special place for certain things from my life (for instance, my old copies of Cricket magazine, my complete set of The Wizard of Oz books, my mother’s old copy of Little Women, my Gryffindor banner that a friend brought me from the Harry Potter Theme Park.

Child caves–so true that children love to play in small, low places. My sister had the “Cozy Club” with a friend, and my younger daughter now plays in an odd little space she has decorated.

Secret place–ah, this is my favorite. Again, as I write about in Happier at Home, I was inspired to create my own secret places in our apartment. I couldn’t stop with just one. As Alexander writes, “Where can the need for concealment be expressed; the need to hide; the need for something precious to be lost, and then revealed?”

How about you? Have you identified some “patterns” in the design of the places you love?

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Speaking of beautiful places and things, I love the book sculptures of Su Blackwell.  Books and miniatures!

Are you reading Happier at Home or The Happiness Project in a book group? Email me if you’d like the one-page discussion guide. Or if you’re reading it in a spirituality book club, a Bible study group, or the like, email me for the spirituality one-page discussion guide.

 

Cultivating Joy That Lasts Longer Than Chocolate

2413036973_184907341d_bHappiness is eating a delicious chocolate bar. It’s a physical pleasure that lasts a very short time. What if you could find something akin to happiness, only deeper and longer lasting? Kind of like a permanent orgasm? Would you want some? Joy dives deeper and lasts longer. It’s a spiritual experience that comes from within. Joy is like an amped-up shade of happiness that doesn’t depend so much on senses or outer experiences. Bliss is the ultimate harvest of spiritual life. It’s an experience that transcends the physical and according to wisdom traditions, it is our true nature. If you want to find that path through the shades of happiness and joy to bliss, how do you get there?

One way to begin is to experience joy is through cultivating your inner sacred space. I call this place the secret garden. It’s a good place to plant seeds that can be cultivated and grow into a harvest of bliss. Some essential tools that help to dig deep and tend the inner garden include the hard work of self-inquiry, a regular meditation practice, a dedication to pay attention to and act on the guidance of your inner gardener – that higher, wiser part of you that is Divine – and a yearning to get rid of inner junk and pests that stand in the way. This junk is often old stuff from the past, including attitudes and habits that may have served us well at one time, but now just get in the way and hold us back. It’s time to let go of these and grow into the new life that’s waiting. One of my favorite ways to cultivate bliss in my secret garden is through consciously choosing guiding values.

Values are like seeds. They may include peace, kindness, generosity, joy, determination, patience, and more. When we choose the seeds we want to grow more of in our life, we can begin to cultivate them both inside during meditation and also through actions in our daily lives. Will the seeds you plant today lead to joy?

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Register to win copy of Debra’s new book, Garden of Bliss on Goodreads.

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

Rub Your Hoku, and 7 Other Surprising Ways to Calm Down

Want to stop stressing? Then start swearing, kissing, getting dirty, cluttered, and eating garlic instead!

Being “stressed” seems to be as trendy as being “on a diet.” Everyone’s doing it, throwing the terms around as if it’s an excuse for a bad mood or short fuse. Problem is: stress has some serious side-effects that can be detrimental to your health and happiness if it isn’t addressed. Of course there are lots of pills to help you ease off angst, but we prefer to do it naturally… naturally. Our favorite and the most fun by far: Kissing!

–Touching, kissing, hugging (or any other affectionate activities) stimulates the brain’s release of the hormone oxytocin. If you want to take it up a notch, get a room! Recent Studies reveal that the surge of oxytocin released during orgasm can lower blood pressure, calm nerves and tame tension. In fact, according to the British Medical Journal, sex is so good for your heart that it cuts your risk of heart attack and stroke in half when performed three times a week.

Swear it Off!  Swearing has been shown to minimize stress and increase workplace camaraderie. That’s according to scientists at East Anglia Norwich University in England.

–Eat Garlic.  The main ingredient in garlic when digested is organosulfur allicin, which triggers your body to produce hydrogen sulfide. The combo creates an internal reaction that relaxes blood vessels and encourages blood flow. Translation: garlic is good for your heart and your head. 

Succumb to Chocolate.  Balance isn’t just for yoga. In fact, a little bit of chocolate can go a long way when it comes to your diet. Dark chocolate has been shown to be filled with antioxidant flavonoids (which can minimize your risk of heart disease and reduce blood pressure). Some scientists have gone so far as to claim that the sweet stuff has more flavonoids than any other food (including blueberries). According to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, those said flavonoids help blood vessels relax, helping calm overall stress. Word to the wise, choose the lower fat dark chocolate to milk chocolate. It has a higher count of the good stuff.

Rub your Hoku.  Your “hoku” is that flap of skin on your palm that connects your pointer finger to your thumb. It’s also an acupressure spot related to upper body tension that, when squeezed, can minimize stress by up to 39%– that’s according to scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Watch YouTube.  Laughter is a proven way to ease stress. Even the mere anticipation of something funny has the ability to calm us down thanks to the release of stress hormones like dopac, cortisol and epinephrine. More than easing angst, short funny film clips have been proven to increase blood flow to the heart according to scientists at the University of Maryland. 

Get Dirty.  Research has shown that having plants and flowers in your presence can elicit a positive mood and reduce stress levels. Connecting with the Earth by sticking your hands in the dirt and tending to the plants yourself even further imbue you with an energy of calm.

Embrace Clutter.  For years, neat-freak moms have been insisting on orderly bedrooms for the sake of productivity, sanity, and just seemingly to pester. Not anymore! Eric Abrahamson (a Columbia School of Business Professor) and David H. Freedman (a journalist) have found that moderate messes can actually enrich creativity and minimize anxiety.

 

Read more Quickie Lifestyle tips at QuickieChick.com

Rub Your Hoku, and 7 Other Surprisingly Ways to Calm Down

Want to stop stressing? Then start swearing, kissing, getting dirty, cluttered and eating garlic instead!  

 

Being “stressed” seems to be as trendy as being “on a diet.” Everyone’s doing it, throwing the terms around as if it’s an excuse for a bad mood or short fuse. Problem is: stress has some serious side-effects that can be detrimental to your health and happiness if it isn’t addressed. Of course there are lots of pills to help you ease off angst, but we prefer to do it naturally… naturally. Our favorite and the most fun by far: Kissing!

 

–Touching, kissing, hugging (or any other affectionate activities) stimulates the brain’s release of the hormone oxytocin. If you want to take it up a notch, get a room! Recent Studies reveal that the surge of oxytocin released during orgasm can lower blood pressure, calm nerves and tame tension. In fact, according to the British Medical Journal, sex is so good for your heart that it cuts your risk of heart attack and stroke in half when performed three times a week.

 

Swear it Off!  Swearing has been shown to minimize stress and increase workplace camaraderie. That’s according to scientists at East Anglia Norwich University in England.

 

–Eat Garlic.  The main ingredient in garlic when digested is organosulfur allicin, which triggers your body to produce hydrogen sulfide. The combo creates an internal reaction that relaxes blood vessels and encourages blood flow. Translation: garlic is good for your heart and your head.

 

Succumb to Chocolate.  Balance isn’t just for yoga. In fact, a little bit of chocolate can go a long way when it comes to your diet. Dark chocolate has been shown to be filled with antioxidant flavonoids (which can minimize your risk of heart disease and reduce blood pressure). Some scientists have gone so far as to claim that the sweet stuff has more flavonoids than any other food (including blueberries). According to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, those said flavonoids help blood vessels relax, helping calm overall stress. Word to the wise, choose the lower fat dark chocolate to milk chocolate. It has a higher count of the good stuff.

 

Rub your Hoku.  Your “hoku” is that flap of skin on your palm that connects your pointer finger to your thumb. It’s also an (acupressure http://www.ehow.com/how_2031326_define-acupressure.html) spot related to upper body tension that, when squeezed, can minimize stress by up to 39%– that’s according to scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

 

Watch YouTube.  Laughter is a proven way to ease stress. Even the mere anticipation of something funny has the ability to calm us down thanks to the release of stress hormones like dopac, cortisol and epinephrine. More than easing angst, short funny film clips have been proven to increase blood flow to the heart according to scientists at the University of Maryland.

 

Get Dirty.  Research has shown that having plants and flowers in your presence can elicit a positive mood and reduce stress levels. Connecting with the Earth by sticking your hands in the dirt and tending to the plants yourself even further imbue you with an energy of calm.

 

Embrace Clutter.  For years, neat-freak moms have been insisting on orderly bedrooms for the sake of productivity, sanity, and just seemingly to pester. Not anymore! Eric Abrahamson (a Columbia School of Business Professor) and David H. Freedman (a journalist) have found that moderate messes can actually enrich creativity and minimize anxiety.

 

 

Read more Quickie Lifestyle tips at QuickieChick.com

Grow an Edible School Garden

For a lot of families, growing their own garden is something akin to that big trip abroad: a great idea in theory, but hard to actually make happen in reality. With over a third of the nation’s children overweight or obese, healthy eating habits aren’t just a private family matter, they’re a public health issue. Consider this: the number of overweight or obese school children has nearly doubled in the last decade. Kids who are obese by the age of 12 are 85% more likely to remain obese as adults. Kids who are obese in their early teens are twice as likely to die by the age of 50. Sobering news to be sure, but useful information if we are to combat this epidemic and get those kids to eat their vegetables once and for all. “Kids who grow broccoli eat broccoli,” says LAUSD Green Policy Director Mud Baron. In other words, want your kids to eat their spinach? Teach them to grow it.



1) Build a team. “Schools gardens are a team sport,” says Baron. Assemble a team that includes at least one teacher, student and parent. If you can, get the Principal on board early by asking her to join your team. This will help speed up the entire process. Invite parents with special skills to contribute.

2) Come up with a plan. It may sound obvious, but creating a plan early on is essential for ensuring you get enough funding and can build a functional, sustainable garden. You will need two plans: one to build the garden and one to fund it. There are four essentials in building a sustainable garden, says Baron: soil, plants, tools and irrigation. (You should also consider your local climate and how much sun you receive and at what times — you probably can’t grow mangos in Minnesota, sorry). Once you’ve got an idea of your material needs it’s time to build a budget, which brings us to our next step.

3) Get money – more than you think you’ll need. This is the part that everyone groans about, but it doesn’t have to be so bad. You’re building a school garden! Raising funds can be a fun and interactive project that the entire school can get behind. If your bake sales and penny drives aren’t cutting it, you can go the more traditional route and go after private foundation and government funds. There are also a number of non-profit organizations that fund school garden programs, says Baron, including the National Garden Association and Keep America Beautiful.

4) Create a curriculum. We’ve focused on an edible garden, but that doesn’t mean other types of programs can’t be incorporated. “It’s about learning by doing,” says Baron. According to the California Department of Education, students who participate in garden programs see their GPAs rise. Schools have made their gardens outdoor classrooms, after school programs, edible kitchen gardens as well as science, history and reading gardens. “It’s more about process than product,” notes Baron. “The kids learn that just because you want something, that doesn’t mean that nature says you can have it.”

 

Photo (cc) by Flickr user

This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or to submit your own idea today.


Start a Crop Mob

There’s a lot up for debate in the realm of agriculture these days, but there’s one thing no one can dispute: farming is hard, often lonely work. But something happened one fall night that is helping to make it just a little bit easier- and certainly less solitary…

In the fall of 2008 a group of 11 young farmers living and working in North Carolina’s Triangle Region got together to talk about issues facing young farmers- things like healthcare, wages, access to land. As they talked, one young farmer, Adah Frase, squirmed in her seat before deciding to speak up. “I’m tired of sitting in meetings just talking about things. It feels like a waste of my time. Why can’t we go out and work while we meet rather than just sitting around a table?”

Frase believed you could build stronger relationships with people by working side by side rather than just sitting around a table talking. Her fellow farmers agreed. “The idea emerged that we’d come together to build community, help each other out, and share a meal,” explains Rob Jones, one of the farmers in attendance that October night. “We decided we’d call it the Crop Mob.”

That month, the farmers had organized their first mob with 19 people digging, sorting and boxing 1,600 pounds of sweet potatoes in less than three hours, an effort so successful that it became a monthly event. “There has always been a spirit of cooperation in agriculture because it is a lot of work,” says Jones. “We’ve just found a slightly different way to manifest it. It is a part of making sustainable agriculture personally sustainable for the farmers. Certainly, we are seeing a lot of young people that aren’t interested in being “the farmer” on a farm.  They want to work cooperatively and collectively with others as part of a community.”

As word began to spread of Crop Mob’s efforts- and the New York Times’ Sunday Magazine sung its praises- other farmers have started their own regional versions of Crop Mob- as have aspiring farmers and what New York City’s Crop Mob refers to as the “ag-curious.” Volunteers might build a fence, clear a field, or harvest a crop, all based of course, on the needs of the farm being “mobbed” that month.

Interested in getting your hands dirty? Crop Mob suggests a few basic principles:

1) Keep that wallet holstered. No money is exchanged.

2) Scale it down. Work on small-scale, sustainable farms and gardens.

3) Break some bread. A meal is shared, often provided by the host.

4) Reciprocity. This is not a charity. We crop mob for crop mobbers.

Crob Mobs are popping up all over the United States. Crop Mob’s website has an interactive Google map so you can find a nearby mob (you can also search for groups on Facebook). Or go to this link to start your own.

Photo by Emily Millette

 This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or to submit your own idea today.

Earth Day in the Garden

Happy Earth Day 2010.

Forty years ago, in 1970 amidst the Vietnam War and the last of the real hippies, the first Earth Day was celebrated. I don’t think I took much notice back then and for the next two decades. I was too caught up in my own world of abundance and working for a large corporation where the money seemed endless. As long as my own little world wasn’t affected it was hard for me to feel that anything was going wrong. Sure there were movies that brought things to light, like Erin Brocovich and Three Mile Island, but again those things happened to other people, not me, so I never felt the impact.

But now days I DO care what happens to the Earth.  And one of the things that has been the most FUN for me is figuring out how to NOT buy new things, especially in the garden, except of course plants.  But even with plants I am learning more about propogating and collecting the seeds from my own plants and flowers so I do not need to buy anymore.

As my plants begin to end their life they will flower and go to seed.  I am learning patience as I watch nature’s life cycle unfold before my eyes.  Last week, a started to collect the broccoli seeds.

I have hundreds of seeds for next fall now all off of 4 plants that I let go to seed!  And this morning I started taking out my wildflowers and have hundres of blue bells, african daisy and soon California poppies. Next will be the sunflowers.  These seeds then becom the gift of life I share with friends!

I now find I am happy sitting on the front porch stoop each evening, cleaning the chaff from the seed, waving to the neighbors who walk by with kids and dogs and just observing the interaction of life with nature. 

What will you do for your Mother – Earth that is – this Earth Day and EVERY day?

Happy Digging

The Garden Goddess

www.down2earthgardens.com

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / chuckthephotographer

Grow an Edible, Vertical Garden in 5 Steps

It’s hard to believe but, yes, spring is on its way. And with it all kinds of wonderful green things like arugula, celery and cherry tomatoes. If you’re a gardener, you’ve probably already started your seedlings (or at least have an order in for black seeded Simpson lettuce, Astro Arugula or sugar snap peas). If you’re a first time gardener, now is the time to decide if you really want to dig in.how_to_22310.complete

 Don’t know what to grow? Don’t know where to grow it? Gardens can grow anywhere (alleys! windows! walls!) and can grow all kinds of things (loofah!). Vertical gardens are a good option for people who don’t have horizontal space, rich soil or just have an ugly wall they want to cover up…“It can work in almost any space, anywhere,” says Meg Glasser, Regional Director for Urban Farming, a group that grows edible gardens on walls, fences and other vertical surfaces. We talked to Ms. Glasser about how to make our (vertical) gardens grow.

1. Find a south-facing wall or fence.

Most vegetables need at least four hours of sunlight a day and a south-facing wall will provide the most light. It can be southwest, southeast, but it should never be north facing. Try using Google maps to locate the most southern wall.

 2. Find a nearby water source.

A local, dependable, water source is one of the most critical components– without it you will need to consider another site.

 3. Choose your growing containers.

Things to think about when selecting a container: what types of plants you want to grow, local climate, temporary vs. permanent installation and what kind of surface you’re working with (concrete, chain link fence, wood, brick etc). Urban Farming uses a gridded, stainless steel container from Green Living Technologies that affixes to walls and fences. Another good option is Woolly Pockets,which are made of recycled plastic sewn into large pockets with grommets for mounting. And you can always make you own. Glasser’s suggestions? Old 2 liter bottles, milk jugs, or yogurt containers will work well for chain link fences.

 3. Select and plant your vegetables.

You can start with seeds or seedlings but if you’re starting in later spring, use seedlings. If this is your first garden, try starting with mint, basil and chilies- lettuces too. If you’re more experienced try broccoli, tomatoes, brussel sprouts and smaller varieties of melons. Be sure to consider how much light you’ll be getting and root depth. Carrots and beats will need at least a foot and a half of soil. Lettuces have a much shallower root depth. Keep in mind what’s regionally appropriate. Don’t try to grow garlic in Southern California in the summer. And make sure to choose foods you love and want to experiment with. “Last year someone gave me mustard green seeds, which I had never grown,” says Glasser. ”Now they’re one of my favorites.”

4. Maintain. Maintain. Maintain.

This is the most challenging part of the garden. Once the thrill of planting is over, it may be hard to remember to water regularly or keep an eye out for bugs. Glasser suggests installing an automatic drip irrigation system, which comes standard in some container packages. If you can’t install an automatic drip system, set up a calendar or daily email to remind you to water at least five times a week, ideally at dusk or dawn. Certain kinds of flowers can work as a natural pesticide. And if, despite all your efforts, your veggies aren’t growing? “It’s ok, this happens to everyone,” says Glasser. “Just pull it out and try something else. Keep experimenting.”

Bonus tips!

* Photograph and document your progress from planting to harvest. You’ll be amazed.

* Get your neighbors to chip in and share the harvest.

* Keep a garden journal to note what works and what doesn’t. Next year’s garden will be better for it.

 

This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or to submit your own idea today. 

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / niallsco

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