Tag Archives: plants

A Lesson in Resilience

cherry tree resilienceOne of my brothers still lives on Cape Cod, the place where my 5 siblings and I grew up. This is noteworthy for two reasons – first, he is a scenic photographer – he captures amazing shots of nature; second, Cape Cod and New England has had snowstorm after snowstorm this winter. This has created one of his latest works – the amazing flowering cherry tree in his front yard in each of the four seasons. Amazing flowers in spring, great dense green leaves in summer, amazing fiery reds and orange foliage in fall and the bare brown trunk blanketed under epic snow in winter. This bold tree is resilient; it shows up powerfully in each season. It inspires my intention to be more resilient.

The lesson from the cherry tree is that we too are capable of shining no matter what happens. We are resilient to handle the seasons – and by seasons I mean the constant changes in our lives. We meet sunny days where things are going our way – we flower, we shine. We meet stormy days that seem unfair, unrelenting and scary. When we are intentional and determined about connecting to our inner greatness and strength – to the power deep in us – we find we have access to amazing resilience. This helps us show up strong and committed to life, regardless what comes our way.

It still amazes me that this tree can survive in temperatures from minus 10 to nearly 100 degrees. It stands there and faces what comes, doing what it does best – living its truest self. It doesn’t lament the rains or wind. It doesn’t give up when it snows. It doesn’t wish that its leaves would remain all year – it allows them to change color and sends them off to make room for new ones. It partners with life; it allows life.

We however, like to plan and control everything in life. And when things don’t go according to plan, we find fault. We get angry. We blame. We quit. We feel at the affect of our world – at odds with it.

Or, we could learn from this cherry tree. We could see that we have the strength and resilience to see the blessing in every event, and not to fight with life but live it as it is delivered. “Anyone can be cooperative, patient and understanding when things are going well and life is good. But it is the noble man or woman who can behave with grace and compassion, and even kindness, when times are bad,” shares Garr Reynolds, blogger of Presentation Zen. My intention is to be noble and act with grace, compassion and kindness regardless of what happens in life.

Resilience, or grit, is what enables us to show up committed to life when life sends snowstorm after snowstorm. Resilience is what enables us to show up big to life when our idea didn’t work, the relationship failed, or the job was lost. As the great Japanese proverb says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” We can choose to bounce back – we can choose to see what was, understand it, learn from it and get back into life’s driver’s seat. We, like the flowering cherry in my brother’s front yard, can just keep on keepin’ on. Resilient. Strong. Committed. Determined. Intentional. Living our greatness and ready for the next moment of life – whatever that might look like.

Find your resilience role model – nature, a pet or even a person. Mine is this amazing cherry tree. Let it share its wisdom with you; learn from it and let it inspire you to be intentional and purposeful about living powerfully, positively and resiliently no matter what comes your way.

Watch: Hilarious 88-Year Old Woman Creates Ellen’s Favorite Show Moment

Gladys Hardy of Austin, Texas is a dedicated watcher of “Ellen.” She loves the show. In fact, she loves it so much that she called the show’s hotline to insist that Ellen move the spiked plant situated behind her chair due to its distracting nature when Ellen’s face lined up right in front of it. What a caring and observational viewer, right?

Since Gladys was so gracious with her advice Ellen decided to call her back and ask for more suggestions to help improve the show – and Gladys was only so glad to help! Watch as this endearing woman complains about the local news and tells the hilarious story of the first time she was on television.

We don’t blame you at all for drinking a little bit Gladys – have some fun! We think it’s a shame that traveling is too bothersome for you to come to the show though (those liquid restrictions are instense). We would have loved to see you on air, but thank you for giving us a reason to smile about over the phone!

What did you think of Gladys’s advice and conversation? Let us know your favorite Ellen moments in the comments below!

Can Adaptogens Help Us Reduce Stress – For Good?

If there were an herb believed to help reduce stress and increase our ability to adapt to new circumstances, would you try it? Couldn’t hurt, right?

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra addresses questions about adaptogens, which are plants and herbs that may be able to modulate our response to stress and any discomfort caused by changes in the environment. He examines the history of these substances and some recent studies on particular adaptogens which he has been involved in. How can these substances be used to improve our response to stress?

Dr. Mark Hyman encourages the use of adaptogenic herbs to help reduce stress and calm the mind. Such herbs might include ginseng, Rhodiola rosea, Siberian ginseng, cordyceps, ashwagandha, and others that are nontoxic, nonspecific in action, and generally healthy and high in antioxidants.

Studies on the medical viability of adaptogens to reduce stress have been somewhat sparse but nonetheless promising.The more we learn about these plants and their healing potential, the closer we may get to finding real, long-lasting relief from stress and anxiety. And wouldn’t that be a treat!

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Plants of May: Your Seasonal Guide to Food as Medicine

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 4.03.23 PM

The arrival of May means that no matter where you live, warm days are finally beginning to outnumber cold; daylight is beginning to stretch into the evening hours, and Pinterest boards are likely filling with recipes for barbeques, tasty salads, and Sun Tea.

In the plant world, spring is a time for new growth. Flowers introduce sweet berries, and delicate green shoots grow into edible leaves for salads and sautées. I love this time of year, and as a naturopathic doctor, I especially love the healing properties of fruits and vegetables that are seasonal in May. Here’s my sample guide to what’s in season this month and how each edible plant acts as medicine in the body:

Dandelion leaves – You may be thinking, “Wait, this is a weed not a food, right?” Actually, young dandelion leaves are an edible, slightly bitter addition to any spring salad or sauté and contain a compound, aesculin, which supports the tone of our vessels and can help with issues like swelling, puffiness and poor circulation.

Fava beans – Like large sweet peas, fava beans can be found in pods and are a beautiful rich green color. They are a substantial addition to any recipe and a great vegetarian/vegan option. In addition to providing a spectrum of vitamins and minerals (thiamin, folate, calcium, magnesium and zinc to name just a few), these beans are an excellent source of fiber. That means that in addition to filling you up, they also help to clean you out!

Mint leaves – Plants in the mint family (peppermint and spearmint are two common examples) contain menthol, a compound that provides the cooling quality these leaves are known for. Used in a tea or even rubbed on the skin, mint is used to calm digestion and may be soothing when fresh leaves are crushed and applied to insect bites or itchy skin.

Onions, sweet Vidalia – As medicine, onions are most commonly thought of for their sulfur-containing compounds that have been researched for a range of actions in the body from supporting liver function to inhibiting cancer growth. I love the sweet, mildly spicy flavor of these beautiful onions…a great addition to a vinegar-based potato salad.

Oregano leaves – A staple in most spice racks, dried oregano leaves are a common addition to all kinds of recipes. When in season, fresh leaves can be used to provide a spicy and beautiful pop of flavor and color. Oil of oregano provides a broad spectrum of anti-bacterial, viral and fungal activity and can even be found in some natural insect-repellent recipes.


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Photo credit: Linh H. Nguyen via Flickr

New Studies Suggest Plants Can Be Altruistic

dish gardens

While you most likely link altruism to humans and members of the animal family, new research out of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada and the University of Colorado Boulder shows that plants can actually be altruistic too.

McMaster researchers studied the relationship between ragweed and mycorrhizal fungi. This type of fungi lives in soil and works together with 80% of land plants, including ragweed. Plants give sugar to the fungus, and in return, the fungus gives water, nutrients, and in some cases protection from pathogens. Because groups of plants work together with the fungus, this allows some plants to “cheat” and take the benefits from the fungus but not give any sugar. Researchers wanted to find out if the plants working together with the fungus were siblings, would there be less cheating.

To study this, they grew pots of sibling ragweed and pots of unrelated ragweed to observe the size of both the fungus and the ragweed. It turns out that the sibling plants and corresponding fungi both grew larger and healthier than the unrelated ragweed – there was less cheating between the sibling plants.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder found similar results when studying corn seeds. Each fertilized seed contained two “siblings”, an embryo (part of the seed) and an endosperm (tissue that provides nutrients to the seed). Researchers observed the difference in size between seeds whose siblings had the same parents and seeds whose siblings had different parents. Results showed that when the embryo and endosperm had the same mother and father, the endosperm gave more nutrients to the embryo.

While both of these studies achieved similar results, this is still a relatively new idea with many questions left to answer. One obvious question is how do plants know who their siblings are?

These studies confirm what I already know as a spiritual being – there is simply so much we can’t explain (observe, understand, know scientifically) about the complexity and workings of the universe and all the organisms that make it up. This, of course, doesn’t mean the complexity is any less real. Science is fascinating though, and I can’t wait to see what more researchers will discover.

photo by: hortulus

You Are A God

 The other day, I was outside watering my plants, a few pots containing some succulents and other plants that seem okay with being baked in the southern California sun. I looked down to see a bee buzzing from flower to flower going about his "buzzness," (sorry I couldn’t resist).

Watching the bee, I started thinking about the fact that if I hadn’t planted those plants, this bee would not… well, he wouldn’t be there collecting nectar and pollen. I was part of creating this bee’s world. For all intensive purposes, I was a god to this bee, larger than life, unclear motivations, and powers beyond the bees grasp.

This is not some sort of attempt to change anyone’s beliefs on the existence of the gods that many people in the world worship. My point is simply that we are all gods in one way or another to someone or something. 

Now, don’t get carried away with this, but next time you are feeling powerless or meaningless, think about all the people and things that you rule over with benevolent disinterest, and you will find that… while you might not have very much influence with the presidents or kings of the world, you probably hold a queen bee’s fate, or , your house plant’s water, or your cat’s dinner in your hands. You are a god.

8 Hard To Kill Houseplants

 Ah, yes, Spring. Makes me want to go outside and frolic in some flowers and enjoy some sunshine. You know, all the things our daydreams are made of! But more so than not, I am stuck inside my apartment staring at a computer screen or cleaning up after my kid (‘kid’, ‘dog’- same thing in this house!).

I am probably the least domestic person anyone I know knows. Famous for only eating frozen veggie corn dogs or blocks of cheese when left to my own devices, it’s also not uncommon to hear about me shrinking my boyfriend’s shirts or killing off my roommate’s hydrangeas. But this Spring, I decided it was high time I get some foliage to brighten up my space! So, what does the girl that can barely remember to turn in her Netflix plant in her house?

Here are some low maintenance and highly rewarding houseplants to consider:

Mother-In-Law Plant – "The plant that never leaves!" is known for its incredible life spans and its sharp, pointed tongue like leaves. The Mother-In-Law plant is tolerant of very low light environments and actually will rot if you love it too much- only one to two waterings a week!

Christmas Cactus – This plant just loves to give, apparently more the little you give! The Christmas Cactus does well in just about any light environment although bright, indirect sunlight will give you the brightest flower blooms. Also like the Mother-In-Law, too much watering is the one way to kill this guy. You should only water it when the top third of the soil is dry.

Pothos – I like these guys because they’re great for hanging! Pathos need low to medium light and only need to be watered once a week. The only set back to this plant is having to groom them. Just give them a trim when you’re cleaning up your bangs and you’ll be fine.

Dragon Tree – For those of us Black Thumbs with a predilection to Palm Springs motif, the Dragon Tree resembles a Palm Tree but can be trained to grow into braids or knots. They do well in bright sun and best if they actually dry out completely between waterings. And if you really are a Black Thumb and even let this resilient plant wilt, just some water will make it perk right back up again.

Bromeliads – The Bromeliad really gives you a chance to play hard to get with your household plants. You can ignore it for days on end and it will still give you glorious blooms that last up to three months. The Bromeliad is a tropical plant;, it does best in warm rooms with plenty of indirect sunlight and is one of the most tolerant of infrequent waterings. 

ZZ Plant – The Zamioculcas zamiifolia is about as complicated as the plant gets. This plant likes low light (it actually does better in shade) and needs little water because it stores water for months in its tuber leaves and thick roots. 

African Violet – This is one of the more high maintenance plants listed which I blame on its lovely flowers. These pretty purple bushels of blooms require bright indirect light as well as more moderating waterings- soil needs to be kept moist while the roots should be dried between waterings. Another quirk of the African Violet: getting water on the leaves will cause white spots.

Peace Lily – The Peace Lily, like the African Violet, requires more watering than the first half of the list. The soil must be kept moist but the roots should be dry before watering. It does well in low lights and does not do well with curious cats or children who eat things they shouldn’t (Peace Lillies are poisonous if ingested!). 

Orchids – I’m just going off my own houseplant know-how I have with this one, which is very limited (to Orchids). Every Orchid I’ve ever had, I’ve placed in medium in direct light without realizing I’m putting it in medium in direct light, water it every couple days (or when I’m writing an article on house plants) and it just keeps blooming! And if I can make a houseplant last and thrive, so can you. Promise. 

All of these plants all have the option to be soil planted so ask your local garden guy or Google which soil will fit your plant’s best needs. 


Photo: Flickr // NCReedPlayer

Garden Instead of Lawns in Beverly Hills: An Update

 My son planted a no-dig garden this summer as part of his Senior Thesis for the University of Vermont (posted June 25, 2009). Today we stood in awe at a 6′ tall tomato plant (one of four) that have some 4-6 tomatoes ripening as I write this post.

The garden has done so much more than I ever imagined it could or would.

The sense of pride, care, loving kindness, and gratitude that flows from a little sprig of rosemary or a leaf of sage or an edible marigold flower is pretty palpable. It is as if we have added a family of sorts growing right in our backyard. I wander out there daily to just check in on the new seedlings (infants), the sprouts (childhood), emerging fruit (adolescence), mature plants (adulthood) and then their demise (aging) and ultimate death.

The diversity of plants, their various stages of growth, the problems (aphids/slugs) and hazards (heat, infection, underwater, overwater) all reflect a metaphor for the life of our family and all families worldwide.

On his balcony where my son ‘starts’ his seeds, some plants were placed too close together and suffered from a widespread plague of pests. Separated, sprayed with an organic solution my son concocted, they came back vibrantly to life.

I know a garden has long been a metaphor of life yet growing it in my backyard made it ever so vivid. A garden has ups and downs like those of life that we each and all endure. And yet the garden is also a place of profound beauty, of nurturance, of peace, and of individual growth.

My son planted certain plants to keep predators away (marigolds for example) and he’s educating me on the ways to ‘harvest’ plants and the times to do so. A novice before this project, I’m discovering that I can care for ours now even without his direction (at least for a week or two).

He was away for a week and I found myself checking the leaves, feeling the soil, making sure our plants were receiving just enough water and space and were being cared for and harvested just the right amount. I found the care I used to give my children when they were young (now in college or living away from home) being transferred right over to the arugula and swiss chard. It is a useful substitution of sorts for the ’empty nest’ syndrome many mothers face as their children move away from home.

And on top of all the love that has burst forth in honor of our garden, my other children and husband are attending to the produce and beauty it brings. Yesterday my daughter and son ate a peach off his peach tree and made pesto pasta from the basil. My daughter couldn’t get over how incredible the peach was, juicy and ripe from the afternoon sun, while the pesto pasta was vibrant and green with immediate freshness. She’s as sold as am I on the value of the garden, but my husband is too. He wasn’t up for eating the marigold while my son was gone (didn’t trust that I knew which one was the edible vs. decorative ones) but he cherishes its look and loves the arugula salads we make.

And on top of all this, we have 3,000 worms creating rich compost from our leftover garbage – in a worm compost on the side of our house.

I can’t wait to see how attached I might get to those!


My Grandmother Talks to Plants

A Gift of Flowers

  • This past Easter, my mother & I stopped the car along the side of the road to buy potted tulips for my grandmother. My grandmother & grandfather both share a liking for botany, as evidenced by their pseudo-greenhouse in their patio area. Most people would agree that my grandparents’ plant collection is always flourishing & well presented. So my mother and I both knew instinctively that this potted tulip plant would have a great home with my grandparents.
  • As I set the flower pot on my grandmother’s kitchen table, I remembered an old saying that my grandmother had mentioned to me from time to time since I was a child. In the past when I would ask her how all of her plants grew so well, she would tell me, without hesitation, "I talk to my plants, and tell them how much I love them".

My Reactions

  • Even as I child, I could tell by her tone that she honestly believed that her affection was making the plants grow better. As a teenager, I brushed this off as my grandmother being "grandmotherly", and politely smiled when she told me.
  • Later on, when I was Engineering college student at Penn State, I was able to justify her claim in my head. I simply told myself that by breathing out carbon dioxide, she was "feeding" the plant more of what it breathed in naturally, so therefore, science was backing up her claim and she didn’t even realize it.
  • But lately, as I have been observing our ever-so-mysterious world, I have found myself finding answers to age old questions not only though traditional science, but a deeper perspective.

Starting to Believe

  • This past weekend, I started to believe as faithfully as my grandmother, that it was her attention & affection that was helping these plants grow so well. A feeling of "my grandmother might be right after all" started to creep into my constantly analytical mind. I could not reconcile this notion with anything tangible, yet I somehow enjoyed the simplicity of it.
  • In the days after, still thinking about it, I asked myself if a grandmother’s affection would help a child grow? I came to my answer quickly, "Yes! Of course!" Maybe the love wasn’t helping the child grow in "size", but it was helping a child grow in "radiance". A grandmother’s love would surely improve the child’s outlook on life, and bring a smile to the child’s face, so this logic would seem to hold true with plants as well. The connection became clear to me, and my analytical mind was finally satisfied…
  • Maybe the carbon dioxide was making the plants grow bigger, or maybe it was not – but I could safely say that my grandmother’s love was allowing her plants to grow with more brilliance. These plants loved life, and it was evident to anyone who walked into her kitchen. My grandmother had created a garden of love and her plants were simply smiling back. Her plants were returning my grandmother’s love back to her & anyone else who stepped into my grandmother’s kitchen.

In Conclusion

  • Now confident in my analysis, the next time my grandmother informs me of her "plant-nourishment" technique, I can smile back and say "Keep talking to your plants, Grandma – you are helping the world be a better place!"

Please pass along to anyone who talks to plants.
Remember: Sunshine Pie is a mindset. Keep it going.


Gone Gardening Again!

As re-published from my Meady’s Musings blog.

I have to apologise for being away again…as usual I’ve been playing on the Intent online community though and you can check out this link to see my last well responded to question that I posed only for the community there and it got 50 comments in all-Would You Choose Pain Over Non-existence? I plan to soon install my 2nd post in the reincarnation series so you can also look forward to that but for now here I go gardening again!

I went Gardening Again on Tues 24 Feb 09. It was Carnival Tues on the island and while some would have no doubt engaged in mud mass I had to me a more beautiful experience with the earth! But of course to each her own…

It was the day of my big transplant and to be honest I wasn’t sure which way to go!
I even asked Grandpa Ed from the Intent community for some last minute tips as he was a gardener in his day but in the English countryside not the tropical sun. Grandpa Ed said the herbs that didnt sprout perhaps I was right in thinking they weren’t suited for the climate and if I put them in the fridge perhaps they will spring. Here are those none springing pot of herbs here followed by the things that did sprout I admit I need to do some weeding in the tubs but nothing long term is planted there.

The Herbs that didn’t

The Herbs that did-

Those little seedlings assorted

Those Little Hot Peppers-

Some of the Sunflowers-

So it was one of those really cool days that we’ve been consistently having in Trinidad again and so it was pretty easy for me to actually work at midday! Who would have believed it but in my little opinion I believe on the island were are having island cooling not warming! Just ask my good friend Dave from on intent by clicking on this link. But really in the coolish midday sun I hadn’t a clue how to get started with my transplanting project. Here is me to be honest a bit confused asking my mum for advice which she could not give in any convincing, detailed way and neither could she convincingly use the camera so she shot me half way in all of this confusion…though it would be funny to include! 🙂 After all if we can’t laugh at ourselves well…

So still not knowing what to do I plodded along and created this:

Then my aunt came along and started chatting with my mother and remarked that:

1. "This was no hour to be doing gardening."

2. "They did some work in their garden this morning and now my uncle was resting
but if I waited until around 4 he would be able to help me."

Now I remarked but yea the place is really cool though…but then I contemplated that I really wanted the best for my seedlings and there was no point being hasty and then botching things up for them and their growth big time! Even if I knew what I was doing which I obviously did not, the energy that would go into the whole project would be negative if I let conflict into the whole picture! Perhaps my intent to explore this thing call Satyagraha kicked in then! 🙂 So I waited…by the way all through this I got various onlookers remarks about what I was doing and many were amazed at my big foray into so much manual labour. Now I had expected to get hired help on the project but like is often the case in Trinidad they got ill!

My uncle did show up at 4 though and he said he also thought I was going to get hired help is why he didn’t think I’d need the help from him as such. Anyway I did and it was a good thing I waited cause he transformed the bed into this!:

And then both he and I plodded on for some hours. He did the vegetables:

While I did the sunflowers:

And I also threw in some marigold/gainda seeds at the back of the sunflowers:

I started off with gloves but then took them off and was digging holes and things to put the seedlings with my bare hands. It reminded me of playing in the sand as a child. And it made me again think of the Carnival season and people playing mud mass…made me wonder…I mean don’t we all just want to be a child again and play in the sand? Perhaps a lot of what we do in society is rooted out of this need to return to childhood…to go back to the basics…as I always tell my mother with all this financial crisis and stuff people forget all they need are the basics…one of those basics is to eat…and so despite the ridicule of me doing hard labour and the all night pain that ensued in both my arms…there I was ensuring myself of one of my basic core needs…food.

I wish I had pics to show of my labourious struggles but my neices and nephews refused to show on this day even as photographers! The things I had to say to them! :)My uncle remarked that it was probably the hardest I worked in my life! He may be right at least in a very long time…even my Habitat dig was easier!

The dog did make an appearance though but among people who I know would not want to be made famous on this blog so I have cropped him out to show him off! 🙂 And he did try to kiss and try to hug me and even throw me on to the sunflower bed for sure! But only have the pic of him like this!:

The next day my sis in law put up these two scarecrows to mark the area in case cars parked on it and to perhaps ward off birds. Although they don’t look scary to me more like little girls in pastel dresses! 🙂 Kiddies have been dropping by to look at the little stick people! 🙂 And so finally here is how my garden grows! 🙂

And I leave you with two songs that feel applicable as I write these words…Return to Innocence by Enigma and All You Need is Love by my fav although some find odd for my age The Beatles! As I felt like a child again planting returning to the earth…to innocence. And food is a basic need but so is love as Jesus said "Man cannot live on bread alone!" Enjoy the tunes! 🙂

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