JOY

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/delta/

This moment in time can only be experienced in childhood. Pure innocent joy is a rite of passage.

It won’t last.

As adullts, we try to find that sensation again. We look for it in the bottom of a bottle or the inside of a pill. We look for it in shopping, relationships,hobbies and careers. But, that fleeting moment called childhood, is the only time in our lives that we can experience innocent joy.

I watch my children and I know they are on the cusp of discovering the truth about life. That life is not always fair and the early bird does not always get the worm. Sometimes, it’s the cheater that gets the worm and the early bird has to look somewhere else. I know these days are coming. But, for now, joy is everywhere.

I let their joy wash over me. 

I close my eyes and remember these moments are fleeting. Life is change.

The river of your childhood will flow into the wide open ocean of the rest of your life.

morning sun and tire swing

 

Today is a new day. Find your tire swing.

glorious sunrise

Experience JOY

This Is How You Do It

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/local/

The paper floated innocently to the ground. I stopped to pick it up. It was a receipt.

The story it told was of a romantic dinner for two. They had both ordered Prime Rib. He had several rum drinks and she had a few glasses of Pinot Noir. For dessert, they shared a single Chocolate Cake. I pictured the two people laughing at their inside jokes and smiling warmly at each other across the table.

As the story of the receipt unfolded, my entire soul cringed.

My face felt hot. For a moment, I stopped breathing, thinking or even being alive.

You see, this was not just any receipt and the people were not strangers. The story it told was of my husband and some other woman having that romantic dinner.

Here was undeniable proof, in hard copy, of what my husband had been doing earlier that evening. While I was at home, eating hot dogs and mac and cheese with my 3 girls, washing dishes and orchestrating bedtime  – he was having a leisurely lovely dinner with some other woman. He had replaced me with another version of myself.

My mind played out the scene in the restaurant like a movie that couldn’t stop. 

I envisioned the two of them sitting at a table, smiling at each other. He decides to treat himself to Prime Rib, she orders the same. The waitress asks if they would like another drink while they wait. “Sure, why not?” they laughingly say. They have all night. The dinners are brought to the table and they order a couple more drinks. Dinner is yummy and they fill the evening with conversation – getting to know each other. The meal is over and they decide to prolong their nice evening by sharing a dessert. How romantic!

That is the part that hurt the most. They shared a dessert! One dessert – two forks. I had been with this man for 15 years and we NEVER shared a dessert.

My brain had a hard time with the thought of my husband cheating on me.

I told myself , maybe it wasn’t what it appeared to be. Did you get a good laugh at that one? Can you believe it? I actually tried to convince myself it wasn’t a date with another woman. Wow. I am still embarrassed about that admission.

I knew in the deepest part of my soul – the part only me and God can see – that my marriage and plans for the future – were over. I knew he didn’t love me anymore. He wanted a different life than the one we had created – together. He had changed his mind in the middle of everything.

My 3 grand daughters had come to live with us a few years earlier. He was totally on board with our new additions. He had never had children of his own and I thought he would embrace the chance to experience the joy of having children around.  I think that he thought he would love it too. But he didn’t. He did not embrace the happiness, joy, confusion, frustration and noise that come with having a house full of kids. A life so full that it feels like it will burst at the seams some days. And I love it.

You know what he told me when I confronted him about his extracurricular activities? If he would have known what it was like to have kids he never would have agreed to having them live with us. He just wanted to cancel the contract – like it was a business deal gone bad.

The day I found the receipt was a pivotal moment in my life.

My life was heading towards the East and there was a roadblock. I had to stop, turn around, and start heading West. I didn’t want to, at first. I was so angry that I was being forced to change my plans. And, it wasn’t just my plans, my 3 girls loved that man. He had always been in their lives. Now, they had another big change in their young lives.

I was angry and sad. 

I prayed a lot. I cried. I planned revenge. I considered begging him to love me again. I was so angry. I didn’t know what to think. Did ,I cause this? Was I at fault?

In the end, after I had spent many conversations with God, I knew what needed to be done. 

I knew my girls came first. They were little kids that already had dealt with big changes in their lives. I was determined to show them how to be resilient. I was determined to show them,  as women, you can make it.

Next, my life was important too. Not just as a caregiver, parent, daughter or wife. But, my intrinsic essence was created by God. My contribution to the world is just as important and necessary as anyone else.

The conclusion became clear. The life I had pictured with this particular man – was not going to be my reality. But, I would have a big, beautiful, happy life with my 3 girls.

It was a reminder that I needed to take care of my dreams. 

It was a wake-up call to my heart. Sometimes, we lose ourselves amidst our efforts to care for other people. That’s what I did. I lost sight of my dreams and goals.

It has been a year since I found the receipt. I am happier and hopeful. I turned my car around and found a better road to travel. And guess what? It turns out, this road is the one I should have been on.

I realize now that I had been a distracted driver on my life road. I was thinking about what my family wanted for me and what I thought society expected of me rather than keeping my eyes on my road.

Looking back, I can clearly see how I let events re-route my personal goals. We can not stop unexpected events from affecting our lives.  Sickness, divorce, natural disasters, addictions – all of these occur. You can’t stop it. But, you can start dealing with these events in the most positive light, as possible.

I had to proactively train my thoughts to view my life events as an opportunity to get back on track.

Every time, I start to feel sorry for myself, I stop and ask God to help me to be open to new experiences. I remind myself to open my eyes and look for all of the possibilities in life and not focus on the doors that have closed.

I am looking forward. I am reminding myself to focus on my road. 

This is how you do it.

I would love to hear about your pivotal moments. How did you cope?

 

 

 

Expectation

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/commit/

 

This baby bird has an instinctual expectation.

It is expecting the parent to keep it safe and bring food – regularly. This little baby doesn’t question its worthiness to be loved and nurtured. It is born with an expectation and this is exactly what keeps it alive.

Every kind of baby has that same face,  so full of innocent expectation. They enter into this world not capable of knowing the dangers that are lurking outside their door. Whether they are born in a nest, den, field or hospital – they all have one factor in common. All babies are born with naive expectation that everything will be OK. Why would they question the arrival of their existence into the Universe? Babies of every species demand attention. They demand their caregivers commit to their survival. After all, it wasn’t their procreating activities that brought themselves here.

They expect life to be fair.

One of the hardest scenes to witness in your child’s life is the day they realize life is not fair. Not the “Betty got the new toy and not me” kind of not fair but a realization that even though they did the right thing, they still got burned. The day your child realizes that the rest of the world does not offer the same kind of unconditional acceptance that you do. The day they understand they will have to change their perspective about expectations. How they view this event will affect their future perceptions of their value.

I have studied the subject of confidence and self-esteem for many years. I am curious about what elements need to be present for a person to achieve happiness. What personality factors determine a person’s self esteem and ability to choose a productive path in life?

I read about a study done a few years ago. The purpose of the study was to observe families in different economic conditions and determine how those conditions could affect parenting styles and ultimately the children’s well-being and future prospects for fulfillment.

As a single grandparent of 3 young girls, I am intensely aware of how economic conditions affect child rearing.

tire swing joy

There is only so much time in the day…

The study does not represent any group negatively. Researchers followed the families around and recorded conversations and situations. It was just unbiased observances.

What the study revealed was that how we interact with our children can, among other things, affect their expectation of what life has to offer. The parents that routinely structured activities to purposefully engage their children, created adults that felt confident in their contributions.

For example, in one situation a mother is driving her son to the doctor for a routine visit. As she drove her son, the mother talked about what to expect. She also asked her son if there was anything he wanted to ask the doctor. In fact, he did have a question about an unrelated rash. His mother advised the boy to ask the doctor about it. This gesture taught the son to value himself. It taught him to believe his expectations not only could be met but, in fact, should be met.  When the mother and son were in the office, the boy did ask questions. The doctor was impressed with the boys’ thoughtfulness and answered him properly. Lesson reinforced.

I thought about my childhood and driving with my mom. First of all, she would not have asked me if there was anything I wanted to ask the doctor. Second of all, she would have made clear that my job was to sit there quietly and do as your told. After all, the doctor knows best, right?

As I mentioned earlier, I have read many books about self-esteem and confidence. (I need some, so I read everything I can.) I am curious about how some people can be so confident in themselves and some of us question every decision we make with heart pounding anxiety.

One of the answers is  expectation. I am learning to approach my decisions and interactions with the expectation that I am doing the right thing.

I am learning to value my own opinion – just like that mother was teaching her son on the way to the doctor. I may not have had the benefit of learning this skill as a kid, but I can sure do it now!

I was created with every bit of promise as that little bird or the kid that was born into advantages I didn’t have.

We all should have an expectation that we have value. We need to believe we have something important to offer the Universe before others will.

Expect life to give you opportunities to fulfill your life. Expect to succeed. See yourself accomplishing your goals.

I would love to hear about your stories of inspiration.

What are your expectations?

 

 

Puncture the Sky

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/puncture/

The morning air was heavy. It pushed against me as I walked down the grassy path. Storms hovered on the edge of the Darby Plains. A dazzling lightning bolt pierced the blue-gray sky. The fragrance of a million different plants growing strong  filled the breeze. Crystal dewdrops clung to life on the leaves of the young corn. Soon, they would be sucked back into the very air that had given them life.

Birds and their chattering families filled the trees with life. Their collective cacophony of songs called to me.

The Sun punctured the clouds and rays of light shone down. I felt like I was walking in a painting.

I use the sounds and sights of early morning to clear my mind. I meditate on nature. I allow myself to have a moment without worry.

The other day, I had an epiphany. A revelation. 

I have been known to have a bit of anxiety. I worry, who doesn’t, right ? I wake up in the middle of the night, my brain screaming at me, ” you will probably fail… you know you will run out of money.. you won’t be able to provide for your family…you will be alone… what if you get sick… and on and on. I lay there awake, now I am adding lack of sleep to the endless list of things to worry about.  Now, I am going to have a headache, too.

I know I am not alone with these kinds of self-defeating thoughts. 

We all question ourselves at times. It is a necessary component of self discovery. But, when the self-doubt becomes paralyzing or over-exaggerated and interferes with happiness, it has to be controlled.

That’s when it hit me.

I did everything I could do yesterday and I will do whatever it takes tomorrow, to fulfill my purpose and take care of my family. I had to have faith. I had to puncture the worry with faith. Tonight, I need sleep. I must stay the course.

I have read tons of self-help books and articles. And I know this much – One characteristic of successful and happy people is they PERSEVERE.

In the face of adversity and doubt, successful people don’t lose sight of themselves. They never lose sight of their goals.  

Every person’s path is different. My path is not the same as yours. I have to walk out the door and face the morning on my path. You have your door and your path.

Our paths will cross, from time to time. When they do, let’s encourage and help each other. Let’s try to remember we are all trying to find our way.

Have faith, Stay on your path.

 

 

Independence – Little by Little

via Daily Prompt: Taper

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/taper/

 

This young Mourning Dove is experiencing life outside the nest for the first time. The nest is snuggled in the apple tree. I didn’t know it was there until the adult on nest duty noisily flew out when I got too close. The twin of this young bird is still waiting in the nest for its cue from the parents to try flying.

I love watching the Mourning Doves raise their young. The birds pair up and share family duties. From nest-building to raising their young, they help each other. The birds are larger than some of the small songbirds that build their nests in my yard, so they are easier to follow.

The Mourning Doves have beautiful coos and chirps to communicate with each other. The parents will stay close and slowly taper off their attention and care.

One day the young birds will fly away to start their new life. They will fulfill their destiny.

The birds don’t have to decide which school to attend, whom to marry, whether to have children or wonder what is their purpose. They spend today making this the best day ever. They will look for the most delicious food and the safest hiding place. The birds will worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here.

Maybe we could learn from nature. Let’s spend today making this the best day ever.

Learning by Doing

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/volume/

The ducks were napping in the yard. Their long necks turned gracefully , keeping their bills nestled in downy feathers.

It wasn’t always like this.

This Spring, we decided to add 3 ducks to our home  – one duck for each human girl. I went to the Feed Store , where we purchased our chickens a year earlier, planning to “just look”. I walked back to the area where they keep the newly arrived chicks and ducklings. I peered into the tub marked “Ducks”. There they were, 3 remaining downy ducklings, huddled together . Just them against the world. One by one they had watched their tub mates disappear. They had watched as human hands appeared from nowhere and snatched them away. Listening to the frightened peeps of their friends getting more distant as they were carried through the store, must have been scary.  Where did their friends go? What would be their fate? All of their companions had vanished. The 3 Duck Musketeers were comforting each other.

I brought 3 ducklings home, that day. I just knew it was meant to be.

The ducklings were understandably nervous about the humans and their intentions. Up to this point, all of their interactions with humans had been unpleasant – why would this be any different?

Every day, I lovingly scooped them up from their sleeping area to place them in a safe fenced area outside. And every day, they would peep and run around, trying their best to avoid those human hands. They spent their days in a lovely ducky place. It had sun, shade, grass and just the right amount of water. They rested peacefully huddled together, in the grass.The ducklings were happy and content – until human hands swooped in and transferred them back to their nighttime place. Every day was the same routine. They never recovered from their fear of hands.

The ducklings grew fast. They seemed continuously ravenous. It wasn’t long before their fluffy down was replaced by sleek white feathers. They were so happy to find a container of water in their pen. They jumped in and right back out! But then, they were hooked! The ducks couldn’t resist splashing around and playing. They discovered joy.

The day came to let them experience freedom.

At first, they remained huddled together underneath the big forsythia bush beside the pen. They didn’t want to leave the safety of that spot. I walked around the yard, completing my chores. The girls ran and played and the chickens were elegant and sweet, as usual. If we got too close to their hiding spot, the ducks would grumble and complain. We didn’t push them. We talked soothingly as we fed them and slowly, they started to relax.

Some days, the ducks make huge leaps of independence.

One day they discovered the scratchy fragrant pine trees. They didn’t know what they would find there, but resistance was not an option. Another day, they found the big water tub on the far side of the yard. Now, it’s one of their favorite places to hang out.

The ducks keep a wary and watchful eye on the chickens. They realize the chickens have useful knowledge about the yard and the humans. The chickens have secret places  to find treats, like worms and seeds. The chickens know where all the water sources are located. And they know when it is feeding time!

It makes sense for the ducks to follow the travels of the chickens. So, when the chickens follow me around the yard while I am working, the ducks will also.

There was a time when the ducks would never have thought it was possible to leave the safety of the forsythia bush. 

Watching and learning from the chickens has helped the ducks imagine their own possible potential. The ducks realized there was a big exciting world, just waiting to be explored. The ducks are discovering their true purpose. They are happy.

First, the ducks had to take a leap of faith.

Or maybe in this case, a waddle of faith! The ducks had to stop hiding from new experiences. They had to try.

As the creature in charge, I knew the ducks had limitless potential for happiness. I knew they were capable of more than just hiding from life. But, the ducks could not know until they allowed their natural instincts to surface. The ducks had to trust. 

The ducks journey of happiness is a parallel journey to my own.

The ducks needed 2 things to succeed:

First, they had to believe in themselves.

Even though the world seemed so scary and they had no idea what to expect, they had to start with those first steps. If the ducks had remained hidden in the darkness of the forsythia bush, they would still be sad and afraid. They would still be looking out, wondering about all the possibilities, but never truly experiencing life. They had to try.

Once they stepped into the yard, they discovered everything they were meant to discover. They started to experience the endless possibilities the Universe had to offer.

I am also learning to believe in myself. I am stepping into the light and I don’t want to go back to darkness. There is a big fantastic world out there. I can not possibly imagine everything the Universe has to offer. But, I have to leave the safety of the familiar to discover my true potential.

The second factor needed for the ducks life affirming journey, was to find guidance.

For the ducks, this came in the form of the wise chickens. The chickens had already conquered the backyard. The chickens knew the humans brought food and provided safety. They knew where the gardens were and how to find yummy worms and tasty seeds. The ducks benefitted from the chickens experience. 

I also benefit from the prior experiences of others. I can seek out others who have conquered scary new experiences similar to mine. The best way to illuminate my journey is to utilize the light others provide. In the form of books, blogs and websites, I can seek out others that have succeeded.

The Universe already knows  my true potential. The Universe knows everything I can accomplish. Sometimes, it can be difficult for me to believe in myself.

It can be hard to take that leap of faith, just like it was for my ducks. But, once they stepped into the light and started moving – they never looked back. Now, they take naps right in the middle of the yard!

I have decided to be like those ducks. I am going to leave the safety of the bushes and experience everything life has to offer. I want to find out what the Universe already knows about me.

Come with me.

I would love to hear about the tactics you have used to experience your dreams and full potential.

 

 

 

 

Wait! I need to wait some more…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/radiate/

I woke to the sound of the rain dripping on the flowerpots underneath my bedroom window. drip.drip.drip. It is raining…again.

It has been a rainy spring. Winter had been above average in temperature with minimal snowfall. This had made for an easy winter for travel and heating bills but was troubling for the ground water levels.

Mother Nature to the rescue!

The winter precipitation deficit has been eliminated by a surplus of spring rain. The heavy rains coupled with warm temps have caused Central Ohio to undergo a metamorphosis. We have gone from fields so dry the dust from the working tractors filled the sky like smoke to fields full of ponding water and weeds. Ducks can be seen swimming in temporary ponds in the middle of corn fields.

The seeds I manage to plant in between rain deluges are benefitting from the moisture. However, it has been a tricky schedule this year. If I am unable to plant during the brief windows of sunshine then I have to wait 4-5 days before the opportunity presents itself again. I am growing lots of extra herbs this year. I plan to sell my herbs at the local Farmers Market this year. I need to get those seeds going!

The truth is, I have had the plan to sell my herbs for a couple of years. I live in a small farming community and we have a perfect little Farmers Market. There are the usual vendors that sell sweet corn and tomatoes, locally raised honey and homemade bread. But, there aren’t many specialty tables, like those that sell fresh herb.  I plan to sell fresh herbs, dried herbs and live herbs in pots.  I have ideas about how I want my table to look, what I will wear and how I will greet the customers. Should I get business cards made? Then folks would have my contact info and they could stop at my farm to pick up fresh herbs for their dinner.

Doesn’t that sound like a great plan? I can make some extra money doing something I love. I have always wanted to start a venture like this. I would make new connections and forge new friendships. My self confidence and it’s cousin, self esteem would soar.

Yet, for some unknown reason, I have yet to put the plan into action. I have planned and planted for 2 summers. I always seem to find a reason this summer isn’t the “right summer”. The excuses are as endless as the rain, this summer it’s too hot, too dry, too cold or too wet. I am too busy, too sad or too stressed to implement the plan.

It is an undeniable fact of human nature that we like to procrastinate. We put off going to the doctor, the gym and the store. We know we should but yet we don’t.

I have become an expert at rescheduling tasks. From returning phone calls to organizing closets, I can reason my way to rescheduling every time. I have read countless self help books and self analyzed my self destructive behaviors incessantly.

This is what I know.

At the core of self doubt and procrastination is the fear of failure. The invisible forcefield that surrounds me and prevents me from fulfilling my destiny is made of fear. I read somewhere that when you are feeling stuck and unable to complete your action plan, ask yourself, ” If you knew that you would be successful at your new venture, would you still be stuck in procrastination?” In other words, if  failure wasn’t even possible, how motivated would you be today to start your plan? I know my answer to that question. I would jump in, feet first, and fully immerse myself into my new action plan. But, we can’t see into the future and we can not be guaranteed success.

I hold my dreams in my heart like one of my fragile seedlings. I lovingly tend to them. I wait for the perfect weather to plant them in the garden. I fret over choosing just the right spot and just the right time. If I plant them too early, they will not be strong enough to survive. If I wait too long, then the plants will stop growing inside their restrictive containers. This is how I feel about my dreams.

When I was younger, I planted my dreams with unbridled enthusiasm. I believed that I could make my dreams come true. Anything was possible. However,life has a way of changing your perceptions of what is actually possible. Stuff happens. My precious dreams were trampled by careless feet running through my garden. My seedlings did not thrive. I grew fearful of planting new dreams.

The problem is, if I don’t plant new dreams then nothing will be growing in my garden. I feel parental towards my dreams. Any parent that has watched their child climb into a car and drive away from your protective arms knows how gut wrenching it can be. The moment you realize you can not protect them from danger and you can not control their decisions, is the moment you give away your power. This precious child that you have given your life for, is now just driving away. Anything could happen. The same is true for your dreams. We have nurtured them and loved them. But, at some point, you have to let them soar on their own. In order for your dreams to fulfill themselves you have to let them go.

Fear is a powerful emotion. It can keep you safe but it can also keep you unfulfilled. Over the years, I have had some good plans and some not so good plans. But the only way I know the difference is because I tried. Yes, some of my dreams got trampled in the garden but some of them have grown into strong beautiful sunflowers. Sunflowers that dropped their seeds and created new unexpected seedlings. New flowers growing in my garden that I didn’t even know was possible.

Don’t let fear stop you from fulfilling your dreams. This is the year I will start my business. Who knows what will happen? I can’t wait to find out.

What will you discover when you let go of fear and plant your dreams?

Radiate your dreams into the Universe.

 

 

Watching a Life

Reprieve

I watched her walking across the parking lot.  She strode confidantly to her SUV. Her arms were loaded with 4 or 5 blue plastic tubs and locking lids she had just purchased in the store. She didn’t fumble in all of her pockets (and purse) for her keys. No, she just bumped her knee into a magical unlocking device and her back door opened effortlessly.  Her fashionable athletic wear and salon hair added to her air of accomplishment and confidence.

Obviously, she was taking her brand new, clean, plastic containers (with lids) home to organize her winter clothes. Or maybe, she was going to organize her kids rooms. She will fold and tuck everything into those tubs. They will be stacked neatly into her walk-in closet with working light(s). After happily  organizing and cleaning her kids beautiful and whimsically decorated rooms, she will go downstairs to have lunch on her marble island. She will open her iPad and use her whole house wifi to send emails to her coworkers and girlfriends. She will have lunch at a cute cafe and pick up her children at school. Her husband is handsome and buys her flowers for no reason. He adores her and their life together.

I imagine all of this while I am sitting in my 15 year old car. It is a practical 4 door – well now it is technically a 2 door – since my 3 kids broke the door handles for both of the back doors. Now, my kids and dogs have to climb over the front seats with their muddy shoes and paws to sit in a jumbled chaotic mess in the back seat. I was crying into my phone when I saw her. My debit card was maxed out and I was unable to purchase the groceries we needed. I don’t know what I thought Customer Service could do for me, but I needed to vent. I watched her, with those new plastic tubs, being so organized and pretty. I felt jealousy and envy and then a mixture of anger and resentment followed by sadness and self pity. She was living my life – I should be driving a big SUV. I should have well lit closets and a marble island in my kitchen. Instead, I am trying to figure out which cheap starchy carbohydrate will be the main course for dinner. My kids wear the clothes that her kids grew out of and then donated to the Thrift Store. My “husband” is running around like he is an unmarried 25 year old fool.

We all have those moments. Moments when we wonder how we got to this place. We started out going in a certain direction and then invariably we end up going in a different direction. Sometimes, the change in direction is a welcome transition and sometimes it is a hardship we have to deal with. No matter how your life turned around or what direction you are going in, we always wonder how things could be different if only…

This much I know. I have lived long enough to know that every situation is temporary. Good times and bad times are just temporary moments. The day will come when I am unlocking a vehicle that all doors work properly. I will buy bags and bags of groceries. And I will be watched by someone else that is having a bad day.

Reprieve. Allow yourself a reprieve from daily life. It’s OK to daydream about an alternate life in a parallel universe that you wish you were living. But, after a brief reprieve from the grind of daily life, come back to your reality. If the reality is not going in the direction you intended, then it is a perfect time to change lanes and get off the turnpike you are travelling.

Remember, someone is watching you.

Life Lessons in Permaculture

I work the rich soil, spreading it over the garden like luscious ganache over a chocolate cake. I know the organisms working their unseen magic underneath my feet are helping the plants grow strong and bountiful. The smell of spring planting fills the air. Growing my family’s food in our own backyard garden is one way I can control our nutrition and help our environment.

We have all become increasingly aware of how the food we feed our family is produced, grown, sourced and packaged. We forgo pesticides and instead let our chicken children do the job. They get a meal and we get natural pest control. We take the chickens nitrogen bombs and add them to potato peels and coffee grounds to brew a batch of compost gold. We read labels for GMOs, sustainable sourcing and humane farming practices. All of these elements are important to the health and longevity of the soil we grow our food in and the air we breathe.

Unless you have had your head under the proverbial rock, you have heard of organic farming and sustainable farming practices.

A design principle known as Permaculture  integrates the best of organic, humane and sustainable farming practices. Permaculture is a term coined by Bill Mollison in the 70s. It is a combination of two words, “permanent” and “agriculture”.  Permaculture is as much a philosophy as it is an agricultural design principle. Mollison wanted a design that would ensure “the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems.”

At its core is the fundamental life lesson that life is cyclical – every part affects every other part. Or as we commonly know it ; “what goes around, comes around.”

For example, the introduction of organic matter into the garden starts a cycle of actions and reactions. The newly introduced organic matter will alter the health of the soil, attract beneficial insects, affect moisture retention, ph balance and become more productive. On the flip side, if negative actions are imposed on the soil such as rampant pesticide spraying and over-production of mono crops it will deplete the life from the land.

Another key principle of Permaculture is self-regulating design. The idea is that each element in the landscape of your garden areas can accept and benefit from the other elements.  One example of this would be Chicken Tractors. Backyard chickens have become very popular lately. Many of us have discovered the fun and rewards of having a few hens scratching around the yard. I could never have imagined that I would enjoy their companionship so much. They come running (literally running) when I walk out to the gardens. They expectantly wait for me to till and hoe the earth which will expose their favorite treats – beetles and bugs. I only have 5 hens so they are able to run freely around the yard. But, for some, the chickens need to be kept housed for their own safety. One option is Chicken Tractors. Chicken Tractors are chicken coops on wheels. The coop is wheeled around the acreage as needed. If an area needs to be cleared of vegetation in order to create a new garden or just to remove undesired plant growth, the coop is moved to that spot. The chickens, happy to have fresh grass and weeds to scratch around, go to work. Their natural behaviors kick in and they scratch and peck the area bare. They remove unwanted vegetation and insects. The chickens benefit and the soil benefits. This , in turn, benefits the landowner and her endeavors. Each element accepts and benefits from the other elements. Another life lesson that we would be wise to remember. Every time we add a new element to our lives, it is important to be cognizant of its effect on the other elements of our lives.

The principle of “Life Intervention” is another intriguing life lesson. The idea is that in the face of chaos, we have an opportunity to create order. Mollison says, “… if we want pleasure then we should preserve the life around us.”  The “Law of Return” reminds us that for every resource we use , we need to replace the same or greater amount. Mollison includes many detailed sketches in his book, “Permaculture.  A Designers’ Manual” of ways to use water storage. He details methods  to capture and reuse rain water and gray water. In addition to his thoughtful and creative sketches on water usage and storage he also details the importance of shelter breaks and windbreaks. Mollison breaks down different climate and topography situations and the best practices to be used in those areas.  Herein lies another parallel to the human condition. When we are confronted by difficult situations, we can choose to see it as a chance to design creative order rather than succumbing to its chaos. We can choose to use our resources carefully which allows for everyone to benefit.

Permaculture is a comprehensive agricultural design principle. It is a recognized course in University. “Permaculture. A Designers’ Manual” is over 500 pages of thought-provoking information. It looks at every aspect of agriculture from a life affirming standpoint. It always stresses the importance of the ethical and moral importance in the choices we make regarding our planet. This is also a tool we can use in our everyday lives.

I have laid out just a couple of the main principles of Permaculture. There are so many intricate details and important ideas involved with Permaculture. It is definitely a subject worth taking a long look at.

So, the next time you are looking for a new way to look at gardening, take a look at a concept from the 70s. Hey, the 70s are all the rage right now! Along with your 70s haircuts and aviator glasses, you can add Permaculture to your repertoire.

Anger Mis-Management

via Daily Prompt: Notorious

You know the feeling; sometimes an event smashes into you like a car crash . It feels like an unseen hand reaches into your chest and grabs your heart, squeezing it until you can’t breathe. Little black  dots float in front of your eyes and you completely stop thinking about anything…but that. Sometimes, it’s more of a  slow simmer- like a teapot on the stove. It just seems to sit there doing nothing for awhile. You (foolishly) think you have plenty of time before it starts boiling. You go about your business, ignoring it. But, just as you start an important conversation on the phone, it starts whistling. Gently at first, it lets you know the time has come to pay attention to it. However, if you don’t tend to it, it will scream louder. It will hijack your thoughts and conversations until you run into the kitchen to turn it off. This is how anger rules our lives until we deal with it.

For some of us, anger is our default mental switch. It is the first emotion we turn to when something disappoints us or when we feel we are not being treated fairly. My father always turned to anger to get his point across. He grew up during the Great Depression and World War 2. He had a lot to be angry about. Life wasn’t fair and he knew it. He grew up on a self sustaining farm and everyone worked hard 7 days a week. His brothers went off to war and the rest of the family kept the farm running.  He became a man that had his own family. He worked hard for over 30 years in a factory. He paid his taxes, went to church and helped his children and neighbors. Yet, after almost 50 years of  marriage and looking forward to retirement with his wife, she died of cancer. He was left alone. Yeah, he had alot to be angry about.

I watched my father be an angry man and because I respected him, I subconsciously started emulating him… and his anger. The problem is, anger can be a black hole.  It sucks your laughter and joy into an abyss of self pity. Have you ever walked past a mirror and caught a glimpse of yourself when you are really pissed off about something?  Yikes. I saw myself the other day, when I was deep into “Why me? Why did they do that to me? ?!” I was so angry. Then I saw my face in the mirror. The corners of my mouth were turned down tight. My eyebrows were all scrunched together – I looked miserable. And for what? That angry face and soul was not going to be able to fix anything in that state.

Don’t get me wrong, a twinge of anger directed into useful action can be a productive endeavor. When we see people being mistreated and suffering through no fault of their own, many of us feel angry because we know it isn’t right. If the anger spurs us into action to help, then the anger can be useful. Anger can also help spur us into action if we are unhappy with our own personal situation. If we don’t like the current situation we find ourselves in, a little anger at the unjustness of it all can be just the impetus we need to make a positive change.

However, sometimes anger gets untethered. It becomes a frighteningly powerful horse spooked by thunder, breaking free and wildly charging anywhere it can find an opening. It is dangerous and no one is safe from it’s rampage. The horse doesn’t intend to hurt anyone but it feels threatened for it’s safety and is acting in self preservation. This is what uncontrolled anger can do. It can hurt innocent bystanders and those that just don’t deserve it.

I watched a story on our local news today. A man, who apparently was distraught over a recent breakup, killed 3 people and then killed himself. One of the victims was his former girlfriend. The other 2 were in the wrong place at the wrong time and lost their lives. So many families lives were changed forever as a result of one person’s untethered anger. It was discovered, as often is in these circumstances,  the man had a history of mental probelms and anger issues. This is an extreme example of anger. Thankfully, most of us do not resort to violence and murder when strangled by the emotion of anger. But, it reminded me of how anger unchecked can destroy what it touches.

I have read that one reason we resort to anger when faced with a challenging situation is because it is instant gratification. The moment  we give in to that release of anger, we feel a little better – for a minute. But, if the anger is still festering or if the anger was directed unecessarily harshly towards an innocent party, then everything is worse. It’s like scratching your itchy poisin ivy bumps. It feels really good while you are scratching but then the bumps react negatively and they become even more itchy. It is a viscious cycle.

Unchecked anger can be insidious. It can seep into every facet of your life. It can color every interaction, no matter how silly or insignificant. You can’t laugh at a light moment because you see it as an afront to your self imposed victimization.

Let anger spur you into positive action. Whether it’s exercising, meditating, volunteering or taking a nap – go do it. While you are engaging in your chosen activity, release your anger into the activity. Accept there are some things you can’t change. You can not go back into the past and un-have that fender bender. Be angry for a minute – then let it go.

We are not victims of random acts hurtling through space. We are confident capable people that are driven by passion not anger.