Leaving the Garden (but continuing to cultivate mindfulness)

I wanted the title of this post to be more cute than it is, but couldn’t get it right. This post, my last for this blog, may be more blunt than the others. Or, maybe not. 😏

A trunk-full of spring seedlings/why my car is dirty inside

Cultivating mindfulness in cultivating gardens seems to have run its course with me. I went from yearning for the earthy wisdom found through organic gardening in 2014, to gleaning that wisdom, to forgetting and needing that gardening wisdom in my life again in 2015, to starting to get it back in my life by volunteering in local community gardens in 2016, to expanding in that wisdom cultivation through herbalism and aromatherapy in 2017, to finally better aligning my passions and career path with a job in community-centric urban agriculture in 2018 and the first half of this year. Well, all of this growing healthy food, feeding people around me & myself, composting, soil prepping, planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning, weeding, harvesting, collaborating with fellow growers, farmers’ market patrons, farm volunteers, members of the press, and garden-related data collection and event planning has taught me one big overarching thing of all the smaller lessons learned along the way: once you’ve lived your greatest dreams, it’s OK to wake up. Take a shower. Brush your teeth. And go forth into uncharted territory confidently lost.

Having put my all into community gardening over the last 5 years has really shown me what I am capable of. I went from surviving a Vermont winter (-45 degrees! Farenheit & Celsius are actually the same at that point)

Last winter was hard on these young fruit trees but most of them made it through

to helping collect a swarm of honeybees–two things I never imagined I’d do just a decade earlier.

See the swarm?

Talking to press about urban beekeeping. I look so official πŸ˜›

My first solo inspection as a beekeeper; I saw the queen!!

The mindfulness gardening helped me cultivate also enabled me to expand the boundaries of my abilities to responsibly, respectfully and compassionately work with fellow human beings who often aren’t as honest & straightforward as plants and bees. πŸ˜›

Helping prep a raised bed for spring–it felt so good to be in the field and out of the office!

Purple cauliflower & coleslaw from the farm just a short walk from the kitchen. Best coleslaw I ever had in my life.

Summer interns on a farm tour

Somebody loves collards!

Community member enjoying her first cherry harvest πŸ™‚

I discovered how productive I could be, despite having very little to almost no support in some instances, being angry at or frustrated with colleagues & supervisors, or having to do work that mostly served to appease grantors (and not actually help feed people good food) on top of my actual job. I never would’ve thought I’d be able to handle all of that ten years ago either. I thought I would’ve gotten myself fired or arrested by now for sure!😜

Remember cubicle onion?

As you may have picked out from my 2015 posts, office jobs aren’t really my cup of tea.😁

Instead, somewhat similarly to how my 2015 office job ended, I left my urban ag position feeling emancipated and on the organization’s terms. No love lost.

Really, more love found. I finally have the life I always wanted: my own home, amazing friendships, fulfilling work that also pays my bills, and the freedom to focus more on my spiritual path and basically do/be whatever I want, along with the wisdom to let it go and be grateful should I lose it all.😏😎 All I had to do was give up everything and follow my heart into a garden.

Too cute to exclude πŸ˜‰

Endless thanks to everyone who’s read any posts on this blog, everyone who comments, everyone featured in its photos or who took the photos, and of course all the magnanimous donors who made my organic gardening apprenticeship (and this blog) possible. πŸ™πŸ½ You raised a human being into a true friend.πŸ’š

I started this blog with an apple tree I cared for, so I’m ending this blog with an apple tree I cared for.

Glimpses of Gardening Bliss from 2018

Since I hadn’t really had my own garden to grow with last year, I treasured every opportunity to grow with local community gardens and friends’ gardens.

Scenes from working in Wild Ginger Herb Garden

πŸ™πŸ½

March winds bring Spring groundlessness

So much for rhyming. πŸ˜›

Although the last two months have been fraught with unexpected upheaval and some loss, as I’ve had to move out of the home where I’d planned to start an herb garden and physically ground my spiritual practice,

like the disparaging loss of crops from this peace garden I helped build 3 years ago,

a few seedlings I started in March have managed to weather the storm,

baby mammoth sunflowers (L) and baby marigolds/calendula in their window seat at a friend’s house

and I sunk back into spiritual ground (the only ground that never quakes πŸ˜› ) with a centering Buddhist retreat in the exquisitely emerald Canadian Rockies! πŸ˜πŸ’š

these blurry photos really don’t do it justice, it was like 4 days in FernGully

The retreat provided me with a practice to get me back on track with regular meditation/contemplation sessions, and keep me from losing my mind to my emotionally charged ego which might otherwise be a bit manic.

wild reishi! Queen of the mushrooms πŸ˜€

somehow one’s root teacher has a way popping up to support your practice no matter how far from home you travel πŸ˜‰

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche surprisingly, protectively perched above my retreat bed

And the practice I received during the retreat has been my greatest ship in navigating this continuing flood of unanticipated insecurity. As it’s now the end of May and many of the seedlings I started are transplanted into a friend’s garden. πŸ˜› IMG_0528

So although many seeds of my life this year haven’t sprouted the way I wanted and planned, I still find some things to be grateful for, like the fact that at least one seed of every kind I started in March has sprouted! 😍 🌱 Like my applebabies, my previous home and herb garden plans though, I simply must learn to let them go.

Having a bit more trouble than you’d like letting go of something you loved and lost unexpectedly? Commiserate with me in the comments below!

Comfort food for β€˜Soilful’ sangha

Dinner served during DC’s Dept of Parks & Rec Black Growers Month Panel Discussion – delish & nutrish πŸ˜‰

Screenshot-2018-2-17 Black Growers Month Panel Discussion

Back twenty days ago I attended the Department of Parks & Recreation’s Black Growers Month Panel to see some old friends–like Xavier who I worked with three years ago I can’t believe it’s been that long! πŸ˜› –and make some new ones–like Wallace Kirby of Hustlers 2 Harvesters–who I’m hoping to get back into local community gardens with! πŸ™‚
It was excellent to be back among composting comrades, gorilla-growers sewing seeds in food deserts, and moms getting our communities into better health with locally grown produce and herbs!

It’s been soooooo long/too long since I worked with plants in soil instead of just in making herbal preparations, essential oils blends and dinner, :p that I sorely miss it. However, duty/paying bills calls which unfortunately meant too many times that the closest I got to herbs beyond my handmade personal care products was with sumac on my french fries πŸ˜›

Where sumac is a condiment on the menu

It’s ok though, I’m more determined to make 2018 a year where passionate pursuits and healthy relationships take priority over making money. I mean, it is the year of the earth dog, not the cash cow. πŸ˜›

So looking forward to posting more often! πŸ™‚

This has nothing to do with gardening, meditation or Buddha but….

Fro-yo!

Maybe it planted some beneficial bacterial in the soil that is my intestinal mucosa.

It’s mostly taro-flavored so maybe it helped ground me through the emotional tornado I was in when I got it.

Or, it could just be pretty fro-yo.

Either way, it was delicious. πŸ™‚

~*Photo credits to Anna Yancich, an embodiment of best friendship~*

Wintrospection II – scaling back to the Naked, Cold Hard Truth

*This should’ve been posted shortly after January 1st, 2018 but I had trouble organizing & adding captions to all the photos. :/ So if you want to know what they’re photos of, please comment!

 

 

As my stomping grounds have been deeply frosted over for weeks, despite winter not beginning for five more days according to my 5-season indigenous calendar, I find myself also dropping back below the bustling canopy of work and sparse shrubbery of socializing all the way down into the yet unfrozen soil under the icy surface to the roots of my spiritual practice & true priorities. Like maintaining this blog. πŸ™‚

In the exuberance of summer and rush of activity through harvest season & autumn Me under the female ginko biloba tree whose leaves I used to make tincture. She’s in full fruit! Well, it was Harvest season ;)Me & classmates Taryn(R) and Laura sifting out marshmallow seeds to save :) Kinda excited to grow my own!

I rather drifted from my path of contemplative practice. I learned a great deal from the first two days of Permaculture Design class that I attended, American ginger growing in the local forest garden started by Mangy, our teacher :)Poison ivy? I forget :/Soap nuts! You can literally pluck them off the bush and use them to wash stuff(!) Besides the plantain in the right corner I fPassionflower. Looks kinda crazy doesn’t it :)the first year of Centro AshΓ©’s Herbalism Apprenticeship, Three of the four tinctures I made, mostly in prep for cold & flu seasonGinko Biloba tincture, β€œDrawing Oil” and Morning glory flower essence :)Class flower essences soaking in the sunthe second level of Aromatherapy certification, Certificate from level 1My full set of essential oils plus the blends I made in class just below them. I’ve still got 7 case studies to start so contact me if you’re interested in trying a blend or having one made specifically for your issue! :)and the Birth Doula course blew my mind (and sacral chakra :-s ) right open quite unexpectedly, From the baby-wearing class Learning the different positions a baby’s head could be in as it descends into the birth canal :) Helps mother & her birth partner(s) decide which position(s) to get into to facilitate birthbut my meditation cushion remained undented. :/ Work started losing its luster, despite providing time to read sutras. Vimalakirti is the coolest bodhisattva from 2,500 years ago! 😜I needed to sit. Even the most fruitful garden needs time to die back or lay fallow, or simply be weeded sometimes. Winter is that time.
Instead of rushing to work because I can make more money when it’s cold out, I’m taking time to honor the energy of the season and strengthen my spiritual roots so I’ll be refreshed & ready to bud into action when the ice melts. Seeds all ready to g(r)o(w)!! :DMy garden plan for my back yard :DAnd maybe a little wiser about balancing my spiritual life with the rest of my life. β˜ΊοΈπŸ™‚

Big hugs and Thank You’s to all who contributed photos to this post!~*Happy 2018!~*

Like Hawthorn tea for heartbreak…

Getting back to communing with plants through Centro AshΓ©’s Community Herbalism Apprenticeship has shined into my life like a comforting embrace, just when I needed it most. 

Paloma the herb garden cat, basking in the sun’s embrace

Our first class started with a tea tasting, where we were asked to share where/how the energy in our bodies moved from sipping the tea, where we tasted it most on our tongues, and any other tea-related sensations we felt, no wrong answers. Then we would find out which tea it was. I felt a gentle refreshing sensation go up into my head, and a dark velvet triangle go down into my heart with each sip. I think the back of my tongue was where the flavor most lingered. Despite all my classmates’ guesses, it turned out to be hawthorn berry tea, good for tonifying the heart and circulatory system*. Good for tempering the angst of a broken heart, which I was really struggling with then.

The second day of class (where we tried peach leaf tea πŸ™‚ ) and the homework assignments have been similarly supportive, intriguing and perfectly timed. Like coming home. 

I’ve missed this. Excited for our next weekend of classes in a couple days. πŸ˜€


~*This post was originally drafted in early July 2017, but still relevant as our final weekend of Year 1 of the Herbal Apprenticeship is this weekend!!*~