Peace in the Soil

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The weather is finally warm enough to get my hands back in the soil. It has been for a few weeks.

Oh, the peace.

My gardens are, clearly, my happy place. And I have returned.

There is something so incredible about working gloveless in the soil. I like to feel the dirt under my fingernails. I don’t even mind when I graze a worm or grub. They used to be “gross” when I was a little girl. Now, they’re a part of being outside, of gardening, of knowing the earth beneath me.

This year I have a ton of maintenance to do. Weed pulling, mulching, moving paver stones, etc. I’m trying not to buy new flowers, though it’s tempting. The nursery keeps the plants so beautiful and thriving (how do they do it?!). They look so gorgeous I often feel like I can’t help myself.

So I focus on peace.

It’s a practice.

It takes patience and concentration.

I don’t need more plants. I need to wait; for things to grow and spread and fill in the holes. This will take years, but it will save money and give the plants their freedom to blossom and bloom and spread. I must let the plants be what they are– living, growing, thriving organisms that will fill in the gaps in the garden beds when given the nutrients and time they need.

I am peaceful when I’m in my garden, doing the work. I’m peaceful when I’m dirty and grubby, my hands dark with earth. I grew up with garden-loving parents, and a vegetable-growing grandfather. So, I’ve always seen others in the soil, but I never understood the joy of helping things to grow until I bought my first house.

I dabbled in the soil there while my babies napped, a monitor close in hand, waiting for them to wake up and beckon me.

In our second home, I have the gift of sunlight on multiple flower beds. While we have deer that munch many things, my garden is full of things they won’t eat, and full of brilliant flowers I never could have planted in house #1’s shadowy, tree-filled yard.

I have come into the light.

I have come into peace.

And I couldn’t be happier.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace in the Maze

The maze begins just to the left!!!

Hubs and I took the kids to Williamsburg for spring break this year. We love the Burg and I am always slightly shocked at how much this town feels like home, as soon as we arrive. The air smells like home. Was it the tulips? Maybe the hyacinth? Maybe it’s The Cheese Shop. (I may have been dreaming of a roast beef sandwich with house dressing prior to our arrival.)

This year we paced ourselves differently.

What a gift!

What a blessing!

To create a general idea of what we’d like to do and then allow the needs of the kids to breathe life into each day was incredible. While I wanted to make time for Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg, I truly let the kids decide what they’d like to explore. The fluidity of this plan was LIBERATING.

By week’s end, the children’s favorite feature was the Hedge Maze behind the Governor’s Palace. They ran and ran and worked to memorize it. The hedges are tall and the kids could not see anything but the path in front of them. They could shout to one another, asking for clues about which way to turn.

How blissful. How peaceful. How present we needed to be to focus on the maze!

I could have followed them into the maze, but realized quickly I would lose them. Their speed and dexterity were just incredible to watch. And I had an easier time seeing everyone from the eagle’s eye view just above the maze.

It’s that just the greatest metaphor for life? It can be easier to guide others when you sit back and watch from a better vantage point. How many times have I dove headfirst into my kids’ problems? Only to get upset right along with them and lose my focus?

The kids invented games in the maze. They established new rules for each journey through. Then they added in a game of tag! It was a-maze-ing. In every sense. I got a little rest on a bench in the shade and I listened to their big plans. I laughed to myself and reminisced about the triathlon we alumni completed before graduation (if we were lucky).

Joy. Joy. Joy.

I’ve never felt more relaxed and grateful during my time on a vacation. I was thankful to have my family around, to experience new things, and to watch the kids love the experience so much. You can bet your bottom we returned to the hedge maze a day later, and more joy ensued.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace in Budding Azaleas

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This morning, LM3 and I practiced our yoga in the living room. We don’t usually practice here, but Hubs had a call and needed a room with a door, so our yoga got moved. LM3 loves to use “Mommy’s yoga mat” and I use the spare. She tunes in to Cosmic Kids Yoga with Jamie, and I follow my own practice, listening to my body and moving through sun salutations at a pace that feels comfortable.

This morning, thanks to our change of locale, I noticed that my azalea bushes out front are beginning to bud. And I couldn’t help but meditate on the magic of gardens and plants, and what they teach me– which is something new every day.

Today I thought about the bushes and how the same growth process begins every single spring, around the same time. Like muscle memory, the plant knows how and when and what to do every year. How human it is, right? The plantie has a checklist and knows what needs to happen to open up and thrive.

Only, the plant does all this without thinking, while human beings sometimes have a harder time with just “being.” If you’re anything like me, you think through your processes. All of your processes. You think through your changes and your growth. Everything can come with a long, arduous, and quite cumbersome thought pattern.

Plants grow each year: annuals grow the same time of year, in the same place, but in some ways, nothing is the same. The soil has changed. The neighboring plants have grown or been moved. This year, we ripped the railing off the front porch, so this year the azaleas will have more space to grow. Everything is the same and everything is different, too.

How human.

How remarkable.

How peaceful.

Today, I meditated on the slow but steady growth of those plants while I moved through my sun salutations. I tried to let my body loosen and find peace in the connection we have to nature and to other living things. We are so much more similar than I thought. And maybe, just maybe, I am going to bloom this spring, too. And there is peace in that.

What brought you peace today? Share the peace!

Peace in Releasing the Past

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This week I found myself snuggled up reading in what my kids call “living room number 2.” I was reading The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho and came across a passage that felt like a real show stopper. He writes,

“…once an animal trainer had told him how he was able to keep his elephants under control. The animals, as infants, were bound by chains to a log. They would try to escape, but could not. They tried throughout their entire infancy, but the log was stronger than they were.

So they became accustomed to captivity. And when they were finally huge and strong, all the trainer had to do was place the chain around one of their legs and anchor it anywhere– even to a twig– and they would not attempt to escape. They were prisoners of their past (p 172).”

This was just insane to read. Of course, Coelho offers this imagery as a metaphor for human beings. But more on that in a moment.

Firstly, I did not know this about elephants. Secondly, adaptation to or acceptance of captivity seemed just crazy. I read a little more about elephants living in captivity and learned that (1) nearly 1/3 of African elephants live their entire lives in captivity and (2) they remain relatively undomesticated, despite their captivity.

I wasn’t planning to learn about elephants. I was reading to learn about humanity and healing and forgiving the past. But this made me think: if something as grant and wild and wonderful as an elephant can accept a non-reality like captivity, just think what human beings might do.

But humans aren’t elephants. We can recognize patterns and realities and make change.

Today, I meditated on releasing the past. On letting go. On forgiving and forgetting things that have upset me, or those I have upset. I can release myself from whatever mental “captivity” I’ve embraced over the years.

Letting go brings me peace.

You know what else might bring me peace? Saving an elephant. I’m looking into it.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!