Listen to Yourself

I love a quote I came across this week, attributed to Tiny Buddha. For today’s Sunday Short, I adapted the words slightly and created a meme.

Listen to Yourself

Reading the quote, added below, I wondered why I’ve found it so difficult in the past to listen to myself…listen to my own voice, my own heart, my own intuition, my own instincts. As a people pleaser, I was much more apt to listen to what someone else said was true for me, even when I knew those “truths” ran contrary to what was right for me.

Thankfully, a time came in my journey when I chose not to live an outward life that was out of sync with my inner life. This happened as I got to know myself better, accepted who I knew myself to be, and let go of the desire to please others.

Living as my authentic self required inner work that then allowed my outer expressions of self to shift and come into alignment. I’m at my happiest, most joyful and real self when I listen for Divine guidance and then listen to myself, trust my intuition and act accordingly.

Life has become a magical adventure that began with a simple command. Listen…

Listen to Yourself

Bonnie June’s Birthday

My sisters and my Lauderdale cousins began a tradition five years ago of celebrating our elders on their birthdays, both honoring them and enjoying them while they were still with us. During that time, our family has dwindled as we said goodbyes to aunts and an uncle. The last surviving member among my father’s siblings is my aunt June. We gathered today to celebrate her 83rd birthday.

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Aunt June shared a meal with the family, and shared blowing out candles on her chocolate wacky cake with her granddaughter Callie, whose birthday is a couple of days beyond her own. Her face lit up, with sweet and sincere delight and a hint of mischief, as we all sang Happy Birthday.

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Bonnie June’s Birthday The birthday girls.

This gentle woman with the shining soul lost her husband a couple of years ago, the man she had spent a lifetime with as they loved, worked, and raised a family together. Her world shifted dramatically the day she lost him, and it continues to shift. Memories are swaddled in foggy grayness and some of them are difficult to access. She trusts her children to tell her what she needs to know and to take care of what needs doing. Her faith in them and her ability to live in the present, moment by moment, imbue her with a peaceful, child-like joy that is so beautiful.

My aunt’s birth name is Bonnie June, although she has gone by her middle name for most of her life. I looked up her first name.

Bonnie is a Scottish word meaning “pretty”, and was itself derived from the Middle French word bonne “good” as a way to describe a fair, good and beautiful girl. Bonne was in turn derived from the Latin word “bonus” meaning good.

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Bonnie is an apt name for this dear woman. My aunt possesses a good and generous heart and her beauty shines forth from a seasoned soul, a reflection of a life well lived. I’m grateful for the opportunity to celebrate her and love on her and show her how much she means to the family.

We all hope that we get to gather many more times, to sing happy birthday and share a meal with Bonnie June Lauderdale Aaron. My sisters, my cousins and I desire to live with grace and gratitude, and without regrets. We are doing that by rejoicing in life’s celebrations, as often as we can.

Bonnie June’s Birthday

Be a Maker

This was one of those rare days where I actually had an activity planned ahead of time, that was to be the subject of tonight’s blog post. So naturally, it didn’t work out. I am always okay when the day shifts and plans go awry. I see it as the way things were supposed to go, rather than a mess up.

My day was full. I didn’t arrive home until 8:30 pm, and I had no opportunity to attempt another activity. I wrote and published a health blog post and then, at 10:20 pm, turned my attention to this blog and considered what story to share.

Be a Maker

I opted to create a meme to share, using a lovely quote from Morgan Harper Nichols, one that touches the heart and inspires further thought.

Morgan Harper Nichols is an artist, songwriter and singer who creates around people and their stories. Her song Storyteller has garnered more than a million plays on Spotify. And you know what’s really important to Morgan? Story.

I didn’t know who Morgan was, until I began writing this brief post. I just saw the quote a week ago and was moved by her words. I didn’t know, until a few minutes ago, that what Morgan values, and my word for this year are the same…Story. My curiosity about Morgan and her story will lead me to discover more about this interesting young woman.

I love how when I’m searching for the right story to share…even late at night, weary and wanting to go to bed…it flows to me in such a beautiful and magical way. It undoes me, this experience called life. It calls to me, this journey guided by the Divine. It makes me realize how incredible the Story really is…

Be a Maker

C is for Cindy…and for Creative

After I shared the Vintage Story a couple of nights ago, featuring the crewel embroidery butterfly and the bean art rooster, I felt inspired by these creative family members to create something new. One of my favorite ways to play and create at the same time is to put together a vignette. Tonight I did just that, creating a fresh vignette in the vintage suitcase in my bedroom.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

There were two items that I knew I wanted to include in this vignette: the Butterfly, embroidered by Leta Moore in 1985, and an old book fashioned into the letter C. The transformed Reader’s Digest Condensed Book, from 1983, was a gift recently from my friends, Jim and Kathy. It’s been displayed in my studio. I was excited to include it tonight in this grouping.

Here is a photographic step by step detailing the creation of this vignette.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

An empty suitcase means a blank canvas to create upon. This battered piece of luggage, inexpensive when it was new, is 80 – 100 years old. Oh, the stories it could tell. I use it now to create fresh artistic stories.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

A beautiful old silk pillowcase, with butterfly appliqués, provides a foundational piece for the vignette. It works for two reasons: it continues the butterfly theme and the blues connect the my letter C.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

The butterfly art piece rests in one corner, while a vintage metal tray in the other corner provides an interesting backdrop and contributes to the orange, green and blue color scheme. The dark red topiary in the white crock adds height and balances the left side of the armoire top.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

I was ready to add the book, fashioned into the letter C. I looked at the spine, curious which books had been condensed in this volume. I laughed when I saw The Suitcases. This clever item rests now next to a suitcase. I looked at the inside cover page and discovered that the book formerly belonged to a couple named Bill & Judy. My next door neighbors happen to be…Bill and Judy! This letter C was definitely meant for me.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

The C and a heavy white ceramic bowl join the topiary, completing the section outside the suitcase. I use the “rule of three” often when creating vignettes or displays, grouping three items together.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

Back to the suitcase interior, I wanted another white ceramic piece, to balance the pieces on the armoire top. I used a simple white pitcher, adding light yellow and orange picks with rusty stars. I achieved balance, and the pick colors work well with the other items.

Finally, I added a cream colored three wick candle. It’s important to me that my vignettes include a light source, and candles are my favorite way to bring the light.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

I am happy with this new vignette. This is a totally unique arrangement of items, with the butterfly art, the metal tray, the topiary and the letter C being used in this artistic way for the first time. This is fun for me, creative playing at its finest. I’ll enjoy this vignette until the season changes and it’s time for fall décor.

I’ve glanced at the new vignette repetitively tonight, warmed by the sight, delighted with the way it looks. The letter C reminds me of Cindy, of course, and it also makes me think of Creative. I am both.

C is for Cindy and for Creative

Cooking Intuitively

I’ve always admired people who cook by the “a little of this and a pinch of that” method. That’s never been me. I’ve always cooked by the book, literally, relying on a recipe for satisfactory results, and even then, success isn’t guaranteed. Besides being a first born with perfectionist tendencies, fear has kept me chained to following recipes…fear of failure and just as strong, fear of wasting food if the results are disastrous.

And yet…as my creative nature has asserted itself, the desire to be free from following a recipe has grown. Creative cooking has made it onto many wish lists the last few years. The turning point came when I adopted a plant based lifestyle.

Cooking Intuitively

Being plant based makes eating out a challenge. Until the Joplin area launches more restaurants that offer healthier options, preparing my meals at home is best for me. I don’t mind. In fact, the desires that I have long expressed, to cook more, to learn to cook more creatively, are being realized because of the need to eat at home.

I have learned much the last two years, about preparing healthy, nutritious meals. I’ve relied on Pinterest recipes, some that I’ve successfully adapted, and plant based cookbooks and publications. And gradually, inspired by the knowledge I’ve gained, I’ve dabbled a bit, throwing a few meals together that turned out well.

Cooking Intuitively

In the last month, something magical has happened, at least, for one who has been recipe bound, it is magical to me. I’m cooking intuitively. My body, which has become finely tuned to what it requires for optimal health, is guiding me.

My first creation was the cucumber tomato salad, with diced onion, lime juice and dill freshly picked from my garden. I realize that’s an easy meal…but what is exciting to me is how I created it. I didn’t look up a recipe. I didn’t search Pinterest. I listened to what my body said it needed, and then simply combined those ingredients. The salad is wonderful! I make it a couple of times a week.

What I’ve noticed is that I’m bypassing my logical brain, and receiving info from the area over my stomach called the solar plexus. There’s a reason we say we have “gut instincts”. That chakra is where we feel energy and sense into situations. My gut is guiding me as I cook.

Cooking Intuitively

Last night I spiralized zucchini, making raw zoodles. I didn’t have any jars of organic marinara sauce. I have a recipe for homemade marinara sauce, but it makes a huge amount and I didn’t have on hand big cans of tomato purée and tomato sauce. What I did have was a cup of left over tomato purée, along with a small can of tomato paste, a small can of whole organic tomatoes and an assortment of fresh veggies and herbs.

I chopped onion and red and green peppers and sautéed those in a little olive oil, along with minced garlic. That part was easy enough and very familiar to me. I had a chopped fresh tomato ready to add, along with the purée and the tomato paste, when an idea arose for the canned whole tomatoes. I dumped them into a mini food processor and blended them up. Voila! I had chunky tomato sauce.

When I was ready to add herbs, my brain tried to intervene. Excuse me. EXCUSE ME! Don’t you at least want to look up a recipe to see how much seasoning to add?? You don’t want to mess up what you’ve begun. I did hesitate for a few seconds. Fear of failure, fear of waste coiled and prepared to strike. And then I merrily dismissed the suggestion and banished the fears with a wave of my wooden spoon. I was having fun. I would add a little basil and oregano and sea salt and figure it out by the taste test.

The thrown together marinara sauce turned out great! It was delicious last night, over zucchini noodles. And it was equally delicious today when I spooned it over a plain baked potato. I added a serving of my cucumber tomato dill salad, for a colorful, healthy and oh so yummy lunch.

I’m ridiculously thrilled over these little recipe free creations. It’s big step for me, to be cooking without a net. I’ll be listening much more closely to my intuition, and less to my brain, when I’m playing in the kitchen. I’m excited to see what I cook up next.

Cooking Intuitively

Hand Décor

If you Google the words “hand décor” you get images of hands…in different poses, made from various materials. They are artistic, for sure. However, years ago the words were used to designate that an art piece was made “by hand”. Often those very words were written across the backing board on a framed work of art or a pottery base, along with the artist’s name and a date.

My feature items tonight, for a Vintage Story, are two hand décor pieces that I have hanging together, although they are very different styles of art. These pieces came from the home of Greg’s parents, after Bob passed away and the house was being readied to sell. I call them the Butterfly and the Rooster.

Hand Décor

Because they came from the Moore’s home in Arkansas, I thought both pieces were made by Greg’s mother, Leta. This sweet and endearing woman possessed a very artistic soul. She was always creating something. Having watched her complete many needlework or crochet projects over the years, it has been my honor and my privilege to bring Leta’s art into my home.

Hand Décor

I witnessed the creation of the crewel embroidery butterfly. The date written on the back is 1985, well after I joined the family. I have several embroidery pieces made by Leta. She seemed to enjoy this kind of detailed, intricate work. Crewel embroidery uses a heavier wool thread, creating a nice textured look. This type of needlework has been around for at least 1,000 years.

I love the butterfly. It was my symbol several years ago and I feel a connection to this piece. The colors are still bright and I’ve lately cycled back around to appreciating warm vivid colors.

The rooster is a fun piece, made from a variety of seeds and beans. I believe my mom made something similar to this when I was a child, so I knew this art piece was older. Dried beans and seeds, some painted, are arranged on a board and glued down. The finished work of art is then coated with shellac to protect the beans. I estimated she made this fine rooster in the 1960s.

Hand Décor

I could easily read the name and date on the butterfly. However, age had faded the writing on the back of the rooster bean art work. Standing near the window to catch the evening light didn’t help however a powerful flashlight did. I realized the name on the back was Ruby Moore, not Leta Moore. Ruby was Greg’s grandmother, and Leta’s mother-in-law. The date was barely legible: January 1964. More words were written next to Ruby’s name. Frame handmade by Bill Moore. Bill…Greg’s grandfather, Ruby’s husband.

Although I was surprised to discover the rooster wasn’t made by Leta, I love the unwritten story that this vintage piece tells. I believe the bean art must have been a gift to Leta, who collected chickens and roosters. Because both the artwork and the frame were hand crafted, it speaks to me of love and affection expressed to a daughter-in-law.

Hand Décor

I like being the keeper of these art pieces. They remind me of the artists…two strong women with very different personalities, who held in common a love for art and creating. I’m glad that I had the opportunities to watch them as artists. Ruby Moore was still making things and stripping furniture up until her death in the early 90s. Sadly, Leta Moore had Alzheimer’s the last nine years of her life. As her world shifted, she created less and less.

Clearing her house I found projects that she started and was never able to complete. I have unfinished embroidery and needlepoint pieces that still have the threaded needle slipped into the fabric, mid stitch. Although I feel sad when I hold these hand décor pieces, there is a stark beauty and a poignancy contained in the art that bears witness to the passing of time.

I felt inspired tonight, holding the Butterfly and the Rooster in my hands. I could imagine the two Moore women, one standing on either side of me, smiling and expressing joy that I delight in their hand décor. I could feel their enduring love and those twin sparks of creativity that burn brightly and never die.

I think it’s time for me to create something new.

Lessons from Berries

This is not the story I thought I’d be writing tonight, however it’s the one that asked to be written. On Instagram, in the health conscious community that I am part of, Anthony William, also known as the Medical Medium, issued an invitation. He encouraged all of us to incorporate more berries into our lives, proclaiming July as Berry Challenge month.

Lessons from Berries

I eat berries every day, adding frozen strawberries or wild blueberries to my morning smoothies. I loved the idea though of consciously choosing to include more berries in my diet daily, which is especially easy to do during this time of summer abundance. All berries have nutritional value, so I’ve been purchasing blackberries from the Farmer’s Market, and fresh strawberries and big bags of frozen wild blueberries from the grocery store.

Berries are so good for us, high in antioxidants that slow the aging…or dying…process while delivering phytochemicals, amino acids, coenzymes, vitamins and minerals to the body. I could go on about the health benefits of these amazing little fruits…and I will…just not in this blog post.

What’s been extraordinary during this first week of the Berry Challenge is seeing all the posts and photos on Instagram from people around the world who are participating as well, by eating more berries. Children, adults, seniors, men, women, families, groups of friends, even pets are all captured in beautiful pictures as they pick berries or purchase them, eat them or share them.

I was moved, in a deep and profound way, as I clicked the like button on photo after photo last night. I felt strong connections between all of us, as we make healthy choices and reap the results in our bodies. The thought came to me that we are healing individually and collectively, and the higher vibrational energy created brings a level of healing to the world.

A few minutes ago, out of curiosity, I looked at the chapter on berries in the Life Changing Foods book by Anthony. I’ll share more of the health benefits this week in my Journey With Health Me blog. Tonight, I read instead about the emotional support and spiritual lessons that berries offer.

Anthony writes that emotionally, berries hold unique powers to offer relief from distraction, uncertainty, lack of focus, fogginess, puzzlement and confusion. They bring healing to the conscious and subconscious, physical and metaphysical, mind and soul.

Spiritually, berries teach us about abundance. From spring until fall there’s never a gap in berry offerings as different varieties come into season. Berries grow low to the ground, making them accessible to animals and birds and people. There’s enough for everyone. When we consume berries that attribute of generosity becomes a part of us, so we can be givers and not just takers.

Those lessons explain what I’ve been feeling the last few days, after eating more berries for a week. These fruits heal on many different levels, boosting energy, raising the body’s frequency, grounding us when we pick them. That’s what I’m experiencing. Connection. Greater awareness. Higher vibrational energy. Clarity. Expansiveness in my soul.

I snapped a beautiful photo of my own today, of a simple bowl of strawberries and blackberries, in a pottery bowl crafted by a local artist. I enjoyed my berries while seated at a vintage picnic table, in my backyard garden. It was pure bliss…and so healing for my body, mind and spirit.

Lessons from Berries

Hearts Beat Loud at Bookhouse Cinema

I had the pleasure of viewing an indie film yesterday, at Joplin’s indie theater, Bookhouse Cinema. This is a movie review of the sweet film…and, creating a play on words, this is also an expression of gratitude for the fun and unique venue.

Hearts Beat Loud at Bookhouse Cinema

Hearts Beat Loud stars Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Toni Collette, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane and Blythe Danner. This drama was directed by Brett Haley, who co-wrote the screenplay with Marc Basch. The film carries a PG-13 rating, for brief language and drug references, and has a run time of 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Samantha (Clemons) is spending her final summer at home in Brooklyn, with her dad Frank (Offerman), before attending UCLA in the fall. She has big dreams and goals that will help her achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. Taking preparatory premed classes over the summer leaves her little time for fun or for socializing with her new friend Rose (Lane) or for hanging out with her dad.

Frank, a former small time musician, owns and operates a vintage record shop in the trendy Red Hook section of Brooklyn. But after 17 years business is almost nonexistent. Frank feels restless and ready for a change, and as a single dad, he is eager to spend time with his only child before she flies across the country.

Hearts Beat Loud at Bookhouse Cinema

During a weekly jam session with his daughter, who is a reluctant participant, Frank discovers that Sam has written a song. Titled Hearts Beat Loud, the beautifully haunting song conveys an innocent yet genuine longing for love and connection in a relationship. Together the dad/daughter duo record the song and Frank downloads it on Spotify, with surprising results.

During a summer filled with making memories and tough decisions, facing changes and holding on to relationships, Frank and Sam experience a few minutes together in the limelight, in the unique position of having a band together.

Hearts Beat Loud at Bookhouse Cinema

This fresh indie film also featured Toni Collette as Frank’s landlord/romantic interest, Ted Danson as a laid back bar owner who discovers living life on the edge, and Blythe Danner as Frank’s aging mom who has sticky fingers when she shops. The whole cast worked incredible well together, creating believable relationships and touching interactions.

The highlight of the film was the father/daughter connection between Frank and Sam. That delicate balance between loving a child and encouraging her to go for her dreams, and wanting to keep her a child and at home forever was played out with poignancy and humor. Greg and I watched the movie with our own daughter, with whom we’ve experienced that time of letting go, and our grandson who will be returning to the university next month for his sophomore year. Elissa, like all parents, has been in the role of the one who set off to create her own life, and the parent who has raised her child to pursue his own dreams. It was all bittersweet.

Hearts Beat Loud at Bookhouse Cinema

This story on the big screen unfolded before us in the perfect setting and atmosphere. I’ve attended Bookhouse Cinema for several indie films and documentaries and I adore this theater! The staff is friendly and helpful and the owners hard working and engaging. I love the comfortable theater room. And the adjoining pub offers a place to gather before or after the show. They serve high quality foods with vegan options, snacks, and an assortment of alcoholic and non alcohol drinks.

Hearts Beat Loud at Bookhouse Cinema

I love too that Bookhouse offers help yourself lemon/lime water or cucumber water, free of charge. Drinks and food can be eaten in the pub or carried into the theater to enjoy during the movie. Check out Bookhouse Cinema HERE to see upcoming movies and documentaries, and see their schedule for other in-house events. And then check them out in person. They are located at 715 E Broadway in Joplin.

It’s wonderful to have such a unique theater in my city, operated by people who care deeply about offering quality films and a quality experience to their patrons. Hearts really do Beat Loud at Bookhouse Cinema.

Hearts Beat Loud at Bookhouse Cinema

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

This post falls under the category of Health Story, and it will serve double duty, as I will share this post on the Journey With Healthy Me blog as well. Two years ago this month, I embarked on a healing journey that has completely transformed my life. Here is a recap on the healing that occurred during year one, and an update with the continued healing that has taken place in the last 12 months.

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

My healing journey began with a desperate prayer for help. After suffering with chronic sciatica and pain in my legs for 20 years, after a car accident, my left leg deteriorated, requiring me to walk with a cane. The pain and the tightness in leg joints and muscles continued to worsen. I struggled to walk at all, or sleep, or even straighten out my legs. A wheelchair seemed inevitable.

I asked the Divine for help and help arrived the next day, via an article by Anthony William, the Medical Medium. He wrote that a traumatic incident, such as a car accident, could create injuries that do not heal and chronic pain. His words described me and my condition. Thankfully, he offered hope. I ordered Anthony’s books, and immediately began a 28 day healing cleanse, eating raw fruits and vegetables. I saw such remarkable improvements after 28 days that I adopted a plant based lifestyle and never looked back.

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

I avoided meat, eggs, dairy, sugar, gluten, soy, corn (unless non GMO) and canola oil. And I ate fruits, vegetables, brown rice, legumes, nuts and seeds. The problem, I discovered from Anthony, was that the viruses I had in my body…some since childhood…were wreaking havoc. The shingles virus was the culprit that attacked my sciatic nerves. Epstein Barr and strep had infected my liver and thyroid, and other organs and body systems. My action plan was two fold: eliminate the viruses by avoiding the foods that feed them and support my immune system with healthy, wholesome food.

It worked. In the first year I experienced healing of these symptoms/disorders:

sciatica • inflammation in legs & body • pain in legs • high blood pressure • irritable bowel syndrome • sensitive gut • severe acid reflux • indigestion • rashes & hives • tinnitus • gall bladder inflammation • headaches • sinus problems • seasonal allergies • joint pain • nerve pain • insomnia • heart palpitations

I also dropped excess weight.

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

With such amazing changes in my health, I chose to remain plant based. Returning to my old way of eating would mean a return to my old way of feeling unwell. I’m not willing to sacrifice my health, ever again.

My mainstays this past year, as my healing journey continues, are celery juice first thing in the morning, followed by a fruit smoothie. At least 3-5 times a week, that breakfast smoothie is a heavy metals detox blend of wild blueberries, bananas, Hawaiian spirulina, cilantro, Atlantic dulse, chaga mushroom powder, barley grass juice powder, aloe vera gel and hemp seeds. I eat fruits and veggies, and add brown rice, legumes, nuts and seeds to round out my diet. I sip on lemon or lime water, ginger water, juices and herbal teas throughout each day.

My meals are simple, beautiful, and full of health boosting nutrients. I rarely eat out, preferring to prepare meals at home. A desire that I expressed, to cook more, is being fulfilled with this lifestyle.

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle Roasted sweet potatoes and potatoes with garlic Brussel Sprouts.

In the past 12 months, my health has continued to improve. I’ve experienced healing of these symptoms/disorders:

frozen sacroiliac joint • floaters in both eyes • discoloration on fingernails and toenails • ocular migraines • chronic dehydration • menopause symptoms such as flushing, night sweats, hot flashes • fluid on left knee • mouth sores • tingling and numbness in feet and hands • restless legs syndrome • overactive thyroid • toxic liver • neck pain and stiffness greatly reduced (my neck vertebrae are so messed up from the car accident that X-rays freak out doctors…but my neck doesn’t hurt like it once did)

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

My skin is clear and healthy. My hair texture has improved, and although it’s hard to tell in photos, as my silver hair reflects more light, I swear my hair is darkening up. I have more dark strands of hairs growing in, than I did a year ago. My legs feel so incredibly good that they amaze me every day. I continue to see improvements in flexibility and strength in both legs. I am energetic, have mental clarity and operate at a high vibrational frequency.

I’ve come to understand how marvelously and wonderfully made my body truly is. It is a finely tuned sensor, that lets me know if I need the nutrients in a certain food, or if I accidentally ingest something I shouldn’t. I trust my body. I listen to it. I respect it. I nourish it and care for it like I never have before. And I’m mindful of what I put on my skin and in my home. I’ve been eliminating chemicals and toxins by switching to natural cleaning, laundry and bath products.

To celebrate my two year anniversary, I climbed into my favorite tree…the redbud in my front yard, something I couldn’t do two years ago. This tree survived the Joplin tornado in 2011, when thousands of trees perished. My redbud twisted and lost branches and now bears scars…but its deep roots held. The redbud tree is symbolic of my own experience. I’ve survived my own storm, one that lasted many years. I twisted, parts of me broke, and I bear scars as well, however, I am strong and determined, and healing continues.

This exciting journey is ongoing with health and wellbeing my priorities. It’s onward and upward from here.

Celebrating Two Years on a Plant Based Lifestyle

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Garden Mysteries

My backyard garden is five years old this summer, and it is a constantly shifting and evolving work in progress. I love my garden. I love how connected it makes me feel, to the earth, to beauty and to myself. I pull weeds and snip herbs and gather life lessons from my personal paradise.

And…my garden seems to delight in surprising me.

Garden Mysteries

The first two years after its creation, my garden matured, the perennials filling in as they grew. I got to know my garden and it got to know me. The first surprise the garden offered to me, the third summer, was a perfect heart shape, formed from the expanding patch of brown eyed Susans. I was touched. I felt like I had poured love into the garden and it was loving me back, in a very unique and visible way.

Garden Mysteries

That same year, two Julys ago, I switched to a plant based diet. Vegetables became an increasingly important part of my health and wellbeing…and yet, I only grew flowers, grasses and herbs in my garden. Interestingly, herbs initially drew my interest because I loved the way they smelled, in the garden and dried, added to homemade potpourri. The Divine knew though, that herbs would be crucial to my health. By the time I figured that out, I had a mature herb garden at my disposal.

I didn’t intend to have a veggie patch. So my garden gave me a hint I couldn’t miss. A volunteer tomato plant sprung up in the middle of my southern flower border. I had no idea where it came from and assumed a bird flying overhead deposited a seed. Not only did I get the hint, I was inspired. I added a raised vegetable garden last summer.

Garden Mysteries

Fruits are important too. So last summer, while I tended my herbs, my flowers and my veggies, the garden surprised me again. A volunteer watermelon plant appeared in a corner, near the back porch. I could deduce that I must have spit watermelon seeds onto the ground the year before, while sitting on the back porch. That plant produced several wonderful watermelons for me to enjoy.

Garden Mysteries

Fast forward to this summer, year five for the garden. I have the herbs, the grasses, the flowers and the veggies. Another watermelon vine is growing near the back steps, and stretches 8 feet into the yard. I have not one, but two volunteer tomato plants growing among the flowers in the southern border. They aren’t in the same place as previous volunteer tomato plants. Even though I have five tomato plants growing in the veggie garden, which is no where near the flower garden, I allow these surprise plants to remain. They are gifts, after all.

Garden Mysteries

A week ago, I noticed a new plant growing in the flower bed, not far from one of the volunteer tomatoes. It looked vaguely familiar so I left it alone and didn’t classify it as a weed. I’ve watched it become a vine, and tonight, as I watered, I noticed tiny yellow flowers had appeared. I identified it. The mystery plant is a cantaloupe.

I’ve never grown cantaloupe in the back yard, although I had a plant last summer in the veggie garden, which is located in the side yard. The vine took up so much room that I didn’t plant any this summer. And yet…here lies a cantaloupe vine, snaking through the brown eyed Susans, field phlox and cone flowers. I don’t know how it took root here, however, I accept it as another special gift from my garden.

As I squatted down next to the vine, touching the leaves and pondering these mysteries, I recalled a radio show I listened to recently. During the show, called Growing Your Own Food, Anthony William shared that when we grow our own fruits and vegetables they adapt to our bodies. As we tend to our gardens, touching and talking to the plants, they know what our bodies need, to heal and to live in optimal health.

Isn’t that amazing? Our food adapts to meet our unique health needs. This information resonated deeply with me. Experiencing my garden the way that I do, I believe what Anthony shared. How could I not, when my garden surprises me so wonderfully with exactly what I need?

Thinking back over the past few years, I can see how my garden has progressively led me toward greater health and wellbeing, staying ahead of my growing awareness. Plants are adapting to meet my needs…and my whole garden is adapting to me as well, showing me what’s possible, surprising me with plants that I did not tuck into the ground and inspiring me to expand what I grow.

How marvelous and mysterious and grand my garden is. My own personal space is much more personalized than I realized. I am grateful for the gifts and the surprises, and I am open to receiving more from this living, adaptable, gracious benefactor. I can’t wait to see what the garden offers to me next.

Garden Mysteries