Here in the Unites States on this day of reflection, I am reminded of opportunity. Whenever a nation, city, family or individual is confronted by sheer devastation, be it a massive terrorist attack, an overwhelming storm or an acute crisis, there’s shock, grief and then some still space and then action. That little bit of space can be and often is the hinge on which everything afterward swings. When reduced to our very lowest, completely vulnerable and no longer blanketed by safety and security what do we choose? So many of us choose compassion. So many of us choose to be patient with ourselves and our circumstances. So many of us choose to help and rescue and offer aid. It’s our nature and that’s what we do here. As individuals in nations and citizens of the world, if we can continue to root ourselves in solidarity and compassion we can rise from any ashes, overcome any struggle and build resilience no matter the circumstance. Here’s to hoping that when that small space of stillness opens up, we take note and choose to ground ourselves in goodness.
There are people dear to me who, right now, are enduring some extreme conditions. As the storms in South Texas bandy about water and wind and residents either flee or hunker down to ride out the storm we send thoughts of love and strength to nature’s victims. As poverty reigns with a heavy hand in northwestern Guatemala (and the world over) we mindfully seek resources and interventions that might lift it’s crushing weight. As citizens throughout our dear America drive wedges between each other and the founding principles designed to bring us greater integrity we necessarily seek connection, compassion and perspective. As we prayed last night, I realized the words we uttered had universal application to all of that suffering: Please let the people who currently have the willingness and capacity to help be connected with those who need it most. No one of us can fix all of it but the humble, steady and consistent efforts of many of us will make a difference. Here’s to doing what we can today to spread calm and relieve suffering.
The other day we were hiking up in the mountains where the air is clear and the clouds are so close you want to touch them and we lost the trail. We'd stopped to take in some rest and sunshine in a clearing and when we got back up we didn't know which way to go. I don't know about you but I feel like that a lot in life. I'll have a clear direction and then there will be a distraction, a break or a roadblock and the way forward isn't as clear as it was moments before. In life, as I did in this instance, its helpful to take a step back, closely observe your surroundings, look at where you've come from with an eye toward where you want to go and then peer around closely for a way forward. In time a path will appear. Thank goodness because three extra granola bars will only get you so far.
Take Action: Already applied this post to your incredible life dear reader? Great, see you again soon!
If you need help to dive deep, think of a problem you're facing. Go ahead and challenge yourself, choose a tough one. Now think about 3 things you've done or overcome in your past that were hard. What qualities or attributes did you rely on or cultivate to make it through those situations? Write them down. If you can't think of any ask a friend or relative to help you. Were you dedicated, quick thinking? Creative? Faithful? Now figure out how those attributes serve you in this situation and trust that they'll come through for you again. Now building on that sturdy foundation of your own personal growth, look forward to where you want to go and assess what other qualities you need to make it through this specific stretch of life. Do you need patience, ideas, bravery? Whatever it is confidently cultivate it (you can do it!) and let it lead you onward. The path is there you just need to find it again.
Jessica and I took an adventurous walk yesterday, trying to get better acquainted with our new surroundings. Having recently moved we are becoming adept explorers, letting curiosity be our guide as we try new things and experience new places.
About halfway down a tree-lined street nestled in the shadow of the mountains I noticed that what I thought were light colored leaves were actually puffy seed pods. We gently pulled a few of the velvety pods from a tree admiring the full bright green seeds ensconced within them. Upon further inspection we found some more mature seed pods drying out on the ground exposing seeds that were weathered, dry and dark. While the shiny bright beauty of the newly birthed seeds, protected in their green cocoons were what caught my attention, they were not the seeds that were primed to grow. As we peered closely at the ground and sifted through crackly brown casings that pulled away easily from the dry seeds I was reminded that nature usually seasons seeds over time as she prepares them for growth. Their potential cannot be rushed but rather nurtured, letting it develop intentionally over time. I think the same goes for children, relationships, ideas and experiences. It can be hard to wait patiently for something or someone because the process of change can seem laboriously long. But people are a lot like seeds and when the conditions are right and the seed is ready the resulting beauty is usually worth the wait.
Take Action: If you've already applied this post to your life thanks for reading, please come back soon!
If you need some help to take the leap from story to action, here you go:
Think for a minute about a relationship (family, romantic, friendship, etc) that you're in that has potential. Consider the beautiful things that could come from that relationship. Focus on one of those beautiful things and then think about one thing you could do today to support and work toward that potential. So if I want to cultivate a stronger relationship with my daughter so that she'll talk openly with me when she's a teenager, I will strengthen our connection today by listening intently to her 8 year old stories when she wants to tell them to me. By listening today I'm building a little pod around the seed that is our relationship, creating space for it to grow and change and become what it's meant to become. As always, I'd love to hear your epiphanies!
In love and nature,
Last week we hiked up another beautiful canyon to a place called Grizzly Gulch. Now if your imagination works like mine this name conjures up all sorts of images. The hike offered some spectacular views of the canyon on a winding switchback trail bordered with vibrant wildflowers. As we neared the gulch, the 8 year-olds threw their backpacks down and scampered down the slippery slope using an exposed tree root to steady themselves as the rocks and sand slid down ahead of them. As they half-slid, half-climbed down they excitedly chattered about the possibilities of this steep-sided ravine and all that they were noticing. After spending a little while exploring they began scaling the sides. As the responsible adult, I stayed at the top of the ravine and scanned the terrain above and below them as they struggled up the side of the 20 foot gulch. I may be new to these mountains but I’d seen enough rocks sliding around to know that the ground we were standing on wasn’t entirely stable and rock slides and little girls are not a good combination. In that moment, I wanted to teach them to respect nature and I also wanted to honor their curiosity, enthusiasm and sense of adventure without dampening it with fear. So we talked about being aware of our surroundings, testing our footing and choosing to take a different course if the one we were on felt unstable and wouldn’t bear our weight. As we talked it occurred to me that life is like that. When we have an invitation to try something new or stretch and grow it can be tempting to default to fear and avoidance while it can be rewarding to tune into our sense of adventure, while also balancing it with a need for stability and respecting the particulars of our ability and the circumstances we find ourselves in.
After playing in the ravine for half an hour the girls made their way back up to the trail with a new kind of confidence, testing different methods of ascent, gently grabbing onto a different root here and there to see if it would hold their weight and then setting their feet on firm paths that would take them where they wanted to go.
Take Action: If you feel the nudge of adventure today, tune into it. It could be something as small as telling someone how you feel or taking a walk to a new place or it could be bigger like planning a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Be curious and see where adventure takes you all the while respecting your surroundings and your current limitations. When you’re done soak in the satisfaction that comes from choosing to try something new.
Recently my family moved about 1,500 miles from the place we’d lived for the past 12 years. We’ve approached the experience with a mix of gratitude, sadness, joy and adventure. We are so grateful for the life we lived in San Antonio and the people we came to know and love. Because of the beauty of our life and our love for the people we feel sadness at leaving. At the same time we feel joy and excitement at the opportunity of living close to our family, trying new things, meeting new people and having new adventures.
Over the past few weeks as I’ve sought to settle into a new rhythm of life I’ve found myself missing certain people or experiences. Something will trigger a memory and I’ll feel a wave or twinge of longing. In those moments I’ve decided to honor that connection by drawing a part of that person close, whether it’s in practicing creativity in a way they’ve taught me or saying or doing something that reminds me of them and makes them feel near. It’s comforting.
After several of these experiences I began to think of heaven and how this life gives us the chance to live removed from the Divinity from which we came and sometimes we have moments where our soul remembers it’s part of something much bigger. In living, we are presented with a similar invitation to grasp these bits of divine that we recognize along our path and weave them into our being, giving increasing voice to that infinite part of us that has always existed and will always exist. Sometimes the distance, the longing helps us understand what we value the most and it gives us clues of what to seek.
Take Action: You receive daily communication from your body, mind and soul. Today open yourself up to the wisdom of your soul, notice the things that invite you to greater peace, greater love, greater awe. Those are the moments when your soul is speaking.
So it turns out when you accidentally start a business there are quite a few things you have to learn really quickly. Here are a few tidbits I picked up this week:
Important Acronyms to know:
FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number)
LLC (Limited Liability Company)
JSN (Just say no…especially important when people ask you to do something you REALLY don’t know how to do-like remove a tree)
TAGQ (Pronounced tah-gque, “That’s a good question”….turns out there are quite a few of these coming my way)
Live & Learn
Don’t apply for your Federal EIN number before your LLC paperwork confirmation comes back. Because maybe the name you wanted is taken (it turns out checking domain names and the federal EIN site isn’t the same thing as checking in with the State Comptroller. Who doesn’t buy their domain name when they file their business paperwork!?) and then you have to file a bunch more paperwork to make your EIN Number match your LLC name.
Applying for insurance when your previous experience is a volunteer apprenticeship and the person you worked with is now deceased (but lives on in everything you put in the ground) presents an interesting series of hoops to jump through. Additionally, submitting a resume, payroll estimates and gross revenue estimates is challenging when you’ve been in business for 2.5 weeks. But having insurance to bring in jobs and earn that revenue seems like the responsible way to operate. So much for the advice in $100 Startup to just try something out and see if it works, write the business plan later.
Sometimes things work out and fall into place. Sometimes they don’t. Ritchie and I have been trying to figure out a way to create a revenue stream that we could use for humanitarian endeavors. We’ve sorted through and planned a few different things now but kept hitting roadblocks. Then this opportunity just kind of opened up and I feel hopeful and confident that Esteban, our newly-sponsored high school student training to be an Agricultural Technician will give this whole endeavor added meaning, motivation and success. It’s a blessing to use our freedom, gifts, experiences, time and opportunities to empower others. Until next time, happy landscaping!
A week and a half ago, after setting the intention to be more budget-conscious I found myself needing a black ink cartridge. Those things are expensive and I didn’t have enough left in my weekly home management budget to buy one. I could’ve used money from another account or my savings and it would’ve been fine but I tend to do that a lot so I decided to stick to my budget and get creative. I printed everything in blue ink instead of black for a while but as the week wore on this strategy got increasingly frustrating and I found myself with a list of “things to print when I get an ink cartridge.” I needed a black ink cartridge to live efficiently. I decided I could try to earn one. Now I’m a little rusty when it comes to earning money since I’ve been staying home with Jessica (and preparing for Jessica and trying to conceive Jessica) for the past 11 years and I’m particular about the time I commit outside our home. So I decided to post a message on my community Facebook group offering to cut back the myriad brown and crunchy frozen plants in people’s front yards. I listed my qualifications (Master Gardener Training, Landscape Design practice/consulting) as well as my availability (3 spots on Thursday) and price ($20). I hoped 3 people would want to take me up on my offer so I could buy my ink cartridge and get on with my life. In less than 3 minutes I had 3 customers and I was elated. Within 8 minutes I had 5 customers so I said I could do 2 front yards on Friday too (Hey, I thought, I can also buy the essential oil I’ve been needing to replenish). By the end of the night I had about 20 messages and by the next morning I was up to 30. The following week saw an additional 10 people added to my list, each wanting a different service (tree pruning, lawn consultation, landscape design, winter clean-up). As I met with different neighbors I realized that I inadvertently stumbled into a ready market for my landscape love. I’ve worked hard, I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve gotten dirty, I bought a hedge-trimmer and wielded it with pride (because I spent 60 hand-cramping minutes cutting back ornamental grass with hand pruners and that hedge trimmer gets the job done in less than a minute!). So this past week I filed papers with the Texas State Comptroller to officially establish Beautiful Village Landscaping LLC. Now proudly (and humbly) operating in Bulverde Village.
A few weeks ago I was volunteering in Jessica’s classroom. After reading with the kids, I mentioned to her teacher that I was going to go tidy up the plants in the patio garden. Her wise Montessori guide kindly cautioned me to be mindful in my “cleanup efforts” because some of the flowers were going to seed.
As Jessica and I worked outside in the backyard yesterday afternoon, I recalled her teacher’s words and I delighted in collecting the bountiful harvest of seeds that my plants were generating so effortlessly. Usually when plants are going to seed something beautiful and intentional is happening. Though they look dried up and done-for they’re just in the process of offering up next year’s colors. This principle has wide application, especially in a world where we put so much emphasis on the way things appear. Sometimes appearances are deceiving.
you just have to look to notice it.