Chris is about to create a seafood linguini pasta (gluten free for me!) with a mini harvest of tomato, chili and basil from our garden. He is generously contributing the photo for this post; he shared it on Facebook and I was envious of the beauty and clarity so he agreed to send it along to me. After all, I did help to grow the bounty.
Life has been providing a bounty of late; a bounty of activity, challenges, opportunities and new beginnings. I have spent time in my garden but not at the computer. The gardener and the writer often have to compete for precious time, in spite of my aching desire to do both.
I took four days in early July and created a personal, mini retreat in my own home. Chris was off to Nova Scotia and there was nothing on the calendar. After the demands of this year so far I knew that it was time for some rest, rejuvenation and physical detox. My body felt overloaded, overweight, chronically tired, sore and starved for good nutrition and quiet attention. I had to let the garden be and know that tending to my own "mother earth" was just as important. I stayed in, took baths, slept, began to eliminate some foods from my diet that I suspected were not agreeing with me (coffee, alcohol, meat, sugar, dairy, wheat - to name a few), wrote in my journal, read quietly, did yoga - you know, everything you pay to do at a high priced spa! What a novel concept - to stay home and take some time off.
After just four days I was already feeling reacquainted with my self and more in tune and in touch. The aches and pains were dissipating and so was some of the extra weight. On the last day I ventured back out into my garden, determined to maintain the slower pace and resist the temptation to "make up for lost time" by overworking. I quietly pulled weeds, planted a couple of things, cleaned out some oak leaves that were still hanging around and drank in the sunshine that my body was craving.
I know right where I was, hunched over to clean up under our huge pittosporum when I had an "ah-ha!' moment that was more like a whisper from some other place - perhaps I got close enough to the garden fairies to hear their tiny words of wisdom.
Anyone who knows me or has been following this blog can probably sense that I feel pulled in many different directions and a bit overwhelmed at times. I am blessed to have created the career that I have, but the older I get the more I am also drawn to community service and using my talents in other ways. Five years ago I cofounded Swan Songs, a program that fulfills musical last wishes for music lovers who are facing the end of their life here. I love this work and have devoted and donated my time to create it, nurture it and run it for many years - long before the official corporate filing in 2005. The work is very gratifying to me and we have been successful at establishing a solid foundation for it.
Still, at the end of the day my personal bills await and I have to go out and earn money since I am not yet an independently wealthy philanthropist. Swan Songs needs more attention and it is a calling that I can not and will not walk away from. It seems obvious now that transitioning from a volunteer to a paid position would be the natural next step, but I have resisted it for a long time. Change and a deeper commitment can be frightening and I tend to subscribe to black and white thinking - if I say yes to this new role am I saying no to the music that has sustained me for 35 years?
The fairies helped me to remember that sometimes you have to trust your instinct and take one step without knowing how it will end and what will grow from it. I realized that I can make room in my life to tend to this very important project and gratefully accept payment for my time, thereby taking pressure off of another area of my life. I'm not ready to hang up the guitar, but there's no reason to at this time. Under that pittosporum I saw it all very clearly; I presented my ideas to the board and within a couple of days the idea in the garden had become a reality in my life.
I am convinced that this blog I began in December has helped guide me. I have taken more time to be in nature and to write and that has led to heightened intuition, increased trust in the rhythm of life and the process of growth. I used to yank plants out when they died back in winter because I didn't understand that they'd come back in the spring. I bought the bigger, more expensive plants because I didn't trust that with a little patience and care I could grow that same thing from a tiny little seedling that cost a fraction of the price.
I know that my new trial position with Swan Songs will evolve at its own pace. If it's growing too fast for me, I'll prune it back a little or turn it over to another gardener. If it's thriving and I love what I'm doing I'll build an arbor in my life to support it. If I'm not sure which way to turn, I'll put on my green gardening gloves, baseball cap, overalls and blue rubber boots, get down on my knees close to the earth and see what the fairies have to say.