Johnny Appleseed: verb

This year, we are being very casual about our garden. We have a lot of landscaping that we want to do: add a back door off of the kitchen and onto a deck, where there will be a table, chairs, grill, and potted plants; move the chicken coop to the side yard and make a home for ducks as well, including building some sort of water-efficient pond that at least uses rain water and at best also utilizes some of the grey water from our house; getting rid of the grass in our front yard and adding flowering shrubs, edible plants, etc. to feed us and the bees, butterflies, birds and other beneficial little creatures.

So this year, one of our favorite words is "johnny appleseed," used as a verb, such as: "I johnny appleseeded cosmos in the front bed" or "I am going to johnny appleseed cucumber in the garden." Definition: throw seeds in a careless manner wherever you hope that that particular plant appears. So, I am curious about how stuff will turn out.

For one, apart from some cosmos, sunflower, bachelor buttons, and poppies, we haven't bought any seeds. They've been gifted to us or dug up from our old collection. Also, the sheet mulching of one of our gardens is still in progress. For months, since last November probably, I've been throwing newspaper out on that area and then covering it with used straw from the chicken coop. Thus the garden you see above. I made a pathway with cardboard, and planted kale and beans. Then I johnny appleseeded  cucumber and pumpkin seeds on the right. Brian has tomato starts going, and I have no idea what they are: probably all heirlooms left over from last year. Those are in his plastic hot house that he rigged up.

We also have a few pepper plants that will be in containers this year. Brian also built a few planter boxes along the back fence, and those have green beans, peas, and mesclun seeds. One is still empty. I might plant beets in there or stagger some green beans. I love fresh beans.

And of course, I'm staggering the planting of sunflowers, nasturtiums, and cosmos. And I could resist buying some lavender plants.
One of my sunflowers makes a small start to glory.
I'll be happy with whatever comes up as we continue landscaping and really transforming the yard into a sanctuary for a myriad of creatures, big and small, including ourselves. In the meanwhile, it will be fun to see what happens with what we've johnny appleseeded: Will the pumpkins thrive? Will the kale come up?

I have herbs, but for the most part, those are all living in containers until the back deck and door are built and we've designed an herb garden somewhere in sunlight and simultaneously as close the the kitchen door as possible. But currently, I've got thyme, Italian parsley, oregano, marjoram, chives (the blossoms of which are peppery, spicy, and delicious), and rosemary (which I did plant because it will grow into a large shrub).

Oh, and apologies to the late Mr. Appleseed.


Maybe Sometimes

"Maybe sometimes when we see others' ideas, we think, wow, that person is smart or so creative or whatever...when they may be thinking the same thing about you." --from my Aunt Sally.


the 10 list

This week gratitude comes a day late, at least in written form. That's because I have a four-day weekend and was busy sleeping in, browsing through vintage and antique shops in my neighborhood, grading at a local coffee shop, and enjoying food and companionship with friends yesterday. Today, a quiet day of planting strawberries, reading, and sewing.

Which leads me right into this week's 10 list:

1. Delicious eggs from home with home-grown greens and amazing toast with brie and vinaigrette with three amazing people who are artists and teachers, passionate about permaculture, spiritual leadership, and creativity.
2. Eating dinner with two people who are passionate about reading, surrounding ourselves with books and dreaming of all the great reading we're going to do this summer.
3. Discovering a book on my book shelf that I want to read but thought was lost.
4. Having a creative project turn out better than expected.
5. Cloudy Portland days: while I don't like them everyday, they are emblematic of this lovely piece of the world and I love them, sometimes.
6. The way Forest Park wraps around St. John's and reminds me so much of the Appalachian Mts. where I grew up.
7. That next week the St. John's farmer's market opens for the season! And it's only 4 blocks from my house!!!
8. My sweet friends who hosted a lovely wedding shower for me and helped me make flag pendants to decorate the wedding with.
9. Being able to write, plant, and create.
10. Today.

What are you grateful for? xo.


Gettin' Truthy: I Doubt It

"I doubt that camera in my face."
This post is part of Truthy Tuesdays, a new weekly over at the Maven Circle, where Jen and Jena work to empower women through encouraging them to trust their own ideas, voice, talents, etc. and guiding them to find the courage and confidence to live their dreams.

This week's topic is self-doubt: where it comes from and how to combat it. So I started thinking about what makes me feel SELF-DOUBT, that poison that tells us to STOP rather than GO. That voice that says, I CAN'T rather than I CAN.

I feel self-doubt when I compare myself to others. And I do this all the time!
I do this mostly at work, as an educator: I compare myself to other teachers. I see them thinking in ways that I don't. I see them interacting with students in ways that seem better than my interactions with students. I compare and then I doubt myself, and then the "enoughs" creep in: "I'm not smart enough; I'm not compassionate enough," etc. It's a poison fueled in part by job insecurity and in part by my own lack of confidence. This also happens with my blog. All the time.

I feel self-doubt in situations when praise is expected but not given.
Social networking is a good example--but not the only example. Sometimes sites like facebook unleash the sides to my personality that I loathe: my vanity and insecurity. The desire to be praised. The part of me that wants attention and validation. And when I'm not validated--or again, if I compare myself to how much attention others get vs. myself, I feel like I'm losing a popularity contest. I'm not as cool. Or worse, I'm not as loved.

I feel self-doubt when I create expectations for myself and then don't meet them.
For whatever reason. Is this the sign of a type A personality? Does it indicate that I ask too much of myself? Is this just NORMAL? We are a creative, industrious species. We love to learn and create. But shit, we also love to kick back with friends or with a good book or movie. So, there's the fine line: setting goals, having high expectations, and learning to forgive ourselves when it doesn't all get done.

I feel self-doubt often. Too often. When a student criticizes me. When a friend seems cold. When I look at my own work. When I compare myself to co-workers. Self-doubt seems to always be there, lurking on the sidelines, waiting to pounce. But I think that one way to fight it is to recognize its sources. I've been admitting to myself my issues with praise, and I am acknowledging those feelings when they crop up, but it's easier also to let them go once faced. I caught myself in the act of comparing myself to someone else, and I thought: She's awesome. And I'm wasting time. There are more productive things for me to be focusing my thoughts and energy on.

So maybe that's part of the process of doubting less and believing more: AWARENESS. I am aware of when I doubt, and I've already started to kill it in its tracks.


10 List

Of course, grateful for this little guy.
A lot of grading and a severe sinus infection have prevented me from posting much of late--or accomplishing much. But I am visualizing health and manifesting a wonderful weekend. It is Friday, the day I like to dedicate here to gratitude. Being grateful for the beauty in our world--consciously reminding ourselves, every day, of that beauty, helps inspire us to create more beauty.

And so here are 10 things on my list right now:

1. My cold is past the worst and I'm on my way back to golden health.
2. My cousin's hubby got accepted into Penn State for engineering.
3. This weekend is my local bridal shower with some of my best Portland girls!
4. Sunshine in Portland for 2 weeks straight!
5. That my friends have a brand new, healthy, beautiful baby girl.
6. Being industrious and getting my house cleaning out of the way first thing so that it's not hanging over my head all weekend. (Now I should sit and do some grading.)
7. Having an amazing yard with so much potential for ducks, chickens, bees, fruit, veggies, flowers, herbs.
8. Discovering the loveliness of the roses, irises, lillies, and columbine that have been planted here before we moved in.
9. Herb spirals.
10. Fresh eggs.

What are you grateful for in your life? xo.

Irises and columbine along one side of our house.


34 by 35: Evolving Goals and the Journey

I've been thinking a lot about goals. We tend to give ourselves a lot of grief if we do not accomplish our goals. But we forget that our goals change; there are a myriad of goals that I have created for myself since writing my 34 by 35 list. Many of these goals relate to my spiritual life, and ironically, much of my spiritual musings of late are about not becoming too attached to our goals. There are a few basic reasons for this:

-Focusing on the achievement of the goal is like focusing only on the last bite of a delicious bowl of gelato. Do I really want to learn to knit just so that I can have another scarf? No. I want to learn to knit for the challenge, the potential community of knitters/crafters, and the creative license it would give me. And yes, maybe for some cool scarfs, but that's only a small part of it.
Focus on the journey, not only the end point.

-Journeys can be rather dull if we follow the road given us. Sometimes we don't end up where we planned. Sometimes we decide, along the way, that we want to end up somewhere else. And that's okay. We go on journeys to learn and grow, and if we get too stuck on where we want to end up, we won't really grow, change, or learn.
Flexibility will lead to unexpected outcomes.

Does this mean that setting goals is a bad thing? Right now, my answer is no. I think that goals help brighten our path. Goals inspire us to pack our bags and go on that journey. And yeah, we might not get far or might get lost along the way, but at least we took the trip.

Meanwhile, I crossed off a few of my 34 by 35 that I did accomplish thus far.

34 by 35 list of goals.
Deadline: Jan. 15, 2013

1. Wedding favors, embroidery design, and labels.
2. Handmade bridesmaid gifts.
3. Creative aspect for the ceremony that is true to me. Perhaps a poem?
4. Be super organized and thus more ability to relax as people start to arrive to town: create a calendar and stay on schedule.
5. Help with handmade invites and create a way to display photos.
6. Enjoy every second of our wedding day.

7. Build an herb spiral.
8. Build a pond.
9. Landscape around redbud and apple tree.
10. Strawberry (and borage?) patch
11. Prep garden for spring 2013 planting
12. Try vermicomposting (again).

13. Slaughter 1 chicken myself.
14. Get baby chickens.
15. Help build new coop in side yard.
16. Get ducks.

17. Go to beekeepers meetings
18. Learn more about TPH management
19. Get a colony for new Langstroth hive

20. Get a new passport
21. Save money for Fiji
22. Go backpacking this summer

Physical health:
23. Run a 10k
24. Get bike fixed
25. Bike to yoga 1x per week-2x per month
26. Run/bike/hike 12-25 miles per week

27. Renew teaching cert.
28. Clean kitchen top-to-toe
29. Paint trim inside house
30. Make bedroom and closet curtains
31. Sand, stain, paint, and make front porch look pretty.

32. Learn to knit and finish at least one project
33. Read 10 books, including one on film.
34. Continue to develop identity and readership for blog


10 List

Gratitude is in part about recognizing that wherever we want to end up comes second to the present moment and the process or journey of achieving our dreams and goals. I have many goals. But often, when I achieve a goal, the sense of accomplishment is no more special or gratifying than the many steps I took and ways I learned and changed along that goal's path. And sometimes my goals change. And that's okay too: it doesn't mean that I failed. It means I grew and reflected and thought about where I really want to be and what truly makes me happy.

Here are ten things that I feel grateful for having in my life right now, as is.

1. Being reminded that the present moment is sacred.
2. A fantastic yoga class.
3. Being invited to join a book club to study the Yoga Sutras.
4. Having a really fun engagement photo shoot with my man.
5. That little Leno (Puddles the cat) seems to be feeling better and eating more.
6. Having found a really inspiring and wonderful poem that we can't wait to share on our wedding day.
7. Finding a craft that truly makes me feel joyful during the process: embroidery.
8. Irises in bloom.
9. My loved ones, both family and friends.
10. Gaining a stronger sense of the things that make me happy.

xo. Happy week ending and Cinco de Mayo.