Planting New Seeds: A Personal Story.
Planting Seeds Part 3
Tilling the soil.
If you have ever worked in a garden, you know its therapeutic effects. But in the moments of digging into the hard, dried cake soil, peace and calm did not rush over me.
In fact, it was quite the opposite.
The first scoop into the hardened soil told me it was going to be a far greater task than I had originally imagined and it would probably take me twice as long as I planned. Each of these were true.
In the outdoor silence, the ground met my pick with great resistance. Much of the old dirt would have to go. I pulled the green city compost bin close and began to remove the top layer: Cat poop.
Apparently the neighborhood cats had been using our barren flower bed as their cat litter for quite some time. Clump by clump I removed each of their deposits.
I continued to dig and turn the soil. The some parts of the ground gave way and began to move and break apart. My tools clawed through the soil and I removed the hardest parts all together.
Slowly my green bin began to fill, and in my bed of dull soil, dried crimson bulbs began to surface. One after another, after another. Evidence of life before.
Beneath the surfacing bulbs came the roots, shards of glass and a red plastic toy top. Then came the tiny animal bones. (I’m not making this up!)
Beneath the bones lay the clay. I knew my pick and I had met our match. Earth hardened, rough and resisting a new way, until I could finally break through, break down and soften as much of the soil as I could.
My green bin filled completely. More than half of the old soil remained in the flowerbed. Aerated, tilled, turned over again and again.
It was ready for new soil and planting. My beautiful crisp white Cyclamen waited in the wings.
This old house.
While the purpose of replanting the flowerbed was every bit intentional, the process, I admit, was not. But before we get into that, a quick introduction to the house.
This past January my son was four months away from college graduation with no plans in the pipeline but to come “home” and figure things out.
At the time, my fiancé and I lived in small 350 sq. foot studio apartment in downtown San Francisco, five floors above a bar. Coming “home’ meant that our quasi-family was about to grow, quite instantly, and our home needed to grow as well.
Around the same time, my fiancé's elderly father grew gravely ill. We immediately shifted from hunting for a new apartment to moving into the family home. Three months later we shifted again from caregivers to de facto stewards of a house, once the family center piece, in tremendous need of love and care.
I personified the house as marathon runner, slightly limping after a race, huffing and puffing, and bending over to catch it’s breath after a good long run. It has given so much of itself over the years. It now required we gave ourselves to it.
At this very moment we have removed most of overgrowth in the backyard, the downstairs bathroom has been stripped down to the framing and an upstairs bedroom sits tarped and half way painted with crisp white paint. Like the soil in the flowerbed, energy needs to be moved and cleared in the house. Honoring the past, resting, reviving and preparing for the new.
Fear and the monkey Mind.
In the outdoor silence, gardening tools in hand, my mind raced. Thoughts [on auto pilot] percolated. I watched them, as if in third person, as each dormant thought surfaced and revealed itself.
I always had big dreams. A certain desire to live far removed from the 9-5 rat race running towards a freedom called retirement.
In my early twenties, sitting in a myriad of casting rooms in Los Angeles, I swam in the murky waters between hardworking hustle to survive, the healing and rebalancing yet to come, and the gap that seemingly separated me from the desires I wanted most.
My dreams were big, my desires were simple and straightforward.
I wanted a creative life. To be my own boss. To live outside of the box. I dreamt of owning my own home, landscaping my own garden wilderness, traveling the world, five hour long dinners over an abundance of food, wine and good conversation, and (of course) saving the world. But most of all, I wanted freedom. In every sense of the word and in every manifestation it could take form.
At the cusp of 40, my goals have evolved and refined (naturally) since I was 22. But the essence of my desires have stayed the same.
Three months ago, after a near two year runway, I quite my day job to pursue my passion business full time. Momentum is beginning to lift me like a plane leaving the tarmac for the open sky.
Yet in the garden silence, back bent over the brick and dirt, with each swing of the pick and each turn with the till, all I heard was fear. My mind was running its own marathon.
Everything from, “what are you doing?” “This is crazy.” “It’s not gonna work.” “How are you going to make your dreams come true when are you taking 5 steps back from where you were before you started?” “What about retirement?” to “Maybe not this lifetime” and “Why are you spending time gardening when you need to be earning money!” “Startups don’t stop to garden”.
The thoughts cascaded non-stop, then an unsettling fear sunk in.
I dug up the root of my unsettling train of thoughts just as I dug up the dried crimson bulbs.
If I couldn’t make it as an actress after years of pursuit, what made me think I could make it as a business owner? Same girl, different points in the journey, pursuing the same dream. I felt foolish, and somehow in that moment, I omitted to myself the years of deep inner excavation I have done, the strong intuition guiding me, and the practical and professional tools I have gathered since then. But most importantly, the true indicator, I felt incredibly aligned when I was working IN my business. Like I had spent my entire life working up to reach this point, and serve from this place.
I thought of the house. Seemingly tired, a bit run down after a marathon of living and giving. I thought to myself, aren’t you tired yet?
The truth was, I was tired. I literally had to stop my pick in mid-air, and tell myself. “Okay, enough is enough”. Literally, and of course, figuratively. The soil was tilled, and I was done falling in my rabbit hole of fear.
The cascade of fear surfaced to be witnessed, loved upon, dispelled and released.
I grounded myself by literally digging my hands into the earth. I began to fill the flowerbed with the new organic fertilized dirt. It was dark, moist and soft. It was beautiful to look at and it felt so good in my hands. There was something ancient in me, that said yes, I remember this... Then the playfulness set in.
I returned to my creative thinking. Plotting where my row of white Cyclamen would be spaced and planted. Focused and quite proud, this was my offering of beauty, for the house, for our lives.
As for my release, there is beauty in the layers of the human experience. Dig it up, and courageously shine the light of truth on it.
My little family is figuring out how to be and live as cohesive unit. I am a new business owner learning to stay in alignment as I build my capacity to offer and receive more. There is so much I am ready plant and grow in my life and business in the coming year.
Sometimes we must break ground to regenerate and reintegrate our lives (and our homes). Sometimes the two happen simultaneously.
Closing questions. Take out your journal!
What old stale fears, habits and beliefs, do you need to dig up and re-examine in your life?
Where, in the garden of your life, do you need place attention? And on that note, what do you need? Pruning, sun, shade, fertilizer, water? Your body and your intuition knows the answer.
What do you intend to plant and grow in your life? As the landscape architect, you get to decide, create and build. Why build only what you think you are allowed to create? Really, what do you desire to surround yourself with the most?
Which of these questions resonated most with you? Share your answer in the comments below!
Thank you for taking this journey with me today!
From my heart center to yours,