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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

How to Be a Green Leaf

Longer days are an invitation to get outside. All those new buds make me brim with anticipation and excitement for more growth ahead.

Practice being a green leaf by taking part in nature. Get outside -- whether you live in the city, by the coast or in the country, take a walk outside. Make it longer than usual or try a new route just to heighten your senses. Even better, invite a friend.

Marvel at the beauty of nature -- its cycles and the evolving color palette throughout the day and throughout this month.

This is a great time to plant some seeds and watch them grow! Spring is in the air, green leaf! Opportunities are there for the taking!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Be A Green Leaf in Drought

There are so many joys I find in gardening: the discovery of life in a new blossom, the first burst of rose buds in the spring, and that grand tree, dormant for winter, finally stretches and releases fresh green leaves. The doves coo in the quiet dawn mornings as the butterflies practice the choreography of the season.

I often write about gardening because it teaches me so much about life.  Most of all, it has taught me to slow down the day and avoid list-making in order to truly take in the moments that nature created for us to enjoy.

Because of my love for gardening,  I have become fascinated with garden stories and metaphors.  Many refer to the garden for cultural significance while others look to the garden for spiritual understanding.

During a recent trip to Asia, I became fascinated with the green leaf. Its design was on clothing, jewelry and notebooks. It was everywhere— an icon of new life, good luck and good health.  

When I returned home, I came across a book, Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn, a true story about the lives of missionaries who traveled in the most eastern part of China during the early 1950s. It documented their lives and the many trials they faced trying to be "green leaves" during many seasons of drought, loss and sadness.  The story of their lives touched my heart.

We all go through droughts such as loss, uncertainty and sadness during the seasons of life and yet, through these challenging times, there is always hope for newness.

How To Be a Green Leaf in Drought

- Find a time in your day to refill yourself with something you enjoy.
- Play some music, sketch, take a walk, read, putter in the garden, try a new recipe or set some time aside to just sit, be still and breathe.
- Once you refill the soil of your soul, you will discover the newness of life that gives you strength to continue to shine. You will have the strength to continue to grow through all seasons. You are a green leaf.
- Plant a seed of encouragement to help others who may be going through a drought.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is a wonderful reminder during this typically cold and dreary month to feel inspired by the things and people we love! 

The vibrancy of the color red is our greatest cue to keep our passions in mind at all times. 
Do something special for someone dear to you and remind them how much they mean to you.
Keep following your heart and live your dreams! 

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Life lessons from the garden

This week, I was thumbing through some of my garden books when I was pulled into a story about the virtues of the gardener who tends to the cyclical unpredictability of the land, season after season.

Yes. A garden instills humility in us -- a deep respect of something greater than ourselves. We learn about the gift of nurturing, tending and caring for others – from the heart. 

The author went on to describe the gardener’s deep inner strength and their wisdom to not only grow a successful and healthy garden but to choose to live a life that is able to find joy in all things.

Life, like the garden, is very unpredictable—yet, we gardeners dig, prune, clean and repeat.  We welcome in the joy of the surprises created in the garden—not by us, but by something greater than us.  Hope and inner strength translate beyond the garden.

One of my favorite lines goes something like this:
I thought by being diligent and dedicated to my work, I was growing my garden, yet I learned that actually my garden was and still is growing me.

I am sure I am not the first person to discover that gardening is a wise window into the mystery of life. And, like many who have come to this conclusion in their higher-learning institute of gardening, we discover how to be joyful through all of the seasons of life.  

Plan, celebrate, reflect -- February is full of surprises!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Take a Tea Break

On a cold and chilly morning on a recent trip to China, we were preparing for an early morning hike. Our guide arrived to greet us, appearing through a curtain of mist, with a flask in one hand and a stack of small cups in the other. As we drank from the cups, it was almost magical how our senses were heightened by the harmony of the aroma and our dramatic natural surroundings. The warmth of the tea was as comforting as the camaraderie that came from sharing these moments of time. Once strangers, we were now good friends. The tea infused us all with energy for our trek.   

We began a conversation with our guides about the art of drinking tea. No, having a tea is not a quick drive through a Starbucks or a dash into a local coffee shop, the art of drinking tea is about taking the time to slow down while breathing in the aroma coming from the steeping tea leaves.  As we began to learn about the different types of teas --  their tastes and their regions -- we were intrigued and decided to take a class about tea.

The next day, we met May, who invited us into her world of tea.  She told us how she fell in love with it at a very young age.  She was from a small village where both her parents worked full days, 6-7 days a week.  Yet, once a week, her mother would always find time for the two of them to go to a local tea shop. They would spend hours talking and laughing as they sipped on their favorite teas accompanied with sweets from the local market. 

She knew from these early experiences, that she wanted to make it her mission to introduce the art of tea appreciation to everyone she could meet. 

As we slowly sipped on a variety of teas, we shared in many stories with much joyous laughter. We found ourselves lost in time…not rushing to grab something, text a note or pick up the phone for a two minute call. We stopped. Time stopped as we took in the moments and the layered aromas of the earth. We learned how to taste the flavors of these aromas, and as we sipped, we were walking through the humid forests, climbing to the tops of mountains and traversing golden plains with our eyes closed! "The essence of the tea will quench your adventurous spirit," she said. 

Our special May closed our class with a request. She asked that we remember her with our next cup of tea and that we continue her mission to invite others for tea.

As I write, I am sipping on a Snow Blossom tea (May’s favorite). And, I've invited a friend who will be here very soon. To May, we will raise our teacups! 

Sit and sip a cup of tea. Let it warm your soul. And let the sharing of tea invite conversation. It is truly a special gift of time, of peace and of comfort. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Welcoming in the New Year

Welcoming in the somber peace of a chilly January morning refreshes one’s soul for the New Year. Sitting quietly with a cup of tea, a few of my favorite magazines by my side, is a chance to truly give myself permission to “just be”, now that the busyness of the holidays is behind us! 

To sit quietly with no noise, no movement and no electronic distractions is to enjoy the pureness of the moment, to hear my thoughts and reflect.  As I welcome in peace, I feel its warm blanket drape around me. I bask in the stillness, reflect upon the past, live in the present and welcome in the birth of a new season. 

Take time to just be. No noise. No scheduled activities. No deadlines. Steal some time for you to feel the quiet as it refreshes and refills one’s soul in preparation for the New Year.