Reflections: Social Perm

Looking back on the year I have to honestly address that of everything I fed to grow, the  Creative Advisory Social Permaculture project got the most passive amount of my energy.

Which, while one of the intentions when I first took time to tend and visualize was passive action, I certainly had wanted to stay steady with actions that included at least social media posts with educational info about permaculture.  So it is important to me to post here a recap of how and where that fell off.

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I found this image here

First, as someone who identifies as being in recovery, and teaches and sits with people who do, too: what we call the eff-its happened for me for sure.  Where you screw up once and let that justify quitting on yourself and screwing up more.

But if you sit with me, you know I like us to expand our understanding of what caused the eff-its, and to trust our larger lived experience to inform us, too.  This is a very permaculture perspective, to look at the big picture, to observe and interact in order to accept feedback without judgement or shame.

From a more long term perspective, I was really amped on permaculture in the beginning of the year!  I spent my downtime reading books and web pages for creative ideas to implement in my plot at the community garden here in good ol Ocean Pines.

After suffering some powerful, painful losses, I made the commitment to produce no waste emotionally: grief was here, upon me.  I’d work to tend it by making sure I went to my garden bed every other day, because it soothes me, and brought me peace and sweetness and quiet outside.  It was a commitment of small, slow solutions, and a way I could practice catching and storing my energy in my body, and in my garden.  Self-care and earth care!  So here’s the rest of what happened.

Zucchini bugs ate my enthusiasm, or How I got the eff-its but how they saved me, too.  A permaculture micro-story.

Last year my biggest time consumption, and where I really needed improvement in my garden, was with weeding.  So as that was my pattern, I considered the details of where I went wrong.  By doing that, and as a means of producing no waste, catching and storing energy, and using the renewable resources already in my garden, I designed a plan for green mulching.  In February I tilled to turn up the soil but rather then get rid of weeds I then laid down newspapers and black garden cloth to kill them all off at their new starts, and give their nutrition back to the soil.  I layered my compost (I do vermiculture which means use worms, it’s the best!)  from last year in there, as well.

Let all that sit and cook as the spring energy comes on was my thinking, and sure enough at the end of April I scored free hay to lay down on top of all of it. I really thought the hay was a killer idea, a capstone of ensuring green manure and a weed management system all at once.  Slow solutions, letting time and small moves work in favor of creating a lush, fertile soil environment.

So I realized this week by reflecting on my patterns this year that I got up to August and principle 8, Integrate Rather Than Segregate, Asset Compassion on the FB page.  I asked myself what actually happened?

So, it’s suhhmmer, ok, like peak July–hot as hell, dirty, fabulous.  Boy am I getting at it in my garden every other, sometimes every third day.  We’re getting a lot of rain, too.  Water tables saturated, I don’t even water my herbs because the soil slopes into the center and the rain holds there under all that matting of hay and paper.  Also the herbs that are really reedy and like dry and full sun, they’re along the edges mostly, a little sloped up because they’re connected to the land between the beds that’s not been cultivated you dig?  –We value what happens there, along the edges, where diversity flourishes, and it’s the second time in the garden I took note of how mama earth put off natural imitation weeds where I was cultivating wild edibles that grew naturally!  Chickweed, she has an imitator!  And arugula, which I seeded several times, she does too!  FASCINATING! I am in heaven in my garden anyway, loving every minute of it, trying to keep up and learn from her.

Small, slow and natural solutions: I visit the plants, weed, sing to them, speak to them, and feed them an epsom salt and tums solution I mix, and like once a week fish emollient.  They L O V E this, and I love seeing the green growing world do its miracle work before my eyes.

Oh, and in case you think I am this motivated of my own accord?  To keep showing up?  Let’s be clear, I have plants I am tending, and I am D E T E R M I N E D to grow zucchinis because they are so versatile and also because last year those rotten stinker zucchini bugs decimated my plants literally overnight and this year I WILL PREVAIL YOU HEAR ME?  So, my primary motivation to stay near my garden was hand squashing those little dudes.  This small, slow, yes aggressive solution kept me connected to showing up, day after day.  I was grieving you know and hurt people hurt people.   Or in this case, try not to hurt people by hurting little insects, instead.

Little did I know at the time that hay is a primary and perfect breeding and nesting ground for those guys: Which if I was thinking about integrating rather than segregating maybe I’d have learned that in advance? (I was trying to create solution by segregating out weed management and fertile soil creation, and didn’t think about it more integrated as in what could hay harbor, what pests, you know?) But by the time I did learn, I was up for the challenge~  A N N N D

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I was so elated you cannot imagine!  It actually poured off me like the guy at the donut shop gave me free donuts just because “my energy was so great.”  Yea yea donuts and fresh veggies I am who I am ~ enjoy what you eat and also enjoy growing and~
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Ok.  So.  I harvest three big mamas, and I cook this rad baked zucchini dish and it’s my lunch for almost a week.  I’m feeling great… more rains come.  So I let it slide, my every other day bug squashing visit.  What’s the harm, right?  Just gonna go straight to the beach before work today, it’ll rain later need to get in the sea right now, etc etc

The rains and letting it slide went on for 8 days. 😦

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I wish I had a picture to show you what actual DECIMATION looks like.  Like I mean the plant flattens, it turns to dust almost bc those little bugs burrow into the her stalks and eat her from within.  KINDA LIKE THE EFF-ITS, you dig?  So.

Knowing my herbs–what I primarily grow–could sustain, and in that it was past leafy green season, I went full on F-IT to my tomatoes.  This was the first week of August, right around the time I did my last post on FB.  I stopped going to the garden all together.

Around about this time I was also offered a chance to retreat away for as long as I wanted on a big wild, edible farm in the country.  It was almost like mama Nature saying to me: take rest from your hyper-vigilance (and violence? RIP little bugs and zucchini plant!) and remember the kind of true gardening you most love.  Wild-crafting.

And so it was that the growing season, right around First Harvest in August, delivered me to my own medicine.  Begin, again.  Begin, within. On that farm my focus intuitively shifted.  It was month 8, compassion.  I really, really needed to obtain a yield of that for myself and my grieving process. And so that is what I did.

And, when I did return to the community garden to harvest my herbs, almost as if she said to me you are indeed responding creatively to change my love (this month’s principle) a massive, wild patch of purslane had popped up in the the heart of the sloshy parts of my still saturated beds.  Purslane, powerful wild medicinal, after living on a wild edible farm?  You can imagine my delight.

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I really did want to get back to social media and share more thoughts on Permaculture. But fall was here, and the harvest season accompanying came fast, and other areas I was growing, and working to sustain, took my energy.

My sincere apologies.  Please accept this recap, below.  And remember that as with recovery and beginning again a day at a time, Permaculture, a design system based on nature’s natural rhythms, calls us to this, too.

Happy Holiday tide, dear friends.

12 Permaculture Principles & 12 Character Assets

  1. Observe & Interact. Honesty.
  2. Catch and Store Energy. Open-mindedness
  3. Obtain a Yield. Willingness.
  4. Apply Self-regulation & Accept Feedback. Courage.
  5. Use & Value Renewable Resources & Services. Integrity.
  6. Produce No Waste. Acceptance.
  7. Design from Patterns to Details. Humility.
  8. Integrate Rather than Segregate. Compassion.
  9. Use Small & Slow Solutions. Forgiveness.
  10. Use & Value Diversity. Perseverance.
  11. Use Edges & Value the Marginal. Spirituality.
  12. Creatively Use & Respond to Change. Service.

 

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A baby mermaid (who doubles as garden fairy,) and me, in the community garden, with mama Thyme who reminds us: Patience; and mama Basil, who Protects, and reminds us All power to the Imagination, and ma Rosemary, if you look for her, who Blesses All xoxox

Yoga. Reflections on the Golden Rule.

Today I joined Heidi McNeely of the Worcester County Warriors Against Opioid Addiction for Holy Yoga.  It’s the first time I’ve practiced in OC since I got home from the west coast.  It was Divine!

Of the many life teachers I have been blessed enough to walk beside, Heidi has a boundless enthusiasm that anchors her dedication.  She is a true reminder of life’s gifts.

 Yoga always makes me remember Jasmine, Bobby Ray, and Father Ed, my first spiritual teachers.  Jas’ presence was to be inside a great, hidden city of dark curls.  You ended up feeling exotic yourself, touched by a bit of her calm.  She was my intro to yoga.  These were the early days when I quit drinking.  Life can be so thrilling you know, if you let in what is trying to happen for you.

This was the same time in my life I met Bobby Ray.  People in the Benfield area of Anne Arundel, Maryland, know of this man.  The first thing Bobby ever said that stuck with me was, “the past is full of regret and the future is full of worry. Both are caused by fear. So the present moment is the only moment you can be fully with god, or full of love.”

I think that last sentence I am paraphrasing.  You get the point, I hope~

I was 23, 24ish.   Learning to breathe from a novice yogi, learning to meditate from a guy they called Shaman Bob, and elsewhere, learning to utilize my power of choice in my reactions and interactions, while out experiencing my day-to-day life.

Jasmine and I lived together my senior year of college. This is when I learned that the word Yoga has its origins in Sanskrit.  An awesome poet—he would call himself a poet and deep ecologist—his name is Gary Snyder, was my favorite reading back then.   I was getting a degree in writing.  Gary Snyder is how I learned yoga means to yoke, or as Snyder described, make union.

So I was learning from Jasmine how to use my breath during yoga, to practice union by feeling a deeper sense of being present in my body.

Back then I was also receiving free therapy, from a priest, this was Father Ed. I love the Christian context for the word yoke. The denotation is a wooden tool used to link oxens together.  The connotation is to yoke, or connect the heavy weight of what you carry, to Christ.

That brings faith into the conversation.

Life has taught some people, maybe many?  That we can’t trust treating one another as we would like to be treated because we always have to be on the look out, defending ourselves in order to meet our own safety and survival needs.

To me, when I practice doing unto others, it is a day-by-day, experience-by-experience, chance-after-chance to bring love and kindness. I challenge myself daily to align my behaviors and reactions with these principals.  Prayer, after all, is one thing.  How I act however, that’s on me.  It is how I pay forward my thanks for getting to live.

Probably my most oft-used adage is Begin Within.  This is because doing so gives me the chance to get present with what is real for me.  Is it an old story, what’s going on in my head right now?  Regret or worry—fear-based?  Written in my body by my life’s experiences, hanging out on the neuropeptides of my emotions, too close to my surface for my liking?  Making me uncomfortable?  I was a black out drunk you know, so I keep a close eye on these things…to avoid picking up my favorite or at least easiest way of checking-out.

Deep yogic union can be a way of reminding me that in the present moment, breath is healing.  It is truly all I actually have.  It can be all I need. I believe that life is a gift.  Lots of loss taught me that.  To live today the very best I can and enjoy myself as much as possible while I am–usually requires me to get real with me, then to turn my intentions towards how I want to behave today.  Doing unto others ensures I enjoy my life more because it makes me soft and open, which is the direct result of lightly practicing love and kindness over and over.

Abidingly human, or Aries, or Irish Catholic, or whatever else it is that I am I remember to hold gently the fact that I’m also totally imperfect as it gets.  Angry, lazy, self-righteous, selfish, arrogant, rigid, overindulgent, super anxious, too controlling.  All of these things.  I keep my own self-understanding close, so that compassion for others is never too far behind.

When I get caught up in fear, which always makes my imperfections worse, my work is to begin within.  Being a jerk is easy.  What I don’t work out I will act out.  Taking responsibility for this takes committed return from beginning within to the question, how am I behaving right now?  I begin again with this present moment, using my breath.  For me, it doesn’t take long in the present moment to get grateful for having access to it.

Doing unto others by becoming deeply present to right now.  Giving thanks for the chance to get to do so.  That’s really all it takes.  I think it’s one of perhaps the most simple and simultaneously most challenging acts there is.

Wellness: Gratitude.

This is what I know for sure:

It is still the nature of November light to outline shadows in a way that’s dark and precise,

shadows through trees losing leaves make my heart stir til it aches sometimes, so touching are the simplicities of the world’s grace,

salt air still opens up the breath I forget about and keep hidden in my belly,

it almost always feels good to get out and take a walk,

and at least for today, I am able to do so and–also–gratitude, it goes a long way.

Wellness is a process, not an arriving point. In my experience it has a lot to do with being present.  It’s an action word, how to be in the here and now, and its principals are grounded in love.

To be here and now you have to be able to be still with yourself.  To be here and now you have to be able to love.

Can

you

be?

Wellness rejoices in the truth, begins within, tells the truth to yourself, is accountable to your own day-to-day.

Breath by breath, that’s how we begin.

Be still.  Breathe.  Gratitude=love in motion.

Have you got your breath?  Give thanks.

A minute at a time.  Gratitude in motion. Until the day is done.

A day at a time. What are your first waking thoughts?

What happens if you choose them:

Just for today~THANKS!  For this bed, I am grateful.  For this cozy blankie, I am grateful.  For this cup of hot coffee…

Gratitude begins within.  Is the next right thing.

Just for today what do you need to be well?

Change happens, it comes just as November light will always make long shadows across the ground.  The simple miracle of the Autumnal light of the burning sun.  Just for today, can you breathe?

Can you tell the truth about how you feel and what you need?

Can you be brave enough to share those needs, or listen deeply to someone else’s?

Can you be grateful, and present, and still admit you’re human, you’re afraid?

It’s okay.

Breathe.  This moment is what you have.

Be well.

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Ninth street today.  Ocean City, Maryland.