Gently Guide the Tender Vine Else It Become Wild, Tangled and Impossible

Dearest Readers,

The following is an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden. I have chosen this particular story for this blog post as it contains a basic teaching of my beloved teacher, Angeles Arrien, who unexpectedly passed into Spirit on April 24th. You might well be aware of this as tributes have emerged in many corners acknowledging the deep impact she had in our lives. In addition to studying extensively with her at California Institute of Integral Studies, I was also the publicist who launched her wonderful book The Tarot Handbook. While her student I feel she helped set me on a writer’s path, acknowledging my writing skills. And, years later, when that seed had taken root and blossomed, she blessed my book with the testimonial you see on the back cover of my book, which I now hold more dearly than ever.

Love and spring blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is an invaluable resource for understanding ‘the garden’ as a source of healing, growth, solace, joy, wisdom and inspiration. This is a spiritually uplifting and wise book!” ~Angeles Arrien, Ph.D., Cultural Anthropologist, author of The Four-Fold Way and The Second Half of Life

Gently Guide the Tender Vine…

Show me a fence and I will think of a flower. I will think of honey-
suckle, trumpet vine, potato vine, wisteria, jasmine, and morning glories.
I will see possibility. I will see beauty. And I will want to get to work
right away.

My foray into vines taught me very early on that unless one is pay-
ing very close attention they can get away from you. They have minds
of their own. You will not be on the same page. At all. You want them
to climb over the fence, covering the wires, the boards, the limbs, most
likely, and they will want to stretch out their arms in all directions. And,
oh, should they touch another surface, be it plant, tree, wall, anything
it can expand on, beware. It will take off in the night like a child run
wild. And then you have all the undoing to do, to redirect the rampant
growth in accordance with your vision. And then you will have some
untangling to do. A very gentle, very deliberate, very time consuming,
painstaking activity indeed.

We’ve all done it. We do it in a thousand ways. We were doing this,
and then we were doing that, and when we turned our backs for just a
moment, or two, things simply got out of control. The mess that ensued
was a big fat you know what.

I actually enjoy untangling vines. I do. It reminds me of playing pickup
sticks as a child. The slow, calculated act of anticipating what will happen
to this when you do that? The ever so gentle unwrapping of this tender
tendril from another while keeping it intact, and then the redirection
into a creative and pragmatic pattern. It’s fun.

The untangling of projects that have gone astray, wayward and awry
may not be as engaging, though there are those among us who do enjoy a
mess that needs to be straightened out. We enjoy the challenge. What do
we do when things have become seemingly unmanageable? The unfailing
formula I turn to when I am truly stuck I personally learned from a very
wise woman, a professor of mine, author Angeles Arrien. The bottom
line version which I have turned to a million times in my mind follows.
Any time I find myself faltering, if I run the situation through this four
point grid, I will almost always get unglued and be able to view my situ-
ation with confidence and clarity.

show up
pay attention
tell the truth
and don’t be attached to the outcome

What does this require of me?
Showing up is simply that. I come to the table, fully present.

Paying attention means bringing my full consciousness and heartful-
ness in open participation to the process.

Telling the truth means digging down and saying what is true for
me, with deep courage and authenticity. My intention is never to hurt
another person or myself in this process. It is to get to the bottom of
things. The I Ching counsels us that a situation cannot change unless
and until we are able to face it as it actually is, not as we want it to be.
Unless we are willing to do this, the situation will remain in stagnation
or deterioration.

Not being attached to the outcome is not easy. It requires a deep sur-
rendering. It is an act of faith. It lies in the realm of believing all things
happen for a reason, that there is a guiding force at work in our lives
that we can trust. This is the essence of being truly grounded in spirit.
What are the wild, tangled and impossible tasks and challenges in your
life? What do you need to do to resolve them? Do you need assistance
or is it something you can do on your own? Will you be stronger and
wiser on the other side?


Book News: Last Friday I was a guest on “Conscious Talk” which you can listen to here. And “The Christine Upchurch Show” kindly just sent me a link to my interview with Christine. MP3 here. In June please watch for an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in GreenPrints, published in North Carolina. And next Saturday, on May 10th, Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael, in Marin Co., will be hosting an Author Meet and Greet for me. I hope to see some of you there! I would love that. :)

Getting Ready for the Garden

Ha! I know what you were thinking when you read Getting Ready for the Garden. You thought new gloves, cleaning up handtools, preparing the Earth, raking, bringing out the lawn mower and all the requisite steps we each are required to do for a successful season. But actually, I was talking about getting YOU ready for the garden. Really. Because having certain things in place, ready for the wear and tear of gardening, happens to be a very good idea. So I’m going to depart from my usual practice of rarely mentioning products, etc. and actually share with you some of the products I’ve come to rely on for balancing and healing from the rigors of gardening–especially at this time of year, when after the long days of winter we are eager to get our hands dirty, to spring into action and transform our winter gardens into summer loveliness. It’s part of what we live for, isn’t it? And with good reason.

I will preface this information with a reminder first and foremost to urge you to pace yourselves as you launch headlong into garden activities. I myself have been very good to myself this year, consciously holding back just a bit, and increasing my activities just a little each day. I know we all have the experience of getting in the zone and losing track of time and before we know it we’ve been out there at the garden for hours at a time, to the chagrin of our backs and necks and hands and knees. So what might we turn to in that case? I honestly could not imagine my life without arnica balm, arnica salve, arnica gel or arnica pellets (homeopathic)!
I first learned about using arnica when I was running a Spanish program for 1st through 8th graders at a Rudolf Steiner School when my daughter was still in school. The teachers reached for it when a child had a bump or bang in the playground. Arnica is excellent for bruises. (Not cuts; bruises.) It’s also an amazing assistant to healing sore backs and muscles. And if I’ve really “done it” I will reach for the homeopathic version as well. Ask for assistance in your local health food store. I’d recommend Boiron.

Another product I use regularly on big bumps and sore back muscles is Tiger Balm. I put it on half an hour after a warm bath or shower. This ensures pores are properly restored, not wide open, in applying. There are two versions. The stronger of the two will stain whatever you have on, so put on a t-shirt that’s not important to you. It’s worth it, though! I have healed so many out of sorts muscle aches with Tiger Balm! Sometimes it takes a bit of time, but I’d far rather take my time, combine with the needed rest and not resort to heavy medicines.

Now, a word about bath salts. If you only take showers I highly recommend you schedule a bath with yourself and have bath salts on hand, especially after heavy duty activities in the garden. There are many to choose from, though my preferences are Himalayan or any from Israel. I personally would not “try to save money” and buy salts from China. Sorry. Use Epsom Salts if you want to budget. Soaking in hot water with added bath salts is another luxurious way to soften the blow of hard garden work.
Now say you do your utmost to care for yourself but you find you have fallen. Or stung by a bee. Or pounded yourself with a hammer. Anything that hurts. I would reach for the Rescue Remedy. Bach Flower Remedies, which I was fortunate to take a class on, in Europe, are an ever so good thing to have on hand for balancing out any experience you find as discomforting or upsetting. It will not relieve pain, per se, but it will help you come to terms internally, with any kind of shock to your body or emotions. So easy to use–simply put a couple of drops under your tongue. Done. They are not hard to come by and we have used them for decades. Oh, and they make one for dogs now, and I highly recommend you keep it out of your medicine cabinet as the bottles are very similar and I must confess I have twice taken the one that bears a small paw, which I must have missed midst my upset. (No harm done. I didn’t woof or anything.)
Now what about your hands? I hope you are learning to wear gloves, as cumbersome as they might feel, but in spite of glove protection your hands are still going to suffer, right? They dry out, get cut and poked and dirty and all manner of abuses abound. (Don’t we just love it anyway? We do!) The absolute best thing I’ve found to heal my hands the fastest is Burt’s Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Cream. Instant fix!
Now a word on allergies. I have found a homeopathic remedy that relieves me of my allergy symptoms. Really. Skeptic that I was it worked. I recommend you see if you are one of the ones this will also help. Ask your local health food store for guidance. Let me know, will you?

Now go out into your gardens, dear readers, and enjoy yourselves!

Love and spring blessings,
Kathryn xoxox

Book News: On April 25th I was a guest on “The Christine Upchurch Show”in Seattle. If you missed it, here’s a link, Give a listen! If you were one of Christine Upchurch’s listeners on Friday, or listened to “Conscious Talk” this morning and are visiting my blog for the first time, thank you and welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment! Kathryn xoxo

The Beauty of Spring at Dusk

quince at dusk

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post. I was intending to write about gathering together resources to help ensure our body’s best spring into spring, and I will, in fact, be writing that soon. However, thinking I’d include a few spring blossoms in my post, I took my camera out into the garden, even though “it was late” and, lo, this post took a turn towards sharing, for now, the beauty found in day’s lingering light upon the spring blossoms that abound this end of March in Northern California. It is my gift and joy to share with you what I beheld last evening.

apple blossom at dusk

The apple tree was nearly ruthlessly pruned back by “tree guys” this winter. It is responding in kind with a renewed vigor. I can actually relate! “Let your ground lie fallow” is one of the 52 lessons sited in my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy. To some extent I did pull back this winter, and I am reaping the benefits this spring with a vital surge of renewed energy, for which I am feeling deeply grateful. It is always good to fill back up before pushing on, wouldn’t you agree?

forsythia at dusk

This large forsythia harbors nostalgia for me. Growing up as a teen in Massachusetts I knew that when the forsythia on our property emerged I could look forward to much cherished warmer weather. While not as extreme in Northern California, the message is the same, and still welcomed.

apple blossoms at dusk

rose at dusk

One of the first roses of the season…

camellia at dusk

This property is blessed with an abundance of camellias, who are well into their magnificent display. This one is a favorite. You can readily see why!

Love and spring blessings, wherever you might be! May your gardens soon be full of flowers!
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: Lots to tell!
*Seattle’s publication New Spirit Journal ran a lovely review of my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy and pronounced it, “insightful, practical and entertaining”! Why, thank you!
*On April 25th, Arbor Day, I will be a guest on “The Christine Upchurch Show” at 11:00AM (PDT) on KKNW-AM in Seattle, Cable Radio Network and WBLQ-AM in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. I will announce more details on my Facebook Fan Page. If you have not “liked” the fan page, you may by going here.
*Lastly, I am so glad to let you know I have the opportunity to meet some of you in person at Copperfield’s Books in San Rafael in Marin County on May 10th from 1:00-4:00PM. More info here. I do hope you can come!
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