Following several days of pure bliss, I succumbed on Sunday to a few hours of good ol’ fashioned What If Anxiety. I kept forgetting to breathe, as my husband calls it. It was a trifecta of external stimuli: a couple of failed side dishes I had cooked for beloved friends (minor in the scheme of things but disappointing); a rouge, really violent hailstorm that did some mean damage to my beloved vegetable and flower gardens; and (the biggest What If of them all) waiting on health news regarding one of our most beloved young people.
I definitely kept forgetting to breathe. My mind kept rolling over the worst case scenarios for each of these, projecting into the future all the most terrible extrapolated consequences: They’ll never come to the farm for dinner again and probably think I am a kitchen fraud. I might as well give up gardening. I am definitely a fraud. She has something very wrong with her health but won’t reach out for help. Then I’d furiously resist those negative thoughts and scold myself for the struggle, because I know better than that by now. And that resistance created more tension. So I ate a second helping of dessert and got mad at myself for that too because vacation is over ma’am and you are so weak and also not a very good runner. Healthy living fraud.
Wow. Only one of those external stressors really mattered to life; but worry has a way of sneaking in through tiny openings to crack open the door and let the big stuff in. Have you ever been in such a tailspin?
As Sunday evening drew to a close, the biggest What If was silenced, and we went to bed thankful and exhausted. We were happy to be home and safe and ready to approach the threshold between all those previous days of bliss and the fresh, brand new work week. I muscled my thoughts back into the light. And I finally remembered to breathe.
Monday morning after Handsome left for the Commish, I plunged into all kinds of chores around the house, allowing the physical activity and sweetness of domesticity to drum up more positive vibes. Eventually Klaus and I walked around the farm, just to survey the storm damage with calmer eyes. The weather that morning was much more like early October than June. Bright and crisp, soft breezes, mellow. I could barely relate all of that crystalline brilliance to Sunday’s low, black canopy, woolly humidity, and violent wind and hail. I noticed a clarity inside myself, too. The storm had passed and everything felt fresh and good again.
The facts followed suit. Once I had the fortitude to really examine my gardens, I found only minor damage. Some broken vines and torn leaves, sure, and a few marshy beds that were begging for a stretch of warm sunshine to dry out. But all of it was more of a shakeup than a tragedy. And I had to laugh at my Yesterday Self for being so devastated at nothing. I also had to stop and give lots and lots of thanks for all the good news we had received concerning the much more important worries in life.
So I walked around correcting small injuries to various plants and re-threading tomato vines, harvesting slashed-off zucchini blossoms and deciding that the fallen stone fruits (still unripe) would be great to crush and feed to the hens.
I recalled so many other times in life when my worries turned out to be far scarier than reality. Often the anxiety can be quieted with just some time, some breathing, and lots of deliberate trust. Things really do tend to work out. But resisting fear is different than choosing faith.
How wonderful to remember all of this. The mental games of What If are powerful. It is up to each of us moment by moment to choose to put that power to good use. We can funnel our vast imaginations into fears and worries and extrapolate terrible future chains of events; or we can harness the same exact power inside ourselves and project incredible future outcomes.
We can visualize and aim for beauty, strength, success, progress, healing, connection, abundance, and miracles. We can see the damage and exaggerate it with our dim perspective; or we can see the damage and give thanks that so much can be recovered, that circumstances, just like the weather, can so suddenly turn around.
Choosing our thoughts matters, in case you need the reminder today like I could have used it on Sunday. Our thoughts can steer our feelings and our behavior. They can literally shape both our perspectives and our circumstances along the way.
Choose Joy. It won’t always come easily, but it is always available.
Choose Joy over and over again, no matter how things look and especially now matter how you feel, temporarily.
P.S. This blog post is dedicated to two of my best friends, who could not be more different from each other: Mickey, who had the presence of mind on Sunday to assure me that, in fact, some stress can strengthen plants and trees (so true). And Brittany, whose already gorgeous life is suddenly brimming with some mammoth What Ifs. I am down here in Oklahoma sending up magical possibilities and promises for you friend!
Magic is Real.
The Gardens will be Fine.
So Will She.
Hello and happy Wednesday!! Life at the W is clicking right long, and I have a handful of thoughts to share in case you are cuddled up and in the mood to read. This blog post will be like my favorite outfits: Nothing matches, but it all feels right.
001 My friend Christina at Little Sprouts Learning is a genius. This past week she shared a natural solution for repelling the dreaded squash bugs: white radishes! Also this week I was reminded that starting a squash crop earlier than usual can give the vines a jump on their enemies’ life cycles. This strategy is simple, and it could give a bigger overall yield for the summer; we just have to have some late frost protection plans in our back pockets.
002 Next week is Mardi Gras, and depending on how social plans shake out I might bake our King Cake this weekend. Rather than pull ideas from the internet, I decided to lean comfortably on a recipe from a little book I snagged a few years ago in the actual French Quarter, at my favorite used book store. King Cake is lot more like a yeast bread than cake, which means it might scratch this sourdough craving I can’t kick. Also? I am a lot better at baking bread than cake, as the following photo demonstrates:
003 Is it watermelon season yet? If not, can everyone please stop posting watermelon photos online? And can the grocery stores please stop selling cubes of the red fruit in plastic boxes for one million dollars, even though they probably taste like chewy tap water? Ok cool. On a happier note, I have ordered some fancy watermelon seeds for a new patch this year, wahoo!!
004 I want you to come see some improvements we are making to the farm! One visual treat is the east exterior side of the big barn, the side you see just as you pull your car up and around the gravel driveway:
It’s a happy work in progress, and I love it! The mural, hand painted by my favorite white collar-hobby farming-renaissance man, has been here a while, but we recently added that red “W” up top and have started rearranging a collection of miscellaneous signs, hubcaps, and license plates. Soon, those two plastic trough planters will be overflowing with sunflowers, cosmos, and maybe hollyhocks and trailing SPV, and the ground below will be crawling with fruit. This is where I’ll grow watermelons and a pumpkin patch this year. My thinking is that, compared to the front field, this area between the house and the horses gets a lot more daily foot traffic, so the deer are less likely to sneak in and rob us and I am less likely to forget to do the weeding and watering. Bam.
005 My husband started a Keto diet on January second, and I have a lot of feelings about it, ha. Since March is “National Nutrition Month,” I will save my thoughts for a post then. Until then, light a candle for me. (I am kidding, it’s fine. But seriously. Send haaaaalllp.)
006 Unrelated, or perhaps very related, I have continued on the fitness path of trading lots of miles each week for lifting (baby) weights), and I feel surprisingly great. It’s funny how you have to convince yourself that running less is totally allowed. I am ever so slowly shedding some fat and feeling stronger and leaner, head to toe. What’s even more exciting is that my aerobic fitness is improving, too. I grab faster intervals when I decide to, run more consistent tempo workouts, and finish virtually every run with energy to spare. Zero plantar pain and better endurance, both very good side effects. The slow, slight fat loss is just a bonus so far. I attribute healthier, happier feet to building stronger hips and lower abs. This makes all the difference to mileage goals, for me: Should I eventually commit to a marathon, I could not increase volume much with blistered heels and and screaming plantar. So, for the foreseeable future, baby weights a few times per week will stay in rotation with those glorious, refreshing miles. This has all been really good mental conditioning, too, this constant sense of missing out on how all my running friends are preparing. (Boston and OKC races are right around the corner!)
007 Winter is making a few unwelcome encores around here, but it’s still February, after all, and even an early spring should not be expected until sometime in March. We consciously grab hold of and enjoy every warm, gorgeous afternoon with which we are gifted, and we try to make really good use of the cold, grey days in between, complaining as little as our worn out, heat-loving spirits will allow. Soon enough, as last weekend demonstrated, we will be outside working so long and so exhaustively that this hibernation season will seem far off again and quite foreign. (February always seems so bizarre while we are in it and so far away once we escape. And it’s so short! Weird.) Oh, and how’s this for God having a sense of humor? This morning as we listened to another bitter cold weather forecast and tried to guess its duration, I flipped open my devotional and read this scripture from Acts 1:7, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.” Ha! OK, ok, I get it. We can do zero to affect the weather, and there are greater things at play here. So we might as well just smile and make the most of it!
008 It’s Pisces season, okay? Spring is just so close. Let’s embrace a little magic and fluidity, and let’s welcome our intuition to the fling. What fling? The spring fling, of course.
Despite all the intensity of Pisces season, it’s also one of the most romantic and glamorous times of the year.mindbodygreen
009 Please go read my friend Katie’s blog update on her garden. She and her husband work together in their Oklahoma City backyard to cultivate a space for flowers, culinary wealth, artwork, chickens and fresh eggs, grandchildren, and gobs of romance. They sound a lot like us, minus the grandchildren, ha! And we hope to accept their sweet dinner invitation soon!
010 What if the entire shade garden could be a spacious, concentric salad garden? All lettuces and kales, radishes, maybe some peas and… What else? Nasturtiums? Pansies? Cabbage! I want lots of food here to mix with the perennial coral bells, azaleas, and hydrangeas. The last couple of summers I accidentally grew too many tall sun lovers near the edge, so they not only visually blocked most of the expanse; they also leaned over dramatically to find the light. It was fun for a while, but it made mowing weird. And it eventually was just… confusing.
011 Have you read the Eckhart Tolle book, The Power of Now? My sister Ang recommended it to me, and I crave some discussion. So good. And much needed in my life. Thanks lady!!
That is it for my headline collection today, unless perhaps you are into discussing pregnancy scares for women in their mid forties? No? Ok, carry on. Have the loveliest evening possible! And don’t hate the cold too much. It really is almost over. Remember we are counting it all joy!! All of it!
“Even when the sky is heavily overcast,
the sun hasn’t disappeared.
It’s still there on the other side of the clouds.”
What a week! Another one! Solid, satisfying hard work, mostly top-loaded onto Monday through Wednesday for me (pretty nonstop for Handsome) and prayers answered left and right. Deep hopes and big requests, both for us and for our nearest people, are being met with generosity and Love. I’m stunned by a lot of it. Thankful, to say the least. And humbled by how so many people are carrying heavy burdens. More than they show.
It’s time for a Friday 5 at the Farm post, some snapshots of really happy moments this week:
001 Klaus and I have been redeeming as many hours as possible, moving dirt and compost all over the place, daydreaming the whole time about growing season and all the parties we’ll have soon. This particular corner of the farm especially has captured my imagination. It’s over on the south edge of the lawn area, a curvy little spot with a half-buried rock patio. There’s a miniature fire pit adjacent to it on one side (where my spade is stuck in the photo), plus our hot tub on the other. My first task was removing glorious dirt and ash from that bonfire pit and replacing it to a nearby raised bed.
Then that ocean of dry oak leaves got raked off, though it’s hardly a permanent solution. #wind This morning at 4:43 a.m., I woke up with a jolt, having realized that this will be the Moon Garden, something I have wanted for about 20 years. Stay tuned.
002 Our frigid cold weather has, inexplicably, not dissuaded my appetite for post-run protein smoothies. One day I doused the blender magic with frozen blueberries, to match my blue lips and swollen blue hands. It’s a theme, and a delicious one.
003 Wildflower seeds! A friend of ours recently suggested I browse this company’s stock, and I am so glad she did. Shipping is cheap ($7 flat) and pricing, growing instructions and everything else is straight forward. Now I just need to narrow down my wishes a little bit. The biggest use for wildflowers at the farm will be the front field meadow and the Curves & Edges meadow, there along the driveway to the north. Very exciting!! The sand is all filled in now with prairie grass, just begging for some native color.
004 Speaking of seeds, these are growing!! Broccoli sprouts are getting fluffy and reach for the run all day long. I love rearranging and misting them, and soon they’ll need thinning. Most of the sugar snap peas have germinated, too. Snapdragons and parsley are further behind, but it’s early.
005 Last one. My hens. Ahhh I love them. You might like to know that at present, the Lazy W boasts exactly 9 chickens, including 2 roosters. We have had much larger flocks in the past, free range then too, but what’s special about this group is that all of them were hatched here (and they are kept safe lately, from hawks and owls and random German Shepherds). Even in this bitter cold weather, the girls have been offering us three to fours fresh, heavy eggs every day. I love it! And Mama Goose is still with us, old as she is, though mostly blind now and accompanied at all times by Johnny Cash the faithful gander. He guides her until she finds water, and then she is independent and joyful. We are thankful every time we hear her honking and sqwaking.
Okay, that’s it for today! Thanks so much for checking in at the Digital W. I have loved every note and comment from recent updates, too. We are lucky to be surrounded by so much Love.
Happy Weekend to you and yours!!
Hello! It’s early Tuesday morning, which means I am getting ready for another fun day at OSU-OKC for Master Gardeners’ class!
Seriously? I have so many things to share with you about these sessions. The people are just fantastic. The new energy flow is welcome in my life and so interesting, stimulating. The deluge of information being offered is unprecedented! And so much inspiration… Week after week, I come home with new ideas and smarter daydreams. I just had no idea how much further my mind could be stretched in an arena I have loved for so long.
Maybe the most important thing I am learning is how to find really good information. And that is something I’d love to share with you no matter where you live, but especially if you too are digging and sowing and harvesting in this Great State I call home.
Because anyone who has tried establishing and tending a garden in Oklahoma knows it is particularly challenging, right? Extreme everything. Ferocious wind, crazy temperature fluctuations, either droughts or floods (or both!)… Every soil type under the sun. Very little goes the small, quiet way here. Including beauty. So we need good support. Smart, experienced people to light the way. Here are some clickable garden resources for you, as offered to me by the fine folks at the Oklahoma County Extension:
I will be adding to this list periodically, so please check in again! And if you have an online resource to share, please send me a note and I’ll add it. Knowledge is power.
We know we belong to the laaaaaand!