“Take time to do what makes your soul happy.”–Unknown
What comes to your mind when you think of presents? Is it for a birthday, Christmas, special occasion, or just because? Well, my birthday was last week. I turned 39 and am not ashamed to tell my age. It means I have experienced life for 39 years. It means I have survived numerous surgeries including eye, exploratory to removal of intestinal blockage, blood clot on wrist, ovarian cysts removal, 2 c-sections, and thyroid removal twice (2 lobes separately). It means I have endured and managed Crohn’s Disease for 21 years (probably more before the diagnosis). It means I have endured and managed an asthma diagnosis and severe allergies for 13 years. It means I have endured and conquered thyroid cancer for almost 5 years! I have had great loss of my older brother by two years being killed when I was 20 years old. Of my grandparents struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia which eventually brought on their deaths. However, I have had great gains in life too. I met my soul mate in high school. He has held my hand through it all. God knew I was going to need extra support and love in my life early on. I have 2 great sons that bring me joy and yard flowers on a regular basis. I have a big house and yard that lends space to my green thumb adventures.
Presents have never been a big deal for me. While growing up, the birthday person got to choose what we had to eat for supper. We had cake and a few gifts afterward. The gifts were usually some clothing, some school or art supplies, and a special item based on own interest. This is the same way we celebrate birthdays today with my boys. Surprises never have suited well with me. My friends threw me a surprise party for my 18th birthday and I fainted! So on my 30th birthday, my dear husband organized a ‘staggering drop in’ party where folks would show up at different times– all without me knowing it. Anyway, it was also a gardening party. I never have been a girly girl or have desires for material items. Giving me hand tools, gardening gloves, gardening totes, and plants were suggestions for gifts. My good friend, Chris, had another idea. DIRT ….bags of garden dirt. Ironically, he had just bought some for his yard and had extras. His wife told him not to bring them inside but to keep them in the trunk. ‘Dirt isn’t a present you give a 30-year-old lady’ she thought. Boy was she wrong and Chris was right (of course he knew cause he is more like a brother to me). Those bags of dirt were my favorite gifts of that day.
Bouquets of flowers wilt and die over time. Expensive jewelry doesn’t appeal to me (I have an allergy to gold). Clothing should be tried on first. So typical presents have little appeal. However, plants are alive and help purify the air. Flowers for the yard beautify the space as well as feed insects. Dirt can bring nutrients to plants. Gardening tools help me maintain my plants and make it easier doing so. All of these presents bring joy to me time after time again. Presence can also be more of a present. Simply being outside with me as I work in the garden brings joy. Going for a walk and talking about everything and nothing brings joy. Being able to appreciate God’s gifts to bring beauty to the surroundings brings joy. Being able to enjoy and share the harvest God has provided brings joy. Simplicity of presents bring joy time after time.
“The body heals with play, the mind heals with laughter, and the spirit heals with joy.” –Proverb
What comes to your mind when someone says they are going to play with dirt? For me, I think back to childhood when I would play in the creek bed, dig for peanuts in the garden, and make mud pies with pretend chocolate milk in my cafe at Grandma’s house. For my boys, it has been moving dirt with toy dump trucks, digging out trenches to make streams and waterfalls, and various construction zones. It is about using your imagination to make a simple item that is in our everyday life into a memory that will last a lifetime.
Now as an adult, the phrase ‘dirt work’ can encompass various meanings. It can mean to simply move dirt from one location to another by means of large construction equipment like clearing land for a new building or development. It can mean under ground work for that building. It can also mean to work with landscaping, preparing an area for a garden, or even installing a pool. Anyway, I believe most of the people in those fields enjoy their ‘dirt work.’
Working with dirt has been proven to make a person healthier. Weather it is having a few potted plants inside your home, a flower or vegetable garden, or a big farm. Your body and soul will thank you. The pure act of gardening will reduce stress hormones and blood pressure, engage your senses, and strengthen your immune system. It will focus your mind on the present conditions around you, grow your mind as you learn new things on how to tend to those plants, and gain accountability for taking care of those plants. Outdoor gardening can get you moving more to stretch muscles while tending to the plants, to enjoy more sunshine which in turn will calm oneself, to become more observant, and possibly become more adventurous. All those things can release happy feelings in a person. I know it has been a joy for me to have a garden. It has helped me stay active and enjoy the pleasures of the coming harvest.
God says to acknowledge his presence in your work and he will bless your efforts. Show appreciation for God’s ability to give us what we need. He is with us as we work, giving us the necessary energy to do so. Now that should make any soul happy.
“God almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.” -Francis Bacon
Am I am expert on life or gardening? Not at all. I am just an ordinary woman trying to have extraordinary adventures as God guides me through his pathway for my life. As I contemplated starting this blog for weeks, questions of doubt kept popping up. I don’t have a background in writing, philosophy, or religion. I don’t have any formal training in gardening. So why is this idea always on my mind.
Passion. Pure and simple. Why not share my experiences on how much being ‘in touch’ with dirt has changed and enhanced my well being. I love recording the progress of what I am growing in my green garden notebook. I enjoy taking pictures of how things change over time for the better or worse. Which plants did well enough to duplicate next year? What new process can I try out next season or next year to enhance the results.
God didn’t give me simple living. I have challenges every day. But that doesn’t stop me from exploring the beautiful nature God provided for us. As my husband has noticed and said over the years, “When you are not feeling well, put your hands in dirt, and you will soon be feeling better.”
Be patient with me. I am working on building my foundation. It is an important step that can’t be done quickly. A lot of brainstorming happens. Thoughts and ideas pop in my head at all hours of the day and night. Just as spring comes on gradually, each flower and tree blossom at it’s own pace, so will this adventure develop over time.