Our Authentic Life: Starting seeds

Growing my own food is something I’ve wanted to try for a few years now, and this year we finally have yard space and are making time to do it! Vegetable gardening appeals to our values of oneness with nature, nutrition and physical wellness, and self-sustaining independence, so I’m hoping this will be a fulfilling new experience for us.

We started tomato, cucumber, zucchini squash, yellow squash, and red bell pepper seeds this week. We wanted a mix of fairly easy-to-grow plants (squash) as well as something a little challenging (cucumbers.)

Here is a list of supplies we’re using:

Seeds of Change 100% certified organic vegetable seeds
Harvest Organic Potting Soil
-seed starting tray with peat pots and plastic dome cover
-shop lamp and daylight bulb

My favorite sources for gardening knowledge include OrganicGardening.com (which has all the seed starting tips you could ever need, and more,) friends (Caleb grows vegetables and has been a great resource when I have confusing gardening questions,) and family (my husband’s grandmother and great-aunt, lovingly dubbed Nanna and Armon, or “the twins,” have been growing vegetables for years.) Based on information from these sources, we used this process:

1. Make a plan for starting seeds, and document the needs of each plant for transplant and future care planning.  I made a document to outline the needs of each vegetable variety we’re planting. This was necessary for us since this is our first attempt at vegetable gardening, and I want to minimize the risk of overlooking specifics of plant care. People who know me may know that I can kill just about any plant out there, and I’d really like to amend my plant murdering ways this go-round. We keep this document on the refrigerator where it can be easily referenced and not easily forgotten.

2. Starting the seeds: fill each peat pot in the starting tray with organic potting mix according to seed packet directions. I estimated the depth of seed placement (anywhere from 1/4″ under soil for tomato seeds to 1″ for cucumbers.) Then gently pat down the soil, and get ready for the fun part…

3. Place the seeds in the partially soil-filled pots. I put one seed in each pot for larger seed varieties (like squash) and 2-4 smaller variety seeds (like tomatoes and bell peppers.)

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(Yay!)

4. Cover the seeds with more soil and pat gently.

5. Mark each set of pots with the name of the vegetable and date of planting, and give ’em some love.  Like a typical Asheville hippie, you can bet I spoke some words of encouragement to these little guys as they began their tumultuous journey into planthood.

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(You guys are gonna be just great.)

6. Water the trays thoroughly, making sure the sides of the pots are saturated, and cover the tray with the plastic dome cover.

7. Place seed tray in a safe place 1-3 feet under the daylight lamp. There was some debate about whether or not the lamp should be turned on before the seeds have sprouted, but I decided to go ahead and do it. I’m turning the lamp on around sunrise when I wake up, and turning it off at sundown. I figure this will help them adjust to normal daylight hours as they begin to grow.

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And the seeds are officially started! I’ll be posting updates as they emerge, and as we begin to prepare our garden area. This is a new venture for me, and I welcome tips, suggestions, and personal stories if you’re a gardener yourself!  🙂

With Love,

BPC

 

***UPDATE 3/29/2014***

About two days after planting the seeds in peat pots, I noticed that the top of the soil was growing a thin layer of fuzzy white mold! Research I found on gardening forums explained that this type of mold was probably not harmful to the plants, as many plants live in harmony with different types of molds and fungi.

Of course I didn’t want to take any chances, so I described the mold to my friend Caleb, and he advised me to fill a spray bottle with water and add one cap-full of hydrogen peroxide, then spray the top of the soil with the water-hydrogen peroxide mixture. I did this on Thursday night before turning off the daylight lamp, and the next morning the mold had just about disappeared. Seeds are starting to sprout, and they’re looking great!  🙂

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(Cucumbers!)

***UPDATE 3/30/2014***

It’s been a week since we planted our seeds, and look how much they’ve already grown!  🙂

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(Top left: tomatoes; bottom left: yellow squash; right: cucumbers.)

It’s almost time to remove the plastic dome on top of the trays that seals in moisture. Red bell peppers haven’t sprouted yet, but I’m not worried; the experts say they can take up to three weeks to germinate without a heating pad underneath them. If we don’t see them in the next week, then I will get them one. All is well so far…our next step will be preparing the raised garden bed outside so we can transplant them in four weeks or so.  🙂

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On self-discipline, and penciling yourself into your busy schedule

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”

-Hal Borland

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I’ll be the first to admit: I have a very hard time self-motivating. It’s been one of the toughest obstacles I’ve faced so far on my journey into a new career.

I decided last year that I didn’t want to work for someone else anymore. I worked as a store manager for a fast-growing, fun-loving retail company for a few years, and I loved that job. I loved interacting with my customers, training, growing, and learning from my staff, and merchandising my store for optimal visual appeal. What I didn’t love was that I couldn’t do it all my way. I threw my heart and soul into that job, and it was very hard to give it up…but I realized I want more. I want a life’s work. 

So I entered graduate school for Mental Health Counseling, and while I earn my degree I’m learning what it means (and what it takes) to work for yourself. Turns out it takes a LOT of self-discipline, because if you work for you, then no one else is there to hold you accountable.

If you can relate to this, and if you’re interested in turning your passions into income and creating an authentic life’s work for yourself, then here are two simple tips I’ve discovered that may help you get started:

1. Schedule time for your “work.” 

What is it you want to pursue? Do you love to play music, learn new languages, or write short stories? Do you love gardening, exploring medicinal uses for herbs, or studying ancient cultures around the globe? It does not matter the least bit what it is; if you feel intuitively that this is the thing you love to do, then you should be doing it.

If you don’t do this already, then begin to take your passions seriously. “Ordinary” people live extraordinary lives all the time, and you can, too — but only if you’re serious about it. Right now you can decide to make time for activities that energize you. If you like writing music and you also have a job, then you can decide that writing music is your second job — you don’t have to get paid for it in order to decide this. All you have to do is say, “I work at X, and I also write music.” And BOOM! You’re on your way.

Now you have to treat that activity like a job as opposed to a hobby. Where is your job on your priority list? Most likely it’s below family (and spirituality, if you’re a spiritual person) and above things like social time and cleaning your apartment (if you’re like me, at least.) Now your passion will fall in the same place on your priority list as your job.  For example, if you worked at your job all week and had no time to write music, and some friends ask you to hang out on Saturday, then you may tell them you’ll be there as soon as you get some work done. You may wake up, make some coffee, and sit down to write for an hour or two before going out. And you will do this once you’ve consciously decided that the thing you’re passionate about is your work, and it deserves your time. Changing your mindset about your passion is the first step toward living your dream.

2. Identify your resources and utilize them.

What other things in your life encourage you to devote time to the things you love? Do you feel more inclined to paint when you listen to a certain Red Hot Chili Peppers album? Have you noticed you have more energy for working on your projects when you work out or eat healthy foods? Does a certain friend or family member support your vision or share an interest in the thing you love? These are great resources, and giving them your attention will help you along your path.

You may want to spend a week or two observing and noting the things around you that inspire you. Music, food, and people we encounter are all great areas to look for inspiration, because we don’t have to seek these things out too much — if you’re going to be in your car listening to music anyway, then choose the music that will motivate you. If you’re going to eat a meal or hang out with a friend, then start eating more meals that make you feel good, and visiting with more friends who encourage your progress. These small steps can make a huge impact on your sense of direction.

The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t happen overnight. We live in an instant gratification culture where everything is automatic: you can get your food through a window right now; you can text, call, Tweet, or Facebook your friends, family, and coworkers and receive a response at the click of a button; and chances are, if you need some extra money you can go out there and get a second crappy job with relative ease. But the things we have to wait for and vest ourselves in are always worth the effort: the home-cooked meal, the face-to-face visit with family and friends, and the fulfilling career path we chose to work for. If you can enjoy the vast array of learning experiences (successes, failures, open doors, and roadblocks) that come with the territory of building an authentic life, then one day you will thank yourself for having the courage to take those first steps.

What is Real Wealth?

“Every day is a bank account, and time is our currency. No one is rich, no one is poor, we’ve got twenty-four hours each.”

Christopher Rice

If someone were to ask you how wealthy you are, your mind may immediately begin calculating how much money you have in your checking account, how much in savings and investments, and adding that to what you’ve acquired in land and physical assets. There is no doubt that for anyone living in today’s Western world, money means security — but what other types of wealth are there, and how can we calculate those?

I’m going to preface this by saying that I realize money is important. I’ve been in the position (many times) where I had no idea how I was going to feed myself between now and payday. Hell, I was in that position two weeks ago! Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs demonstrates how fundamental our need for security and physiological basics are to pursuing “higher” aspects of life, like our interpersonal relationships, self-actualization, and personal goals and ambitions:

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(You won’t catch me contemplating the meaning of life before I’ve had breakfast. And coffee.)

My husband and I are fortunate: right now, we only have the two of us to worry about. I can only imagine how different our situation would be if we had more mouths to feed. As global (monetary) wealth continues to be concentrated into the hands of few, more and more people are finding themselves one missed paycheck away from homelessness. This is where the idea of real wealth comes in.

In his work Agenda for a New Economy (you can access the PDF here) David Korton defines real wealth as “things of intrinsic utilitarian, artistic, and spiritual value…[such as] healthy food, fertile land, pure water, clean air, education, healthcare, fulfilling opportunities for service, and time for meditation and spiritual reflection…healthy, happy children, loving families, caring communities, [and] a beautiful, healthy, natural environment.” Most of us would agree that these are the priceless things that make life worth living, and unfortunately they often take second priority to earning a living and putting food on the table.

The good news is that we don’t have to make them second priority. Accumulating real wealth can help relieve stress, improve mental health, and even have a direct correlation with increasing monetary wealth. I’m not saying that we should all go down to part-time hours at our jobs in order to have more time for family, friends, community service, and hobbies (though if you can realistically do that, that’s great!) I’m certain that most people (at least the ones who hate their jobs) already work the minimum number of hours necessary to provide for themselves and their families. I’m saying that if you’re feeling like you’ve sold your soul to your employer, or you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, or you’re in a situation where someone could fire you and take away your income and you would be in big trouble, then there might just be a remedy for that.

Gaining monetary wealth is important, but investing in yourself is important too. Do you have a hobby or cause that you’re passionate about? Do you dedicate time to it? Or have you lost a connection with the things (or people) you love?

Based on observation, I feel like the leading cause for people not investing in themselves is depression, which is frequently caused by stress, financial difficulties, dissatisfaction at work, increased working hours, strained relationships, and a whole ton of other horrible things that we endure and tend to think of as unfortunate, uncontrollable conditions of being human. But these aren’t the necessary facts of life; they are conditions that we as a culture, over a whole lot of time, have built.  We created this lifestyle, and we have the power to change it.

I know a lot of people who are discovering what they’re passionate about and finding ways to turn their skills and talents into income. It brings me so much joy to see this! It’s not an easy thing to do — it requires creativity, optimism, self-confidence, dedication, and hard work. If this sounds overwhelming, you may want to think: is it any easier to spend 40+ hours a week at a job you hate…forever? If you’re spending time doing something you love, then that activity won’t drain you; it will energize you, and you’ll have more available energy to dedicate to others things, too. What makes you feel alive, and are you investing yourself in it? Even spending just a little bit of time regularly on something that makes you happy is a step in the right direction, and over time it will change your life for the better.

Citations:

Korten, D.  (2011, October 5.)  Agenda for a new economy.  Livingeconomiesforum.org. Retrieved February 13, 2014, from      http://www.livingeconomiesforum.org.

Moving forward: what’s blocking you?

Socialization is a powerful thing. Many of us could spend an entire lifetime exploring our own psyches, picking apart the limiting messages that society sends us from what we really believe to be true: about ourselves, about the world, and about human nature. Every day that I don’t accomplish everything I set out to do I ask myself: “What’s holding you back?” And just about every day I come up with a new answer.

Sometimes I don’t achieve my goals because it was easier to pick up my phone and waste some time on the internet. Solution? Either practice self-discipline, or (this one was easier for me) get rid of all those phone apps that I allow to distract me in the first place.

Other times it’s because my heart wasn’t in the project, so I found it difficult to self-motivate. So why am I dedicating time to projects that don’t interest me? Right now it’s because I’m earning a degree, and not every project that degree requires is going to be interesting. Will it be worth it in the end? Yes. I am a firm believer that education is NOT always critical to building the life you want to live, but it is critical to my mission as I see it right now. So here’s where I need to keep building self-discipline. Are you working on a project right now that doesn’t interest you? Why are you committing time and energy to it, and is the struggle worth the payoff?

Sometimes I don’t complete a project because I’m lacking self-confidence, and here’s where the issue of socialization comes in. As I sat down to write today, I found it very difficult to get started. Several hours passed with no progress, and, frustrated, I decided to take a moment to sit quietly and just listen. What I found in my own head was disturbing: as I sat, eyes closed, I became overwhelmed by a flood of feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. I hadn’t even realized that I was feeling this way! I remembered beginning my morning feeling so cheerful and totally pumped to write an article on real wealth. Where were these negative feelings suddenly coming from?

The truth is, I could write forever on the limiting beliefs we hold due to messages we receive from the outside world, but that wouldn’t do me much good, and it probably wouldn’t do you much good to read it. But exploring it for yourself (if you haven’t already) is important: what kinds of things do you believe about yourself that stop you from enjoying life and accomplishing your goals? Where do those beliefs come from? This is important because if you take some time to think about it, you will realize that those limiting beliefs don’t come from you. You weren’t born with them, and you don’t have to carry them.

When you were an infant you cried out for whatever you needed, and your caregiver gave it to you. You asked and then received, and that’s how you survived. As a child you didn’t ask whether or not you deserved milk, or a blanket if you were cold. You didn’t shiver and wonder if you were kind enough, smart enough, or educated enough to deserve warmth. You were cold, you asked for a blanket, and you got a blanket; and because you didn’t freeze to death, you lived and continued to grow. So what is it you need today in order to continue growing in the direction of your choice? This is a much bigger topic than I can cover here, so we’ll come back to it later.

The take-home message here is that it’s important to realize that most of us have subconscious beliefs that limit our progress, and exploring these beliefs and their origins can be highly beneficial to moving forward. However, once you’ve proven to yourself that those terrible ideas aren’t your own, you must move on from them. Yes, they will likely still be there in the back of your mind, because social conditioning can take years of conscious effort to override. But once you can identify them, there is no need to dwell and rehash — just remind yourself that you are in control of what you think about things, and you think you’re just great, thank you very much. And while you’re at it, remind yourself of everything you have and everything you’ve done to be proud of, because no one is better at being you than you are.

With Love,

BPC

Welcome!

“But why? Why do you need prophets to tell you how to live? Why do you need anyone to tell you how to live?”

Daniel Quinn, Ishmael

Welcome, friends!  🙂

If you know me personally, then you may know that recently I’ve been learning to do a lot of new things all at one time. This little corner of the Interweb will serve to document my adventures, thoughts, and ideas as I learn some valuable new skills and work toward a more sustainable, independent lifestyle.

You may also know that I operate best when I let my intuition serve as guide. Of course, this isn’t always an easy thing to do! But developing a relationship with your intuition is such an important part of becoming the you you want to be, and there’s just no reason to waste time being someone else’s version of you. So here we will also explore getting to know ourselves more fully, so that we may shape for ourselves the lives we truly want to live.

I happily invite anyone who enjoys my future articles to leave a note or share a personal story. I would love to see what your path toward living more authentically looks like!  🙂

With Love,

BPC