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Tending the Pathways

On this particularly warm 73-degree mid-February day, Crystal (my daughter) and I went to a garden shop. We set the intention last night that this afternoon we would do some gardening. And we wanted to get some supplies, and some information.

What could even be planted now? We did our bulbs in the fall, which are coming up beautifully, but what could we plant in February? Maybe we could start some seeds?

“Not quite yet on the seeds” the woman at the garden supply store told me. Apparently, around here, starts won’t be happy in the ground till around Mother’s Day, so they’d get too “leggy” if we started them now.

Maybe we could just work on getting the beds ready?

Crystal (my daughter) and I live right next to a little public park that everyone calls Pocket Park. Our neighbor, who lives on the other side of Pocket Park, told us folks would be delighted for us to tend to the flowers.

As we looked at the “beds,” Crystal’s passion was to uncover the bricks marking out where the flower beds begin and the grassy lawn ends, and this sparked me remembering the sage advice my garden mentor (and dear friend), Tayloranne Finch gave me. Tayloranne is the founder of Grow Together, a collaborative garden-designing-and-implementing-and-tending business. So yes, Tayloranne Finch passed along this wisdom to me: the importance of making your pathways. After observation, this is one of the first steps of tending to a garden.

In case you don't know, I’ll introduce here that I work a lot with emotional education and guidance, through a system I call Emotional Design, and for me, pretty much everything in gardening has some kind of interior landscape equivalent.

I started reflecting on how, at this point in my career, I am a direct reflection of the landscape of Pocket Park…the trees feel bare, the grass is brown, there’s some kind of structured wavy line of bricks delineating a shift between the spread of grass and the young trees around the edge of the park, and there’s the fresh emergence of daffodils all along the wavy line of bricks, mostly growing on the tree side. The flower beds, a beginning.

Yet, the flower beds and tree area extend back quite a ways from the wavy line of bricks, probably 15-feet or so until it reaches the fence that marks the edge of the property. A lot of space, where it wasn’t quite clear what the intention is. Are we not supposed to walk there? How do we engage with it? And likewise, how do I find my way in to the interior of my career, instead of feeling like I’m just waiting on the outside of it?

Marking out pathways into and through that area would encourage the tending of the beds. It would help us feel inspired to plant there and to visit there, when the time for planting and enjoying blooms has come. And, in spite of all the supplies we didn’t get at the garden store, we already had a pile of wood chips that had been sitting at the edge of the park since October, plus the wavy line of bricks, and a lot of fallen branches.

We started with a method I learned from Tayloranne: using large fallen branches to mark your pathways. Crystal and I meandered through the trees, some freshly mature, some little saplings, re-routing when we saw a small hole in the ground potentially marking a burrow of some little animal, taking the hint when a tree branch clearly blocked us going in a certain direction, and ultimately getting carried out to a little picnic table spot. Our path.

As I got my hands in the dirt of path-making, I thought about how I’m getting my hands in the dirt of path-making in my career, as well. I have my own wavy brick line clarifying some different areas, some different aspects of it that are important to me. There’s not a whole bunch of visible growth, but I feel the roots swelling, and, there’s definitely a fresh outcropping of daffodils. And yet, how do I access the depth? How do I even get ready to sow my seeds? I make paths. Of time, of space, of habits that maybe I’m at first just tracing out with branches, with whatever I can find. Specifically, I just rented my first North Carolina office space — a space shared between folks doing body work and myself, offering emotional guidance. It’s at an easily affordable price point, and feels like the perfect getting-started-in-my-new-town kind of thing. It’s the fallen branches helping me know how to walk into the flower bed.

So, I’m here to ask you, now that you’ve got that lengthy garden metaphor set-up, in what ways are you building paths? In other words, how are you getting ready to get ready to bloom?

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