Monday, December 29, 2008

A New Year and Hope Springs Eternal

Happy New Year, everyone! I'm sorry that I've been away for a little while, but I hosted Christmas in Tennessee this year and that, coupled with several projects that needed to be put to bed before the holidays, has kept me away from the computer more than I would like for the past couple of weeks. I hope everyone is having a great holiday season.

I woke up this morning (now that all of the Christmas fuss is past) with a renewed sense of hope and optimism as we leave 2008 behind and look forward to 2009. Certainly, there are things whose outcome is yet to be determined--the economy, for one--but I've decided that I'm not going to let those things dictate how I'm going to approach each day. I'm not going to listen to all of the news reporters bawling like a herd of goats about how "horrible" everything is. Nope. I'm choosing the higher path and I'm deciding that the days are going to be good ones. And even if some are harder than others I'm still moving forward on life's path and not getting stuck in the rut that we're all being guided into every time we turn on the television. I would encourage you to do the same.

If you need a little boost--a little sense of hope--a little sense of renewal--I would encourage you to go to the garden. Even if you live in the cold and snowy north, take a walk around. There is always hope and optimism in the garden; the tiny buds laid tight against the branches of trees and shrubs, awaiting spring's arrival and the opportunity to burst forth with renewed vigor, bringing joy with beautiful foliage and flowers; the tiny green tips of the first leaves of the snowdrops already beginning to push through the soil; the fat buds of the hellebores curled tightly into the crown of the plant still, but pushing forward nonetheless.

The garden never gives up. In every season, there is an opportunity--something to look forward to. Whether it's the first flowers of spring, the ebullient display of summer, the soft whisper of autumn or the grandeur of winter's frosty morns, in the garden hope springs eternal. There is hope and renewal around every corner, in every season. I hope that your garden provides the same sense of hope, renewal and joy that mine brings to me and I wish you the very best for 2009.

And don't forget to keep checking back! There are great changes ahead for the new year, both on the blog and at the main website, Happy New Year!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Great Prairies

The older I get, the more reflective I become. I think it happens to the best of us, doesn't it? Some of the things I find myself reflecting on most these days are the things which ultimately shaped my chosen profession and which had lasting impact on my psyche from the time I was a child. Some of the most profound influences I had, though I don't think I fully realized it until later in life, were my childhood surroundings. The great prairies.

Like most children, I absorbed the world around me like a sponge--especially the natural world. The pulsing, rhythmic heartbeat of Mother Nature ran through my veins like the elixir of life. Nowhere was this feeling more prevalent than on the open plains of Kansas, where the prairie grasses danced and nodded in the continual breeze and the sunflowers painted the roadsides, hills and valleys--faces upturned--greeting the heavens with a sunny yellow smile.

It was this magnificent, untouched, ever-changing prairie that fed my spirit. The warm breeze caressing brown, summertime faces and the bitter howl of winter's fury that could all but knock you down and take your breath away with a single, frigid gust. It was the gentle rain that fell and made slow-moving rivers through roadside ditches where neighborhood boys floated boats made of lumber scraps and the ominous thunderheads that towered miles into the sky, forboding and black, a warning to those who were wise enough to take heed. It was the timid prairie dog--burrowing, watching, waiting--ever vigilant; their guards on high alert in the knowledge that one misstep on their part and SNAP!, the loss of a loved one to the talons of a red-tailed hawk on silent wing.

Some say you can't go back. I disagree. When the day is long, when work provides more stress than comfort, when the world begins to spin faster and faster out of control--the prairie is still my calming force. It is home. It is where I return in quiet solitude, in meditation--the prairie of my childhood--and all is right again with the world.