Another Infomercial

Thank you all for your encouragements to keep on with the “Garden with the Angels and Elementals” infomercials. As you could tell, I wasn’t at all sure what was of general interest and what was as compelling as watching me sort my recyclables.

Each year, I begin planning the gardens with the Angels and Elementals by reaffirming my commitment to our cooperative life together. I literally offer up each garden to our cooperative efforts with love and thankfulness. Among other things, this means I try to empty myself of my preconceptions about what should be grown. I don’t insist that the gardens hold the vegetables I want to eat or the Flowers I particularly love to grow. I also try to let go of my attachment to previous gardens. I try to bring as little agenda to the process as possible. As best I can, I let things flow.

Then I start to put the designs onto paper for each of the gardens. When I first designed gardens with the Angels and Elementals, I used kinesiology to figure out what to plant and where to plant it. I asked yes and no questions beginning with such general questions as, “Is this garden round?” and continuing on with questions that further clarified the plan such as, “Are the rows in this round garden concentric rings? Does the first concentric circle at the center of the garden contain vegetable plants? Does it contain broccoli? How many broccoli plants? Are there other plants in this ring?” As I asked questions I would sketch the design. Often this sketch would have a life of its own, leading me to ask clarifying questions. For example, I would find myself drawing rings before asking if rings were what was planned. Then I would find out with my questions that rings were indeed the way to proceed.

This may already sound more like an Aran Island sweater project than a few simple knit stitches, HOWEVER it was simpler than it sounds and has gotten simpler and simpler as time has gone on. This is because what I noticed right away is that I already had a sense the garden was round before I asked the question and I would sense that the first row was a ring of broccoli before I asked the question. This, combined with drawings that were surprisingly accurate, made things more straightforward than I expected. The information was already downloaded before I sat down to plan anything. All I needed to do was sort of daydream my way along. It wasn’t fishing in the dark with a thousand questions about a thousand possible vegetable choices as expected. It was more a process of confirming what I already sensed.

Have you ever noticed that when you play twenty questions, you often figure out the identity of the person way faster than seems possible? Designing the gardens with the Angels and Elementals is like that. We often know the design or the plants that would most serve us to grow even before asking specific questions. Our desire to work with Nature opens the door for Nature to send in the data about what is in the highest good to grow. And our hearts stand ready to confirm this knowing. This guidance floods into our consciousness in all sorts of ways, even before we put pen to paper. Once you declare an intention to support Nature more consciously, Nature will try to get your attention in as many ways as possible. If Nature wants you to grow broccoli you are probably going to feel a literal magnetic attraction to the broccoli photos in your seed catalog. In the grocery store as well, you very well may see the broccoli and feel its pull.The Angels and Elementals are infinitely inventive and funny in the way they call my attention to what they would like me to grow. And my heart recognizes the rightness of these choices. The whole process is a reminder that talking to Nature is not talking to something outside yourself, it’s talking to a part of yourself. This oneness also means that if broccoli is what your garden needs, you can be sure it will serve your energy system as well as serve Nature and the whole Earth. It’s a brilliant win win dynamic reflecting how serving the divinity in ourselves serves the divinity in all.

Shortly after I realized that I knew the answers to my questions before asking them, my design process became more streamlined. I learned to trust what I was hearing, seeing in my mind’s eye, and drawing, even before I checked with the kinesiology to be sure I was getting the designs on paper accurately. Nowadays, I sketch and write down what I “get” and then, if I am unsure of any aspect of the design, I wait for clarity. I trust I will eventually get the design clearly and completely if I give it back to Nature/ my heart/ divinity and wait for this wise part of myself to send in clarification usually in some sassy humorous way.

What this means in practical terms is that I often start in with a garden design, get sort of an overview, and then lay the plan down to let things drift into my consciousness. This relaxed approach helps me when the overview makes me feel like the garden is going to be a bit of an energetic or technical stretch. The geometries can initially feel complicated, but easy solutions have always slid into my consciousness before or during the planting of the actual gardens. I have learned that if I just let go, the solution to what I might initially see as an insurmountable or at least challenging problem will arrive of its own accord. (And ain’t that the truth about life!)

Sometimes during this letting go process, I look at seed catalogs or gardening books to see if something jumps out at me, but solutions arrive in my consciousness in all sorts of different ways. And sometimes things jump out at me even before I know what the question is. For example, this January, I saw a photograph of a medlar tree blooming in the garden at the Cloisters in New York City. I had never spent a moment thinking about medlar trees before I saw that photograph, but afterwards I found myself frequently thinking about this beautiful flowering tree and feeling that it wanted to be here at the farm. When I asked the Angels, they told me that they hoped I would plant three medlar trees around the stone courtyard outside this office. I was not aware until then that the Angels wanted trees around this courtyard, but it feels right. I look forward to planting beautiful medlar trees here.

Another thing about my process, after years of doodling around with the garden designs, I have come to recognize the feeling in my body when a garden design is just as it is meant to be. I feel the same kind of ah ha feeling in my body that I have when I know I have arrived at just the right Flower Essence for a situation. I have learned to keep fiddling with a garden design until I get this click moment. Sometimes the click moment doesn’t come until I am planting the garden, but that is okay. Sometimes I feel it’s a bit of unknown for the Angels and Elementals what plant or configuration is going to work and that they too need decisions to be game time decisions. I have stopped thinking that changes in design mean I got things wrong. Now I know it means things are changing. Hmmmm once again, this sounds a lot like……Life.

I am going to walk you through this year’s Venus Garden to give you an example of this whole process. The Venus Garden is my annual commitment to metaphorically knit an Aran Island sweater pattern more difficult than what I think I can do. The designs of this garden are such that the Angels usually have to remind me frequently that, “It’s just knitting and purling, knitting and purling.” Over the years, I have learned to accept that I may have moments of anxiety when it comes to designing and planting the Venus Garden, but that these moments don’t have to drive me. The fact that I have so far been able to bring into form the designs I have received for this garden is confidence building as are the Angels and Elementals. As they remind me, the voice of doubt in my head is just a hangover from childhood and not based on fact.

This year when I asked about the Venus Garden design I received the message, “The theme of this year’s Venus Garden is the transmutation and purification of the Water Element, a rebirth in water…Water is the necessary matrix for the transformation of the planet…It is both a vehicle of cleansing and a vehicle of rebirth. Embrace the water. It is your ally in this transformation.”

My reaction to this news was both delight and puzzlement. I adore water. I crave lakes. I feel about my shower each morning like some people feel about their first cup of morning coffee. But we have no stream or lake or river or pond here at the farm. While I have created several water elements in various gardens, including a small pond in the Arbor Garden and another outside this office, nothing about the farm screams WATER. A Venus Garden about water sounded like both my heart’s desire and a stretch of the imagination.

I began to stretch.

And sketch. Some year’s the Venus Garden has been more up in the air and dimensional than other years. Of course, the garden is always in at least three dimensions, but some years it feels like the Angels’ designs play on the idea of many dimensions much more obviously. This is one of those years.

In my first sketch, a drawing I would gladly share if one of my children had not walked off with the digital camera, I drew seven rows coming out from the center of the garden like rays from the center of the sun. At the outer rim of the garden I connected the end of each of these rows with seven individual trellises, each triangular in shape. This sounds more complicated than it looks on paper. The Angels have had me do a lot of trellising over the years. For example, the peas have often been on trellises tied in the shapes of spider webs or spirals. These seven trellises between the rows will be a bit simpler. Twine will go from a center pole down to the ground on either side to form a triangle. I wasn’t sure what Flowers or vegetables were supposed to be on the trellises. What plants that were all about water might want to be on these trellises? I let the question simmer. Melons and cucumbers came to mind. This duo is all about the glory of water! These plants felt right, but later I was prompted to add Sweet Peas in some overlapping trellises. That addition gave me the ah ha feeling I was waiting for. When I plant the trellis rim, something else may be added or subtracted. Except for the original Venus Garden which we called “The Eight Garden” none of the designs for this garden have been cast in stone. To complete planning for the trellises, I went through my seed catalogs and inventory of seeds bought in previous years to find the cucumber and melon varieties that felt right for the job. I also ordered a big packet of mixed Grandiflora Sweet Pea seeds.

With the seven rows from the center of the garden, I sensed that with all the architecture of the trellises on the outside of the garden, maybe there would be more connecting strands ABOVE the rows to the center of the garden too. I looked for the right plant for the actual rows and some other watery plant that would grow along the twine above the rows.

When the Angels said about the Phoenix Rising version of the Venus Garden, “Plant every flame colored Flower you can grow,” it was easy to go through seed catalogs and pick out seeds. This was a year when I went through books and seed catalogs a lot before getting any clicks. Every plant needs water to live, but what Flowers and Vegetables that don’t actually grow in water still really sing of WATER? Most plants did not feel quite right for these rows. I finally let it go and waited. One day I knew Parsley was the plant for the rows and vining Nasturtiums were to be grown on the twine above.

This drove the next question; Where do these Nasturtiums get planted to encourage them to climb on the twine and not just cover the ground? Do they start in the center of the garden and go out or do they start at the edge and grow in? This question led to the question of what was in the center of the garden.

I felt that in the center of the garden there had to be some water, a literal container of water, maybe with some water plant growing in it. I thought about putting fish in the container, but that felt like, well, a red herring. I considered what plant was supposed to be in there. This was the most symbolic place in the garden and perhaps the most important plant choice. I wondered about Lotus. Lotus felt wonderful, that or Cardinal Flower. I decided I would seek out Lotus first and then move to Cardinal Flower if the Lotus proves difficult to come by.

Having settled on a container of water for the center of the garden, I could get back to the Nasturtiums. I decided the Nasturtiums could grow around the water container and out along the twine from the center of the garden towards the rim. The way I could do this came to me in sort of a daydream.I am going to put a wooden half barrel in the center of the garden, fill it with the kind of poor soil Nasturtiums loves, then put a slightly smaller water container on top of that with the Lotus or Cardinal Flower in it. All around the edge of the wooden barrel, I will plant the Nasturtium seeds. Then I will tie lines from the barrel out to the trellises. I had to laugh when I envisioned this network of twine because no one will be able to walk in this garden all summer because of all this twine. Crawl maybe, but now walk. So be it! I am just satisfied that from their place in an elevated barrel the Nasturtiums will be more inclined to take off onto the twine lines than if I grew them at ground level. Plus, I will be able to move them onto the twine manually if they droop over the barrel towards the ground.

Early in the design process I had drawn a spiral of plants from the water barrel out to the trellis outer rim. Now I feel like that is not going to be necessary. I will wait until planting time to see if that is something the Angels still want. Right now, it feels like enough will be going on without this extra dimensional element, but at planting time we will know for sure. The fun thing is that no matter what gets planted, the garden will end up being a lot more beautiful than I can even imagine. This is one of the reasons I am better able to let go of last year’s Venus Garden than I used to be. I have found that, year after year, the Angels always come up with a new design that completely enchants us all. No matter how attached I was to the previous garden, and the “Don’t Worry-Bee Happy” garden was glorious, I know this one will be just as wonderful. This cooperation has helped me so much to go with the flow of the seasons. I really can’t recommend working with the Angels and Elementals highly enough!

A swatch of earth, a couple packets of seeds, a request to work more consciously with the Angels and Elementals and a willingness to fork a few handfuls of Earth. That’s all you need for a great festive season of celebration. These partners really are that good!

I give Emily Dickinson and the bees the last word.

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,-
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.


One of the things I like most about life is that we never know the effect of any small gesture of kindness. When this life is said and done, each of us may find out that a smile to a sad woman in the line at the grocery store or some other small moment of acknowledging our common humanity was the action that mattered most in our whole long lives. I love that.

Not only does it help deflate my grandiose notions that anything worth doing is worth doing in a big way, but it also encourages me to keep going with small acts of kindness. Yesterday I had a great opportunity for small kindnesses. The two fifth grade classes in William’s school recently decided to knit two “Afghans for Afghans” after they read ‘The Breadwinner’, a book about a ten year old girl growing up in present day Afghanistan. Heather Gallagher, the darling fifth grade teacher who had William in her class last year, asked me to come help teach the thirty fifth graders to knit. Heather gathered sixty #10 needles and lots and lots of wool. Our plan was to have each child knit a simple square for the afghan. We began the project by spending Monday evening casting stitches onto every child’s needles with the wool color of their choice. Then we knit a row or two on each child’s square since it is that first tight row after casting on that is so difficult to get off the needle and potentially so discouraging for the novice knitter. Yesterday, Heather had us work with half the fifth graders for one period and half for another period. When I got to the school, that first group was waiting for me, fifteen upturned faces with their needles pointing in all directions and everyone squirming, squirming, squirming because they had just been to the library and consequently were full of energy. What to say? What to do? What to show them?

I taught myself to knit in tenth grade. I spent that winter driving around in an ancient convertible with a group of teenagers. I knit them each a pair of mittens from my assigned place in the back seat. I can remember the winter wind blowing my hair and the yarn all around and all of us exhilarated that one of us had a driver’s license. This is a fond memory, but not much help for figuring out how to teach kids to knit.

So…… I just plunged in. I gave a general demonstration of holding the work in your left hand and sticking the needle in here and looping it around the back needle before pulling it down and off there. Then Heather and I and a wonderfully helpful aide started going from child to child to work with each one until they got it.

And oh my! They did get it! There wasn’t a soul in either class that didn’t spend our time together working with intense and completely earnest determination. One by one each child got the rhythm of the basic knit stitch. And what a moment that was for each of them. And then as they knit stitch after stitch, some a little peculiar, but all as earnestly done, it was a good chance to let them know that their effort mattered more than how much they got done or if what they did had some funny puckers and bobbles. When someone started a row with forty stitches and ended with forty seven it was a chance to say, “Not to worry! This is a one of kind afghan and that will be great.” And when kids dropped stitches I could say, “Not to worry! These can be picked up later. The afghan is going to be a sort of crazy quilt so the loving effort not the shape of the swatches is what matters most.”

The boys were as completely invested in this project as the girls. No one registered this as something only girls did, though many spoke of their grannies and what rhymes their grannies used for knitting and how fast their grannies could knit. I felt so lucky to be there. It was clear that some kids who generally found school a challenge had found a real competency with knitting. What a gift to help them discover that they were naturals with knitting needles. There were cheers when someone finished a row and cheers when someone got their first stitch done without my hands on their hands. It was so little effort for so much joy. It reminded me of an additional point about acts of kindness, regardless of their importance or lack thereof, it’s fun to be kind.

I have been fretting a bit about whether my encouragements to you to do a gardening project with the Angels and Elementals is off putting because each of you already has ways you are connecting to our common divinity and don’t need a Nosey Parker telling you what to do. In truth, I don’t know how to encourage you. I only know the Angels and Elementals want me to do this. I have thought about just keeping on describing my work to design this year’s gardens, but I worry that these descriptions of all Green Hope Farm’s complicated garden designs and projects make most people want to throw in the trowel, not start a garden. To say that everything I do is built on the same simple steps as when my garden was a big planter out front of my first apartment, might sound as suspect as showing yesterday’s new knitters an Aran Island sweater and saying, “This is just more of the same stitches that you learned today.” TRUE but maybe not motivating.

So maybe I must simply rest in knowing that for some reason the Angels and Elementals want me to keep on giving informercials for them. Some of my infomercials will probably be really obnoxious and some may encourage you to follow that nudge and plant a big pot of some gorgeous Flower or Herb or Vegetable in celebration of our common divinity. I only hope you have as much fun in your gardens this summer, whatever their size and shape, as those new knitters had with their knitting yesterday.

I Begin to Hear About 2007

This morning, with my seed catalogs and my illegible notes to self spread over the kitchen table, I got a nudge from my partners in the Angelic and Elemental kingdoms to stop my design work for a little while and share the message I got from them on January 6th about the focus for our work in 2007.

Before I share the remarks of my partners, I would like to clarify some things.

First of all, everyone can have these conversations.

During the 80’s, I read many books about the Findhorn community and their inspiring cooperative efforts with the Angels and Elementals. As I read of Eileen and Peter Cady and Dorothy Maclean’s groundbreaking work in an ordinary trailer park in Northern Scotland, I thought it impossible for me to be in the same kind of conscious community with the Angels and Elementals of Nature as they experienced. Fortunately my mind and its limiting notions were not only misinformed, but not in charge.

The truth is that we are already in community with all of creation, including these wonderful partners in Nature. Separation is an illusion. Any lack of conscious communication means we have temporarily bought into this illusion, but that can end and we can grow a conscious relationship with Nature any time we decide we want to, because we are ONE with Nature and nothing can stop this from being the truth.

When I read these inspiring books, the truth of our essential oneness and therefore our God given ability to talk to the Angels and Elementals permeated my life despite my mind’s skepticism. When I started to listen to Nature with more confidence in this oneness, I began to realize that I heard the plants talking. It was much more of an integrated experience than I expected, sort of like realizing that I could hear myself think. This made me realize that I had always talked with Nature and that what I was doing now was only a more conscious version of what I had always done. This made me realize everyone could do this and probably many already did.

Why do we count ourselves out so readily? Few of us are given any encouragement to trust what we know. Most of us are told that if we don’t have any scientific proof to ground what we know, then it must be crap. But all of us do tap into a more unified consciousness all the time. We need to set aside the notion that this isn’t a reasonable idea and start to listen. All the skepticism in the world doesn’t prevent the truth from being the truth. WE ARE STILL ONE no matter who says differently!

The second thing I want to say is that after I came back from that workshop described in my last blog, my life changed a lot. At the time, I thought the changes were because of the arrival of William, a sensitive babe of light who did much better with a quiet life on the farm than a busy life out in the greater world. In retrospect, I believe William was more a gift to take me through this transition from a worldly life of travel to a much quieter one than the reason for this quiet life. When William no longer screamed for two hours after a trip to the grocery store, most of my family including William began to be out and about more. But I was asked to stay at the farm almost all the time and because I was used to this, it was not a hard to do. I have written about this over the years in the green newsletters, the grace of my quiet life.

I am grateful that in all my conversations with the God within and the Angels and Elementals they kindly didn’t freak me out by telling me in advance that I would spend more than a decade at the farm with few nights away or that a trip to the post office would sometimes be as far as I would get from the farm in any given week. Instead, I went along week to week feeling the wisdom of their game time guidance and following it happily. It was only after a number of years that I realized that I rarely went anywhere and that when I did get asked to go somewhere, it was usually to retrieve very specific Flower Essences.

I am not telling you this to worry you about what the Angels and Elementals will ask you to do. I have a very specific job with Nature in this life and have, of my own free will, decided I want to this kind of complete partnership with the Angels and Elementals. Moreover, I didn’t want you to see my life with the Angels and Elementals as either special or extreme. It’s nothing but right for me. I think most of us are doing some kind of grounding work at work and at home. Its just not acknowledged. And again, I don’t want anyone to be afraid to ask the Angels and Elementals what they can do to help right now. It was my personal decision to dig up several acres to work with them and agree to hold the template they refer to in their message. They will be as happy if it’s a few window boxes you create with them or if you simply take the time to talk to them as fellow stewards of Earth. Why? Because it is the increase in conscious community that will turn the tides right now, not the size of the joint projects.

So what the heck did they say to me when I asked them what they needed me to know and do in 2007?

This was the answer I received, “Gardens. Work more on and in the gardens. Share more about the gardens. Encourage people to have gardens, and to come into deeper community with us, if only in a large flower pot of Herbs and Flowers. We are stronger working in community. If Angels, Elementals, and Humans work together, we are a mighty triangle of strength, vision, and purposeful healing. Together we can avert many of the coming crises. Without this community, different events play out. Tell people more about your community with us and yes, we need you here much of 2007 to hold the light with us. As more join in, there will be some easing of this requirement that you stay at the farm all the time, but for now it is vital that you ground here. This is because the way you merge with our consciousness is a necessary template right now. Not optional. So stay home, blog about how we work with you and the gardens. There are surprises coming for all humanity. Good news, bad news, who knows. Be as grounded as you can in love as the eternal matrix of all reality. That will help.”

Hope and Brokenness

I spend Mondays on email. By the end of the day, I stopped reporting to everyone in the office each strange weather story. There were just so many of them. At first, each description offered confirmation of what we were all feeling. Things are more off than even the predictions of An Inconvenient Truth. By day’s end, it was hard to integrate all the stories. I heard from a Green Hope friend in Switzerland that the Magnolias were blooming in Geneva and in the alps beyond the city, Rhododendrons were in blossom. I heard that the robins had returned in full force to Boston. In New York City, people reported planters of Petunias and Daisies going strong. The cherry trees in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens were in full blossom. Up and down the east coast people mentioned that the air felt tropical, but the light felt all wrong for this warmth. Locally, the maple sap was running. Right in our gardens there were Snowdrops as well as Dandelions. Outside our office windows a Red Wing Blackbird perched in a tree. This is a bird I think of as returning to our meadows at the end of our usual sugaring time in late March. Our relationship with the Earth appeared broken.

However, I am not calling it a day or changing the name of the farm from Green Hope Farm to Green Hopeless Farm. Since the solstice, the Angels have encouraged me to write more about my relationship with them and the Nature Spirits. They offer that conscious community with them is the way through this wildly shifting time to a new beginning. They continue to offer hope.

So I am going to try to share more about how I work with Angels and Elementals.

To begin with I want to tell a story about brokenness, an experience of my own brokenness that shifted me and my life in such a good way that it leaves me glad that humanity is owning its brokenness right now. When we own our brokenness, we can let go and realign our lives in dramatic ways, we can receive a new life that we could never receive without acceptance of our brokenness.

So let me tell you about a particular moment in my life when this was brought home to me in a big way. It was at a retreat I was running at a New Age community in the back of the beyond.

To back up a bit, before Flower Essences became the farm’s primary focus, I worked with the Angels and Elementals to create the farm’s gardens. This creation process was such an amazing experience for me that I spent a number of years traveling around the east coast telling people the stories of my adventures with the Angels and Elementals. I felt very passionate about sharing my experiences. These workshops were my attempt to give back to the Angels and Elementals a tiny bit of what they had given me.

For this particular retreat, I had agreed to come teach for a four or five day stretch at this community. I did not know much about this community and I had not gone to my heart to check with the God within me about the advisability of this commitment. When I discovered the retreat was going to keep me away from home on Emily’s fifth birthday, as well as on the vernal equinox, I still didn’t listen to my heart and cancel the workshop. I was way out of balance with my life, but not yet ready to own this. Not to worry! This retreat broke me open to shift gears!

When I got to the community, I found a group of people very entrenched in a variety of rigid belief systems. I had learned over the years that at any workshop there always would be a few people who would feel called to play the role of devil’s advocate about my work with the Angels and Elementals. Knowing this, I was still not prepared for a whole community to choose that role.

This is what happened at this retreat. Within minutes of starting my workshop, one participant was on the ground beating her heels on the floor yelling at me about my choice of spiritual vocabulary. This incited the entire group to wildly shout at me about my vocabulary, world view, and belief system. I don’t think of myself as belonging to one religion. If you have read the guide you know how difficult I have found it to come up with language choices that don’t leave people excluded. With this group I could find no language consensus. Some wanted me to use the word “dog” to describe the creator. Some wanted language devoid of gender references. Some wanted only one gender used. Some did not want a creator mentioned. And this was just the tip of the iceberg of their complaints about the stories I shared.

In retrospect, I realize that I had walked into the middle of a community drama that wasn’t about me. At the time, I was completely overwhelmed by the rage I seemed to have unleashed. When I asked the Angels for help, they suggested we spend a lot of the time in quiet meditation. That is pretty much all we did, because every time we began to talk together, things escalated to near violence in a Manhattan minute.

Another unexpected difficulty for me was the dietary restrictions of the community. I think of myself as willing to eat anything, but what I had been unprepared for was a community with such a narrow diet that my body would flip out. I was not exactly living a life of anyone’s ideas of pure food at that point. I had been a vegetarian for a few years before I got pregnant with Emily. Ben refers to these years as the dark days of his childhood. His friends had Burger King. He had seitan and tofu. Anyways, once I was pregnant with Emily, I could practically hear this tiny babe within me yell “I NEED MEAT”. And so with this pregnancy our family found its way back to a diet of everything. Ben was never more grateful.

Anyways, this community was eating such an intense macrobiotic diet that I would have feared for my life had I mentioned that an animal food had ever crossed my lips. After a few days at the community, I was deep into a nasty cleanse with a cleanse headache that would not quit. The upper stories of the community had no railings on the hallways. The rooms opened onto ledges that were completely open to a central space below. Given my headache, I actually feared I might fall off an open hallway to the common room below. Young children racing along these corridors overhead during my talks our endless meditations made me unbelievably nervous. I was a basket case.

Nowhere in the community was there any unpure food to stop my cleanse headache. At one point, I went out to my car to search for anything that might stop the headache, if only temporarily. I found a lollipop left in one of the car seats by one of my kids. It was still in its wrapper, but frankly, I wouldn’t have cared if it had had half chewed cheerios on it. Refined sugar was just what I was looking for.

It hadn’t occurred to me to bring anything but myself and my Angel and Elementals worksheets and slides to the retreat. This is typical of me. I have never been someone with an organized Mom bag. On our first road trip with Ben when he was about six months old, we went on a day trip to see the overrated tourist attraction of New Hampshire’s Man in the Mountain. Ben threw up in the car about fifteen minutes into our trip and I had no change of clothes for him. I can remember carrying him around the lake at the bottom of the mountain with just a soggy diaper on. I think we all had headaches that day!

Anyways, this community was very, very isolated. I couldn’t easily slip away to drive the half hour to the nearest deli-mart to get a bag of sugar to stop my cleanse because I was giving talks meditation sessions all day. Once that lollipop was gone, my headache returned with a vengeance.

I continued on in a state of complete denial about how poorly things were going. I did session after session with a group of people more ornery than hornets. I had asked everyone attending the workshops to bring something from their gardens. Every last person brought a rock. I found it an unusual choice for all twenty or thirty participants, but by the time the workshops ended, I was only glad that these rocks had not been hurled at me.

One night, several days into my crash and burn, I got into an argument with the founders of the community about the movie Shindler’s List. The movie had just come out and everyone was talking about it. One of the many gifts of the movie for me was that I realized Shindler was in a position to do more good than most people because of his imperfections. It wasn’t so much that you’d want anyone to chose moral grayness, but that the God can use this grayness in powerful and unexpected ways. Had Shindler been what most people would define as a good person from the beginning of his life, he would never have had the opportunity to save the people he saved. His flaws set him up to be somewhere he could help and his willingness to shift gears and accept his brokenness opened him to do profound good. Thinking about this movie while staying at this community left me with two thoughts. God could redeem anything if only we acknowledged our brokenness and opened to receive God’s help and pursuing our own ideas of perfection instead of letting go and accepting our brokenness was a kind of hubris that could do a lot of damage.

Floating out these ideas even in a general form enraged workshop participants further. I have blocked some of this weekend, but can remember six or so people all yelling at me about my Shindler’s List ideas during a “celebration dinner”. This retreat was a wonderful mirror for me about the problems with following my own ideas about being the perfect mother, wife, lover of God, friends to the Elementals and Angels etc etc. Watching this community in action, I realized where I was heading if I kept on expecting my own variation of perfection from myself. Shindler’s List was a perfect contrast to this ethos of perfection. Being perfect wasn’t a necessary criteria to love and serve God. Admitting our brokenness and opening to receive help was so much more important.

It was after this dinner, with another thirty six hours to go at the retreat, when I owned my brokenness. It was Emily’s birthday. I had already missed this precious day because of my own confused sense of obligation. When I admitted my brokenness to myself, it was time to tell the Angels and Elementals and the folks at this retreat that I was broken and I needed to go home.

As I began to own my brokenness, I had the joyful thought that perhaps I could still see Emily on her birthday. If I got in my car and drove straight home, I might still be able to give her a kiss before midnight and the official end of her birthday. I asked the Angels if my trip home could be safely done that night. I was six hours drive from home with a wicked headache. They said yes! They suggested I leave at once and drive to the nearest MacDonald’s. They suggested I get a Big Mac and large coffee, and drive home with the windows of the car down. I guess I really needed the worst food available to snap me out of such dietary purity.

It was cold that March night. There was snow everywhere. I ate my junk food and rolled the windows down. Then I took off into the night, singing every song I could remember. My breathe was frosty, but I felt so warm inside. I had escaped, if only temporarily, from my own nightmare of “being perfect”. I had told the community founders that I had made a mistake to commit to being somewhere other than with Emily on her birthday and that I needed to leave. I accepted their fury as my just reward. My ideas of doing the right thing had smashed into my ideas of doing what my heart called me to do. I got home with six minutes to go before midnight. I kissed a sleeping Emily before bursting into tears. Though she only vaguely remembered the moment the next day, for me it was priceless.

This marked a moment when I realized I needed to find a different way to honor my Angel and Elemental partners. I wasn’t even sure any more whose idea the workshops had been, but this was the moment when I told them we had to find a different way to share our work with the world. I couldn’t travel weekend after weekend with three little children at home. What I was really learning was that I needed to surrender all my different agendas about how to be a good person to God and let the divinity within all of us lead the way.

Before that weekend I had been traveling all over the east coast doing workshops. I had been on the road twelve weeks in a row when I went to this New Age community for that weekend of self discovery. After that, I did one last workshop and then I was done. My life became much quieter. With my surrender, I fell into a better balance. I got help to be who I am versus who I thought I was supposed to be. In my brokenness, I was ready to accept that God knew best about my strengths and weaknesses and how best to use them. I was more ready to have God use me for what God needed me to do, not what I thought God needed me for. It was a new beginning.

And what was this new beginning? Green Hope Farm Flower Essences.

The Most Important Job We Do

Because we took most of last week off, this was a wonderfully crazy busy week of catching up with email, making call backs, invoicing a wonderful number of orders and shipping them all out. We love it when we are this busy because it’s just plain fun. As we race around from task to task, we laugh and joke and the place takes on a sort of party atmosphere. We all switch jobs every few hours. Sometimes that leads to confusion, but never to boredom! I particularly like the moment when I have just finished packing an order. The box is taped, the UPS label in place, and I get to pick out a picture to put on the outside shipping box. That is one of the nice things about having every one of us do all the different jobs. My years of experience with Flower Essences are needed for answering questions on email, but the five year old in me can glory in cutting and pasting a pretty picture onto a box!

As we dashed around the office early Wednesday morning, it occurred to us that we never mention what SOME in the office would describe as our most important job, a job requiring seriously crisp DOORPERSON SKILLS. Yes, this job would be opening the outside door to let in and let out three cats and two dogs all day long.

So, on a whim we decided to keep a log of our doorperson activity. Here it is, our Wednesday log, in all its glory.

Who is who? Bella, Gus, and Mishka are the cats. All part siamese, Bella is all black while Gus and Mishka resemble gently toasted marshmallows. Riley and MayMay are the dogs, goldens and proud of it. I leave it up to you to decide if they have a good life or not.

The doorpersons on Wednesday? Patricia, Jane, Debs and me. Lynn, perhaps the most attentive doorperson on the planet was off resting from her rigorous doorperson shift on Tuesday.

9:02 am Let Bella in
9:03 am Let MayMay in
9:09 am Let Gus out
9:11 am Let Mishka out
9:38 am Let Mishka in
9:46 am Let Mishka out
10:40 am Let Gus in
10:45 am Let Gus out
11:02 am Let Gus in
11:02 am Let Mishka in
11:14 am Let Mishka out
11:16 am Let Bella out
11:20 am Let Riley out
11:30 am Let Bella in
11:32 am Let Riley in
11:47 am Let Riley, MayMay, and Gus out
11:48 am Let MayMay and Riley in
11:49 am Let MayMay and Riley out
12:09 pm Let MayMay in
12:15 pm Let Mishka in
12:17 pm Let Gus in
12:29 pm MayMay, Riley, and Molly out for lunchtime walk
12:34 pm Let Mishka and Bella out
12:58 pm MayMay, Riley, and Molly back from walk and inside
1:02 pm Let Mishka and Bella in
1:30 pm Let Mishka out
1:45 pm Let Gus out
1:52 pm Let Riley out
2:40 pm Let Gus in
2:44 pm Let Gus out
2:48 pm Let Mishka in
3:10 pm Let Gus in
3:12 pm Let Mishka out
3:48 pm MayMay and Riley go out & then in & then out to greet UPS person Claude with whom they are on a first name basis
3:49 pm MayMay and Riley back in to visit further with UPS person Claude ( a man who loves dogs, thank goodness)
4:03 pm Riley goes out
4:11 Day shift of doorpersons finishes the shift and the night shift of the family Sheehan comes on

1. Having the cat door open during warmer months increases office productivity 400%.
2. Mishka is seriously the most high maintenance cat on the planet.
3. It takes a village to keep this quintet happy. Fortunately, they have a village.
4. Because each of us lets them in or out as we go by the office door, none of us realized until Wednesday, exactly how much doorperson activity we are engaged in. We are now considering getting ourselves livery of some sort. Perhaps a top hat and forest green overcoat with gold piping and our names emblazoned on the front.
5. Careful analysis of data will reveal that the dogs keep a low profile at the door until lunchtime. This is because after exuberantly greeting each staff person at 8:30 each day, they retire to the living room couches for a morning nap. It’s after their nap and their rejuvenating lunchtime walk that they are refreshed enough to come on duty to supervise all activities in the office for the rest of the day.
6. I would like to discuss all this in more detail, but there is someone at the door.


It’s called the Mishka stretch.