About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Friday, September 9, 2011

In the beginning

In the beginning of anything new it takes a lot of hard work for very little reward, sometimes for a very long time. Last week I planted seeds in the youth garden that I volunteer in. And yesterday, after I finished a morning on the farm teaching 6th graders about tomatoes and peppers and harvesting with them, I walked over to the bed that I had seeded last week to see how everything was doing. From a distance, nothing. But up close:

This week I worked on three tea descriptions that will be printed on packages of tea for a small company back on Prince Edward Island, in Canada, and a story about a local artisan chocolate producer here in Sacramento for Artisan's Table, an online site that connects customers to artisan producers all over the country. I know my food and travel writing is slowly improving, but it feels like I am taking such incredibly small steps towards my goal at times that it is hard to imagine my writing career reaching maturity and bearing fruit in the way I envision.

Fortunately I have farming. Farming gives me hope that all the attention and energy I am putting into my writing will pay off in the long-term. That I will complete my research and finish a first draft of my novel, and that it will someday be published, read and enjoyed.

When I got down on my knees on the earth path between rows and saw the tiny seedlings pressing up out of the soil I felt my entire body breathe a sigh of relief. Somehow the growth of the plants made all the uncertainty in the rest of my life right now alright.

The pump was down yesterday, so I hand watered everything, watching the soil get dark and the water pool in the areas where the bed was slightly lower than the rest. The sun shone through the spray, radiating rainbows into the hot air.

Being able to see progress in the garden tells me that there is undoubtedly progress happening on all fronts, even though I cannot see it.

Last night my dad and I walked home from a restaurant we had gone out to dinner at. It was a lovely evening, the sky was crisp and clear, and the moon was big and luminous, spilling her light through the oak trees, over the black asphalt, the cracked pavement and the wet lawns in front of every house on the street. Watching the moon I felt this deep sense of peace and rootedness. I was on the pavement in Sacramento, but I was also sitting inside my own house back on PEI looking out my huge windows on new year's eve two years ago making a wish that led me west while the moon flooded the living room, and climbing the terraces on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel on the last night of my pilgrimage with the cool stone beneath my bare feet and the sound of fountains bubbling, water streaming past me down the mountain, the call to prayer from a nearby mosque and the pale moon the colour of sun-lit wheat above me, keeping watch as I climbed up towards the Shrine of the Bab.

It is Friday afternoon. Many of my friends are attending a conference this weekend in Moncton, New Brunswick. I did not realize how much I wanted to be there until today, when I started noticing that my heart was just not in my work, and then found myself checking out plane tickets to Moncton -- leaving today. Yeah, I know. Flying across the continent for a weekend with one day's notice...totally unrealistic. I spent the rest of the day struggling through my work, and challenging myself to stay present even though I so wanted to be on the last flight that would have gotten me to Moncton by tomorrow morning. It left at 2pm this afternoon.

This year has included a lot of sacrifice of good times. Travel. Conferences. Dinners out. But more importantly it has included lots of opportunities to learn that in order to succeed, my body and my mind and heart all have to be in one time zone. For example today my heart really wanted to jump that 2pm flight to Moncton. But it would have been leaving my body behind, and how enjoyable would my company have been all weekend with my heart on the opposite side of the continent?

So instead I am staying put. Watering the garden. Going to a devotional gathering. Doing yoga in the park. Talking a walk with a friend, and doing some reading and writing. My life this year has none of the international jet setting that is my norm. Most of what I do fill my days with right now falls way below the socially exciting radar. But there is growth happening. Humble, ordinary, gradual and slow, but growth nevertheless. And I am thinking that is what I need right now, as much as I fight it.

Beginnings require a lot of focus and energy. A lot of TLC. They are a lot like these seedlings, really. Lots of potential, but none of it will be realized if we stop watering them daily at this point. 

Are you working on developing something new in your life? A new relationship/career/journey or even Fall garden? How do you go about nurturing it and staying committed in the initial phases of growth when the proportion of energy going into it is much greater than the perceivable results? 

Have a great weekend, friends! See you on Monday!


  1. so much of this resonates with my soul and its journey in this life, especially now with settling here in a new neighborhood, with a new culture, new Baha'i community, etc. nothing is closer to my sense of rootedness and the spiritual analogies for growth than growing from seed. the bursting forth, the tenderness, the nurturing, the long suffering and patience..all so integral for the ultimate growth of the plant.

    i love your spirit. i love feeling your presence out there in the world.

  2. Thank you Pamela. The feeling is mutual. I hope some day to be able to visit you guys in Africa. Thank you for reading my blog. I am very happy that you are finding it inspiring in your own path of service! xox