Daily Archives: May 23, 2012

raffle basket and beans


This just happened about a half hour ago.

I am going to make this brief because if I write too much, I’ll spoil the story’s natural simplicity.

About a month ago, our elementary school had a fun fair to raise money for the PTA.

I bought roughly, oh, 60,000 euros’ worth of raffle tickets.

I put most of them in the spa basket and the others in the “Let’s Garden!” basket hoppers.

They say life gives you what you need, not what you want.

I won the gardening basket. Thing 3 (8), loves to garden.

This is good.

I do too, although I prefer mostly the flowery kind of gardening.

I have a small herb garden on our deck in a faux whiskey barrel and we have a small vegetable garden in our backyard; it’s about 6 feet by 3 feet in size. While it’s modest and quaint, symbolic of a fraction of our interest in doing our thing to grow our own food, the breadwinner and I recently overhauled its soil bed. I were a plant, I’d be thrilled to be in there.

Once our wooden playground, that ubiquitous suburban “family lives here” trophy, goes in a few years, we’ll make the garden bigger. But then the kids will be grown and closer then to moving on. It’s a decision we’ve waffled on each spring over the past few years: to speed up their youth and take away their play set which they still use or to let them stay kids for as long as we can. . .  we have determined we are in denial, let life ravage us with time, but we’re in no rush. The playground stays.

The Monday following the raffle, I untied the tulle netting nestling the basket to examined my loot. The basket was stuffed to the brim with tools, gloves, starter kits, a lovely glazed outdoor planter, tiny terra cotta pots, stakes, spikes and a sole packet of seeds. I was pretty psyched with my win.

The seeds were for green beans.

Didn’t Jack get some magic beans? I looked around, but I didn’t see a cow in the basket. No goose either.

The packet of bean seeds (which are just beans, let’s be clear about this) had already been opened, I’m guessing by nubby hands, curious about how these things go down or maybe even curiouser about whether they were magic beans.

I looked at the packet, which was dated for germination in 2009, considered it for an instant and cast it aside. I have a green thumb with plants that are already living; the ones that come to me as seed ultimately die.

It has been rainy a lot here. I love the rain, it’s more than rain to me, it’s like a fantastic experience that washes away all the blahs; and when the sun comes back out, as it has today, it’s a brilliant and welcome reprise.

Because I’m the only one on staff, I went out to the garden to check on things: the tomatoes have their telltale yellow blossoms, the peas are doing what they do; I have no idea if the eggplant is on schedule, nor do I know anything about zucchini, but everything is still green and larger than it was last week. I nodded at the plants, told them “good show” and turned around.

On my way out, I looked at our collection of raffle basket tools now resting in a decommissioned window planter near the foot of our bright yellow slide. One of the trowels has a massive belly on it; it’s more like a bulb planter / trowel combo. It collected about 2 inches of rain. I lifted the handle to discharge the rain water and beneath the handle, I discovered this:

I smiled and actually said, “Hello, beans. You are destined to grow as plants, aren’t you?” (My children and good friends will tell you that I often speak to plants and bees and birds. I’m not nuts, I’m excited to be in communion with them.) So I knelt down, picked them up still cradled by their little and futile envelope and put them in the last remaining spot in the garden along the fence-line.

I backed up and regarded the scene, and smiled for many reasons. I smiled most of all because of the reminder that we all can grow, even I can, anywhere, even when I’m feeling lost and confused. We can even grow in our envelopes we’ve constructed for ourselves; which will try to contain us, but which clearly can’t because we’re bigger than our envelopes. We just have to relax and let nature take its course.

Thank you.

twelve ironies for better living


Life throws many ironies at us. 

If we are paying attention, we can learn from the ironies. They are sneaky and subtle though, so it requires getting out of our own way to be the best student. 

Here are a few of my favorites challenges experiences:

1) It takes great strength to admit a weakness. Once we do this, simply admitting we’re weak at something allows us the grace to become stronger at whatever we’re facing. It’s almost like the admission neutralizes the weakness or the overcompensation and replaces it with awareness. All of a sudden, there are new ways to dealing with something. All tickets on the awareness train are one-way, no transfers.

2) Faster is easier; slower is harder. Tell anyone who’s lifting weights or doing push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, etc., to maintain proper form and slow down the motion by a factor of 10 and you will see their bodies shake due to the resistance. Don’t believe me? Try it. How about this: try talking slower, taking a moment to choose your words before you speak.

3) Whispers garner more attention than shouting. When someone shouts, we listen but only because we physically have no choice. When someone shouts we just want to run away. When someone whispers, we listen and close in because we want to hear what’s being said. 

4) Naivete begets wisdom: the more “falls” we supposedly take are actually progressions to achieving success. There are no more stumbling blocks; just stepping stones. Don’t despair at a supposed set-back or lapse of judgment: you are meant to learn a lesson. Look for it, it’s there.  

5) It is hard to be soft. When we are soft, we let people / sensations in. Doing this requires we let down a guard. Letting down our guard means we accept we could be wrong about something (usually about being so hard) and it lets us out as well as letting others in. It allows us to admit we hurt too. Getting hurt means we are taking chances; I always say, “you can’t win if you don’t play.” 

6) It’s easier to be angry than to be happy. Happiness requires gratitude and humility; that we accept the way life is and the blessings that have been given to us. For some people, being angry is a strong addiction that fosters judgment, closed-thinking, complaints, increased isolation & disconnection from the larger society. Chronic anger is also reeeaaally bad for our hearts and arteries.

7) We can’t appreciate light without darkness. Being in the light requires acceptance of our realities, that dark moments got us here to appreciate the light. Sometimes things just suck, endurance makes us smarter. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “When it is darkest, you can see the stars.” That darkness allows us to use our other senses to work through problems. Feel your way out; don’t think your way out. 

8) Without silence, we can not appreciate sound. Without sound, we can not understand silence. We might say we want silence, but that would mean no birds chirping, no sound of rain gently falling, no music, no laughter. I think that rather silence, we just want peace, and that’s a totally different experience. You can have peace with sound. Peace comes from within.

9) Being alone can make you easier to be around. Sometimes we are hard to be around: bristly and snappish. This usually means that we might benefit from being alone a bit, to sort ourselves out. Being a mother, I can attest to the benefits of my own personal “time outs.” 

10) You can not know hate without knowing love first. Indifference is the easiest thing in the world to commit to. Take a stand on something, one way or another, and you’re also bringing awareness to the opposition. Taking a side without knowing its opposition breeds bigotry not indifference and certainly not tolerance.

11) A good cry makes you happier. While the immediate effect usually feels as though we’ve been drained, and we probably have (all that woe weighs a lot!), a good cry ultimately makes us feel better, and lighter; ready to take on the world. 

12) Fats can help you lose weight. The body needs fat to generate hormones and the good cholesterol that helps regulate them. If you remove all fat from your diet, you will definitely not lose fat because your body will hang on to it to stay healthy,  but you will lose lean body mass (muscle) because it’s the body’s most efficient fuel. The right dietary fats: olive oil, raw (unroasted, unsalted) nuts, avocado and other vegetable-based fats will help you stave off headaches, get proper rest and keep your hormones in check. 

Try out one or two of these ironies. See what happens.

Thank you. 

Some of you are new to Grass Oil, check out some other posts . . .
read about what happens when you’re 44: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/when-youre-44-aging-and-habits/