Thursday, September 27, 2018

Now I Understand Why I Crave a Connection with the Earth



I have always loved being in my garden but never understood why I craved this connection with the earth.

It is easy to understand the joy of a  new flower or the pleasure of  finding tomatoes that have sprouted from the compost scraps I dig into the earth.

But why can my mood be so low and then so exhilarated after an hour or more spent tending my soil.


It has not been an easy journey creating my sustainable garden. The house next door exploded in a ball of fire and my own plants were shocked and soil impacted.

Many hours have been spent relocating plants and adding layer after layer of straw and compost onto the damaged earth.

But even that was an activity I cherished.

The blossom below is especially exciting to me as it is the first on the mandarin tree that was full of blossom before the fire but has taken five years of careful nurture to blossom once more.

You can just see the first little mandarins emerging, and I really thought this  tree would never recover from its fire trauma.


But why did I crave dirt, time in my garden, time constructing my sustainable food garden and the hope of a food forest. 

 

Even the fire did not destroy this urge. It was a strong need and something that seemed to drive me as I recovered from a third breast cancer experience.

After each of my cancer treatments ended I craved a connection with dirt, real earth, a deep longing I couldn't  explain. I had no idea how to make this connection but gradually began a new sustainable lifestyle.

During my first gardening efforts the soil clung to my fingers, they were perpetually stained black.

This does not seem to happen now, a quick flick of the nail brush creates clean, pink fingers, same dirt, but my body appears stronger.

I am only now starting to realize that my craving for dirt was part of my instinctive understanding that I felt more alive and healthier when closely connected to real earth.

 

 And now I understand my need for this connection had a real basis. Scientists are exploring the relationships between the microbes and bacteria in our soil and how they impact our immune system and feeling of well being.

 

Working close to good earth allows you to breath and absorb a wide range of  healthy microbes and bacteria which are coming to be seen as having unexpected benefits.


Further beneficial bacteria come from ingesting food directly from your garden.

Healthy microbes present in all living things are more likely to still be present in food eaten directly from your own garden.

We all require a range of beneficial bacteria in our gut for optimal health and fresh living foods give us more of these.


These studies are all very new and exciting but do support my own experience that working in and eating from my own sustainable garden has assisted my return to feeling healthy after the rigors of ongoing cancer treatments.

I do love just being in my garden. Creating something that has not only added to my own well being but also feels part of building a healthier planet..


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Unique Quality Gifts For All Budgets

As a practicing artist I would like the readers of my blog to discover more about my art products which are available through the link at  the top of this site.

The images I am sharing here all express the abundance and joy I have found living in a sustainable relationship with our earth.


There is a wide range of products and price points as well as a range of images and I can only speak highly about the quality and service provided through Fine Art America which produces my Art Product.

`The Bird' metal print brings my  artwork to life with stylish lines and the added depth of a metal print. The image is printed directly onto a sheet of 1/16" thick aluminum sheet  offset from the wall by a 3/4" thick wooden frame which is attached to the back. The high gloss of the aluminum sheet complements the rich colors of the image and produces really special results.


`The Field Of Flowers' framed print can be enhanced with hundreds of different frame and mat combinations.

All my framed prints are assembled, packaged, and shipped by expert framing staff and delivered "ready to hang" with pre-attached hanging wire, mounting hooks, and nails.


This `Promise' canvas print has the texture and depth of a stretched canvas print.

The image is printed onto a premium canvas and then stretched on a wooden frame of 1.5" x 1.5" stretcher bars (gallery wrap) or 5/8" x 5/8" stretcher bars (museum wrap). This canvas print will be delivered to you "ready to hang" with pre-attached hanging wire, mounting hooks, and nails.

I do hope you are getting a feeling of the joy I have experienced living harmoniously with nature from my images.


Promise also comes like all my images as a practical and strong cushion if you would prefer a smaller item for your gift or home.

There are other smaller items suitable for that special gift at my store.

The image on this coffee mug is a favorite of one of my special friends

Another of my favorite images is Oranges Song here shown as a wood print.


This type of print is made by printing directly onto a sheet of 3/4" thick maple wood to give texture and depth.  D-clips are added to the  back of the print for mounting it to your wall using mounting hooks and nails (included).

There is a much wider range of products and images at my art products link above.

Just press on any image you find appeals and you will be taken to the range of products available for that image.

Here I have shown you a small selection of products from paintings inspired by my joy in sustainable living.


At my art site there is a wider range of images including those of my time spent living beside the beach and my personal emotional journey.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Simple Living Creates Food Abundance

When I brought my house with land and decided to live simply I really had no idea what I was doing.


I aspired to grow rich organic food to nurture my body back to health after three separate breast cancers but I had never gardened and there was a lot of land.

Nothing grew at first. The soil was hard and barren. Even the hedge I planted the first year died. It just withered before my eyes as I attempted to rescue it from the summer's heat. My soil would not even retain water.

But then two wonderful things happened.

My local community garden gave a series of workshops on rejuvenating soil with rock dust and worm juice. 

 

I added rock dust to my soil to provide essential minerals for the soil bacteria to begin their journey.

Then I had the soil sprayed with worm juice which provided rich bacteria to feed on the rock dust. 

Finally this dead clay soil was beginning its journey back to life.


The second wonderful thing to happen was that a local Permaculture group started in my town and gave weekly lectures on ways to create healthy ecosystems.

These Permaculture lectures enabled me to understand the living nature of our earth and how honoring this could renew its vitality.



Each week I  attended the lectures and discovered the excitement of learning ways to heal our soil and create healthy ecosystems.

 Working with and not against nature was such an innovative and exciting concept.  

 

I also came to love the other people I met at these weekly events as we were all on the same journey of healing this broken planet.  

But back to my own garden.

Now I had a framework on which to bring my soil back to life, and so many exciting concepts to come to understand.

I am not pretending it happened overnight as that would not be true but gradually as I added compost, manure, organic sugar cane bales, every possible bit of pruning or food scraps to my soil I saw it coming back to life.

Along with the rock dust and worm juice a rich mix was beginning to emerge which not only allowed things to grow but to flourish.

As I continued to feed my soil with living, sustainable food it became alive.

 

It has been such a labor of love and it is still very in process, but how can you describe the special feeling from looking at mango blossom on a tree you have grown from seed in soil you have created using organic and sustainable methods.


Or to know how strong your broad beans are because they have grown from last years seeds and are adapted to the rich soil you have created.

 

My aim was to find healthy and healing food for myself but in this journey I have discovered so much more.

 

I do feel Permaculture has so much to offer our planet as a means of bringing our wounded ecosystems back to life. 

 


 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Simple Ideas for Zero Waste Living

The World is at a tipping point in regards to waste. In short we are running out of resources and ways to dispose of rubbish. We all need a good rethink of how we live our lives.

Add to that there is already many with far too much and others too little. Something has to give.

All seem a bit much. Yes it does to me as well but we can start with the everyday and look for simple ways  we can be part of the solution and not the problem.

There will always be the resilient few who don't want to change but as more and more of us wake up to this problem a new consciousness is arising.


The solutions are starting to be available for us all to select  new alternatives to our old careless ways.

Take plastic drinking straws. How many of these have you used and where do you think they are now?

That's right clogging up the ocean or sitting around in landfill because they simply don't break down.

But there is an inexpensive alternative way to still enjoy  your classy drink,  Stainless Steel Drinking Straws . They even look good.

Next time you have your special drink moment you can help the planet and you can even get your own Straw Carrying Case for if this moment happens when you are out.

Say a strong no if you are offered a plastic straw and produce your own. Carry a few extra straws to share with your friends. Nothing like direct action to begin the seeds of change.


Another simple idea is your own Water Bottle. 

I always carry mine with me whether to the gym or the movies and it certainly has saved me from buying a throwaway bottle when in the throes of thirst.

A great plus with metal water bottles is they are BPA free.

Why does that matter you may ask? Well it matters a lot because BPA in any plastic container can leach chemicals that attach to your estrogen receptors and these estrogen mimics have been implicated in the development of estrogen sensitive breast cancers among other  health issues.


As a breast cancer survivor I stay well away from any plastic drinking utensil but this has also enabled me to help our planet at the same time.

The oceans, our earth are just too polluted with these crazy plastic bottles.

And finally to help you walk closer to that Zero Waste life why not your own Steel Spill Proof Coffee Mug

 Many progressive coffee bars will reduce the cost of your take away latte if you bring your own cup. They too are trying to stop the use of the many throw away plastic lined paper cups.



If your current coffee outlet is not onto this why not suggest they begin a zero waste walk.

Three simple ideas, reusable straws, reusable water bottles and reusable coffee cups. Think how much better our planet could be if these became the norm not easy throw away options.

The old throw away head space has to change if this planet is to become a healthy, happy, shared earth.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Simple Joys of Sustainable Living


Sustainable living has reconnected me with so many simple joys.

Above is the garden I have created by sustainable methods.

There was a shed here when I first brought my home but it began to develop a steep backyards lean under the bulk of a heavy cactus vine.

One day to the relief of the neighbors on either side I realized it was no longer safe and had the shed removed.

I retained broken pieces of the cactus vine, piled then up then topped them with cardboard sheets. The cardboard sheets were finally covered with layers of compost, mulch and earth.

Now a few years later with the addition of further mulch, compost and all my food scraps everything has combined to create a nutrient  rich soil in which I grow both fruit trees and other strong rich foods.

I get such joy from looking at the plants growing in soil I have restored to health through my own efforts. It just feels good.


The small African Pigeon Pea plant pictured above is one of the many food plants providing a continuous source of protein rich peas on the soil I have created.

Nasturtiums and Marigolds add to the garden mix and always bring a smile with their cheerful flowers.

Great to add to a salad as well. I especially love the strong bite of nasturtium leaves. They will gives even the blandest piece of lettuce that extra lift.

Having these flowers in a garden is also an extra treat for the pollinators.

All organic gardens  help to save our bees and having a rich variety of flowering plants keeps the bees happy and healthy. 

 




Digging my food scraps into the soil means I have always have a surprise growing in some corner of the garden.


Tomatoes and pumpkins are among these surprise plants and who wouldn't mind finding a stray pumpkin or some ripe red tomatoes among the garden mix.

After a home grown tomato the supermarket varieties taste so bland and flat.

The sweet fresh bite of a home grown cherry tomato is more a favorite with the children I know than any sweet.

Nutrient rich soil creates nutrient rich food and these foods are always tasty and delicious.  


Another joy of my sustainable garden is my fledgling relationship with Snappy the Butcher Bird.

I call this a fledgling relationship because Snappy's father definitely did not like me during previous mating seasons.

The house next door exploded and burned down and I do feel this made my birds unsettled and especially reactive.

So bad was the relationship I needed to get in and out of my car under the protection of an umbrella. Snappy One's favorite activity was to dive bomb me the moment I exited the door of my home or car.

It is very hard gardening with an umbrella in one hand so things got a bit rough around my home for several months each spring.

This year I decided to develop a trusting relationship based on Snappy Two's favorite food early in the year so that by the time it was mating season we could be good friends.

So far all has gone well as  I hope you can see from the photos.

But now I am aware of the intelligence and habits of these beautiful little birds I am working hard to maintain our good relationship.

I really have grown to love the Snappy who is pictured here.

In my previous busy life I would never have had the time to listen to the wildlife around me and realize they were wanting to be honored as well as the earth.

 

A further joy of sustainable living is the joy of growing your own medicine chest.

The Aloe pictured is the very best thing for healing burns and sunburn, and here it is in my own garden.

During radiation for breast cancer it was Aloe Vera that was recommended to stop  redness and burning.

Now in my simple, sustainable garden it is there fresh and waiting for any needed healing moment.

 

 

Not everyone will have the opportunity or motivation to create a totally new life as I have done but we can all incorporate simple and sustainable ideas into our lifestyles to be part of the healing our wounded planet needs.

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Organic and Sustainable Ideas for Healthy Living


When we think organic we usually think food yet there are many other ways in which we can introduce organic products into our daily lives.
 
Not only does using more organic product help us but it also helps support those producing organic product including our wonderful organic farmers who are farming without using harmful chemicals.

Organic farming is creating the healthier nutrient rich earth which is part of our planet's healing.


Organic soil enables diversity to return to our ecosystems and healing to begin on our damaged planet.

Healthy soil sequesters carbon and lessens agriculture's environmental damage to our planet


A study on chemicals impacting the development of cancer showed that the combination of  chemicals residues from many sources to be as dangerous as limited strong exposures.

As a breast cancer survivor my personal conclusion from this was to try and stay chemical free in as many areas of my life as possible.

Introducing organic product into our lives is a win/win situation for everyone and allows each of us to be part of the paradigm shift towards a healthier planet.

It has taken time and some thought to find organic and sustainable alternatives to use in my own home. My motive at first was to stay well after my breast cancer journey but as I walked down the path of sustainable living I met so many wonderful people with an inspired vision of how our planet could be and how that could be achieved.

Not only were my ideas on life challenged but my own home and way of living began to change in both large and small ways.

Small ways included replacing many plastic items with sustainable alternatives such as these  Organic Bamboo Cooking Utensils .  It felt good using honest and sustainable products when making my food and also limited my exposures to the endocrine changing chemicals given off by plastic options.

I began trying to incorporate sustainable and organic materials in as many aspects of my daily life as I was able.
 

What was a great surprise was that there were so many innovative and well priced options that fitted my sustainable and organic health giving criteria.


There was even an Organic Nut Milk Bag I could use to make my own delicious organic nut milks.

Life for me was changing gradually and it was an ongoing learning curve.

So many of the foods and everyday items I had been using  in my life I now saw as not helping to sustain a healthy home or planet.


My bedding was the next item under the microscope and again I was pleased to find well priced organic options for the many hours I spent getting a good nights sleep. 

This   100% Organic Cotton Pillowcases is a great example of products I hadn't known  were available and within my somewhat limited budget.


I had also just started to understand how cotton is such an intensively sprayed crop.

Ten per cent of the worlds pesticide use and an even larger percentage of insecticides are used on cotton crops worldwide.


The health of workers producing these crops is impacted especially in developing countries and of course such intensive use of chemicals impact local ecosystems including our very vulnerable bees.

When you add to that the very many chemicals used to produce finished textiles cotton is very much not a healthy or sustainable crop causing not only damage to local land and water but to the  many people involved in its production.

I have made my own pledge to use organic cotton items wherever I am able.


Organic Cotton Yoga Bolster 

                                                                                                                  What started for me as a means to regain my own health after breast cancer has lead to a much wider understanding of the need to incorporate organic and sustainable items in everyday life not just to be healthier but to create a healthier and more sustainable planet.