Over the past four weeks, I’ve been in a greenhouse.
Not a real one, although maybe someday we’ll grow our own tomatoes and cucumbers and marigolds all in a row. But a virtual one, hosted by Kristin Noelle. Kristin’s blog, Trust Tending, has been one of my favourite places to visit. Her charming art and thoughtful, careful reflections frequently feel like messages from a kindred spirit. So when she created and opened the greenhouse, I was eager to join and dig my hands in the soil.
I so valued the greenhouse experience – there were about 25 of us around the globe who interacted via a facebook group. The springboard for discussion was Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, which explores the sources and implications of having a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. I’d recommend the book as thinking food, especially for anyone who is a parent, teacher, or person who wants to grow. The book was good, but the greenhouse community was great! I really enjoyed it – sometimes talking, sometimes responding, sometimes just listening and still feeling a part of it all. I even got the chance to learn how to use garage band (that’s music recording software on the mac, mom) and lay down a track with my cello! It was an inspiration and a pleasure.
What will I take away from the greenhouse? What seedlings will I carry out into the big world?
Probably many have taken root that I am not aware of. They will poke their sprouts up in a few weeks, months, even years, and I’ll smile and say ‘Ah, that’s from the greenhouse.’
But of the ones I am consciously taking away, here is one that I want to share.
Each week was introduced by a ritual that we were encouraged to follow and/or adapt. I tended to use the ritual and its central idea to shape my idle thoughts during the week. Each ritual centered around an action: returning, releasing, welcoming, blessing. To me, these cycle like seasons. I’ve found it intriguing to match them up with seasons. But I’m always changing the pairings. Sometimes returning is spring, sometimes it is winter. Sometimes I think welcoming is summer and blessing is winter, but then, maybe blessing should be autumn, and releasing becomes winter. Each match has a slightly different resonance and a different tone. Give it a try – what do you think?
I’ve stumbled on another way that I can bring these four actions together. Not far from where I live there is a prime meridian marker. It marks zero degrees longitude, separating the eastern hemisphere from the west. The marker is a blue post along the side of the road and embedded in the road are some metal rectangles, showing a dotted line pointing north. I live in England, very far from where I grew up in New Mexico. Whenever I go to the marker, I orient myself so that I am facing southwest, and I stare as far as I can, trying to see my home through the hedges, past the trees, and over the hills. I pause and send thoughts flying home to my Rocky Mountains.
But now I’ve added a new variation: when I get to the marker, I orient myself towards home and think returning. I let images and ideas return, summoning and savouring them.
Then, when I’m ready, I turn towards Seattle, where we lived before we moved to England. It was difficult for me to leave Seattle. Personally, professionally, geographically it was such a nurturing place for me. Transitioning to life in England has meant that I’ve had to learn how to release the stories I tell myself about how things would have worked out if we could have stayed in Seattle. So I turn to Seattle, let my heart feel the longing it feels, and think releasing.
When I’m ready, I shift again and face India. I truly believe that by beginning to release my stories about Seattle, I made room for something new and exciting to appear. Over the past year, I’ve been working on a wonderful project with an educational company in India. It has been such an arena of growth, full of first-time experiences and risk-taking. I love it. So, when I face India, I wave hello, with the word welcoming on my lips. Welcoming the growth I never expected, the growth that only came when I loosened my grip on old stories.
Last of all, I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and remind myself, that I am here, in England. This is where my husband has a good job, this is what my children call home, this is where we have decided to make our lives for the time being. This is the present. This is the blessing.
May you all find places inside and outside greenhouses of your own to continue returning, releasing, welcoming, and blessing.
p.s. Even though Kristin’s greenhouse is ending soon, if this appealed to you, you might enjoy visiting her site to see other ways she brings compelling ideas to light and life.