Tag Archive | gardening

The Next Chapter…..

I thought it would be harder to leave my garden.   This is my third move since my divorce in 2001, and each time, I bring pieces of my garden with me to my new home.  The house that I am leaving in Lewin’s Cove, has the most extensive gardens that I have ever created.  I lived there with my three children for nearly 13 years.  I put my heart and soul in to those gardens.   Gardening was the therapy that got me through Ben’s diagnosis of autism and my own diagnosis of cancer.  It healed me on many levels.  I remember, for example, setting tulip bulbs in the fall of 2011, with the hopes that I would be alive in the spring to see them bloom.  Those bulbs continue to reward me with their vibrant colors every spring and remind me of the power of hope! 

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With over 100 varieties of perennials, it is difficult to remember where I got all of my plants.  Many of them came from my mother’s garden.  Then there is the baby’s breath from Jennifer; the red astilbe from Mrs. Jarvis, and the black eyed Suzies from my Aunt Mag.  Each of these women have passed on, but a piece of them lives on in my garden, and will travel with me to my new garden. 

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Driving to St. John’s yesterday, with Steve’s truck loaded down with as many plants as I could fit in there, I felt happy.   I expected to feel sad, leaving the home where I raised my children, and the garden that is so dear to me.  But I am so ready to begin this new chapter of my life!   The U-2 song, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, was playing on the radio.  And it occurred to me:  I HAVE found what I have been looking for!   It took me nearly 50 years, but I feel that my life now is just the way I want it.  I have found a wonderful partner, and for the first time since my divorce, I will actually share my home with a man!  

Steve excels in the three “A’s”, as I call them.  He is ATTENTIVE.   I know as soon as his helicopter lands (he is a pilot) because the first thing he does is text me.  When we are apart, he will text me as soon as his eyes open in the morning,  and last thing before falling asleep, so that even when we are not together, we are connected.  He is AFFECTIONATE.  He likes to hold my hand, cuddle and rub my feet.  (I would keep him around for the foot rubs alone!)   He is APPRECIATIVE.   He takes nothing for granted and appreciates everything that I do for him.  Most important though, is how gentle and caring he is with Ben. Having a son of his own who has autism, gives him so much understanding of Ben’s needs.   I am excited that this move allows me to share my life more fully with this wonderful man!

Then there are my children.  Kaitlyn and Donovan, I am very proud to say, are both attending University in St. John’s, so my move brings me closer to them.  They have their own apartments, but live close by.  In fact Kailtyn lives on the same street as me!   I love to call her up in the morning and say, “ Pop by before school so that we can have breakfast together.”   For Ben, there are so many more opportunities for him in the city.  He loves being part of the Rainbow Riders Therapeutic Horse Riding program, for example.  He is also closer to his favorite store, the Value Village, where he can buy his beloved DVDs at a discount.

I wondered, with Ben’s limited language skills, if he really understood the permanency of the move.  He loves weekends in St. John’s, but also loves going home to Lewin’s Cove.  Yesterday as the moving truck was being packed, he walked through the house saying, “Bye house.  No more house.  House is closed.  Going to Ben’s and Mommy’s new house for 100 sleeps.”   (For Ben, that means a very long time!)   He was happy and very excited to hit the road and when we arrived at our new home, I knew that he felt AT HOME.  

I am very happy to be starting this new chapter, and as I gaze out into the mess that is my back yard, I visualize it as a blank canvas ready to be painted into a thing of beauty; a tiny, peaceful oasis for me and my family. 

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If They Grow It……They Will Eat It! (How To Grow Baby Greens With Your Kid)

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I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to gardening. I actually get a buzz when there is a sale on potted perennials, and I believe that there is no such thing as “too many “ seeds. I also love counseling, especially when it comes to working with kids. Imagine my delight when I discovered that there is a way to combine my two passions through an intervention called Horticultural Therapy. Several years ago I enrolled in an online program and now that I am a Certified Horticultural Therapist, I can legitimately engage in my favorite pastime while at work. How cool is that?

I have been gardening with my autistic son, Ben, since he was big enough to hold a seed. If you want to learn more about the many therapeutic benefits of gardening for kids with autism, click HERE to read an article I just had published in Rustik magazine. (BTW, that is Ben in my garden pictured in the magazine article!)  I could go on for hours, maybe even days about how gardening is great for promoting healthy bodies and healthy minds, but I will try to restrain myself. (You don’t want to get me started on that.) However, I will share just ONE of the benefits. From years of gardening with kids, I have learned this: If they grow it, they will eat it. So today, I would like to share with you a simple gardening activity that you can do with your child, niece, nephew or grandchild (or just some random kid you find on the street.)

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Here is all you will need:

-A growing tray (I buy mine at Canadian Tire, less than $2 each).

-Seed starter mix (also at Canadian Tire, less than $4 a bag)

-Lettuce seeds (Get them at a Dollar Store….I buy mine at Dollorama, 3 packs for 99 cents)

-A spray bottle (re-use an old window cleaner bottle, make sure it is WELL washed out!)

Fill the tray with seed starter mix, about 7/8’s full. Sprinkle 1 package of seeds evenly over the soil, use your fingers to even them out. Cover lightly with more seed starter mix (not too much!).   Spray with water until soil is moist. Set on a sunny windowsill and wait. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, and turn the tray daily, as the plants will grow towards the light. In a few weeks, the lettuce will be 4 to 6 inches high, and you can cut it and eat it! Let your little gardener try it in a smoothie, a wrap or a salad. Then start another pack of seeds!

In addition to promoting healthy, organic eating habits, you have given the child a sense of accomplishment, improved self-esteem, a form of stress relief…….I told you not to get me started!

 

 

Perk # 22: Cancer Allows Me Time To Do What I Love To Do

I will be the first to admit  that not every day with cancer is a good day.  But there are many days between chemo treatments that I feel “almost normal”.  During those days I take advantage of my time off work to do the things that I LOVE to do: gardening, reading, writing, or sometimes just grabbing a snack and watching Netflix.  I am even discovering some dormant talents, like sewing.

Tip:  While you are recovering from cancer, do the things that you love to do.  This may even be a good time to cultivate a new hobby or interest.