This time around I spent most of Listening Week actually listening, especially from within. I often find myself caught in the business of identifying all the things I listen to (an intentional effort in its own right), but this ORM cycle my inner voice has been persistent and I have been paying attention from the inside out more than usual. I have been having deeper internal conversations about sensitive subjects with an objective ear, searching for the lessons in my own ignorance and judgment, whether I am judging myself or someone else. It has me feeling a resonant, internal ‘call to action’, but I can’t pinpoint where it actually originates. In the meantime, I’m focused on listening in all its natural and unnatural forms. As I pause, I hear the natural rhythm of the rain in the background as the blare of a car horn heeds a warning or a greeting, I’m not sure which...
We’ve just begun the tasks of spring gardening in Kansas City. At my house, we are watching and listening to our backyard wake up as we prune, plant, and ponder what the bounty will look like, taking simple cues from the weather. This is the first spring we have ever had to cover plants to save them from snow (so far so good - we even revived a purple basil plant that I was sure had bitten the dust!). We have actively tended this space for the last 5 years, adding a little here and there, playing around with the design and watching the same old space be transformed into something exciting and different each year. For the most part, paying attention to our inner voice and a couple vetted resources on gardening has paid off nicely. With rare exception, we have produced more vegetables and herbs than expected, cooked amazing food with our harvest and grown more beautiful flowers than I could begin to count. Our heirloom tomatoes have an actual fan club and we have been able to share our abundant bounty with family, friends and neighbors. Sounds like a gardener’s dream, right? Last year, Instead of investing our efforts and intentions as usual, we took a detour from our productive natural listening, opting for a more educated approach to increase our yield. As human brains are prone to do, we bypassed what we already knew, and adopted the expert advice, implementing several proven tips:
Our biggest change? We decreased the number of tomato plants we had grown in the past, giving the plants the recommended amount of room, rather than forcing them to resume the cramped conditions that had always produced beautiful, thriving plants in the past. I’m not sure why we decided to heed ‘educated’ advice, but we jumped onto that train long before we realized we had stopped listening from within, and we would be well into the summer before we were able to realign with our natural voices, enjoying the tomatoes we picked early by letting them ripen a few days on the counter before we consumed or gifted them.
Because there was so much space between the plants, we were much more aware every time a squirrel was in there taste testing, and our garden time and effort was quickly swallowed by intentions around squirrel management. For the record, squirrels do not acknowledge any attempts to manage them, instead treating obstacles as a course that has been designed specifically for their entertainment. My husband Fred became slightly obsessed with deterring squirrels, even giving up on regularly tending our plants at some early point because he had convinced himself the squirrels were getting what he deemed the lion’s share of the fruit, and he let himself believe his efforts were, shall we say fruitless (hehe). It changed the energy in the garden. He was caught in a fight against natural order and even though we still had quite a nice season, he wasn’t able to see it that way until he was looking back at it mid-August.
His attention (and vicariously, my own) had been pulled from a soulful, natural inner connection to an ego-based ‘knowledge’ that produced a lot of fear and ultimately kept our energies from seeing our plants as whole and thriving because we were focused on ‘the right way’ to do things. While our energy was focused elsewhere, we also encountered squash bugs and felt further invaded and defeated by things in nature that were out of our control. I came home one day and he had yanked our zucchini plant when we had barely begun to harvest - the 3 we got to eat were incredible! - but the loss was actually painful. There is something in me that still believes the plant could have survived (my ideal), but I know his impatience with the bugs came from feeling helpless and letting fearful thoughts take the place of aligning with our ideal intentions. We let expert knowledge take the place of direct knowing from within. It is a fine line that should be walked with regular care and consideration. Our egos can also get so comfortable in our knowledge, that we fully believe we are fair and impartial judges when we are castigating the behaviors and ideas of others. If we are truly listening with intention, the universe will find a way to gently nudge us in a more productive direction when that occurs. If we remain deaf to that connection, the nudges become much more forceful and our perception of how they got there becomes distorted with shame and blame, often making us feel disconnected and alone.
As August rolled around, we could finally acknowledge how far we had let ourselves stray from trusting our inner assistance; who lovingly tends the grounds using each of the senses, knowing instinctively what the plants need. We could see where we left our own naturally-led path to follow ‘educated’ and ‘trusted’ opinions that are based in probability, often forsaking possibility. With our focus routed back toward ourselves, we took notice that our basil was flowering faster than we could pick and use it. Not going to lie, It took a little bit for our souls to settle into that broader perspective, but once we did we could notice everything that was GOOD. Even though our tomatoes weren’t as prolific, they were just as delicious as they have always been. With the huge crop of basil, we made and gave a lot of pesto, which everyone loved. Our herbs and peppers were the basis for some delicious roasted salsas and sauces that we wouldn’t have otherwise tried, and in the end we held a deeper understanding of the natural powers available in practicing intentional soul/ego awareness.
I didn’t post this blog during listening week because it didn’t feel complete, and my blog from values and ideals week is still just a blank page with the definition of each, even though I have sat down to write it several times. I am weeks behind on blogging, and I am face to face with the choice of catching up or foregoing the weeks I missed and just picking it up in real time. It’s intention week and my guidance is pushing me to finish this one, so I might as well intend to complete the set, right?. I think it’s important to acknowledge and address how even when our intentions are in the ‘right’ place, the universe might have another plan for us. Several things led me away from writing after I started this blog, but those things have brought me full circle on my intentions. If I follow through, I should be caught up by the time we reach Aligning With Intention Week. Even when issues arise and we lose focus, ORM practice pulls us back to our natural path with grace and ease.