Therapeutic Benefits of Gardening

gardening

An inspiring young poet I met on Write Out Loud, who now resides virtually on Instagram as @BIGSALPOETRY, asked me a to do a collaboration poetry book with him. He likes to team up with poets to publish books that help charities which is right up my alley.

I asked Big Sal what topic he was thinking of and he said, “I don’t know, how about the therapeutic benefits of gardening.” Interesting topic, especially since I’m into the plant-based lifestyle and have been wanting to get back into gardening. I used to love to garden, but stopped years ago when “making a living” became my priority and everything in life seemed to take a backseat including spending time with my family, tending to my health, and getting my hands dirty.

Now that I am working from home and getting clarity on my priorities, I see the compounded results of neglecting the important things in life… obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue and other serious health issues, fractured relationships from a platonic marriage, to self-medicating “Cats in the Cradle” kids to family and friends that communicate big life events through social media instead a visit or phone call, to apathy for the environment and devastating world events.

Neglect seems small, insignificant at first, but over time it adds up to catastrophe! The reality of it all feels overwhelming and makes you wonder what you can actually do to make a difference. I think the solution is so simple that it is often overlooked… BACK TO BASICS!

For me it doesn’t get much more “back to basics” than planting a garden! So, that’s exactly what I am doing starting yesterday. The ripple effect is already beginning. I feel slightly sore muscles like I spent an hour lifting weights in the gym. It doesn’t hurt, it actually feels good, like my body is thanking me. And, I’m inspired to write which hasn’t happened in a while. Growth already!

I plan to continue taking notes as I grow my garden and get my priorities straight, which I hope can not only become inspiration for the poetry book, but a life transformation for the matriarch of a family that continues into the next generation.

Write on!

WriterKat

 

Gardens provide us with a profound sense of connection to something that is eternal and beyond us. ~Tom Spencer

Passion and Paper Tigers

passion

Fear preys on passion, but it is a paper tiger. ~Vautaw

I received a check for $25 today from the Poetry Society of Indiana for winning 1st place in the Linda Bannon Memorial Category with a poem I wrote specifically for the contest called, “Overflow“.

In my mind, I wielded the check like a sword to shred the paper tiger that has pursued me since the day I dared to publish my first word. Apparently, it worked, but I know a legion of paper tigers exist for every word I dare to share.

I am taking advantage of this momentary victory and boost of confidence by dreaming big, writing like I am already famous, and visualizing my name among the greatest writers of all time: Hemingway, Vonnegut, Faulkner, Joyce, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Eliot, Bronte, Woolf, Plath, Atwood, Angelou, Christie, Cartland, Steel, Vautaw…

That last one is me, one of my pseudonyms, fits right in doesn’t it?!

Whew, I got that out before the next paper tiger spotted me and fueled my inner critic with enough adrenaline to make me want to escape through the open tab to check my email or scroll social media… anything to avoid the thoughts of inadequacy, of not being good enough to even think of being in the same sentence as the “greats” or “real” writers, of dramatic despair of dying with my words and stories left unsaid…

But, wait, I have my sword. I may not even cash the check. I may post it on my vision board as a reminder of an Amelia Earhart quote, “Fears are just paper tigers“. So, write to your heart’s content. Write the words that you want to share with the world. Write the stories that make your soul shine.

En Garde!

WriterKat

 

No Excuse

Little wins

Little wins create big victories! ~ Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff

I really have no excuse for not stringing words together much beyond my Morning Pages lately. No one cares if I do or don’t. No one but the soul that is currently taking up residence in my fleshy abode and patiently waiting for me to do what I was born to do which, from all the flashing arrows and neon lights in my mind, is… WRITE!

My response to this other worldly prodding is typically some form of resistance from blissing out on Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey or other vegan confections to procrastinating with another personal development/business building program, to the infinite social media scroll.

But today, the Universe wins. I showed up and let my muse dance across the keyboard, despite the steady stream of interruptions that started the moment I sat down. I forgot what an endorphin rush it is to push through the obstacles and finish something as simple as a blog post.  It’s little wins that create big victories!

Write On!

Kathy G

 

 

Legacy Letters and Spiritual Awakenings

I recently attended a Sisterhood Retreat at Camp Chesterfield. I have been curious about that place since finding out about it a few years ago. When a friend casually mentioned Camp Chesterfield during our conversation, I couldn’t believe I had no idea that a spiritual camp existed (since 1886!) just a few miles from my beloved Mounds State Park that I go to all the time.

I wanted to visit Camp Chesterfield immediately, but I hesitated because of my conservative religious doctrine where seances are taboo! Instead, I signed up for their mailing list and went on about my life. When I received the email about the Sisterhood Retreat, I thought it would provide a perfect opportunity to check the place out. So, I signed up with an open mind.

My adult daughter attended opening night with me, but when the spirit of past powerful women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, and Kuan Yin spoke to us through the Mediums, it freaked her out and she refused to return!

I, on the other hand, was fascinated. I mean where else would you ever get the opportunity to hear words of wisdom from saints and women who have paved the way for us to stand on equal ground? Even if it was inspired by the Medium’s meditation on these women, it was divine messages delivered in the most entertaining format I have ever seen. I was spellbound. It literally felt like I was in a vortex. I thought they should record it for millions to watch on YouTube or take their show on the road to enlighten the world!

The whole Sisterhood Retreat was about light and love. The leaders of the event came across with authenticity and authority. Gentle spirits with a fierce passion for helping us be the best version of ourselves we can be. I can best describe it as a spiritual awakening. None of us would ever be the same. We came face to face with the infinite possibilities within us and the calling to shine our light in a world of darkness.

One of the event leaders, Reverend Vicki Corkell, did a presentation on Ethical Wills also known as Legacy Letters which, as a writer, was something I was eager to learn about. How had this not come across my radar before either?!

Rev. Vicki shared some examples of legacy letters with us, including President Obama’s touching letter to his daughters. Her presentation inspired me to create my own legacy letter to my family. I started by writing in the journal we made in the previous workshop!

I’m glad part of my legacy is a passion for learning, a cat’s curiosity, and an open mind to discover the fun experiences and life lessons that awaits on the other side of the comfort zone!

 

Write Now

Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. (2)You can’t think yourself out of a writing block. You have to write yourself out of a thinking block. ~ John Rogers

I have a dozen book ideas floating around in my head, some of which have characters suspended in time like the mannequin challenge, for over a decade! I have used every excuse in the book to procrastinate including writer’s block, no time, distraction, foggy brain, you name it! But here’s the thing. I’ve ran out of excuses. Time is on my side right now. A couple weeks ago, I lost a “temp” job that I used as my “no time” excuse for years. The whole reason I decided to do temp work in the first place was so I could write! Somewhere along the way I got complacent. I stopped doing the things that nourish my body and soul. Creativity took a back seat. And I was willing to stay in the comfort zone because I believed I wasn’t cut out to be a “real” writer anyway.

That j.o.b. crutch is gone now. It’s just me and reality. The truth is I have let myself fall victim to the disease that strikes many writers and creative types and that is fear. Fear of my writing not being good enough. Fear of no one wanting to read what I write. Fear of wasting my time. But guess what I’m wasting time already and not accomplishing much. Why not dive into that fear and watch the muddy water turn crystal clear! Fear and action do not mix. Fear thrives in a stagnant environment. Once you take action, the water starts to aerate and life begins to grow. That is where I want to be, among the living things.

Writing is the key that unlocks the door to my world of wonder. It awakens my imagination and takes me out into the great big world that sometimes seems scary, but at closer look just wants the same love, passion and purpose that I seek.

 

 

If You Really Knew Me

writerkat-com

I attended a writing workshop yesterday led by three fantastic facilitators (Lorraine Marshall-Rey, Michael Brockley, and Jeffrey Owen Pearson). The workshop title was “Writing the Lonely Life” and the topic was loneliness, being alone, and writing. I will attend a writing workshop on any topic. I like to keep my claws sharp. Plus, I meet the most fascinating people at writing workshops. There seems to be an automatic trust among kindred spirits. After a few minutes getting to know each other, we put our vulnerabilities on the table like scalpels during open heart surgery.

One of the ice breakers the fantastic facilitators used was an exercise called “If You Really Knew Me”. We went around the room telling each other what they would know about us if they really knew us. We discovered that one of the facilitators (Mike Brockley) has over 700 “conversational” ties, each one with a theme or story. We learned that a couple writers struggle with depression, one writer just graduated and feels lost, another one used to be in a cult. I shared about overcoming a phobia of escalators and using that same fear-facing strategy to publish my writings that I had spent years putting in a box or throwing away.

After I left the workshop and thought more about the exercise, I thought about some other things I could have shared, like how I have a touch of OCD that prevents me from letting any canned goods be upside down in my cabinets or how I would rather read and listen to the rain than watch TV or how I redirected negative emotions of an abused childhood to write and publish books to help others that have gone through the same thing.

But then, if you really knew me, you would know I wouldn’t want to mention anything that seemed like bragging. It is a fine line we walk between sharing our stories to get to know each other better and staying silent to avoid sideways glances and shoulder shrugs.

Of course withdrawal is where loneliness begins and thus the need for workshops such as this one where we learn about anaphoras and ghazals, pair up to create couplets, dance, laugh, birth poems, and make new friends that helps fill the abyss of loneliness with the connection we all crave.

Write on.

WriterKat

Below is a poem my new friend Helen Townsend and I created at the workshop. We both created couplets separately, then when we paired up to put the poem together, we were in awe of how one line seemed to be responding to the other, almost as if the inner voice of strength was talking one through the fear (which was a word we both came up with when asked to list the cost of loneliness). It was a fun exercise. 

Defeat

I want to step out into light

but loneliness keeps me in a shroud of fear.

    Take off your eye glasses

    De-focus your fear.

I am a fist

of pain and fear.

    Twirl your precious stones

    let your fingers forget fear.

My face hides a

self-imposed prison of fear.

    Walk outside in inside-out-socks

    Your feet splash puddles of fear.

My strength is here

I don’t feel fear.

 

 

You’re Fired

writerkat.com (26) A young man got fired at my day job recently. It was his first “real” job. I’m sure he felt defeated, but if I could have talked to him, this is what I would have said…

I knew from the moment I heard your celebrity name and saw your chiseled face that your light shines too bright for this solemn place. You are young, full of life and energy – not yet resigned to a life of mediocrity in a dead-end job where you cross off the days on your wall calendar counting days until your sentence ends and wish your week away along side TGIF co-workers who long ago abandoned their dreams and think this is as good as it gets, in this life anyway.

Learn the lessons from your brief time here because the test will come again and again. There will be many failures along the winding road that leads to where you are meant to be, where you thrive, where you feel you belong, where you make a positive difference in the world. Use every perceived failure as a stepping stone to success.

Take it from someone with enough regrets to fill the Grand Canyon because she settled for “steady” pay and sub-par benefits while her dreams passed by like clouds in the sky…

Go ahead and let the door hit you on the way out as a reminder to never settle for a life of mediocrity, but instead to do the things that light up your soul. Consider yourself blessed.

Write on.