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

Advertisements

Nature and Poetry

I'm in the write mood! (1)

“Nature brings out the poet in me.” ~ Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff

My favorite park on the planet is Mounds State Park in Anderson, Indiana, which happens to be my hometown. I have always felt drawn to Mounds for reasons I don’t completely understand. I think it has to do with the rich history of the Mounds. I’ve had a story in my head for nearly 20 years that I do hope to get out into the world someday. In the meantime, I’m content to enter their annual poetry contest. This year I nearly forgot about it. Fortunately, a reminder popped up in my Facebook timeline. They added a Poetry/Photo “hybrid” category this year which is cool. I love photography almost as much as poetry, they make perfect mates.

To prepare for the hybrid entry, I ordered a couple prints of photos I snapped of my family at Mounds a few months ago. When I see a photo sometimes the words come to me, but sometimes they don’t. When a deadline hangs in the air like stale cigarette smoke, my muse chokes!

I knew what I had to do. I had to go straight to the source and get some fresh air. I talked my husband into driving me to Mounds so I could knock out the poem on the way. Yeah right. Nothing! Once we got to Mounds I went straight to their nature room where I presumed it would be quiet and I could write. Wrong again. Someone was already in “my” room with their head buried in their cell phone listening randomly to news, music, whatever. It was noise to me and oh so annoying. Why bother coming to a nature center if you’re going to be on your phone? At least put in some earbuds!

I then went outside and sat at a picnic table. The sun was shining from a clear blue sky. Birds were singing. My muse blew in on a slight breeze and took a seat beside me. Magic. I love when that happens. I looked at the photo of my youngest granddaughter sitting on one of the beautiful native benches that makes a wonderful addition to the park. I wondered what someone who didn’t know my awesome little angel would see if they looked at the photo. Would they see all the generations that have visited the park before her and the generations that she will introduce to our special place. That’s what I see.

I finished the poem and took it directly to the manager’s office. So they have the original poem if I ever become postmortem famous! I doubt it, but you never know.  I don’t do it for the money or the fame. I write because it is who I am. Writing is as much a part of me as my flesh, more so I believe. Spiritual. When I write poetry I feel connected to heaven and earth in a way nothing outside of prayer has ever made me feel. Sometimes the words do not convey the depth of my emotion, but that’s okay. I’ve made peace with not being a flowery prose writer that creates a symphony with the flick of her pen, even though I still appreciate hearing a concerto of words by the masters. My words are more like a street musician strumming a guitar. Simple, raw, surprising. Entertaining to me and sometimes the audience that stops to listen in.

Happy National Poetry Month. I hope you take note of what inspires you!

IMG_5411

Photo I took of my granddaughter that inspired my poem, “What Do You See?”

What Do You See?
Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff

What do you see?
An adorable blonde-hair,
blue-eyed little girl
sitting on a park bench?

I see the fourth generation
to create happy memories
of time spent with her family
at Mounds State Park.

Storing up smiles
and happy thoughts
to see her through
the hard times that
life sometimes brings.

I see a link to a
love of nature
that lives on
in the heart
of a child.