Tag Archives: gardening

prayer-examen-garden

Do more of this

I recently attended a workshop at a local nursery called Hydrangeas 101, covering the basics of successfully growing Hydrangeas. I had questions about the one that came with my house, as this is my first experience with this particular flower.

When I moved here, I had Googled “pruning Hydrangeas” and learned that pruning was a no-no. Numerous websites advised planting them where they have enough room to grow to their full size. Mine has room; I was more interested in knowing if it needed to be pruned for its health.

At the end of the hour-long workshop, I had the answers to my questions, and I walked out of the nursery aware that I was feeling light and happy.

Gardening is one of my favorite things and learning about flowers is as much fun as the actual gardening. I joined the local garden club when I moved here four years ago, to learn what is indigenous and what grows best in this zone. Now, I watch Monarch butterflies on Echinacea and hummingbirds at the Rose of Sharon.prayer-examen-garden

But, back to the workshop and the lightness I felt when I left.

I am by nature a curious person. Not nosey (I barely know my neighbors or their habits), but inquisitive; I love to learn.

As I walked out of the nursery, the words that popped into my heard were, Do more of this. The feeling was similar to the one I have when I am leaving my Polish classes—happy, light and free.

Entering with the awareness that I am seeking knowledge and leaving having acquired something—a clearer understanding of what my Hydrangea needs in order to be happier, or perhaps one new Polish word—it does not have to be much to make me happy.

Do more of this. The words reminded me of a prayer practice developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola called The Examen.

St. Ignatius saw the benefit of periodically stopping during the day and looking at how the day was going. Was he drawing closer to God through his words and actions? Or was he moving away from God?

I have heard The Examen explained in a number of ways, but the main point is to look at how the day is unfolding, to look at patterns in our lives, and to do more of the things that draw us closer to God and less of those that take us away from God.prayer-examen-gardenI tend to think of gratitude as an indicator of how my day is going. If it am feeling grateful, things are generally good. If I am feeling resentful or jealous or put upon in some way, I know I need to change something because what I am doing is moving me away from God.

The Examen can be helpful in leading me away from toxic people and situations. It can help point out patterns that are harmful and also patterns that are grace-filled. The Examen redirects me toward God and freedom.

 

 

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Tips for a relaxing staycation

I am taking a staycation—my first real vacation in almost two years. There are many positive aspects to staying home, but one fear I have is that the many projects around the house begging for my attention will take up all my time and I will be as tired at the end as I am at the beginning. So instead of following my own inclinations, I am going to try to follow the schedule of someone whose life is an extended staycation—my dog, Detroit.

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Dogs seem to have a handle on how to live a good life. Detroit’s days are made up of five main activities: food, exercise, sleep, work and play.

Food. I think Detroit loves food more than anything else. My sister says I feed Detroit too often, which may be true, but I am a grazer, and so it makes sense that my dog would be a grazer, too. In between meals, Detroit likes lots of little treats—me, too.

Exercise. Every morning we go for a long walk, and Detroit checks out her surroundings, greets neighborhood dogs, leaves little messages for dogs who will come along later, stalks squirrels until they run up trees and generally enjoys the fresh air. Although I impose this walk on her, Detroit seems to enjoy it. For me, though this walk is more stroll than exercise, so on my staycation, I plan to take extra walks and maybe even ride my bike.

Sleep. When we get back from our morning walk, Detroit stretches out on my lap and within a few seconds, her body is totally limp and she is sound asleep. I will follow her lead and take a nap.

Work. Waking up refreshed, Detroit gets to work. Her job is to patrol the backyard, keeping it free of squirrels, rabbits, cats and birds. It is an important job, and she can spend an hour or so clearing out all the undesirables.

detroit in yard

 

She also likes to take some time to sit and admire her work. IMG_3513

After a nap, I will tackle some house project. The list is long, and I will alternate between chores that are more and less enjoyable. More enjoyable projects for me include working in the yard, sewing and painting furniture; less enjoyable ones include washing windows, cleaning out the freezer and dusting. After work, it is time for another nap.

Play. Every day includes at least one extended play time when Detroit will get a toy and bring it to me for a game of tug-of-war or some fetching.

Detroit running

During my staycation, I plan to spend more time writing, praying and studying Polish. My play time will also include reading, gardening and perhaps exploring some nearby towns to poke around in shops or maybe go to a museum or two.

I figure if I pace myself and adhere to Detroit’s schedule, my staycation will be somewhat productive but much more restful and relaxing.