From the desk of Jayne Battey

Question: How do you move a 50-pound bag of wet mulch?

Answer: A little bit at a time.Miramar Mulch

After two weeks of vacation over the holidays, I jumped in to tackle a bright fresh new year with energy, ambition and a full calendar. There were meetings to facilitate, parties to organize, board meetings to plan and, of course, there was the obligatory New Year diet to plan out, shop for and spend hours preparing (seriously, Bon Appetit?!). By January 17th I was five pounds lighter, two clients heavier, and my head was literally starting to swim.

Hmmm, I’m not sure this is what I really had in mind for 2014. It was time for a morning in the garden.

The garden is the place where I do my absolutely best thinking, and where I can dig into hard physical labor while I let my mind wander and breathe.

I’m not imagining this. There is strong scientific evidence that connecting with the outdoors has substantial health benefits — from reducing high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease to treating diabetes to the obvious physical and mental health benefits. Many medical leaders are now proponents of “The Nature Prescription” (or ecotherapy) — counseling their patients to consider walks in the outdoors before (or alongside) pharmaceutical options.

In Your Brain on Nature Dr. Eva Selhub and Alan C. Logan N.D. explore the mounting medical evidence related to human connection with the outdoors:

 “As neuroscience develops at a rapid pace, researchers are uncovering functional aspects of the intricate anatomy and physiology of the human brain … So far, the results suggest that we have completely underestimated the way in which the human brain is influenced by its physical environment and, in particular, by the elements of the natural worlds of water, vegetation, and animals.”

But I digress. Back to my mulch revelation.

So, yesterday morning I find myself outside our small apple orchard facing a large bag of mulch on the ground —the contents of which I want to spread around the base of each of a dozen trees. I lean down to pick up the not-so-big bag, and as I give my first tug I realize this thing is not going to budge under my strength alone. Not only is it heavy to begin with, but also with just a bit of rain from last weekend, it has sunk into the ground and is enormously heavy and slippery. There is no way I can move it without seriously hurting myself. Now what?

The answer is obvious as I kneel down in the dirt in front of the bag, grab a nearby planting knife and start to tear back the plastic. If I just take a little bit at a time, it is really no problem at all.

Aha. The insight I have been looking for: A little bit at a time.

Apple Tree blossomI have big plans for 2014. I want to see Miramar Farms grow and flourish; I want to enjoy my friends and family with gatherings and celebrations; I am excited about the work I am doing to support my community and important social issues; and I would, of course, love to lose another 5 pounds.

But there is nothing like facing off alone against 50+ pounds of wet mulch on the ground to remind you that you can’t do it all at once, it is harder to do it alone, that there should be joy in the journey and that lasting results generally take time.

I’m sticking with my ambitious plans for the year, but starting now I’m going to slow the journey down a bit and take all of 2014 to enjoy the ride.