Thursday, March 29, 2012

Making It Happen

Why is it so hard to make the first step?

1. Fear.
I had  three or four additional words in mind, but I realized all of them came back down to being afraid.

2. Insecurity- fear that we are not adequate enough

3. Roadblocks- fear of challenging the system and fear of not finding creative ways to move forward.

4. Not being accepted by community- fear that when others don't agree we will ultimately fail. Fear of proving them wrong.

We fear failure. We fear mistakes. We fear conflict. We fear disturbances in the flow of what we do.

Fear will stifle us. Fear is likely stifling us right now.

I witnessed something today that is driven by the
opposite of fear. I'm not sure exactly what that word is...

Vision. Belief. Action. Change.

In the heart of the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans sits a garden.

Tomatoes. Arugula. Melons. Garlic.
Bananas. Mustards. Onions. Peas.

In the heart of the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans lies a mission.


This mission continues to grow through the opposite of fear. Our School at Blair Grocery is making changes every day. This means they take actions. This means they fail. This means they make mistakes. This means they make changes. They try again. They make more mistakes. They experience valiant successes. They rejoice. They cry. They rant. They laugh. The accomplish.

The opposite of fear is something different to all of us. I wanted to show you what can happen when we choose not to let fear stifle our dreams.

Here are some photos for my day with Our School at Blair Grocery in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. I plan on spending more time over the summer with the young men and women who make this program what it is. Please take the time to read through their blog. Things are happening out there right now. Unique and powerful things. 

Let's ask ourselves if we let fear determine our choices...And on this day, in this very moment, let's do something opposite.

BPositive and BThe Change you want to see in yourself!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Be Thankful for Each Other

I am so blessed because I get to live in this world with such incredible people. I meet people that want to create change in their environment. And I meet people that want to see change in themselves. I feel so deeply connected to the people I spend time with here because we stand on common grounds.

I am grateful today for a man who shares my first initial. Naturally, we shall call him B :) B has been working along side me in my volunteer position to build irrigation systems, garden beds, and gardens for schools and local communities. He is on a path to change and create new and positive things in his life. He works hard, stays focused, and sees the good in himself and others.

No matter what we have struggled with in the past, there is opportunity to grow. If we focus our efforts on the ways we can be helpful to others and ourselves then we are free from the burdens of our mistakes.

Move forward.
Make real changes.
Take actions that force you out of your comfort zone.
Create new struggles for the sake of finding new growth.
We all have this capability inside of us.

Today, B moves on to do things that will continue to benefit his life. I am eternally grateful for all of his hard work and care he's put into the community. I know our paths will cross again because when you root yourself into a community, you are forever connected.

Best of luck to you B as your journey continues.

BPositive and BThankful for Each Other. We are all We've Got!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Love the Journey

As many could probably gather from my most recent posts I am currently a gardener. I am also a community advocate. I am a community builder. Each day a new title is added to my list because I am realizing how interconnected everything is.

I was brainstorming about how I could marry the concept of BPositive BFree with community gardening. They seem like separate entities in my head. It's been challenging to write posts because I've been trying not to use the blog as a daily journal of my gardening adventures. For over a year I have been building this blog, challenging myself, creating art, and writing honestly about my life. I still want to do that in a deep and meaningful way. As I really considered the disconnect between my work and my writing, it seemed there was actually no problem at all.

BPositive BFree is nothing more than me. It is wherever I am. It is whoever I am.  It is art when I'm making art. It is sanity when I am rationalizing emotions. It is gardening when I am gardening.

I also want BPositive BFree to be about You. Because without you BPositive BFree is words in an empty space. I want to bring you life observations and opportunities for growth. So what could be a more perfect example than a garden?

And the connecting of all the separate components continues... Gardening is a beautiful metaphor.

Will you travel on this journey with me? Can we learn together how to grow as individuals, grow within a community, and grow actual food? Will you join me as I help children learn how to grow the food that they eat in their homes? Will you take part in the changes in the community as more gardens are started? Will you help me through the sweat, the frustration and the incredible joy of helping people from all walks of life learn how to sustain themselves?

This is my current journey. This is where BPositive BFree must be.

This journey blows my mind every day. And I know I can't do it alone. This space where I write is its own community and I feel incredible support from readers like you.

So I leave you with my first installment about the path on which I stand. I will do my best to inform you of what is happening by always tying it back to how it pertains to other aspects of life.

What you plant for the day; a seed, a tree, a thought, an idea requires mindful attention. Be truly present in each action you take to care for your "seed". To see it to its full potential be mindful in your action, be present in your care, and be in the moment in which you are living. BPositive and BFree my amazing friends. And thank you for your patience, understanding, and listening ears as I've traveled down this path. Growth of some kind will always follow these mindful steps.


Monday, March 26, 2012


Do you ever have one of those nights where you're not sleeping but you're actively living? Going about the things that matter to you during the day, all night long inside your head.

Often I garden in my dreams but last night was different. I had more responsibility than that. People were counting on me. I woke up feeling the weight.

We are all a part of some form of a community. We have roles, responsibilities and obligations to honor. I woke overwhelmed by the people I want to help.

I advocate for schools, local communities, and spaces with potential for good. My mind is always thinking how I can assist in helping people eat. For many it may be to help them eat more affordably or in a healthier way. For some it is just to help them have food for the day. 

How can anyone feel motivated everyday with some much on their plate? 

This simple reminder lightened my weight. 

I am not alone. 
This mission would not exist without others. 
I am not alone. 
We are in it together.  
I am not alone. 
We're going to make real change, 
A community change. 

BPositive and BPart of your Community!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Stuff Breaks Make Art

I had one of those rainy sort of mornings. In the literal sense, yes it was raining, but everything I tried seemed to land me in a puddle. The plants I was transporting to the market, were crushed by a camicazi tire that came unhitched in the van, the plants already at the market were infested by pesky little things called aphids, and there were countless other obstacles to maneuver around making a simple task quite frustrating.

But that's life. So how do we deal with it? Spilled milk. broken glass. Missed flights...

Well lets make something good out of it!

A few weeks ago, one of my favorite kitchen spoons (ceramic) shattered on the ground. I was annoyed at first but thought I'd keep it in case a project came to mind and today it came to me :)

ah sweet simplicity.
Not all situations are the same, but can't we make "art" out of most of them? I say lets try! This is going up in my kitchen to remind me to make art when I'm feeling stressed.

BPositive and BWilling to Make Art when things Aren't Perfect!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We Belong Together

Trees. Plants. Gardens. Farms. Schools. Children.  People. Families. Friends. Communities.

We are all here for a reason. We must all do our part. We must talk to one another, connect and communicate. We must listen and learn from anyone we can. We must observe what our surroundings have to offer and see where we can fill the holes. These are the spaces where we belong, and we belong in those spaces together.

As an independent person, I enjoy working alone, getting lost in my thoughts and experiencing the quiet. But I can't resist what it means to be a part of a community. I can't stay away from discussions about change, outcries of opinions, and steps taken toward action. So when I find myself sitting around a bon fire in downtown Pensacola at 1 in the morning on a Tuesday, sharing an identical vision for change in my community with people I didn't know even 1 month ago, I have to know that something truly significant is taking place. I can't help but feel that my role in this community is important.

The feeling is something unique that I haven't experienced so intensely before. It's a rare gem that I treasure, appreciate and respect every single day. That feeling that I have is belonging. I feel it through the smiles and laughter, through the hard fights and the passion, through the tears and the frustration of making others listen, and through the thousands of other people around the globe who believe it is important.

Everyone at some point will come to find what makes them get up and go without even a question of their purpose. My passion right now is Food Security in my community. Community gardens. Edible Forests. Sustainable Living. Fighting hunger from the underlying systemic problems. Planting Seeds. Growing communities. Empowering people. Provoking change. Living presently. Rooting the cause. Deeply, deeply rooting the cause.

To truly be present in where we are, we must dig our roots a little deeper and settle them into the native soil.We must then let go and trust that the system around us, our soil, our friends, our neighbors, our community will help support our roots with water, sun, and care. When I take a tiny little seedling out of it's cup and put it into the ground, I always have this moment of doubt. Will the roots know how to find their way through the soil? Will this plant grow any taller? Will it bear fruit? I think we often feel this way about planting ourselves where we are, deeply terrified that if we go too deep into the ground it will be hard to get out again. We feel scared that we are alone in our endeavors. Ultimately we question if we really belong where we are, so uncertain that we don't always see the importance of becoming a part of our community. But we must. We must be a part of our communities in whatever capacity we can manage.

Together we are much stronger and serve a much greater purpose. To have the deepest impact on our own personal growth and the biggest sense of belonging we must tuck ourselves in tight and have faith that we are supported, loved, and right where we're supposed to be. From there we grow strong, tall and beautiful, a small (but significant) plant in a big garden. We provide necessities for others and ultimately our seeds will spread.

BPositive and BRooted!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Wonderful Moment

Recently I have been blessed with wonderful reminders. They come in the many forms of conversation, natural occurrences, and books. I believe these reminders have always been available to me. I am grateful now, to be willing to accept them in all forms, both familiar and unique.

Every day I live is filled with unexpected surprises. Some cause my heart rate to elevate and my mind to worry. When I say these worries aloud, others empathize with my stress. The more I vent, the more I fixate.

Sometimes I feel defeated and at my wits end. I look for pity from others and from myself. I give myself reasons to be angry, sad and frustrated. I tell myself I deserve to feel this way. And as a result, that is exactly how I feel. And honestly... It's miserable.

This morning I was handed one of the helpful reminders. A reminder that helps me fight the urge to be negative. It came in the form of a breathing exercise. I learned it from a book I'm reading by a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk named Thich Nhat Hanh and it goes like this:

Breathing in I calm my body

Breathing out I smile

Dwelling in the present moment

I know this is a wonderful moment

It's simple and easy to remember and carries a beautiful purpose. When using this exercise, be sure to take a breath in on the first sentence, a breath out on the second (and smile!), a breath in on the third, and a breath in on the last. Breathe with a consciousness and feel each word you say in your head and your heart.
I incorporated this breathing exercise into my morning today. I walked to work in the vibrant sunshine and repeated these words over and over. I felt certain that there was nothing more significant than doing this exercise in that moment. No worry, no stress, no obligation important enough to penetrate this peaceful approach to my day.
As I got nearer to work (and I use the term work loosely as it is one of my favorite activities at the moment) I had an urge to walk a little faster as I saw the front door to the building. I felt a twinge of anxiety as I would shortly have responsibility, structure and interaction with others. Experiencing these urges,  I decided to speak my calm breathing words louder in my head. I took steps that were slower and purposeful. I felt the weight and sensation of each step on the sidewalk.
I concluded that it is easy to only take actions that lead to a final result. I walk each morning and as a result I arrive at work. I breath every couple of seconds and as a result I stay alive. I type these words and subsequently there is a story to be read and a message to be received. These are all good reasons to take actions.

But I'd like to also believe that each one of these actions can also be enjoyed for what they are as separate entities. Each step can feel so meaningful if enjoyed as a step and not a means to a destination. Each breath can calm, soothe and relax our bodies, minds and spirits while simultaneously keeping us alive and healthy. And each word I type has its own presence regardless of which word comes before or after.

I encourage you today to do something mindful. Whether it be a step, a breath, a written word, or maybe even a hug let yourself experience that moment for exactly what it is. Because it truly is a wonderful moment.

Breathing in I calm my body
Breathing out I smile
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment
  by springknitter

BPositive and BMindful of Life's wonderful Moments!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

True Dialogue

Sometimes we know someone who is so set in their own ways that it is hard for them to hear what others have to offer. Sometimes that person is us...

Either way, if even half of the party is not receiving in someway, then the exchange is rather fruitless. Each side bouncing thoughts off of each other's walls. When I think about this concept, it's basic, but if it is so simple then why do we often put up walls when conversing with others? Why are we so set in our ways? 

I honestly don't have the answers to this. In my current life practices, I focus adamantly on learning from anyone who is willing to share their hearts with me. I let foreign concepts sink in without fighting them off. I try. I always try.

I've been enjoying and learning immensely from an author named Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk. His words are insightful and written with purely good intention. I feel the peace in his writing. When I read what he had to say about dialogue this morning is reminded me that I must practice receiving more diligently. I find it simple to receive his teachings when I am studying his words, but I find it much harder to receive from others in regular every day conversation. 

  by springknitter

I am likely not the only one who gets caught up in my "self" during dialogue with others. I have been guilty of that this week, so set in what I think is right for me, I am not even entertaining the possibility of another truth. In that sense I have missed opportunities to grow. 

I am not regretful however, because here I sit aware of my mistakes and taking the opportunity to make a change, receiving more consciously in every conversation.

I believe this will be an everlasting practice. The end of this post holds no answers or no conclusion. But I will leave you with this...

Practice creates habit in many physical aspects of our life. Therefore we must also apply practice to our minds, spirits, and in my case communication. I am very thankful to have come across this paragraph in Hanh's book. It reminds me that we can always search deeper into ourselves to promote change and growth. Life is truly beautiful that way. 

BPositive and BReceptive