So many people have written to ask how they can get a copy of The Bountiful Garden. Books can be ordered online at http://www.TheBountifulGarden.net. I’m also working furiously to make the books available in small bookstores across the country. Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston now has copies available as does First Church Unity in Nashville. If you know of a bookstore interested in carrying them, please email me at denise@thebountifulgarden.net.

The Gardener's Way Poster

I’ve had so many people asking me if they could get a copy of The Gardener’s Way affirmations from The Bountiful Garden so I created a poster, suitable for framing. It’s for sale at http://www.TheBountifulGarden.net. But, you’re also welcome to simply copy them down for yourself. If you’d like to reprint them or post them on your site, but please be sure to include the as copyright, (c) Denise Fayhee Wolf 2009. and include a link to http://www.TheBountifulGarden.net. I hope you enjoy!!

Whose Life is it Anyway?

November 9, 2009

When my son, Joe, was born, I imagined that he might grow up to be a lawyer. When he was nine, we had a family portrait taken – newly launched into my life as a single-mother, the portrait, I believed, confirmed my suspicions. “Doesn’t he just ‘look’ like a lawyer?” I said to my sister hopefully.

As she studied the image of ‘our little man’ dressed in his miniature double-breasted, navy blue suit coat and coordinating red tie, hair trimmed neatly around his ears, gaze serious and confident, she had to agree.

Being a lawyer had long been a dream of mine though in truth, I think I was drawn to the image of what being a lawyer meant more than I was to the actual work of being a lawyer. Throughout college and and even into my early 30s, I equated lawyers with adjectives like intelligent, wealthy, successful – all things I imagined would make for a happy life. (Something I now know is not necessarily true.) But, as it turned out, I wasn’t destined to become a lawyer and, neither was my son.

During their elementary and high-school years, I drilled the idea into both of my kids that college was non-negotiable. Not attending or graduating from University simply wasn’t an option. Always exceptionally good in school, in spite of not always applying himself, Joe received a full presidential scholastic scholarship. And, as I insisted, he entered college immediately following high school graduation.

But, almost from the start, Joe was miserable in college. Keeping his spirits up and keeping him enrolled became a full time job that I took very seriously. For three and half long years, I struggled to keep Joe following the path I had set forth. And Joe, being a wonderful son who wanted so much to ‘do what was right’, suffered through the process. While my encouragement and insistence was well-intentioned – I really believed I was doing what was best for Joe – in hindsight, I can see now that I’m fortunate I didn’t lose him in the process.

Shortly after Christmas, prior to returning to complete his last semester, Joe came to me in tears. He begged me not to make him go back. He told me how pointless his classes felt. How wasted he thought his time was. At 21, Joe was completely within his rights and fully capable of making his own decisions. We both knew that he didn’t need my permission to drop out. He was asking for my blessings and my understanding. And, while I was devastated to imagine that he wouldn’t continue, I was even more distressed that I could play a part in my son’s spirit being so broken.

As we talked through the whats, ifs, whys, and hows, of his taking what we called, ‘a break,’ the unexpected death of my parents from a car crash that left my beautiful 46-year old sister in a persistent vegetative state (coma) less than six years earlier, were foremost on my mind. The tragedy we all, including Joe, experienced, taught us well the lessons that each day is a gift and our time on this earth is limited.

So, with Joe’s promise that he’d somehow, someday, earn his degree, I gave him my blessings and, in the process, the authority – which had really been his all along – to determine his own path in life. And, true to his wise old soul, Joe wasted no time in following his heart. Today, nearly five years to the day, Joe’s ‘path’ has led him to China, Thailand, England and finally, to his new home with a beautiful, intelligent and loving wife and baby, in Sydney, Australia where he is building a rich and satisfying life as a personal fitness trainer; a career he is pursuing with passion and enthusiasm.

Over the past five years Joe has certainly learned and lived some lessons in life but the lesson I’m most appreciative for is the lesson that he gave to me. His lesson served to remind me that each of us has our own life path and purpose we’re here to live out. And the way in which Joe is following his path continues to be a source of inspiration as I stumble along my own way as a writer. Lesson learned. Degree in hand. I take it one day at a time with overwhelming gratitude to my son, Joe.

Open to Being Blessed

November 4, 2009

My lab-mix pup, Bella, hurried me out the door extra early today for her morning walk around Pinkerton Park.  Evidently no one gave her the memo about daylight savings time and I was still mildly perturbed with her as we made our way around the trail, an hour and a half earlier than usual.  The morning air was crisp, the leaves a vibrant display of orange, greens and golds framed by the full moon setting into the west.  Still, I was grumbling, mostly missing the magnificence of the day, as I waited impatiently for Bella to do her business.  As Bella paced and sniffed and sniffed and paced in search of the just right depository, I noticed a large woman, probably seventy  pounds over weight, wearing a dark blue sweatshirt and sweatpants, hat pulled down over her ears against the cold morning air, making her way briskly along the trail toward me.  She swayed as she walked, a pattern I guessed she’d developed from carrying the extra weight, and her arms swung back and forth in keeping with her rhythm.  There was a bounce in her step that suggested her mood was happy.  I caught her eye and smiled as she passed, “Good morning,” I said in greeting.  “How are you today?”  She met my gaze with deep brown eyes and broke into a wide grin.  “Good Morning,” she replied adding with a mix of enthusiasm and sweet southern drawl, “I’m blessed.”   As she passed by me, waddling along the path, I caught myself smiling with the sunshine she’d just shared and thought what a wonderful way to answer that stale old question of, “how are you?”.   Here was a woman who showed no outward signs of what most of the world would consider “blessed.”  Her clothes were old and well-worn, she wasn’t particularly pretty by most standards, and she was bordering on morbidly obese.  Yet she was out at the crack of dawn, on a crisp autumn morning in middle Tennessee and, she was clearly celebrating her blessings. I was humbled by her choice to recognize the blessings in her life and decided that, “I’m blessed,” will become my official and heartfelt response from this point forward.  No matter how bleak the day may look.  How empty my bank account may be or how quickly my deadlines are approaching, if I’m breathing, and I’m able to wait patiently (or even impatiently) for Bella to, ‘do her business,’ I will remember my new found friend and answer with a sincere and heartfelt smile . .  “I’m blessed.”

Seeds of Impermanence

November 1, 2009

Today is a gift; a tiny seed with potential for peace, happiness and joy. I go forth today present in each moment, fully engaged in each experience.  I embrace this day with the understanding that my time in this world is limited. I live today with full appreciation that it may be my last.  I understand that life offers no guarantees and that, regardless of age or health, today could also be my final opportunity to demonstrate my appreciation to those I love.  I make the best use of every opportunity I am given today to express love and gratitude.