Thursday, August 27, 2015

Harry and the Peach Seed

Here’s a favorite blog I want to share again...

Harry is my dear friend and “adopted brother” who is a master storyteller. He has many tales of his beloved “Nannar,” his mother’s mother, who doted on him as her only grandchild. I especially love his peach seed story and I use it often with clients when I’m illustrating a point. It goes something like this…

One day when he was about eight years old, Harry was visiting Nannar in her rural Virginia home. As usual, visits to Nannar included time in her kitchen and on this day they were enjoying the juicy goodness of a fresh summer peach. As the seed started to emerge through the plump peach Harry was eating, he got an idea.

“Can we plant this peach seed?” young Harry asked.

“Of course,” Nannar replied. “We’ll plant it in the back yard where we can watch it grow through the kitchen window.”

A great plan Harry thought, so off they went to plant the seed. A suitable spot was found and under Nannar’s watchful gaze, Harry dug a hole, deposited the seed, covered it with dirt and added water. “Now we wait,” Nannar said.

Just a few days later, Harry asked his grandmother if they could dig the seed up and see how it was doing.

“You don’t want to do that,” Nannar cautioned.

“But why not?” Harry countered. He was an inquisitive lad and as an only child, was used to getting his requests quickly met.

“You planted the seed and watered it,” Nannar said. “Now you must wait and let it grow. It’s started to sprout under the dirt and when it’s ready, the plant will poke through the ground and you’ll see it grow into a beautiful tree. We’ll eat peaches from that tree one day,” she said.

“But I want to check on it now and make sure,” a stubborn Harry replied.

“OK, but if you disturb the seed, it’ll stop growing,” the wise Nannar said. “You have to trust the seed is doing what it needs to even if you can’t see the progress.”

“I want to dig it up,” Harry said.

“OK,” replied Nannar. They went into the back yard and she supervised as a determined Harry carefully dug up the seed to discover it had indeed sprouted.

“Look! It’s growing!” Harry said.

“It was,” his grandmother countered. “Now it has stopped growing,” she said.

“I’ll just put it back and it’ll be fine,” Harry said.

“You can put it back in the ground, but it’s too late for this seed to grow,” Nannar said. “When you plant a seed, you must be patient, wait and trust the seed is doing what it needs to even if you can’t see it.”

“It’ll be fine,” Harry said as he replanted the delicate sprout. “We’ll have a peach tree soon!”

For weeks afterwards, Harry would visit Nannar and run to the back yard to check on the progress of his peach tree. He’d water the spot if it looked dry.

Nannar would observe this ritual with a smile and say, “You have to trust the process Harry. You can’t dig up the seed and expect to grow a tree.”

Of course Nannar was right, and the seed never grew.

Harry told me that for years later, he would be sitting with his grandmother in the kitchen and she’d motion out the window into the back yard and say, “That’s where your tree would have been if you’d given the seed time to grow. That tree could have produced thousands of peaches by now and hundreds of new trees could have come from that single seed. When you plant something, Harry, you have to nurture it, be patient and trust in the natural process.”

WOW. Using a simple example from nature, Nannar beautifully explained a powerful life lesson. I love this story.

I’ve often wondered how many times in my own life I’ve planted a “seed” only to have been impatient with the process and “dug it up” before it had time to grow properly? I’ve done that with relationships, jobs and countless projects over my lifetime. Wish I’d had Nannar to advise me. But thanks to Harry, I do have her wisdom.

What “seed” have you planted lately? Do you know how to nurture it while you practice patience and trust it will grow?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Awake at 4 A.M.

4 A.M. Yep, that’s what the clock showed as I looked at it for the third time this morning. I was awake. Fully awake. The “I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of going back to sleep” kind of awake.

“I can beat this,” I thought as I adjusted my pillow and took a deep breath. My mind was buzzing. Thoughts whirled inside my brain like leaves on the winds of a hurricane.

I gave up around 5:30 A.M. and got up.

What had my mind racing, you wonder?

The idea of living a more joyful life. I don’t mean being super happy, but living from a place of real joy. I’d been thinking about this a lot lately when I found the perfect book to help in my quest. It wasn’t what I expected.

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo isn’t the type of book I usually buy. But it had been recommended by a couple of my “metaphysical” friends who raved about the spiritual transformations possible by “tidying up” as Marie describes.

“I bet,” I thought sarcastically.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m a big fan of a clean, decluttered house. And while I always feel better in an organized space, I had my doubts that this method would greatly enhance my spiritual progress. I was wrong. It works.

I urge you to read this little book to learn the particulars, but the essence of Marie’s message is simple. In your personal environments, only surround yourself with items that “spark joy.”

The premise is brilliant. How could you help but feel grateful, abundant and productive when everywhere you look sparks joy? Not just nice, not just neat, but sparks joy? Wow. Guess that would qualify as life-changing and certainly transformational.

I’ve started the process and it’s nothing short of amazing. I feel lighter, happier and more peaceful. Incredible. We totally renovated our home last year, so I’d already donated or thrown out boxes of “stuff” and the remaining items had been carefully organized. This method goes even further. And now the bar has really been raised.

When considering a purchase of new clothes or household items, I take the time to ask myself, “does this spark joy?” If possible, I hold the item in my hand to see how it feels, or rather, how I feel about the item. It sounds crazy, even to me, but something’s working. I feel more joyful during the day. I’m dancing while I do the laundry. I feel grateful for the job each item has in my home and how it contributes to my life.

I know, it sounds nuts.

I’ve told my clients for years that “your external world reflects your internal world” and I believe it. While I wanted my external world to reflect joy, I never imagined I could have EVERYTHING in my personal environment do that. I’ve always had certain possessions that made me happy, but never a roomful. Thanks to Marie, I now understand how to do that. I even know how to tame the piles of paperwork that plague me. After I finish my tidying project, however, that won’t be an issue. How much more joy could I then experience?

That’s what I was wondering at 4 A.M. this morning.