March 24, 2014

The New Me

Last week I officially started my program to become a certified Holistic Health Coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

As part of our program, we needed to set our intentions for the next year, describe our vision and descriptive words of how we see ourself in that vision. I typically find myself to be more productive when I put my intentions out into the Universe, so I thought I would share those on my blog.

In March of 2011, after working in landscaping and gardening for 11 years, I got the urge/calling/message to start a blog. While trying to figure out a blog name that resonated with what I was doing at the time. I also wanted to find one that resonated with who I am and what I want to be doing in the future. I finally settled on Walnuts n Pears, stemming from a 17th century English proverb, “Walnuts and pears you plant for your heirs.” This proverb spoke to me because it encourages us to be mindful of how we live and be conscious of what we are leaving for future generations. In other words, it encourages us to live sustainably.

The concept for Walnuts n Pears originally started as a vision to open a physical space for people to access information on all things related to living a centered, healthy and fulfilling life. My vision for the physical space will have a kitchen, classroom, yoga/meditation space, art studio, greenhouse and outdoor edible gardens. In March of 2011 phase 1 began when Walnuts n Pears (the blog) was launched. The goal was to have a virtual space to share information on landscaping, gardening, harvesting, cooking, preserving, eating and healthy, mindful living.

Phase two and my intention: I am building a successful business helping myself and others eat, grow and be well by being an inspiring holistic health, wellness and gardening coach, offering classes, workshops and seminars in holistic health, wellness and nutrition and as well as sustainable, organic and abundant, edible gardens.

The descriptive words that resonated with me:
elegant
loving
caring
inspiring
calm
peaceful
example
successful
natural
confident
Zen
Buddha
centered
grounded
healthy
fit
respected
strong
balanced
compassionate
prosperous
abundant
spiritual
organic beauty

I look forward to everything else I will be learning and connecting with all of you in the coming year.

Kate

March 11, 2014

Renegotiating Environmindful Monday and Tip #14: Why You Don’t Want To Use Fabric Softener

You may have wondered what happened to Environmindful Mondays.  Well, quite honestly, I did too. After doing a little reflecting I realized that the reason I haven’t been posting isn’t because I ran out of environmental posts but instead because I realized that with some of the posts and things I’ve been doing in my home, I realized I was missing pieces of the puzzle to be able to fully explain why some of these topics are important, which I think is crucial to making change.

If we make a change in our lives just because someone told us we should but we don’t understand why we are doing it, chances are it won’t last.  On the other hand, if we understand a situation/problem and understand how we fit into or contribute to that situation/problem, then it makes it easier to understand why we should change and what the impact is if we choose not to.

For example, let’s say a friend says, “You should really stop using fabric softener.”  You ask why and the response is, “Because I heard it’s bad.”  At first you think, “Oh, geeze. Okay, my friend says fabric softener is bad. I’d better stop using it.”  So you do.  Time goes by and you forget the conversation with your friend.  You forget the details (because there weren’t any).  Over time you start to miss the scent of freshly washed clothes and start getting annoyed with static.  Or, maybe your spouse asks, “What’s so bad about it?”  You can’t remember.  You can’t justify your decision, so chances are you’re going to buy fabric softener and start using it again.

Environmindful Monday Tip #14: Why You Don’t Want to Use Fabric Softener

On the other hand if your friend says, “You might want to reconsider using fabric softener.”  You ask why and the response is, “There are a lot of dangerous, and even, toxic chemicals in them.  Some cause asthma, some are hormone disruptors (meaning they can cause birth defects) to both people and wildlife, and the scents you smell are typically carcinogens, which are toxic chemicals linked to cancer.  This stuff isn’t just bad for the people who use it either.  All of these toxins are in our air from our dryer vents and they are even finding it in our ground water and drinking water from using liquid fabric softeners in our washers.”  You try to justify your fabric softener addiction for a minute and say, “But I hate static.”  Your friend says, “Oh, then you’re just over-drying your clothes.  Don’t dry them so long.  You won’t have static.”  If you’re like me, when I first heard all the information on fabric softener I had to hold onto my stomach.  At the time, my son was about 3 years old.  When I realized I was putting all of these chemicals directly on his skin via his clothes, into the air and into our water I felt sick.  But you know what?  It made an impact.  I stopped using fabric softener immediately.  I also haven’t forgotten the dangers these chemicals pose to myself, my family, our air, our water and the rest of the environment.  And I definitely have not had any sort of urge to use fabric softener, in any form, in my home since.

I still want to honor the commitment I made to Norwex and the Norwex R.A.C.E., myself and you, as my readers to continue to share environmental posts, but I am renegotiating with myself (and you), to make sure I honor that commitment in the best way possible, therefore, you will continue to see Environmindful Monday posts, maybe not every Monday, but on Mondays that I believe I have content that is worth sharing and that I am clear on why these topics are important and why we should all be committed to making a change.

Oh, and yes. I’m aware that this Environmindful Monday post is coming to you on Tuesday.  I’m working on that too. ;)

May you have a clean and healthy day filled with fresh scents of a real spring breeze.

Kate

March 8, 2014

Why buy organic food?

If you don’t understand why you should buy or grow organic food, this post is for you.

I was sorting through a stash of seeds for the school garden tonight and ran across this packet of tomato seeds.

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Please read the “fine print” in red on the last photo. These seeds are toxic to those with allergies to chemicals, should not be fed to animals or birds and should not be handled without gloves… but it’s okay to plant them in the soil and eat the fruit that comes from them.

Organic standards do not allow these or other chemicals to come in contact with our food at any stage of growing, processing, storage or handling which is one reason to choose organic over conventional food.

Typically, in the US, companies are not required to disclose which chemicals they use in their processing on labels.

I’m not sure why this was labeled the way it was, I’m guessing it’s because it was from Canada (because this is not the norm in the US), but if you saw this “Caution” on the seed you were about to plant with your children, on the fruit you were about to buy in the store or the bread you were about to buy, would you change your mind?

Would you still think the packet of organic seeds that costs 25 cents more, the apples that are 15 cents more or the bread that is 50 cents more is expensive or would your perception of what you are about to purchase change?

The only guarantee we have today, that these and other chemicals aren’t in our food, is to buy Certified Organic.

Be mindful. Be well.
Kate

February 4, 2014

Following Pebbles

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At one point in time, a friend of mine told me I’ve made more life and career direction changes than anyone she knows. 

Fourteen years ago I left a job I hated where I had friends I loved and went back to school for landscaping.  I graduated from that program a couple of years later and had been in the landscape industry ever since.  A few years ago, landscaping started losing it’s luster.  I still love the industry and have made some incredible friends who I love dearly and hold close to my heart but something changed inside me, I needed something more, so I left the job I’d been at for about 8 years.

When people would ask “What’s next?” I would tell them what I was up to at the time, but usually follow it with, “I’m just following pebbles. I’m not sure where they are going to lead.”  I’m a firm believer in that if we put out to the universe (or God or whomever) what we are looking for, that we will be given signs as to what we need to do, which direction we need to go and the opportunities will come to us. But it’s up to us to notice them, to trust in them and to choose whether or not to follow them.  Those are my pebbles.

When I left the landscape job I had been at for years, I was presented with an opportunity to switch into a completely different industry and use a foreign language that I had studied in college.  I followed that pebble, but I only stayed a year because as much as I liked the people I was working with, and enjoyed speaking the language a little again, it just didn’t feel like the place I was meant to be.  So I moved on, or back, you might say.

I went back into landscaping, this time focusing my efforts on edible landscaping and edible gardens.  Using land for something useful, pretty and also providing food felt like a better fit, but I wanted to learn more.  I felt like I had gaps in my knowledge and to be able to really help my clientele, I felt like I needed to fill in the gaps.

That’s when I found the Urban Farming Certification Program.  It was another pebble and I followed it.  I ventured into Permaculture wholeheartedly while converting a large portion of our front yard into a food garden, including both annual vegetables and fruit as well as perennial fruits and pollinator plants. Another good fit.  I loved the program, I still love the conversion of our yard, I love growing food and I love sharing with others how easy it is to do the same.  But it doesn’t feel like enough.

For as long as I can remember, even back to my childhood, my parents were focused on health, healthy eating, being active, wellness and personal growth.  These seeds of health and wellness that they planted in my mind have germinated, grown within me and guided me along the path of my life.  Which brings me to the present.

Over the past year, while growing food and wanting so badly to share it with anyone who would take it, I’ve been watching friends, neighbors and family members suffer through the pains of Cancer, weight problems and other health problems.  Each time I learned of something happening all I could think was, “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

I’m, what you might say, a junkie for health and wellness information.  I read, watch documentaries, read more, go to seminars, take classes, listen to podcasts, follow blogs… and I’ve found that the more I learn about health and wellness, about growing food and about the environment, the more all of these pieces seem connected and this is why, I believe, deep down, that food is the core of what harms us but that it is also the core of what can heal us.

This interest in understanding food sparked a long time ago and has slowly been burning, ever greater, until, finally, over the past couple of weeks it has turned into a blazing fire, a deep yearning to learn even more about it so that I can help help others, because I truly believe in my heart that we don’t have to live this way; we don’t have to watch friends and family endure pain and suffering.  I think that we have everything we need to be healthy if we just learn where to look and how to use what is given to us. 

My goal going forward is not only be able to help people learn how to grow their own food, but also to help guide them in living a long, healthy, happy life.

This morning I registered for a year-long program to become a Certified Health Coach so I can do just that and I couldn’t be happier or more excited! So here I am, following yet another pebble.  And from where I stand right now, that pebble feels more solid than anything I’ve ever done in my life.

So, my dear friend, here we go again!

Here’s to chasing pebbles, following your passion and living fully.

Be well.

Kate

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