Farms, gardens and soil

To create the best environment in which your seeds will thrive, your soil is it. Yes. It as in the basis. Foundation. It. The content of your soil determines what you can or cannot grow as much as your environment does. A soil whose primary element is sand, will not hold water well. The idea of planting cranberries in this condition, without mixing or layering the soil, just won’t work. Which is why it’s important to perform a soil analysis.

There are multiple ways to do this. The easiest is to fill a jar with your soil, mix it with water and shake it, then allow it to sit for twenty-four hours. The soil will separate into layers, revealing what is dominant. Or you can just submit a sample to a lab for processing.

Whatever method you choose, this is a very important step both for your garden and for you since soil can be used as a powerful metaphor for your own life. Turning to yourself, can you bring in other elements to create a rich and fertile ground from where new life will blossom? Maybe you want to leave it as is and instead, change what you were going to grow. As always, the choice is yours.

Your soil is also made up of multiple components. It’s your foundation. Your soul. It’s what makes you, you. The influences from your childhood. Interactions (or lack thereof) with your parents. It’s the places from where you come. It can be rich and filled with loving experiences that gave you the perfect start. It can also be sand heavy, lacking all signs of life, composed of experiences that left you with a great void. These examples are, no doubt, extreme. Many of us fall in the range between the two.

As with the ground beneath your feet, your soil will determine what will and will not grow in your life. And just as with the soil outside, your soil inside is changeable. And changeable in that it can become that idyllic dark and rich soil that plants thrive in, or as barren as the Mojave Desert, if you’re not careful. It all depends on what you’re doing and what you’re allowing to be done to your soil.

You have the absolute say in what your soil will be made of. Maybe you didn’t in the past, but today is a new day. If you’re surrounded by abuse, it’s up to you to replace the abusive with things that nurture and support. If you find yourself caught in a web of deceit, you must do what is necessary to submit yourself to the truth. And that’s so much harder than me just typing the word “replace” onto this page. We often find comfort in the discomfort of our soil. If nothing else, we know what it feels like. We become accustomed to not expect more than what we already have. We also know that we will remain stuck and unable to thrive unless we’re prepared to shake up our soil.

So how do you shake it up? I hate to be so repetitive here, but… I’m just gonna come out and say it. Take an honest assessment of it. Look at yourself. Your family. Your mother and her mother and her mother… Look for patterns prevalent between generations. Do you find yourself reliving the drama of ancestors past? Are you holding on to certain beliefs and principles that just don’t fit your life, all because it’s what you were taught? These are just a few of the things you must consider as you look at your soil and begin balancing it.

Even though I didn’t know much about my parents’ relationship, I’ve since learned that several of my relationships were quite similar. It’s like I’ve relived much of my mother’s (and a bit of my father’s) dysfunction without even realizing it. I even had a child at 16, just like my mom. Ask any of my exes about how I handle anger, I’m sure they’ll give you the same answer that my father would give you about my mother. Uncanny, ain’t it?

Which is not to say that you have to change everything about who you are. Sometimes the things we were taught in our youth are quite beneficial to our lives so why toss them now? Say that your upbringing included deep religious practice. You study your Bible/Qur’an/Torah (insert name of your religious text) on more than just Saturday or Sunday. Prayer is what you do. You’re very active in your church/mosque/synagogue/temple/place of worship. Changing your life doesn’t mean that you have to give any of that up. In fact, your faith can very well be the thing that helps you create the life you desire.

For those without an organized religious practice, you too, can find in change where you already are. Lean on the spiritual community that you fellowship with. Delve deeper into the metaphysical realm that you often find yourself drawn to. Keep exploring astrologic charts and opening your chakras. Your spiritual foundation makes up a great deal of your soil.

When one balances soil, it isn’t necessary or even recommended to remove all traces of the former compound. You just add and remove portions of different elements to create a soil that will help you in cultivating the life you want. So if your soil is heavy on the sand, add more clay and other organic matter to balance it out. If you have more rocks, then you will add a little bit of everything.

The same is applicable to your life. Adding too much of other elements without retaining your basic foundation will destroy your balance. When I first began my journey, I went about this in just about the wrongest way possible. You see, I’m one of those without an organized religious practice. I consider myself very spiritual, without subscribing to a specific faith (not saying that you cannot have attributes of both, I just choose not to). And I follow the planets and am interested in sun and moon signs and chakras and what have you. I always have.

But. During one of my many changes, I went in the complete opposite direction. I felt that everything in my life at that point needed to go. I started blaming my beliefs for the dysfunction existing in my life. So the “right” things for me became all that I hadn’t done. I know. A bit extreme. So I tossed all of my tarot cards, healing crystals (even a five-pound amethyst!), anything and everything connected with the life I thought had ruined me. I felt that maybe Christianity would solve my problems. So I read the Bible, cover to cover. My television stayed tuned to the Trinity Broadcast Network. Even started going to churches. Yes, I meant -es. Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, Episcopalian, Seventh Day Adventist; build a church, I would attend it. Since the metaphysical hadn’t done much for my life, I became Super-Christian! Complete with church hat and matching cape.

Yet nothing felt “right.” I sat in those pews Sunday after Sunday and sometimes on Saturday, hoping for some sort of connection, some sort of transformative red light to go off and say, “Yes! This is where I belong!” And in that moment, I’d run up to the altar when they called for people to get saved and it would be this glorious event, complete with angels playing a sweet hymn on french horns and light from heaven shining down on me. And I’d stand before God, in the flesh, and scream out, “Yes! I accept Jesus Christ as my personal lord and saviour!” None of that ever happened.

As much as I wanted to believe that I belonged in the church, I didn’t. Insert honesty with self here. I’d disregarded the true nature of my soil! Much of my religious awakening was about the man from that bad break up. He went to church. On occasion. But. A very vulnerable me believed him when he declared that I had so many problems in my life because I didn’t go to church. As if people who go to church suffer any less than those who don’t. But I wanted to keep him in my life, so, I chose to believe him. Maybe I did need Jesus. If Jesus could turn water into wine, I had no doubt that he could fix my relationship! Yes! Sign me up!

My sudden religious transformation: nothing short of a man trap. Which is the reason it did not work. The religion or the relationship. Which is not to say that it didn’t work something. Because in all of that, I learned to pray. Before you start wondering why this grown woman didn’t know how to pray, it’s super complicated. And need I remind you about the whole judgment belonging to the Lord thing… But the short story is, my first foray into religion involved the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Born into it. And I hated it. Everything about it. I hated not celebrating holidays and birthdays and being “mom telling my teachers that I couldn’t participate in anything” different. I even hated “My Book of Bible Stories!” I know! Who does that?! So when circumstances left my family out of the flock not too long after my ninth birthday, I never looked back on religion. Until after the break-up.

And I’m grateful for it. Through all of my madness, I developed a relationship with God/Universal Energy/Supreme Being, whatever you call It. I like the word God, the complex simplicity of it. I learned to pray and listen. To hear God’s voice. And that’s when I realized that I didn’t need to be in church to have a connection with God. It’s also when I realized that one can be spiritual. And that my spirituality is OK with me infusing it with Reiki, Ayurveda and tarot, as long as I’m being true to myself.

I say all of this to say, once you discover what your soil is made of, nurture it. Understand that what already exists will determine how you balance it. Add to it. Take away what’s keeping your soil from creating the garden you’re moving towards. But without extenuating circumstances, don’t rid yourself of or deny the original composition, it’s your foundation, after all.

seeds. life. soil. work it. a soil building exercise

You could put yourself in a giant jar, fill it with water and wait twenty-four hours to see what happens, but I wouldn’t want to be responsible for the outcome.1 And it won’t have the same effect that it does with soil. So let’s not attempt it. What you’re going to do is quite similar, sans jar and water.

Take your time, as much as you need, to determine the composition of your foundation. Much of this work will be visualization and thought intensive. Feel free to write it all down, if that helps, though it’s not mandatory. Begin by thinking of your happiest memory from childhood. Who were you with? What were you doing? Where were you? What stands out the most about it? You may have multiple happiest memories. If so, pay attention to the patterns within those memories. Were you always in the same place?

With the same people? What about your worst? Ask the same questions. And as with the multiple happy memories, if there are multiple bad memories, find the patterns in them too.

All of the whos, hows and whats are what make up your soil. Are the things that brought you the most joy still a part of your life or have you left them behind, in favour of things that don’t capture your the essence of your authentic self? And if they’re still a part of your life, do you still feel the joy that you did so many years ago? This is your life. Stay true to the things that represent who you are.

Do you find yourself repeating parts of your worst moments? Were you able to remember your worst moments with more ease than the happier times? As I’ve said before, we often attract what we are. Until we’re able to heal the problems of our past, we bring the same issue into our lives, over and over again. The people, places and things may wear a different costume, but the lesson remains the same. It’s the road of accepting weakness (from the self-SWOT analysis), that loops around again and again, until you choose a different course. And, unless attention is given to the tendency to dwell in the
negative, it’ll be hard to see the positive, leaving unbalanced soil.

Once you’re able to see with clarity what you’re made of, you can begin to balance your soil. Bring your awareness to gratitude for both the happy and sad moments. Each offered a life lesson, the purpose of which, may not be apparent now; but every event, for better or worse, shapes us and makes us who we are. And looking back with the gift of hindsight may make the reasons that much clearer.

Balancing your soil happens to be the easy part. It requires that you be willing to bring what is nourishing into your life, at all costs. It means that those worst patterns no longer have a place in your life. That you’re willing to release the things that prevent you from creating the conditions for your new life to thrive. You aren’t denying the existence of the bad, you’re just adding good thoughts and actions to your now. Getting your soil ready to receive the good life being prepared to plant…

1 Disclaimer: The writer of this book, Rachel M Walls, does not recommend anyone placing themselves in a jar of water to see what they are made of. Please don’t. I am not liable for damages if you do.

Rachel M Walls is a human being who currently lives on planet Earth with her seven-some-odd-billion friends and family. She enjoys fresh air, healthy food, clean water, comfortable shelter, adequate clothing and the occasional spa day. Ms. Walls is often found breathing, living, loving,writing and sometimes dancing.This article was excerpted from Rachel M. Walls’ book all you need are seeds… a socio-political self-help memoir about organic gardening. Text copyright © 2012 Rachel M Walls. If you liked this excerpt, buy the book!

image: Kiki Pollux (Creative Commons BY-NC-SA)