slowing down means getting outside + sometimes early morning light is the best time in a garden for everything is just waking up and at it's own pace....
early morning light is the best time in a garden for it wakes up at its own pace…

 When my kids were younger it seemed as if all we talked about was how busy we all were…how we were not able to do this or that because we were so busy doing this or that, here or there, and never had time to do this or that because we were so BUSY….diddle de dum, here we go again…I am feeling that way again in my life and I need to slow down, so when I feel the world creeping into my life and telling me I need to do this or that, I retreat to my urban oasis I created 15 years ago to keep myself in check and slow down.

To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. Alan Watts
To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.
Alan Watts

Years ago, I picked up a book on “Voluntary Simplicity” and after reading that book decided to change our home life + I have never looked back again. It is not easy to live a simple life in a complex world that considers busyness a form of success + being laid back a form of laziness. Really? I believe what contributed to my illness 15 years ago was my busyness + if I did not slow down and make the changes in my life, I would not be here today.

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

Many years ago people used to do more for themselves, for example they used their hands for other things besides keyboards or smart phones. They use to dig in the dirt and grow their own food, herbs and flowers to use for everyday enjoyment in the home. Many of our families came to America and grew their own food right where they set up their homes and created villages that were centered around a life grounded in simplicity.

working the soil around us gets us back to what is important…the small details are just a step away if you open your eyes and look

I am not saying we need to go back to that way of life, but we need to do something because we are not getting outside and spending time in nature. We need to slow down and feel a part of something greater than ourselves. We need to start digging in the dirt! Yep, let’s get dirty!!!

Simple French Breakfast Radish pushing out of the soil to let you know it is time to eat...
Simple French Breakfast Radish pushing out of the soil to let you know it is time to eat…

 I was finding myself on the treadmill of life this past month and it was not easy to say “no” to a few people and prioritize, but I did. I stepped off and got outside because my garden was calling me! My Urban Potager is a place where I can “slow down” and get back to the basics of life. It gets me focused on what is important in life. Today too many of us buy all our food from the store and all it takes is a day in the garden to sow some seeds. It is as simple as that when you get it all laid out and know where you want to grow your food.

strawberries eager to provide

Not Enough Time?

“On the issue of time, we’ve taken a corporate approach to how we feed ourselves by outsourcing food production to Kraft and ConAgra and Burger King and Subway, to name but a few. The American family averages about 30 minutes a day for cooking and cleanup.But this freedom, too, is a zero-sum game. In Freeing ourselves and our schedules from the “chore” of food preparation, we’ve enslaved ourselves as a society by becoming dependent on a small group of big companies to feed us-companies that value their well-being more than ours” Roger Doiron Mother Earth News 2012

baby flower , vegetables + herbs working together to provide for you +  nature...that is an urban potager...
baby flower , vegetables + herbs working together to provide for you + nature…that is an Urban Potager…

We need to get back to the basics of life and grow some of our own food. It will save you money, make you healthier + slow you down. Did you  know by growing food closer to home you are taking control of your life?

just a simple act of planting a seed…can empower you to set the pace for how you want to live your life…

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

48 comments

    1. Hi Carol, thank you I was just heading over to you blog. I have been spending so much time in the garden lately I have not been near my computer much. I miss reading about what others are doing, but I have to admit I do not miss being at the computer:-)

      1. You are so lucky to be able to be in your beautiful garden. It’s still too cold here to plant yet, so it’s reassuring to see your picture of flowers, tress in bloom, and fountains.

      2. I hope so!

        (I did buy some plants today from a local high school that has a greenhouse where students have a chance to learn about plants and gardens. Once a year, they sell what they have grown to community members. This year, their profits will be used to create a school garden outside where they can grow food for the chef to use for school meals in the fall.)

      3. Now that sounds like a change for the postive!!! It really is neat how young people are getting involved with growing food. I was worried that it would not be passed down and now it is 🙂 You see more people growing food and plants for bees closer to home!!

  1. I love this Robbie. I have been way too busy too and getting just plain weary. I always know when the treadmill has revved up too fast for me and I need off. Having chronic fatigue is a problem as I am limited as to how much I can do but it has made me aware of the busyness of life….I can’t handle it at all and prefer the refuge of home and garden. I will not be needed at work much at all soon and am so glad!

    1. Oh my Chronic fatigue:-( That would be hard to handle in todays world. It really does help to slow down and simplify life, but it does not happen over night. It is a lifestyle change that takes time. I have learned to say “no” more often + get out of things that just make me “plain weary” like you stated in your comment.
      I have to balance my life and evalutate what is worth my time + what I have the energy for since it can get cluttered all over again if you don ‘t keep it in check!!!

      1. It’s easy to slide back into busy. I am alot more protective of my time and energy now, matter of having to be, but it’s a good thing. I have more peace of mind and can be with myself now unlike years ago when I was so stressed all the time and spreading myself far too thin – probably the reason why I got ill too, truth be told.

      2. I have no doubt being “spread too thin” makes us sick.I believe the illiness of the future will be “stress” . In a way I am glad I did get sick since it forced me to change my life + I hate to think what I would be today if I did not slow down!

  2. Robbie I love that we were writing our latest posts at the same time – yours about slowing down to find contentment and mine about committing to where you are to find contentment – how synchronised are we!! One about being inside and one about being outside – that is our different hemispheres speaking through us. But basically we are talking about the same thing!

    My experience with ‘busy-ness’ is exactly the same as yours. I got sick. Had I not chosen to change my life I would not be here now. I have chosen to live a simple and pared back life. I cannot find words to express the inner joy I feel about this decision.
    When I think of how I felt back then and how I feel now – there is an unfathomable difference – and I know where I want to be 🙂

    1. I know when I read your post I thought, well, I am moving indoors to “purge” all my stuff!!! I got all my clothes done like you this winter, but now I need to go through all the kids things and useless junk I really don’t need.
      Being too busy is a sickness + it can make you sick if you let it own you ! I have to keep it “in check” daily, weeky and monthly. As the years pass it is becoming more of a lifestyle. I sure don’t miss that former life!!!

  3. Amen and thank you for this timely reminder!!! Just made a list of things my garden made me do already this spring as well as things to come this summer. Wow! Talk about keeping us grounded–nothing like a radish or a potato (or a duck!) to do the trick. Keep them veggies comin’! 🙂

    1. lol..I like the way you said that Lori..” Talk about keeping us grounded”…ain’t that the truth-tee hee. When you are out there with your nose to the ground you just don’t see anything else around you + I must admit I have been getting my daily natural prozac fix for about 4 weeks now + I feel pretty darn good-lol!!!! That dirt is a wonder drug!!!

  4. Good Morning, Robbie! Standing here at the cyber fence with my morning coffee (haven’t given it up yet!)and enjoying your beautiful oasis. I’m SO glad you slowed down a bit, turned to simplicity, and got well, so you could be here to share all this great stuff with us (ok, espcially ME, lol!) You inspired and prodded, and now I’m outside every day, my hands back in the dirt and loving it. By the way, my little dog Frank ate all the leaves off my bell pepper plants, and now there are just stems with little blooms sticking out. Should I hope for peppers? Didn’t think so! Haha! Dang dog (that I love so much!) I’m going to look at at the book on simplicity–though I’m am about as simple as they come! 🙂

    1. Isn’t it grand! That dirt is the bestfor depression + for some people ( not all) it can replace their prozac! They have the science to support that digging in the dirt “lifts our spirits”. You sound great + I am glad to hear you out and about every day. Shoot I would never of given up coffee because I LOVED it, but my system could not handle it. If I could I would still be drinking coffee since there are many health benfits to drinking coffee!
      I hope your little dog is okay since those leaves can be toxic. Our one dog Schatze eats everything, so I have to be careful what I plant around where she hangs out. Simplify is the way to get a balanced and stress free life:-)

  5. Dirty hands, sunshine, feeling the wind or rain on the face, that is the goodness of life. Enjoy your garden time.

    1. You covered it all in that comment:-)…it is so wonderful to feel that sunshine on my back and dirt between my fingers after a LONG winter!:-)

    1. + new little gardeners just starting out in the world:-) Have fun with your little one since it won’t be long before you will both be digging in the dirt together:-)

  6. How refreshing to read this, Robbie, and then to read the comments, especially those of Wendy and Pauline! I’ve been seen as ‘lazy’ most of my life, as I’m naturally laid-back . . . I do get worked up about issues quite often, but then usually let them go and get back to a more healthy state of mind. (except for occasional depression, which seems to be lessening these past couple of years).

    I haven’t ‘simplified’ my ‘stuff’ yet, as I still hope to get to a place where I can use it all as I intended. Oh, well . . .

    As to gardening, when I’ve had a garden, I’ve just gravitated toward low-maintenance gardening styles. I like deep and wide beds instead of rows and only weed out the largest things, unless forced to do more. It never diminished the harvest (the deer did, though; once taking out over 100 small cabbages in one night!).

    I live fairly simply in many ways, I think, and highly recommend it. But I grew up that way, so that makes it easier.

    I love your Urban Potager; you and many others give me my ‘garden fix’ every few days . . . it’s nice to have friends in both hemispheres, too. Always planting and harvesting going on, it seems. 🙂

    Thanks for a thoughtful and thought-inspiring post. Loved it! ~ Linne

    1. I know linne we are not lazy those of us that simplify:-) We live a “purposeful” life. I am low maintenance,too when it comes to gardening. I do have to rotate my beds in the potager to keep the soil healthy.I am a seed thrower,too-lol. I also am a big believer in native plants. Nothing that requires a lot of fuss since I want to provide native sources for our native animals, pollinators etc. I enjoy stopping by your site to read all about your creative creations. I loved your scarves and all the colors you were mixing! You are quite talented. I am so busy in the garden I don’t get my “creative” fix, so I get my “creative” fix from reading about what you are brewing up!!! We can’t do it all, so we have to pick and choose what we can do at different times, the key is balance + to not create stress or busyness:-) When winter comes, I will try to explore some indoor time with my creative projects, but for now the garden is where I spend my time:-)

  7. Robbie – beautiful post! I want to lay down under that blossom-filled tree and listen to your fountain and maybe eat a radish or two! 🙂

    1. me too!!!! Eliza- if you ever are this way you are welcome to sit under my tree, and eat a radish anytime!!!! I have been harvesting the French Breakfast a bit earlier and smaller this year + they are so tender + a little sweet or maybe it is my imagination-lol:-)

  8. Great post, Robbie. It has been an exceptionally busy spring around here, this year, but hopefully most of the projects are near finished and I can get to just maintaining. I’m trying to get different things set in place so hopefully as I get older, the garden and I will walk the same path as far as maintenance and my ability to keep it up. But even with this year being so busy, it is a different type of busy than the stress filled kind of today’s modern life. I don’t think I could ever go back to living like I did when I was younger.

    1. Hi Annie, I have been wondering where you have been the past month. I was about to make a comment on your post, and ask how you were doing, but now I know. You are so right the busyness of our garden is not the same as stress from modern day life:-) I agree with your thinking!! I am getting to that point in my urban potager,I want it to be “maintaining” and as I get older the two of us ( my urban potager) will be in synch! Yep, that is a goal I hope to achieve, too. I NEVER want to go back to the days before I made the changes to simplify!!! That would be one of those bad dreams you wake up from in the middle and worry it is true-lol:-)

    1. Hi lrong:-) Yes, it is a new lilac that has white edging on the petals. It is not as fragrant as the other ones I have in the yard, but it sure is pretty. Each little petal is edged in white:-) The blooms are large,too. I put it in last spring as a twig, and now it is about 3 feet tall! I love their fragrance in the spring: Nothing can beat a lilac for spring!

  9. “Business” is a way to keep us all racing around madly like chooks with our heads cut off not paying attention to what really matters. I was thinking along the very same lines the other day when I had been listening to dog sighs (raining = no walk) all day and realised that I couldn’t remember when we last bothered to take the dogs out for a big long walk someplace different…when did we get so “busy?” or was it just a bit whitewash to avoid doing those things that we really REALLY should be doing? I am in the process of factoring in enjoying my life. I figure its a sad life indeed where you are too busy to live it! I am 50 and that number isn’t going backwards any day soon…I plan on fully enjoying the rest of my life!

    There is true contentment found in gardening and growing and producing your own food…baking things yourself, putting food that you grew and prepared on the table and watching your family enjoy the fruits of your/their labour is probably one of the most satisfying things ever. Simple things like getting up early, appreciating what you have, knowing how lucky you are, thanking the powers that be for your life, and being aware that there is a whole cosmos out there that doesn’t comprise of “human busy/iness” is a great eye opener. Nature has a much slower series of rhythms and cycles than humanity is willing to slow down to but if we force ourselves to literally “stop and smell the roses” it is amazing how much more accomplished…how much better we feel.

    1. You are so gifted with words:-) I should of just added your comment to my post:-)Amazing contribution to this post. You really put it all out there:-)When a dog sighs, you know you are too busy-lol. They are SOOOO patient it amazes me how they put up with us humans!!!! The other day our youngest dog , Chance just sighed because we have a section in our yard where our pit bulls jump to catch a soccer ball and they do it MANY times a day. We put down some pea gravel and they love to run and catch their soccer ball (my middle daughter played, so they learned to jump high for the ball). When I took out more of the lawn they had no place to run and jump for the soccer ball. I moved thier play area to the gathering area.It is pea gravel and he runs back and forth catching his ball/rope until he is too pooped to move-lol. He LOVES it and he is a pit bull they NEED daily exercise…or they get sad….but you are so right about slowing down…our pets remind us of that …congrats on turning 50!!!

      1. 🙂 I am surprised I made it to 50 but now that I am here and have been testing the waters (so to speak) I quite like it…heres to another 50 or so methinks. Always good to have goals and you are right about pitties needing exercise…Earl is currently pacing…at 7.31am NOT a good sign for the rest of the day! Hopefully it will stop raining long enough to take him for a bit of a trot later on but I don’t like my chances…

      2. 50 is a time of change, it really liberates you + you finally stop fighting the aging process! At least I do, and what the heck they are just numbers-lol. Yes, pitties do need exercise if they don’t get it they are naughty!!! lol…They remind me of a hyper active kid:-)

      3. Earl is laying next to me. He isn’t “saying” anything per-se, but the implication is there “alright…the sun is out woman…we SHOULD be walking…I realise that you are going to spew out a plethora of excuses but that aint gonna cut the mustard and these puppy dog eyes only go so far…then its the socks…the shoes…the crochet and finally…the sofa!” I have been warned! 😉

      4. lol.They are great dogs,but they do get destructive:-) Mine she gets into the cat liter box and pulls out the stuff and you know how it rolls-lol., so I excercise the dogs. Stress builds in them when they don’t get a good walk, play or out and about! They keep me grounded + slow me down because they make me slow down:-)

      5. How the heck do you slow down with yours? I think I remember that they are older? My life walking Earl is like a Benny Hill Episode and everything speeds up accordingly. I tend to be flying out the back of Earl at any given time like a pennant banner that broke loose on one end…He comes back invigorated and raring for more and I come back feeling every one of my 50 years + about 40 more! I can’t even walk Bezial as he would just drag me all over the place because he is so strong…thank goodness they are loving dogs to make up for their general enthusiasm about life 😉

      6. lol. love the analogy!!!! Oh boy! it is so true when walking these fit dogs. I find them comical dogs, loving, but not a stress free dog when it comes to walking and exercise:-) They like to chase things, and jump which we found gets them tired. They are very loyal dogs to humans, so they will do it “over + over” again, so you have to watch and get them to quit before they get too tired. I have found when they are panting after a workout, they have a good day + we have a stress free life! We quit using the ball since it would tear up the garden, + now we have ropes they chase and catch in the air. It really was easier than having my arm pulled out of the socket!

      7. A foolish small chicken got into the compound fence that we built around the house to keep the dogs in (and everything else out but apparently not that well 😉 ) and I could hear it’s mother screaming outside as Earl had found her baby. Earl doesn’t kill chickens, they have too much value as paytoys and so this poor little thing was huddled inside with a wet derierre where Earl had had it in his mouth and was trying to pick it up again. It had it’s head stuck through the chicken wire to try to get out but it isn’t a small chicken and so I was trying to fend Earl away from his “toy” while I tried to rescue the chicken. I eventually managed to grab it and hurl it over the fence where it trotted off like nothing had happened with it’s mum. Earl wasn’t all that happy with me and came back inside and found one of my cushions and decided to eat it…only “my” cushion ;). Who says that dogs are not smart eh? Poor Bezial was having a meltdown in the kitchen as he didn’t want to be yelled at like Earl had been and was slinking around panicking…sigh…sometimes life with Amstaffs isn’t all that easy!

      8. oh my goodness, I can relate to that + it can be very stressful living with them in the city. I have to keep a bamboo fence between my yard and all our neighbors since my pit bulls will JUMP the fence from a standing positon and be in there yard chasing their “small” dogs! They redirect their frustration:-) They are like having kids at home again, but I do love them dearly. They are wonderful to cuddle with + so comical,no other dog can compare. But when they destroy something they really do a good job!!!

  10. Oh, it is so appropriate to read this now! With three days to get my work done at my job, my garden in shape enough for the public to tour, pictures to mat and frame, and get the house cleaned up … well, it’s just not all going to get done. In my mind the garden will be perfect – weedless, edged, freshly mulched. The house will be spotless, sparkly, not a speck of dust. My art will look substantial as if I paint every day … oh well, I will go clean up a bit more of the garden and feel better! One of the things I love about being Vegan is having to cook. You pretty much have to make all your own food because there is not much out there that is Vegan (ok, black bean Chipolte burritos are good!). We found some frozen rice and veggies in the freezer section that we cook up occasionally as stir fry (but I can’t wait to pick fresh from the Potager!). It’s pretty difficult to be “convenient” as a Vegan but we try and a little break every now and then makes the days we cook that much more enjoyable.

    1. I feel trying to grow your own food, cook it , save it etc..is a full-time job at times! I guess that is why people shop at the grocery store because they can’t do it all. It really does take up a lot of your time! Then try a garden tour( + inside the house)-oh my goodness. My garden is in no shape at this time to have a garden tour. I did take some people a few weeks ago through, but they will return later in the summer, so they understood all the crops were going in etc. As far as art goes, I just don’t have any time to do that while I am busy in the garden. I just went to someones house to help them get some ideas for food growing in their space. I also have a few more people I am helping, it is time consuming and people need to realize it is not something you do one afternoon on one weekend:-) You can’t forget your veggie plants in the seedling stage or they will be gone + then dealing with all the critters-yikes:-) You have a great day + I have no doubt it will all flow beautifully!!!

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