Sitting near the herbal and culinary garden should be a great place to relax...
Sitting near the new herbal  garden should be a great place to relax in 2017…

I had goals in 2017 to post each week ( which I plan on doing) but got side tracked due to some health issues. My health issues are not something that is life threatening. They are something many people deal with in life. I have often written on here about my “anxiety” attacks. They are something I have learned to live with over the years. I really don’t have them that often anymore but when I am inside for long periods and not able to garden outside or ride my bike on the river, I tend to not deal with stress too well in my life. I wrote a post about it this summer. I find relief in making teas from my garden. This time of year, I don’t have anything alive outside. It is all covered in snow.

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My post this week was going to be on historic pansy but at the last minute; today, I decided to post about how our gardens help us deal with stress. That healing can come from the soil itself, for exampleHave you heard “Dirt is the new Prozac?”  I wrote a post with a great article you can link to on “Dirt is the new Prozac” from Discover Magazine. Yes, when you dig in the dirt there is a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae which helps elevate moods and decrease your anxieties. Makes one wonder if that is what God had intended when he created this world; we were to have our hands in the soil. The more I work in the dirt, and with plants, I find that God created this world with all the healing things we need to live a healthy life. The problem is when we start complicating things.

Growing your own from seed before spring gets you in the dirt!

They are saying some of the stress or anxieties people suffer could be cured by just getting out in nature and connecting. I am not minimizing people that suffer from chemical imbalances for those are severe, and often medication is the only relief for people that suffer from these kinds of health issues. I am not implying that getting out in nature will magically cure chemical imbalances that people suffer. It is good we have medicine that can help us live a healthy life. I am talking about anxiety attacks that are due to increased stress in people’s life. My anxiety attacks are not life-threatening, but they feel that way at times.

“As humans become less connected with nature, we lose an essential health buffer. “There is mounting evidence that contact with nature has significant positive impacts on mental health,” said Mardie Townsend, Ph.D., an honorary professor at the School of Health and Social Development at Deakin University in Australia.”(read more here)

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spring flowers will be pushing through soon!

We live in such a fast-paced world that it is becoming more and more common to hear about people suffering from anxiety attacks. Mine started in 2000 after my health crisis. I really don’t have full-blown anxiety attacks anymore, but mine are physical enough that they cause me to cancel some of my plans. I often feel it is my fear of having one that causes an attack more than having one. They have found that the places you have them can trigger another one.I have learned to deal with them over the years and have fewer, but these long winters inside, away from the sunshine tend to make them more regular! It is embarrassing to talk about them with people for they often look at you differently. However, as  I talk more openly about them, I am discovering more people that suffer. I have a few friends that have gone to the emergency room thinking they were having a heart attack and were told it was an anxiety attack. It is more common than you think these days.

These effects may be linked with an inborn need of humans to connect with nature. The biophilia hypothesis by Wilson and Kellert claim that we “have an innate love for the natural world, universally felt by all, and resulting at least in part from our genetic make-up and evolutionary history.”5 Our separation from nature has been relatively recent. In the last 250 years, Townsend points out, and we have not adapted to this division.

She believes that the growing disconnection with our natural environment is exacerbating the escalating rates of mental illness and that mental health professionals should be prescribing time in nature as often as possible, as well as advocating on the policy level to help ensure access to green spaces for everyone.

“For this to happen, high-quality parks, gardens and nature reserves need to be nearby,

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Now that I start annual flowers, veggies, and herbs inside I find my hands are in the soil and I am under lights in the growing room. These disconnects from outside are helped by growing plants from seed. If you have the time and enjoy watching things grow it really helps to grow your own plants from seed. It lifts your spirits to be under the lights and digging in the soil.

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Here is my mess this season that will greet me.
…Yep, it all was overgrown with weeds last fall. It is an empty slate to be rebuilt with a new herbal garden. Having older homes means sometimes rebuilding from the ground up. It makes a mess sometimes, but I see it as a new chance to get my hands in the healing soil. Are you creating a new green space, or rebuilding one that might have been destroyed? The best thing about getting outside and digging in the dirt is it heals….and once you start you become addicted!!! If you find stress in your life is over the top, get outside and create a new garden. It will lift your spirits!

Written by Robbie

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

43 comments

  1. I am SO in agreeance with you Robbie. I, too, have anxiety problems. I used to have panic attacks at work where I was expected to multi task when I am a one task (do it extremely well) type person. As I needed the job, I just had to try to fudge it and towards the end of this job I dreaded going to work. People with chronic anxiety tend to play the safe road and not do anything to acerbate the problem which means not seizing opportunities that come along and missing out on a lot of life’s beautiful colours. Since mum died and I started gardening (OH how I wish I had done this sooner. Mum would have been in heaven with fridge wicking gardens) I have suddenly realised how grounded and satisfied you feel when you start to garden.

    Just getting outside and away from technology where the only thing going on is birdsong and your thoughts is a true panacea for anxiety. Having a faithful dog or two to lay next to you as you garden adds to the joy. I can head out into the garden in a stinker of a mood, fully twitching to match and by the time I have spent a little time in the garden I can actually feel myself relaxing and whatever it was that was getting on my goat suddenly doesn’t seem that important any more. Gardening puts a seductive distance between you and your problems. Thinking about what you are doing, tending your plants, especially food plants (as if you eat what you produce you are even more connected to the earth), gives you a true feeling of connectivity to the earth and to it’s natural processes that we humans have managed to wrest ourselves away from significantly.

    No matter how technologically advanced we become, we are all children of the earth and without it’s healing rhythms and cycles, we are lost. Thank you for sharing this post Robbie. It’s important to share when we are having problems and the real truth of “us” as social media has allowed so many people to only show the “perfect” side of themselves and their lives which is leading to more social anxiety and stress! We need to show our imperfections more often so that others can be more honest about themselves. BIG hugs. I am with you on your garden redevelopment. You have to break a lot of eggs to make a sterling omelette 😉

    1. Oh Fran:-) As always your blog, comments and photos of your life just lift my spirit. You are a gem in a world of stress:-) A bright light that shines from afar!!!! My husband and I were watching a documentary on Tasmania and I thought of you all through the show. It was about the tasmania tiger etc…You are always welcome to come here to America and stay at our humble home. It is not too fancy but one can always escape the rat race of life in the garden out back.Of course it is not the acreage your place is but it will do and it does do the job:-)
      You are so right about a dog or two by our side!!!

      1. Our home is more of a beachside shack to be honest. Nothing pretentious about us or our weed infested property. Our neighbour Frank has been whipper snipping up and down his side of our fence lately as I am sure he thinks that we are a serious fire risk here. His side of the fence is completely free of anything other than dirt and his wife wonders why she can’t even grow agapanthus on their property ;). I have seen that Tasmanian Tiger documentary as well. We live in the North East of the state. Right up the top where the Tamar River meets Bass Strait. Most of the footage in the documentary was shot down south but as “Down South” and Hobart (our state capital) is only 2 hours away by car, it’s not really all that different to up here. I would be a bit scared to visit the U.S. at the moment. Your new president is frankly terrifying!

      2. Lol…all our politician scare me lately in our country. I am a centrist and do not lean right or left, so the two extremes in our country are fighting…I am waiting for us to meet up in the middle. The left has been in power for too long and chooses to blame everyone else, and the Right is too far right-lol-what can I say…so now we have the ‘extremist” of both. Everyone wants to blame someone else!
        I have been an independent since I was 18 yrs old. You know that was a long time ago.-lol.This craziness has to happen to swing to the middle, but until they meet up in the middle, it will be this seesaw ride for however long it takes to get some people in there that want to work together and get the job done. All the blaming and fighting among them reminds me of school children. There was a man that wrote a book, Everything I learned about life I learned in the sandbox as a kid ( lol, title something like that)…well, maybe our politicians on both sides need to learn to go back to childhood and learn to play together:):)

        Your country is so BEAUTIFUL!!! It looks like a dinosaur should be living there lol..something I thought when they were cutting through the woods to look for a Tasmania tiger…amazing place!

      1. It’s hard when you are gripped by fear. I have never been anything other than a church mouse for most of my life. I am pretty outspoken now but tend to take the easy road whenever possible as I am afraid of failure (bred into me by my family). I am only now starting to try to do things outside my comfort zone as if I can build a working website, I can shoot a movie, I can spin wool, I can do a lot of things! I think the trick is not looking at the big picture and just keeping your focus on what you are doing at the moment. If it doesn’t seem that huge a task (you have broken it down into sections), it is a lot easier to cope with and you tend not to panic as it isn’t overwhelming. I learned this years ago when I used to tackle an enormous hill on my pushbike. I was never able to ride up the hill and always had to get off halfway up and push my bike. I felt like a failure so one day I figured I was going to tackle that hill and ride to the top! I did it by only focusing on the line on the side of the road (where I was riding). I kept peddling even though my legs felt like they were going to explode and as I was just looking at that one bit of line and thinking (just a bit more…just a bit more to go) and not looking up at the top of the hill and thinking “I can’t do this!” I was able to ride all of the way to the top. I completed a ride of over 100km that day. I never did it again (almost killed me!) but that ride taught me an awful lot about perseverance and breaking things up into smaller sections to complete them.

      2. makes me think of the story “The Little Engine that could”…I think I can, I think I can….my favorite book as a child. I need to start reading that every day as I start my day!
        You have figured out how one becomes successful. You take it one step at a time and build upon them:-)

        “I think the trick is not looking at the big picture and just keeping your focus on what you are doing at the moment.”
        Bingo!!!! That is what I am trying to work on in my life now. This is what I need to do. In the garden this is easier to achieve for things sort of feed off of each other:-) I know what you mean about failure. I have felt that way my whole life. Better to avoid, but the last decade or since I turned 50, I figure, “what the heck”-lol. What do I have to lose…oh, how I wish I could go back with my wisdom in life I have now:-) There is a song I love that is about a guy singing to his “younger self”..he says ” Dear Younger me,

      3. Lovely song! I think wisdom is wasted on the young. I was only thinking about that this morning. I am SO glad I am who I am right here, right now. I often think about my older self and how I am going to handle being “old” but to be honest, I don’t think you actually notice much as it just creeps up on you like middle age did. I never thought about “middle aged Narf7” when I was young. I now know that I don’t actually care what people think of me. That won’t stop me from checking them if they are rude about it but live and let live is my motto. Your neighbours sound terrifying! They would hate me. I am someone who hates rules for “rules sake”. A rule should be there because it makes life fairer for everyone, not to keep spray on lawns “poifict” for numpty neighbours ;). You are dead right about turning 50 by the way. I am 54 this year and don’t actually care. I don’t keep looking in the mirror at my aging face. I don’t even wear makeup. I figure if Steve was going to leave me he would have done so by now. I think that taking challenges head on when they rock up is the best way to live life. The hard part is not worrying about things as most of the time they don’t come true and never eventuate. What on EARTH would your neighbour do if someone accidentally sprayed roundup on her lawn and it died?! I think she would need resuscitation! People are WAY to attached to “things” and “concepts” these days. We were watching a documentary about tiny houses in Portland and couldn’t get over how very precious everyone was about themselves. They spent more time telling the camera about how everything needed to be “perfect” and how their partners were not up to scratch and how everything had to be “just so” for them or they had a hissy fit. We are breeding a race of people who are setting themselves up for a solitary life of twitching! “Get over it folks!” Life is short and you need to wring out the very best of it while your heart is still beating and your mind is still ticking over. That’s my motto. If someone else doesn’t like it, sorry but you don’t have to watch! This is my parade and I intend of waving that flag till the very end! BIG hugs Robbie. I have loved having this “other-side-of-the-world” chat with you as I work my way through my RSS Feed Reader. It’s now almost 7am and I am going to wake Steve up and we will head over to walk the dogs somewhere. I hope you have a lovely nights sleep and that tomorrow, life treats you especially well. I also hope that your neighbour wakes up with a new brain and removes ALL of their lawn and puts in fridge wicking beds. Now wouldn’t THAT be fun to see? 😉

      4. “People are WAY to attached to “things” and “concepts” these days. We were watching a documentary about tiny houses in Portland and couldn’t get over how very precious everyone was about themselves.”
        Amen Sister!!!! I agree and see it all the time:-) I wish people would get over themselves. They have become so vain in our country. Hollywood is a joke to me. I was watching some old BBC mysteries on my Acorn TV. People aged years ago. It was okay to have a few wrinkles and wisdom to go with them. Today people applaud someone that looks like their teenage daughter-LOL. WHY!
        You have a good day:-) Love our chats!!!!

        It is 2 pm here in the afternoon. I was going to head out for a bike ride but a bit too cold and some snow on the path. It is about 42 degrees here, I will bike next week.
        You enjoy your day and I enjoy our chats!!!

      5. People have hooked into consuming EVERYTHING so that they can live forever and in the meantime, they have lost the ability to enjoy their lives simply. Age is supposed to symbolise the getting of wisdom. I guess, if you have no wisdom, you really should look like your teenage daughter ;). It’s the last month of summer here and that’s usually our hottest month. We have been told that its going to be mild this year and that Autumn is going to also be mild so maybe my tomatoes might ripen ;). Have a brilliant day Robbie 🙂

      6. YOu have a brilliant week too!!! You just crack me up..” I guess, if you have no wisdom, you really should look like your teenage daughter ;)” too funny, just saw this comment:-)

      7. I got a sign for my husband from a Jimmy Buffett song…
        Changes in latitudes– A line from the lsong I had carved for his man cave:-)

        It’s these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
        Nothing remains quite the same
        With all of our running and all of our cunning
        “””If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane”””
        It’s these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
        Nothing remains quite the same
        With all of our running and all of our cunning
        “If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane”
        He loves Jimmy Buffett, so I had the last line carved since he is a psychologist and over the years, he uses that quote from the lyrics in the song:-)

      8. That’s lovely Robbie. Steve doesn’t have a man cave. He has a music room converted from one of the spare bedrooms but I guess that’s the same thing in the end. Just somewhere that they can retreat from the world and do what they like. Nothing does remain the same and I guess its just learning how to weather the changes with grace that matters. We watched a documentary yesterday in class about death. It was really well done (by our TAFE lecturer) from a group of people who want to share the message that it is not only OK to talk about death but very important to deal with it up front and personal. To be allowed to talk to your family and friends about dying as it happens to us all. Removing the taboo. I think that studying changes attitudes. When I am not terrified of my subject matter I am bouncing off the walls with excitement because I am learning something new that enhances my mentality. Education shouldn’t be so expensive so that it is only available to people who can afford it. Learning things is incredibly empowering and gives you the ability to think about things in a different way. I am sure your husband appreciates his sign a lot 🙂

      9. You are right Fran! Education should be for everyone. It should be availabe to anyone that wants to participate. I feel the internet will make that happen in the future. If you live in far away places and they get the internet to you, well, you can be educated! IT should not be for the eliete. One of my pet peeves is people that are educational snobs! It is not where you went to school ( high school/college) but WHAT you DO with what you learn that really is important in life:-) I bet if you were not in this program you would be teaching yourself things for you are a life-long learner..t hat is the key to success in life:-)
        One of the main things I love about my husband is he makes me laugh!!!! Laughing is the best medicine in the world:-)
        It is pushing 50 degrees today out there and blue skies are calling me to dig and work in the garden….I’m getting dirty today-LOL

  2. Ah, Robbie! I used to have anxiety attacks when I was young. They are debilitating! I’m glad to hear you are managing them, knowing what they are makes it a little easier to cope with doesn’t it. Living in your harsher climate doesn’t help unless you are a mountain climber or avid snowman builder you’d tend to want to stay indoors and be cosy! Our days are getting shorter, so yours must be getting longer – it won’t be long 🙂 I’m still waiting for our summer to get itself underway. The last week has been mostly nice, by that I mean it hasn’t rained for at least part of each day……… But it is cool and grey again today. I have become very aware again of how weather affects my well being. I have to work hard to find the motivation to do and be and create which just pours out naturally when the sun shines. I haven’t made a garden this year Robbie, the weather has been that bad! I just let what is there grow on, but I am rarely out there tending it. Luckily I get my daily walk through the park to enjoy time with green and trees and the sound of birds and happy puppy running. We don’t mind if it rains we go anyway. Nice to see you back and I hope to hear from you more often xoxo

  3. I have missed visiting your creative site. I got a pen this winter ( an ultradraw), some gesso and watercolor materials. I have been having fun in my spare time. It helps with stress + I can hardly wait to get outside and draw in my garden. Now that is a stress reliever!
    I stopped over to the new site you have your artwork creations. AMAZING!!!! It looks so beautiful. I feel you have found your niche and it will be everywhere:-) Your drawings make me smile and give people hope. You are such a delight Pauline. Just think now your beautiful artwork will be seen all over the world:-) You will make others smile!

  4. Great to see you back here on WP, Robbie. I agree with the idea that we have an innate NEED to be in contact with the earth and without that contact we suffer. I go bonkers without it, thus I live in the country surrounded by trees, etc.
    I have a bit of post-menopausal adrenal issues and have used mindful breath to alleviate that rising anxiety feeling I get. It is literally like talking myself down off the cliff. First twinge (and lately there seems to be a lot of chaos 😉 ) and I start my deep breathing 1-2-3-4, hold, release 4-3-2-1 over and over until I feel calm. Another great tool for winter darkness is Vit.D drops. Do you take them? Something like 70% of us may be D deficient, particularly in winter. The drops have helped eliminate my winter blues!

    1. Eliza, I agree breathing is so important. I have found when I suffer for one it usually is because I am holding my breath! I learned that over the years, I just have to remind myself in tense or stressful situations to “breath”…love the counting. I need to try that:-) Yes, I take Vitamin D3:-) I sometimes wonder if I need more-LOL. I always remind myself this will to pass:-)
      I am back and eager to play catchup with everyone!!!

  5. I so agree. Nothing makes me feel better after a crap day than getting outside and getting my hands dirty. Even an hour in the greenhouse will do wonders if it is raining. Great post and wonderful photos as usual.

    1. I figure we forgot about how being dirty made us happy as children! That dirt brings smiles to faces:-) Adult Crappy day + Adult playing in dirt = Happy Grown-ups! If only we could get everyone to go outside and muck about in the mud!

  6. I fully agree, Robbie. Working in the garden for me is meditative and relieves stress. I have missed having my hands in the dirt this winter and it’s been a harder one than usual. I have social anxiety and going out with friends and acquaintances exhausts me. I enjoy them but am always terrified of people and their judgements of others. I will spend hours in the dirt and come in feeling wonderful. Spring is just around the corner and I’m almost ready for it. Good to see you here again.

    1. I need to stop over and see what you have been up to, I remember all that you did this past year to your space! Wow, it will be amazing this spring. You are not alone many people find social situations exhausting. I’ve had several friends that avoid get-togethers due to that uncomfortable feeling and anxieties that go along with social gatherings. I remember being a kid when life seem so much easier:-)

      1. It’s actually easier for me as an adult. The older I get the easier it gets. But every time I’ve moved into a new neighborhood, it’s always a challenge to fit in. I never give up though.

      2. shoot, I’ve lived in this area for most of my life. After my husband and I finished college we moved here in 1982. We never left. I am still making friends….life changes which often means new friends:-) I find it harder to meet and make new friends as you get older:-) Easier when your young and have a lot of time to hang out and all go to school or work at the same place:-) Having families ties up a lot of your time:-)

  7. Oh Robbie, I am so sorry to hear you are suffering but knew, just knew, that further along this post you would mention planting seeds and I know, know that helps! So does migrating to Florida LOL! I don’t think I could ever endure winter again (bless you!) and if I had to choose, I would move here and hope I could deal with the heat. I get really apprehensive in big cities now. I am so used to a small town with views of nature’s surround that a city makes me feel incredibly boxed in. All those people, and all that pavement (stamping out life), in one space definitely makes me apprehensive and then the noise elevates my senses — sirens, leaf blowers, motorcycles, loud trucks. I just want to run screaming into the woods! I agree with you, we as a people are disconnecting from our nature and it has consequences. I brought “Planting in a Post-Wild World” by Tom Rainer with me to Florida because it resonates so much with me that I would to read every single word of it! I am planning lots of work in the Violet Fern garden this Spring. I just put in a new patio with a “river view” if one uses his/her imagination and want to make sure that is coming along. I still need to weed much of the Potager to bring her back to glory and I have a million (probably, literally) Rudbeckia Laciniata to dig out as well as rescue much of the entire Woodland Edge from Bindweed. I am also redoing a section of the Bird & Butterfly Garden by my new gallery entrance to make it more exciting. Milkweed is in the plan so I hope to have Monarch caterpillars. Mountain Mint is also in the plan (one of the best attractors), so I hope to have lots of God’s little winged creatures to remind me that life is a beautiful, beautiful thing because that’s what a blooming flower and its pollinators does for me, too, Robbie. I’m thinking early Spring! I am also so so excited to garden in Florida — I’ll be gardening year round — heaven! I will think of you and hope you are so happy and healthy!

    1. awww..Kathy, I envy your adventure down south, but I know you always share your trip with us all. I need to head over to see what you are doing. Your art studio, how exciting this year!!!! I am starting to draw again and plan on spending some time in the garden creating. It has been many years since I worked with pen and ink, but I am exploring again. In college, I took a lot of drawing, but it was modern dance that got my attention. After I started my family dancing was left behind. I had no time to dance with a family, so my movement was limited to my bike rides on the river. I love to go fast for it makes me feel like I am dancing or leaping through the air( gotta use your imagination when you get old-lol):-)
      I live in an urban area, but our urban area feels like a smaller town in the larger metropolis. I know what you mean by the noises. I want to hear the birds singing, and I have a neighbor ALWAYS using those horrid blowers!! My husband got one, and I said, “by the time you get it loaded up, etc., I swept it away”…what is the big deal with those noisy things!! I want a push lawn mower, but my husband insists on a mower for a path of grass in back and front.
      I can’t wait to read all about your new property:-) Gardening in Florida? Wow, I can hardly wait to see what you come up with and post on your blog. Hmm…you never know Kathy when my husband retires, we may see you one year down there in the Keys! It looks inviting!

      1. Oh my yes, the blowers … I could have raked my neighbor’s lawn in half the time he spent blowing LOL. I find myself wanting to go slower and slower Robbie – life is so fast Ha! Reminded of the song by Leonard Cohen “Slow” which I love by the way. I know! Gardening in Florida — drool, drool, drool. Not so much this year because well, there’s the house. But NEXT year! I have to point out that I am not in the “key” Keys as in Key West. There are many little keys along the Gulf Coast of Florida and I’m pretty far North but it is quiet and there is LOTS of birds and you can HEAR them here.

      2. oh and a surprise coming your way if you are back in your garden. The 60’s this week! crazy!!! It will be coming your way if you are back home, if you are in Cedar Keys( I knew it was not Keys, I’ve been there before, but thought Cedar?), well, it won’t matter you will be warm:-)

  8. When my mind starts to spin I have found myself able to ground down by asking myself when I last got my hands dirty. I even have a teeny tiny plant on my desk at work to tend to, should I need a midday plant date.
    I hope you have declined to soothe you soon if not already.

    1. Yes, it is slowing down. I am relaxing in the garden.We are having spring in Feb!! I got outside to work in the garden yesterday and plan on some bike rides next week.
      A plant on your desk at work-now that is smart!!! Enjoy your little people, they grow ou past:-)

      1. awww…and it gets better as they get older…I love my daughters:-) I admire them both very much now that they are older at passed the teen angst! Just remember when you get there the old saying, “this too will pass”:-)

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