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Life Lessons

A Farewell to Friend

A Farewell to Friend

2014 was the first time in my life that a friend silently slipped off the radar and into friendship oblivion. I guess I can't really complain. At 33, I was probably due for a big friend fallout. But this wasn't just a friend; this was a really good friend. This was the kind of friend I spent holidays with when I couldn't get home to my family. The kind of friend I lovingly referred to as a "sister from another mister." The kind of friend who was  one of the funnest -- and funniest -- people I've ever known. The kind of friend whose absence hasn't gone unnoticed. And I'm not gonna lie: it has been both hard and horrible.

In my mind's version of the story there wasn't a specific moment where things went wrong. It was more of a slow fizzle. I moved back to Ohio after an extended period of time working out-of-state and we seemed to pick back up where we had left off. A few months later, once eagerly-embraced lunch invites were getting pushed off never to be rescheduled.

At first, I tried to blame it on the age old struggle between Camp Parent and Camp Freebird. I didn't have any skin in the game when it came to Brownie gossip or ballet recitals. She had obligations and a spouse who presumably frowned on standing Wine Wednesdays. But the reality is that I have many busy parent friends. Despite the seeming differences in lifestyles, when a relationship is important to the people on both find a middle ground. Each side bends a little. You adapt and find a way.

There have been times over the past few months when I've wanted to send my friend a letter. Sometimes I'm curious to know what happened. Sometimes I'm tempted to rant for pages about how disappointed I am. Whenever I start to type, I stop myself. I stop myself because I realize whatever the case or response or reason, I'm writing to a stranger and chasing the ghost of a friendship that has already slipped away.

I recently read a post on this topic, and the author's words really hit home:

Losing a friend is very much like a break-up, in the sense that any form of interaction that you have with that person in the future will never be the same again. No matter how much either of you try, once you have crossed that line of inescapable complications and incompatibility, everything that you shared with each other will slowly deteriorate, until ultimately letting go is the only option left.

The thing about us is that we are fixers. We are the ‘Bob the Builders’ of our own lives, and it gets pretty devastating once we find ourselves in a position where the answer to "Can we fix it?" is “No, we can’t.”

Perhaps there is a point in certain friendships -- a point at which we stop seeing things -- and each other -- clearly. A point at which we believe ourselves to be patching everything together, but in reality we're just making a mess of things. As children, it's easy to know when to call it quits. The summer sun threatens to set, your mother's voice finds you beckoning to pack it in. Things get slightly more difficult in adulthood. We can eat when we want and the sun no longer tells us what to do and when. There are no rule books or guide maps for this. As grownups, we're the captains of our own sailing and sinking ships. Sometimes we surface to find ourselves the lone survivor of something we once believed invincible. Sometimes we're left standing on a shore of silent wreckage, clutching memories as the sole surviving souvenirs of a one-time forever friend.

I miss you friend. I hope your heart is happy. 

A Run Through the Sprinklers

Women Wearing Colorful Bathing Caps I'm just going to say it. I'm so over winter. I'm over lugging around a full-length wool coat wherever I go. I'm over ruining my shoes in dirty slush. I'm over risking my life trying to traverse the ice. I'm over it. O-V-E-R.

Thankfully, I have a week-long, nothing-but-beach vacation coming up. The sun-and-sand light at the end of my proverbial winter tunnel, if you will. It was the looming of said vacation that prompted me to spend my lunch hour in a place no woman likes to go: the swimsuit section. Seriously. Apparently 70 percent of Americans would rather go to the dentist, do their taxes, sit in the middle aisle of an airplane or visit their in-laws than go shopping for a swimsuit. (And I'm one of them.)

The fitting room was packed yesterday, and the conversations flying back and forth were a chorus of self deprecation:

"This is probably as good as it's going to get for me." "I shouldn't be seen in public." "I hate my body." 

The chatter shook me from my own mental trash talking. (What, exactly, is that weird little armpit chicken cutlet and what exercises will make it go away?!) 

mean girls

But then it happened. I told my inner Mean Girl to stuff a sock in it, and this guy chimed in...


It seems that when it comes to fearlessness and priorities, we were all so much better off as kids.



Our five-year-old selves didn't worry about what jiggled or rolled, bumped or lumped. We had bigger things to focus our energy on. (Like pretending we were mermaids.)

The next time you find yourself facing the dreaded mirror, every bit and piece of your precious self cast in an unforgiving light, I hope you will dial down Regina George and crank the volume on perspective.

Be thankful for legs that offer you the gift of a stroll along the shore at sunset and toes that can wiggle their way down into the cool sand and hands that construct sandcastles and arms that are happy to oblige when you summon them to take you for a swim. Give thanks for ears that know the shouts of seagulls and eyes that have borne witness to fifty shades of sunrise. Be thankful for the freedom to wear what you want, show what you want and let down your hair whenever you see fit. Be grateful for the opportunity to experience the splendor of creation and the chance to unplug so you can plug back into the things that matter.

E.E. Cummings once said, "There's a hell of a good universe next door" -- it's waiting to delight in you. Don't let a poly-lycra blend become the deciding factor between your "no"and your "yes." Your fearless, inner five-year-old invites you to run through the sprinklers. She invites you to get out of your head and out of that dressing room.

After all, everyones knows a fitting room is no place for a mermaid.

I Don't Hate Hiking: A Lesson Learned On the Oregon Trails

indian beach

“I hate hiking!” is a story I’ve been telling myself for roughly 33 years. It was a stubborn, silly thing to claim, especially since — until this weekend — I’d never actually hiked.

What I really meant is that hiking makes me uncomfortable. It is a new experience. It’s something I’m not skilled at. It challenges me. It pushes me beyond my comfort zone. It falls outside my wheelhouse.

Last week, I spent several days trudging my way (literally) over the river and through the woods of Oregon. At first, an obstinate little voice inside my head was urging me to dig my heels in, refuse to go on and hitch a ride back to civilization. (Or at least craft a series of snarky Tweets to send once I returned to a reliable wifi signal.) Somewhere around the five-mile marker it occurred to me that by hunkering down in my head and focusing my energy on all the comforts I was missing, I was actually missing out on the amazing things right in front of me. As soon as I hit my internal mute button, I began to discover that I kind of love hiking.

Sure, I had to stop and wheeze-it-out at various points. My body was sore in places I didn’t know it was possible to hurt. I had to use an outhouse. But that was all okay, because there, in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone signal and just about every modern convenience stripped away, I found myself living fully present in the moment. And that is a really, really good feeling. 

I realize I may never relish having my feet restricted to “real shoes.” I may never enjoy physical exertion in sweltering 90-degree heat. I’m definitely never going to love an outhouse. But I really liked the version of myself I met at the top of the hill, the base of the falls and the end of the path.

There’s no doubt it’s easier to write something off completely than it is to try and struggle, flail and fail. But a comfortable life is a life with blinders on. Sure, you can get ahead, but you’ll miss out on the things that matter most. When we settle for comfortable, we settle…period. We end up depriving ourselves of not only experiences, but of becoming the best version of who we are.

A wise person once told me if it doesn't scare you, it doesn't grow you. Get cranky. Get angry. Get frustrated. Work up a sweat. Work up worries and doubt. Then let go of that balloon of uselessness. You don’t have to take the world at someone else’s pace. You just have to put one foot in front of the other until you find your stride… then get on with the getting on.

Say yes more than you say no. You never know. It may take you someplace more beautiful than you ever imagined.




The 33-Year List

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 11.15.59 PM Dear Universe,

On this, the eve of my 33rd birthday, I wanted to wish us both a happy anniversary. We've been together a long time, and have come a long way since the days of baby bottles and the summer of '81. Our anniversary poses a challenge, however. What to get the galaxy that has everything? I briefly considered a box of chocolates, but realized you've already got Mars and the Milky Way. And diamonds were out since you've got plenty of stars. So, in the end, I opted for this: a list of life lessons derived from some of our greatest hits

Universe, I wouldn't be here without you. And that's saying a lot, because here is nothing short of incredible. Thanks for the memories. Here's to you, Universe. To me. To us. To infinity and beyond! (Or a least the next 33 years...)

Yours, Amy

33 Things I Learned in 33 Years as a Dot in the Universe

  1. Nobody knows anything at 18. You don’t have to have the entire world figured out before you can legally rent a car.
  2. There’s a great big world out there. Allow it to sweep you off your feet, whisk you away and drive you out of your mind. You'll be glad you did.
  3. All good things begin with some form of a "yes," Say yes more than you say no. Then hold on.
  4. Champagne, desserts and massages need not be reserved for special occasions. Treat yourself.
  5. Hang onto the precious few who force you out after a heartbreak, help you move in August and pick you up from the airport at midnight without complaint. They’re the real deal.
  6. Live alone at least once.
  7. Stop. Waiting. Around. There is no right moment. There is no more convenient time. There is only now. Take the risk. Take the trip. Make the call. Spin a globe, put your finger down and go.
  8. Life is never going to hand you what you want, but you may be surprised how many people are willing to help when you muster the courage to ask for it.
  9. Learn when to go with the flow and when to take a stand. There’s a time and a place for both. You will find that very little falls in the grey area in between.
  10. Look up. Everything you could ever want or need is right here, right now. Look up from the screen. Put down the phone. Refuse to live your life in a state of DVR.
  11. Single is much more fun than anyone ever admits, so go ahead and enjoy it. Eat cereal for dinner. Revel in pantlessness. Marathon Netflix. Someday you'll miss it just a little bit.
  12. Get to know your family. Ask them questions. Soak up the stories. Write down the recipes. No matter how many years you have together, you’ll wish you’d had more. When it comes to our people, there's no such thing as "enough." Make time you can while you can.
  13. You’re weird and wonderful. Accept it. All the best people are.
  14. Make mistakes. Learn from them. All the best people did.
  15. Creativity favors the shoeless, and genius will invariably strike while you're in the bathtub. Free your feet, free your mind and everything else will follow.
  16. Heartbreak happens. Sometimes it will be your fault. Sometimes it will not. Either way, it will shape you. Be kind. Be grateful.
  17. Worry is a lead balloon. 99.9999% of the worrying you do in your lifetime will be for naught. So just stop. Lighten your load. Release the balloon.
  18. Become a citizen of the world. Try on a new zip code. Go forth. It's the only way you'll ever fully appreciate the roads that lead home.
  19. By 30, you'll find yourself going out less and going to bed earlier. By 31, you'll find yourself liking it.
  20. Real mail, old books, squeezed lemonade. For some things, there's just no substitute.
  21. When you meet someone who finds you beautiful in fake pants and a messy bun…put a ring on it.
  22. Dancing is meant to happen with free spirits, reckless abandon and a few drinks in the system. Never -- ever -- miss a chance to throw your arms up to "Shout" at a wedding reception.
  23. God. Whatever you call Him, wherever you find Him...get to know Him.
  24. Karaoke is the best worst idea. When it doubt, walk 500 miles. (Then walk 500 more.)
  25. Say what you think. Love who you love. Drink what you like. Don't be a jerk.
  26. Scatter love, prayers and gratitude wherever you wander in this world.
  27. Whatever the plan, plan for nothing to go according to plan. That's the secret fun of it.
  28. Sprinkles and sparkles are seeds of joy and fertilizer for the happy soul.  No matter what anyone says, you’re never too old for either one.
  29. Make no apologies for the way you feel or the naps you take.
  30. "One-size-fits-all" only works for rain ponchos and "normal" is just a washing machine setting. Defy words. Defy labels. Commit to live up the spirit inside you. Become a person who makes the ghosts of your ancestors cheer.
  31. Get lost. (And enjoy my jacket, which you stole from me.)
  32. When you find yourself in a certain kind of rare and special moment (and you will) -- be still. Allow the tidal wave to overwhelm you and carry you out. Let it break your heart then make you whole again. Take a breath and close your eyes. There, in the golden joy of simply being alive and part of it all, you'll see more clearly than you ever have and all will be revealed. When you find yourself back on shore, you'll swear it can't possibly get any better than this. And it won’t. And it will.
  33. One day you'll see. Promise you'll tell me all about it.

"Go With the Flow" Is Terrible Advice

It’s 10 a.m. on Monday. Your week is just beginning, and you’ve already made dozens of choices without even thinking about it it. The blue shirt or the white shirt. Splenda or raw sugar. The scenic route or the quick route. Music or NPR. Though it may not always feel like it, we’re experts at making decisions. And every so often along comes a really hard choice. We struggle with it, wrestle with it, agonize over it. We draw lines down the middle of the page with “pros” in one column and “cons” in the other. We create reasons for this instead of that, blue over white, NPR instead of the playlist.

There is an age-old tidbit of wisdom that reveres “going with the flow.” After watching Ruth Chang’s video, it occurred to me that “go with the flow” is just about the worst advice anyone could give. The happiest people don’t go with the flow, they swim upstream. Happy people don’t let life steer them down the path, they head to the top, soak up the view, then take a leap of faith.

It’s 10 a.m on Monday. Your week is just beginning. What will you choose this week?

A Shift in Perspective

Yesterday I learned about a new app that was created specifically to allow people to send their "friends" mean messages on Instagram while cloaked in anonymity. The premise is pretty simple: you can anonymously nominate someone on Instagram and a bot will tag them in a photo criticizing them for sharing too many photos of dogs, babies, food, vacations, etc. If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that we definitely need more ways for people to easily and anonymous bully and put down others online. Oh wait, no. That's the exact opposite of what we need. As offensive as the standalone concept is, the fact it was conceived by an advertising agency is what really hit me in the heart. (And no, I'm not going to name the app or agency here, because I don't feel either deserves the plug.)

Working in the creative industry, I am fortunate to be surrounded by passionate, bright world-changers on a daily basis. I'm proud to call them my peers, mentors and friends. This industry is a collective of big hearts and people committed to paying it forward however they can. People who have dedicated their time and talents to boosting up businesses that want to do good and put a ding in the universe.

I am also acutely aware this is an industry riddled with stereotypes ascribed to us by the outside world. Turn on any given episode of Mad Men and you'll find it there. In film, the "ad guy" is always some slimy, underhanded, snake-in-a-suit lacking anything resembling a moral compass. Those of us who actually work in the industry do our best to dispel those misconceptions by doing our best to do good in the world when we get out of bed each day.

Here is what I can tell you: our job wakes us in the night. It follows us into the shower, taps us on the shoulder over a cup of coffee and hitches a ride on weekend road trips. It's first thing in the morning and last thing at night. There's no clocking in or out. What we do follows us wherever we go, because it is a part of us. We are digging in the dirt, up to our elbows and down in the trenches with people and causes we believe in. We've got our sights set on doing something that is greater than any one of us. That's a lofty goal and awesome responsibility.

With this in mind, I'm sure the developers of the aforementioned app didn't have bad intentions when they came up with the idea. I'd guess it was just an off-kilter attempt at humor taken a notch too far. (And there are probably people out there who find it funny.) But I can't help but wonder if they've been tuned into what is going on in the world around us. I have to wonder if they've ever been bullied or know anyone who has been. I wonder if they have children who are afraid to go to school in the morning or cry themselves to sleep at night. I wonder what might have happened if they had opted to use their brainpower and talents to create something capable of spreading goodness instead of snark.

The reality  is that apps come and go. This won't even be remembered on the flip side of the weekend. But you know what will? The kindness you choose to show to someone today.

To you, the person on the other end of this blog post, hi. I may not be able to develop an app to make this easier or more fun for you, but what I can do is challenge you to be your higher self. Do something good for the universe today. Boost someone up. Smile. Say hello. Make eye contact. Hold a door. Send a text of appreciation. Write a letter of gratitude. Tell someone what they're doing right instead of what they're doing wrong.

After all, a shift in perspective is all it takes to change the conversation and flip things from bad to good.













Ban Bossy, Not Just the Word

Bossy: fond of giving people orders; domineering. Synonyms: domineering, pushy, overbearing, imperious, officious, high-handed,authoritarian, dictatorial, controlling.

With the emergence of the #BanBossy movement, there has been a lot of conversation going on around the word “bossy” lately. While I commend their mission to smash labels and empower girls (and fully believe women have an awesome responsibility to pay-it-forward), the message falls a little short for me. Why? Because inspiring great leadership isn’t as simple as wiping out a word.

By banning “bossy,” the movement somehow suggests that it’s a word, rather than the qualities that define that word, that are holding us back. In doing so, it sends a message that it’s acceptable to be bossy — as long as nobody uses the term. And that’s where I couldn’t disagree more.

Bossy isn’t a badge of honor; it’s not aspirational or inspirational. Bossy is a choice in behavior. Bossy isn’t something to brag about, it’s something to work on. It’s a flaw, not a feature. It’s not exclusive to one gender or the other. And it doesn’t make you a leader, it makes you a jerk.

We don’t need to ban “bossy,” we need to ban bossy people. Suggesting that eradicating the word is going to clear the path for a generation of great female leaders to emerge is kind of like treating a gunshot wound by placing a band-aid over the point of entry. It might stop the bleeding a bit, but it does nothing to address the real problem at the core.

Bossy people are not great leaders and great leaders are not bossy people. Differentiating between the two is surprisingly easy. You’ll find bossy people at the front of the pack dragging everyone behind them. You’ll find great leaders at the back of the pack, cheering their team onward and upward. Great leaders are not ramrods or bullies. They’re not hostile, defensive, aggressive or belittling. They take joy in pulling people up, not pushing them down or running them over.

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work alongside some prolific, generous business minds; a mix of people who know how to push and prod, motivate, challenge and inspire. They continue bringing out the best in their people by revealing the way, not by dragging us down the path. No matter how good you are at your job, if you’re bossy, you’re bad at business. Why? Because, as one of my bosses and mentors always says,“We’re all in the people business.”

It’s time we separate the bosses from the “bossies,” but it can only happen if we reject, once and for all, the notion that bossy behavior is somehow indicative of leadership potential. I think we can all agree that empowering the next generation of great leaders — male and female — is about so much more than semantics.

The Power of Gratitude

“A letter is always better than a phone call. People write things in letters they would never say in person. They permit themselves to write down feelings and observations using emotional syntax far more intimate and powerful than speech will allow.” | Alice Steinbach Last night I stumbled across a powerful video. It begins with a researcher asking participants to write a letter of gratitude to a person who has greatly influenced them. Simple, right?

So they thought.

After the participants have fired off their letters, the researcher asks them to pick up the phone and call the person they’ve written about in order to read the letter aloud to the intended recipient. The immediate rise in anxiety is almost palpable. As each person lifts the receiver, you begin to see the walls of their everyday selves crumble. In this moment of unusually vulnerable truth-telling, viewers witness a transformation as each letter writer becomes a truer version of themselves. It quickly becomes apparent that this is a lesson in something much greater than letter writing; it’s a practice in expressing a deeper sense of gratitude most of us feel, but few of make a habit of regularly vocalizing to the people in our lives.

The video concludes with research findings. Participants who wrote letters, but were unable to call the recipient to share, experienced a small bump in happiness in the time between arriving at the lab and when they left. Participants who wrote a letter and made the phone call experienced a much bigger bump in happiness. Interestingly, the person who experienced the greatest bump was also the person who reported the lowest happiness score upon arrival at the lab.

The study got me thinking about relationships in general. What would happen if we made verbalizing gratitude a regular practice in our lives? How would our relationships with the people we love and the world around us begin to change? What would happen if companies put as much focus on expressing regular gratitude toward their employees and customers as they do on ROI and bottom lines?

We’d all be happier, apparently. You can’t argue with science.

Today I’m issuing a challenge to each of you reading this. (And I’m challenging myself to do the same.) In the words of wonderful Sara Bareilles, “Show me how big your brave is.” Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t be fearful. Be brave. Be happy. Be grateful.

Take a little time out to write a letter of gratitude to someone in your life today. Then pick up the phone. (And when you’re done be sure to loop back around and leave a comment below telling us how it went.)


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Wanderdust: A Memoir to Myself on My 32nd Birthday

birthday The day I left South Carolina I cried. I cried my way through half of North Carolina. I cried on my way past the mountains. I cried past peach stands, boiled peanuts and the house my ancestors built over a century ago. I cried passing the Blue Ridge overpass, the exit to Biltmore and the turnoff to Asheville. I cried through handfuls of songs and multiple commercial breaks. And although I was bursting with anticipation and excitement about what I was driving toward, I refused to look in the rearview mirror until I hit the Kentucky line, for fear that if I caught a glimpse of what I was leaving behind, I'd turn the car around.

The older I get, the more I realize this is life. Each day we're writing stories with our time, our moments, our choices. Every minute of every day we're filling the pages of a story that will ultimately be filed on a shelf alongside the story of everyone else.

History is happening -- and it's happening fast. There are no do overs, no rewind buttons, no mulligans. There are only choices and onward marches.

This weekend I turned 32. It's a good, sturdy age, 32. Old enough to have gotten over most of the bullshit hangups of youth, young enough to have not given up. Young enough to feel there's still plenty of time, old enough to know that's not how it always works out.

32. The older I get, the more I feel myself getting taken down with life's insatiable undertow. I want to be everywhere. I worry I'm not reading enough. There are continents and shorelines my feet have yet to meet. I long for adventure and at the same time crave stability. I am simultaneously paralyzed and propelled onward and upward by all the dots on the map where I find infinite amounts of love available to me. My definition of "family" and "home" have expanded exponentially, while my perception of a great big world has shrunk a little bit with each stop along the way.

“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that we take with us for our entire lives, wherever we may go.

In life, a person will come and go from many homes. We may leave a house, a town, a room, but that does not mean those places leave us. Once entered, we never entirely depart the homes we make for ourselves in the world. They follow us, like shadows, until we come upon them again, waiting for us in the mist.”

Friday night I traveled back to one of my dots, and there -- under fairy lights -- I had an epiphany. The word wanderlust is more or less defined as the desire to travel to new and foreign lands. If there is truly a counterbalancing equivalent to everything in the universe, then I propose the notion of "wanderdust." If wanderlust is the curiosity-driven desire compelling us into the unknown, wanderdust is the gratitude-laden breadcrumb trail of memories and moments and conversations that will always lead us home.

"Promise me you'll shake things up, wherever you go," you once said, "People out there are desperate to dance and swirl around and lose their minds."

I've got two snow globes -- one in each hand.

This is life.

And 32.



Dirty Hands, Better Lives: The Merits of Gardening

Two years ago, my family found ourselves crowded into a rented minivan, making our way across the country to bury my grandmother in her tiny hometown of Frederick, Oklahoma. At one point during the trip, we took a detour past the farm and home my great grandparents had called their own. As years of childhood memories came flooding back, flashing before my mother's eyes, I remember her making a comment on one thing in particular--a small plot of land where my great grandmother Mimi had once passed her days, caring for the irises. I've always enjoyed gardening, but as I've gotten older I've started thinking about my hobby from a different perspective. In a world that is so enamored with the latest technology, how can something as fundamentally basic as tending to a plot of land be such a source of immense joy?

Gardening is a connection to our food. When was the last time you really stopped to appreciate the painted edge of red sail lettuce or reveled in the divine shape of a radish freshly plucked from the ground? For me, it doesn't happen nearly enough. When I stop by the grocery after work, I'm usually in a rush. All too often, I find myself shoving hurried fistfuls of vegetables into plastic bags so I can get to the checkout as quickly as possible.

Modern convenience has driven a wedge between people and our food. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone--it's a regular topic of conversation, and a driver behind the "eat local" movement. And while local farms are wonderful, I feel there is an even greater benefit when we take "local" one step closer to home. It doesn't get any more local than your own backyard.

When you grow and harvest your own vegetables, it transforms your relationship with your food. You're no longer just chopping carrots or plucking basil; your sustenance becomes a direct result of your labor. The plants on your plate are no longer a food group; they're a testament to a relationship between ground and gardener. And that makes every bite taste a little bit better.

Gardening is a connection to ourselves.  Gardening is one of the few times I feel like I am able to truly disconnect from the world and reconnect with myself. When I'm wielding a trowel or elbow-deep in soil, I'm not thinking about twitter alerts or worrying about what I'm missing on facebook. I find that when I'm gardening I'm able to be truly present in the now. I relish each breath of fresh air. I appreciate the warmth of the sun on my skin and the whisper of the breeze. Gardening is my gateway and welcome escape back to the reality that really matters.

Real life, just like gardening, is gritty and dirty and unpredictable. In order to thrive and grow, our lives (and ourselves) require effort, energy, care and love. Real life won't be quantified in 140-character blips; it measures in seasons, sun-ups and sun-downs.  It doesn't matter how many people applaud what you do or say--or if they even like it all. Real life is a cycle of growth. It marches onward indifferently, regardless of whether you're a person, a green bean bush or a bumblebee.

It doesn't get much more real than that.

Gardening is a connection to God. For those who subscribe to the message behind the oldest story ever told, life and the world as we know it began in a garden a long, long time ago. The first sunrise stretched its arms wide, spreading its rays, for the first time, over an infinite bounty and everything the universe had to offer.

Maybe the affinity for gardening is something that has been hitchhiking--for centuries--on the deepest roots of our DNA. Perhaps it's an heirloom of a memory harkening back to that one first day. I prefer to think of it simply as something that brings me closer to God.

Try as we might, none of us carries on indefinitely. Like everything and everyone, we progress through a series of seasons. When our winter inevitably arrives, we return to the earth at rest.

Some churches come equipped with pews and a steeples. Others with shovels and trowels. Not every conversation with God happens in words. Some of us do our best prayer on our knees amongst the seeds and weeds. But in some way, each of us is a garden.