This time of the year one of my greatest zen pleasures is to watch things come alive, both in my garden, and in the National Parks that can be reached within a few hours. The first three photos are from some of my favorite places in northern California, that I visited this past week. (My German Shepherd Gretchen says hi.) The last three photos are from my garden this morning.
I like the routine that a garden encourage me to keep on an everyday basis. I love stepping outside in the morning, smelling the fresh air before the heat of the day. It’s a true pleasure to discover what happened in the garden over night.
Motivation is what gets you started.
Habit is what keeps you going.
– Jim Rohn
Yesterday the very first flower on my pomegranate tree blessed us with her presence.
This morning my young tomato plants thanked me for their new bigger pots, and rich compost that they received a couple days ago.
My garden space is a little limited, it encourages me to constantly explore viable options for a productive garden. I currently have both fruit trees, and vegetables in large containers. Some were given to me, and they are of different shapes and colors, but the majority of them are smart pots. I like smart pots. It makes the watering process easy. There’s never any water staying too long, causing damage to the roots.
Earlier this week I bought 20 bare root peach trees, that I planted in smart pots. I definitely don’t have room to plant 20 fruit trees anywhere. At least not now, but using containers allows me to have almost all the trees my heart desires. I see it as an investment for the future. I bought them of craigslist at a very good price. They will flourish under my care, and produce fruit for our family, and other families within a few years.
I really enjoy producing the majority of the fruit and vegetables that my family eats (which is a lot.) Its a work in progress. I like knowing that our food is all organic, without any toxic waste lingering. Having a garden helps us eat healthy in an affordable way. Food is expensive in California, very expensive. Or should I say, nutritious, healthy food is expensive. I believe that we are what we eat, mentally, and physically. Cutting down costs by lowering the quality is not an option. Luckily our climate is perfect for growing our own food! We had a colder spring than usual, and my garden is just getting started. It’s an exciting process. Ooo, I forgot to mention that having a garden is an important part of the program that allows me to only work three days/week.
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One hot day in July, almost four years ago I made a mistake. The mistake turned out to be a life changing experience. I went on a hike in the Nevada desert, by myself. I was somewhat familiar with the area, but not 100%. I started out early in the morning with a backpack full of water bottles, and good hiking food. It was comfortably warm in the morning. I’m not a newbie to heat, I live in northern California. Our summers get hot too. I knew what was coming. I did however miscalculate the distance to the peak I wanted to climb. It took longer than I thought it would. Naturally I couldn’t turn around halfway there. My stubbornness would never allow that. I wanted to get to the top rather desperately, because I knew that in the valley on the other side of the hill the likelihood of seeing wild horses was very real. I never get tired of watching wild horses play, it’s one of my favorite joys.
With flowing tail and flying mane,
Wide nostrils never stretched by pain,
Mouth bloodless to bit or rein,
And feet that iron never shod,
And flanks unscar’d by spur or rod,
A thousand horses – the wild – the free –
Like waves that follow o’er the sea,
Came thickly thundering on.
– Lord Byron
The hike was rocky. The sagebrush disappeared behind me. I was grateful for my wide brimmed cowgirl hat, and my comfortable hiking boots. I had plenty of water and was feeling on top of my world. I reached the peak a couple hours later than I should of. There were no horses in the valley below. It was slightly disappointing. I started to slowly zigzag my way back down the mountain. I could see my truck far in the distance. The rocky high desert landscape was wide open underneath my feet. The day got hotter, and hotter. The desert can be grueling hot in July, but the nights are cool. When I reached the sagebrush, closer to my truck, I decided to stop in the shade, behind one of the bigger rocks, until the worst heat gave room for the cooler evening air.
I had a snack, and some water. I still had food left, and plenty of water for the last 4-5 miles back to my truck. All of a sudden I felt sleepy. I used my backpack as a pillow and closed my eyes for a few minutes.. when I came back to my senses, before I opened my eyes, I sensed another living being close to me. Very close. My inner voice told me to keep my calm, and take a deep breath. When I open my eyes, a horse is standing over me, literally. I tried to be as still as I possibly could, to not cause the horse to panic. From the corner of my eye I saw one stocky leg next to my right shoulder, and another stocky leg next to my left shoulder. A horse was standing over me, literally. It wasn’t a big horse. It was a calm, older, mustang mare, a confident daughter of the wild. She had a slightly musky scent. She sensed that I was awake, and lowered her head towards me. I was still a little groggy from the heat, and my nap, and tried to understand what was happening. The mare blowed some warm air on my face, and carefully stepped aside. She walked away very slowly, towards a band of horses grazing nearby. Some youngster’s were playing a game of tag (yes, horses do that too.) I was still in a dreamlike state, and didn’t feel fear. I watched the scraggy bay mare disappear further away. I realized that I didn’t even get my camera out of my backpack. I waited a couple minutes before I headed back to my truck. The air was cooler. The familiar smell of sagebrush took over. I had a peaceful, easy hike back.
Back at my truck I spent a few minutes contemplating this extraordinary experience. I felt so much like a part of the horses I admired my whole life. A part of the nature around me. I’d already started to make changes in my life, to live more in harmony with nature. Still I had some rough edges battling inside of me. I knew that the journey, the change, originated from the very inside of my soul. It started the day I realized that I didn’t need all the stuff that I was taught that we need. This exclusive experience didn’t have anything to do with if I have the fastest car, or if my clothes represent the latest trends. Experiences like this can not be bought with money. Those material things never made me feel alive, but that day, I lived. I decided to make it my mission to strive for more mindfulness in my life, more experiences, more love, more kindness, more oneness, making more memories, and more zen.
I wanted to include this story as a part of the background to this blog. Horses is a big part of my world, and have been since I was 2 years old. They are masters of mindfulness, and I enjoy being their student. Other things that helps me experience oneness (connection to the world around me,) and harmony is; photography, hiking in beautiful nature, and gardening. I’m looking forward to share my zen with you.
I am planning on sharing one inspirational photo from northern California, weaved into one inspirational blog post every week. No flooding your inboxes here. Sharing blog posts, and giving feedback is appreciated, and encouraged!
So what does it take to experience oneness? Tell me your thoughts in a comment! Is it something that is high on your priority list?
Disclosure: I would never approach mustangs in the wild by my own free will. I enjoy watching them from a distance. The photo of a mustang mare and her foal in the beginning of today’s post, is taken in the same area in northern Nevada, where I met the mare in the story.
Six years ago I worked 9-5, and often a lot of over time. I wanted a change, and made it happen. I sold my excessive possessions, stuff that I collected, and started to live life on my terms (without being a trust fund baby.)
This is my very first post at NorCal Zen. This is about choosing happiness. It’s about intentional choices of things that means something to me (and you,) and how to choose to remove distractions that doesn’t have any value in my (your) life. This blog is going to be about my semi-minimalistic lifestyle, that allows me the freedom my gypsy soul craves. I currently work three days a week, with a job that I love, and spend the rest of the days experiencing LIFE. Sounds tempting?
I’m giving you insight to my way of living a fulfilling life, in a magical place, without a six figure bank account. It’s all about experiences, the healing power of nature, and the great outdoors in northern California.
I choose to launch NorCal Zen, as an inspiration for mindful living. With the intention of sharing the unique beauty of northern California (all photos are my own,) while connecting likeminded souls from around the world. Sharing blog posts, and giving feedback is appreciated, and encouraged.