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Joy Instead of Achievement

“…Something to achieve instead of something to enjoy”
– Judith Hanson Lassiter

This has been my mindset for most of my life. And it’s been an approach to life that has had the proverbial double-edged sword. It’s certainly pushed me to do things to the best of my ability, but it hasn’t allowed me to enjoy my life. I’ve made the comment multiple times about having a shitty life. I even started writing a post about it. But as I was writing, I had to come to the conclusion that idea was simply BS. I was concentrating too much on what I had not achieved, and had not taken the time to enjoy what I was doing, and who I was doing it with. I was focused exclusively on the destination and not the journey.

When I look back at My Life, I can see the the Abundance of it all. Family, friends, yes, even the achievements I’ve made (or haven’t made). Even the Fuller equation* I quote so much shows the Abundance in My Life. Learning, teaching, and doing has been My Life. I suppose I need to add enjoyment of experience, the fascination with gaining knowledge, and the pleasure I find in action to the corollary.

The irony of the philosophy of one of my businesses is not lost on me. As The Successful Gardener, I tell folks to, “ENOY your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a successful gardener!” Yet I couldn’t see that in other parts of My Life. I had made enjoying things conditional. I’ll be Happy if ______. I’ll enjoy My Life when _______.

So what do I do now? It’s easy to say, “Do the stuff that brings you joy!” I’ve said that in the past, but it didn’t take, for several reasons, not least of which was my mindset of conditionality. Letting go of that idea of “I’ll be happy if ____” will be the most effective way for me to enjoy My Life more.

First, I’ll consciously make the decision to Enjoy My Life Unconditionally. I’ll practice detachment from conditional thinking. I’ll add Enjoyment, Happiness, and Satisfaction to My Intentions, the “I AM” statements I use to Create My Life. I’ll allow myself to make mistakes with all this. I’ll be willing to forgive Myself when I fall back into conditional Happiness, because it takes time for me to Create the new thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions that Create new parts of My Personal Mythology. While I am creating these new parts of My Personal Mythology, I’ll stop old conditional thoughts when they occur and repeat My Intentions for Joy and Happiness. I’ll continue to do this as long as I need to, until enjoying My Life Unconditionally becomes second nature. And yes, I’ll do more things that bring me Joy, because, over time, this work will allow me to Enjoy more things!

I’ve used this process over and over to Create My Life. For this effort to succeed, you have to be Patient and Loving with yourself. At the very least, cut yourself a lot of slack if you fall back to old habits. If you need help doing this, get it. There is no shame in asking for help. I’ve done it multiple times.

Write about the process. You can share those thoughts or not, that’s up to you. I have 30-some notebooks full of pain and suffering that changed to Compassion and finally to Unconditional Love. Again, cut yourself a lot of slack while you do this. Don’t judge what you write. Let the pain go right out the pen and on to the paper. Or, if you use a computer, let that junk flow through your fingertips out onto the screen. If you get it out of your head, it’s less likely to end up in your heart.

I have no idea of how long you’ll need to do this. It seems different for everybody. Don’t get hung up on time or effort. Just do the practice. Cut yourself a lot of slack. Change your Life.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff
*Buckminster Fuller’s equation for wealth is energy x knowledge = Wealth. My addition, or corollary to that equation is applied energy x (knowledge x experience) = Wealth.

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Jeff’s Schedule for December 10-16, 2018

This will be my last schedule post for 2017. This year has flown by, as they all seem to do as I get older. I appreciate all of you, clients and students alike, and am grateful for your support. I’ve started my planning for 2018, and I’m excited about the projects and programs I’ll be sharing with you.

If you have a gardener on your Christmas gift list, please consider a class or consultation from The Successful Gardener. No matter which you choose, you’ll have a unique gift that will be appreciated for some time to come. You can purchase a class, a class pack (of 10 classes), or a consultation. I offer consultations on Home Gardens and Landscapes, Farm Business or Production, and Small Business Start-ups. I stand behind all my work, with your satisfaction guaranteed. To learn more about my work and any of my products, go to www.jeffrieves.com . If you’re already on the site, go to “Shop” and select the category. To find out more about me, go to “About Me” and select “Jeff’s resume'”.

Late Fall and early Winter are great times to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. The growing season is still fresh in your mind, and with leaves down or falling, you can see the architecture of your landscape clearly. (You can capture all that organic matter for your garden, too. Ask me how.) You can reach me here to schedule a landscape consultation.

I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!
Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for December 4-9, 2017

The first full week of December finds me in Matthews, NC, thinking about compost. As the leaves fall, it’s a great time to collect them for a new compost bin. I’ve used leaf compost in nearly all of my gardens, and we do the same at Renfrow Farm. Blowing and bagging all those leaves gives all the nutrients collected in those leaves to someone else. It’s just as easy to put those leaves in a wire and post bin in a corner of your backyard. Here are some examples of homemade wire & post leaf compost bins.

This one was built in the corner of the yard, and left to compost. It might sit for a year or more before you have that good  dark humus that gardeners love.

 

 

This is a 3-sided bin for all the leaves collected in the fall. I add some nitrogen every time we add leaves, so the leaves compost faster. By the time potato planting comes ‘round, 3 foot high pile of leaves is about 8 inches deep. We plant right into the leaf mulch, and harvest is much easier. When potatoes are harvested, you have a beautiful bed of good soil.

 

If Your bin needs to be a little more presentable, I’ve also included the bin I made for my Living Garden demonstration. I built it from sections of prefabricated picket fence, leftover from another project.

These kinds of bins are easy to make, and can be cost-effective, too. You’ll get plenty of “black gold” compost for your labor. It’s great for your soil, too! If you need help starting a home compost system, just let me know!

On Thursday, I’m headed to Carthage, NC, to help prepare for the Christmas Open House at The House in the Horseshoe State Historic Site. Then on Saturday, I’ll be helping out at “The ‘Shoe” as we affectionately call the site, as we say “Thank You” to all our visitors and supporters. Find out more about the “The ‘Shoe” and all our events here.

Now is a great time to take stock of what͛’s going on in the garden and landscape. The growing season is still fresh in your mind, and with leaves down or falling, you can see the architecture of your landscape clearly. (You can capture all that organic matter for your garden, too. Ask me how.) You can reach me here to schedule a landscape consultation.

I͛’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more. If you’d like to schedule a home garden and landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT͛S what makes you a Successful Gardener!

Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for November 27 – December 2, 2017

I start this week in Patrick County, VA, after the Thanksgiving holiday.. Then it’s back to Matthews, NC to help folks become Successful Gardeners.

If you live the Charlotte metro area and you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden consultation, I’d love to do it. I’m familiar with all kinds of landscapes, urban lot or country homestead, the silty, rocky soils of the mountains, the good red land of the Piedmont, or the sandy loam of the Sandhills. They each have their challenges and their beauty. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested, contact me here.

This time of year is a really good time to plant lots of perennial plants, everything from trees to shrubs to flowers and vegetable plants. Planting in this cooler season gives your plants weeks of root growing before the warming temperatures bring on the riot of growth that is Spring. So cool-season planting is the start of your 2018 garden!

Instead of blowing and bagging all those leaves, why not start a new compost pile? It’s just as easy to put those leaves in a wire and post bin in a corner of your backyard as it is to get all those leaves to the curb. You’ll get plenty of ͞black gold͟ compost for your labor. It’s great for your soil, too! If you need help starting a home compost system, just let me know!

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

I’m a certified small business educator as well. In these times of great opportunity, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!
Hope to see you some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for November 20-25, 2017

The schedule is a short one this week, due to the Thanksgiving holidays. I know the holidays are busy, but spending even a few minutes in your garden can give you a few minutes of peace in an otherwise hectic day. And with the beautiful weather we’ve had in the Southern Piedmont, that makes it all the more enjoyable. Today (Sunday) I spent a couple of hours in the Living Garden at Renfrow Farms, cutting some plants back, digging and dividing perennials, and simply enjoying myself. It was a gorgeous Fall day, I was by myself, and everything I did will make the garden more productive next spring.

Most perennial plants really respond to division, which is a type of plant propagation. Simply dig the entire root mass of the plant and using a shovel, spade, or even an axe to split the root mass, commonly called a “clump”, into pieces, or divisions. Usually splitting the mass into halves is sufficient, but for some plants you can get several divisions from a single clump. Just be sure to get roots, crown, and foliage in each division. Then replant each division wherever you gave a proper spot. Cut the foliage back hard to give the plants a chance to settle in.

Those of you that follow me on Facebook know I have a regular Gratitude practice. Seeing the Good in your Life helps you bring more Good into all you do. So I’m very Grateful for all of you who have learned from me how to enjoy your garden more, how to cultivate more profit from your farm or food business, or experience real abundance in your life through owning and operating your own business. My clients are a very diverse group, and I always learn something during every class or consultation.

I’m in Matthews, NC Monday and Tuesday working on the Farm. The rest of the week, I’ll be in Patrick County, VA. with family. If any of you would like to schedule a consultation, I’d love to do it. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape
consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business
management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for November 13-18, 2017

This week, I have a bit of a yo-yo schedule. I start this week in Matthews, NC, taking care of some things at Renfrow Farm. Then I’m headed back to Patrick County, VA, working on a family project and digging some more plants to move to the Piedmont. Then it’s back to Matthews, NC to help folks become Successful Gardeners.

On Saturday, November 18, I’ll be at the Farm from 3-5PM to help with the first annual “Pressly’s Passalong Plant Sale”. From the latest Renfrow Farms newsletter: “We are offering “by-the-shovelful” perennials from our farm including a few different varieties of feverfew, yarrow (mixed colors, won’t be able to tell what’s what at this time of year), mountain mint, veronica, black-eyed susans, anchusa, white echinacea, obedient plant, daylilies, and iris. Many of these make fantastic cut flowers and attract pollinators and beneficial insects; all are beautiful in the landscape.”

This time of year is a really good time to plant lots of perennial plants, everything from trees to shrubs to flowers and vegetable plants. Planting in this cooler season gives your plants weeks of root growing before the warming temperatures bring on the riot of growth that is Spring. So cool-season planting is the start of your 2018 garden! Fruit trees, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, onions, and grapevines can all be planted now. Even if you don’t want to plant anything else this year, you can still get started on next spring’s plantings. With this past season fresh on your mind, you can plan for any changes you need to make.

If you live the Charlotte metro area and you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden consultation, I’d love to do it. I’m familiar with all kinds of landscapes, urban lot or country homestead, the silty, rocky soils of the mountains, the good red land of the Piedmont, or the sandy loam of the Sandhills. They each have their challenges and their beauty. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

I’m a certified small business educator as well. In these times of great opportunity, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!
Hope to see you some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for November 5-11, 2017

I start this week in Patrick County, VA, working on a family project. Then it’s back to Matthews, NC to help folks become Successful Gardeners.

If you live the Charlotte metro area and you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden consultation, I’d love to do it. I’m familiar with all kinds of landscapes, urban lot or country homestead, the silty, rocky soils of the mountains, the good red land of the Piedmont, or the sandy loam of the Sandhills. They each have their challenges and their beauty. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested, contact me here.

Lots of folks think fall is the end of the garden season in North Carolina’s Piedmont. Actually, it’s a perfect time to start NEXT YEAR’S garden. And if you really enjoy your garden, you couldn’t be happier.

This time of year is a really good time to plant lots of perennial plants, everything from trees to shrubs to flowers and vegetable plants. Planting in this cooler season gives your plants weeks of root growing before the warming temperatures bring on the riot of growth that is Spring. So cool-season planting is the start of your 2018 garden! Fruit trees, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, onions, and grapevines can all be planted now. Even if you don’t want to plant anything else this year, you can still get started on next spring’s plantings. With this past season fresh on your mind, you can plan for any changes you need to make.

Instead of blowing and bagging all those leaves, why not start a new compost pile? It’s just as easy to put those leaves in a wire and post bin in a corner of your backyard as it is to get all those leaves to the curb. You’ll get plenty of “black gold” compost for your labor. It’s great for your soil, too! If you need help starting a home compost system, just let me know!

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

I’m a certified small business educator as well. In these times of great opportunity, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!
Hope to see you some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for October 30 – November 4, 2017

I have a simple schedule this week. I’m in Patrick County all week, working on a family project.

This time of year is a really good time to plant lots of perennial plants, everything from trees to shrubs to flowers and vegetable plants. Planting in this cooler season gives your plants weeks of root growing before the warming temperatures bring on the riot of growth that is Spring. So cool-season planting is the start of your 2018 garden! Fruit trees, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, onions, and grapevines can all be planted now. Even if you don’t want to plant anything else this year, you can still get started on next spring’s plantings. With this past season fresh on your mind, you can plan for any changes you need to make.

If you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden consultation, I’d love to do it. I’m familiar with all kinds of landscapes, urban lot or country homestead, the silty, rocky soils of the mountains, the good red land of the Piedmont, or the sandy loam of the Sandhills. They each have their challenges and their beauty. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

I’m a certified small business educator as well. In these times of great opportunity, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!
Hope to see you some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for October 23-28, 2017

It was 36° on Locust Ridge this morning (October 17, 2017). I walked out to check some things to find the first frost of the season. It’s a light one, and right on time. Here on the mountain, as the locals refer to the higher elevations of Patrick County, VA, first frost is around Columbus Day. Locust Ridge is in USDA zone 6B, so frost may not be a factor in your garden for a few weeks yet. In the Charlotte, NC area, Jack Frost normally arrives around Halloween. But it’s the time of year to be alert for what’s called a “killing” frost. That’s a frost with temperatures low enough to damage and even kill cold-tender plants like tomatoes, basil and snap beans.

Being a long-time gardener, that first frost has always seemed like the true start of fall to me. There’s a definite change in my gardening priorities, with watching the weather for signs of frost becoming my number one activity. And that entails more than just checking the Weather Channel app on my smartphone. It’s knowing the microclimate* of my garden, and how weather affects that place.

It’s also the time for planting trees, shrubs, vines, perennials and cold-hardy plants. Proper siting, placement and planting can help plants survive and thrive during their first months in your garden. Experience counts when you are doing this, and my 30+ years of experience has given me lots of success and frankly, failure, in the garden. I’d love to share that experience with you through a home garden & landscape consultation.

If you live the Charlotte metro area and you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden consultation, I’d love to do it. I’m familiar with all kinds of landscapes, urban lot or country homestead, the silty, rocky soils of the mountains, the good red land of the Piedmont, or the sandy loam of the Sandhills. They each have their challenges and their beauty. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

I’m a certified small business educator as well. In these times of great opportunity, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!
Hope to see you some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

* A microclimate is the combination of factors that affect the weather around a particular place. Location, exposure, soil, and mulches are just some of the things that go into creating a microclimate.

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Forgiveness And Change

A Buddhist Prayer on Forgiveness
“If I have harmed anyone in any way
either knowingly or unknowingly
through my own confusions
I ask their forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me in any way
either knowingly or unknowingly
through their own confusions
I forgive them.

And if there is a situation
I am not yet ready to forgive
I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself,
negate, doubt, belittle myself,
judge or be unkind to myself
through my own confusions
I forgive myself.”*

There is much fury in the world today. I don’t mean the hollow kind, as in sound & fury, but true, honest-to-god, indignant, offended, pissed-off wrath. We’ve all felt it. I used to think it was cathartic, and it still can be, but I caution everyone, please don’t let it turn into a destructive rage. As a person who’s already gone through that, I can tell you the cost isn’t worth it.

Lest you think I am minimizing your situation, I am not. There are too many instances of injustice, greed, and evil in the world to ignore. And standing up for yourself en mass, holding people accountable for their actions, seems to be the most effective way to deal with it.

Our challenge as human beings seems to be the way in which we confront the shadow side of our world. Too often we react in anger, which can erupt into violence. That anger may be justified, and righteous as hell, but to use that force alone…Well, it never did me any good. Trust me when I say that I have applied anger to a LOT of situations, with no discernibly positive effects at all.

Can you imagine if all these voices that have risen in anger were lifted in Love instead? How would it affect the world if we set aside judgement of the situations, institutions, or people that had harmed us and simply said, “What you’re doing hurts everybody. No more”. And we held them to that. Regardless of media attention, politics, or personal power (or lack thereof).

Is it naïve of me to think that Love can change the world? Gandhi didn’t think so. Dr. King didn’t think so. And their ideas are as powerful today as they have ever been. And for those ideas to be as effective as possible, it’s time for each of us to get our own shit together. That’s what I call getting a Master’s in Spiritual Alchemy.

A big part of that is forgiveness. Not some squishy victimhood of “I can’t do anything about it, so I’ll forget it happened”. I mean a strong detachment from the hurt and pain that allows you to move on with your Life. If you need to hold someone accountable, so be it. Do it with fairness and justice, not revenge. If you need to remember the lesson from the situation, that’s OK, too.

I’ve had to let go of any need of hearing an “I’m sorry”, as well. Though I will say that I came to this from the actions of a bigger person than me. Reconciliation is a fine and healing thing, unbelievably cathartic. But waiting for contrition before you forgive only allows the poison to sink deeper within.

All of this forgiveness is very hard for me. But living the sour, puckered life of anger and frustration is harder. So I think it’s worth the effort. To put it bluntly, it’s why I’m still around.

The Buddhist prayer at the beginning of this post inspired me to write today. As with so many things from that tradition, it is both succinct and powerful. And yes, it is about me. And you. And us. All at the same time. Because that’s how we will change the world.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

*http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/book-reviews/view/18299/prayers-for-hope-and-comfort

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