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Jeff’s Schedule for 8/28-9/3/2016

This week, I’m in Patrick County and Floyd County, VA, working on some personal projects. I’ll also be working in The Living Garden trial gardens, where I fine tune the gardening skills and knowledge that I share in my Successful Gardener classes.

On Thursday, September 1, I’m headed off to Floyd YogaJam, a weekend of Yoga practice, music, and fun! There are still tickets available at http://floydyogajam.net Hope I see you there!

While I’ll be pretty busy this week, I can always make time to help YOU be a Successful Gardener! If you live in Patrick, Henry or Floyd County, VA and you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden 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, 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 some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Graciousness

What you put out into the world comes back to you, multiplied threefold. I’ve heard that referred to as the Law of Threefold Return, though I’m not sure that it is an actual Universal Law. But I believe that its essence is true. The energy that we put out into the world as our attitudes, emotions, and beliefs will come back to us as the way other folks react to us. There’s no magick to it. I think it’s human nature. If you treat others well, you’re more likely to be treated well yourself. And if you’re having a bad day, well, you’re probably gonna run into some unpleasant folks that day. So is it your fault when you have to deal with some jerk at the store who’s rude to you? Not necessarily. Just like you’re putting your energy out into the world, so is that fellow referred to as a jerk. Which leads us to another question. Does the jerk’s annoying behavior give you permission to be irritable as well? While that might be a good excuse, I don’t really think it’s a good idea. Karma or Golden Rule or whatever behavioral rules you live by would seem to guide you toward graciousness.

Graciousness is a mindset that has been slowly fading over the years. Standards of hospitality (which I think is a form of graciousness) were used to protect travelers in ancient times. I suspect that those standards are still in place today in some countries. Kindness and compassion are cornerstones of religious and spiritual life all across the globe. Friendliness and generosity are valued traits of both people and communities. Yet over time, saying and acting on what you think, regardless of how rude/racist/sexist/homophobic it may be, has become a “virtue” of sorts. Rudeness and hatefulness have become confused with candor. You can see what kind of world that has created. Regardless of your beliefs, it’s not a pleasant place to inhabit. And why do we choose to do so? I’m not sure we do. But we certainly aren’t choosing graciousness.

Gracious living has often been seen as living in the lap of luxury, waited on hand and foot. But that lifestyle has never reminded me of Grace, which is the underpinning of graciousness. The Grace I’m referring to is that Unconditional Love for All of Creation, simply because we all exist. Not because we deserve it, or did something to earn it. Just because, as kids say. So we get to start at a high bar, right off the bat. And we need to go first with this Love. “Change is good. You go first” hasn’t gotten us very far.

As I wrote earlier, Gracious behavior is anchored in Compassion, Empathy, and Friendliness. Most, if not all of the religious and spiritual traditions in the world, all urge Self-control and Humility. Generosity and Courtesy are valued traits anywhere in the world. Helping our fellow man and woman in time of need is offering Grace as well. And by definition, we are offering Love.

REMEMBER – I AM offering Unconditional Love to All of Creation by Living Graciously.
And So It Is!!!

~ Inspired by The Season of Nonviolence and current events

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for 8/22-27/2016

This week, I’m in Patrick County and Floyd County, VA, teaching a class and working on some personal projects. I’ll also be working in The Living Garden trial gardens, where I fine tune the gardening skills and knowledge that I share in my Successful Gardener classes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 6:00—8:00PM
The Successful Gardener
Reynolds Homestead, 407 Homestead Lane, Critz, VA, 24082

Good Soil: A Gardener’s Guide to Soil Testing $10.00
Growing healthy food begins with building a healthy soil. Building soil starts with the soil test, and it’s a test you can’t fail, unless you don’t take it! This class teaches soil sampling, reading the soil test results, and what to do with those results.

Here’s more info.
Contact: Lisa Martin (276)694-7181 ext. 22 or martinlm@vt.edu

While I’ll be pretty busy this week, I can always make time to help YOU be a Successful Gardener! If you live in Patrick, Henry or Floyd County, VA and you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden 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, 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 some time this week!

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Be Here Now*

I’ve always been a little skeptical of living in the moment. It just seemed too limiting. Being an historian, I’ve always taken to heart the notion that those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. As a business owner, if I don’t plan for the future, cash flow dries up and income falls to zero. While I still hold both of those things to be true, over time, I’ve come to see the idea of living in the moment differently.

Living in the present, Living in the moment, Living in the NOW, whatever you want to call it, has nothing to do with ignoring the past or disregarding the future. It’s all about paying attention to what you’re doing right this minute, without worry or judgement. Particularly applicable to somebody like me who is an inveterate worrier and self critic, Living in the present lets you focus on what IS, right now. You aren’t encumbered by belittling yourself over every little (or big) thing you’ve done wrong. You can plan for the future without incessant worry over what might happen, usually the worst case scenario for what you’re trying to accomplish. You are free from over-thinking things to the point of paralysis.

There is more to this Mindfulness , as it’s come to be called. It’s a stress reduction technique that works on the parts of the brain that we use to deal with challenging situations. It can help heal our bodies, calm our minds, and help us have better relationships.

This practice comes from Buddhist meditation, and it’s the writings from that tradition that have helped me understand it better. This site referred to Mindfulness as “…that ability of the mind to observe without criticism…one sees things without condemnation or judgment…One just observes”. This is a step further than not judging. We just let these thoughts come up as they will, notice them, and let them pass on by. We stay focused on whatever it is we are doing, even if that is simply being.

Sitting quietly, watching or even counting the breath, is a good way to get started in mindfulness meditation practice. I still remember vividly practicing this technique while I was hiking on the Deep River in North Carolina. I had stopped to let my dog do her sniffing thing, and settled on a fallen tree. I started to count slow, even breaths. By the time I got to 80 breaths, I noticed a change in how I was perceiving things. By the time I reached 100, I had settled into what I can only call a blissful state. I stayed that way for the rest of the hike.

I’d like to say that I reach that same state of Being every time I meditate. But I can’t. I suppose it’s due to the worrying and self-criticizing I’ve indulged in for so long. It’s tough to move that stuff out of the way. It’s the practice itself that helps me create new ways for me to be, new thoughtforms to fit into My Personal Mythology. It may be the same for you, I can’t say. We’re all so different in that regard, anyway. Consistent practice is what gets you there.

There are some good sites that will carry you further into this intriguing realm.
Here and here . If you don’t try anything else, try counting breaths. You can start with, say, 20 breaths, then work up to 100. Do it every day for a month. Let me know what happens.

REMEMBER – I AM paying attention, on purpose, without judgement.
And So It Is!

Inspired by The Season of Non-violence.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

* Apologies to Ram Dass for borrowing the title. That book is another one I highly recommend.

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Jeff’s Schedule for 8/15-20/2016

This week, I’m up on Locust Ridge, working on some personal projects. I’ll also be working in The Living Garden trial gardens, where I fine tune the gardening skills and knowledge that I share in my Successful Gardener classes.

While I’ll be pretty busy this week, I can always make time to help YOU be a Successful Gardener! If you live in Patrick, Henry or Floyd County, VA and you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden 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, 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 some time this week,
Jeff

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Do You Understand?

To understand something is to make sense of it. You may not agree with the situation or the person involved, but you can see more than your own point of view. This kind of understanding comes from a lot of experience. You may have been the person wanting to be understood, or the person who wasn’t understood. You might have found yourself in the middle of a situation you just could not wrap your head around, even if it was of your own making. These are the times understanding (or the lack thereof) is evident to us, because we weren’t understood or don’t understand.

When we see the “bad stuff” that happens in our Life, there could be all kinds of reasons for this. Often it’s the older part of our brains responding in fight or flight response mode. Something has happened, and this is how we should react! In this survival mode, we tend to only see or comprehend what will keep us alive for the next 30 minutes, or even the next 30 seconds. With this “fight or flight” response, we will notice every threat or danger much quicker than new opportunities. Which means we have to actively look for the positive situations.

To adapt something that Gandhi said, if you want to be understood, be more understanding. If you want to understand, be more understanding. It’s not a trick statement. The best way to be more understood by others is to set an example for others by the understanding you offer them. And yes, you do need to go first. You should be willing to understand others who don’t agree with you and may even wish you harm. It also includes the folks that you may wish harm to. That’s part of the example. I didn’t say it was easy. But I will say it’s worth doing. So how do you go about creating an Understanding practice?

First, define what you mean by understanding. There are as many meanings as there are people, I suppose, but several words stood out in the definitions I read; knowledge, experience, and forgiveness. Knowledge combined with Experience, and the actions that result from that combination, is how we build Wisdom. Forgiveness is one of the Wisest things we can do with our lives.

Next, set an Intention for your practice. This “I AM” statement will guide you in the practice. What do you want to get from the practice? More importantly, what do you want to GIVE through your practice? Maybe “I AM more Understanding of other Faiths” or “I AM learning more about (insert a political issue here) so I can better understand those I disagree with”.  If you’re not sure you can meet the Intention, state it this way – “I AM WILLING to be more Understanding of other Faiths”. When I am beginning a practice, I find it easier to set an Intention I can make sense of. Being able to fulfill the Intention is important to motivation. But I hasten to add that when I AM looking for real change in My Life, the Intention I set is a challenge to me.

With clear Intention and meaning, now you have a framework for practice. But what actions do you take to manifest that Intention? Here the practice will change according to where you are on your journey. Some, many of whom are admittedly more learned than I, insist that this thing or that thing is the “only way” to manifest an Intention. Personally, repeating My Intentions daily or even whenever I think of them has gone a long way toward manifesting my Intentions.

This repetition can be done as an affirmation or some form of meditation. But repetition alone won’t give you the results you desire. You have to take some kind of action. And here’s where your practice begins to take fruit. When you act in a manner in alignment with your Intention, you are manifesting that Intention into the world. When you act contrary to your Intention, you’ll think to yourself, “Wait! That’s not what I am or what I do.” Words to that affect, anyway. I’ve used much saltier language than that. And the longer you practice your Intention, the quicker you notice behaviors that align with it or disturb you because it’s not who you are anymore. Essentially, you are creating new neural pathways in your brain that help you create your Life.

How long will this take? It’s hard for me to say. There’s the 21 days to change theory, and lots of others. Frankly, I think it’s different for everybody. In the spirit of full disclosure, some things have taken longer for me to manifest than others. My old beliefs and thoughts sometimes have to be released before I can fully accept the new thoughtforms. Other times, but not often, it’s taken very little time. But mostly it’s taken me 30 days or more. And that’s OK. If everything we thought just popped up right in front of us, this world would be even crazier than we think it is. And we probably wouldn’t get what we really wanted anyway. Both our ideas and the thoughts and actions that create them need time to ripen. While you can do something with a green apple, you can do more with a ripe one. Practice is anything you do repeatedly with a clear Intention, so don’t get hung up on numbers.

Just Practice. “Practice, and all is coming.”*

REMEMBER – I AM Practicing to better understand myself and others.

~ Inspired by The Season of Nonviolence and the challenge of writing this piece
And So It Is!

Peace, Grace, and Love,
Jeff

*K. Pattabhi Jois

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Jeff’s Schedule for August 8-13, 2016

I’ll be in the Patrick County, Virginia area this week, working on some local projects.If you live in the Stuart, VA, or Mount Airy, NC, 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 mountain and foothills gardens, 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! To set up a consultation, contact me here.

As a farmer and NC Cooperative Extension agent, 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 consultant 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! If you’re interested, 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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It’s All About DO You Love!!!

A re-post from a few months ago. I needed the reminder.

It ain’t about who you Love
But it ain’t about who ya love (who ya love) no
See it’s all about do ya love
(do ya love)
See it ain’t about who ya love – no no no
See it’s all about do ya love
(do ya love)
“Do Ya Love”, Michael Franti
I ran across this song on Rhapsody (Now Napster). It’s on Spotify, too.

I write about Unconditional Love a lot. That’s because I believe Unconditional Love is a Superpower. A Superpower that can change the world. With it, we can overcome any negative emotion, surmount any obstacle, work through any problem, deal with anybody, heal any situation, keep ourselves energized for any project. Is there any other force that can do that?
To add to the power of Love, it’s available to everyone, at any time. All we have to do is CHOOSE to Love- everybody, everywhere, every time. Otherwise, it’s not Unconditional.
And yes. We can do that. We can Love Unconditionally. Because it’s not who we Love, it’s DO we Love?! The blocks to Love aren’t the behaviors, experiences, or circumstances we encounter. The barriers exist in each of us, the thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions we accumulate as we live our lives. Babies and small children love much more easily than we do, until they learn from adults to hate and fear.
We are Love, you and I. And the sooner we realize that and get rid of all the shit we’ve picked up, the sooner we can utilize that Superpower to change the world.
Cultivate this Superpower by suspending judgements of yourself & others, by accepting who and what is in this moment, & by being Intentional in the Compassion you extend to all of Creation. In essence, you create an Unconditional Love practice. And the more you practice, the more often Unconditional Love shows up in your life. Every time you consciously choose Love, you let go of more of that shit you’ve accumulated.
And lest you think I’m suggesting you become a passive soul, nothing could be further from the truth. Unconditional Love is Strong and Passionate, while at the same time, it can be Gentle & Peaceful. Love meets us where we are, and offers it’s best so we can be our best. And in Offering Love to all, we become that Strong, Gentle Power that changes the world.
REMEMBER – I AM LOVE, the Superpower that remakes the world in its own image of Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faith, Gentleness, Self-control, & Thankfulness.
And So It Is!
– Inspired by many things.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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