So this morning I hosted everyone from my Organic Master Gardener class for our compost building workshop in my backyard. Everyone came with something in hand: straw, leaves, seaweed, kitchen scraps, pallets, effective micro-organisms, and glacial rock dust. We learned about how a good compost should start with high quality materials, be layered in brown and green, and be given enough food, water, and air to develop and healthy microbial ecosystem. I could write a whole blog post about this, but instead there are some other layers of emotion that I am compelled to unpack.

Compost is absolute gold in the garden. You cannot buy anything in a bag at a store that will be as valuable as a good home compost. And similarly, the following values are ones I am using to forge gold in my own life.


Whooo-eee, did I ever have to keep my own self-judgement in check today. First of all, for an introverted person such as me to invite twelve almost-strangers into my home was intimidating enough. But to invite them into my garden. That was even harder.

Would they judge my suburban two-kids-and-a-dog lifestyle? Would they judge my gardening skill? Design? Abilities? My weedy lawn? My ocean view (just how does a 30-something afford that anyway)? My drip irrigation (which I’ve now learned is a no-no)?

I am trying so hard to embrace an attitude of non-judgement towards others in my life, inspired by the priniciples of Marshall B. Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication (NVC). What I am realizing, though, is how hard it is to remove self-judgement from the equation. Nobody at all today overtly judged me, but internally I had to constantly keep myself in check.

We had a professional gardener onsite teaching us the workshop. I felt completely inadequate in terms of skills, knowledge, and experience. When I look out at my garden, 90% of what I see is everything I want to change. I see my mistakes, I see the weeds, and the empty areas begging for color. I see where I’d love to have a beautiful shed/greenhouse, big new garden beds full of edibles, and where I want to build my boys a big sandbox for playing diggers and dump trucks. But I know that others can’t see what I see in my mind, even though I wish they could.

Authentically Me is Enough

Questions running through my mind today: am I crunchy hippy enough? am I skilled enough? am I Enough?

But you know what? I may not be a professional gardener. I may not be as crunchy as most of Victoria (though my mainland friends would beg to differ). I may have two kids, a dog, and a suburban home. But damn, I’m living as authentically to my true self as I can figure out how to and that is Enough.

I love to garden and I’m committed to getting better at it: that’s why I’m taking this Organic Master Gardener course.

I love my family and the joy they bring me. Yes, I’m a 30-something stay-at-home-mom with two kids and a dog. I might be a stereotype now, but hey, it’s not a bad one to be.

I love my big ol’ suburban traditional middle-class home. It affords me space for my family and my garden to grow and flourish. It’s Enough.

Am I privileged? In many people’s eyes, yes. But everyone has their demons. Everyone is fighting their own battles. I seriously can’t believe I’m about to do this, but every good compost needs some high quality shit, and damn there is some high quality shit in the Bible:

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 
2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 
Matthew 7:1-2 NIV


About 10 years ago someone gave me some feedback that I have reflected on many times since. In a nutshell, they told me, “Shannon, you have so much potential, you just need to open yourself up more.” Oh yeah, “just” do it. SO EASY. Is my sarcasm coming across?

But, this is so key. I’m pouring my inner emotions out onto a public blog that (hopefully most of) my close family and friends, along with perfect strangers, will read. I opened my garden and my home to my class. I’m working to open my head and my heart, live without judgement of myself or others, and to be authentic to myself. And you know what? Since working to live more openly, I’ve seen the world transform from one of limited opportunity to one of boundless possibility. I’ve formed deeper friendships, had more ideas, and gleaned deeper meaning from life since becoming more open. I’ve created gold.

Like compost needs to be open to the air so that it doesn’t go anaerobic, I think our hearts need to stay open too lest they fester and rot.

So, after a post like this it may seem that my little Garden & Lifestyle blog is treading into the new-age, self-help category. I’m sorry, I can’t help it. The garden teaches you so much more than soil and plants. And isn’t THAT the point of this blog?

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