Day four of the Overcoming Fear Challenge: Where am I?

“The offspring of fear is mediocrity.”-Hilton Johnson

When I was a reservist, we would sometimes go up to Fort Leonard Wood on maneuvers and one of the things that we did was go out to the woods and learn how to read a map.

monkey

Trying to find a way to get out of the cage that others have placed around you is not an easy task. It is even harder to realize that it is not others that are keeping you there, but rather it is fear inside yourself.

In order to determine how to find our way to where we wanted to go, we had to shoot what they call an azimuth or a direction in which to begin moving.  Before we could shoot the azimuth, however, we had to figure out exactly where we were. It is certainly a rule that we cannot get to where we want to go unless we first know where we are right now.

If you ask anyone what the number one thing that you need to do to overcome fear is “to face it”, but that’s a just a meaningless cliche that everyone uses. It doesn’t really mean anything. What does it really mean. For me, I have to first face the fear of where I am and understand how I got here. I realize that I can’t get to where I want to go without first understanding where I am.

I know I can express to people how important it is to have courage. The mentoring that I got from my mentor when I was a child was to play it safe. He tried to give me what he thought was good advice, which was  not to do things that were too risky.

Orangetang

Even when you have a big orange ego, you’re still not big enough to beat down that door and you feel at times as though you should just give up. Instead of giving up, t is time to look for a key instead of looking for something to use to beat down the door.

I rebelled against that advice and determined to find another way to get out of the situation I was in so I determined that I took a trip from Pennsylvania to California where I didn’t know anyone and thought I would get a job. I returned to Pennsylvania after just a few days because I knew I would never make it. I had not prepared for that transition. I then tried to get a job, but only could find mediocre jobs that hardly paid the bills. Therefore I joined the Navy so that I could get away from the situation. The list of situations goes on. I can name situation after situation where I would try to find the shortcut to the success I was looking to find. My life was like a fad diet. A get rich quick scheme. It never led anywhere, but toward looking for the next and better shiny object upon which to set my sights, always desiring, never achieving, never attaining the success to which I searched. Even though I seemed to be taking risks, those risks were motivated  by fear.

Put in the work, I saw the moves as a means to an end to get me to where I wanted to go in my life. How were those things to help me take me to where I wanted to go rather than going to school and getting my degree, I was looking for a shortcut. I was looking for a shortcut because I was listening to fear, and I set my course to show my mentor that he was wrong. I thought that doing these things would be the easiest way, but it was motivated by fear because I was afraid that he was right. I still hear that voice in my head telling me that I am not good enough and that I am not able to do what it takes to fulfill my dreams. I have been listening to a lie and trying to run from it. Instead of becoming the writer that I know I can become, I have settled for a life of mediocrity.

As Thoreau said in Walden, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats.”

I know where I am. I have my bearings. I have found the underlying fear that motivated me thus far. I know the landmarks of this place and have found it on the map of my life. I know my destination and I can now begin shooting the azimuth and begin my journey out of this valley of mediocrity.

Challenge Day 3: Fear Disguised as Procrastination

I observe myself procrastinating things that I love doing all the time. I do it because I don’t want to have to face the new thing that I have to face that will bring changes in my life. For instance, I have three books that I am currently editing for publication.

procrastination flowchartOne of them is the still unnamed book of poems that my Dad R Leonard Swanson when he was alive that I am adding memories that relate to those poems. Another is my book Simply Vegetable Gardening.

Dad’s book I have been procrastinating because I really don’t want to call his life’s work finished. Yesterday I was thinking about something that my Dad had told me about. I had some questions about it, but then I realized that I had no way of asking him because he is no longer with us. I have no doubt in my mind that this procrastination is my fear of letting go of him. Coupled with that is the fact that six weeks later, my eldest brother died. He was my first playmate. Finishing Dad’s book means saying good-bye. It also represents the idea that by having finished that chapter in my life brings me that much closer to “putting nails into my own coffin”. The fear of death keeps me stuck so that I am not finishing this project.

nVtbMzg7Cdd_9820955(2)

Here’s the cover of my new book Simply Vegetable Gardening. What do you think?

My book Simply Vegetable Garden is my first nonfiction book and it is already a month later in publication than I had first intended for it to be. Part of the fear in that book is that I am afraid that no one will buy it. This is one fear that I am plunging through this week. By this weekend, I will have the Kindle version available online and will have the print version ready for review. The sales campaign to my friends and family will begin next week.

Another area that I have been procrastinating in is in finishing my class assignments for school. I am not saying that I am not getting them done on time, because I am. What I am saying is that I have been putting things off until the last minute and then rushing to finish on time. The fear behind this procrastination isn’t really about the school work at all. My fear is related to the fact that I am into my last four classes before I finish my degree. July 30th marks the completion of my last class. Once I finish my degree, I will be facing the challenge of transitioning from student to someone who needs to find meaningful work. I am afraid of this change, but if I intend to reach the goals that I am striving to reach, I must move forward. I must press on.

To combat the temptation to procrastinate because of the fears that I am facing, I must meet this temptation head on. To do this, beginning today, I am going to plow through these projects. Before looking at my e-mails or social media, before working on any other projects, I intend to work on each of these projects at least for fifteen minutes each.

Have you been procrastinating? Have you been putting things off because of some sort of fear? If you have, determine that you will stop procrastinating in those areas today. Do the projects that you have been procrastinating first rather than last. Break through the fear and see what victories lie beyond the veil of procrastination.

 

Challenge Day Two: Dispelling Fear Through Meditation

“Before a person can accomplish anything of an enduring nature in the world, she must first of all acquire some measure of success in the management of her own mind. If a person cannot govern the forces within herself, she cannot hold a firm hand upon the outer activities that form her visible life.” – Mastery of Destiny

river meditationAs I begin this journey of facing my fears, I need to remember that that fear is afraid of itself. Whenever I face it, I need to greet it by name and imagine myself saying to the fear, “Hey you, I see you there and you can’t scare me. I know you want me to run screaming from you, but I am not going to. If you want a piece of me bring it.”
Fear can’t stand up to that kind of awareness. I must continue practicing this and eventually I will transform my anxiety into an ability to rise to the occasion.

Of the list of fears that I wrote yesterday, I included on the list several things that I do not intend to deal with this month. For instance, on that list was the fear of rodents particularly rats and mice. I am not dealing with that because as of right now I live in a home where they are nonexistent. Same goes for my fear of snakes. I don’t need to deal with that fear either. Nor am I going to deal with the fear of heights. No bungee jumping or skydiving this month. I have more pressing fears to face.

The fears that I face are in my own mind. In order gain control of my fears, I need to first gain control of my own thinking. It is said that you learn what it is that you need to learn when you are ready, and yesterday, I saw an interview about Dan Harris talking about his own anxiety and that he dealt with it by using meditation. His new book 10% Happier is at the top of the New York Times Best Seller’s List.

So, for me, today I have begun meditating. I will meditate five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening. The meditating that I am talking about is simple to do, once I have determined that is what I intend doing.

Here’s how simple it is. Set a timer for five minutes. Sit upright in a chair in a quiet location. Close your eyes. Now for the next five minutes, focus on your breathing. When (not if, because they are guaranteed to occur) thoughts come into your mind, dismiss them and return your focus on your breathing.

This is not just something that is toted by “unwashed hippies and rogue gurus”. Many studies have been done concerning meditation and many believe that it is more effective than anxiety medications. Meditation rewires the brain from the anxious flight or fight response to a more restful response to life’s challenges including fear.

The meditation I described above only requires five minutes twice a day. I think I can take five minutes to develop the restful parts of my brain and make them stronger than the fears and anxieties that I feel. Are you willing to also begin developing this fear fighting tool in your life as well? Please comment! It can get very lonely here in cyberspace!

 

 

April First-Day: List my Fears

Just the other day, a wise woman told me this:

“What holds you back Donna, is your own fear of Self. You often fail to see the brilliance that lies beneath your insecurities… but I promise – all you need to do is let your True Self shine through!”

This is part of the reason that I decided to use the month of April as the month that I take the time to face my fears and deal with some of the most debilitating fears that I have. I know that I am intelligent. I know that I am capable. I know that I have not been living up to my full potential. A lot has happened in the past few months. My Dad died which was expected, but then my brother died which was not. All this has made me realize that I have not been who I know I am capable of being. The reason is fear. I am afraid to step out of my comfort zone and do the things that I really want to do in life.

We don’t venture out and explore new ideas when we are afraid. Fears are what keep us in our comfort zone. To determine how I will face my fears this month, the first thing I must do is list them as I think of them. Listing them gives me a perspective. Some of the fears are related, some are not. Once I have listed my fears, I will prioritize them to determine which ones to face first, and which ones will take time. I will determine which ones are steps I must take to help me face the larger, more important fears. By keeping a list, I will be able to develop a game plan for the month.

Do you have fears? Sit down and list yours while I list mine. Come on this journey with me. Perhaps you too can grow with this journey of stepping out of my comfort zone and facing my fears that are keeping me from doing the things that I really want to do.  I begin by creating that list of fears. I’ve got nothing to lose but fear itself!

 

Diving into April with a 30-Day Challenge

Can you believe that it is already the last day of the month? How time flies whether I’m having fun or not! Tomorrow starts a new day, and I am diving into what is called a 30 Day Challenge. Every day I will be facing a challenge that has been plaguing me so much that I have devoted a whole month to conquering it.

skydiver

This skydiver certainly has learned to face his fears and this month, I am planning to face a few of my own.

I have decided that the biggest thing I need challenged right now “FEAR”. Everyday, for the next thirty days, I am going to something to help me face some fear in my life. Everyday I am going to post some intent and then post what I did to face down that fear and overcome it. No, I am not going to face my fears concerning bungee jumping or skydiving, I plan on being a little more practical than that. So everyday for the next month, you will be seeing a post from me concerning some challenge that I am putting out there. If you know of any unique ways of facing fear, comment below. I would love to hear your insights.

Do you face areas of fear in your life? Perhaps you too would join me in this challenge.

bungee jumping

This will not be on my list of fears that I plan to challenge this month, but the ones that I face will definitely be as frightening for me as bungee jumping!

What is it that you fear? What do you think that you need to do to conquer your fears?  Write in the comments below what fears you have to face, and perhaps list a thing or two that you will use to confront it. If you can’t think of way to confront your fear, write down your fear anyway. Perhaps we can both gain a better perspective by dialoguing about it.

If you haven’t yet received your copy of Vegetable Gardening in the Shade, do so now by clicking on this link and receive a subscription to my newsletter Cygnet’s News as well. In this newsletter, you will be able to keep up with events that I will be attending, updates on my books, and articles that bring the conflict of the American Revolution to life as well as timely gardening tips from what to plant, how to plant it using organic methods, how to keep it growing and how to use it after harvest.

© Copyright, 2014, Diving into April with a 30-Day Challenge, Donna (Cygnet) Brown

Be a Fly on the Wall with Another Sneak Peek into Soldiers Don’t Cry

On March 28, 1774, Britain passed Coercive Act against Massachusetts, but the Americans in Boston didn’t feel its effects until June 1 of the same year when the act was activated. Wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on the wall of Boston patriots when they discovered that Parliament intended to make Bostonians pay for their insubordination at the Boston Tea Party? In Chapter 4 of Soldiers Don’t Cry, Elizabeth Thorton (our heroine) and Peter Mayford (her brother-in-law and Boston merchant) have just learned that the Coercive Act has gone into effect and the Port of Boston  has closed.

The crystal on the mantel and chandelier tinkled. Elizabeth heard her brother-in-law, Peter Mayford, cursing with each stomp.
“You’re home early, Peter,” Elizabeth said quietly. She did not need to turn around to see who it was. She finished her task and faced him, anyway.
“They closed the port! They brought another warship into Boston Harbor today and they closed the port!”
Elizabeth put her hands on her hips and scolded. “There’s no reason to be cursing through the house.”
“I have every reason to be cursing! I cannot believe you are taking this so calmly. My business involves working at the port! Have you forgotten that I am a shipping merchant? Those fancy silk fabrics I bought you were not only brought in on my ship, they were paid for by those ships being able to come and go from this port!”
“Yes, Peter,” she patronized. “I’m totally aware of those facts. We also knew King George was planning to close the port, and we are ready for it. The king calls this act the Coercive Act.”
“Intolerable Act if you ask me!” Peter Mayford huffed.
“You’re not the first person I’ve heard call them ‘intolerable.’ Every Patriot I’ve met in this city calls those acts ‘intolerable,’” Elizabeth added. “Peter, I don’t know why you’re so upset. When you heard the rumors that Parliament was closing the port, you moved your ships up to Salem. At least you can be thankful you had warning.”
“Thankful, I should be thankful for what? Have you not heard what I am saying? My main business is here in Boston, not Salem. A shipping merchant cannot do business from almost a hundred miles away. Do you know how inconvenient it will be for me to have to travel overland to Salem in order to conduct my shipping business?”
Elizabeth folded her hands in front of her. “You did expect some repercussions from the little tea party you and your ‘Indian’ friends had last winter, didn’t you?”
“I can understand the repercussions, certainly, but not closing the port. The port provides the livelihood of most of the people in this town. What is the king trying to do? Is he trying to drive New England to rebellion? He is treating us like children who he has a right to discipline. In Annapolis they burned a ship full of tea and all we did was. . .”
“Share the British tea with the seagulls,” Elizabeth giggled. Then she became serious. “Honestly, Peter, you make it sound like it’s the end of the world. I wish you would keep your voice down. Rachel might hear you, if she hasn’t heard you bellowing already.”
“Rachel is home? I thought she would be at the market. Where is she?”
“She is upstairs working with the loom. She’s trying to finish the broadcloth she’s working on for Jonathan’s new britches.”
Jonathan was Peter and Rachel’s twelve-year-old eldest son.
“Outgrowing his clothes again, huh?”
“Yes, Peter, your son is growing up.”
A shadow came over Peter’s face. “He’s a lot like my friend Matthew was when we were children. Matthew was always ripping his pants on something. I wonder what Matthew would have said about the most recent turn of events?”
Elizabeth empathized with Peter’s loss of his friend. “If he were alive today, I can guarantee he would have been right beside you dumping the tea into the harbor. What was the ship’s name? It was the Beaver, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, the ship was called the Beaver, and you’re right, Matthew would have been right beside me. I’m sure he would have.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Yes, he was the radical sort, wasn’t he? He was the one who first introduced you to Sam Adams, wasn’t he?”
“No, John Adams introduced me to Sam Adams. Matthew introduced me to Paul Revere.”
Elizabeth watched Peter’s troubled face. He was probably reliving the afternoon on March 5, 1770, when King George’s soldiers opened fire and murdered Peter’s friend Matthew Wilds. The events of March 5, 1770, changed Peter Mayford’s life forever. The day started like any other day. Peter was working at his office near Hancock’s Wharf when one of his clerks told him about the commotion at the square. Eyewitnesses told him about the insults exchanged between a barber’s boy and the soldiers in the square in front of the statehouse. A crowd gathered to join the argument. The crowd threw snowballs and sticks at the detachment. The maddened soldiers retaliated by shoving their bayonets toward the crowd.
Peter decided to investigate. From a half block away, Peter distinctly heard the command to fire. He ran down the street as fast as he could toward where the shots were fired, but the oncoming crowd running away from the gunfire jostled him. When he finally reached his friend, Peter found Matthew lying in a pool of his own blood, dead from a gunshot wound to his chest. As he held his friend to his body and Matthew’s blood flowed from the fatal wound, Peter vowed he would do everything in his power to avenge his friend’s death.
Peter had been one of the many people who testified against Captain Preston, the commander of the British detachment, and six of his men at the trial when they were tried for the murder of five men who died on the fifth day of March. The Patriots memorialized the day and designated the “Boston Massacre.”
Oddly enough, widely known Patriots John Adams and Josiah Quincy were the defense attorneys for the soldiers. John Adams was able to get Captain Preston and most of his men acquitted, and this put a rift between Peter and John Adams—a rift Elizabeth doubted would ever be repaired.
For years, John Adams had been a family friend, ever since he acquitted Elizabeth’s mother of murder. Drusilla’s trial had been the first case Adams defended. It was four years before Elizabeth was born, but Elizabeth heard the trial recounted many times. Her father, Kanter Thorton, and her sister, Rachel, had helped John Adams clear Drusilla’s name and bring the true murderers—Mark and Phyllis, John Codman’s black slaves—to trial.
In 1770, however, Adams agreed to defend the soldiers at the Boston Massacre trial, and Peter was outraged. He could not believe a family friend would become such a turncoat by defending the enemy.
In his closing argument of the famous trial, Adams stated the soldiers had been provoked and the commanding officer had not been the one to issue the command, and though he did not believe their actions were totally justified, it was not an act of premeditated murder.
Elizabeth personally was not sure that Peter’s reaction was justified, because she knew that John Adams was as furious as the majority of the people in the courtroom with the verdict. The judge let five go free. The punishment given to the other two was a searing brand to the palms of their hands. The death of his friend and five others along with the broken friendship were merely scars on the palms of two men from the squad of men responsible.
For a while, all seemed quiet. Despite the cooled tempers, Peter’s anger remained kindled with help from Sam Adams’ numerous articles in the Boston Gazette. Then on November 3, 1772, Peter, who was one of the members of the Boston Committee of Correspondence, helped draft the second document that declared the infringements and violations of the rights of the colonists. His coastal ships helped distribute letters from Boston to the other seacoast cities in North America. These letters of correspondence instructed the other colonists on how they could collectively respond to the infringements and violations foisted on them by the Crown.
Then the announcement came from Parliament. They passed the Tea Act on May 10, 1773. Peter arranged for the captain of one of his ships to make secret, illegal deals with the Dutch to bring in a shipload of Dutch tea disguised in salt barrels, thereby avoiding the tax. He then devised a network of prominent Patriot businessmen who would buy the tea and distribute it among the colonists of Massachusetts.
During the autumn of 1773, the Boston Committee of Correspondence asked the Boston, merchants whom the crown supported to resign from their posts. Even though these consigned merchants in New York and Charlestown, Massachusetts, resigned, the tenacious merchants in Boston refused to resign. On November 28, three ships, filled with the notorious taxed tea, docked in Boston Harbor.
The Boston Committee of Correspondence met with the committees of neighboring towns at the Old South Meetinghouse. The members unanimously voted to send the tea back to England. They further resolved that if these resolutions were put into effect, the citizens should be willing to risk their lives and their property to resist the tyranny. The Committees of Correspondence sent copies of the resolutions to the other colonies and to England.
The Boston Committees of Correspondence’s decisions led to the already infamous event known as the Boston Tea Party. Peter laughed when Elizabeth told about the popularized version of what happened the night of December 16. Peter denied that they had planned to dress as Mohawks. The idea of dressing as Mohawks was a spur of the moment decision. The participants dabbed paint on their faces and put old blankets over their clothing to disguise their identities. He agreed it was a brilliant plan, but premeditated, it was not. They had never actually intended for the sailors to think they were real Mohawks. They disguised themselves to keep authorities from discovering each participant’s exact identity.
No one doubted that Parliament and King George would seek reprisal. In preparation for the inevitable, during a January emergency meeting, the Patriots agreed to establish ammunition depot barns in Charlestown and Concord to prepare for any military retaliation. Peter agreed to utilize his “tea” ship to bring in lead from the motherland and more “salt” from Holland (this time in the form of gunpowder). Peter’s cargo arrived May 13, the same day General Thomas Gage, the military governor of Massachusetts, arrived in Boston Harbor. The rumor that Parliament was closing the Boston Port arrived with his ship.
General Gage and his beautiful wife, Margaret, moved into the Governor’s Mansion. On the same day that the military governor arrived in Boston and was unloading his army’s cannon, Peter’s men unloaded Peter’s ship filled with small kegs of gunpowder along with lead bars that were hidden in barrels of salt. They worked day and night in order to get the ship unloaded before the June 1 deadline. On the night of May 29, the ship was empty, and the following morning the ship sailed from Boston Harbor. Peter’s ship was the last ship to clear the port before the port closed.
By June 1, Peter assigned well-trusted men to remove the gunpowder from the casks of salt in his warehouse. The ammunition was then smuggled to various Patriot blacksmiths and silversmiths of the city. There they were made into musket balls and then smuggled to Charlestown inside the clothing and saddlebags of citizens of Boston. Gunpowder was smuggled in the same manner. All this activity was right under the noses of the British Regular Army, which was already beginning to occupy the city. If General Gage noticed the unusual number of Charlestown citizens who bought “salt,” had silver to repair, or had emergency horseshoe repairs, he did nothing to stop the Patriots’ activities.
The chain of events beginning with Peter taking revenge for a friend’s death had become what the British government would now consider outright treason. If the government ever discovered Peter’s activities, the authorities would try him for smuggling as well as conspiracy to overthrow the British government in the American colonies.
A second shipment of ammunition was due in after June 1, but with the threat of the port closing, Peter sent another ship out to warn the ship to anchor not in Boston Harbor but in the port of Salem.
Peter diverted a fleet of wagons that normally took freight inland, sending them down the North American coast from the port of Salem to Boston. He wanted the wagons to take the ammunition and other provisions that the ship delivered in Salem down to Boston.
Even though the Boston port was closed and it would slow neither of his operations, Peter’s regular business as an import merchant nor his smuggling operation would stop.
A loud pounding on the front door brought Peter back to the present.
Elizabeth looked from the door to her brother-in-law. “Do you want me to answer the door?”
“No, I’ll answer it. I don’t have anything better to do,” he murmured. “General Gage has me reduced to a butler’s status.”
Peter marched to the front door and opened it wide. There at the door stood a private dressed in the red uniform with gold buttons worn by members of the Regular Army. In his hands, he held a scroll. He cleared his throat and read the following:
“Hear ye, hear ye, by order of Parliament, beginning tomorrow morning at eight o’clock, you are instructed to quarter two officers of the British Regular Army. It will be your responsibility to prepare adequate and proper rooming as well as proper food for said officers in a manner as to which they are accustomed.”
“And what, young man, does the Crown consider the proper food as to which they are accustomed?” Peter asked.
“Officers have been assigned homes based on their rank, sir. The food they would be accustomed to, sir, would be the same food served to the family at the dinner table.”
“And what officers have been assigned here?”
“Two captains, sir,” the young boy replied.
“I’m not as wealthy as I thought,” Peter said dryly. “I thought we’d at least be worthy of lieutenant-colonels.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Mayford. Do you have any more questions?”
Peter shook his head. “No, thank you. You may go.”
Peter closed the door none too gently. He turned to face Elizabeth, who had followed him in from the kitchen.
Peter put up his hands as a sign of distress. “Now I’ve heard everything! Can they invade us more than this? First they close my port, and then they move into my home.”
Elizabeth laughed at Peter’s animation. “Peter, I don’t think the king did this to upset you personally.”
“Well, you couldn’t prove it by me.”
“It could be worse,” Elizabeth replied. “One of them could marry into the family.”
Peter was not amused by Elizabeth’s attempt to humor him. “Don’t be absurd. I would never allow you or one of my daughters to marry a Redcoat. Besides, what Redcoat officer in his right mind would marry a Patriot?”

To read Soldiers Don’t Cry or for more information about the book, follow this link.

Free Book Vegetable Gardening in the Shade

and Newsletter: Cygnet’s News

????????????????????????If you haven’t yet received your copy of Vegetable Gardening in the Shade, do so now by clicking on this link and receive a subscription to my newsletter Cygnet’s News as well. In this newsletter, you will be able to keep up with events that I will be attending, updates on my books, and articles that bring the conflict of the American Revolution to life as well as timely gardening tips from what to plant, how to plant it using organic methods, how to keep it growing and how to use it after harvest.

Procrastinating to Delay Change

The other day a friend of mine was talking about writers and procrastination. I am usually not one to procrastinate,  but lately I have been procrastinating about things that I normally am very proactive and keeping done. I realized that the reason was that I would soon be finishing something that I have loved working on and hate to move on. Just the idea that change is in the air is causing me to procrastinate!

me_on_the_laptop

Lately I have been writing articles about and writing my book Simply Vegetable Gardening. I am almost finished with it. Just a couple more weeks of editing, and my kindle copy of the book will be ready for publication and a couple of weeks after that, I should have the print copy of the book ready as well.

I also have my Dad’s poem book almost ready. Dad died last November 19 and I have been working on adding memoirs to the poetry, I had hoped for more help with memories from other family members, but its hard to get anyone else to write. Obviously, this is my project. I can see why I am procrastinating this. I am dealing with having to let go and as long as the book is not finished, I don’t have to put it all behind me.

Another aspect of my life that will be coming to an end soon relates to the fact that I will have finished my college degree July 30 of this year. It is certainly one aspect of my life that I will miss. I have always done well, so I will miss the accolades of my education process.

No wonder I am procrastinating a little. I like what I am doing and I will have to figure out something else to fill up the time.

At least I recognize the reason behind the procrastination, so I am able to push through it even though I feel anxious while I’m doing it. Are you procrastinating in any area of your life? Do you know why you are procrastinating?

On this Day in History as It Relates to the American Revolution

March 26, 1777 was a sad day for the patriots when they discovered that their fellow patriot Samuel Ward had died of smallpox. Mr. Ward had been a farmer, politician, Governor of the Rhode Island Colony and a delegate to the Continental Congress. He was the son of an earlier Rhode Island Governor, Richard Ward and Samuel grew up in a large Newport, RI family After marriage, he moved to Westerly Rhode Island where he got property from his father-in-law and began farming. He then entered into politics. He got into a controversy with Stephen Hopkins concerning a paper money/specie (hard) money. He favored hard money.

As a Rhode Island politician, Ward founded and became a trustee of Brown University, Rhode Island’s first college. During the stamp act, Samuel Ward was the only colonial governor to refuse to uphold the act. This threatened his position as governor, but solidified his recognition as a great patriot. He finished his last term as governor in 1767 and retired to his farm in Westerly, but in 1774 he felt it his civic duty to become a delegate to the Continental Congress. He devoted all of his energy to the effort. After the battles of Lexington and Concord, Ward made his famous statement “Heaven save my country, is my first, my last, and almost my only prayer.”

Declaration-of-IndependenceDuring a Constitutional Congress meeting in Philadelphia, he collapsed and later died of small pox, just three months before he would have signed the Declaration of Independence. He remains were buried in Newport, RI.

If you haven’t yet received your copy of Vegetable Gardening in the Shade, do so now by clicking on this link and receive a subscription to my newsletter Cygnet’s News as well. In this newsletter, you will be able to keep up with events that I will be attending, updates on my books, and articles that bring the conflict of the American Revolution to life as well as timely gardening tips from what to plant, how to plant it using organic methods, how to keep it growing and how to use it after harvest.

Why I think I Know Enough About Gardening to Write a Book About It

broccoliSince before the beginning of the year as you know, I have been working on a number of articles on Hubpages on the subject of gardening. In the process, I have been rewriting the information and adding additional topics in creating my book Simply Vegetable Gardening different from and more informative than anything that I have online.

You may wonder why I think that I know enough about gardening to write a book about it. Well, I started gardening, specifically organic gardening over 40 years ago when I was twelve years old in my parent’s backyard. I didn’t have much money to work with, so I learned to use what I had. I learned to use what many people would consider garbage, but that the earthworms and other subterranean flora and fauna considered food. I learned that a fancy compost bin wasn’t necessary. Bury household garbage in the ground and in less than a week, where there had been garbage now contained a large earthworm population. I graduated high school, joined the military, and after getting married and having my first son, I had another backyard garden, this time instead of the sandy loam of my mother’s backyard in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I was practically starting my garden on a beach on the Virginia coast. The soil was sand, no loam. I began adding household garbage to that garden as well. Because it was a warmer climate and the soil wasn’t that good, I made the garden smaller and by the time my tour of duty was completed, my garden soil looked fantastic. Next I moved to the Missouri Ozarks where I lived on a commune for several years. There I learned even more about organic gardening. I learned that it was possible to eat what I grew in the garden. While I lived there, I learned that what many people thought was true really wasn’t. Sawdust could be used as mulch in the garden without poisoning the soil. Sawdust just needs to be aged a couple of years before using. After leaving the commune, I lived on rental properties and at every different home, I built another small, organic garden on soil that I often joked would only grow rocks. Every time I left, I had to leave the soil I had created. I learned one thing from all this, mixing my household garbage in the form of compost into my soil worked magic on any soil. It didn’t matter if the garden was already loam, sand, clay or rocks. It didn’t matter. organic soil was the answer to improving any soil type.  In a sense, I had become a Johnny (or should I say Joannie?) Appleseed of organic gardens.

A few years ago, I was in nursing school and one day I was reading an old book by J. I. Rodale from the 1950s which he had written about organic gardening. At the same time, I was studying my anatomy and physiology book and studying about the human cell. Talk about an epiphany! Reading the information in tandem as I was, I discovered that many significant similarities existed between the human cell and the actions of a compost pile. What I realized was that just because we add nutrients to the soil, does not mean that those nutrients will be accessible by the plants in the area. Thinking of the processes of the earth as chemistry, was not accurate at all. As I compared the various organisms of the compost pile and the earth in general with the human body, I realized the synergy that occurs between the various organisms. One cell in the human body had a synergistic and interdependent connection with every other cell. In addition, in the earth, as in the human body a buffering system exists which creates homeostasis. A compost pile will start out acidic, but if allowed to mellow, will neutralize if given the proper elements with which to work. The processes of the earth are biological, not chemical. It is as though, just as the human body is made up of billions of individual cells, because of countless organisms on our planet all working together, earth is truly a living breathing organism.

Though I came upon that realization on my own, I am not alone in this perception nor was I the first to think this way. In 1978, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren came up with the word permaculture which stands for “permanent culture,” as it was seen that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system that included humans dealing with nature on its own terms. It is certainly how I see this relationship between the earth and her inhabitants. This idea was inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy. During the past few years I have also been studying the principles of this philosophy.

On This Date in History as It Relates to the American Revolution

On this Date in 1765, the Britain enacted Quartering Act, required colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers. This was a very significant event not only in history, but also in my book Soldiers Don’t Cry, The Locket Saga Continues. When Phillip returns to Boston as a British officer in 1774, he is quartered at the home of Peter Mayford, a Boston merchant. Phillip specifically positioned himself into that home because he wanted to rekindle a friendship with a young friend that he had met when he was a young orphan boy in the American backwoods. When he is reintroduced after many years to his friend, Elizabeth Thorton, also an orphan living with her sister’s family, he is smitten by her beauty. Little does he know, Elizabeth was spying for the organizers of the uprising that the British government had assigned him to subdue.

If you haven’t yet received your copy of Vegetable Gardening in the Shade, do so now by clicking on this link and receive a subscription to my newsletter Cygnet’s News as well. In this newsletter, you will be able to keep up with events that I will be attending, updates on my books, and articles that bring the conflict of the American Revolution to life as well as timely gardening tips from what to plant, how to plant it using organic methods, how to keep it growing and how to use it after harvest.

Spring Has Arrived!

Yesterday was the official first day of Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere at precisely 12:57 pm EDT . Did you know that for a few minutes around that moment, you can stand an egg on end? A few years ago a friend of mine and I tried it and sure enough it worked!

stand-eggs-on-endOf course, I can’t prove it to you today, yesterday was the vernal equinox, but check it out next year!

Most of the United States has experienced the hardest winter in decades and all of us are happy to see that date on the calendar. Many of us have looked at the prices of food in our local grocery store and the shock has made us look to our own backyards for relief in the form of a home vegetable garden. I am certain that the number of gardens will increase this year as food prices are expected to continue to rise. This is certainly a great time to pick up a hoe and start gardening.

This is one of the reasons that I have recently finished a pdf booklet Vegetable Gardening in the Shade and am currently working on a longer Kindle e-book and paperback called Simply Vegetable Gardening. The Kindle copy of Simply Vegetable Gardening will be out around April first and the paperback version will be out soon afterwards.

If you haven’t yet received your FREE copy of Vegetable Gardening in the Shade, do so now by clicking on this link and receive a FREE subscription to my newsletter Cygnet’s News as well. In this newsletter, you will be able to keep up with events that I will be attending, updates on my books, and articles that bring the conflict of the American Revolution to life as well as timely gardening tips from what to plant, how to plant it using organic methods, how to keep it growing and how to use it after harvest.

Achieving My Greatest Goal

There is no limitation to the mind except those we acknowledge, both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.”-  Napoleon Hill

Can you believe that we are already a quarter of the way through 2014? Are you on track for reaching your annual goals? I am a member of a Mastermind group and Monday afternoon, the leader of the group was instructing us on how to achieve our biggest goal for the year, and the information was so significant, that I knew I had to share it.

me_on_the_laptop

The first thing we have to do, of course, is to determine exactly what the goal is. I knew from past experience that goals should be SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive.

I didn’t really know what my goal was until he asked Monday what our most important goal was. I suddenly knew what it was and wrote it down.

“I will make $2000 a month writing (net) by the end of 2014. “

It fits all the criteria of a SMART goal. What this goal is not saying is that I expect to make money from the novels that I have written or from the books I have written, but that writing will be the main component of achieving this goal.

The First Question he asked that we answer about the goal that we set was: Why do you want to achieve this particular goal?

“I want to make this particular goal because I want to make my living by writing because I am good at it and I have a passion for writing.”

Second Question: Who is the ONE person who can be a big help in your reaching your goal? This person does not have to remain the same person. It can change as situations change.

“The Leader of My Mastermind group.”

When will you contact this person?

“I already have.”

What is the biggest change I have to make in my daily life in order to reach my goal?

“I need to change my focus, at least for now. I need to get in contact with more people on a daily basis.”

What do I have to do to make the change happen?

   “I need to get the courage to contact more people by email, by phone, and in person.”

What are the 3 Biggest Obstacles to achieving this goal?

1. No Sales Plan

2. No Marketing Plan

3. Other projects to finish

How can I overcome each of these obstacles?

1. Create a Sales Plan

2. Create a Marketing Plan

3. Finish Current Projects and don’t start other projects

Write out your affirming Goal Statement:

“I am doing what I need to do now so that I will be earning $2000 (net) by writing by the end of 2014.”

I already know that these questions are helping me become more focused on obtaining this goal. Let me know if you answer these questions and if you see how they help you focus on obtaining what you want in 2014.