Lauren McLean Iuppa Ayer

Poet | Artist | Optimist

Tag: planning

Facing Challenges

It’s taken me longer than usual to respond to Monday’s Quest-ion. That’s because my work hours have been longer hours than usual, and it’s taking longer than usual to recover from last week’s inspiring but physically demanding stint working the Artistic booth at AQS QuiltWeek in Albuquerque, during which I worked six days straight, the last four of them between 11.5 and 13 hours each.

But finally, today, I have a clear schedule, so here it is:

How will you respond to challenges differently this year?  #facechallenge

No risk, no challenge, no quest. It’s that simple. What one to three challenges and messiness could you inevitably face this quarter while executing your one project? Define those challenges. Write about them. Then ask yourself, How can you respond to them differently than you did last year? Write, draw, doodle, paint, flow chart, or compose your way into imagining how you can respond to challenges differently in order to execute your one project.

The challenges part of this question is easy. They are the same challenges I have struggled with for years:

  • Energy: Having the physical, mental, emotional, and psychic stamina to do the work–from finding focus and crafting plans, to the actual making and sharing my creations
  • Time: Carving out minutes, hours, days, for the things that matter most instead of squandering them on time sucks, distractions, or other people’s priorities
  • Space: Clearing the physical, mental. and temporal clutter from my living area, mind, and calendar to make room to bring my dreams to life

And though I spent the bulk of last year dedicated to creating a Year of Clear to address just these issues, by the time October rolled around and I found myself once again overwhelmed with pre-holiday and holiday preparations, I found myself right back where I started: exhausted, strapped for time, and overwhelmed by clutter and commitments.

The lists of what needs to change that I created back then still apply:

Energy:

  • Get more sleep (computers off by 10pm)
  • Eat better and more regularly (create and use meal plans)
  • Exercise more
  • Create a daily mindfulness practice
  • Cull projects and people that suck my energy

Time:

  • Create routines and build habits to streamline chores/errands/activities
  • Prioritize projects and activities (review regularly)
  • Schedule and protect time for these priorities
  • Say no to anything that doesn’t support or feed my quest (or me)
  • Minimize screen time

Space:

  • Use up materials that have been gathering dust
  • Purge what I no longer need, want, or love
  • Organize what’s left
  • Keep my space clear and clean
  • Move to a larger place

So. what makes me think that this year will be different? What will be my catalyst/s for change?

For starters, this Quest. The work I have already done and the work I will continue to do thanks to Jeffrey Davis and Tracking Wonder, and the work before that with Maia Duerr and her Liberated Life Project.

But also, these tools:

As well as revisiting these very helpful books:

Preparations to thwart these challenges start today with clearing some space, so that tomorrow I can get to work on prioritization and plans.

What are your challenges and how do you plan to overcome them this year?

Here’s what some of my fellow Quester have to say:

(Funny how so many of us share the same challenges.)

Hope Springs Eternal

According to Plants of the Southwest in Agua Fria (just outside of Santa Fe), the last frost date for this area is May 15th, but that didn’t stop me from buying a boatload of seeds on a little shopping excursion yesterday. I had a general idea of which basics I was looking for: the three sisters, of course, and leeks, but beyond that I had no plans. That is unusual for me. I am a big-time planner, but something about starting a new garden in a completely foreign environment, inspired me to leave at least some of my choices up to fate. I also decided that whenever possible I wanted multipurpose local or native seeds with short growing seasons that were tolerant of heat and drought and whose seeds I could save for next year. So here’s what I came home with (you may need to scroll to find the specific seed):

I am still searching for the perfect chili pepper (I’m leaning toward Chimayo) and a few more types of greens but I’m hoping to find some at upcoming seeds swaps. And now that I know what I’m going to be planting, I’ll be able to do that planning. And don’t worry, I’ll go into a lot more details on the process and the individual plants soon.

Planning Your Spring Garden

The weather outside may be frightful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t flex your gardening muscles this winter. Here are five simple steps to jump-starting your spring garden no matter how hard it rains, sleets or snows.

1. Find inspiration: Spring’s fall seed and plant catalogs have already hit mailboxes and online catalogs have updated their websites. Not only will thumbing (or clicking) through their colorful pages chase away the winter day’s gray, it will give you a ton of great ideas for next seasons’ plantings.

2. Start a garden journal or inspiration file: If you don’t already have a place to jot ideas and store inspiring images, now is the perfect time to set one up. Whether you buy a journal designed just for gardeners, a spiral-bound notebook, an accordion file to stash torn-out catalog pages doesn’t matter. Use whatever works best for you.

3. Review last year: Now that you have a place to make notes, take a look at what worked — and what flopped — last year. Did your row of heirloom tomatoes have you swimming in more pasta sauce than you could ever give away? Has your prize apricot succumbed to fireblight? And what about that obscure variety of pumpkin that didn’t set a single fruit? Decide what stays and what goes.

4. Make a plan: Start with a list of all the plants you hope to grow, including any that may already be in the space (including perennials, shrubs, and trees). Next, graph it out using mature plant sizes to make sure you have the spacing right. It helps to do the diagram of the available space and any plants that need to stay put in pen (don’t forget containers), then pencil in the rest. That way you won’t have to redraw every time you want to change things up. There are also a number of garden-planning software programs that help take the guesswork out of design. Don’t forget to rotate what you plant where to avoid plant disease.

5. Place your orders: Make sure you don’t miss out on your favorites, especially if you are buying heirloom seeds which often sell out fast. Many plant catalogs offer great discounts, coupons, and other specials if you order early enough. Want to save even more? Talk to fellow gardeners about sharing seeds. They may even have saved seeds or cuttings they’d be willing to give or swap.

Still longing for a little green in your life? A few well-chosen indoor plants or start a kitchen garden with your kids.

Designing an Edible Garden: Before You Start

The perfect garden is as individual as the person who dreams of it. Each of us has our own style, our own tastes, our own desires. The perfect garden cannot come from a template. It has to be created individually each time like a work of art. And like a work of art, before you sit down to create — whether you are creating the art for yourself or someone else — you have to make a few decisions: what medium will you use? What colors? How big will it be? What will be its purpose? The same is true for a garden. Some of the questions will be about the garden itself, while others delve into the person who will be using the garden, to help make sure it fits their personality, style, tastes, and needs. Before you embark on any gardening project ask yourself the following questions:

  • What space will you use for the garden: yard, patio with containers, a few pots in a sunny window?
  • What kind of garden do you want to create? If you’re here on this site, chances are you want it to include some kind of food, but how? Do you want a few strategically placed edibles or an entire garden dedicated to food? A traditional raised bed vegetable garden or an eclectic mix of flowers, fruits and foliage plants?
  • Are you starting with a blank slate or are you trying to incorporate edible plants into an existing garden plan?
  • What do you love about the garden you have?
  • What do you dislike about it?
  • What plants do you love?
  • What plants do you dislike?
  • What fruits and vegetables do you love to eat?
  • What things may impact where you place your plants: sun exposure, existing structures,desire to have food plants as close as possible to the kitchen?
  • Do you have any special requirements/considerations (access, kids, pets, pests, possible polution)?
  • What styles appeal to you (garden, architecture, interior design, clothes, cars…)?
  • Do you consider your tastes formal, casual, ecclectic, exotic, minimalist, or other (specify)?
  • How much time/energy do you have to devote to gardening?
  • What is your favorite type of cuisine?
  • What is your favorite vacation location? Why?

If you’re looking to create an edible garden experience rather than just adding a plant here or there, or if you are especially space constrained, you may want to make a garden plan before you start planting. Consider starting an inspiration file and fill it with photos of parks or neighboring gardens, postcards, pictures from books or magazines, wallpaper samples, you name it. Anything that captures the look or feel of what you’re hoping to create.

Once you’ve pulled these pieces together (along with a gridded map of the existing yard and structures), you’re ready to start designing. And that’s where the fun begins. With a little planning and preparation, your edible garden can be as beautiful as it is functional.