Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Resolution Challenge 2014

New Year's Resolution Challenge 2014 - Short term, Through January 31 (hosted by Joy's Book Blog)

"The goal of this challenge is to build a community around reading books to support our New Year’s Resolutions so that we can share book ideas and encourage each other in our pursuits.

Whether you are resolved to apply to graduate school, write that novel, or eat healthier, there are books that will help. The New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge is to read 1 to 4 books that will stimulate action on your goal.

Here are the levels:

Resolved: 1 book / Determined: 2 books / Committed: 3 books / Passionate: 4 books
Ardent: 5 books /  Fervent: 6 books / Ridiculously Addicted: 7 books
(Thanks Bonnie for the three added levels)

I participated in this challenge last year and finished it primed and ready to achieve my goals. The new information helped and the motivation the challenge provided was wonderful, but . . . I ran into a few counter challenges that threw up unexpected roadblocks. Well, they weren't exactly unexpected but the amount of interference they caused was.

My chosen way of coping with life's ups and downs is gardening. I find it helpful when dealing with stress, anxiety, and all other things that come my way. For me, it is much needed therapy. Unfortunately, right now physical limitations are keeping me from it accomplishing even routine tasks, and the garden is in a sad state, so . . .

This year's plan is to get rid of, cut down, or learn to live with those challenges that seem here to stay, so that I might still move on with my life and achieve my goals. 

I will focus on shoring up my coping skills (and maintaining my access to garden therapy) as well as capitalizing on ways to improve my physical condition. This in turn will help me back onto the path toward my original goals.

That's the plan, anyway.

To further this goal, I plan to read:

1. Stories of Hope: Living in Serenity with Chronic Pain - Anonymous

I think it will help to to read stories of others who have not only found themselves in my position, but survived and flourished in spite of it.

This book is a part of a 12 step program. Some people swear by them and some people have no time for them. I, myself, feel that they can be helpful. It is not a book meant to be read cover to cover, rather it is meant to be used as support how and when needed. I, however, did devour it completely.

Positive attitudes and things that have actually worked for other folks did help to raise my spirits and reassure me that my future can also be full and happy.

I think that this may be the beginning of an ongoing relationship.

2. Healing Garden - Sue Minter
The author of this book also sees the garden as a place of healing and therapy, and shares ways to maximize these benefits.
I'm not sure what I expected this book to be, but whatever that was, it isn't.

For a small book, it is packed with history on healing and the garden, as well as the development of modern medicine with the contributions of all the various traditions.

The "healing" tackled in the book refers to much more than just the physical, covering the health of the whole body, mind, and spirit. It touches on different types of healing throughout the ages and the plants used, offering suggestions if you are interested in cultivation. But it contains so much more: sample healing gardens, lists of plants for different types of gardens, information on the plants, recipes, aromatherapy, lifestyle suggestions . . .

Oh! And it's full of beautiful pictures! 

This is not a self-help book, but it is a good reference book to keep around - and I will. It is a beautiful and useful garden book and will definitely be pressed into service in the future.

These last two books offer practical ways of helping me to overcome my physical limitations.

3. Accessible Gardening for People With Physical Disabilities: A Guide to Methods, Tools, and Plants - Janeen R. Adil 

This book is overflowing with practical information, tips, suggestions and ideas.

Until I opened it, I had come to view my possibilities in life as ever diminishing. But I've found that with careful thought, planning, and preparation, they can still be wide open - just different.

It will be a good book to keep handy for reference.

4. Accessible Gardening - Joann Woy

As you might guess, this book covers roughly the same territory as the last one. There was quit a bit of overlap between the two but the focus was different. In the last book the focus was outward on the environment and in this one it is more inward, on the individual. 

Don't get me wrong, the end result is the same, an environment adapted to your needs. But this book also helps the disabled gardener find ways to maximize her abilities.

I ran across this book in my library, and though it was not on my original list, it seemed so appropriate to tuck it in here.

29 Gifts - Cami Walker   

This is the journal of Ms Walker's journey to find a way of coping with her MS, and how it became a movement. She explains the 'prescription' she received and how it worked.

"The best way to solve your problems is to help another person." 
"By giving, you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life."
"A closed hand cannot receive."

Forgive me, but I feel kind of like the cowardly lion here. "I do, I do believe."

It would be wonderful if everyone could experience the same positive results as Ms Walker, but . . . I will keep you posted.

So yeah,
I found a few more books that seem like they could help me toward my goal for this year. 

Get Fit Through Gardening - Jeffrey P. Restuccio

This little gem shows how to turn the movements of common gardening jobs into beneficial, strengthening motions - exercises.

It only takes a bit of tweaking.

I realize that this book wasn't on my original list, but it should have been.

Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness - Bunny Guinness & Jacqueline Knox  

This is an exercise book. It has absolutely beautiful pictures showing people working out in their gorgeous gardens.

Forgive me, but I have some doubts about whether those people actually do the work involved in keeping those wonderful gardens in tip top condition. I may be wrong . . . but there is no doubt that a struggling disabled woman would not be able to.

Did I mention that the pictures were lovely?

FINAL THOUGHTS 1/31/14: Well, here it is the end of the challenge. Have I succeeded in achieving my stated goals for the challenge? I believe so, yes. I now have a solid plan for moving forward. 

First, I was reminded through stories shared by others that there are many ways to cope with adversity, and that I need, at the risk of sounding too 'new agey,' to be still and listen to that steady inner voice that guides, listen to what my body is telling me, and ignore the taunting voice that always chides. I also learned that by changing my attitude and trying to focus on the positive I create more positive outcomes in my life, by being able to both recognize better alternatives and willing to try them.

The next revelation was actually practical advice, but solid examples and recommendations helped put it in a new perspective and make it more accessible. And that is, to change my responsibilities in a way that makes them easier to carry out. My garden is in a state of transformation right now. I am identifying the chores I can no longer accomplish, and finding different ways to do what needs to be done. Raised beds and soaker hoses are just two examples of accommodations that will benefit both my garden and myself. Changing the plants included in the garden will also make for a more successful and satisfying endeavor. Fussy, high maintenance divas are no longer welcome here.

Of course, some of this change requires the help of others for implementation, but contrary to what my chiding voice tells me, they really are happy to help me to be independent and succeed.

And of course, the last and possibly most important (and obvious, duh) suggestion was to make actual exercise a part of the program. I found suggestions of both exercises to prepare me for being in the garden, and ways to maximize the physical activity that gardening, itself, entails.

All in all, the increased physical activity, reduced stress, and positive approach to each day's challenges, can only enhance the quality of my life and aid in achieving my goals. There will still be bad days I'm sure, but at least I am no longer flailing aimlessly. Onward!


  1. These sound like terrific books! I'll look forward to hearing what you think about them and I really hope they make the difference for you.

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. Thank's Joy. This challenge is the one that made the biggest impact on my life in 2013. And I Expect no less in 2014.

  2. I just borrowed titles from your post for a piece in my series of book lists to support New Year's resolutions. Today's topic is gardening.

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. I love your series and I'm so glad you found my choices helpful.

  3. Wow, that really sounds like progress. I'm glad that these books made a difference for you!

    1. Some books were more helpful than others, but like last year, this challenge has helped me make real progress in my life. I am better able both, to achieve short term goals, and fine tune long term plans.