Monday, March 19, 2012

Empowerment Project--Quiet Things

Today, after a weekend spent outside in gorgeous weather,  I felt inspired to share one of my own great sources of empowerment. (I hope you lovely people, with amazing submissions in the queue, won't mind!)

Three years ago I reclaimed this area of our yard from weeds, stumps, and poison ivy. I hacked everything down then solarized the soil with clear plastic for several weeks to kill the roots and seeds, until, finally, it looked like this:

When it was ready, Pat and I moved a playhouse in beside the tree, then we dug a large hole nearby. All of the excavated dirt was transferred to the other side of the tree, and packed into a curved mound to create a caterpillar we could walk on.

A few days later I unloaded (all by myself, with a shovel!) a full truck-load of pea-gravel into the hole we'd dug. Then I topped it off with a fun Craigslist find. :)

Next, I put in a narrow brick pathway, beside the cottage and behind the tree.

And then my oldest son helped me plant seeds for his own teeny vegetable garden.


Finally, I relocated some unused stepping stones I'd discovered in a corner of our yard (left by the previous owners) and made a curving walkway to the front door of the little cottage. I framed it all with a garden arch I found at an antique store and planted beside it a sweet autumn clematis that was a gift from my mother-in-law. Here is the result:

In the time since these pictures were taken I've added various other things. I planted perennials, added a little woven-willow fence to curve around in front of the cottage, and made a small bench, from cement blocks and a slab of bluestone for sitting beside the construction zone. This weekend as I was out there pulling the weeds that always threaten to creep back in and reclaim what I've rightfully tamed, I looked around at what I'd accomplished and felt empowered again.

Empowerment can certainly stem from facing our fears, fighting back, and standing loud and proud against a fickle and judgmental world, but it can also originate in quieter things. Things like accomplishing a goal we've set, or putting ourselves out there to make a new friend, or attempting something we've always wished we could do.  And, yes, it can also mean getting our hands in the dirt and shoving things around until they look the way we like them to!

Do you agree with me? What are the quiet things that empower you?


  1. What an amazing area you made for the kids! They are very lucky kids (we never did anything fun like that for ours..."go outside and play with sticks, boys"...LOL!). Love that digger.

    The quiet thing that empowered me recently was figuring out the used loom I bought. I was totally overwhelmed by it the first day, thinking that I'll never understand how it works, but after figuring out how to take it apart, cleaning it, and putting it back together all by myself, I really do feel empowered.

    1. You can probably tell that the kids area is as much for me as for them! :) I always wanted something like that. Maybe it stemmed from my love for the books "Mandy" and "The Secret Garden". :)

      I love that you have a loom! Wow, that would absolutely be empowering to take it apart and reassemble it. I'd love to see a picture of you with it. *begs*

  2. LOVE!!! And I'm so impressed by your skillz. I don't know what "solarizing" is--! And I tend to "weed" all the flowers out of my beds. I know, if I'm not dead, I can learn. And this is SO inspiring. Very cool. Thanks for sharing! :o) <3

    Now I want to see a chicken!

    1. Haha, Leigh, you can definitely learn whatever you set your mind to, no doubt.

      Chicken pic coming soon... :D

  3. I love this idea of reclaiming. What you've done in your yard is awesome and beautiful!!! I couldn't help but think of the reclaiming we do inside as well. The pulling of weeds and solarizing of mental and emotional soil to try and take back what has become overgrown with pain, heartache and feelings of brokenness. I find it especially important that we don't just try and remove the overgrowth, but that we replace the weeds with something beautiful, like you did with the path and the playhouse. It takes time. It's a process. But it is doable. We make make the ugly, overgrown experiences of our lives into beautiful pieces of ourselves. Anyway, I appreciate this post so much. A good reminder that someday my waste places will be a source of empowerment and tranquility.

    Thanks Alina.

    1. Deb, I'll admit I was thinking more about the heaving and hoing than the mental and psychological rebuilding, but I do truly think both were going on at the same time--exactly as you say. And what a lovely analogy, too. You're always fantastic at finding them and drawing correlations so clearly. Kudos! <3


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