1200 Kids, 1600 Native Plants, and 6 Raingardens

I want to share a little advice.  I promise that I”ll connect this to the landcape eventually.

I have just finished an extraordinary year of working with a business coach.*

I am going to tell you about one of the most powerful things I learned, so you can try it too.

It has to do with the value of pausing and paying attention to what you’ve accomplished.  I think many of us are programmed to always look forward, focusing only on what is not yet done on the “to-do” list and not acknowledging, or even noticing what we have accomplished.

I’ve started to regularly spend time looking back over what I’ve done and it makes such a difference in my mindset.  It is incredibly affirming and empowering (and often surprising) to see it all written out.

You can do this too.

Spend a few minutes each week listing what you’ve accomplished—from big wins to small.  I promise that you will be astonished at how much you’re getting done.  It can be Sunday evening or Tuesday morning, or whatever time works for you, but try to find a regular time, put it on your calendar and give it a shot!

Look at your to-do list from the previous week and at your calendar.   Pay attention to both professional and personal accomplishments.  Taking care of yourself is an important investment in your work, your family and yourself, so notice how many books you’ve read, walks you’ve taken, friends you’ve visited—the stuff that makes you happy also helps you do better in the world!

I’ve been doing this weekly exercise, and this past weekend I spent some time looking back at the whole year.  I am not usually a math person, but I really got into it, and wait till you see the numbers I came up with–

In 2012, EarlySpace designed natural play and learning spaces for 11 schools and preschools through my DIY coaching program and with my custom design clients.  The ones that have been built so far helped to connect more than 1200 children to nature.  Together with 117 volunteers and 125 preschoolers, we planted more than 600 native plants on schoolyards.

Along with my colleagues at Green Earth Landscaping we transformed 10 residential landscapes, installed 6 raingardens (at schools and homes), our second living wall, 2 pervious paver walks and drives and helped countless (ok, they were countable, but that was too much math for me) gallons of water to infiltrate into the ground instead of running off into stormdrains and polluting our bay.  We reduced lawn space in 7 yards.  All together we planted more than 1600 native trees, shrubs, grasses, and perennials and created almost 100,000 square feet of sustainable landscapes and wildlife habitats in schoolyards and backyards.

I worked with a whole bunch of organizations and gave 11 talks that I think touched more than 125 schools.  All of us who volunteer for NoVA Outside, presented talks, a green schools expo, a legislative summit on outdoor learning, and many hours of training that impacted hundreds of schools and teachers, and thousands of kids.

It makes me proud of my colleagues, my clients, and myself.  I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with such an awesome crew of guys, homeowners who care and want to do what is right for the planet, children who soak up nature when they get to be in it and so many dedicated and unstoppable teachers and parents  who are determined to do what they know is right for kids.

The next step, after noticing and acknowledging what you’ve accomplished, is celebrating.  So my plan, now that my work season is quieting down a little, is to celebrate by heading to West Virginia.  I’m going to spend a few days visiting my friend dear Beth, who wrote about her labyrinth and her beautiful land in this month’s testimonal, and who lives in one of the most magical places I know.  (Read more about Taproot Farm here.)

As the days get shorter—and sometimes a little colder—it seems like a good time to get cozy and spend some time reflecting.  I hope you’ll try this.  (And do let me know how it goes—we have to start using this comment section!)

* The coach I’ve been working with is Christine Kane and I recommend her highly—her specialty is helping you follow your passion, serve the world by doing what you’re best at AND earn the living you need.

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