A New Song from Nimo- Graduation: A Song to Live By

This new song and music video from Nimo of Empty Hands Music was written with graduates in mind but I believe the wisdom it contains is an an important reminder to all of us.  I love it!

Nimo Patel: Beautiful

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while may remember that I am a big fan of Nimo Patel from Empty Hands Music. Nimo has recently offered another music video to the world. This one is called Beautiful. The email message from Empty Hands Music introducing the new video stated:

We have officially released our latest music video called “Beautiful“, a song and video sharing a message of letting go of our technology once in a while, to see the beauty that is constantly surrounding us. If you enjoy it, do share with your friends and family.

The introduction on the YouTube page gave even more information:

Ellie Walton and Nimo release another Empty Hands Music Video, this time featuring Nimo in collaboration with soul singer Jason Joseph. The message of the song is simple: that beauty exists every where we go. We just have to open our hearts and eyes, to actually see it moment to moment.

You can download the album that contains these songs and more- for free- at the Empty Hands site but I decided to put the links to some of my previous Nimo posts below. The first one includes introductory information as well as one of the songs he sang when I first heard him sing.

Introduction and Planting Seeds

Ode to Women

Grateful: A Love Song to the World

Keep Loving

Being Kind



Surviving Adversity

I had attempted to clear parts of the Greenbelt lot behind my house numerous times over the years, long before our current GreenFriends Greenbelt restoration project began. One day in March 2015, when Ramana and I were doing some clearing, we saw a glimpse of yellow among all of the invasive blackberry and ivy vines.

It seemed likely that the flowers were daffodils and I was determined to free them from their prison. I picked up my shears and headed towards them. Because of the uneven, sloped ground, and the invasive plants, I needed to create a path of twists and turns.

Once I arrived at my destination, I was gifted with some beautiful sights.

We  started the GreenFriends Greenbelt Restoration project in September of 2016. When I saw the daffodils coming up in March 2017, I put some bright blue ribbon around them to decrease the likelihood of them being trampled. (The pile to the right of the daffodils is cut bamboo stacked on a drying rack.)

It may be my imagination, but when I saw the daffodils this year (March 2018) it seemed to me that they were more beautiful than ever before and had a sense of lightness and freedom.

By the time the daffodils emerge in March 2019, their surroundings will be clear of debris. I believe I will always view these flowers with a sense of respect and honor. Like ferns, they have survived being covered with blackberry and ivy vines for thirty or more years and are a striking example of living through adversity and thriving.

A Weekend of Gifts

Last weekend, was quite a weekend. I felt like I received one gift after another. They weren’t life challenges that many of us often refer to as “another gift from the universe.” While I believe even those gifts are “for my own good” and should be respected, that phrase is often said with an eye roll and a bit of sarcasm. The gifts I’m talking about in this post are the “feel good” kind of gifts.

The weekend series started when I looked at my Green Seattle Partnership Forest Steward’s handbook and discovered that all of our plants for the season were supposed to have been planted by March 1. I thought I had until sometime in April. That wasn’t the gift I am talking about either, although I am sure glad I found out about my error when I did.

The first “feel good” gifts came when I wrote my friends Sarva and Gopika and asked if they would help me plant the remainder of the plants… and they both said yes. Sarva was able to set a time for Saturday but Gopika couldn’t come until Sunday. It was my hope that Sarva and I would finish the planting on Saturday so Gopika and I could focus on the other work that needs to be completed before our upcoming March 17 work party.

On Saturday, Sarva and I planted 40 shrubs and 6 ground covers. We also placed burlap around most of the newly planted items. By the end, we were both exhausted, but we had finished the planting!

The next day, Gopika and I finished 1) writing the name of each plant on a popsicle stick and putting in the ground near the plant, 2) making sure a blue and white checkered tape and a flower that had been blessed during a ritual had been placed on or near every plant and 3) removing the pink flags that had marked the spot where the shrub or ground cover was to be planted. (The blue and white tape means that the item was planted during the 2017-2018 planting season.)

Our next step will be to cover all of the exposed burlap with wood chip mulch on March 17.

I received the second set of gifts when I kept an appointment with my auto mechanic. He was at the front counter talking with friends when I arrived. One of the friends had an interesting item in his hand. I asked if it was for a steering wheel and he said yes. A few minutes later he gave it to me, saying he would put it on the wheel. I wasn’t sure I wanted it, but it felt right to accept it, so I did. The friends had trouble stretching it onto the wheel but they finally got it on.

I had mixed feelings about the gift. It seemed gaudy and I don’t like drawing attention to myself. And as I drove with it on the wheel, I also became concerned that it added too much width to the steering wheel to be comfortable. During the days that followed, I discovered that the cover makes it easier to spot my car from a distance and it is so nice to not have to touch a cold wheel when I get into the car during freezing temperatures. I think I will get used to this new form of comfort.

After my mechanic replaced my brake light, he surprised me by saying there would be no charge.  And another auto problem I was having when I had made the appointment on Friday, resolved before I got there. From my perspective, both of those experiences were also gifts.

The third set of gifts started when my neighbor Jason notified me on Friday that a colleague of his had rescued a Douglas Fir tree from a rockery several years back; the tree was now eight-feet tall. She had asked him if he knew of a place where it could be planted. He asked if we could plant it in the Greenbelt restoration site.

We’ve planted so many trees this year that I wasn’t sure I would have a place for it. When I looked around though, I saw a spot in the middle of a grove of maple trees. Those trees are very old and we’ve been focusing on planting trees that will eventually replace them.

Jason said he would bring the tree to the site on Sunday. I considered asking another neighbor, John, to help plant it, but I didn’t do it. As I walked towards the Greenbelt to meet Jason, John walked out of his house. I asked if he would help with the planting and he said yes.

This weekend, I felt as if I had received gifts from Sarva, Gopika, Jason, Jason’s friend, John, my mechanic, the mechanics friends, as well as feel good gifts from “the universe”. My weekend had been both fulfilling and joyful.

(I’m laughing. Minutes after I finished writing this post, I received a notice that went out to the Forest Stewards saying that we can have extra plants if we want them! I’m taking that as another gift as well as an acknowledgement that it was not a problem that I didn’t have everything planted by March 1. Now I need to decide if I want to ask if more sword ferns are available. I believe we have enough of everything else for this planting season, but having more ferns might be nice.)

Greenbelt Restoration Work Party: February 26, 2018 Planting Day

Monday, February 26 was an exciting day. On that day, 31 enthusiastic employees from Silver Creek Capital Management came to plant trees, shrubs and ground covers in our Greenbelt site. Our staff consisted of Nicole from Forterra, Claire a master gardener, and two Green Seattle Partnership Forest Stewards- Peter from Mt. Baker Park and me. Claire and I also belong to GreenFriends, the environmental arm of Embracing the World.

During the three-hour work party, we planted 17 trees, 75 shrubs and 77 ground covers! Every new plant is native to the Pacific Northwest. We spread two buckets of wood chip mulch around each plant to reduce weed growth and retain water. (The burlap we place on the ground after removing blackberries and ivy from the land also helps with weed reduction and water retention). At future work parties we will be covering any exposed burlap in the planting areas with wood chips.

(Click on the gallery above to enlarge the photos.)

Towards the end of the event, part of Nicole’s team cleared more land. They dug up some huge blackberry root balls.

A few days later I weighed the biggest one. It weighed almost 10 pounds!

When the work party was over, we cleaned and put away the tools and celebrated all we had done. I think everyone had enjoyed their experience.

Later, I took another look at what we had accomplished. Once again, I was awed by how much the land had been transformed by a single work party.

Photos by Laurel Webb, Nicole Marcotte and Karuna Poole


A New Video from Sooryagayathri

I was excited to see that Sooryagayatri has a new video. Her voice is as pure as it was when she was nine. What a blessed person she is.

You can learn more about her from a post I wrote in August of 2016 Sooryagayathri- A Mesmerizing Child Singer. Thank you Ramana for introducing me to her music.

A Mystical Land

On Friday morning, December 15th, I decided to go to the roof of my building to practice Tai Chi. I was so drawn by the view in front of me that I soon stopped the Tai Chi and took in the beauty of the land below. I had never seen it look so mystical. Some of the pictures look more like paintings to me than photos.

Whenever I am on the roof, I also watch the majestic eagles soaring overhead. They often fly much closer than these but they pass-by so fast that it is hard to snap a photo and get anything but sky.

To read the previous posts in this series click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ascend

The Red Rose

This morning, I worked in the Greenbelt for a short time. At one point, I was standing about fifteen feet from the Hanford stairs, which are on the north end of the property. As I glanced towards the stairs, I saw a homeless man whom I haven’t talked to for a year or two. I believe he lives with a few friends in a different part of the Greenbelt, about six blocks from where I was standing.

I used to do a lot of litter pick up in this area and I had talked with him numerous times when he and his friends were hanging out on the stairs. They used to point out places where I could find cans to pick up and sometimes they even saved some for me.

Today, we saw and acknowledged each other at the same time. He started to talk to me but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He gestured to the planting areas and I told him that we were working to make the land a forest again.

After I answered his question, he handed me a red rose. I was so surprised and had no idea where it came from. It was as if the rose materialized out of thin air. Without a word, he continued walking up  the stairs. What a beautiful way it was to start my day.

Grateful: A Love Song to the World

Every year at this time, Nimo Patel shares his Empty Hands Music video Grateful. This year he included this message with it:

Grateful for the many blessings that are always surrounding us. When our cup of gratitude overflows, we are inspired to want to give more to others: thanks + giving. May we all continue to be grateful and giving, and have a blessed and safe holiday season!

In that spirit, I am passing his message and video on to you.