A Garden is the Best Medicine.

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I was feeling a bit under the weather this morning so I decided to take a day at home to rest and relax.  I am not great at sitting still, or letting my mind be still, so I went for a short walk to the community garden near my apartment where we have a small plot.

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“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.” -Frances Hodgson Burnett in ‘The Secret Garden’ (one of my favorite books of all time!)

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the bee & the borage!

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chamomile flowers from our plot.

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“There’s naught as nice as th’ smell o’ good clean earth, except th’ smell o’ fresh growin’ things when th’ rain falls on ’em.” from ‘The Secret Garden’

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lemon blooms and fruits.

It is so healing to be among the plants.  To pull up some weeds.  To listen to the hummingbirds buzz and chirp and watch the blue jays fly by.  To hear the leaves rustle and the morning dew disappear, lifting back into the sky.  To look closely at blooming flowers.  So closely that you can see their little hairs and pollen, almost as if it’s oozing out of the center.

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look at the colors, that detail, and that pollen!!

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some feverfew in our plot.

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succulents on the path.

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amazing details.

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curly-q beans!

When we lived in Michigan, we had an 800 square foot garden where we grew so much food!  I was canning and making jams nonstop just to keep up.  Now, that garden is bigger than our current little San Francisco apartment.  We waited two years on a waitlist to get our garden plot here, and it is much, much smaller than what we were accustomed to, but it’s been so nice to finally have our little piece of land to tend and grow beautiful, delicious plants.

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the ladybug & the fennel.

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This garden is also adjacent to a day-care center, so as I worked and watched in the garden, I could also hear songs about flowers and gardens floating through the air in high sing-songy, beautiful voices.  Garden and earth-lovers in training!

This is what I would call a perfect morning.

(for more photos from this beautiful garden, please visit tsoana’s through the lens section of the site!)

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delicious strawberries from our plot!

what’s in a name?

tsoana.  It’s a simple word that has a lot of meaning for me.

but it’s Possible you haven’t heard of it before (and perhaps haven’t heard about its country of origin either!).

Several years ago, I had an incredible opportunity to travel to the Kingdom of Lesotho, a mountain kingdom completely surrounded by the country of South Africa.

Me, on Thaba-Bosiu, taking it all in. Below is the Qiloane Mountain. Many say that the shape of the mountain is the origin of the iconic Basotho hat.

Me, on Thaba-Bosiu, taking it all in. Below is the Qiloane Mountain. Many say that the shape of the mountain is the origin of the iconic Basotho hat.

One of my former professors had done the Peace Corps and was stationed in Lesotho, and he often brought small groups of students back to the country he called home for two years.  During our time there, we lived in a small village and spent our days building community centers and orphanages, assisting in an HIV clinic, building playgrounds, and creating and planting garden plots.  Throughout each of the projects we worked on, we were not alone.  We worked side-by-side with the Basotho people.  We worked hard, we shared stories, we laughed, we cried.  All together.  Life in Lesotho is hard, but the people are inspiring and full of life.  They know what it means to share, to love, and to be in community.

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Lots of work to be done!

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A woman in the village of Roma stands by her home.

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An orphanage we painted after building a new playground.

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Seed beds we dug and planted.

Small helpers coming over to the site of the new community center/orphanage.

Small helpers coming over to the site of the new community center/orphanage.

Throughout the trip, one phrase kept coming up during discussions and interactions with the Basotho people around us.  That phrase was this:

Kao Fela Rea Tsoana.  We are all the Same.

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Kao Fela Rea Tsoana. We Are All the Same.

This has resonated with me ever since.  Whenever I’m upset or frustrated, happy or elated, I realize that we all share in our experiences.  My happiness is your happiness, and vice versa.  We live in this together.  We truly are one.

I took the final part of the phrase, and hold it close to my heart.  It translates to ‘sameness’ on its own.

I know some people may simply read this and think, ‘Look how naive she is.  She thinks we are all the same.’  Quite the contrary.  What’s beautiful is that we are all the same in so many ways, including that we are all different (confusing, right?).  Our uniqueness is just as incredible as the fact that we all have the same color blood running through our veins, we breathe the same air, see the same stars and moon, and can feel the same heat on our face from the shining sun.

Amazing.  We all have a sameness, and that’s what this is all about.

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One of the most beautiful places.

Soon, you can check out my ‘Through the Lens’ tab for more glimpses at my Lesotho trip and other adventures.  And if you’re feeling adventurous yourself, go visit Lesotho!  You won’t be disappointed.

Finally, if you’re feeling generous, SOS Children’s Villages, is a great organization for donations to this beautiful kingdom in the sky.

Walking softly and xox,

Leah