JOHNNY APPLE SEED AREN’T WE ALL?

Countless are the times that people have come up to me and said things such as, “I was thinking about what we talked about a while back….” I am sure we have all heard this in our lives. We have all been on the opposite side too, haven’t we? Something someone was telling us didn’t make sense to us at the time, but through some change in life circumstance, we can appreciate it now. Maybe it is a loving thing they told us, the reminder of which has helped us make it through a tough time we are currently facing. This can work in the opposite way too. How many times have we remembered something hurtful that was said or done to us? I am not sure why we choose to do that, but that can be how the human brain works.

What we must keep in mind is that everyday we go through life we are planting seeds. Much like a farmer, what we grow will depend on what seeds we plant. We can plant beautiful flowers, fruit, or even a poisonous plant. The seed may take root or it may not. It may grow in our garden or others may be left to benefit, or be poisoned by what grows. In this way we have an ability to affect not only our life, but the world at large. Allow me to explain what I mean by use of a historical figure.

Johnny Appleseed, better known as John Chapman was an American Pioneer nurseryman who planted apple trees in several states and in part of Canada during the late 18th and early 19th century. A lot of the trees he never saw grow, but in the places he visited people were eating apples long after he was gone. We do much the same things with our words and actions. They may not be apple trees, but we are planting seeds just the same.

If we think in terms of Johnny Appleseed’s story, what will grow from the seeds we plant? If we are planting seeds of kindness and encouragement every where we go, we will see kindness blossom and grow. We will see the confidence and joy continue to grow in the hearts of our friends and family. If we plant seeds of gossip and complaint, we will see melancholy, sadness and resentment blossom all around us. In this way we do a great deal to shape the world in which we live.

What about the world at large? Truly, the seeds we plant can’t make much of a difference on a global scale? Think about this. When you go to purchase a cup of coffee at your local Starbucks, treating the employee with extra kindness could ease a tough day they are having. There you affect one person. Due to that act of kindness, they may treat the next person in line with an extra amount of customer service. Then you have affected two people. Maybe that person is on the way to the airport to fly home to a different city or even country and now feels good thanks to the good service they received. They may go on to treat people they encounter on their journey with more kindness and compassion. Thus, your simple act of kindness could affect people halfway across the world. It may not reach such global proportions, then again with comments on social media and the internet we can spread a great deal of seeds without even leaving our homes.

Although this was a positive example, the same holds true in reverse. You may think comments and they way you treat people are harmless, but you are forever planting seeds. We may not see them grow and it may take years for them to blossom, but given time they will. Let us all do our part to plant seeds of kindness, compassion, encouragement and joy. We will grow a garden of positive results. Let us be equally vigilant against casting seeds of negativity, gossip and judgment to the wind. They too, will grow into a world of negative people, places and things.

Let us all remember we are Johnny Appleseed in our own way. Let us plant seeds to grow positive families, friends, communities and the world at large.

MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR PROPERTY

This is not a post about real estate. It is not a post about home ownership. It is a post about some property that you own that you could be making money off of right now and be living in soon if that is your desire. How can I say that when I don’t even know you? Each one of us own this kind of property, some more than others, but we all own some. Some are better developers than others, but we all can grow and develop our property as well.

The property I am talking about today is intellectual property. In other words, what is in your head. You have all heard me advocate that everyone should write a book. In case you haven’t, well, there it is. I think we all have a story inside of us. Before you start comparing yourself to Herman Melville or Ernest Hemingway, that is not necessarily the kind of writing I am talking about. Plus, to be honest, I am not a fan of either of those gents. What I mean is your own personal story. Do you have a subject you are interested in? There is somebody out there eager to hear about anything. That should be apparent from the number of views that flying cat toaster video got on YouTube. Whether your interest is computers or aardvarks someone wants to hear about it.

One of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson, wrote about a walk he took in the woods and it ended up becoming a best seller. I highly recommend the audio book for long trips. You will not be disappointed. Maybe you have an adventure? People write about their high school and college days and go on to sell many copies. Do you have a lot of experience working in a certain industry? Think of all the people in that industry who could relate and would love to hear your tale.

In an age where your job could be replaced by a computer at any moment, having a book to sell can offer another source of income. Once a book is written, the only job is to market it. You do not have to rewrite the book each and every time you sell one. Being able to call yourself a ‘published author’ can add something extra to that resume should you be looking. With Amazon and lots of other self-publishing platforms, getting your story out there can be easier today then it ever was.

Writing a book is not just about money, or having a back up source of income. Sharing our stories allows us to help people who just may need what we have inside of us. Your story about the years you worked at Starbucks may just be what the stressed out barista needs to read. It may also bring to light some of the struggles employees at coffee shops go through so that customers may better understand and empathize. Reading books on subjects we know little to nothing about will help us expand our horizons. I know very little about farming, but reading a book could give me a glimpse into what is all involved in the industry. This is of some interest to me because a goodly amount of my family were farmers.

Here are two more quick reasons to write a book. Writing a book also leaves a legacy. Want to become immortal? Write a book. Your story will be kept alive long after you are gone. Writing a book also allows you to explore and live in your passion. This is great if you have an especially stressful day job. Coming home to spend an hour engaged in recording thoughts on your favorite subject can offer a great release. You will leave knowing and feeling you have a purpose greater than the 9 to 5.

Please consider making good use of your intellectual property. What the world needs more of is for people to tell their story. If you need advice from another author I am always right here to advise and encourage.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE FARM

My grandfather was a farmer. I used to pass farms on the way to work when i was a postmaster. There is a great skill I have learned from the farming life even though I myself struggle to keep houseplants alive. That skill is patience.

Here is what farming has taught me. When a farmer plants a seed in the ground and waters it he does not come back the next day expecting a crop. In fact, he will go out every day to continue to water and fertilize that seed with little or no result to show for it. When the plant pokes through the ground he also does not expect to harvest right then and there. He nurtures that plant. He protects it from being attacked by outside forces such as insects and fungus. He continues to water and work with the plant as it grows.  Finally when harvest time comes he knows just the right way to harvest the plant for Maximum return. Even after the harvest is over the farmer realizes that one year will not sustain him and his family and begins to think about the following years planting. He begins to prepare the soil for the winter and store crops to last during those cold months.

What does all this have to do with anything other than farming? A lot of us when working on a goal whether that be losing weight, or starting a business have a tendency to give up way to soon. We, in essence, put the seed in the ground and come back the next day looking to harvest. Some of us even look at the ground after a few days and think “when I see a plant I’ll go back to watering”. Meaning if we do not see any results on our goal we stop putting forth the effort. Much like in the farming example, if we stop ‘watering’ our goals they will never grow.

There is also the temptation to want to harvest to soon. Just like the farmer who finally sees a plant begin to sprout after weeks of waiting and working, as we see our goals begin to manifest we may be tempted to want to stop working and look at what we can get from all that effort we have put forth. Of course if we do this again, the plant will not bear all the fruit it can and we will not receive all of the benefits we could. By knowing that we still have to nurture our success and build it up as it continues to grow we will resist the temptation to harvest too soon.

When time to harvest the fruits of our goals we will do so in the manor that allows us to get the most out of them. Just like the farmer harvesting enough that it will allow the plant to continue to grow as long as it can. Also like the farmer we should begin to think about the future. Storing the rewards from our harvest and beginning to ‘prepare the soil’ for next years crop. In other words, know that one success will not last a lifetime. It is progress that creates a sense of happiness and fulfillment in each of us. Let us look forward to our next great adventure and our next crop we must plant.

So when it seems as if you have been working towards a goal and you have not seen any results, think of that famer watering that seed for weeks without seeing any result. We never know what is happening ‘underneath the ground’. When we start to see our goals begin to manifest let us resist the temptation to stop working. Just as if the farmer stopped watering the plant once it broke the soil it would still die. Let us also harvest smart, knowing we must sustain ourselves for when the hard times or the ‘winter’ of our lives comes.

So enjoy this lesson from the farm. Maybe even plant a garden this spring and let it serve as a reminder of all these valuable lessons.