RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: June 2016

Farmer Ginny Lives!

Farmer Ginny Lives!

The other day, a student who recently read my memoir commented that they could barely imagine me going through that “farmer” stage. I smiled, wondering if I should tell them that it wasn’t exactly a stage (that implies I moved on to something else)– but more like a part of my personality was unearthed, and once you expand who you are and what you know, you can never go back. In other words, the farmer in me is still very much alive.

The one thing I learned from my failed life reinvention  was that the quality of your life isn’t dependent upon where you live. Your lifestyle is defined by HOW you live. I tell yogis all the time that if they want to be serious about living their yoga, they don’t have to run off to Tibet to meditate on a mountain top for a year as the culmination of their education as they strive to be truly authentic. We don’t need the artificial trappings of environment or extremism to define us. A serious yogi needs to learn how to be kind while standing in line at the supermarket  if they want to practice advanced yoga.  If you can take any concept of ideal living and maintain your commitment, attitude and efforts towards that end, and apply your beliefs to your existence as you are deeply engaged in the real world then you are truly authentic. It is easy to remove yourself from society and stay on the path of simplicity because nothing is challenging you to be otherwise. Try to maintain a personal commitment to a simple or naturalistic lifestyle when you are working and raising kids, and dealing with neighbors and bosses and traffic and bills. If you can do that, you are the real deal, not romanticizing who and what you are because you thrust yourself into a situation where you have no choice but live a certain way because you’ve isolated yourself from society and withdrawn your options.  I left the mountains worried that  I had lost my opportunity to live an organic or artistic life, but in truth, I live more in tune with my ideal now than I did when I was buried in the mountains. Even Thoreau left the woods. Carrying what I learned during that time back into a vibrant, active community of Florida is what made my time in the country truly expansive to me as a person.

So, in regards to living an organic, natural, farm-oriented life . . . it didn’t take me long to embrace all those priorities into my new life in busy Sarasota. My first little home had a garden on the side of the house with tomatoes and herbs.  I did some canning, and shopped at the local farms feeling this was a lifeline to the world I had lost. When I moved to Heartwood, the first thing we did was plant a garden and get some chickens. Without going crazy, I continue to move towards my ideal lifestyle, which included living in tune with the environment and respecting food sources. Now, I grow what I can, and each season I do a little home canning to provide preservative-free, fresh bounty to our off-season meals. David and I shop at Obrien Family Farms, right around the corner from us for most of our produce.  Someday, we hope to extend our own growing capabilities at home.


Obrien Farms is an extremely efficient and unique hydroponic garden business that changes seasonally, but offers “you pick” opportunities and homemade goodies and a farmers market shop and more.  This farm is very much like a place in Blue Ridge that was all the rage (Merciers) only here, we don’t have the crowds or the commercialism that made the other place seem more a tourist attraction than an authentic farm. David and I love stopping by Obriens (and we visit other local farms too), partially to shop, but also to learn. The hydroponic systems are remarkable and very inspiration if you believe in preserving resources and the environment. Someday, we dream of putting in a greenhouse and hydroponic systems at Heartwood – not on the scale of Obrien, but just for our family and the yoga community who visit Heartwood. We’d love our gardens to be a resource to teach others about how to grow healthy food at home, no matter how much space you have.

Despite sandy soil and hotter weather, gardening isn’t harder in Florida – simply different.It is more challenging to farm productively here since success involves more than putting a few seeds in the ground and waiting for nature to do the work, but the growing season is long and filled with the same level of deep harmony with the land that I felt in Georgia.

I have ten chickens now that free range around Heartwood providing us with farm fresh eggs. David plans to build us a new bigger chicken coup this month to keep my bold birds from creating havoc in our gardens. My beehives went bust when my two slowly building hives swarmed … dang bees just took off and landed in a hole in one of our oaks behind the yoga center, so now I can watch them high up overhead busily creating a new home, but I can’t collect honey from them. I will need to have them removed eventually, I suppose, rather than let them live there, laughing at me.  I’ll try setting up new hives in all my bee boxes again next season – and remove the wild bees so they won’t raid the formal hives. We are too busy with the construction of a new septic and parking lot now to play with honey issues, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it as any farmer up against the elements and nature’s fickle personality would.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I recently made homemade veggie marinara sauce  and this week I’m due to make more fresh berry jam because my last batches finally ran out. I’m still making homemade wine and cordials, and a cute tower garden outside my kitchen window is always exploding with herbs. It is getting so hot, I’ve cut away the lettuce and only basil and parsley seem to last. Soon it will be time to plant beans and fall veggies. (The seasons are very different in Florida than in Georgia)   Yes, things are growing all around us with nutritious healthy veggies on our property or from the many farms and fresh farmer’s markets nearby that fill in the blanks of what I don’t have time or inclination to attempt to grow myself. Sarasota has a huge organic and naturalistic community, and I can’t imagine anyplace being more supportive of a healthy, wholesome lifestyle than here.  All you have to do is care enough to expand your shopping habits beyond the local Publix or franchise restaurants, get a little dirt under your nails, and decide that fast food will never hold a candle to slow, slow, slow food you grow, harvest, and prepare yourself.

Yes, the farmer in me is alive and kickin’. If only I had space to keep another donkey!

Book Release & Emotional Release


My memoir, My Million Dollar Donkey officially comes out on Tuesday, Sept. 28. Apparently, all books are released on a Tuesday. You learn something every day. I am having a book release party on Wed. June 29th from 7-9 pm at Heartwood, an event open to the public. Not the best month or time or day of the week for a book release party, I suppose, but with our Summer Yoga Training Programs starting up and the book release date landing in June, I was hard pressed to find time to fit in a party. I’ve been on Craigslist this morning seeing if I can rent a donkey as a mascot to set the stage and provide inspiration for those who attend. I’ll be reading from the book, sharing some of my hard earned country wisdom, and no doubt enjoying the support from friends and students. It will be a very special evening for me, and long in coming.

I was sent a few cases of advanced copies of the book, so My Million Dollar Donkey has been for sale at the studio for a week or so. Quite a few students have picked it up unbeknownst to me. When I go in to teach, I am often treated to heartfelt positive feedback which always comes as a surprise since I have no clue who has picked up the book (so they don’t have to politely pretend they like it). The story seems to really resonate with Yogis as well as people who are in midlife, or who have sustained losses of love, money or self. I’m so honored that these people, who no doubt pick up the book out of devotion to their yoga teacher, take the time to read the entire story and bother to go out of their way to tell me what they love or feel moved by – or even what they take exception to. One student told me she loved every word of my book except a short passage describing “some women of Sarasota as superficial”. She wiggled her finger at me and said that wasn’t a fair description of all women in the area, and I laughed and reminded her that I too am a Sarasota Woman, so I meant no offense.

I have been signing a great number of books. That is fun. But for all that nice words provide a flash of confidence and pride, the most poignant feedback I’ve gotten thus far was the beautiful reaction and appreciation from my parents, who made me feel gifted and very respected (I should mention they do not praise lightly, so expressions of pride feel doubly special). I also will always cherish a beautiful text from my youngest daughter that revealed not only her support for my writing honestly and well, but her beautifully expressed realization that she’s been afforded an amazing gift to see the world and our shared experience through my eyes. Witnessing how I felt and experienced this time in our family history allows her to know me better and to understand things in a broader perspective.

To be validated by those you love is probably the most wonderful feeling in the world, a feeling that was rare, if not totally absent, from my past . I can’t help but note that my life reinvention, difficult as it was,  led to an evolution in my community, family, and friends. My world now turns on an axis of love rather than jealousy or resentment, because those who couldn’t muster up earnest care or positive intentions towards me have just naturally slipped away. Amazing what making a commitment to yogic principals does to restructuring a life. In this way, releasing my book was releasing something I’ve held inside for many years too. An emotional freedom has been gained.

If you missed the trailer, here it is:


One very special part of finalizing this book project for me is that I have something more to share with my writing students. When I first returned to the area, I taught writing at the Sarasota Senior Center because I wanted to reconnect with the community and volunteering has always been important to me. I learned a great deal about how to effectively teach writing during that time.  18 months later, I began teaching at my studio, and later began a writing program at Heartwood Retreat Center, (which is at long last taking root and blooming). Meanwhile, I am teaching 5 writing classes at ACE (Adult Community Education) at Vo-tech in Sarasota starting in Oct. including Memoir, Journaling, Writing Spiritual Wills, and Fiction. I’ve written syllabus’s and prepared lessons and I’m excited for the term to begin.  Now, when I lecture about what works and doesn’t work on the page, and when I discuss the challenges of not just starting a project, but sticking with it to fruition, I have a tangible project to point to as example of elements that worked better than anticipated and elements with room for improvement. I can talk less theoretically and more experimentally about the publication process, and we can openly explore issues of concern, like the awkwardness of writing about your own life and having to face the reactions of family and friend. Or a writers doubt or disappointment about how difficult the process that go far beyond the simple act of writing the dang story. This book offers me a world of new material to work with in regards to mentoring others – and the philosophy I’ve developed regarding the act of writing for personal growth has been a foundation for my next project too.

 I admit, as a first time author, and considering the subject of this memoir,  I don’t expect much from the publication of My Million Dollar Donkey monetarily or career-wise. But like dance, (and all my art endeavors, in fact) I do not engage in writing for notoriety or with expectation for measurable gain. I write as a spiritual and creative practice. In this way, seeing My Million Dollar Donkey evolve and manifest into a book that actually reaches out to others and sends a message of hope or wisdom has been a deeply moving experience on many levels. The process of finalizing this story has given me a whole new understanding of myself and my life goals and the potential for writing personal life stories spiritually.

So much, in fact, that I’m writing a book about it called, “Yoga on the Page.”  More about that later. For now, I invite everyone to my book release party, or to at least pick up a copy of the book on Amazon to read with an open mind towards not just the story, but what goes into a release such as this on every level. I look forward to feedback and all I have yet to learn from others, because if there is one thing life has taught me, it is that everyone we interact with in life is both a student and teacher.

Buy the Book


Meteorite (29)