Reflecting on Mindfulness at Easter

April 14th, 2014

With Easter coming, we thought it would be the perfect time to talk about mindfulness.
No matter what your spiritual beliefs, this is a season of renewal and reaffirmation, and much of life’s inspiration arrives in the small everyday details that are easy to overlook or undervalue.

We can’t think of a better way to explore mindfulness than through this excerpt from Spring: Women’s Inspiration for the Season of Hope and New Beginnings, one of the seasonal books of women’s essays and poems we published over the past year.

This essay, by Sarah Klaassen, begins with her move from Seattle, Washington, to the Ozarks in Missouri. While her partner began a new and satisfying job, Sarah started to question her own self-worth.

She had left behind a meaningful position as an interim pastor and wasn’t able to find a job in their new community. So she set to work on everyday tasks, questioning who she was and when she would find the work that was hers to do.

Here’s an excerpt from the end of her essay, “For Work That Is Real.” We encourage you to read it and then reflect on its connection to your own life through the questions that follow.

Now spring is upon us here on the edge of the Ozarks, offering with it a few glimpses of bright summer.  

I wake each morning to the sun in our east-facing window and to birds chirping.  

I get up and wash last night’s dishes as I listen to Morning Edition on our small kitchen radio.  

I eat breakfast: one piece of toast from homemade bread I bake each week.  

I sit down with my laptop at the kitchen table.  

As I browse through the classified ads, some days all I hear is the wind running through trees, and underneath the wind, the ticking of the clock on the wall.  

I just started some seeds the other day in the basement, my hands working through wet potting soil, and I began to see in the growing light of the advancing seasons the real work that I’ve done. The apples and walnuts and baking, the sleeping, the waiting, the living.   

It’s not what I’d expected or what I’d hoped in a job or paycheck, but somewhere underneath, life has carried on anyway, all along having been the calling of living and the work that is real.

Questions for reflection:

  • Practice mindfulness by noticing small, life-affirming moments through the day.
  • What is the rhythm of routine tasks and patterns in your life?
  • How does that rhythm represent “the work that is real” in your inner life and relationships?
  • How can noticing and honoring these small moments help renew the light within you?
  • How has life “carried on anyway,” even during times that didn’t meet your expectations? What can you learn about yourself by reflecting on those times?

If you have any “ah-has” you’d like to share, please post them in the Comments section. We’d love to hear from you. Enjoy this time of new beginnings!


Making a vision board

January 31st, 2014

Tending Your Inner Garden is all about paying attention to what your soul needs and what seeds of potential are ready to grow. One of the best ways to access that inner wisdom is to make a vision board, a visual representation of your soul’s greatest desires.

Vision board

This vision board told me I needed more balance and time outdoors. I’m not quite sure about the headless woman in the upper left corner:)

Winter is the ideal time to make a vision board because it’s a natural time of quiet and reflection. Plus, cabin fever may be setting in about now, and a vision board can help you get excited about what’s to come in your life. The other great thing about a vision board is that you don’t have to be an artist: the clippings you find do the work for you.

To start, find a large sheet of paper, a pair of scissors, a glue stick, and a stack of old magazines. You’ll do this in two parts:

First, set a timer for 15 minutes. Start going through the magazines and cut out anything that speaks to you. It could be a word, a phrase, a picture. The important thing is not to think about it. If it speaks to you, cut or tear it out. Keep going until the timer sounds.

Second, set the timer for another 15 minutes, grab your glue stick and start pasting the clippings to the background sheet. Again, don’t stop to analyze or plan. Just plop things down wherever they land. When the timer goes off, you’re done.

Now step back and look at what you’ve created. What themes emerge? For instance, do you see a lot of images or words pertaining to money, health, relationships or nature? Is your vision board bright and colorful, or are the colors more subdued? Did you fill up every available space on the background paper, or is there space between the clippings? The answers to all these questions can help you decipher the messages your vision board has for you.

  • Here are some suggestions for making the experience even more powerful:
  • Get together with a friend or family member and make your vision boards together. When you’re done, you may see themes in one another’s vision boards that you would have overlooked in your own.
  • Journal about your vision board. Choose some items that stand out to you and ask yourself what they mean in your life right now.
  • Put your vision board where you can see it daily. Many Inner Gardeners have hung theirs on their refrigerator or bathroom mirror, or carried them in a journal or calendar.
  • Put the date on your vision board. Then do a new one annually at about the same time of year. Over time, you’ll see trends in the direction your life is going. For instance, one Inner Gardener was surprised to find that her vision board had a lot to do with relationships. Within a year, she’d met her future husband and was planning to get married. Another is making a change in her career direction, and her vision board is helping guide her to pursuits like yoga and writing, mapping out the direction she wants to go.

We’d love to hear how your vision board turns out. Leave comments here or contact us and we’ll post your photo on our Facebook page.

Give the gift of women’s voices

October 31st, 2013
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Save 25% for the Holidays!
Order all four books for just $49.95!


Readers of the Tending Your Inner Garden seasonal books love what they are discovering. The voices of women from across the country and globe speak of the joys and sorrows of everyday life, as well as those pivotal moments when life surprises us and prompts us to rethink our values and priorities.

  • Winter captures the tender moments of loved ones now gone and glory in the beauty of bare trees against painted skies and invites you into the comfort of quiet and reflection.
  • Spring honors the rejuvenating energy of this beloved season and encourages you to discover and savor your own new beginnings.
  • Summer reminds you that the beauty of life at its peak and the hindrance of storms are all part of the extremes of this season.
  • Fall invites you to sit back, reflect, celebrate and surrender as you recall the lessons and memories of the year that has passed, integrating them into the soil of your life.

Now, enjoy the entire set of four books for just $49.95…a savings of 25%! Click here to order.






Newest anthology features intimate stories, women’s wisdom

September 21st, 2013

We’re delighted to introduce the fourth and final anthology in our series of four seasonal books, all made possible thanks to the submissions of essays and poems from women around the country and from other parts of the world.  The writing is grippingly honest. Women invite us into the deepest parts of their lives with stories that are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes amusing, always enlightening.

A western woman living in Saudia Arabia tells why she wears the Arab abaya. A writer from Florida relates her humorous attempt to be grateful in the midst of changing a flat tire without the benefit of her dead cell phone in Alligator Alley.
A Des Moines woman shares the story of her sister’s decision to take her own life. Another tells us how she started noticing the beauty of snow-capped mountains in the Himalayas only when she decided to let go of her goal of reaching 20,000 feet.
With the publication of this fourth book, Tending Your Inner Garden has created a You Tube channel for in-person readings by women featured in the book. Check out Tending Your Inner Garden Women’s Writings.
This is a book to keep by your bedside or your favorite chair–and to pick up and savor whenever you experience the harvests and celebrations of fall in your life. Women who read the Winter, Spring and Summer books tell us that they connected so strongly to the writers because their voices are universal and their messages are timeless and grippingly honest. You’ll find that same quality in Fall, filled with lyrical writing, gentle humor and great wisdom.
Read reviews from other women writers:
“A meaningful journey of what it means to be a woman
in search of her essential self.

A marvelous read and important contribution.”

–Linda Carroll, therapist and author of
Her Mother’s Daughter, Remember Who You Are and
Love Cycles: From Merging to Wholehearted Loving

“The array of writers within these pages–where they’re from and the perspectives they gift to readers–adds depth to the most beautiful season.
This must be read outside on crisp, sunlit, solitary afternoons.”
–Mary Kay Shanley, author of
She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes  
and The Memory Box 





Introducing Our Summer Women’s Anthology

June 17th, 2013

We’re proud to announce Summer: Women’s Writings for the Season of Beauty and Resilience. It’s the third of our four-book series, featuring women writers from around the world as they reflect on the meaning of the seasons in their inner life.

Summer blesses us with both gifts and challenges: Riotous color and parched grassland. Thunderous storms and blissful sunny days. Hot, buggy evenings and cool early mornings. Kaleidoscope-like butterflies and ravenous locusts. Most of us welcome summer if for no other reason than it surprises us year after year.

Summer: Women’s Writings for the Season of Beauty and Resilience will delight you with the adventures it offers and the memories it evokes. Open your heart to a grandmother who recalls her own summer barefoot childhood as she shares a beach adventure with her granddaughter. Empathize with the resilience of a gardener who fought the bugs and worms in her garden by learning to work with nature, rather than resist it. Listen to the warm remembrances of an ex-wife who decides to share stories only she knows at her former husband’s funeral.

“Now is the season to call back your heart,” Celeste Snowber tells us in “Bodypsalm for Playing.” This volume will help you do so by evoking feelings associated with both storms and resilience, beauty and mindfulness. Then take pen and paper and use the journaling questions at the end of the book to capture your own memories of summer.



Remembering the “Meeting Elm”

April 15th, 2013

When a Des Moines Sunday Register article appeared yesterday featuring the “Peace Tree,” a 513-year-old Sycamore now barely visible in Lake Red Rock, I was reminded of a similar story that shows how works of nature anchor us and preserve our stories.

When we moved to Carlisle, Iowa in 2003 to inhabit a 150-year old farmhouse on eight acres, one of our first duties was to learn the history of the place. Fortunately, the son of the original owner lived across the road with his wife. Bob and Ann Fleming, now both gone, generously shared details not only about the house, but also about the land itself, including one famous tree.

Originally, an orchard of fruit trees edged the north side of the house, the area where we planted a prairie. In the middle of the orchard was the “Meeting Elm,” the largest in the vicinity and the site of many gatherings of Scotch farmers. The meetings were usually serious in nature–matters affecting the livelihoods of these farmers and their families–but it was customary for someone to bring a keg of beer. Bob Fleming told me that periodically fights broke out. In one particularly raucous gathering, one man bit off the ear of another. The famous elm died around 1900.


Later, in talking with Bob about how fascinating I found all that he and Ann had shared with us, I mentioned that my favorite story was the one about the Meeting Elm. At that, he teared up and began to cry.

“You stop that right now!” he scolded himself.

Was he moved by the recollection of the tree? The fact that now others were carrying on its story? I don’t know but it demonstrated how connected we are with the nature that surrounds us.

As we become more mobile as a society and as land is cleared for development, we’ll have fewer opportunities to develop long-term relationships with specific trees, lakes, hillsides, rocks, prairies. That saddens me–and makes me want to look around at my immediate surroundings with greater appreciation.

Is there a tree in your yard, neighborhood, or community you want to relate to and remember?  Or one you already have a relationship with?  Share your story with us.



Imagine a Week in Big Sky Country

March 16th, 2013

Have you registered for our Montana retreat, September 8-14?

Group drumming
Imagine walking into a room with a circle of handmade African drums, lit candles and fresh mountain air. You take a seat with a drum, and within minutes, you and the other participants of the Montana Tending Your Inner Garden retreat fill the space with powerful and intricate rhythms that rise and fall like the water on the shores of Flathead Lake. And that’s just PART of one evening!

That’s what’s in store during our Montana retreat September 8-14, where educator and recording artist Matthew Marsolek of Drum Brothers will lead us in a soul-stirring evening of drumming.

His wife, dance instructor Tracy Topp, will lead us in African dance (no experience necessary!). A dancer since she was three, Tracy has training in many dance styles, including modern, jazz, Middle Eastern and West African.

What else lies in store for you on the retreat?

A day in Glacier National Park.

We’ll visit via Going to the Sun Road, a spectacular drive into the park with majestic mountain vistas, opportunities to hike and a stop at the Visitor’s Center at Logan Pass for QiGong to fill us with the energy of the trees, earth and sky.

Afternoon free time for creative projects, shopping at the galleries and boutiques of nearby Bigfork, and opportunities to canoe, kayak or relax on your cabin porch, where you can read and admire the peace and beauty of Flathead Lake.

And, of course, mornings filled with Tending Your Inner Garden’s experiential exercises, discussion and interaction with nature as we meet as a group.

Hurry! Our early registration discount ends May 1!

Check out all the details and register online today. We’d love to spend a week in Big Sky Country with you!

Spring Cleaning, Inside and Out

March 16th, 2013

As we get closer to spring, you may be thinking about cleaning house: opening up the windows, clearing out your closet, sprucing up your place a little. All those external signs of a new season mark the same transition plants go through. Dormant and lying in the dark for the winter, they suddenly want to reach out for as much sunshine, fresh air and growth as possible.

So, while you’re cleaning house this spring, take some time to tend your inner garden, too. When you’re walking, journaling, reflecting—or while you’re cleaning up the yard and clearing out last season’s clothes—ask yourself questions like these:

  • Are there behaviors or thought patterns that are hampering growth in my life?
  • What conditions will best allow for my own personal growth?
  • How can I devote more time and energy to things that I love and value?
  • What support do I need from family, friends and my community as I pursue goals and dreams?
  • What possibilities in my life excite me the most during the quickening of spring?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!




Submit your writing for publication

October 4th, 2012

Submit your stories for possible publication in our Summer and Fall Tending Your Inner Garden books to be released yet in 2012.

Over the past ten years of Tending Your Inner Garden workshops, dinners and retreats, we’ve heard hundreds of women’s stories. Some have been stories of healing both body and soul. Others have been touching, inspiring, poignant, heartbreaking, and laugh-out-loud funny.

They all prove one thing: As women, we all have stories that matter. And when we share them with one another, we expand and deepen a sacred circle of women and support one another on the spiritual path.

That’s why we’re publishing four Tending Your Inner Garden books this year, and we want your voice to be part of them.

We’re inviting you and every woman you know to submit a story, poem, essay or other creation for either or both the Summer and Fall Tending Your Inner Garden seasonal books. Each book reflects the overall theme of Tending Your Inner Garden: Helping women listen to and trust their inner guidance as they connect with Spirit and the Earth.

This is the best way we know to honor the tenth anniversary of Tending Your Inner Garden. And it’s also the most lasting and impactful way we can think of to celebrate women, Spirit and nature. We’ve spelled out all the details below, and we encourage you to take part.

We’ve published two books so far: Winter: Women’s Stories, Poems and Inspiration for the Season of Rest and Renewal and Spring: Women’s Inspiration for the Season of Hope and New Beginnings.

Now, we’re looking for women and girls who want to share their life experience and insights that reflect the seasons of Summer and Fall. Maybe you’ve faced a challenge and have grown as a result, or maybe you found a new perspective on a relationship. In Summer, have you faced storms and grown in self-knowledge and awareness? Have you savored beauty and abundance in your life? In Fall, have you harvested life wisdom? Learned how to let go? Experienced gratitude? Here are additional details on the books:

Q. How will the books be published?

A. Each book will be published to e-readers (Kindle, Nook, etc.), and we’ll do a limited run of print copies as well. If we choose your submission, you’ll receive five print copies of each book you’re in, plus a 25% discount on any additional print copies. Each book will have a brief bio of each woman whose submissions are included.

Q. How will you select the material you publish?

A. We want writing that’s honest and heartfelt, whether it’s a poem, a humorous story or a poignant essay. We’ll also select material that provides a wide spectrum of inspiration, ideas and points of view within each book.

Q. I don’t consider myself a writer and have never been published. Can I still submit work?

A. Absolutely. We’re looking for fresh, honest, compelling material. Our only requirement is that you write from the heart.

Q. Will all work be included?

A. We can’t guarantee that your entries will be included. But the more you submit, the greater your chance of being published in at least one of the books.


Please share this information with any female who may be interested, of any age anywhere on the planet. We hope to include writing representing all ages, walks of life, religions and parts of the world.


Submission guidelines:

Please follow the submission instructions carefully. Be sure to keep a copy of everything you submit.

• Submissions will be accepted via email only. Send them to

• Please send each submission separately. In the subject line of the email and the name of the Word document, include the season of the book for which the submission is intended.  For example: Story for Summer book.

• Submissions must be in Word documents.

• Each submission should be no more than 600 words.

• With your submission, include your name the way you’d like it listed if it’s published.

• We’ll contact you if your submission has been accepted.

• Please note the deadlines for submission, below.

Submission deadlines

Submissions for the books are due according to the following schedule:

  • Summer book: Now closed
  • Fall book: June 1, 2013

If you have questions, please contact us.

• Send your submissions to:


Thank you for being part of this project celebrating and unifying the voices of women everywhere. We look forward to hearing from you!


Savor the Spring in Your Life

September 20th, 2012

The new Tending Your Inner Garden book, Spring: Inspiration for the Season of  Hope and New Beginnings, releases Thursday, Sept. 27. We’re delighted to introduce this second in our series of four seasonal books, all made possible thanks to the submissions of essays and poems from around the country and other parts of the world.

This is a book to keep by your bedside or your favorite chair–and to pick up and savor whenever you feel the stirrings of new possibilities in your life.

It includes stories about finding your own space, transforming your life, moving into new stages of motherhood, accepting unexpected transitions, growing on a soul level and so much more. And it provides just the right hope and inspiration when you’re nurturing new beginnings in your life.

Transformational author and change agent Margaret Wheatley offers this endorsement of the book:

“Each offering invites you into the mind and heart of the writer, promising a rich, reflective experience that both stays with you and moves you forward.”

In the central Iowa area? Join us for a book-signing Thursday, Sept. 27 at Beaverdale Books from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Or pre-order your copy now at a special price: