by Leigh Mills 

I use my life as practice and my garden is just one big meditation cushion.  I’m always watching my thoughts while I work and take care to move my 52-year-old body in balanced ways so I don’t wear it out.  I bend my knees when I lift, change sides when I dig, and use the wheelbarrow efficiently when it’s full of heavy stuff.  On the day of this story, I was practicing all of those techniques, up until the last hour.

Last month I refurbished some raised garden beds, (check out the cover story on page B-1 to learn how).  I had one “new” garden bed already filled, taken another old one apart, prepped it for the new frames and was ready to set them when I realized the old hole wasn’t deep enough on the up-hill side to get the new frame level with the down-hill side.  I had to dig down an inch or two halfway around the whole bed for this to work.  By now though, I had been working for several hours and was getting a bit tired.  My sweet husband even suggested I call it quits and finish the next day.  Being a stubborn Aries, I wanted to get this last part done and at least set the new frames in place.  I decided to keep going.

The ground here at the Heyokah Homestead is volcanic clay filled with rocks.  I can’t even get a shovel in one inch before hitting a rock.  I thought the bed was dug down deep enough for me to just hoe out the extra inches, but I was mistaken.  I had to take a pick and break up the hard, rocky ground.  I was frustrated by this point for several reasons I won’t write about, but the main point is that I was angry.  I even caught myself shouting at the dirt with the pick raised above my head, “I hate this ground!”  WHAM, BAM!—instant karma.  It took me about an hour to finish the job and get the new wooden bed frames set evenly in place.  I was tired and sore, but this is usual after a hard day’s work.

The next morning proved different.  I woke up stiff and very sore.  I could only work an hour or two before I realized I had really strained my lower back.  I couldn’t finish the job I so badly wanted to finish.  I couldn’t really do anything at all except sit and contemplate my situation.  The sacrum is related to “loss of power and old stubborn anger” to quote Louise Hay in her little blue book, Heal Your Body. I was feeling the results of my ego, thoughts, and actions, (karma literally means “action”).

Luckily, I have a loving husband who rubbed “Flexigility Balm” from the Green Earth Farm on my lower back that night. Two days later, I enjoyed a long, hot soak and wonderful therapeutic massage by Nic at Joyful Journey.  I’ve also made a promise to not overdo myself in the future, listen to my wise husband and not to get angry while hefting a 20 pound pick-axe over my head.

Leigh Mills has lived, gardened and saved seeds in the San Luis Valley for over 10 years.  She’s written the “As the Worm Turns” column for three years and has started a gardening blog called The Infinite Bee.  If you enjoy reading her monthly, visit her daily at, where she welcomes your comments, questions, and suggestions about gardening, saving seeds, and practicing life.