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Blooming into Mindfulness: How the Universe Used a Garden, Cancer, and Carpools to Teach Me that Calm Is the New Happy Paperback – January 29, 2016
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Brettschneider turns life experiences surrounding her mastectomy into a delightful and interesting read chock full of humor, honesty, emotion, and wisdom. Her similes and cultural references create distinct pictures that will cement the ideas into your mind. "Weeding became more than weeding," she writes. "I discovered myself clawing and stabbing at the earth with my trowel, gritting my teeth as I unearthed the roots of invasive, unwanted plants like so many cancer cells." Pure gold.
I simply loved this book. Martha is a gifted writer who brings to life her story of being an overworked, unhappy economist to finding a more balanced, peaceful life through mindfulness and other wellness-nurturing practices. Martha's skillful storytelling carried me through her cancer experience and subsequent transformational journey, leaving nuggets of wisdom and authenticity insights along the way. This is a must read for anyone wanting to create change and be more present in their lives.
There is so much to love about Blooming into Mindfulness. Martha grows her story in three parts, guiding her reader with an honest, straightforward telling of her transformational journey--moving, as she describes it, from her pre-awareness "dormant" state; to being "pruned" through cancer; to "blossoming" into a mindful, "net positive" energy-producing life. The story's starting seeds begin with her living a suburban life she didn't necessarily expect. Career, carpools and chaos figure into her tale, before the never-anticipated throws of breast cancer stop her short. Then, an unexpected encounter with an audiobook about awakening grants her an epiphany and a life-altering peace. Along the way, her light, dry-witted humor describes her burgeoning gardening addiction as well as her garden's centering presence, and the realization that her garden is a forever teacher of how "to be patient, let go of the need to control, and to let go of expectations." Martha's method of sharing her story allows even non-gardening readers to join her along the path, gathering seeds for nurturing their own customized mindfulness practice. I highly recommend Martha's memoir. Whether you take up the spade yourself or choose to grow your own "presence power" through another passion, Martha's story can help guide your journey.
Martha's beautifully-written, easy-to-read book chronicles her path through what so many women today face, as we attempt to "have it all" and find that "all" isn't all it's cracked up to be. Anyone who is attempting to find work-life balance will benefit from reading her story of learning to listen to the voice within, rather than allowing her life to be driven by goals set by society. Martha's garden serves both as a tool for her growth and a metaphor for the change in her life, as she goes from "dormant" to "pruned" to "blossoming". The time in the garden will delight readers with their own gardens, but is also accessible for those of us with black thumbs. A memoir, the book has just the right touch of "how-to" combined with a dose of dry wit, so that you'll know what to do if (when!) you finish the book inspired to see how simply becoming more aware and present can transform your life, without feeling like you are reading a self-help manual.
~ Torie Gorges
"Blooming into Mindfulness" is impressively well written and exceptionally well organized and presented from beginning to end. ... [A]n extraordinary, compelling, and life-changing read -- especially for those who are seeking internal peace for themselves as well as those around them.
~ Midwest Book Review
From the Author
As a young international economist, I had fully expected to lead a life of global work and exciting travel. But after swearing that I would never live in the suburbs, never step off the career ladder, never own a minivan, and never wipe my kids' faces with my own spit, I ended up doing all of those things.
Through it all, my ego muttered incessantly in my ear, "So when are you going to start living YOUR life again?" My garden was the only place where that internal critic was silent. Though I didn't know it at the time, the garden was my first mindfulness mentor.
In 2009, breast cancer forced me to clear my calendar for a year. Pruning was required on many fronts, from my body to my habits to my clutter (both internal and external). With more spaciousness in my life and my thinking patterns, I was open to a shocking truth revealed to me one day in the garden: by only focusing on when my "next chapter" would begin, I was missing the beauty of life right in front of me. As my garden had been trying to tell me all along, joy can be found in every stage of our unfolding.
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I highlighted too many passages to mention them all but really resonated with:
"The realization that I didn't need to buy into every thought in my head brought me instant relief from suffering."
"Sometimes nanoseconds are enough to rein in a reaction that we'll later regret."
I love how it all came together in the end. I will return to this book for inspiration and ideas for my own mindfulness practice. What a beautiful book.
“We all have the power to increase the supply of joy in our lives. If we care for our bodies, train our minds to recognize which thoughts serve our highest purpose and which thoughts we should ignore, and embrace our connectedness with the rest of creation, our individual and collective quality of life will improve significantly.”
Thank you for sharing your story!
For the author, her garden taught the lessons of patience and letting go of the need for control. Although lovely gardening metaphors abound, like her realization that she was “…root-bound as that plant, squeezed in every aspect of my life,” this is not a book filled with gardening tips. Instead, it’s packed with inspiration. What especially impressed me is that while the author comes to the realization that her garden was her spiritual guide, she shows readers how they can learn these lessons in any way they choose. “A garden, of course, isn’t the only portal to inner stillness,” she says. “Any activity that brings you to your senses, and therefore into the present moment, can serve the same purpose.”
In Part I, Dormant, the author paints a picture of her pre-awareness life full of chaos, resistance, and battles. In Part II, Pruned, she introduces her breast cancer experience and the role it played in forcing a complete reorientation of her body, mind, and spirit. In Part III, Blossoming, she details the practical steps she took to learn to listen to her heart and embrace her true self. All along the way we meet and learn from her teachers – ranging from her “Moms Run This Town” running partners and fitness trainers, to spiritual and meditation teachers, to Feng Shui practitioners, and of course her husband and sons - as we learn the details of her journey.
The story shared in Blooming into Mindfulness is universal, but the author’s expressive writing made it relevant to my own journey. I found myself highlighting large passages and stopping often to search the links to the mentors and resources the author includes. I am typically not a fan of memoir, but this excellent book goes far beyond one woman’s story to becomes a study in the blossoming of self-awareness that’s well worth reading - and recommending.