Episode 035 of the Cultivate Your Life Podcast was released on May 5th, 2020. Listen here!

We’re in such a strange time together. These days they seem to blur together many times, right? We’re not even sure what hour it is because our brains, they don’t really seem to turn off. Maybe you felt like your brain is just constantly trying to solve problems and trying to find peace. There’s a lot on our minds. And in it all, there’s one thing that just keeps coming back to my thoughts and I think maybe you’ve been asking yourself these questions too. What am I living my life for? And what will my life illuminate for others long after I’m gone? This thought of legacy has rooted itself in my soul and today we’re going to chat about planting legacy right where you are and spoiler alert, it starts with the tiniest of steps. Let’s chat.

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them. The things that last longer than you, the things that run deeper and are more thrilling than skydiving. The things that make you come alive. Welcome to the Cultivate Your Life Podcast, where each week we talk about how to uncover what matters to you in the big picture and start acting like it today. Whether you’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or in need of some refreshing truth today, I’m Laura and you are in the right place. Let’s cultivate what matters together.

It’s so good to be here with you right now. Friends, the sun is starting to come out. We’ve had lots of showers in April. They say April showers bring May flowers. I want you to own up on that flowers. Oh, but here comes the sun. Here comes the sun. There’s so much, so much hard, so much pain and turmoil that continues to pour through our world and our days. And yet that sun, it just keeps peeking through, reminding us that there’s hope. There are good things ahead. And I’m so grateful to be here with you today. Can we go outside together? Let’s go out in the garden together.

Well, I have some news for you out here in the garden. We have a new garden accessory and I can’t stop laughing at it. So I got this crazy idea and crazy times, they allow you to carry out your more crazy ideas. I mean, think about it. We have seen professional musicians giving beautiful concerts from balconies. In my own neighborhood, we have a bagpiper that played on Easter Sunday. We have seen people do extraordinary things and so why not do something extraordinary in my own home, and ask my neighbor if he would make me a picnic table for the squirrels because we’ve just gotten to that point. We needed some activity in our lives. We needed some entertainment. So yes, my wonderful neighbor, shout out to Wes. Thanks Wes for taking my crazy idea and making it happen. He and his son Jay, they made this squirrel picnic table friends.

It’s real. It’s real. You can go to my Instagram and take a peek, but it’s so cute. So there’s a squirrel and his name officially is [Squirrely McSquirrelerpants 00:03:57] and Squirrely McSquirrelerpants, he could be in the Cirque to [Squirle 00:04:05]. He is very adept at hanging upside down and feeding off of our bird feeders. And we like our birds. We would like them to have their own food. So we decided that an alternative to Squirrely McSquirrelerpants stealing all of the nuts out of the feeder is clearly to make him his own restaurant. And so we have affixed this beautiful squirrel picnic table to our front banister and I took some Velcro and I velcroed on a little mini mason jar dish and I put his little food in there and he is loving it. He’s loving it. I think we are probably loving it more than he is, but it’s so great. It’s just so great. So we are finding joy in the little things and just loving watching Squirrely McSquirrelerpants have his daily meals.

In other news, perhaps less exciting. I mean what can top that? Let’s walk over here. We’re going to walk over to the garden. We’re going to walk over to the garden and we just completed a really big garden project. And if you want to see pictures of the garden where we are right now, go over to Instagram and look up Gracie’s garden on Instagram. I have a whole Instagram account with pictures for you. So it’s instagram.com/graciesgarden and you’ll see we just did a big garden project. But what’s really exciting is things are growing you all. I could not say that last year and if you want to know more about that, go back and listen to my episode titled When Your Plans Don’t Go As Planned. They did not last year. So it feels extra sweet to be seeing things grow, especially in such a time as this.

The one thing we’re most excited about that’s growing though is like we talked about last week, our giant pumpkin. Knock on all the wood here. It is growing, it’s growing and every week, so far the plant has taken on about three to four inches. And from my own previous experience in growing a giant pumpkin that reached over 80 pounds, I’m going to own that with pride. I know that this is just the beginning if Lord willing, this plant keeps growing. If that happens, then we will see some more exponential growth rates and I will keep you posted and like I said before, I need you to start thinking about names. I’m just holding out hope you all. The garden has become our place to dream, to have hope, to plant things in faith. And one of the things I’m holding out hope for is we’re already going to go ahead and start to think about some names. Let’s think about some names.

So yes, being out here, it has really been a delight lately, especially now when the world just feels like it’s caving in. I can just walk outside and just remind myself that good things grow from small things including legacy. Let me tell you a story.

I keep thinking about this. Over and over since this pandemic began, one conversation with my mom from 18 years ago keeps coming to mind. It was the summer after my junior year of college and it was right around the time that September 11th had happened just a few months earlier. As that tragedy did for so many of us, and maybe you remember this just like it was yesterday, that experience changed all of us. It made me question what I was living my life for and at the time I really needed something more sure to hold onto each day than applause or appearance. This was the year I started to ask a lot of questions. I wanted to know about what gave people the hope and the peace that they had, namely my grandfather? On a country road in Alabama, in my dad’s beat up Chevy Tahoe. I asked a question that was a step into the uncomfortable.

Now this question was a level deeper than our normal mom and daughter college chats. I just asked my mom, “Mom, tell me more about grandma and grandpa’s faith. What was it like when you were little?” We drove through green crop fields and past towering oaks along pastures of cattle, as my mom told me about tented revivals and country life. There were no church buildings around their home, so they had church in their living room. She and her brother, they helped set up the chairs each Sunday and people came from miles around to open their Bibles. Grandpa led the singing and lesson and the prayer for their simple home church and after the service they would all swap goods from their gardens and stories and seeds. Now for my grandpa’s part, Grandpa Cecil, who loved his tomatoes, so he shared his tomatoes and any fish that he hooked in the local swimming hole. Now they didn’t have much, but they had something sure. They had faith.

Now right there, there. Right as she spoke, something happened inside me. Some people call it a fire inside. Some call it passion, some call it curiosity. Here’s what I know. Something came alive in me. I wanted that faith. Faith against all odds. I wanted assurance, solid ground to stand on each day and now here we are some 18 years later, and that conversation just keeps prodding me. My thoughts keep returning there in the strangest moments, like watching Squirrely McSquirrelerpants at his feeder or in the middle of the night as I open my Bible, as I walk through the oak trees in our park. And of course here in the garden where I’m looking right now at my Grandpa’s Cecil’s sign that my mom passed on to me and it reads, God lives in every garden. He loves each growing thing. So forget your ills. Get out and dig and sing. 18 years later, here I am and I see it. That conversation in the car somewhere near Clanton, Alabama was the moment legacy was transferred to me.

Now legacy, it feels like a big concept, right? But it’s really quite simple. It begins in small steps, steps that add up over time, steps and stories become seeds of legacy that continue to produce fruit year after year, generation after generation. Now to create a legacy, something of value is passed from one person to another through stories or songs. The firsthand witness of a life well lived, words on a page, art and among many other things, through plants. Yes, plants. Plants become heirlooms, ones that accumulate new chapters with each year grown. Now I see now how grandpa’s legacy led me here to live for something different. My life has been shaped by his faith through those tented revivals, living room, sermons, and of course the tomatoes. He planted in faith, believing in what he couldn’t yet see and I find myself doing the same, especially in this unique time. Are you feeling that too?

Sometimes the only thing we have that is sure is faith. As strange as that seems, believing in what we can’t yet see. As they gathered in their home to open the Bible, so have we for the last eight years and more pointedly, of course, right now as they shared seeds and garden gifts, so do we. The garden has become our place in this pandemic to dream, to hope, to nurture each other and to exercise faith and planting small things that will Lord willing grow into big things over time. So planting legacy is on my mind a lot these days, maybe years too. What are we living this life for? What is my life illuminating for others? What will I leave behind if I were to finish my days in this pandemic?

It’s a real question I’m asking myself. This urgent call to pass good to my kids and to my husband and the world, it’s rooted itself into all of my thoughts since this strange time began. And for me, it starts here in the dirt.

Our modern day victory garden like you and I have talked about, this is rich soil for growing these days. We planted Grandpa’s Cecil’s favorite, Early Girl tomatoes, rows of Zinnia seeds passed to me from my mom line our raised beds here, John Cole bulbs from my great grandmother Irene. They were blooming as the world shut down in March. My grandmother’s Purple Iris decided to put on a show this year in the front yard right near the little tree swing where the kids have spent hours since school and play dates with friends came to a halt. The perfume of honeysuckle. It lures us in as we play in the front yard, intentionally planted there to keep three generations of memories alive in tasting these sweet nectar treats as kids. The peach tree over there. We planted that years ago, rooted there to keep memories of peach park in Clanton, Alabama as sweet as the fruit and ice cream we enjoyed there on many a family road trip, including the very trip I took with my mom home from college 18 years ago.

There are many more. If I were to tell you the whole list, it would only further confirm for you my plant lady status. Each of these plants though means something to me. Each represents something I want to pass onto my children. So as we putter in this place together, we share memories and histories and lessons and values. With each story told, we keep the seeds of legacy growing. And one day, Lord willing, they’ll tended by the hands of our three little gardeners. Now perhaps for you it’s not plants, but something else. What do you want to pass along and multiply in the world right now and long after you?

Now, the best part about this is that you don’t have to just look back. Perhaps some of your memories of the past are best rewritten in the future. You can pave a new path and change generations ahead of you as you do. The fun of planting legacy is creating new stories to tell and new values to pass on to. For us, that of course came in the form of a giant pumpkin two seasons ago. Now, giant pumpkins haven’t exactly been a staple in our family, but it seemed right for this crew. We made a new memory with Big Rita at 80 something bounds and with it the legacy of adventure and trying new things just for the joy of it. You can write new legacies too. So a simple question for you. What do you want to multiply in the world? What do you want to grow that lasts longer than you?

Write something down. There are no wrong answers. What do you want to multiply in the world? And then you get to have some fun and think of the smallest, tiniest step forward that you could take today. And for you like me, that might mean literally planting a single seed. Now over the next few weeks on my blog at lauracasey.com/blog we’re going to explore more ways to cultivate legacy from making a time capsule journal of this unique time to a stay at home scrapbook. My kids are loving this. To a simple home movie and more. We’re going to get some seeds of legacy planted together, one small but mighty step at a time.

Let’s just take a breath. These birds. Oh, and the honey bees. Friends, the honeybees, you know how much I love honey bees. I have a secret dream of keeping bees. I think our homeowners association would not be into that, but maybe I could make a case for it right now. Maybe I could make a case for it being an essential activity in this current time. For the sake of kidding, honey. Super essential. Someone sent me a suggestion on how to make that work. For now though, I’m just going to plant things for them. Oh, the lavender in our front yard is covered in honey bees and I just try to get as close as I can and just listen in. They’re so happy buzzing around, but it’s so good to be here with you. So good to be outside with you and so many of you have loved the free gardening 101 workbook that I shared with you last week. If you have not downloaded it yet, go on and download it at gardeningwithlaura.com. No green thumb required.

And it has been so fun. You guys are so wonderful. I asked you very selfishly because I just love seeing pictures of things you grow. If you would tag me in your garden photos on Instagram and you have happily obliged. I am so grateful. I love, love seeing what you’re cultivating, not just in your life but in your actual garden and yard and patios and window sills and apartment balconies. It’s just wonderful. I’m so grateful. Thank you so much. You are planting legacy, whether you’re starting a garden for the first time or you are carrying on a tradition from years past. I’m so excited for you. And I am extra excited for something else that is sprouting up on May 13th. Gracie loved our giant pumpkin, but there’s something that we made here at Cultivating What Matters that she loves even more.

The Girls Goal Planner is coming. It’s coming May 13th, mark your planners, her legacy starts here too. In this unique time there’s no better time to help her learn how to cultivate what matters and to grow slow and to think big picture and take the tiniest steps with joy and faith and I’m so excited for this. If you want more information or you want to see a sneak peek inside, go to girlsgoalplanner.com. So simple, girlsgoalplanner.com and I’ll see you there at 10:00 AM Eastern standard time on May 13th. I cannot wait. Gracie has been using an advanced copy for the last few weeks and reading her goals, it’s so sweet, you all, one of her goals is she wants also to write a book. And in the Girls Goal Planner, we teach girls ages 8 to 13 how to have a goal and uncover a goal that really matters to them in the big picture and how to break it down.

And so her goal of writing a book, she wrote down her three steps and she wrote down what I need to do first, is I need to write the book, I need to illustrate it and then publish it. Exclamation point. And I just love that. I love that. I wish I would have had that when I was younger. Don’t you wish you would’ve had that when you were younger? And instead I felt like I launched into my adult life and career world and bit off way more than I could chew and didn’t know these essential skills about how to have a dream. And how to little by little with loads of grace make it happen over time, but most importantly, how to enjoy the journey. So mark your planner, May 13th for all the girls in your life, the Girls Goal Planner is coming to the Cultivate shop. So excited. But until then, get out there, get your hands dirty, smell the roses and cultivate what matters. I’ll see you next time.