The Next Chapter

July 13, 2019

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to write this post. How much should I share, how much should I keep private? Who will read it? Who will care and who won’t? I don’t know the answers to any of those questions but here goes anyway.

Life has a way of speaking to us and IF we are listening we will get the message. Conversely, if we are not listening we won’t. And then life will speak louder. Until we do.

I have spent a good part of my life being a people pleaser. I truly enjoy helping people. That is why I started Sublime Garden Design almost 15 years ago. I am also deeply concerned about what we are doing to our environment. I want my work to do more good than harm.

Those of you that know me well know that I am a very open person, but to many others I keep my matters to myself. This means that I often keep things inside because it just seems easier that way. But what is happening in my professional life now has become very difficult to keep separate from what is happening in my personal life. When you have a career that is closely intertwined with what you love to do that happens.

I feel that the time has come for me to share more. Be forewarned this is going to be a long post.

First the professional part…

Kryssie was my first employee. She called me out of the blue one summer afternoon in 2011 as I was sitting unshowered, still in my sweat pants, knee deep in receipts in a quickbooks daze in front of my computer. She asked if I was looking to hire a landscape architect. That was the furthest thing from my mind at that moment but we chatted for a bit and I liked her so we ended up meeting for coffee that afternoon.

We have worked together for 8 years now. She has stayed with me as other employees have come and gone. We have had ups and downs and everything in between. We’ve cried some and laughed more. We have done countless designs together and created 2 award winning gardens at the Northwest Flower and Garden show. I have spent more hours with Kryssie than I have with my own family for the last 8 years. Kryssie is like family to me. I care about her deeply and always will. We had plans that she would take over for me one day when I retired. I thought we would always work together. We clicked that first day and have ever since.

But as we all know life changes, and people and their life paths also change. And for reasons I won’t go into in great detail here Kryssie has made the decision to leave Sublime Garden Design.

This is has been a difficult time for us both. It feels like a breakup, like a death in a way, yet we are on good terms and working together to make this transition as seamless as possible for our current clients. Kryssie and I will be wrapping up our current projects together and will continue to follow up on those projects. Future clients will work with myself and our new landscape architect. I will save this announcement for another post as it just doesn’t seem appropriate here and now.

Be careful what you wish for…

We have grown as a company and personally over the last 8 years together. The past two years have been a blur of busyness and an ongoing challenge to manage our ever increasing workload. We have always had high expectations for ourselves and we absolutely hate to let anyone down.

We are extremely grateful for the amount of work we have had but it has put an immense amount of pressure and stress on both of us. Too much of a good thing you might say. So for a number of reasons we have been pulled in different directions.

I have been drawn to helping animals in need and to spending more time on my farm with my own 40+ animals. I want to spend more time in my own garden and become more self sufficient. I want to be home more. I still love my design work but if I’m being really honest I will tell you that some of the passion I had for helping people create beautiful gardens for their health and the health of the environment has been diluted in the quest to please so many people.

The type of work we are doing now is far beyond what I dreamed of and yet the stress and pressure of those projects has made me question if what I am doing is for the reasons I started Sublime in the first place. This has made me begin rethink the kind of work I want to do from this point forward.

The personal side of things…

In March of 2018, right around my birthday, I got a cold. I only get a cold every couple of years or so. I hardly ever get sick. A trip to the doctor, which I rarely go to but only did because I thought I was getting bronchitis, lead to a mammogram. The mammogram lead to additional imaging, which lead to a biopsy, which lead to a diagnosis. I was diagnosed with DCIS. DCIS is short for ductal carcinoma in situ. Yep, the ‘C’ word. The docs call it stage ‘0’ or early stage breast cancer. “In situ” means “in place”, therefore it has not escaped the milk duct.

As you can imagine all kinds of fear showed up in my mind. Am I going to die? How long will I have to live? What will happen to my animals? How will I tell my kids? And yet my underlying thought was, “I don’t have time for this”. I had people depending on me. Clients depending on me. Animals depending on me. Kryssie depended on me and so did my other employees. I had so much to do I didn’t have time to be sick. I was told by many of the naturopaths that I subsequently saw that this was not the right perspective. I needed to take care of myself. STAT.

A series of both conventional and naturopathic doctor visits took place. Ultimately it was recommended by a surgeon that I have a mastectomy (the area is too large and my breast too small for a lumpectomy). They wanted to remove my breast, “so that I could go back to living a normal life”. I’d be “as good as new” the surgeon said. “Right.” I thought.

I imagine about now some of you are thinking, “Of course that’s what you do- get rid of it!” And I understand that this is how many people think. But maybe there are a few of you that think like me and see this recommendation as absolutely ridiculous. Because you believe, like I do, that our bodies have the ability to heal, given the right circumstances, the right mindset, the right nutrition, and a strong will, and that conventional western medicine does not have all the answers.

There might even be a few of you that believe like I do that you would rather live a life on your terms, and without the risk of complications, disfigurement and pain, even if it means that life might be shorter than it would be otherwise. After all, we are all headed to the same outcome eventually- we’re not getting out of this place alive.

As you may have guessed by now, I chose not to have the mastectomy. I chose to focus on my health, both the physical and psychological, and getting my stress under control so that the stage ‘0’ doesn’t become more than that.

Now for my confession. I haven’t really done that. I go in spurts. there are times that I take all of my supplements and for the most part I eat a very healthy plant based diet. But I haven’t slept well in a while, I haven’t made time for exercise, and I can feel my stress and constant state of adrenaline are taking a toll on my health and on my relationships.

Without changing the pace, along with the pressure and the stress that I am under I am not confident that I will be able to heal. I can hear life telling me this and it’s getting louder now. I know now that I not only to need to listen but need to take action. My life actually depends on it.

When professional and personal lives collide…

It was difficult for me to share the news of Kryssie and I parting ways without sharing my personal story. Why? Because I believe all things happen for a reason. Sounds cliche, I know, but I have always believed this.

Even though I didn’t want Kryssie to leave initially, I am at peace with it now and understand that it is part of the bigger plan for my life and for hers. This is not easy- but it is necessary- for both of us.

It’s time for me to listen and get serious about healing my body. For me that means going about life at a slower pace. Doing more meaningful work. Having less stress. Spending more time with my animals and more time helping other animals in need. It means having more time for me. I can’t help anyone if I am not well myself.

So what does this all mean for Sublime?

Sublime Garden Design will continue on but it will be different. We will still do design work, but we will likely take on less work. I will say no to the projects that are not a good fit for where I am now in my life and where the company is headed.

I will continue to work on developing the nursery and plan on expanding to grow more plants, including medicinals, some of which we plan to sell at farmer’s markets next year. The nursery will benefit animals in need and will likely some day become a non-profit.

I hope to use what I have learned and am still learning about healing foods and herbs to help others that are looking to use their garden for wellness and to heal. This has been my calling for a long time and I am finally ready to step into it fully.

My garden is where I feel the most grounded and connected spiritually. My garden is where I go to heal and it is where I find answers to so many of my deepest questions. Do not underestimate the healing power of nature, of a garden, and of your body. Be good to the earth it’s the only one we’ve got. Be good to yourself.

Thank you for reading.


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