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Gardening As Self-Care

Jul 31, 2020

The garden is often seen as a refuge, a place to forget worldly cares, removed from the “real” life that lies outside. But when we get our hands in the earth we connect with the cycle of life in nature through which destruction and decay are followed by regrowth and renewal.

The new book, "The Well-Gardened Mind," provides a new perspective on the power of gardening to change people’s lives. Sue Stuart-Smith investigates the many ways in which mind and garden can interact and explores how the process of tending a plot can be a way of sustaining an innermost self.

Stuart-Smith’s own love of gardening developed as she studied to become a psychoanalytic psychotherapist.

The pandemic has brought an unprecedented crush of change and uncertainty; personal, professional, emotional, spiritual. Many Americans are losing jobs, losing loved ones, changing careers, rethinking where they live, whom they live with, what they believe.

How do we make sense of all this change? How do we process pivotal moments and convert them into periods of growth and renewal? In a timely and pioneering new book, "Life Is In The Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age," Bruce Feiler investigates how to navigate life’s biggest transitions with meaning, purpose, and skill.

Feiler, the New York Times bestselling author of "The Secrets of Happy Families" and "Council of Dads" and himself a cancer survivor, spent the last five years crisscrossing the country, collecting hundreds of life stories of Americans who’ve been through major life changes, or lifequakes as Bruce calls them. With a team of twelve, he coded these stories, identifying patterns and takeaways that can help all of us survive and thrive in times of change.

Mark Arax is from a Californian family of Central Valley farmers, a writer with deep ties to the land who has watched the battles over water intensify even as California lurches from drought to flood and back again.

In "The Dreamt Land," he travels the state to explore the one-of-a-kind distribution system, built in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, that is straining to keep up with California’s relentless growth. The book is about the land and the people who have worked it; from gold miners to wheat ranchers to small fruit farmers and today’s Big Ag. Since the beginning, Californians have redirected rivers, drilled ever-deeper wells and built higher dams, pushing the water supply past its limit.

Mark Arax is an author and journalist whose writings on California and the West have received numerous awards for literary nonfiction. A former staffer at the Los Angeles Times, his work has appeared in The New York Times and the California Sunday Magazine. His books include a memoir of his father’s murder, a collection of essays about the West, and the best-selling "The King of California," which won a California Book Award, the William Saroyan Prize from Stanford University, and was named a top book of 2004 by the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Paul Jarvis left the corporate world when he realized that working in a high-pressure, high profile world was not his idea of success. Instead, he now works for himself out of his home on a small, lush island off of Vancouver, and lives a much more rewarding and productive life. He no longer has to contend with an environment that constantly demands more productivity, more output, and more growth.

In "Company of One," Jarvis explains how you can find the right pathway to do the same, including planning how to set up your shop, determining your desired revenues, dealing with unexpected crises, keeping your key clients happy, and of course, doing all of this on your own.

To be alive is to be in perpetual metamorphosis: growing, healing, learning, aging. In "Shapeshifters," physician and writer Gavin Francis considers the inevitable changes all of our bodies undergo such as birth, puberty, and death, but also laughter, sleeping, and healing; and those that only some of our bodies will like getting a tattoo, experiencing psychosis, suffering anorexia, being pregnant, or undergoing a gender transition.

Gavin Francis is a physician and the award-winning author of four books, including "Adventures in Human Being," "Empire Antarctica;" and "True North."

Susan Hand Shetterly has written about wildlife and wetlands for more than thirty years, in both articles and books, including "Settled in the Wild," a collection of essays.

In "Seaweed Chronicles," Shetterly takes readers deep into the world of this essential organism by providing an immersive, often poetic look at life on the rugged shores of her beloved Gulf of Maine, where the growth and harvesting of seaweed is becoming a major industry.

While examining the life cycle of seaweed and its place in the environment, she tells the stories of the men and women who farm and harvest it and who are fighting to protect this critical species against forces both natural and man-made.

Over the course of a decade spent reporting on the ground in China as a financial journalist, Dinny McMahon gradually came to the conclusion that the widely held belief in China’s inevitable economic ascent is dangerously wrong.
 
In this unprecedented deep dive, McMahon shows how, lurking behind the illusion of prosperity, China’s economic growth has been built on a staggering mountain of debt. While stories of newly built but empty cities, white elephant state projects, and a byzantine shadow banking system, have all become a regular fixture in the press in recent years, McMahon goes beyond the headlines to explain how such waste has been allowed to flourish, and why one of the most powerful governments in the world has been at a loss to stop it.

Dinny McMahon's spent more than a decade in China as a journalist covering the Chinese economy and financial systems for the Wall Street Journal and for the Dow Jones News Service. A native Australian, he is fluent in Mandarin. McMahon wrote China’s Great Wall of Debt while a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC. His new book is "China's Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle."

In his new book, A Generation of Sociopaths, author Bruce Cannon Gibney looks to show how America was hijacked by Baby Boomers, a generation, he believes, whose reckless self-indulgence degraded the foundations of American prosperity. A former partner in a leading venture capital firm, Gibney examines the policies of the most powerful generation in modern history, saying Boomers enriched themselves at the expense of future generations.

Gibney says acting without empathy, prudence, or respect for facts--acting, in other words, as sociopaths--the Boomers turned American dynamism into stagnation, inequality, and bipartisan fiasco. Gibney argues that younger generations have a window to hold the Boomers accountable and begin restoring America.

Bruce Gibney is a writer and venture capitalist, working at a hedge fund and as a partner at one of Silicon Valley’s leading venture firms, Founders Fund. 

Alice Hoffman has written more than thirty works of fiction, including The Museum of Extraordinary Things, The Dovekeepers and Practical Magic. Her latest novel is Faithful. It tells the story of a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

  Author Kathryn Harrison's new book, True Crimes: A Family Album, is a collection of essays is about her own family. It covers many topics, including being a survivor of incest and coming to terms with one of the worst crimes that happened to her, perpetrated by her own father.

Kathryn Harrison has written 15 books - biographies, novels, essays - but is best known for her 1997 memoir, The Kiss, which is her account of the affair she had with her estranged father when she was 20 years old.

And while the experience affected her in unimaginable ways, she went on to an acclaimed literary career, and she built a full life for herself. She has a loving husband and three kids. Her new collection of essays, True Crimes: A Family Album, explores those other dimensions of her life.

   Adulthood is undergoing profound transformations. Men and women wait until their thirties to marry, have children, and establish full-time careers, occupying a prolonged period in which they are no longer adolescents but still lack the traditional emblems of adult identity.

Steven Mintz is Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin and Executive Director of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning. His new book is The Prime of Life which puts today’s challenges into new perspective by exploring how past generations navigated the passage to maturity, achieved intimacy and connection, raised children, sought meaning in work, and responded to loss.