A few years ago, a neighbor and friend offered to show me how to build raised garden beds and to grow organic vegetables in my backyard. It was not something I would have done on my own yet with a little help offered, I figured “why not?” Unbeknownst to me at the time, that simple gesture was the start to a newfound passion that uniquely parallels to my work.
Filled with excitement to begin my new hobby, I ripped out all the weeds of the best sunny spot in my backyard. With the help of my teenage son, I built the structure for the beds and then filled them with a healthy mixture of compost. I ordered seeds and plants from Burpee.com (who knew?), and with a little patience and some water from my rain barrel, the plants took off.
I am surprised at how much I enjoy peeking in at my garden at the beginning and end of the day. I find working in the dirt to be a great way to reflect on things happening in my life and escape from the stressors of the day. I often think how fascinating it is to have such beautiful veggies grow from a tiny seed.
I realize that the most rewarding part of growing vegetables is not that I get to eat them once harvested, but that I get to give them away to extended family, neighbors, friends and coworkers. It brings me great joy to see the pleasure these gifts bring because I recognize that not everyone has access to, or the ability to grow their own, fresh vegetables.
In a way, my work in collaborative law and mediation share some common elements with my vegetable gardening.
With both gardening and my professional work, I get to work toward a positive outcome. Divorce can sometimes be a difficult and uncomfortable process; not unlike the sifting through dirt and weeds at the beginning stages of growing vegetables. But by being attentive, carefully nurturing my garden, and providing water and sunlight, eventually vegetables grow. In my collaborative work I try to take the same approach. I use my knowledge and experience to work toward an out of court process, carefully nurturing the needs of my clients and their situations to eventually reach an agreement that is suitable to all parties involved.
In both processes the end goal is always to help others. Gardening is a healthy alternative to grocery shopping for vegetables that may not be as fresh. Collaborative law and mediation are healthy alternatives to alleviate the stress and cost of divorce court. Both processes bring people together and yield growth. Neither process is always easy, but it is always worth it.
Looking at it with this perspective makes starting that vegetable garden with my neighbor that much more special.