July 12, 2016 | | Comments 0
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Rock Your Health: 10 Life lessons from the blackberry patch

Picking blackberries is my ZEN thing to do in the summer, as it takes me away from the usual city stuff and allows me to become re-connected to nature and who I am. And since I am also a Life Coach, I see the application of my experience to those of you who might like to do some soul searching as well.

Here are my thoughts on the experience of picking in the patch. YOU can decide how this can apply to your life.

B – Be prepared before you enter the patch.

Shorts and tank tops are not picking attire. Blackberries grow on long prickly vines that not only scratch me easily, but can wrap around my ankles and trip me if I start moving too fast. I prepare and protect myself with long-sleeved shirts and pants, preferably denim, socks, and shoes, no sandals.

L- Listen to the sounds of the woods for guidance.

If birds are chirping pleasantly, bugs are buzzing around making a lazy sound, leaves are fluttering in the breeze and I feel calm, then all is well. At a moment’s notice, however, I have heard a screech or a squawk or a fast rustling thru the woods and know that something is up! It’s amazing if I don’t have the distraction of all the “people noise” that the sounds of nature are there to guide my survival in very basic ways.

A – Analyze your next move before you take the first step.

Before I start to pick, I scan the entire patch and get the big picture of how I will proceed. Where is the best entry point that provides the easiest access, has the least amount of entanglements and yields the biggest return. This is a “prickly” venture and can lead to a lot of scratches, so I need to be strategic and move carefully as I proceed.

C – Check behind you often.

Sometimes when I keep moving forward as I pick, I only see one side of what is available. When I turn around periodically, I see more berries that I might have missed if I were always looking forward. I like to use the “turning technique” by planting my feet in one spot and picking in all directions before I move on, so I can see all the angles.

K – Keep moving deeper into the patch.

The best is yet to come. The first glance does not reveal the true bounty that lies within. As you go deeper, you start developing the “eye” for what you are looking for and you start seeing more of what is there than you originally thought. And berries always appear smaller from a distance, so when you get up close and personal, you really can see how big and beautiful they really are. Of course moving deeper into the patch means more vines, more stickers, more scratches, but no pain – no gain. It is well worth it to forge ahead.

B – Berries that fall to the ground before you get to them are a gift.

Two things are happening here. If you get overly greedy and try to pick too many berries at once with your hand, there might be overflow and they might fall out of your hand and onto the ground. The positive spin on this is that there might be a critter on the ground that had a wonderful berry drop from the heavens right down to the ground in front of it – and it perceives it as a gift! So instead of getting frustrated when you lose the perfect berry, think of the joy that critter feels when it appeared.

E – Expect to experience some pain

I never make it out of the patch without a few scratches, mainly on my hands with exposed skin, but if I pick slowly and steadily and avoid quick moves, I keep it to a minimum. There will be times when you are tempted by a beautiful cluster of ripe berries to reach farther than you should, and then it is easy to get off balance and fall, or pull a muscle. Again, slow, deliberate, and calculated movements reduce the possibility of pain and suffering.

R – Rejoice over the experience.

Appreciate the bounty you are harvesting, how nature provides such delicious and nourishing treats, that you have taken the time to be with nature, be with yourself and be “one with the berries”. The best stress management tool there is for grounding and it’s all FREE.

R – Ripe berries have the best flavor and are easiest to pick.

The biggest berries are the ripest and sweetest, and they are the easiest to pick. When you hit on a cluster of them all ripe and ready, you can cup your hand around the whole bundle and they slide easily off the vine and into your hand. Very smooth! Most of the time the biggest and ripest are found in the shade or hidden among leaves, so when you find them they are a complete surprise. I always get excited when I find them – and usually shout out to my picking partners – “I’ve found the mother load!” So always keep your eyes open when picking, because the best berries might not be in full view, they might even be very low under a lot of brush and you might have to look a little harder to find them.

Y – Young berries need more time to mature

Just because a berry looks ripe doesn’t mean it is. You’ll know right away if it is ready to be picked because if it hangs on tight to the vine and you can’t easily guide it off, it’s not ready. A gentle tug will tell you if it is time or not. If you start pulling too hard you could mash it and then it is of no value to anyone.

So if you want to coach yourself today, ask yourself – How does this apply to your life?

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Carol Ebert About the Author: Carol Ebert, RN, BSN, MA, CHES, CWP, is a creative force for education and wellness and is a certified wellness practitioner and wellness coach, mindful coaching certification trainer, certified law of attraction facilitator, and certified nutrition advisor. She has been a bedside nurse, school health educator, college health service director, medical center wellness specialist, and mindful coach and trainer. She is now CEO of her own wellness business, www.carolebert.com. She can be emailed at carol@carolebert.com.

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