Gardening seems magical and it both is and is not magical. Yes it is magical when you plant a small vegetable or flower seed and it grows into a productive plant or flower and it is not magical as gardening also has a lot to do with the health of your soil, the type of soil that you are working with, the ability of the seed that you are planting to grow in the area that you live in and the plant hardiness zone that you live in. In fact gardening is more scientific than it is magical.
I own a garden and farm design and planning business and I work with homeowners and farmers to help them build the gardens and farms of their dreams and also to teach homeowners to plant seeds, maintain their crops and enrich their soil as my goal is for my clients to need me for 1 year and then have the tools that they need to grow their own food, flowers, fruit and shrubs. I ventured into the world of gardening and farming in a very interesting way though – I had a crazy vision to start an organic farm in NYC and ended up turning an illegal garbage dump site in my neighborhood in the Bronx into an organic flower farm with the help of a few friends.
When I found the space that became our farm its soil was yellow-ish, there wasn’t a blade of grass nor a weed growing and we didn’t see a single bug of any sort. All of which are really strong signs that your soil is dead and even though I knew nothing about this, I knew that we needed to restore the soil. So I started digging with my hand and within minutes of digging I was pulling garbage out of the soil. I kept on coming back and kept on sharing my vision with others and soon we had a team of people who were working with us. We removed over 500 pounds of asphalt, concrete, bricks, car parts, large oil drums, carpets and more from the soil within our first three months there. While we were doing this work a friend suggested that we build a compost pile and I read a book and we did it.
A few months later we spread our compost, organic alfalfa meal that we bought (to restore the nitrogen levels in the soil) and an organic bacterial solution that we bought (to add bacterial life to our soil) on the soil and within a few weeks of taking these actions we had normal looking soil. So we decided to plant about 60 seeds and many fo them grew and while this seemed magical to us, it actually wasn’t. Our soil was healthy, was rich in nitrogen, had plenty of organic matter in it, was teeming with worms, ants, spiders, beetles, roly-poly bugs and more and had strong bacterial and fungal life, which are all the key markers of soil health. This is why our seeds grew and became productive pepper plants, lemon balm, bok choy, cilantro, nasturtiums and marigolds. If we would have planted in the dead soil that we inherited, it is highly unlikely that any of these 60 seeds would have grown.
During the process of restoring the health of the soil at the piece of land that we were working on (We called the space “The Land” for a while because we did not know if we could ever turn it into a farm) we learned a lot and we learned that vegetables only grow in bacterial soil and flowers, bushes, shrubs and trees grow in somewhat acidic to highly acidic soil. The Land that we were restoring had 80% of its space covered by trees and while we were digging up the soil and removing the garbage that was in the soil we found sheets of fungus and these factors told us that our soil was acidic which would not bode well for vegetable growth.
So we went about finding solutions to this challenge and this is where our finished compost, organic alfalfa meal and organic bacterial solution came into play. Finished compost that has an equal proportion of greens to browns (greens include all food scraps, green leaves, grass clippings, hay and any fresh plant material that is still green. Browns include brown leaves, twigs, branches, paper products, straw and soil) helps to make your soil bacterial as well as nitrogen-rich as flowers, trees, shrubs and berry bushes do not need much nitrogen to grow and in order to grow vegetables your soil needs to have nitrogen in it. All of these amendments changed the soil type from fungal to bacterial and our bacterial soil provided the proper conditions for vegetables to grow.
We also learned that we needed to find seeds that were adapted to growing in New York City and we found out that something called a plant hardiness zone exists. Plant hardiness zones allow farmers and gardeners to determine which plants are most likely to thrive in their region of the country https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/. We learned that seeds that were grown in our plant hardiness zone (7a) and seeds that were adapted to the winter and summer conditions that NYC experienced would do best in our soil.
So we searched for a seed producer that was either in zone 7a or in zone 6b (seeds that are produced in close by zones typically work well in your plant hardiness zone) and we came across High Mowing Seeds, a USDA Certified Organic seed producing company and bought seeds from them. We also learned that great seed producers will clearly tell you which seeds are easy to grow, which seeds require open pollination (either a pollinator such as a bee, bug or bird needs to pollinate the seed or you need to pollinate the seed yourself in order for it to grow) and which seeds were difficult to grow and needed care that was far beyond our knowledge and we decided to order only easy to grow seeds as we needed to learn how to produce vegetables. We found a number of other great USDA Certified Organic seed producing companies along the way and none of them were in our Plant Hardiness Zone and we learned that seeds won’t grow well in your region if they are not adapted to your climate no matter how great the seeds that you bought are.
Our scientific pursuit of restoring the health of the soil, learning about our Plant Hardiness Zone and choosing seeds that were adapted to our Plant Hardiness Zone is what brought us success in our first year. Our success was magical as neither myself nor the Co-Founder of our farm had ever planted a seed or taken care of a houseplant and with the right scientific processes we grew things. We did have the support of 3 fantastic friends who brought key knowledge to us and we turned “The Land” into an organic flower farm in year two and we grew over 400 organic tulips, more than 50 organic hyacinths, 50 organic daffodils, 50 organic irises, about 50 organic crocuses, 10 organic lilies and dozens of organic nasturtium flowers for three straight years at our organic, sustainable flower farm. Then we we all decided that we accomplished our mission and we all ended up moving on to further our own organic, sustainable agricultural missions in the world.
Having the right scientific processes made all of the difference in our success and this is what I want to leave all new and even experienced gardeners with. When you are working with someone who knows how to build the health of your soil, who knows which seeds will grow in your Plant Hardiness Zone, who knows what seeds are adapted to your region and how to identify the type of soil that is in your garden of farm they can help you succeed for as many years as you want to have a garden for.
Michael Forman is the founder of Pure Love Sustainability Inc and his mission is to restore the well-being of people, society and the planet. Michael offers no-cost consultations to gardeners and farmers alike and can help you to create the garden or farm of your dreams. If you are interested in scheduling a consultation please click here
Many first-time gardeners get so excited about the potential to grow all of their own food and create ambitious plans to do so. I love the excitement and am all for people growing there own food and gardening is not always a magical process where you plant a seed and a vegetable or flower grows. There are many factors that lead to a seed growing into a productive plant and first-time gardeners need to learn how to create the conditions for 5 healthy onions to grow before they attempt to grow 50 healthy onions.
Starting with ambitious garden goals gives you direction, clear actions to take and excitement to getting your harden up and running and having a huge garden goal when you have never had a garden before is like applying to CEO jobs when you’re fresh out of college and have never worked a full-time job before. Yes you can eventually be a CEO and there are you a lot to things to learn before you can become the CEO of a company. It’s the same thing with gardening – before you can grow 50 healthy peppers you need to learn how to grow 5 healthy peppers consistently because there are a lot of factors that go into growing food.
One of the most important factors that goes into growing food is healthy soil. I am all for growing your own food in your yard and supplying 100% of your food needs from your gardens. In fact I believe that growing food is the way to build resilient, sustainable communities and cities and successful gardening comes down to more than just planting a handful of seeds and seeing if things grow. Successful gardening comes from healthy soil and healthy soil is created over time.
There are so many gardening books that can teach you how to plan a garden that will allow you to grow 250 pounds of vegetables per year on a quarter-acre of land and feed your family and your community. Yes this can be accomplished and the key to accomplishing this is experience as no matter how great the plan that the book has given you is, your potato crops may get overrun with Colorado potato beetles that will kill your potato plants before you even get a chance to harvest them or some other issue that you did not know how to deal with can cause a huge mold buildup in your garden and completely halt production.
Garden issues or challenges can be brought on by a number of factors and they typically happen because the bacterial and fungal life in your soil has been depleted due to use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, choosing not to rotate your crops and not restoring the health of your soil over the course of a few seasons. Yet this great book that you bought that gives you the formula to grow 500 pounds of produce on a quarter-acre did not tell you any of these things.
It’s not the fault of the author and growing food is more complex than just planting seeds and having things grow. Yes it is magical when peppers, tomatoes and cilantro start growing in your yard and growing food is also not magical, in fact it is scientific in nature. The science of growing food comes down to the health of your soil as there are millions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, microbes, organic matter and more organisms in just a few ounces of soil. Bug life such as worms, spiders, ants, mites, lady bugs and other insects are also key markers of soil health. It is the organisms in your soil that gives your soil life and we must replenish the life in the soil in order for our soil to continue to have life and continue to grow food.
When you think of soil think of it like you would think about your body. Iron is a key mineral that your body relies on for a variety of functions including producing red blood cells. Iron is also one of the key components that help you produce new red blood cells. Your body naturally has built up stores of iron and you can survive for a while solely on the iron that your body has stored and if you do not replenish the iron in your body over time your iron stores will get low and your body will not be able to produce red blood cells at the frequency that it needs to. Red blood cells carry nutrients, vitamins and minerals as well as oxygen to your cells and if you are not producing enough red blood cells due to having depleted our iron stores you will experience fatigue, lethargy and an inability to produce the amount of energy that you are used to producing.
Soil works the exact same way. If you have moved to a new home where nothing but grass has grown in the backyard for the last 20 years then there should be decently strong mineral and nutrient stores in your soil. So yes if you remove the grass from your yard and start planting vegetables the vegetables should grow for the most part (certain vegetables need to be pollinated by bees, bugs, birds or other creatures to grow and some vegetables need really specific pH levels and nutrient levels to grow) and you may end up with some tomatoes at the end of the year, which is fantastic! You may be able to plant tomatoes for a few more years and get the same yield and eventually the soil will become deficient in the minerals and nutrients that are needed to grow tomatoes and your yields will decline. This is very common in gardens and then people turn to chemical fertilizers to get your vegetables to grow, chemical fertilizers are so harsh that they also kill soil life and eventually over time your soil will become infertile because you did not replenish the vitamins and minerals that your soil needs in order to sustain life.
So the first thing that a gardener needs to learn is how to restore the health of their soil and this is why you need an experienced professional who knows how to do this. I am your experienced professional, my strength is in restoring the heath of the soil and constantly providing the soil with what it needs to be able to thrive. I have taken dead soil and turned it into productive soil in just a few months. I know how to create proper crop rotations to ward off Colorado potato beetles, aphids, mites and other creatures that will come and significantly impact your yields for the season and I can get you to the place where you can be a master in restoring the health of your soil and grow all of the onions that you want to grow, grow all of the peppers that you want to grow and grow all of the tomatoes that you want to grow for as long as you want to grow them.
If you want to master your soil and ultimately create the garden of your dreams then please schedule an initial consultation with me where we can discuss what the garden of your dreams looks like and supply you with the education that you need to make it happen. Click here to schedule a consultation now!
It takes nerve, verve and big dreams to make a difference in the world and without it I don’t think I could have kept on going and kept on pursuing my dreams.
I’m going to riff here. A lot of people probably think I’m crazy. I have a big vision and want to make a huge difference in the world, so it comes with the territory and as I continue to pursue my big goals I realize that it takes a certain amount of passionate fervor and willingness to go past where you would have stopped before to make your vision into reality. Turning my big vision into reality though has not been easy. One of the biggest challenges that I have faced in making my big vision into reality is dealing with self-doubt, overcoming past failures and seeing myself as the leader that I have seen glimpses of since I was 10 years old.
My big vision became clear to me in 2014, after the first season at Pure Love Organic Farms and formed from a wild idea. In early 2013, my best friend and I were coming home from a night in Manhattan and we were talking about a friend that we had both known for over 15 years and we were very worried about his health and in particular his chance to have a heart attack in the next few years as he worked crazy hours, ate poorly, became quite overweight, drank like crazy and embodied the work hard party harder lifestyle that comes with attending and graduating from an Ivy League School. My friend and I had just become vegan and we were starting to make a difference in the health of the people around us – I as a health coach that was trained by a Medical Doctor and he as an influential person who people frequently came to for advice about all areas of life including health.
Even though we were making a big difference in the health of the people around us, we realized though that we had not made the slightest impact with our friend and couldn’t even begin conversation with him about his health. We were able to identify our challenge – he and his group of friends make big money and care about what thy have (a $5,000 a month apartment in NYC, a fancy BMW, a Director position at a Wealth Management Company, etc.) and we realized that while my best friend and I were both successful, we also did not have anything to show this group that we had put all of our hard work and effort into. So I started to think about what we could do that made a difference in the world and showed this group that we do something amazing and have something that we were extremely proud of.
2 minutes later, I turn to my friend and say, “I have a crazy idea and hear me out. Let’s start a farm!” and off we went. Two NYC kids who had never planted a seed before nor taken care of a plant were going to start a farm. Yeah, right?
Actually yeah that is right! 3 months after this conversation I found a piece of well-worn land in the neighborhood that I lived in and just started digging with my bare hands. Within minutes of digging, I ran into garbage and I kept on coming back and kept on bringing my friend who I was going to start the farm with. We dug with our hands and started to realize that the soil was in terrible shape and was a yellowish color and we kept on coming back. We started to run into asphalt and concrete that were buried int he soil and we talked with other friends about our desire to build a farm and two of our childhood friends joined the team.
We ended up removing 600+ pound of asphalt, concrete, bricks, car parts, oil cans, carpets and more from the soil and through the recommendation of another friend we built a compost pile and generated compost that we laid back over the soil. Within six months of working not he farm in our spare-time, we restored the health of the soil to normal looking soil and we decided to plant a few seeds to see if anything grew.
Things grew, it was miraculous!!! We had pepper plants, calendula flowers, nasturtiums, lemon balm, cilantro and a few other vegetables growing. It was mind-boggling that a bunch of city-kids could do this and we went into 2014 with a plan to make this into a farm.
During the winter of 2013 I read an letter to the editor in Organic Gardening magazine from a young woman who had just graduated some sort of agricultural training program and in the letter she talked about how she and her cohort of classmates wanted to start their own farms, but had to get other jobs so that they could hope to eventually save enough money to buy land. This shocked me, I had no idea that land was so expensive and saw a massive, massive problem that needed to be solved – land availability for young farmers. I quickly came to realize through some research that the average age of a farmer in the U.S. is about 60 years old and as they age out there won’t be young farmers who can afford to buy their land which means that food production in the U.S. would be ruled by the companies that could buy land (Monsanto, Dole, BASF, etc.) and these companies truly could care less about the health of the people that they are growing food for.
I knew I had to do something about this and my original mission got started – To create 1,000,000 acres or new, organic, sustainable produce farmland that young farmers could rent from my future company at prices that were more affordable than buying land. I was inspired and wanted to make this happen. So I started looking at states in the country were land was affordable and ended up taking a positively fateful trip to Boise, ID in August 2015. I fell in love with Boise and made my mind up that this is where I wanted to start my business. Fast-forward to January 2018 and my fiancee and I (we hadn’t even met when I visited Boise for the first-time) moved to Boise .
Along the way my vision has changed, I am still committed to farmers and in a different way as I realized that reversing climate change is where my true passion lies and I am also using my skills in restoring the health of the soil and creating farms to create community gardens, build gardens for homeowners and teach homeowners how to grow their own food. I am also using my skill in being able to restore the health of the soil and train the soil to pull carbon from the air and store it to build healthy soils – all of which will make a difference in reversing climate change and creating new farmers.
So yes my vision has changed and I am still in the game and starting a business has been scary. I wavered back and forth because I was not sure if I could do it and in November 2018, I finally decided to start Pure Love Sustainability Inc.
Starting my business has been very challenging, I have dealt with so much fear, doubt and negative thoughts about being able to do this (start a business). I honestly thought that people who immediately flock to my big vision and money would come flowing in like water. Well that didn’t happen. Instead I have had to work very hard to find people who care about mi vision and want what I am offering. I have had to use a lot of mental power to become flexible and find out what others want, I have had to put myself out there like I never have before and I have made some mistakes that have kicked me in the butt.
I have had great weeks where I believed that I could make this happen and terrible weeks where I was ready to quit and barley took any action. What I have learned is having the right support system is key. I hired a coach who has helped me to work through so many of my fears and get into action. I have hired a marketing expert to help me tailor my messaging and be able to communicate the services that I offer with people in a clear, effective way and I am starting to see some results four months later. In all truth of the matter it would have been easier to quit, but I also would have been giving up on what matters most to me and that is not worth it.
I don’t think that I would have stuck with my business if I didn’t have the passion, verve, courage and nerve to stick with it and having a vision that I want to accomplish so badly and having something that I want to contribute to the world so badly has made me unwilling to quit. I still don’t have it all figured out and am not yet making thousands of dollars a month and I know that I am on the right track.
If you have a big vision, go for it and start pursuing it. The world needs you and there are fantastic people out there who can help you stay on course and let go of your disempowering conversations that are stopping you. Big dreams, big goals and a big vision make a huge difference.
Where would the world be if Thomas Edison never had the vision of creating a lightbulb, where would the world be if Alexander Graham Bell didn’t invent the telephone, where would the world be if Elon Musk gave up on Tesla because it was too hard. Have your big vision and keep on referencing it when times get tough. All big visions are crazy anyway and it’s ok to be crazy and have a big vision.
I started experimenting with intermittent fasting 3 weeks ago after a conversation with my friend Will Ruggles who is a health coach, experienced intermittent faster and has guided many people from all walks of life to success with intermittent fasting. Fasting is definitely something that has intrigued me as it is a spiritual and religious practice that has been in existence for thousands of years and I think it’s an interesting concept. The reason that I wanted to try intermittent fasting was to balance my hormones and get normal sleep as I have been struggling with waking up in the middle of the night since moving to Boise, ID in January 2018.
Intermittent fasting itself triggers your body to burn fat as a fuel source. Fat burns over a long time, in slow intervals, which helps you avoid the spikes and dips of energy that come from using carbohydrates, sugar or caffeine as your main fuel sources. Fat is also easily burned by the body and one of the premises of intermittent fasting is to train your body to burn fat as your main fuel source. Teaching your body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates also balances your hormonal systems by putting less stress on them.
I really thought that intermittent fasting would be extremely challenging for me. I am 6’2″, my body fat percentage is most likely below than 12%, I have a fast metabolism, am quite active and burn through carbohydrates and calories like nothing and I had a lot of concerns about being hungry, not getting enough calories and slipping back into old bad habits where I wouldn’t eat enough and start losing weight. These concerns stopped me from giving intermittent fasting a shot and I was able to work through them by being supported by Will.
Since starting intermittent fasting three weeks ago, I have seen my sleep patterns improve (I am fasting one day a week). I am able to go back sleep quite easily now when I wake up in the middle of the night and I am no longer waking up in the middle of the night every night. I am also able to deal with stress with greater ease after I have finished fasting and I have not experienced any of my concerns about intermittent fasting since I began.
I want to share some of the steps that I have taken to ensure success with intermittent fasting as I truly believe that fasting one day a week (which really means skipping one meal on the day that you fast and delaying the normal time that you eat the next day by a few hours) can be beneficial for everyone.
So far I have skipped breakfast twice and skipped dinner once. Breakfast is an easier meal for me to skip as I used to be a distance runner in college who ran 7 days a week and would always go out early morning runs before I had breakfast, so I knew that I could skip breakfast easily.
During my second fast I experimented with skipping dinner and this was more challenging mentally than skipping breakfast as got home that night around 7 PM and my fiancee was out with a friend so I didn’t know what to do with my evening. My normal evening routine involves coming home around 6:30 PM, spending about 30 minutes to prepare dinner and then spending another 30 minutes eating dinner with my fiancee. Once we are finished eating we spend most of the evening with each other. No aspects of my normal evening routine were available that night and it felt weird, but I also avoided the urge to go back to the familiar routine of cooking and eating dinner that night by I deciding to take an early bath, read and go to bed at 9:30 PM.
My third fast was for 15 hours only because I forgot that I hadn’t fasted this week and had client meeting on the afternoon of the day that I broke my fast that I did not want to be hungry in.
I have definitely felt my stomach grumble at least once during each fast and a light grumbling isn’t a big deal. Will suggested that I drink water with a 1/2 teaspoon of himalayan pink sea salt if I feel really hungry during a fast as he told me that during a fast your body is craving nutrients more than it is craving food. I have yet to need to do this and I do believe that this will make a difference if I ever needed to do so. Another thing that provides me peace when I am intermittent fasting is that Will said that the best thing about intermittent fasting is that if you are still hungry an hour after consuming water with himalayan pink sea salt then feel free to eat as you are not bound to fasting for a certain period of time.
After my first 3 weeks of fasting, I truly believe that proper planning and having someone to support and guide you through the process are key. There are some great intermittent fasting coaches out there who can guide you to both try and succeed with intermittent fasting and the health results of intermittent fasting are being proven to be substantial. If you would like to try intermittent fasting and need support with it, reach out and I will point you to someone who can support you throughout the process.
How I realized that healing my physical injuries was only a part of the puzzle.
You may not know it and I am health coach – a really freaking brilliant health coach in fact. I was trained by a Medical Doctor in how to prevent and reverse diseases through a whole foods, plant-based (vegan minus processed foods) diet. I have worked with clients who had major organ failure that limited them to being able to do nothing more than spend all day in bed, clients who had autoimmune diseases that prevented them from working, exercising and enjoying their favorite leisure-time activities and clients who had disease that the Centers for Disease Control said could not be reversed and worked with each and every one of these clients as well as many other clients to help them reverse their disease or health issue and fully get back to the activities that they love.
I don’t mention that I am a health coach because I have mostly worked with clients on a referral basis and have been working another job throughout all of my years as a health coach. In my other jobs, I have strived so hard to be successful and strived so hard to make something of myself because it’s what I thought you needed to do and what I have been told to do.
You hear all of the success stories – people who worked harder than anyone before them, were more committed, had greater leadership skills and never stopped in the pursuit of accomplishing their goals. This pretty much sums up the American dream. Work hard and you will succeed, be completely open, pliable and adjustable, become whoever you need to become to succeed, be highly efficient, do whatever it takes, find a way, don’t say no to a customer or client – these are the messages of many of the most successful people in the world preach as the keys to their success and I have tried them all and while I have had some big successes in my career and while I have some impressive accomplishments to show for it I also destroyed myself in the process.
3 years ago I was working in a dream job and had worked so hard to get there. I pushed myself every single day at the job prior to getting my dream job and I had a lot of success. Yet my non-stop pushing in my prior job also lead to me going into work everyday for well over a year with a torn labrum in my right shoulder. I kept on going in and kept on pushing myself because I wanted to be a good employee and wanted to prove how committed I was and show the world that nothing would stop me from accomplishing what I want.
I have been operating like this since I was in high school. I grew up in New York City (The Bronx to be accurate, which by the way the Bronx is in New York City). New York City has some very specialized high schools that offer a fantastic education and being bright and having good grades lends your parents to push you to take the specialized high schools test because if you get into one of these specialized schools you’ll get a great education, it will look really good on your college applications and your chances of succeeding in life are supposedly higher. So I took the specialized school exam and didn’t make either of the top 2 specialized schools and the one that I made was really far from home and it made no sense to go there.
So I was pushed to take the Catholic High School test because this way I could also get into a great school and be setup for success. I ended up getting into the second best Catholic High School in NYC and off I went…to Catholic School. It was weird, I wasn’t Catholic, I had never been to a religious school let alone church or any place of religious worship for that matter and I didn’t fit in right off the bat.
One area where I thought I could fit in though was in sports and when I didn’t make the soccer team my freshmen year of high school I felt completely lost. I didn’t know what to do to fit in so I decided to run track even though I knew that I wasn’t particularly fast and for most of my freshmen and sophomore years on the track team that was the case. Something changed during my outdoor track season during my sophomore year and I improved a decent amount, although I still was not that good. What may have changed was that I was sick of being a loser, sick of not being good enough, sick of being a failure.
In my pursuit to stop being a loser, I decided to run a few days a week during the summer leading up to the upcoming Cross Country season. I luckily lived close to our home Cross Country course and was running the toughest part of our Cross Country race repeatedly multiple times a week and my times came down quickly on this part of the course. Before official Cross Country practice even started I knew that I had a chance to be good in the upcoming season. We came back to early season practice and I was immediately running with the Varsity and finishing minutes ahead of people who had beaten me by minutes just a year ago. It was invigorating, I finally felt good about myself for the first time in High School and people started to pay attention to me. I had a really good Cross Country season and I decided that I would never feel like a failure again and this decision parlayed itself right in my career.
When I got my first job, I worked so hard and bragged so hard to prove how great I was to prove to myself and others that I was not the failure that I had been earlier in my life. I had a lot of success and I pushed myself to the brink to make it happen. My body started to break down though from the incessant pushing and at the age of 26 I developed adrenal fatigue. Thankfully with the support of an amazing health coach I was able to eliminate my adrenal fatigue and went right back to pushing myself.
After the adrenal fatigue I learned how to deal with the side effects that came with pushing myself so hard, which sounds great, but trust me when I say it is not. So I kept on forging ahead and 2 years later I set out to prove to people that I was a great employee and that I would stick a with something no matter what as I had not always stuck with my jobs prior to this. After I decided that I was going to stick with my job no matter what I knew that nothing was going to stop me, but instead of succeeding off of the bat, I actually struggled mightily. I felt like a failure and decided to kick it into high gear because I could not be failure, so I worked harder and harder. I became whomever I needed to be to succeed. I was open and pliable and adjustable and always said yes and practiced everything that the successful people of the world said that you needed to practice to succeed and i turned it around quickly.
My incessant pushing seemed like it worked (it really did not) and I kept on pushing. Then I tore the labrum in my right shoulder. I was in pain almost everyday at work and yet I couldn’t stop pushing myself as I had to show to people that I wouldn’t quit no matter what happened. I took two days off after the injury and jumped back in as if nothing ever happened and I figured out how to deal with the pain and how to calm it down in a matter of hours and everything was fine.
Then the day came – I was at work and my right forearm turned completely purple, the slightest touch to my forearm caused excruciating pain, my hand was numb and I knew something was wrong. So I stopped doing what I was doing, walked over to my Manager, showed her my forearm and said “I need to leave now”. She saw my arm and said “yes, go”.
At first I went to a medical clinic, hoping that they could diagnose the issue and get it to calm down so I could go back to work the next day. The person at the clinic told me to go to the Hospital and I walked right into the Beth-Israel Medical Center, filled out some paperwork and sat waiting. I expected to be waiting for a while because I heard that you normally wait a while to be seen when you go to a Hospital. Yet I was seen in less than 90 minutes and knew that something serious was happening.
Numerous tests were run, i saw a number of nurses and doctors and I was told that I might have a blood clot in my arm. I was so scared and felt so alone. Thankfully the final Doctor that I saw said that I did not have a blood clot and we were able to get my symptoms down. He told me to go see an Orthopedic Doctor soon. I saw an Orthopedic Doctor about10 days later and was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome where a nerve underneath my shoulder was entrapped by my collarbone (which I had broken less than a year prior to tearing my labrum) and was causing blood flow to be restricted to my right arm. This is also a permanent injury, unless I had a very scary surgery which only had a 70% success rate and the 30% of patients for whom the surgery failed were actually worse off after the failed surgery. I was 29 years old at the time and was sent to physical therapy to see if we could ward off surgery and thankfully physical therapy worked and I have never had another symptom of this injury since wrapping up physical therapy.
Yet I didn’t learn the lesson. In fact, not only did I not learn the lesson to stop pushing myself, I actually pushed myself further when I got my dream job. I was the U.S. Account Manager for a startup company where myself and 2 co-workers were literally launching the U.S. operation. The job was challenging and I had clients all over the U.S., I traveled a lot and dealt with a lot of stress. The stress sometimes caused me to wake up in the middle of the night terrified about client issues and yet I still pushed through it. I kind of felt unstoppable in the role and was pushing myself in all areas of my life. In fact I was working 6 days a week in that job and eventually took on an outside consulting client on my day off. I was making money, making a difference and living a good life. Then during a business trip to Miami, I took a very high-level yoga class that I had wanted to take for over a year. I pushed myself, par the usual, and during the class I fell from an upside down yoga posture and fractured a rib.
I came back from the business trip and despite knowing that I fractured a rib, I did not take a single day off as I told myself that I was too valuable to the company that I was working for and had too many clients that needed me. Some days I would wake up and my ribs were in so much pain that they literally felt like they were on fire and could barely get out of bed and I would always be able to calm the pain down and head right to work. After four months of pushing through, something gave and when I say gave, I mean trouble.
I was at a restaurant client in Manhattan when it happened and was in their kitchen doing my job. I reached forward to grab my notebook and after grabbing my notebook I felt the worst pain that I had ever felt in my life in my back. It felt like my spine had collapsed and I screamed loudly in their kitchen. Everyone working in the kitchen stopped what they were doing and rushed over to me and everyone asked if I was ok. All I could say was “I don’t know and could you get me a chair and a bag of ice”.
After icing my back I knew that I needed to go home and take care of myself and I called my boss and the other person whom i worked side by side with and told them that I hurt my back and needed to go home. I had never done this before and I had to.
Two weeks later I saw my Sports Medicine Doctor. The diagnosis was spondylolisthesis – a vertebrae in my back was pushed forward. Permanent injury number 2. I was devastated. The Physician’s Assistant came in I wrapped up the appointment with my Sports Medicine Doctor and said that I would either never be able to bend forward with regularity again or I would never be able to bend backward with regularity again. I was crushed and resigned myself to a life where I would go to work, go home, rest and take care of my back and maybe see friends once in a while and nothing more.
I left my dream job and took a much simpler job with regular hours, a regular schedule and little to no overtime as I finally got the lesson after my back injury – stop pushing yourself so freaking hard.
Life sucked for a while, sitting on a chair for more than 2 hours hurts and I did no physical activity for close to two years. Thankfully I met a fantastic woman who pushed me to go to Physical Therapy and I kept on getting stronger and stronger everyday. It took three years to get to this point and my back is now at 95%, I am able to do all of the activities that I love, I actually have no issues with bending backwards or forwards at all which is an absolute miracle. I have not pushed myself as hard at work and I am in much better shape physically.
But, I had not stopped pushing myself mentally and I had not dealt with the feelings of not being good enough for quite some time and I realized that while physical healing (which I help my clients with as a health coach) is great, it is easy to slip back into old patterns if you are not working through the mental aspect that lead you to push yourself so physically hard in the first place. I am still on the journey of mental healing and am glad that I am beginning this journey. I want to support other people on this journey and my goal is to make sure that no one else does to themselves what I have done to myself and I know that there are a lot of people who are pushing themselves to the brink of injury, illness and health issues on a daily basis and want to help people through this as their health coach.
The intersection of our mission and your passion can make it happen
As the owner of Pure Love Sustainability Inc, I am finding that many people that I am talking to in the 24 – 35 year age group want to do something to help the planet or want to start a business that focuses on their version of creating sustainable change in the world. Many of the people that I have talked to have an inkling of what they want to do, but don’t know how to start or know that sustainability is what they are passionate about, but aren’t sure how they can make a difference.
Pure Love Sustainability Inc. wants to support you in starting up your sustainability business. We do not have all of the answers, we do not know every single strategy to gain clients and we do not run a massively profitable business. With this said, we are working hard to get to this place and are out in the world learning every single day while getting to do what we love – create fully sustainable cities.
We have worked with over 70 hotels, restaurants, commercial kitchens, stadiums, grocery stores and event centers to help them reduce their environmental impact and also have created organic, sustainable farms in New York City, the surrounding suburbs and areas a bit north of the city. Sustainability is our love, our passion and what lights our fire and our mission at Pure Love Sustainability Inc. is to restore the well-being of people, society and the planet.
We want to accomplish this by creating fully sustainable cities where the following conditions are being met:
Renewable energy – 100% of power being generated from renewable resources
Reuse, reduce and recycle – Cities have completely reduced their waste sources and all of the items that cannot be reused are able to be recycled.
Organic and sustainable soil – City residents are growing organic food in their backyards and open spaces that feeds their families and communities
Creating new acres of organic, sustainable produce farmland – Cities have organic, sustainable produce farmland that can are being worked by young produce farmers who are feeding the community.
Clean water – Cities are providing their residents with access to clean water that supports life
Beauty – Cities are growing organic flowers in all open spaces
Prevention – Cities are promoting well-being practices that prevent, reverse and eliminate the presence of diseases in their residents.
And we are looking to build up the next group of sustainability entrepreneurs by tapping into your unique skills, your passions, your commitments and your goals and turning them loose so that you can create the sustainability business of your dream. If you are looking to turn your passion for making a difference in the well-being of people, society and the planet into the business of your dreams that allows you to do work that you love in areas that matter to you, please click on the link below and fill out our contact form
If you break down the word sustainability into its roots you are left with the words sustain and ability. So sustainability literally means the ability to sustain. It does not mean solar panels, it does not mean electric vehicles, it does not mean wind power nor does sustainability mean banning plastic straws.
So if sustainability means the ability to sustain then that poses a question, what are we trying to sustain?
Sustainability is solely about sustaining life.
The next question you may ask is “What life are we looking to sustain?”
All life. From amoeba to fungi to parrots to whales to squirrels to human life and more. When the goal of sustainability is to sustain life then it becomes clear why ending our reliance on fossil fuel matters, why electric vehicles make sense, why wind and solar power makes sense, why banning plastic straws and all of the other things that the proponents of sustainable movements are promoting matter.
Let’s look at a few examples of why a number of the issues that the proponents of sustainability push back on starting with the burning of fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons, primarily coal, fuel oil or natural gas, formed from the remains of dead plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the earth’s crust over hundreds of millions of years. In common dialogue, the term fossil fuel also includes hydrocarbon-containing natural resources that are not derived from animal or plant sources. The burning of fossil fuels by humans is the largest source of emissions of carbon dioxide, which is one of the greenhouse gases that allows radiative forcing and contributes to global warming. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/fossil_fuel.htm)
As you can see burning fossil fuels are not sustainable because they produce large amounts of carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide is one of the main causes of climate change. If climate change happens at the extent that scientists product that it will, life as we know it will forever be altered. This also speaks to why electric vehicles are so important. Fossil fuels also comes from sources that are not renewable such as coal, natural gas and oil.
Electric vehicles rely solely on electricity, while it is true that some of the electricity that is produced by electric vehicles comes from coal-fired power plants, electric vehicles also don’t have a tailpipe hence they don’t produce emissions and electric vehicles can generate power when the driver applies the brakes.
Solar and wind power on the other hand are completely renewable, free resources that are available to everyone. Wind power makes complete sense to everyone as wind blows, a wind turbine (think the blades on a windmill) captures the wind energy, then the power generator inside the turbine spins and converts the wind that was captured into usable electricity without burning any source of fuel or emitting any gas noe harmful chemicals. Wind power is one of the simplest and most sensical sources of energy.
Solar on the other hand can be a bit trickier to understand and is also an extremely effective energy source that is free and limitless. Solar power gets generated due to sunlight hitting the solar panel, the solar panel has a converter within it that is able to convert the heat that the sun’s rays produce into energy. The energy that the converter produces gets stored in a battery and the battery releases the energy to power the home, vehicle, equipment, appliance or anything else that is attached to the battery. Solar power eliminates the need for fossil fuels and yes while there is an upfront cost in utilizing solar power the upfront cost often get offset as many solar power systems generate more electricity than what is needed to power the device, vehicle, appliance, equipment or anything else that is connected to the battery and the excess power can be sent back to the power grid. Power companies will often pay you for generating the excess power so solar typically ends up being cost-neutral, profitable or close to it for the person, entity, business or organization that produces it.
Banning plastic straws are an interesting movement within the realm of sustainability. We all assume that plastic straws are recyclable when in fact most cities, towns, municipalities and recyclers cannot recycle plastic straws. Plastics as a whole are tricky to recycle as only harder, non-stretchy plastics can be recycled by most recycling facilities. Plastic milk containers, hard plastic water bottles (aquafina, dasani, fiji), laundry detergent containers (when fully rinsed out), plastic strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry boxes can be recycled by most municipalities and over 90% of plastic items including crinkly plastic water bottles (poland springs) and plastic straws cannot be recycled by most municipalities.
China used to be a huge buyer of plastics and even the plastics that municipalities often could not recycle from many countries in the world including the U.S. were being sent to China. Billions of pounds of plastic were shipped to China only two years ago, China would then sell the plastics to companies that made recycled plastic products and this was an extremely viable solution for the worlds plastics. Then China stopped buying plastic from the rest of the world two years ago and the bad news of this is that most of the plastics that cannot be recycled are now getting dumped in the ocean. This is why you are hearing about the massive efforts to clean up the plastics in the ocean as the gigantic volumes of plastic in the ocean are literally killing fish, turtles, sharks, lobsters, shrimp, whales and other marine life.
Plastic straws clearly do not sustain life, nor does fossil fuel, nor does conventional farming (I will get into more detail on this area in a later piece). No matter what your beliefs, views, morals, ethics, economic principles, etc. are we all share in the desire to sustain life because we too are life. If our air is too dirty to breathe and our water is too polluted to drink and there are no more fish in the oceans then we all suffer. So please take sustainability seriously because without it there is no life.