Sunday, March 8, 2015

Week 10: Painting Peace

For those who are not aware, I am on a 52 weeks adventure this year where in I decide my own adventures! For more details, check out here!

'Peace' - It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be midst those things and still be calm in your heart and a wear a smiling face!

When I started my day today, I did not know that I will literally be living the above statement. 

I got an invitation from a friend Terry Conover to be at the Fort Lauderdale Peace Garden event which included guided meditation, a peace walk, art, paint and gardening and a vegan brunch made from the freshly picked vegetables from the garden. The Fort Lauderdale Peace Garden is a Community Service Project centered around the concepts of Peace, Sustainability and Community. It is a series of small gardens started by Michael Madfis which has varied vegetables like lettuce, onion, parsley, cilantro, papaya, hibiscus, beet etc. 

When I got this invite, I had to be there to experience this whole new phenomenon.

I reached the destination and what I saw I liked that immediately. There was a small white tent put up beside the garden amidst a lot of greens. There was a wooden bench in the side with all the paints and brushes. It reminded me of a country side farm and had a rustic feel to it! The farm had a lot of vegetables and fruits and all this grown in a small space between two communities.

Purple Hibiscus

Toamtoes Ripening

Brinjal, or the Eggplant

Luscious Pepper

Healthy Brocolli

Tomatoes Again!

The event started by guided meditation by Terry at 8.00 am. At that time it was just the two of us. I always thought meditation is fighting back all your thoughts and let your mind be blank, and that is a very difficult job. Your mind has so many things going on that it becomes impossible to park everything aside. But Terry today enlightened me and said, "While meditating acknowledge your thoughts. If your knee is hurting acknowledge the pain. Hear the birds chirping, the sound of the moving cars, the train humping in the background. Take deep breaths and concentrate in between your eyes or on your heart and just listen."

We did a 15 minute meditation and oh boy, did it feel like eternity! It was refreshing to acknowledge the thoughts and yet be at peace.

Me on my brand new yoga mat just after the meditation

Terry narrated a small paragraph on 'service' from the book 'Bliss Divine' by Sri Swami Sivananda - 'Love of God and service of man is the secret of true life. The meaning of true life is service and sacrifice. Life is meant for service, and not for self seeking sacrifice! Do your duties well, sincerely. Your privileges will follow unmasked. Hold your life for the service of others. The more the energy you spend in elevating and serving others, the more the divine energy which will flow to you. Serve. You will rule. Serve the humanity with divine Bhava. The cancer of individuality will be dissolved'.

I was so impressed with these lines that I have borrowed the book. This is so close to what Bhagawad Gita teaches. It hit home and I am keen on reading more from the book.

The meditation was followed by cleaning up the garden and weeding. I realized in the process that I am terrible at using the gardening tools and hence thought of doing something without the tools. So I cleaned the sampling jars (don't know what exactly they are called).

Found a silk worm (probably) while weeding
We were just done with the cleaning when we were joined with another volunteer Victor Jimenez. Victor is a Peace activist and he will be there for anything that is related to peace :) 

After having one more person on our team, we ventured towards the fun part of the morning  - art and painting. We wanted to do a big board for the farm. We walked a little to another farm to collect the wooden planks for the board. The planks were heavy and infested with ants. Terry and Victor cleaned the planks and carried them to our farm while I was busy supervising them ;)

Cleaning the ants from the plank
We put 3 planks together and started the painting. We were joined by our Chef for the day Laura Cherington and our team grew even more. This was the most entertaining part and it was liberating to be a child again. We did 2 boards with words 'Peace' and 'Fun'. And a huge board saying 'Fort Lauderdale Peace Garden'. 

This is what we started with!

There goes the white paint

Me painting 'Peace'

Laura painting the 'climber'
In progress

Almost Done!
As we were finishing our painting, we were joined by another lady Joei Kitty who is a ardent consumer of fresh farm veggies. Joei is a Captain too! She got Laura and me 2 pink roses on the occassion of International Women's Day! That was very thoughtful of her :)

The painting was followed by some great food cooked by Master Chef Laura prepared from freshly picked vegetables from the garden. I always thought food in America is so bland with no taste at all. Also I have never liked salads. I like my meat and only greens aren't very tempting for me. All of these opinions/beliefs of mine were shattered today after having some exotic salads made by Laura. We had raw papaya salad prepared with tomato peanuts, scotch bonnet peppers, garlic, coconut sugar and oil, fresh lime and Bragg's amino. We also had a Kale and Chard Crunch salad prepared with sorrel, beet greens, chard, arugula, purple hibiscus, Hungarian peppers, carrots, pepitas, raisins, balasmic vinigrette and moong sprouts. To accompany these dishes, we had banana and raisin mix by Terry, some awesome brownies by Joei and a raw mango drink (prepared with boiled raw mango pulp, jaggery, cardamon and a tinge of black pepper) by me. The brunch was yummilicious! It was like a flavour volcano in the mouth. I remembered food back in India which has a gamut of tastes and just tantalizes your taste buds! :)

Our Chef for the Day - Laura Cherington with her magic box!

Raw Papaya Salad tried for the first time by Laura

That was our healthy brunch, picked fresh from the garden!

Raw mango drink prepared by me :)

After a hearty brunch we packed up and cleaned with a fresh mind and a morning well spent! It was a day filled with service, fun, gratitude and of course adventure! :)

Photo Credits: Terry Conover, Capt. Joei and me


  1. You really are a tallented writer...I started reading and could not stop until I read all 10 weeks of adventures! Very interested in Toastmasters, just returned from Key West for a week with my 17 yr old female Kitty "Denver". We had no internet at all from Friday to Thursday = ONE WEEK! Yes, much better organized and thought of things I had forgot about too. Amazed at the energy too :) Best Blessings!

    1. Thank you so much Joei! This means a lot to me :)
      You made me smile!

  2. Thank you Vishnu! It is a series of events. You guys should join us next time :)