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Why Lavender Matters- From My Perspective

I just read the “Why Lavender Matters” blog from our insightful Vice President of Operations for PSIMED, Margarita Pauley. I absorbed every word and I can say without a doubt that I do concur with her eloquent analogy. After reading it I thought to share my recent experience visiting a lavender field in Ashford, WV run by the Appalachian Botanical Company. The lavender is being grown on land formerly dedicated to coal mining. Something about the chemical properties needed to properly grow lavender, a plant with multiple uses as well as great beauty, are ideally available to the plant in the reclaimed land from coal mining. Metaphors and analogies abound!

The skill set that is required to earn the title of having a “green thumb” is beyond my wheelhouse. If things were to go full on apocalypse in this moment and all I could do to provide for my family would be to garden and grow our food, my family and I would be fertilizer. I sat down with staff of Appalachian Botanical Company and discussed the ins and outs of growing lavender and I must say that I heard every word and intently tried to listen so that I could process and retain as much information as possible, but my brain still went squish. It takes talent, both innate and practiced, to grow lavender like they do. I must say though, I was much more impressed by the people there and the opportunity for employment being offered to them and the beauty that can grow from being given a chance to thrive.

The weeds will grow. The weeds will strangle. The weeds will ruin a season. It is with great care each day with deliberate effort that the weeds are kept at bay, and life can find a place to grow and thrive. Lavender must be free from the stranglehold of weeds to be able to grow as it should, and we are really no different if you care enough to think about it for a moment. Whether self-imposed or a strike of misfortune, we all have weeds that will grow in unwanted places throughout each season of our lives. For many it is a whole field of weeds, hiding away the potential and aspirations of seasons past. For others, they see a few weeds pop up from time to time, but they are much better at tending to their fields and as a result of such the weeds that dare show up in their lives will be quickly tended to.

Opportunity, symbolized through the budding of the beautiful flowers of the lavender plant, is wasted and set aside by an unattended field. The weeds of addiction, poverty, abuse, neglect, hurt, unhealthy relationships, and even an apathetic/lethargic lifestyle can set in deep, and if left, destroy the once highly anticipated dream that was once planted there. Imagine it. We go to a field and dig out a hole. We tend to the needs of the soil before planting and carefully lay in a seed full of potential. We have hopes and dreams that what we are about to plant will bloom and thrive and we look forward to the day of reaping what we harvest. We watch the calendar with anticipation and the day in which we should see the first bloom can’t seem to come quickly enough. We do all that we can; watering, soil tests, fencing to protect the plant, and fertilizing to aid in its growth. Yet, we go out every day, and still, weeds continue to grow.

No matter how attentive we may be, weeds will always grow. It is beyond our control that they exist, but that does not mean that we cannot tend to the needs of the hopes and dreams embodied in those seeds that we have planted in our fields. For many the sign of weeds even showing up is an automatic sign that submission is coming, and that they might as well tap out because they must not be as astute of a gardener as they thought they once were. Control is a dangerous and sneaky killer of potential, and it will thrive if given the chance, and weeds will eat up the field if we allow them. Don’t be surprised by the presence of the weeds, they exist, and need tending. Increase the value of the seed and allow that to manifest in your life, and watch how the nature of your relationship to the weeds alters.

Honestly, I’m free flowing in my thoughts as I type so that I can be sincere, but I also feel as if I’m rambling and hopping in and out of focus. As I said initially, metaphors and analogies do abound.

What I saw at Appalachian Botanical Company was an opportunity for their employees to engage with life in a way that many of them have not had in quite a while, if ever. The fields of lavender are a perfect metaphor for the potential growth that an individual can find in their lives if they begin to tend to their own wants and needs, while learning to accept the nature of the ebbs and flows of life. An untended field will kill the lavender, and untended life will kill that life’s potential. A tended field meticulously dedicated to will produce a beautiful product in the form of the lavender plant, a tended life will produce… well, I don’t know… but the possibilities are endless.

What is happening at those fields in the mountains and valleys of Boone County is a modern-day embodiment of what it means to be given a chance, and it reflects the value of having such opportunities in place for those in need of one. They were honored in 2019 as the Partner of the Year by the Region II Workforce Investment Board. As stated on both of the websites about who they are and what they aim to do, they both seek to reduce/eliminate barriers to economic development as well as barriers that separate skilled and unskilled workers. They specifically focus on giving the materials and tools needed by their employees to once again seize opportunity and tend the fields they have allowed to be overrun with the weeds, whether self-imposed or by luck of the draw is no matter and quite frankly irrelevant at Appalachian Botanical Company.

Lavender matters. People matter. Lavender, whether through the Lakin Correctional Center Green Farm Reentry Program or in the reclaimed coal mining fields being operated by Appalachian Botanical Company, offers a chance for people to brush off the dirt they’ve accumulated on themselves through life and its many hardships by, well… getting dirty. The skills and self-care needs for all people are parallel to the time and dedication needed to tend lavender fields. Weeds will be removed and/or dealt with when the field is being tended. Life skills and self-care are practiced to be refined. Any individual willing to take up the mantle and burden of responsibility for their own lives will have a greater opportunity for success than those that do not and allow the burdens of this life to define their value and experience. These two examples of both a company and program willing to break down barriers to aid in the development of their employees, people, are highlighting the true value of what it means to be given a chance.


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