The Earth Speaks 

After a decade of climbing up the corporate ladder, Joanne Taylor resigned from her position at IBM Corporation, climbed her way back down to earth, hung up her blue suit, put on her blue jeans, and started a successful gardening business.  She has designed and maintained beautiful gardens for clients for over 28 years.  She is a winner of both Red and Blue Ribbon Awards in gardening competitions, has served as judge for the Philadelphia City Gardens Contest, has taught inner-city children the joys of gardening through the Philadelphia Grow in Peace Program and she is a teacher at the Philadelphia International Flower show.

After 23 years of working outdoors with nature, she discovered that there are lessons for living outdoors everywhere like seasons and storms, and even the fruit a tree must bear. While growing on the outside, in the garden, she was also growing on the inside, in her spiritual life; and the cross-pollination created "A Down to Earth" (AMG Publishers), as well as, her upcoming release "The Earth Speaks.  Joanne has traveled the country and been on radio and television teaching people how to grow, thrive and bloom, using nature as the instructor.

The Earth Speaks

Global warming, recent hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters have become an inescapable part of our daily news. While scientists focus on the How’s in regards to such natural occurrences, people of faith contemplate the Why’s; but there is something just as important as the Why’s and the How’s of nature.  Within the creation, there are valuable lessons that many don’t recognize that can teach us how to live, grow, and survive, as well as, show our true purpose, and giving meaning to our lives.  Nature illustrates visible and tangible messages of hope, help, and inspiration. The Earth speaks! The true motivational lessons of the universe are no secret and can be witnessed by everyone. They can be found in a flower, an apple tree, a seed, a lightning bolt, a field of wheat, a mountain, and even a gemstone mine. 

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Whether it’s here in the United States or third world countries, nature is a universal language that everyone understands, no matter what religion, faith, denomination, nationality, age, profession, or income.  Albert Einstein once said, "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."  The Koran states, “He created the skies and the earth for truth (Koran 39:5). The Bible says, The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.   Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”  Helen Keller wrote, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow;” The fourteenth Dalai Lama said, “According to Buddhist teaching, there is a very close interdependence between the natural environment and the sentient beings living in it.”  Mohandas K. Gandhi proclaimed, “To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." And finally, George Washington Carver said, "Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God."

Do you want to build a business? Take notes from nature and build a strong foundation.  Do you want to understand addiction?  Study the roots of a tree.  Do you want to learn how to deal with change in your life?  Study the seasons. Do you want to grow? Learn to appreciate rainy days and stormy weather. Do you want be a better parent?  Study how to care for seedlings and wildflowers.  Do you want to become a wiser person? Learn from those wise old trees. Do you want to climb higher mountains? Learn how to travel down into the valley.  Do you need more faith?  Start a garden.

Did you know that an oak tree doesn't produce acorns until it's at least 50 years old?   You’re never too old to grow and bloom.  Have you ever walked down a city sidewalk and observed a green plant growing in the middle of the concrete or noticed a flower springing forth in the midst of brick wall? It signifies that, we too, can survive and even bloom in the most difficult circumstances.

The Earth provides motivation through creation by teaching us how to climb higher mountains, choose narrow paths, travel through dark valleys, weather the storms of life, shine like a diamond, and bloom in hard places.  Nature gives us visible and tangible illustrations on Earth whereby we are surrounded with wisdom for successful living, as well as, messages of hope, help, and inspiration. What awaits us outside of our front door is nearer to God than religion itself.  In order to survive life’s insanity, step outside; it’s where divinity meets humanity. 

The Seeds of Wisdom

August 2013

The blooms of summer are among us and the fall harvest is fast approaching. The ultimate reward for most gardeners is the harvest, which means the bloom. Gardeners know that once a plant begins to bloom, it is at its peak and in full splendor. Gardeners cultivate many plants primarily for their flowers, but to botanists, a flower bloom is simply a plant’s reproductive unit. Note that while many people admire blooms for their beauty; first and foremost, a plant’s sole purpose in life is to produce seed in order to leave its legacy, its offspring. A plant grows, then it blooms; the blooms produce the fruit; the fruit produces seed; the seed sprouts; and the legacy goes on and on. Sound familiar? The entire purpose for humans is to grow, thrive, and bloom, in order to produce fruit that will manifest seed to leave its legacy.

The motivational life-application lessons found in a tiny seed are enormous! The life of a seed has close similarities to the life of a human and the seeds we plant in our personal lives.

God Won’t Grow What You Don’t Sow.  Sowing seed requires getting dirty. One thing obvious about seed is that it doesn’t grow unless you plant it in the dirt; it won’t grow anywhere else. You can’t plant it in the air, or on cloud nine, it must have contact with the soil; and you must do the dirty work. Sowing seed and planting can be a lot of fun, but it does require some hard work on your part. A gardener must pursue the responsibility such as cultivating the soil and sowing the seed. After those efforts are completed, they must wait patiently for the seed to sprout.

Although gardeners work the soil, sow seed, and fertilize, they know that in the end they are utterly dependent on Mother nature, God, to make anything grow. The gardener can’t cause the seed to germinate, nor can they produce the oxygen, rain, or sunshine that makes the seed sprout. For a successful harvest, they must ultimately rely on nature.  The one who plants must do their part, and then nature will do it's part. Nature won’t do what we can do, and we can’t do what nature does. We must get our hands dirty creating and pursing our plans and dreams; they won’t grow on their own. It takes blood, sweat, and tears to do our part; and then, let nature take its course.

The size of a seed is insignificant.  Seeds come in a variety of sizes. Bulbs are seeds, as well as, corn kernels, beans and peas. Some seeds, such as orchid seeds, are as tiny as a grain of salt, and others are as large as a coconut. According to World Book Encyclopedia, coconut trees produce seeds that weigh up to fifty pounds. (1) Yet orchid seeds are so tiny that several hundred thousand of them weigh no more than a single ounce. A small plant can yield a global harvest.

What small seed should you be planting in your life today that you have been procrastinating on? It may be going back to school, starting a new business, losing weight, writing a book, starting a family, or even something as small getting your hair cut. It doesn’t matter how large or small the seed seems to be, start planting.The size of a seed has no relationship to the size of plant that develops from it. A handful of tiny seeds have the potential to feed an entire generation. Start small; the little things you begin to do today will grow, thrive, and eventually bloom.

Seeds don’t sprout until the time is right.  Seeds can remain dormant for different periods of time yet they are still able to germinate under proper conditions. It’s been reported that scientists found dormant 10,000-year-old lotus seeds that could germinate when conditions were favorable for growth. (2) Germination of a seed can take just days for some seeds, and years for others.  Seeds can remain dormant for different periods of time yet they are still able to germinate under proper conditions. Some seeds germinate within days, others take several weeks, and a large number of seeds, like perennial seeds and bulbs, require what is called stratification, which means they must go through cold conditions.

Some of our efforts, the seeds we plant in our lives, don’t always grow when we want and expect them to. When seeds are given the right environment, which includes the right amount of water, oxygen and temperatures; the seed will germinate. Just like your efforts and hard work; when the time and the environment are right, they will manifest themselves.

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Did you know a seed doesn’t always sprout where it was planted?  There are times when the gardener will sow a seed in one place, but the plant sprouts in another location because either the roots have moved it or the weather and elements have shifted the seed. Gardeners don’t always know where a seed may sprout, just as people don’t always understand how or where their efforts will take shape in their personal lives. Be assured, the positive seeds you sow today will produce a harvest somewhere; and sometimes you may never see it grow and bloom.  You never know the impact that you have on people you don't even know.

A seed has to die before it grows.  Death is the beginning of life for a seed.  The seed absorbs water; the water softens the seed coat and causes a chemical change inside the seed. Once the seed falls into fertile ground, the outer shell begins to open as it dies; and inside the dead shell, new life awaits. Once the seed coat breaks, the seed begins to germinate by growing down into the soil and developing a primary root. Then, in the right conditions, the new growth will begin to emerge, and more roots develop to anchor the seed, absorb minerals, and send water the seedling; which in turn, enables it to grow. Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed; but if it dies, it produces many seeds.  The death of a seed mimics our lives; many times we also have to start at ground zero and work through a dark experiences in order to grow, thrive, and bloom.  In order to plant a seed, you have to get dirty.

You will reap a harvest if you sow seed.  After all of the hard work that went into planning the garden, cultivating the soil, sowing seed, fertilizing, watering, weeding, and then waiting—at last; it’s time to reap a harvest from the labor!  One gains a wonderful sense of pride when it's time to harvest. Life is a process of sowing seed and reaping a harvest. Since everyone will reap a harvest from what they have once sown, it should remind everyone to be extremely careful how they sow each day. A harvest not only pertains to sowing seed and planting for a future yield of crops; but it can also be considered the consequence or result of any action. Today’s words, thoughts, and actions have the potential to affect tomorrow’s harvest, and the harvest for years to comeContinue to sow your seed and watch the growth!

Apply these seeds of success and you will produce a future harvest that will leave a legacy for years to come.


1. William A. DiMichele, “Seed,” World Book Online Reference Center. World Book, Inc., 20 Apr. 2004.

2. DiMichele, “Seed,” 10 Apr. 2004.

Peaks and Valleys

"Truly it may be said that the outside of a mountain

is good for the inside of a man."


George Wherry

A mountain is a natural elevation of the planet’s surface that surrounds level ground and is of massive proportion.  Most people think of mountains as being unmovable, rock solid places of high elevation; and mountains have become the human symbol for reaching personal achievement and success; but they also hold mountains of wisdom.  We can learn from a mountain range how to travel through life, you have to go down into the valley to climb to higher heights.

A mountain range is a group of mountains usually separated by level land or low valleys.  It is a system of mountains that are connected.  For example; the Andes Mountains are 4,350 miles long and is many times considered the world's longest mountain range. (1)  Consider this range similar to the peaks and valleys experienced as one travels through life.  As you walk, you’ll notice before each mountain, there is a valley that one must descend into before they can to proceed to the next mountain.  The valley can be wide, narrow or deep like a canyon or tunnel.  Our lives mimic a mountain range because life is full of low valleys, uphill battles, and high peaks; and everyone’s life consists of a series of peaks and valleys. 

If two people were in the Himalayas, and one was standing on the very top of Mt. Everest at 29,029 feet high, and the other person was standing on top of a neighboring mountain at 15,000 feet high; how would the person on the lower mountain get to the top of Mt. Everest?   They can't jump across; so the only way that person could reach the higher mountain is to travel down into the valley that proceeds it, walk through it, and then begin the climb to higher heights.  There are no short cuts in climbing to the top of a mountain; you have to begin at a foothill or travel down into a valley in order to reach the next level. 

Just like a mountain range; trying to reach higher heights and achieve personal goals and dreams in one’s life can seem like a roller coaster ride.  Many times, we want to achieve greater things in life, but we get discouraged when, during the journey, we encounter a “valley” experience.  The first thought is many times to quit; when most times, victory was right up ahead.

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The good news is that although a valley seems dark, narrow, and tunnel-like, the valley experience is part of the process of moving forward and scaling your personal mountain.  A valley can be a refuge and a place of rest in order to prepare us for the journey upward.  If you study a valley, you’ll find it contains some of the most fertile soil and greenest pastures on the Earth’s landscape. The bottom of a valley almost always contains fertile soil because most valleys were formed by the running water of streams and rivers along with minerals from the mountain rock surrounding it.  Water flows from the mountain tops down into the valley to water and feed land below; therefore, flower and grass grow, and sheep and cattle graze.

In the midst of the valley experiences of life, we too are being prepared for the journey upward. Whatever a person goes through in life, they must remember that it always brings about growth and change in order to elevate them to a higher level, no matter how dark it seems. What valley experience are you going through?  Is your relationship, career, family or finances looking dark right now?  Based on your circumstances; do your dreams seem impossible to reach.  Don’t just go through the valley, grow through the valley.  Many times, it’s the fearful, dark, and sometimes lonely valley experience that is the catalyst to move one to higher ground.  Whatever valley a person goes through in life, they must remember that it always brings about growth and change in order to elevate them to a higher level.  While you’re waiting, begin to train, prepare, listen, learn, and keep it moving. 

In recent years, rock and mountain climbing have become a fast growing adventure sport all over the world.  The latest technologies in climbing equipment, including artificial rock climbing walls and GPS gadgets, have produced a new zeal for the sport.  The peaks of the Himalaya, the world's highest mountains, are regarded as the greatest test in mountaineering because high altitudes, extreme cold, severe weather and battling the elements make the peaks extremely difficult to climb. One must remember, the higher the mountain, the lower the valley.  While climbing to higher elevations, one needs persistence, effort, faith, as well as, training. 

Remember, scaling a mountain demands patience, focus, concentration and commitment.  Are you trying to reach higher heights?  Be willing to go through peaks and valleys before you begin the climb.   If you’re traveling in the valley, keep our eyes and ears open for direction.  Once you begin the climb upward, keep focused because a momentary lapse of concentration can result in a delayed, postponed, or undeclared victory.  In the journey of life, we sometimes pay costly penalties when we lose our focus.  Keep walking towards your dream.  Roll with the wind, ride the tide, go with the flow, follow your heart and don’t give up. God is preparing you with all that you need for the journey that lie ahead.


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