Gardening / Insights

What’s your Why?

I invite you to pause and ponder for a moment…
Why do you get up in the morning?
Why do you volunteer at the animal shelter?
Why do you garden?

“Everyone has a Why,” says Simon Sinek.

“Your Why is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do.”

Over 42 million views

I came across Simon Sinek’s TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action. He refers to Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers… If you’re a small business owner, Girl Scout leader, artist, teacher, you need to watch this:


Simon is an “unshakable optimist.” The world needs more optimists, don’t you think?

By the way, he has written several books including, “Leaders Eat Last” and, “Start with Why.” The title, “Together is Better,” also piqued my interest. It’s an illustrated fable about a boy who takes a stand for what he believes in. I’ll be ordering one for the grandkids and one for me.

His TED talk got me thinking, “What inspires me to do what I do?”

So, what inspires YOU?

Hold that thought as we head over to my garden in Kodiak, Alaska.

I’ve labored over lettuce, propped up pansies, coaxed compost, and dabbled in the dirt for over 30 years. Beyond the garden, I’ve been the keynote speaker at Master Gardener conferences and taught organic gardening workshops for just as long.

Blah, blah, blah, right?

So the other day, while weeding, this question popped into my head: What inspires me, anyone, to garden?

So I made a list.

7 Reasons to Have a Garden

1. To relax and feel peace (inner gardening)
2. To improve the looks of your property (love thy neighbor)
3. To grow your own food (don’t panic, it’s organic)
4. To exercise (carrot crunches, anyone?)
5. To feel more connected to nature (and all that is good)
6. To create and learn new things (stay curious)
7. To inspire and uplift others (by example)

Let me tell you a story…

The other day I decided to walk to the grocery store along an ocean road. It was late summer. Salmonberry leaves, shriveled and tinged with bronze, gently scraped at my jeans. A black lab barked through a cyclone fence near the food bank. Across the street, on the ocean side, several men were bucking up logs on the beach. Salt air mixed with the smell of chainsaw oil and fresh sawdust created an odd smell. I ducked into a friend’s greenhouse to marvel at her tall kale “trees.”

I hoofed up a hill and stopped at the intersection to wait for passing cars and trucks. A splash of yellow and orange caught my eye. As I turned to acknowledge the color, I found myself standing at the head of a long, gravel driveway.

A chorus line of flowers

It was not just any driveway. Clunky cars and miscellaneous stuff lined one side. On the other side was a stone wall, three feet high and 100 feet long. A giant raised bed stuffed with flowers, shrubs, and garden art. Yellow calendulas, pink cosmos, and purple somethings magically supported each other. And at the far end of the driveway was a modest, flat-roofed trailer home tucked against the spruce trees.

Someone loves this garden, I thought.

As I waited for my turn to cross the street, I studied the chorus line of flowers and began to relax. If I had a Hallmark card I’d write, “Dear Gardener at this intersection, thank you for following your Why. Your beautiful flowers made my day.”

Here’s what I came to understand:

When I’m clear about my why, every decision I make on my journey — from taking pictures to hiking with a friend — feels more natural. And when I consciously pause during the day to focus on my why, it helps me:

  • Stay focused (less restless) in whatever I’m doing, and
  • Remain more authentic in my interactions with other people

That’s all for now. Thank you very much for visiting,

P.S. So tell me: Why do you get up in the morning? What’s your Why?

Meanwhile, you might enjoy these:

Article I wrote about predicting the weather: Weather: The Biggest Show On Earth
Got bugs and pests in your garden? My Favorite Natural Solutions for Controlling Plant Pests
Your next travel destination: Kodiak, Alaska: Alaska’s Emerald Isle

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Marion Owen is a “Jill of all trades,” with 30 years of experience as a teacher and columnist. She’s on a mission to help busy people enhance their daily lives, condensing topics such as photography, cooking, and organic gardening into bite-size pieces.  Get her free 4-page “In Good Light: Photo Tips for Busy People” and feel newly recharged when taking pictures.


  • Kathleen
    October 3, 2018 at 4:51 PM

    So glad to hear it! take good care and I look forward to your next blog… safe!

    • marionowen
      October 3, 2018 at 11:57 PM

      Thank you, Kathleen. Working on my next blog post…

  • Kathleen Pearson
    September 25, 2018 at 4:50 PM

    When I was reading through the replies from your previous blog on the Peace Rose, someone said that you and Marty have had a boating accident…. I hope all is well now and that you both have fully recovered. Bless you both and stay safe! Love to you as well 🙂

    • marionowen
      September 25, 2018 at 6:53 PM

      Thank you Kathleen. We continue to heal. Quite a process, this concussion and whiplash business. The metal staples have been removed from the back of my head, I’m going to physical therapy and the Sea Breeze is back in the water undergoing repairs. Many things went right that day…

  • Kathleen Pearson
    September 25, 2018 at 12:30 AM

    Off and on throughout the years I have asked myself why…why do I continue to write what I write, pass along, educate self and others. Why, why, why, when it doesn’t really seem to matter so much to anyone but me and then I get a positive, thankful response to something I have written or information I have passed along and I know why I keep doing it. Someone told me a long time ago that I would be doing a lot of writing in my later years and I didn’t believe them. I am surprised that she was right. I think I am learning more than I am teaching and I know that I am happier than I have ever been.

    • marionowen
      September 25, 2018 at 3:56 AM

      Hi Kathleen, you’ve certainly confirmed that true happiness comes from within. I remember when I first started teaching classes through the Univ. of Alaska I was terrified. Then I looked at my teaching as a way for me to learn. Sort of a see-saw effect. Maybe that’s why I continue to write a garden column after 22 years… I continue to learn and I feel I’m helping others. Love to you!


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