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Changing Patterns | #1
Extreme Rain, Fall Gardens, Stability Training, Zen-Gardening, & Longevity Simplified
Good morning from North Carolina! This is the first edition of a monthly newsletter I’m calling the Renewal Rundown. Each month I’ll share a few updates, ideas, and favorite sources of inspiration on applying self-renewal to ourselves and the world around us. These newsletters will complement the longer-form essays which I will continue to publish regularly.
Enough housekeeping, let’s jump in!
🏡 Extreme Rain and Fall Gardens
We’re deep in the peak of summer here in central North Carolina. Thick humid heat all day long. It’s 80℉ most mornings when I take my dogs for our sunrise stroll. The only silver lining is it’s basically a massive free steam room so I don’t need to buy a sauna.
The biggest surprise this summer has been the rain. It’s so frequent and heavy that even the vegetable garden is thriving without supplemental watering. Part of this is a conscious effort to slowly challenge the plants to thrive with less intervention
But it seems like the rain is part of broader changes to our local weather patterns. Axios covered troubling trends in extreme rainfall in North Carolina:
It's "virtually certain" the amount of water vapor over North Carolina is rising, due to increased ocean and atmospheric temperatures driven by global warming, according to NCICS. More available water vapor leads to more intense and frequent rainfall events, said Kathie Dello, director of the North Carolina State Climate Office.
It’s nice to not have to water during the summer heat but I worry about the long-term impact on our ecosystems. Some change can be helpful until it crosses a threshold and becomes disruptive. Not to mention, the challenges it could create with flooding and hurricanes. Meanwhile, my family in New England has barely seen any rain and there are draught warnings across much of the country. Yikes!
On a more fun note, I’m starting to prep and plant the fall garden. Niki Jabbour is a great resource and shared some fall veggies that can be planted now. Homestead and Chill has an amazing guide to fall planting for first-timers.
👶🏃 Moving like a Baby and The Importance of Stability
In early July, I headed down to South Carolina for a weekend course on Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS). This is a school of exercise and rehab that focuses on helping people improve posture and movement patterns by mimicking how babies learn to walk. It was fascinating.
Instead of thinking about mobility as developing new skills, we can view it as recapturing our innate capacities. The key is learning how to unwind decades of compensations and restrictions. Our bodies are amazingly creative. If we lack sensory info in one muscle, we compensate with another. If we lack joint mobility, we find a workaround. These are protective patterns that keep our bodies safe and functional but lead to poor posture and movement.
DNS helps unwind these restrictions by relearning to breathe, stabilize, and move correctly. They encourage you to explore developmental positions like sitting, rolling, and crawling to regain natural movement patterns. It looks funny but it works! Here’s a thread I wrote introducing some of the key concepts and techniques.
One of the reasons I am so interested in integrating DNS into my own movement practice and fitness work with clients is the importance of stability. As we age, one of the greatest risks we face is falling. More than 1 in 3 people over 65 falls every year! And, falls are the leading cause of injury and death from injury among older Americans.
Yet, so few of us intentionally train our bodies to create the stability we need to prevent these falls later in life. Our bodies all face forces of decay: decreases in muscle, strength, bone density, joint/tendon function, balance, and motor control. You can even see these changes reflected in many older adults’ posture and gait. Stability becomes absolutely critical. Unfortunately, it’s challenging to regain at this stage if it’s lost. Like investing for retirement, the time to train stability is while we are young. Peter Attia even goes as far as to say that stability is the foundation of all exercise.
📚 From the Bookshelf
In July, I found myself exploring a bunch of different books without many pulling me in. But there were a couple of gems:
One-Straw Revolution was fantastic. Often described as “Zen & The Art of Farming”, you can think of it as non-doing applied to gardening. It’s full of practical tips on growing food and deep wisdom on what can be known, what we value, and how interconnected our world is. I shared a bunch of quotes in this thread but my favorite is this one on how gardening can transform us:
“When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
Longevity Simplified was a surprisingly easy read and packed with actionable ideas. Most stuff on the science of longevity is complex or controversial. This was the opposite. Dr. Luks, an actively practicing orthopedic surgeon, clearly explains the importance of metabolic health, the challenges to our vitality as we age, and a simple playbook to expand our health span. It’s also full of great visuals like the one below. This will now be my go-to book to share with people interested in the science of longevity or, as I’d prefer to call it, the science of renewal :)
On the Horizon
August is shaping up to be an exciting month.
I got invited to join the Doomer Optimism podcast to cohost an episode interviewing David Holmgren, one of the founders of permaculture. He’s one of my heroes so this is a bit surreal. We’re going to focus on applying permaculture to suburban settings. Send me a note if you have any questions for him or topics for us to discuss.
We have some out-of-town guests visiting and our first plane ride with our five-month-old. Please send us calming energy and any tips for surviving a 2-3 hour flight with a baby 🙏.
Lastly, I have an exciting new project launching in August that I can’t wait to share with you.
Thanks for reading! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any thoughts or questions. I love connecting on these themes and learning about new areas to explore.
The cover illustration was created and generously shared by Silvia Bastos through CC licensing. Check out more of Silvia’s illustrations: silviamakesdrawings.com and support Silvia’s work: www.patreon.com/silviamakesdrawings