Ali Coutts . 2 February 2023

Musings from a greenhouse

On a cold and frosty winter’s day in January you might not expect to find anyone relaxing in shirt sleeves in a greenhouse.

I however am… [was]

The sky is blue, the sun is shining and the greenhouse is a beautiful ambient temperature, though I’ve no idea what exactly, it matters not, it is warm and comfortable and so soporific I find myself dozing off mid read [though like a sleepy octogenarian having an afternoon snooze, the favourite tea mug also slipped from my grasp and smashed, but it was worth it].

I originally pegged it up to myself amusedly as ‘flexible working’ having taken my note book and pen with me, but why negotiate with yourself if you’re self employed? What a waste of energy. It must be those old programs associated with being an employee with head constantly down, on the go with barely a breather, the sense of the invisible whiplash strong against my back. Enough of those days!

Here there is a cuppa by my side on the upturned flower pot, a novel, a tasty ‘snack-ette’, and I even laid a few yoga mats out on the stone path that runs the length of the greenhouse with aspirations of a gentle flow.

I am making the most of the winter sun surrounded by pots, bean canes and the general paraphernalia of gardening, whilst tuning in to the nearby sound of cows across the river, in the company of my wee sausage dog who is curled up on my lap. Simplicity itself. No, I would go further – blissful simplicity itself.

What’s the message Ali?

Thanks for sharing you might say preparing to move on, wondering just what that preciously painted scene has to do with a Restore with Ali blog.


I feel restored by the sunlight, which all UK residents will appreciate has been fairly elusive recently; the sun will also have helped top up the vitamin D in my body (quick sign post – even the UK government recommends a daily supplement of this for all. If deficient it could show up as fatigue, mood changes, a weakened immune system and other symptoms – alert – please do your own research though as I am not a medical practitioner, merely taking a quick opportunity to mention it); feeling closer to all things green and natural, my mood is invigorated by the effects of being outside/inside, and I am even a bit self-satisfied with the functional simplicity of my ‘coffee table’ creation and the comfort of my basic canvas chair. It’s an earthy crunchy, feel good scene.

I can honestly sense my feel-good hormones on the move from just this short snippet of time doing what I think I shall hereto call, greenhouse therapy (which might already be a thing for all I know).

And yes, there is a message I found in all this that I’d like to share and it is this:

Find joy in the simple things, the small things (like my dachshund for instance – total heart opening joy).


Don’t say no before you’ve said yes.

Joy in the simplicity

That harks back to my previous blog, Overcoming the January blues (or just, overcoming) where I’ve advocated three simple practices to help us overcome the doldrums and raise ourselves up a little each day.

Simple is good. [she implored her audience] but I think sometimes if someone says to us something like, ‘happiness sometimes comes from the simple or small things in life’, it is such an oft sounded phrase that you might slap your forehead, groan and then zone out. I get that. But, but, but, it is such an irony that the things that are most repeated and that then potentially become overlooked, still, in my opinion often hold the simplest truths, the most profound wisdom, the nuggets of gold from whence change can come.

For example, the practice of gratitude. It’s become a thing (it has, in case you missed it)? Yoga teachers, writers, teachers, your mother – everyone is advocating it. I wonder though if there has been a collective groan due to over exposure and that people then switch off, it all sounds so over-familiar? And yet, the practice of gratitude is p-o-w-e-r-f-u-l in helping to lift emotions, creating a sense of greater aliveness, deeper expressions of kindness and compassion, even better sleep and a stronger immune system. There is Science to prove it, hurrah. See Thanks! How Practising Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons P.H.D,

Another one, just two (important) words. Well being. Such a good all encompassing word when it first appeared but now, so used in each and every context, someone said to me they thought it almost sounds cheesey now to talk about well being. It’s subjective but I do know where they are coming from and take steps to avoid it myself within my website text at Restore with Ali. Over exposure can seem to lessen authenticity somehow.

The simplest experiences, scenes, words, practises are often the most effective in shifting our mood, elevating us out of a stuck patch, starting us in a new habit and so on. Who knew the restorative effects and basic joy a spell in the greenhouse mid winter could bring?

But moving on, what if I had said no to the greenhouse idea before I said yes?

Don’t say no before you’ve said yes.

Such a wise saying (attributed to I know not who) but which I latched on to in my thirties via Richard Rohr. Rohr is a Franciscan priest (retired, if they ever do) and writer on spirituality and whose out of the box thinking and theology I have found really helpful in dispelling more than a few religious myths I’ve got rather attached to (another story).

What does it mean to urge you, don’t say no before you’ve said yes?

We are so often pre conditioned to say no – to a challenge, something new, some new food we think we don’t like but have actually never tried. No to something that makes us feel a bit squirmy and uncomfortable. No to someone else’s opinion before we’ve given the time and space to actually air it. And so on.

But how can we say no, if we’ve never said yes? What might we be missing out on? What could that be doing to the wiring of our brain, wearing a no groove (neural pathway) in it instead of a yes ok I’ll give it a go groove, and then maybe say no but because it is based on my lived experience not because I am programmed to say no.  

It’s about staying open and broad, flexible and spontaneous. Mostly so we do not miss out on a new experience, a chance to expand our thinking, a new relationship, a good conversation…and so on.


Maybe, coming back to the greenhouse again; like the seedlings that will love and respond to the warmth in here in a few months time, if we choose to allow the flow of life in our day to day, following some simple principles and practices such as gratitude, saying yes before we say no (or as in previous blog… simple breath work, movement and regular time outside), we too will continue to grow and expand in body, mind and spirit, likely finding a little more ease, joy and peace along the way.

Give it a go. Just say yes!


Ali Coutts

2nd February 2023

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