Encouraging Life when you’re chronically sick

My Life Force is interrupted when I am sick. When I don’t feel well my life is greatly reduced. My ability and capacity to think, act and encourage life in plants, pets and family and friends is greatly limited. Love for me is using my life to encourage, support or increase the life of another person, plant or animal.  But in order to do this I must take better care of myself. And this is where researching, planting, tending and eventually eating from the organic perennial plants in my backyard I put into dirt helps.

I always feel better when I am helping to sustain or encourage the life of another living entity.   When I’m feeling the worst its nice to know that I have plants that I have nurtured from seed or sapling in the past into  fully functioning plants. When I look out my window into the backyard and see these plants growing it helps me to visualize a future in which I once again will be able to do the same.  I have hazel nut trees, hardy kiwi vines, a tea plant, asparagus, two avocado trees, and many other types of perennial plants that have endured through my negligence of being sick over the past four months. After only a week or two of attention they are all bouncing back, minus a few.

I know I’m feeling better when I want to plant something new and be responsible for its growth. This responsibility helps me to feel productive even on days when I feel like I’m a giant drain on the world instead of being a contributor to it. My latest project is growing Tree Collard plants. Having a living thing dependent on me is scary. Consistency is something that I am constantly struggling with. But the payoffs are worth the risk. Organic produce I can share, a reason to get up even when I feel my worst, and a tangible reminder that I can impact the world in a positive way.


I’ve studied Permaculture, organic farming, with an emphasis on perennial plants and have never heard of this plant until a few weeks ago. I found out about these amazing plants while reading an article on supplements. The expert being interviewed recommended growing your own organic veggies and mentioned Tree Collards. It didn’t take me long to find the Project Tree Collard website. Their site is full of great information and video tutorials. After reviewing their site I orderdered three of them from their Amazon listing. I found out from past experience its best to start small when trying out a new plant species.


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The Tree Collard plants came as advertised and I planted them the same day in one gallon containers. I’ve had a lot of success using smart pots. My back deck is full of perrenial edibles planted in them. The Tree Coolards are looking great and already growing after a week in the dirt. In year two I should be able to harvest the leaves and enjoy organic “greens” that grow from a tree in my own backyard. The more I read about how scientists, big agriculture and the government work together to skew nutrition science the more I want to consume what I grow. This is one small step in that direction.


I love perennial plants. I think of myself as a perennial person. I am resilient and I keep coming back after not producing anything during the winters of my bouts of small bowel obstructions and pacreatitis attacks. That is why I love nut trees, asparagus and hardy vining fruits that take less inputs, are more hardy than annuals and most importantly produce for years. The Tree Collard checks all those boxes, they produce edible leaves that taste like greens and can produce for 20 years with very little attention and best of all I only have to plant them once.

Growing perennial plants helps to amplify my efforts. I have a limited gas tank and my energy levels from day to day fluctuate wildly. For me anything I can do to get the best ROE (return on energy) I do it. Perennials give me the best return on the investment of my life force I transfer into theirs. It’s a way to plant once and harvest for years or even decades. The Hazel Nut trees I’ve planted should produce for over fifty years. Their life helps to support mine and my life helps to support them. Instead of annual plants which you only plant once and have to replant year after year.

The concept of the Life Force sounds like a hippie-dippie idea and I’m sure somebody else can explain it better. But for me the Life Force is simply the energy that started life, propels life to consume, reproduce and create and inhabits and connects every living creature on the planet. It is a force that we can encourage or we can blunt. When I am sick I feel like my life force is being blunted. My choices are dramatically limited. By dabbling in plants and being able to see growth on them after I’ve reemerged from my latest battle with a small bowel obstruction or a bad pancreatitis attack gives me hope that I can still grow and persevere just like my hardy perennial plants.

I used to think that getting flowers when I was sick was a total waste of money. Now I realize why people do it. Mother Nature, the Life Force or simply the Natural World is a miraculous place that is teaming with growth, new life, and ever-increasing complexity. Flowers and plants are a way to reconnect to that energy, especially when your own Life Force is blunted by disease, injury or intense pain.  If you know someone who is sick I suggest you get them a plant that will last a long time like a “Tree Collard”, a Bamboo plant, or an orchid.

The more I can encourage the Life Force of other living beings around me the more of my Life Force I have to share. It’s not a zero sum game. The more I give the more I have to give. Even when I’m not feeling my best I still want to share my Life Force with others and to help those I love grow stronger, enjoy life more and to live a better life because of my actions and attention. Perennial plants give back what you put in and they endure over years and even decades. They are a great way to mulitply your efforts and have tasty organic food you can share with those you love for years to come.

This week I’m increasing and sharing my Life Force by tending to, watching and documenting the growth of my three new Tree Collard plants. When I’m sick and stuck in bed I feel my life force ebb away. When I don’t have an outlet for my creativity or allow creativity in by listening to or reading positive information I feel a lot worse. I am thankful I found Tree Collard plants from a random article about supplements. My Life Force needs to be shared in order for it to increase. I’m still working on this theory but even if you don’t buy into any of the hippie-dippie stuff science has proven getting your hands dirty, planting and tending the plants, eating organic produce you grow all have a very positive effect upon your health and the health of those around you.

Happy Planting

Brad Miller

If you’ve found gardening helpful in your recovery process please share your experience.

Why I shop at Kroger

Kroger has Simple Truth Organic products on sale a lot. These were 2 for $5.

I used to be a huge fan of shopping at Publix. I felt that they were the best grocery store in town. After I moved two years ago I began shopping at my local Kroger and my opinion changed. This move also coincided with my renewed commitment to use food as a way to help me feel better and improve my health.  As I began to investigate more of the role nutrition has on my health I began buying more and more organic products. Kroger has an Organic Section that is growing and their own Natural/Organic Brand “Simple Truth” is outstanding and is revolutionizing the availability of organic food and organic personal care products.


The Simple Truth brand is both a natural product line and organic product line. There was some controversy last year about some Simple Truth products containing GMO ingredients. That was concerning their Simple Truth Natural line I believe. That is why I buy mostly The Simple Truth Organic stuff and I always read labels. For instance The Simple Truth Traditional Spaghetti Sauce had soy bean oil in it. I didn’t buy it. Instead I read labels until I found one that didn’t include GMO ingredients or vegetable oil. The consumer is still responsible for reading labels. The Simple Truth Brand Organic products are a great way for me to save money and is a better choice than driving hours to go to my nearest Whole Foods.


Kroger is not perfect and there are many Simple Truth stuff I don’t buy. But the products I do buy I think are superior in quality and taste to non-organic brands.  Take for instance their  Simple Truth Organic Cream Cheese and their Sour Cream. Before my pancreatitis was kicking my ass  I could eat the sour cream by the spoonful. It is extremely think and tasty and different from any other Sour Cream I’ve ever tried. Other Simple Truth products I like are the Organic Chicken Breasts, Organic Frozen Blueberries and Simple Truth Artesian water that has a ph of 7.6. For the last two months I’ve been drinking almost exclusively Icelandic Glacial Water and the Simple Truth Artesian Water.

Simple Truth Artesian Water with a ph of 7.6

I believe that this has been one of the reasons my psoriasis has greatly improved and why I’m feeling better than I have for months. Also I buy Simple Truth Organic potatoes. They are smaller than traditionally grown potatoes and they go bad faster. But I believe buying organic is worth the extra price and is still a better value for my health even though the product could spoil faster. The Simple Truth grassed beef is something I’ve bought a lot of in the past as well. I used to buy that along with White Pasture’s Grass-Fed ground beef. The combination was delicious. I find more of the products I want to use at Kroger than any other grocery store in my area.

(White Oaks Patures is a local family run farm in Georgia who believes in treating animals well and feeding them what they are designed to eat. I’m a big fan.)


This is a great video that explained what happened when a family ate only organic.


I also choose to shop at my local Kroger not only for their lower priced organic selection but also because of the people and their operating hours. The women behind the Deli counter are just outstanding and those who help with checkout are as well. I normally use self-checkout but they always have someone there to help with a smiling face.  My schedule is not normal. Depending on how I’m feeling I might be up at 7:00am because I didn’t sleep the night before and need to go to get Organic Grapefruit juice because of a pancreatitis flare up. Or if I’m up late I can go to my local Kroger up until 1:00am to buy more high ph water. This is huge for people who have medical issues who need certain food products that help them feel better and do not keep normal hours. No matte what time I go the folks are always helpful, kind and smiling.

I’ve been extremely sick for the past few months and now I’m feeling much better. But during those times I felt awful I still tried to get out of the house each day and the one place I would go is my local Kroger. For someone who is chronically ill or suffering from chronic pain having a friendly safe place to go to is so important. Some days my shopping at Kroger would be my only contact with other people. I went in there the other day and the Store Manager let me know I dropped a dollar on the floor while I was at the deli counter. Before that I saw him interact with the women working in the deli and he was kind and respectful. You could tell they respected him as well. Those small interactions matter and create an atmosphere that is enjoyable to be in. When I’m sick I need all the help I can get and I need to be around positive energy. On top of treating each other well and friendly with customers, they are also extremely responsive. Before I started buying the Icelandic Glacial Water or knew about the Simple Truth Artesian water I bout Essentia water. When I told the lady who takes care of the Organic Section that I was buying a lot of it she started ordering more and I was always able to get it.

One of the reasons I don’t shop at Publix any more is that one of the owners of Publix gave $800,000 to an anti-cannabis campaign in Florida.  The daughter of the founder of Publix gave to a group that stopped Medical Cannabis Law being passed in 2012 and they are still trying to keep Cannabis illegal in Florida. She currently owns 5% of Publix and is worth a reported $1.8 billion.  I’ve not totally researched Kroger’s donations and in the future I might find that they are a company I don’t want to support. For the mean time I will continue to shop at Kroger and improve my health by buying Simple Truth Organic products and other organic products they offer.


I don’t go out of my way to boycott a company because I’m sure every big company does something I don’t believe in but legalizing cannabis is something I strongly believe in. I’ve struggled with chronic pain and autoimmune disease since I was twelve. And I’ve found Cannabis helpful in dealing with my symptoms but I’ve had to travel to Denver twice to find that out. And its because people support politicians and groups that are working to keep Cannabis illegal I’ve spend over $6000 on travel and other expenses. To give money to an anti-cannabis group is an attack on people who are chronically ill and are suffering. It makes their lives harder. Cannabis Prohibition and those who support it are also attacking every individual regardless of why they want to consume Cannabis because its every adults inherent right to choose whether to ingest Cannabis or not.We all have a right to choose what we put in our bodies. No government and no billionaire has the right to tells us what we can and can’t put into our bodies.

I explore this topic further in my blog post on LegalizeCannabisInGeorgia.com


My local Kroger is also carrying more and more local produce as well. Where I live doesn’t have an established Farmer’s Market. That would my preferred option of getting my produce but until that time I’ll buy organic products and veggies from Kroger. If you believe something strongly and a company is going against it you have a right to vote with your dollars to support those who support what’s important to you. Kroger has made a commitment to make organic products and organic food more available at a lower price. Publix has missed the boat on this and on top of that one of the owners is actively attempting to keep Cannabis illegal in Florida. I don’t want to support that.

All of these reasons are why I shop at my local Kroger. We all vote with our dollars every time we spend them. A lot of people have voted with their dollars in support of Kroger to continue increasing their organic selection because they now sell over 12 Billion dollars worth of natural and organic products. The more I buy those products the more of them that will be produced and if enough people do that the prices will continue to come down. Eating organic, drinking alkaline water and supporting companies that are more inline with my personal philosophy are all ways I can live a little bit healthier today and ensure a better tomorrow.

Brad Miller