Internationally known book publicist Kathryn Hall, who was instrumental in promoting such seminal books as Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain and Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, has led a rich life full of friendship, travel, motherhood, and a love of animals and nature. As a young woman, she felt the call of her generation and fled the Midwest for San Francisco as the Summer of Love began to bloom. She became half of a singing duo in Amsterdam, and she has lived in Mexico and the Caribbean. She taught Spanish in her daughter’s Rudolf Steiner School. She studied social and cultural anthropology in graduate school. As a young woman, she had been inspired by the Findhorn Community’s experiments in conscious gardening. Later, when her daughter left for college, this empty nester began to nurture her own seeds, establish relationships with her own plants and express her observations about gardening and life in magazines across the nation and in a highly popular blog, “Plant Whatever Brings You Joy!”
She is now the author of the book, Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden (Estrella Catarina), in which she draws on over two decades of gardening experience to share 52 life lessons from the garden. Her relationship with The Edge magazine has been a long one, making possible many interviews that have appeared in these pages during the past 15 years. She spoke with us about her personal writing from her home in Northern California.
You are now a well-known gardening blogger, but your book, Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, isn’t really a traditional gardening book at all, is it?
Kathryn Hall: No, it really isn’t. It’s a Trojan horse. Because I’m known as a gardener and a gardening blogger, people will buy the book thinking it’s a gardening book with life lessons from the garden. Remember “Everything I Needed to Learn I Learned in Kindergarten?” This is “Everything I Needed to Learn I Learned in the Garden,” but I’ve taken it a much bigger step further. Some people will love it and get it, and others will not get it, or be surprised.
The book is a collection of metaphors. It was originally conceived as one line on a page, because at that time it was popular to do that in the media, in the publishing world. The book was originally called “Metaphors From the Garden,” but “Metaphors From the Garden” is a little esoteric for the mainstream, and I wanted to write for mainstream. I wanted to write from my heart. The book was written before the blog got started, really.
If you were a plant, what variety would you be?
KH: Oh, I never thought about that. Many gardening bloggers have this test that asks what flower are you? I’ve never done it. The very first thing that comes to mind is rose. It is really my favorite flower, for all the obvious reasons. It’s just so gorgeous, but you asked what am I. Hmmm, I’m pretty fussy. I am going to say a rose because I am so drawn to them and I am very particular and I’m always kind of over-dressed for the culture. I can’t help it. I was a hippie in the 1960s, you know what I mean? It’s like, I love beautiful things.
As the reader moves through your book, he or she moves through your life. Tell me about the process that led you to believe that your life had something to say to the rest of us.
KH: Well, I’ll just be honest. I’ve been promoting other people for a really long time, and I’m known for being incredibly picky and selective about the messages I am willing to put out there. Sometimes I was promoting people and I’d think, “Hmmm, I could say something about that.”
It just became obvious that I had something to say, because I haven’t exactly just been promoting people. I’ve been traveling and learning and growing and studying and reading and working with different people for a really long time. I became consciously awake in 1964. That’s the God’s truth. I was a hippie in San Francisco in the 1960s. I’ve been committed to change and transformation and helping the planet since the mid-1960s. I know at a deep level I promised to do this in this lifetime, so here I am showing up, listening to Spirit and having the courage to follow through.
How would you describe the transformation you have seen in our culture during that span of time?
KH: You’re asking the right person, because I have been working with the media, changing the story, staying in touch with the conversation for three decades, so I have a very good barometer.
Now, creative visualization is no big deal. When I first took Shakti Gawain’s book Creative Visualization to the media, most people thought I was completely out of my mind, except for the Olympic trainers who knew what I was talking about. It was very interesting that someone out there understood what I was talking about and was utilizing it as a tool.
I worked a lot with the New Agers in the beginning. I worked with The Tarot Handbook for Angeles Arrien. I worked with Helen Palmer (noted teacher of intuition and psychology), with Dan Millman and Shakti, with Shakti’s mother, a book about dolphins.
And then I went to grad school – as I talk about in the book – very unexpectedly. I felt like God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You are done with this. You need to start taking change and transformation into corporations.”
And I said, “What?! What?!”
But, that’s exactly what happened, but the clients I attracted were people like: David White and taking poetry into corporations; Michael Jones, taking music and piano into corporations; Peter Block; and launching Meg Wheatley’s Leadership of the New Science, comparing Newtonian science and quantum physics. I’ve been able to track change and transformation by the receptivity of the media to the material that I’m taking to them – and, I’m happy to say, it’s a huge change.
You have lived a rich life with much travel, companionship, and variety. Please share with us the secret to your happiness.
KH: Listening to my heart, taking big risks, believing in myself, listening to my Spirit, being grounded in Spirit, and trusting that.
Read Kathryn Hall’s blog at plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com, and email her at plantjoyblog[@]gmail.com.