Grit & Grace: Nancy Henry

“I love being STRONG. I decided to follow my passion into the dirt work at 50. I practically begged my way into a crew job at a local organic farm. I was insanely happy and wept with pain many nights when I came home. After two years of farming I felt confident and was ready to start my own business helping people maintain or create their own oases of flowers, shrubs, butterflies, berries, and birds. Of course I continue to have a lot to learn... and will for my lifetime.

I love being WILD. To be a woman is to be a creator and nurturer of life on a very elemental, gritty, utterly committed level. The smell, feel, and taste of the soil takes me to a place of oneness with the Earth and of humility and communion with the microbes in the soil, the fungal web that carries messages between the trees for miles and miles, the worms that break down the leaves, the birds that feed on the worms. All I want is to be one of them, to play my part in the continuing, cyclical, profound act of creation that is life on Earth. God is in every atom of this work. It feeds my soul.

I can get stuck in depression and inertia, especially in winter. When I stay very busy, I am better. Hard work, fed by a passion, has saved me from the pit time and again. I need to be outside, experiencing natural forces, even if it’s freezing, soaking, and painful.

Though I can get discouraged, in the long run I can’t seem to stop dreaming. If you have hope and a dream,
you will find that the darkness always dissolves into the light of a new and wiser, more meaningful phase of life. At least that is what I have found.”

Nancy Henry is the Founder and Owner of Garden Nana, and also a pet sitter on Boston’s North Shore.