Introducing The M A R I G O L D Initiative

Mindful Assembly Renewing Intentional Goodness & Optimal Living Daily

Healing lives. Building communities.

Education. Encouragement. Service.


The market is flooded (think tsunami) with “self-help books.”

I decided to offer this instead in one of the surest media I know to spread an idea fast to the most people.

It’s not about how much fun and power and wealth I discovered cobbling a life together in the wake of personal chaos.

It’s about self-determination rooted in common sense nurtured by love and hope.

Okay, that’s enough.

         You’ll see.



         “To be ill-adjusted to a deranged world is not a breakdown.”

                                             —Jeanette Winterson




If rage wrote WAAAAY BEYOND LEMONADE,  resolve writes The MARIGOLD Initiative.

This work began as a lifeline for psychiatric survivors; a putting to the page of ways we find a place and a purpose after breaking free from prescription drugs and widely accepted, however false, notions about mental/emotional normalcy.

But friends and loved ones have helped me see that this is a hopeful idea for any and all who have endured, for anyone who rebuffs defeat and commits to renewing his/her life. Borrowing from my late father’s favorite author, Terry C. Johnston:

 “As the fickle spirits of earth and sky conspire to

                  rob a man of his soul, we rediscover that tiny

                  flicker of the Almighty within all of us who

                  refuse to give up!”

What all survivors must learn to do is accept a new normal.

Not easy. Not fun.

One learns, as my Granny used to say, to “make hay while the sun shines.”

Be productive when you feel well enough.

Or, as St. Francis of Assisi wrote, “Do what you can, when you can, with what you have.”

This is a story about potential: what is done with life during and beyond recovery.

My original conception of a MARIGOLD Community was as a group of individuals cooperating to educate one another regarding healthy life changes, encouraging the processes of those changes, and ultimately building resource-based alternatives to conventional capitalist economies. Each person volunteers a particular skill a designated number of hours a week, and takes for his own needs accordingly.

I envisioned private funding—enough, in my dream—to allow members to have real jobs, materials to construct their own homes, to build a community owned and operated by its residents.

I understand such things have been tried before.

So, I’ve downscaled and re-imagined.

Every community starts with one person and one idea.

Therefore, the first MARIGOLD Community is located in my own living room, in my own back yard, but first and foremost, in my own heart and mind. It is a personal plan and practice to rebuild my life.

I’ve been described as “a visionary with her feet on the ground.”

The idea is radical, no matter what the scale. It urges abandonment of beliefs, habits, attachments, and relationships that have failed you, that have become toxic. The MARIGOLD Initiative is based on ancient disciplines and practices applied to the hazards and complexities of twenty-first century life.

I know. I know. You want the KISS Method. So do I.

So, simply, The MARIGOLD Initiative is:

  1. Clearing the toxins from your life.
  2. Living in the present moment.
  3. Becoming the healthiest, happiest version of your own sweet self you have ever been.
  4. Being of service to others.



“The opposite of depression is vitality.”

­—Andrew Solomon

Why marigolds?

They’re pretty, hardy little flowers, for one thing. “Mary’s Gold,” they were used to decorate the poorest churches. Their bright blossoms form tight petal clusters ranging in hue from bright yellow to saffron to copper. The clean, pungent scent of marigolds repels animals and insects; even their root systems protect against nematodes and other pests for years. A seed husk opens like a delicate paper horn to reveal straw-colored and black splinters. A tiny bit of even the sandiest soil, water and sunshine—lots of sunshine—will yield the next generation of cheer in a few weeks. I’ve grown them since childhood.

Today they are the symbol of a philosophy, a lifestyle, a vision:

Mindful – Present-moment awareness. Dismissing the Monkey Mind and its distractions of the past, its gibbering criticism, its jaw-clenching worry. Full engagement with your present surroundings and activities, from adapting to antelopes to zooming with zebras. Okay, that’s silly. But you understand.

Assembly – Any nurturing association, including family, friends, co-workers, and online communities created via social media.

If you’ve joined this group of like-minded, like-hearted, folks in the Life Renewal Process, together we may evolve into a dynamic organization that provides jobs and services, teaches, feeds, heals, clothes, rehabilitates. MARIGOLD Communities all over the planet. A very unique kind of city. A very unique kind of wholeness.

Who knows?

I can dream, can’t I?

Let’s imagine a foundation of volunteers in every capacity offering their skill and talent two hours a week. Architects to xeriscapers.

(My inspiration is Pinellas Hope in Clearwater, FL. It is a homeless encampment providing temporary, get-back-on-your-feet assistance: shelter, clothing, food, counseling, transportation, employment and medical services. It’s operated by a handful of salaried workers; most are volunteers.)

Imagine funding to actually give real jobs to the residents, either in their present skill set or in a new area, on-the-job training, apprenticeships. Such MARIGOLD Communities need corporate sponsors/capital investors.

That’s the large-scale MARIGOLD vision.

Renewing – Everyone interested or active in this philosophy or movement is undertaking a life overhaul of one sort or another, renewing energy, talent, hope, livelihood; something that has nearly shriveled and died on the vine is shooting out new, green tendrils. We renew the idea, the hope, the plan. We recommit to it. It’s fresh, not forgotten, and very much alive with potential.

Intentional – There is great power in focusing intention on a goal. Not the casual, “I intend to finish this project as soon as possible,” but a commitment to act in the direction of a goal with discipline and consistency. You don’t falter. You don’t do it halfway. Intention is rather like the action end of a decision. I highly recommend Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and Turning Pro. These books got me writing again. You show up. Every day. And you work.

Goodness & … Well, duh. We all know what goodness is. Don’t we?


Optimal – For me, the happiest/healthiest/soundest/sanest/most loving/creative/gratifying/satisfying. Highly individual. There are no standards for what is optimal; no one-size fits all. You need to figure this out for yourself. I just thought of Lissa Rankin, M.D., and the Self-Healing Kit she offers free online.

Living – Well, this might seem obvious, but I don’t only mean the state NASA defines as “a self-contained chemical system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution.” Living is exhibiting vitality and interest in the present moment. Living is not anchored to the past. Living is engaged in play and rest and creativity and love. Living is social. Living is solitary. You know these things.

Daily – Certainly not meaning “repeat every 24 hours.” Mindful, intentional renewal of your goodness, your optimal elements, your life becomes part of your autonomic nervous system: These things are done with “effortless ease,” to borrow a powerful term from Deepak Chopra. Like breathing and digestion, they happen without conscious endeavor.

This is not a new way of thinking and being. It is an ancient way.


“A true healer doesn’t actually heal us; he or she simply helps us remove the blocks that are inhibiting our ability to heal ourselves.”

The Sacred Science Newsletter, 12/5/2013

It is nearly two years since I began Waaaay Beyond Lemonade. I have come to such a quiet place. I no longer feel the need to write, which rather astonishes me. I reflect upon the therapeutic nature of writing: the catharsis, the self-counseling/consoling. I encourage others to keep journals, write poetry and prose, to “write yourself well.”

A need that abides in me is to be of service. I think it may be one of those key elements of recovery. Altruism heals.

The MARIGOLD INITIATIVE encourages volunteerism, suggesting two hours a week doing whatever you are able to contribute to the well-being of others, the environment, a charity, the list of possibilities is endless. It could be as simple as cooking breakfast for your neighbor or picking up litter on your favorite walkway. Be original. Everyone has something to offer. And it’s all important.

Let’s do this.

Join in. I’d love to see newly sprouted MARIGOLD Communities…Get going in your area and start a “sister” group, something like “MARIGOLD Community, Your City, State/Country.”

Okay. So now you know what I’m doing in my post-WAAAAY BEYOND LEMONADE ( life.

Be well and happy, and don’t forget to plant marigolds and smell roses. And tend your garden and eat pistachio nuts.

—Merry Ruthe (M. R.) Wilson

St. Petersburg, Florida

December 17, 2014




Introducing The M A R I G O L D Initiative

We’re Sprouting New M A R I G O L D Communities!


Have a question or comment? Want to help?

It’s as easy as liking our Facebook page and/or contacting us here:

Please help us plant new M A R I G O L D Patches in your community!

Volunteering your time and talent is one of the 7 ENCOURAGEMENTS characteristic of the M A R I G O L D philosophy. Do you have at least two hours a week of free time? That’s all we suggest to offer a much needed skill—if you can do more—wonderful! It can be done in person, or online, depending upon your particular needs and abilities.


Just let us know how you’d like to help! The possibilities are endless and the need is great. Tell us a little about yourself and what you’d like to do, and we’ll create a post for you on our Facebook page. Be sure to include contact information and your location.

We currently have Advice and Support available in these areas: Emotional Wellness, Family Dynamics, Grief and Loss, Nutritional Guidance, Personal Growth, and Spiritual Support.

Why are marigolds our symbol? From “Mary’s Gold,” these bright, cheerful and hardy flowers were used to decorate church altars. They are easy to grow, bloom year round and seed themselves. Just looking at marigolds will lift your spirits!


We’re Sprouting New M A R I G O L D Communities!

The Invitation


A very long time ago, under a velvety winter sky, many animals felt a strange stirring in their hearts. It was an urging to get up, to wander far, far away from the safety of their homes. It was an excitement that raced their pulse, and a fear from deep within that undeniable rule of instinct.

It was as if a tantalizing voice asked, “Do you hear what I hear?”

The many were paralyzed with terror. Rabbits of the field scurried to underground dens, and huddled together in trembling groups of parents and young. The shy deer bolted deeper into the forest, away from this strange night air that somehow spoke to them.

And fish of the sea swam low to the ocean floor, unmoving, except for the gentle opening and closing of their gills.

It seemed that only the birds truly rejoiced. From the sparrows to the eagles, upward in joyous arches they flew, feathered silhouettes against a silver, crescent moon. And another brilliance drew the birds from their perches. It was the most magnificent star that any man, beast, or bird had ever seen.

It beckoned every creature within its sight.

“Follow me.”

For a small, common donkey, the call was irresistible. Facing sure starvation, or death from exposure and cold, he wandered on four, sure feet out of the warmth of his master’s barn. The scent of fresh hay in his nostrils and his last drink of fresh water were all that sustained him on a journey that lasted two weeks.

And two young lambs lifted their heads skyward, and stole silently away as their shepherd slept.

Even a camel, and a weary old cow, grew restless and fascinated by something in the wind. They, too, wandered away from their people and places, and followed as if hypnotized.

The nights passed into days, when the animals slept. With the first touches of twilight they were on foot again. And on one especially serene and silent night, this tiny caravan, approaching from all corners of the earth, stopped suddenly as if frozen with that old, initial fear.

The voice that urged them on had abandoned them.

But the star in its brilliance lit up everything around them. Blinking their eyes in amazement, each of the animals saw a tiny stable and approached with something humans would describe as caution and joy mixed together.

The animals recognized a man and woman, kneeling before a tiny bundle on the hay.

It was this little creature that somehow drew all of the animals into the Manger. The hay was fresh and sweet and a trough provided cool, fresh water. The donkey, the cow and lambs, and the camel ate and drank and settled themselves comfortably. Each knew he and she had been blessed with the greatest honor of the animal world.

They were invited to celebrate the first Christmas.

–Merry Ruthe Wilson



The Invitation

Defeating the Dark Saboteur



We are most familiar with this character. We know it intimately. We have lived with it for a very long time, and it will always be with us.

But we’ve learned to recognize it before it has us in its terrible talons. We have learned through love. We have learned through tears. We have learned through agony and betrayal and heartache we never care to revisit. We have learned by valiantly standing up again, raising our heads, and looking eye-to-eye at the Dark Saboteur.

We know we are better.

We know we are stronger.

We know we are in control.

We know the Dark Saboteur twists words and experiences into hideous deformations of Truth.

We know the Dark Saboteur thrives on fear.

We know the Dark Saboteur feasts on doubt.

We know the Dark Saboteur can lead us into hatred and violence.

We know it is not Our Way.

So. How to defeat this character who has grown so comfortable, taking up residence, stealing our energy and our hope, casting our love into a bottomless, rank dungeon?

First, understand that it is part of our consciousness. It would like to take residence, stretch out, and dominate, Destroy.

Yes, it has a voracious appetite for destruction.

(We know this, too, having been at that abyss, holding the knife, taking the pills, contemplating the plunge over the cliff, into the guard rail, off to oblivion.)

Knowing this, having lived this desperation, gives us power now.

Our power, which is the next step, is choosing to turn away. . .

Telling Dark Saboteur to shut up. Telling it to be gone from us.


May 20, 2012

Defeating the Dark Saboteur

New Features Coming Soon!

I’m just going to briefly list some new ideas that I will be expanding upon.

But first of all, I want you to know that I’m seeing more and more news items about communities very similar to the concept of my original notion of a M A R I G O L D Community. One is in Austin, Texas Community First!

Coming soon to this blog:

7 Encouragements:

  1. “Tend your garden and eat pistachio nuts.” (Dr. Pangloss, Voltaire’s Candide)
  2. Embrace veganism.
  3. Listen to music.
  4. Meditate.
  5. Walk in a natural setting.
  6. Rescue a companion animal.
  7. Volunteer.

7 Sacraments:

(From sacred/sacrifice: – “to make holy”)

  1. Sacrament of the Present Moment
  2. Sacrament of Being at Table
  3. Sacrament of Intimacy
  4. Sacrament of Authenticity
  5. Sacrament of Healing
  6. Sacrament of Charity
  7. Sacrament of Creativity

7 Beliefs:

  1. We are in union with nature, ultimately with the entire universe.
  2.  Mind and body are one.
  3.  We can heal.
  4. Thoughts matter. (Does that seem oxymoronic?)  🙂
  5. We can create the “more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” by Charles Eisenstein
  6. Love is the most potent force in the universe.
  7. We can change our lives.


Peace and Bright Blessings!





New Features Coming Soon!

How does your MARIGOLD patch grow?

Hello, Dear Ones!

Greetings from a soft, rainy late January day in Florida. All green and growing things rejoice in their nourishment. Me, too, as these days encourage study, reflection, cooking, reading and cozying up with the felines. MamaCat Boa purrs on my lap as I type.

I am still in recovery from the personal tsunami resulting from monumental changes occurring in my life during 2012. Not sure if my brain chemistry has righted itself, but I am grateful to be content and stable without medication. It’s the memory issues that trouble me sometimes. No new writing project has corralled a commitment of time and energy, i.e., none of the old ideas are manifesting into notes and folders and rough drafts—oh my! The theory of writing as catharsis during times of wrenching stress seems viable. Aside from an occasional journal entry, e-mail, Facebook comments, blog comments, etc., I’m “not writing,” and that doesn’t trouble me like it once did.

My direction or focus these days is simply good health. Wellness and well-being. I’ve read Lissa Rankin, M.D.’s new book,  The Anatomy of a Calling and while I empathize, I can’t quite embrace the deeply “spiritual” elements of her quest. I am more of a rationalist. An “earth ecstatic,” to borrow from Diane Ackerman. But Dr. Rankin’s story is compelling and her heart is true. I’d like to find a community but shy away from the church involvement that once filled many voids in my life. A calling remains elusive. There are no voices or “aha! moments” or tearful revelations. If there is a calling, it’s the soft assurance of my own mind that a restful period is in order. Retirement and divorce have brought seclusion, aside from my limited online presence, an occasional luncheon or phone call with a friend.

I’ve more or less accepted this quiet place. I’m “bug soup,” as Lissa Rankin writes, in a place of total trust and unknowing, undergoing metamorphosis. I hadn’t realized that the caterpillar becomes unrecognizable within its chrysalis as profound changes ensue to make it a butterfly.

After viewing a brilliant documentary, “The Search for Sustainability”  I feel as though I’ve found my tribe. I’m hovering back to a place I began exploring in the early 1990s before breast cancer, the death of my mother, and subsequent hospitalizations derailed me:  back toward earth-centeredness, a vegan lifestyle, me-scale urban farming. Real things. Less tech, more tactile. IMG_0256

I was thrilled when my uncle offered his piano as he and his wife downsized their residence. I played avidly by ear once, and am now painstakingly making joyful noises as I rediscover this revered, old instrument. It’s a Chickering Console and has captivated me since toddlerhood.



So there’s a glimpse of my M A R I G O L D patch. Life in recovery, “renewing intentional goodness and optimal living daily.”

May we all grow and prosper.

How does your MARIGOLD patch grow?





Sunday – Rejoice in the happiness of others


Monday – Self-forgiveness


Tuesday – Gentle words


Wednesday – Personal Sabbath


Thursday – Play


Friday – Gather a Fresh Meal


Saturday – Deep Gratitude

Sunday – Rejoice in the Happiness of Others

     Be glad for the good fortunes of others. Share their joy. Rejoice for and with loved ones, family, friends, and strangers alike.

Monday – Self-Forgiveness


Getting off one’s own back and getting out of one’s own way are powerful tools.

Accept what happened and forgive yourself…for being so human, after all.

Tuesday – Gentle Words


     First and foremost, Gentle Words mean gentle self-talk. I’m in the habit of thinking, “I’m such an idiot!” Another recurrent thought is “I’ve ruined my life.”

I could make a list, but thankfully, it’s growing shorter. I bet you could make a list of hurtful self-talk, too.

It really does make sense to believe that we are our own best friends and act/think accordingly. We must be our own advocates in every arena of life.

So, for Tuesday’s Practice, keep self-talk gentle and nurturing. One thought that is especially comforting to me is, “You did the best you could at the time.” Others are thoughts like, “Start fresh from right now;” “You’re healthier and happier than you’ve ever been.”

Watch the “I hate…”; “disgusting” and similar phrases.

The Gentle Words practice extends to others, of course. “Please” and “thank-you” are under-used these days, yet oh so powerful.

Gentle Words to everyone you encounter, and to non-human companions as well. On Tuesdays I try especially hard not to yell at the cats.

Wednesday – Personal Sabbath

     Be alone most of this day.

Read. Write. Meditate. Walk. Ride. Garden. Draw. Paint. Sculpt. Listen to music. Sew. Knit. Cook.

Thursday – Play

     Whatever your heart desires.

Friday – Gather a fresh meal

From your garden or from the farmer’s market, all natural, nothing artificial added. Your body will rejoice!

Saturday – Deep Gratitude

     For all blessings, challenges, connections, achievements. Little things. Huge things.