First, I’d like to start off by thanking my friends that voted for me to win free yoga teacher training in Costa Rica. I didn’t win, but it’s nice to know I have friends that look out for me and support my crazy dreams. Thanks for showing me a little love and know that I love you all for it.
Now, on to other things that I love (maybe not equally though, but I do really like my plants). I have a passion for plants. Sometimes I have loved them to death. For a long time I loved all of them to death as a matter of fact. When my husband and I would visit the local botanical gardens we would walk around and I would admire all the plants…that I had once tried to love and managed to kill. He joked that it could be a memorial for all the specimens that died under my watch. Oh that husband’s a funny guy…love, love, love…
But things have changed. I did things backwards. I started as successful with people and animals and finally learned to take care of plants. I had to learn that plants need just as much consideration as my pets or the people I love. They have their likes and dislikes. Some want full sunshine and others need a little shade. One is thirsty and another likes their roots dry most of the time. Just because a plant looks good somewhere doesn’t mean it will be happy. You have to do what the plant likes and only then will it grow.
Let me repeat that: you have to do what the plant likes and only then will it grow. This can be applied to so many places in your life! Find what your children love, be interested in that and don’t try to force them into a mold and they will grow, grow, grow. Don’t try to force your spouse (or anyone else) to be the person they are not, find what they like and let them grow at their own pace. And last, but certainly not least, find what you like and you will blossom. Learning to take care of a plant is a lot like learning self care.
So many of us forget what our bodies and minds like. We focus on where we think we should fit in. We start trying to force ourselves to be somewhere that we shouldn’t be in life. We have a vision and instead of being tuned into our needs and wants, we focus on what we think looks good. And just like a house plant that has been put in the wrong conditions we start to decay. We don’t die overnight, but parts of us start to deteriorate. We might lose joy in something we once loved. Or our bodies may begin to get sick or weak. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The same way that we have to check on a houseplant and see how it is doing occasionally, we need to check in with ourselves. Some plants can withstand more neglect than others the same way that some people can, but to be the healthiest versions of either, there needs to be a certain level of care. And when we check in and see that there is a problem we need to ask ourselves what needs to be done to remedy that problem right away. If we don’t stop at the first signs of a problem the problem only gets worse and worse. Pretty soon it can seem as if there’s no returning from the neglect and mistreatment. Sometimes, sadly there is no return for houseplants or humans.
Our bodies and minds need certain things to thrive. We need healthy food. We need hydration. We need to be safe. When we don’t give ourselves these things (or the wrong things) it’s just like denying your poor houseplant what it needs. Only you can really see what’s happening quickly with your plant while it might take years with your body. If you pour vinegar on a plant it’s a very fast effect once the roots absorb that substance that’s toxic. You can’t see the effects of your body, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t poisoning yourself in much the same way.
But even more than our basic needs health wise, we need more to reach our full
potential. We need hobbies. We need community. We need love from others and ourselves. Look at it as fertilizer for our souls. When we are stimulated in life we don’t just grow, we thrive. When I paint with water colors, watch a TED talk, read a good book, or see a play I’m feeding my need to learn and create. When I have dinner with friends and hang out with my family I’m feeding my need to love and feel loved. When I go to the gym or practice yoga and meditation I’m feeding my body’s need for movement. And when I attend church and volunteer and do little favors I’m also feeding my need for community and to give something back to this world.
So maybe you can bloom where you are planted. But maybe you just aren’t in the right spot. And that’s ok. Maybe you need to move around a little until you find the location where you can grow and meet your full potential. Maybe you’re a cactus and you need to be left alone more. Or maybe you’re a sunflower need more sunshine and water in your life and then you’ll totally take off. Either way, do what’s right for you and what feeds your body and mind. The world needs flowers and cacti and lemon trees the same way the world needs very different people with very different needs.
So stop and take time to listen to what you need to live, but also to thrive. Try different things. Don’t wait until little problem areas become so large that they overwhelm you. Take care of yourself at least as well as a plant that needs your care and see what a difference it makes.