What a Garden Experience Taught me aboutCaringformySoul
June has been a whirlwind with my book being released on June 15th. My garden, which is my happy place, had been sorely neglected. Consequently I’ve spent the last 2 days gardening, pulling weeds, planting annuals, and sowing seeds.
It has been a much-needed break from all the hustle and bustle of a book launch.
Are you like me? When there is a never-ending to-do list all you can think about is that long, growing list and somehow think if we just keep pushing through and cross off one more thing then we’ll feel better.
Sometimes that works, but not often. I know when I need soul care, quiet, and creativity to refresh and renew my heart – yet sometimes I forget and ignore what I need. Gardening helps me reset and refocus – but only when I’m not distracted with important deadlines.
As I started gardening, a nagging question niggled at me. What shall I write about for July? Given that my word of the year is “cultivate” and I was in the middle of doing “cultivat-ing” type of things, I allowed my mind to wander and as I did, my mind began to generate all sorts of ideas and connections.
So this month my newsletter is really just some musings around the word cultivating and soul care – what we do to connect with God, rest, root-up that which hinders growth, refresh, refocus and renew so that we can grow in whole ways and be a better version of ourselves afterwards.
Being late to the garden centre meant I got all my plants on sale. I love sales, but the pickings were very slim – I had to choose from some pretty sorry looking plants. Begrudgingly I chose many of them thinking if I plant them right away and take care of them they’d likely thrive.
Who knew that my planting experience would speak such volumes to my own heart to help me thrive! As I turned over the soil and laid the flowers along the top of the bed, arranged as nicely as possible (aka colour coordinated), words like environment, nurture, care, and growth came to mind and I began to think about how I thought of these words related well to our own soul care and how when we don’t intentionally cultivate safe, balanced, nurturing places for ourselves we can suffer. Just like plants people need to be nurtured and handled tenderly with care.
With any book launch where you are doing everything yourself, it is overwhelming to say the least, and my soul care took a back seat for many months. My days started early often at 4:00 a.m. and would go until suppertime, taking breaks only to go for walks with my dog Bailey, attend the odd appointment, a get-together with my inner-circle people, or on Sundays when I’d take the day off. There was much to do and many things on the never-ending checklist. Thankfully I’m fairly organized, pro-active, so I was able to get everything done, on time and fairly well. There were a few hiccups, but nothing too major! My hubby stood in the gap and became main cook at the house… and of course that necessary soul care always came last, if at all.
You know what I kept hearing myself say? “It’s almost over, just a little while longer” or “I’ll do it tomorrow” and that kept me pushing through. Weeks, turned into months and slowly my soul care slipped away. Do you ever do that? It has been a life-long habit for me that keeps recurring and I don’t want to do it again. It’s just too difficult to push off what our soul needs to be healthy and whole.
The good news is that we can hit that reset button any time and start over cultivating a rich environment for our souls to reset, rest, and refresh.
These are just a few of my gardening insights I’d thought I’d share today:
When we don’t look at the weeds growing in and around us we can’t uncover what is influencing our behavior.
Weeds are like unhelpful habits which can infiltrate beautiful places like our hearts and our minds. Without regular checking and rooting out, the weeds can grow and take over.
As I weeded, in behind a thick spreading thyme plant, I had to kneel on it and was surprised at the soft, cushioning it provided. It occurred to me that when the environment is healthy there is growth and beauty that can become a place of rest. And, like that plant, with continued nurture, it can continue to spread more of what it is in its environment – a safe place to rest.
As I planted my “slim pickings” plants it occurred to me how even when we feel small, weak, or brittle, being planted in a healthy environment, being nurtured and cared for on a regular basis, will facilitate growth and beauty.
Many of my plants were overgrown so I cut many of them back. I pulled, and dug out their roots so they didn’t grow back and overtake my flowers that I was trying to nurture. By cutting out what is not life sustaining made room for more growth and beauty to come.
With such a proliferation of tiny weeds everywhere, each time I stood and emptied my bucket I saw more weeds – so I had to keep looking – more carefully. Looking once was not enough. Uprooting the things that suffocate wholeness and life required regular checks – it’s not a one-and-done activity.
My tulips and irises had bloomed a week or two earlier so I cut the tulips right down to the ground and the irises, well, those I just had to dead-head so we could still enjoy their long beautiful green leaves. It occurred to me as I was cutting them, that we too need to prune and cut back any of the parts of our life that are not bringing us vibrant life. It is so easy to get busy, distracted, or procrastinate cultivating a healthy environment in our souls whether it be in our inner our outer world socially or with our activities.
The vine on the archway to our garden was overrunning everywhere. Half of me thought it was quite beautiful and I was especially intrigued how the vine’s tendrils reached out to hang on to something as an anchor and for strength. It reminded me of humans and how we need to reach out to God and to one another for support – choosing safe connection as part of a learning and strengthening process. Connection can become part of our soul care that can be cultivated and nurtured as well.
So God in his goodness and grace along with my little garden, my happy place, had much to teach and remind me about how important soul care is for my overall well being.
A Prayer of Blessing foryou
MAY you be aware of when you are saying… just a little longer and begin to push through – instead may you choose to take time to rest for your soul;
MAY you notice where the weeds are growing in your heart, mind, relationships, and activities that need tending and not ignore or postpone but uproot even just one thing;
MAY you remember God is a good god and that he can bring good from any challenge (Romans 8:28) and may your trust in God deepen in the journey;
MAY you remember to walk in the good way (Jeremiah 6:16) and seek direction from God in your decisions so that when you are at a crossroads moment, it will be clear where to take your next step.
MAY you find ways to include new practices into your life that a bring new life and wholeness through your favorite soul care activities.
MAY July become a month where you cultivate much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control so that all will be well with your soul and that out of that abundance you might bless many others with your words.
Have you Read myBook?
My book Embrace Life, Embrace Hope: Cultivating Wholeness and Resilience through the Unexpected was released June 15th, 2023 and is available at my publisher’s Word Alive Press, local book retailers, Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble, and many more.
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