The other day at the greenhouse I was shopping at, I was in line behind a young woman (these days almost everyone is younger, so that is how I describe them…it has nothing to do with anything other than my own age) when she saw the sign on the counter by the till that said, “No Refunds. No Returns. All sales Final.” She started acting quite indignant about it, and asking, “But what if they all DIE??!!” To her credit, the woman behind the till, in a very dead pan way, replied, “Then you become a better gardener.” I had a very difficult time not laughing out loud. I was silent, but my shoulders were definitely shaking. The young woman noticed this, so I said, “And by the way, the temperatures are still quite cold at night right now. You may not want to pot those until next week, but pay attention to the weather forecast. And cover them with a sheet overnight if you don’t have a greenhouse to put them in.” She stomped off, infuriated at the fact that she would not be able to return them, and likely at the fact that someone offered unsolicited advice, even if it was for the good of her purchase.
I find that the, “I can always return it” attitude is something that kind of wreaks of entitlement. If I purchase something I intend to keep it unless it is absolutely flawed from the factory onward. Other than that, I just do my best to make sure I take care of my things and hopefully help them to last. This includes live things such as plants, fish (when I had an aquarium) and so on. I am not the type to purchase a piece of clothing for an event and then return it to the store the next day. To me, this is criminal and does nothing to support local or even non-local businesses.
When it comes to becoming a ”better gardener” what we need to do is become that on a metaphoric level…becoming better at gardening our own inner gardens. That way we become better people within. That does not mean being ”better than others.” It means that we develop and grow within, which helps us to mature and to become more empathic towards others. But how do we do that?
There are several ways in which to nurture your inner garden. I used to be the type of person who could not say “no” to someone. People would, as a result, walk all over me. They knew that I was always there for them, and I was. Until I burned out with that. I started to realize that I had to say “no” much more often. I actually practiced this by putting the tip of my tongue to the back of my teeth and making the “n” sound. Then followed that by circling my lips and making the “o” sound. Then, blending them together, I proceeded to say them with emphasis. Even now, having had to adjust my work schedule for the Covid-19 pandemic, I have come to realize that I was over-working myself. So now I am taking much fewer people in my work day. Right now it is still all long distance work, but even down the road when I am going to be opening to see people in person, I am no longer going to be doing back-to-back appointments. This is part of becoming a better gardener for my inner being.
I have blogged and written and spoken so many times on the benefits of meditation and that meditation does not have to be time-consuming in order to be effective. After all, a one-minute meditation done faithfully is better than a 20 minute or day long or weekend long meditation retreat that is grueling and infrequent. It is about how we choose to incorporate these things into our DAILY lives that counts.
Physical activity is essential to physical well-being, but it also serves to keep us on our game psychologically. A 20-40 minute walk every day will do wonders for the body and the mind. Sure, it is something that has to be incorporated. But once you begin to feel the benefits (which usually only takes 3-5 times consistently) you actually begin to look forward to that time. I really enjoy getting out and seeing what is happening in the neighborhood. Sometimes there may be someone painting or staining a fence and we exchange pleasantries and I let them know how good the fence is beginning to look. It uplifts them. I enjoy that. So this also serves to create opportunity for human connection.
Human connection is also something that is highly important for well-being. No one does well living in a vacuum in life. We all need that connection to people, even if we are introverts. We simply have to make sure that the people with whom we connect are also healthy individuals, not dripping in toxic energy. Being an ambivert (someone who is both introverted and extroverted, depending on circumstance) I know how important my alone time is. But I also know how important my social time is. So I try to balance them. Also, having grown up in the middle of toxic people, I have also had to learn to not hold the world hostage to those experiences. I give people a chance to be a positive influence in my life, and I do my best to do that for them as well.
Taking care of a pet (whatever kind of pet you are drawn to) is also extremely helpful for your well-being. It helps a person to connect to other creatures and to the soul of other beings. Many don’t think that anyone other than a human has a soul. They are wrong. We are not superior to animals. We are all on the food chain. And we are not at the top of the pile in that respect. But if we can develop ways of connecting with animals and birds and fish and reptiles, we can become so incredibly well-rounded as human beings. I cannot stress this enough.
Physical affection is important in maintaining an inner garden. This is, however, an area where one becomes a bit dependent upon another human being. That physical touch, human contact, is important because it creates opportunity for neurons to fire within the brain, which then have a profound effect on the emotional, mental and physical well-being of the individual. If you do not have a partner who provides physical touch, then take the opportunities provided by friends for a hug. Some folks like to have cuddle parties where everyone gets together and cuddles while watching a movie. No, this is not something that has to turn into an orgy. Better if it does not, because that only complicates things. Just cuddling. You can also satisfy skin hunger with an appointment with your massage therapist or Rolfing practitioner. Not only do you get the much needed skin contact, but you also get a deeply healing treatment. Again, do not expect “happy endings.” If that is all that you are looking for, then there are “services” for that outside of the therapeutic setting.
Diet is important. I am not here to preach a particular diet. I am here to say that it is important to find out what type of diet works best for YOUR well-being. Sure, explore some fads if you must. But keep in mind that what you are looking for is something that YOU can feel is helping you. Don’t let yourself get brainwashed into any particular diet. Accept a diet for what it does for you, not for what the “testimonials” indicate “should” be adopted by everyone on the planet. Do what nourishes you. And keep in mind medical conditions that may prevent you from trying a diet that does not adhere to those conditions. You don’t want to end up harming yourself when you are trying to help yourself.
Hydration is something that many people ignore in their daily lives. But we are made up of a vast amount of water and we need water in order for our organs and blood vessels and such to function optimally. So do keep up the fluid intake.
Reduce stress as much as possible. Create a cozy corner in which you can chill, uninterrupted, and meditate, read a book and so on. Let your imagination run wild with what that cozy corner will look like. This is for you. So no one gets to judge it other than yourself.
Release negative self-talk. We all do it. We all need to stop that. But don’t just release it, replace it. Replace it with positive affirmations of yourself as a human being and of yourself as worthy of joy and love and light and laughter. Fill those otherwise cluttered spaces with positive vibes.
Live within your means. So much stress and hardship is created by folks who just charge up credit cards without a thought about what it means to accrue that much debt. Charge only as much as you know you can pay off completely every month. Better still, don’t use credit cards. Use the funds that actually exist in your bank account. If you can’t afford something, do not purchase it. Save up for it instead and THEN purchase it. So often when people apply that simple concept, they realize by the time the money is saved up that they really don’t actually want that thing. So then they have money for something else. Perhaps a nice dinner out or a vacation. Whatever it is, it was worth the wait.
Enjoy good music. That also depends upon your taste in music as to what qualifies as “good” music. But listen to music that speaks to your soul. Recognize the music that is just noise and search out the music that is fulfilling. Relax and listen. Enjoy every subtle cadence. Let your heart sing and, if you are brave enough, let yourself sing along. This feeds the neurons in the brain but also feeds your voice and your soul.
So there are a number of suggestion for becoming a better gardener. There are hundreds more, but then this blog would turn into a book and I don’t have time for that currently. I hope that you will try some of these if you have not already and that, if you have, you continue to nurture your inner garden with love and care.