Gardening For My Life.
Once upon a time, I lived a tale I thought had already been written and published.
It felt like I had previewed all the chapters, and would easily live out the stories they contained. It was that sleepy naiveté where we believe we know what is right around the corner.
Life feels so normal and certain — so solid that we don’t consider how it could all change.
I would like to think I wasn’t completely delusional with this certainty, but rather had the quiet confidence necessary to manage the stages to come and the expected difficulties life would present… parents would age, children would leave the nest, jobs would change, but I was certain of the relationships and basic structure of my life: who was doing what… who would be around… what my role in life was…
One day, quickly and decisively, that fairy tale illusion was shattered, and I was left wide awake with a very broken heart and a feeling of being certain of nothing at all.
All that I knew had come undone in the blink of an eye, and what was around the corner was both unknown and terrifying. I didn’t recognize the story or the characters in it any more. I didn’t know what to do.
I simply knew I had to heal the pain that was constant in my heart.
One bright and sunny day, I looked outside and realized there was nothing blooming or pretty in my yard. It looked like how I felt inside: droopy, dull and full of empty patches.
I began to walk around that space… to breathe in that space… and to wonder about what could be there instead.
I could see some color here… a climbing vine there… a swing under an old oak tree for comfort…
And so I began my journey into gardening… and into healing.
I touched the earth and felt life there. I let my fingers and toes wiggle deeply into that life force.
I held baby plants from the nursery, and lovingly placed them into fertile soil. I watered them, and celebrated their growth like my own child.
I dug, and had blisters from my efforts. I covered myself in dirt and grime. I collapsed at the end of the day, and enjoyed the sweet feeling of spent muscles inside my tired body.
I scoured nurseries and took home dying plants from the $1 rack, and nursed them back to health. I understood how hard it was for them to recover. But I knew, like me, they were worth the effort.
I let the certainty of nature soak into my soul and quiet my spinning thoughts. Nature helped me slow down enough to realize what mindfulness was all about.
I expanded my experience outside into meditation inside, and created space for more than pain.
I realized how much bigger life is than what was going on for me in that moment. I let myself fold into that space of belonging.
Being in nature encouraged healing in me. It taught me the certainty of another season, of blooming again, of the need for pruning to become more, of all things in their own time and not before, of understanding some things must appear to die in order to be reborn and some things live for only a season.
I spent long hours nursing my heart and growing along with my garden.
I am still rewriting my story. One day at a time. I no longer garden for my life, but rather as an act of self-love and self-care.
Being outside in my home garden slows me down, connects me to something greater than myself, and reminds me that all stages of life are both necessary and beautiful.
Rosemary Clark, LMFT, LPC, is a counselor, relationship expert and empowerment coach in Bluffton, SC. She is passionate about living the best life we can, and works to spread a message of empowerment for all. She shares daily love and regular blogs on her website, provides in-depth workshops, and offers traditional and distance counseling/life coaching. In addition, Rosemary runs a practice called Whole Health, where the focus is on holistic engagement with you for achieving the life you desire. You can contact Rosemary via her website or Facebook.