How Gardening Changed My Life

My garden is my happy place. 

Is it ginormous and beautiful? Only the latter. I live in the city, so a container garden on my back porch is what I get. But it's enough for me and Aaron... and still brings so much joy into my days!

And every year I find myself adding more and more to my container collection. 

Gardening has also taught me a lot about life, too, you know. I find myself noticing analogies that are useful on the regular. Truly. It's caused me to look at my life and understand a few things a little more clearly. 

For example, in order to have a successful garden, you have to put time and energy into it. There's no way out of that. It takes daily effort. Focused attention. Good judgment. The ability to foresee possible issues and handle them before they occur. 

Sounds like just about everything else in life, huh? 

If you want a job to work out, you have to work at it. In order to lose weight or tone up, you have to put time into your health every day. If you want a relationship to be healthy and strong, you have to give it energy and notice beforehand things that could cause issues and make moves to avoid running into them. 

That's pretty basic information that we already know, I'm sure. But when you're working on your plants every single morning and night, it helps that elementary truth remain at the forefront of your mind. 

And sometimes, your plants need support. They may start out just fine, sure. But during that daily check-up, pay close attention to any leaning or evidence of stress. The weight of the fruit or vegetables they're developing can become too heavy for them if left alone to bear the load.

Same goes for you, friend! No matter how much goodness you're carrying, it can become too much on your own over time. You have to know within yourself when you're getting worn down or you're about to break. What would help hold you up? 
A friend? Therapist? Day off work? A break from responsibilities? Setting a boundary with someone adding too much stress to your life? 

It doesn't take anything fancy or complicated. Just like my tomato plant only needed a recycled stake from last year, you just need something to help center you again. 

Know what else I've learned from gardening? 

Even if you do break, that doesn't mean you're done! 

Nope, you just have to set yourself up in a comfortable place for a while. Get some rest, a little TLC, and -in essence- propagate a bit. 

The little guy above, suffered from a fall. Completely snapped off from the rest of the family. I almost threw it out, but Aaron had a great idea. 

"Why don't you see if you can propagate that like you do your houseplants? Then replant it when the roots start growing."

Gah, I love that man.

That's exactly what I did, and it's working! Look at those roots! I don't think I need to explain the analogy that goes with this story. But hey! I still want to. 

You're not done yet, friend! If you're broken, that's okay. You are still full of the same potential that was there before. You may have a scar that won't go away. Maybe you feel the need to move away or start over in some capacity. You might feel alone for a little bit... but you're still capable of great things. And one day soon, you'll see the fruits of your labor if you continue to keep moving. 

Look at that picture above again... In a day or two, the little guy that was once broken and about to be cast out, will be the base of another amazing source of goodness. How cool is that?

One of my favorite parts about gardening is the variety you see. Just about everything you plant does better with a companion! Seriously! Radishes provide nitrogen to the soil that tomatoes love. Carrots loosen the soil which make peppers very happy. Oregano attracts pollinators and the insects you actually want around your plants. See where I'm going with this?

Just like our gardens, we need the right companions in our lives! Place the right people around you, and you'll only thrive! But, if you pair yourself up with individuals that don't have the right "nutrients," the outcome will be much different. 

 If you pair cauliflower, instead of carrots, with peppers you won't be seeing benefits... you'll literally starve your peppers! Cauliflowers are heavy feeders and will consume all the nutrients in the soil, leaving your peppers with nothing they need. 

The wrong people in your life could do the same to you! You have to look at the bigger picture and learn what is good for you and what leaves you starving for the love and support you need. 

And did you know that you have to prune your plants, too? 

That's right. If you don't, all the non-fruit/vegetable-bearing limbs will take some of the nutrients that your growing foods have to have to fully meet their potential. 

Just because it's connected, doesn't mean it should be. 

Use good judgment and determine if and when you should make a cut... on your plant and in your life!

When you put the work in, look at the beautiful growth you'll experience. I've already harvested 4 tomatoes, 2 yellow squash, and 2 bell peppers... but I have more than 85 more tomatoes already coming along, 5-10 more peppers, and 2 more squash. My basil and oregano are still going strong, too! 
It's definitely worth the work you put into it. 

Another fun thing about gardens?

All the unique concrete statues that just look too cool sitting in them!

When I say it's a place of peace and happiness, I mean every bit of that. It gives me something to nurture and a pretty place to enjoy every day. 

I never understood all the fuss until I started doing it myself... and now, I can't get enough! There's something so fulfilling about the whole process. And it absolutely comes with some delicious rewards. 

Little did I know it would also teach me things about my own life and how I should take care of myself. I never want to stop growing. (Well, the thighs could take a hike, but you get what I'm saying!) And in order for me to continue to be healthy and reach my potential, I have to put in effort. 

Hydrate! Enjoy some sunshine. Find support. Be intentional about my companions. Check my life and remove things/people/or my own weaknesses when needed. Surround myself with pretty things that make me smile. 

And if I break... realize I'm still useful and just need a safe place to rest until I'm rooted and grounded exactly where I need to be again. 

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