Tending Your Garden

June 22, 2012

We all plant and tend to a garden every day: the garden in which we grow. Just like a real garden with soil, seeds, plants, sun and water, our personal garden needs the same things.

When planning a garden, the first thing you do is look at the spot, the landscape. If it isn’t “good enough”, not enough light, poor soil, change it. Both gardens need to THRIVE. You may need to start thinking in new ways….what are your needs? What will bring the qualities you seek into your life, into your garden? Do you need more light? More water? More variety?

Growing a garden takes time. There are empty spaces, and they are ok. You don’t have to fill up every moment. Leave time to decide what to plant.

Opening your mind to new possibilities is like letting the light in. It is ok to create new paths, to explore. Try a different path that is a challenge for you.

Just like a real garden we need to tend to our growth: do something every single day that results in you making “progress”. Longing for quiet? Turn off the ipod. Have a book to finish reading? Turn off the computer.

Cultivate your dreams. Let your mind run free…visualize.

What are your priorities? Your own personal roots? Water them to keep them healthy. Your life must support your values.

Don’t forget the fertilizer! Learn new things, expand your knowledge.

Trial and error is natural in gardening. You won’t know what will flourish until you try. And you can make adjustments to your garden to help the things you care about grow.

Talk to other gardeners. What insight and experiences do they have to share? Friends, family, co-workers, even the mailman, are all growing gardens.

Remember to weed. Get rid of things that just fill up your day but have little meaning or purpose. Make room for the things that matter to be able to grow unimpeded. Weeding has to be a discipline…..do it regularly.

Then, sit back and enjoy and take pride in your garden. See how you grow and flourish.

based on an article at http://www.beliefnet.com/

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“Take more time, cover less ground.”
Thomas Merton

My life isn’t even that busy or compartmentalized, but I often feel rushed. I was at a conference last year and the speaker asked the audience: “How many of you feel like your life is out of control in terms of responsibilities and things you have to do?”. I think I was one of two or three people who didn’t raise their hand. So, why do we do this to ourselves? What is so important that we have to feel “out of control”?

What would happen to you, your day, your life, your job, your family if you took more time to do some things, but overall, covered less ground. Would everything fall apart? Would you fall apart? Would you fail at something? Do we have to get everything done all the time, every day?

For so many of us there is a pressure, an expectation to hurry, hurry, hurry. There always seems to be a list of things to get done…that never seems to get done. Something is always hanging over our head, on the back burner, nagging at us when we do try to relax…The list in our mind is always being modified, but never seems to go away.

One thing that seems to ensure our list is always long is that we find it difficult to say “no”. At some point we each have to understand we just cannot say “yes” to everything.

I love my computer and the internet. It keeps me connected and informed. It provides information and entertainment. But it amps me up.  And I also “loose” time, sometimes hours, by just “tootling around” for no reason or purpose.  I have a personal agreement to turn my computer off by 8 pm in order to focus on winding down.

I am lucky to work at a place with a wonderful circle of maple trees in the yard. When weather permits, I grab a blanket from my car and spread it out under the trees and sit or lay down and do nothing. I stop. No errands. No phone or laptop. No “catching” up or getting one more thing done. I just stop. And when I get up after a little bit, I am a better person all around. Take a break….a real break. With nothing to do.

If trying to slow down is something important to you….you have to change the way you think. Often I hear friends say: “Oh, I can’t sit down, that just wastes time and I have so much to do”. Taking time is not wasting time. Unscheduled time, quiet time opens doors both to yourself and life.

By making  conscious choices you provide the potential for rich and meaningful things to happen in your life. When life becomes more dictated by lists and the chaos of frenetic energy and activity we don’t even have the time to see the potential as we zip right on past it.

Take more time. Cover less ground.

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  What you’ll discover will be wonderful.  What you’ll discover is yourself.” ~Alan Alda

Definition: The word ‘intuition’ comes from the Latin word ‘intueri’, which is often roughly translated as meaning ‘to look inside’’ or ‘to contemplate’. Wikipedia

Many of us know what intuition feels like. The sinking feeling in your gut. The hair rising on your arm. A nagging feeling that says “leave”. For some, we laugh at the possibility that it might be real, yet find it easy enough to say: “I had a feeling about that”.

Few of us think about the resource intuition could be, or the power it holds. Some of us may think intuition is a quirk. Some of us think it’s so random an occurrence that it could not be significant.

What if there is power and significance in intuition. What if it can be harnessed and used to help us throughout life. What if, as Alan Alda says, you will discover yourself.

I know I have had very significant moments in my life where intuition was very important. And, there were also times where what I thought was intuition was simply fear of uncertainty. Obviously we have to learn how to be aware of true intuitive insight.

A huge barrier to our intuition being able to be heard and trusted is the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. We are seemingly always scheduled. If there isn’t something on the schedule, we find something to do. We have computers to tempt us, video games to lure us, music to sooth or invigorate us, sports to keep us fit,  get togethers to keep us from feeling alone…..but very little time to just BE. To sit, to have silence. To hear the rhythms of our own body, mind and soul.

But why is it important to be able to hear intuition speaking? You know why. Those gut feelings that turned out to be true. There is something inside of us that “knows”. Not all the time. Maybe not even accurately all the time. When we learn to work as a partner with our intuition, we join forces with something powerful that is already a part of us. A part that is getting pushed further and further away from the forefront by all the enticing things that are currently available to us. What if we are loosing touch with something important?

Is it too hard, or too much to provide ourselves with time to nurture our inner voice, to make friends with it again? What do you think?

There is a car I seem to follow through town quite a bit.  There is a bumper sticker on it that says “Progress Not Perfection”.  I really like that.

I think we spend a lot of time and energy on PERFECTION. And, I think it bogs us down and sometimes puts us in a quagmire that we struggle to get out of.

I feel like “perfection” is s bad word.

My husband went to a Cognitive Behavioral therapist for awhile. He came home one day with a big grin on his face and announced with great certainty and obvious sense of relief: “I don’t have to bat 1000. 300  is okay!”

Here was a moment of awakening for me too. We are bombarded by so many things that tell us very clearly, if we are not perfect we are not good enough. Look at TV and magazine ads. Reality TV shows. Look around you…dress like this and you’ll be beautiful. Get hair cut like so and so and people will like your hair cut (not you). Get a big gas wasting car so people will think you are important. Do this so you can be better than them.  Appear this way and people will think you are powerful.  Bat 1000 and the world will be yours. And if you don’t, you are failing.

Well, for me, batting 300 is pretty great. And I am much happier and more confident in believing I don’t have to bat 1000 to be a good, kind, valuable, contributing, caring person. I can take pride in batting 300 and work towards batting 302, or 305.

I think progress can lead to a different type of “perfection”.  The kind of perfection that isn’t absolute. Rather, something more about being able to change and grow, something that is fluid and dynamic, not static and with an end point.

We are all thrown a variety of pitches every day. Some could be called:

CATASTROPHIZING  CURVE  BALL – Making mountains out of molehills.

RUMINATION  SLIDER- Thoughts going around and around in your head.

PROCRASTINATION SINKER  – Can’t make final decisions.

WORRY  AND  GUILT CHANGEUP

WORRYING  ABOUT  OTHER’S  OPINIONS KNUCKLE BALL

SECOND  GUESSING  OTHER’S  THOUGHTS  SCREWBALL

REGRETS  AND  SELF-BLAME SPLITTER

RIGIDITY  TO  CHANGE  FORKBALL- Usually  when we keep looking for excuses or reasons why things can’t change – or when we need to get out of our ‘comfort zone’

For each one of these we need to learn how to stand to face it with authority. We need to know how to place our hands on the “bat” so we can send the “Catastrophizing curve ball” flying. We need to learn not to flinch when a “Regret and Blame splitter” is thrown at us. We need to learn to see a “Procrastination sinker” coming. We need to learn the mechanics of how “Rumination slider” moves. And we need to adjust accordingly. We need to make progress through practice and experience, with the help of mentors and team mates. Then we can keep our eye on whatever pitch  is coming our way, make commanding contact with it and send it out of the park and out of play in our lives.

And when we begin to understand that with all of the above, 300 is really good, we can begin to believe in ourselves and work on making progress on learning, practicing, trying new things, paying attention, and seeing. We can be unflinching and live fully on the premise: Progress not perfection. Some days we’ll bat 250, or 300. Maybe we’ll get to 375 or as low at 200. But whatever our average, we know it is all about Progress and not Perfection.

Batter UP!!