I love to garden. I now have two gardens that I play in. One is here at home and the other is 20 minutes up the road.
I discovered the latter during COVID last year, noticing it on my morning walks. It was in complete chaos and completely overgrown. In the Spring, the owner was outside one day, so I introduced myself and asked her if she wanted help in her garden. Now every Thursday, a friend and I get together and talk about all manner of things - life, our businesses and philosophy, as we tend to the garden.
This garden is a vortex for the few hours we are there each week. The weight of the world slips away when you walk in and doesn't return until you get back in your car to leave and realise what you have on for the rest of the day.
Do you have a place like this?
A place of rest. A place that restarts your system.
A place where you can grow through whatever is going on around you.
I find this is what gardens do. To me they are a place to escape.
My garden at the home where I’m caring for my dad, is a much smaller garden. We also have a restaurant on our property that is currently leased and the tenants also love gardens. So I am working with the them and their parents to build a little garden that we can harvest food from in the future. It's magic!
Gardens to me are such an inspiration for stories with lessons. There is so much in them; the way things grow from a seed towards the light. The way they shed or get picked. There is so much to learn, and yesterday as I was doing a seemingly annoying and frustrating job in the garden, I discovered a beautiful analogy for life that I want to share with you.
I also found wisdom in this analogy with my own journey. It relates to my returning from a year in Hollywood (which you can read about in my previous post here).
There are two pots in my garden that hold some beautiful Agaves and act as markers for parking our cars.
I brought these plants over from my old house that I currently rent out. They've been in pots for a few years now.
We had a clean out this week (like everyone is doing during lockdown), so I started to pull apart the pots because they were a little bit broken and the plants needed some TLC. They were well overdue for re-potting
The other issue was the Agave's stem. It’s about 70cm long and bent on nearly a 90 degree right angle coming out of the pot. Eventually, the plant and its pot would have tipped over from the top-heavy weight of the big, robust succulent leaves.
Both pots have an outer layer and an inside layer, which was a little smaller because it holds water at the bottom. When I tried to pull the plant out of the pot, it wouldn't budge. I stood on it with both feet and all my weight to try and loosen the soil. I turned it, I even tried to pick it up and whack it against the wall to loosen it, but it was too heavy.
Eventually, I was able to separate the outer pots away from the inside layers and this is what I found.
These pots were so stuck. So pot-bound that they had become immersed in their surroundings. It looked a little bent over to the outside world but was healthy and big, but underneath it had outgrown its environment.
To replant the Agaves, I had to cut the tightly wound roots that were a couple of centimetres thick, then cut the pot because the roots were running from the inside to the out, so I couldn't just pull it out.
Once I had loosened the pot, I had to find the roots most connected to the stem, separate them and cut away all the surrounding roots so I was left with the stem which had the strong primary roots so I could replant them using rich nutrient soil for them to grow.
I couldn't just add soil to the old pots because there wasn't any room.
HERE'S THE LESSON
What I was thinking when I was cutting away the old roots is that this plant doesn't know what I am doing to it (if plants could think).
All it feels is that I'm destroying it; I'm taking away its foundations, the belief systems and perceptions it has of its environment and causing it a whole lot of grief.
What I know to be true is that I'm taking away all the dead useless roots that aren't serving it and leaving it with its most robust roots so that it can continue to grow, into a newer, healthier version of itself. Not possible to achieve in its current environment.
I'm excited for its new transformation, and what I know it is going to become.
It thinks I'm killing it.
In its current form it wouldn’t have grown anymore, as there was no room.
Without all that baggage and old thinking… what’s possible?
This is what happened to me in Hollywood. Before I left, I was really conservative, I was really religious, and I had so much judgement on a number of topics and my experience. When I returned, everything I knew and understood about life had changed. Who I wanted to be, where I was going, who I was.
I had outgrown my pot. Hollywood was my uprooting – shattering every belief I had about the world and its people. It redefined my belief systems and at the time and for a few years after, I felt I was a shell of a person; I had just had all my roots trimmed back ready for replanting.
I believe we've all been through something like this. We feel life has served us an injustice that's so far from what we had planned, yet it helped make us stronger.
If you go back and reflect on those moments, can you notice where there was grief?
If you reflect again, do you also notice the beautiful support that came in to hold you – whether it was friends, teachers, mentors, secret gardens to help you through?
So often we only see the hurt and pain but if we could look again there’s always beauty in those moments.
Everything had felt so out of control that I started to put structure around myself in the form of the tools you see in the NFP Planner. When nothing felt right, I would write down – what I did that was successful that day or week or things to be grateful for. Something to show me that things were going to be ok – it brought me through the unsettled feelings I was having – it helped remind me what was true.
Any transformation comes with some sort of breaking down and having to let go. To transform, you have to let go of what was, to move into what you need to be.
Transformation is also very uncomfortable, and some would rather stay stuck in their root-bound pot because it's comfortable; this is when you start to get depressed.
But instead of going through the challenging process of replanting sometimes people turn to things (substance, unhealthy habits, self-sabotaging) to help them not to feel uncomfortable, and to stay in that ‘comfort zone’.
But know that when you let go of what is and allow yourself to be replanted, you will feel the joy and freedom of having room to grow, move, shine, and be the most beautiful parking marker on the block!
You start to feel joy again, you start to gain clarity around this new life, you start to expand you branches and grow into the person you’re meant to be. It’s not easy but honestly, I can look back and see the transformation. You’ll be please to know the plants are doing great – see….