I’ve always had a black thumb. It doesn’t matter what the plant is, how beautiful and expensive pottery it lives in, or how much I try to take care of it. Inevitably I kill it. Dead.
Usually a week or two after trying. Even succulents which are supposed to be hearty wilt in my presence.
I always have the best intentions. I read the sunlight and watering instructions and set a mental reminder, but I’m always too busy.
Too much work. Too many commitments. Too many thoughts taking up space in my head. And with two little humans, three furbabies and a mountain of responsibilities, plants don’t stand a chance.
But during my recent surgery recovery, my husband and girls planted me a beautiful butterfly garden to look at, a near-Spring tradition. And with healing now being my number one priority I’ve actually admired it daily. If I see the milkweed leaves wilting I remind the kids or myself to water it. It’s flourishing and so are the monarch butterflies.
We also planted some seeds in my normally empty herb box. I love fresh basil, rosemary, and thyme, but alas they don’t last long in my care. But this morning I noticed the first sprouts popping up. Mostly because we left a water bottle beside it with a hot pink sticky note that reads, “Water me every day!” And that I did. I paid attention, something I rarely do for myself. Until now.
Before my surgery life was a carefully coordinated dance of schedules. We navigated kids, life, work, travel, after-school activities, homework… all at a stressful pace with our heads buried into our stuff and phones. The calendar was packed and making “me time” was important but never a priority.
But since, I’ve started a new morning ritual. One that includes meditation. Then morning pages (from the book The Artist’s Way), and instead of pounding my coffee I slowly sip it watching the sunrise. And after it’s time to wake the kids.
I guess you could say I also have been watering my own garden.
I now do a body check every morning and notice how I feel. If I”m achy I grab ice or heat or stretch. I cut out extraneous activities since I’m immobile and workout when I can. I made a list of 20 things I love to do and actually do some of them – like reading, or watching a show, writing, or playing with the girls. Honestly, it took this last surgery to physically sideline me and force me to slow down.
To realize I even needed to tend to my own garden. And that I was caring for myself with that same black thumb.
I needed to weed out the things that no longer served me. And of course till the soil, and make time and space to decide which seed to plant next. I may still need time to think, but the flower box is prepped as I wait and listen for the answers.
I think so many women do this. We allow ourselves to wither under the pressures of life. We put our children first. We care for our partners and homes. But rarely do we allow ourselves any time to breathe and just be.
But maybe we all need to set out a daily reminder. Write on our own pink sticky note, “Don’t forget to water your garden!” Because we all desperately need that care. Enough water, sunlight, fresh air, to speak kind words to ourselves, and love. And when we finally give to ourselves then we can finally bloom.