Tending Our Garden

Recently a friend sent me a wonderfully stated idea, “ We have to stop watering the weeds and start watering the flowers.” I don’t know where this came from but loved what it tickled in my mind.

This saying is so true for all human beings, especially for those in the healing arts are that are in the process of cleaning out their own lives. Culturally we are conditioned to look at the negative not the positive; this is often the root of need to clear out one’s life! We know this yet continue to focus on our ‘weeds’ instead of the things that are blooming wonderfully around us.

This saying reminded me of one of my favorite poems. This poem has been a mantra for me for many years, especially the line about planting my own garden.

After a While

After a while you learn the subtle difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning.

And company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

And presents aren’t promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head up and your eyes open,

With the grace of a woman,

Not the grief of a child.

And you learn to build all your roads on today,

Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans

and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After awhile you learn that even sunshine

Burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,

In stead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong.

And you really do have worth, and you learn and learn…

With every good bye you learn.

This poem was written my Veronica Shoffstall in 1971 and I am grateful to her, where ever and who ever she may be. It brings clearly into focus a message that every human on the planet would be wise to remember. We are the masters of our own destiny, the captains of our own emotions and the chief and only navigator of our lives.

In the metaphysical, spiritual and healing communities the focus is most often on what is causing pain. Understandably so, as pain is a powerful motivator be it physical, mental, emotional or energetic. Understandably so, as humans it usually never occurs to us to be proactive in our own lives instead we live in a reactionary way only responding to pain to get us out of our habits and patterns.

However, there never seems to be an end to this pain as there is always something that we can focus on to ‘heal’. The wealthy may focus on their looks or abilities, others may focus on their lack of financial abundance. Still others are riddled with uncertainty about romantic or familial relationships, or any combination of the above. The point of this is there is always something we want to be better. There is a general desire for more or greater, with the assumption that everyone else has it but they don’t.

However, where I part paths with the traditional spiritual/healer community is that there is no honest perspective or balance in that approach to life enhancement or healing. All that does is promote victim-hood (because it is always someone else –past or present that has/is causing the pain) and it does not encourage the individual to find peace – and smell or enjoy the flowers that are blooming, only to quest for the next area to ‘heal’.

With out ‘zooming out’ and seeing the big picture one only has the pain to focus on and no real lasting motivation to create lasting change because there is always something else which is wearying and overwhelming. How many times have you heard someone say (or said yourself) “I thought I’d gotten past this?” Then you address it again and heal it again never seeing or acknowledging the ‘bloom’ of the last time you addressed it. The individual and usually the healing facilitator/life coach treat it as the only focus and never review how the individual dealt with the ‘issue’ before and how it improved or enhanced their life. They start over as if it had never been dealt with before and reinvent the wheel as I see it. (This goes for past life issues as well. You or a healing facilitator may have cleared the energy/trauma from your operating system, but if you have not changed your beliefs or behaviors you still have residual problems from the original trauma. We must own our own actions in our own lives or we continue to engage in victim mentality.)

If you have dealt with an issue before, weeded it out so to speak, then look at what you’ve done and how you did it. Did you just pull it out from the top for immediate pain relief and leave the root? Did you think you got the root but found out that it was indeed only the exposed top? This may be the case but review what you previously did and find out what went wrong or how you could have done it better by looking at the good that came from it. What did get better? What did you change about your behavior or beliefs? Did the change not go ‘far enough’? Questions like this will lead you to a more precise and direct answer and give you a better idea of what direction to take this time.

To go back to the garden analogy think of it like this: If you can see your entire garden (your life) you can see what plants are flourishing (individual areas of your life) and which ones are not. Now zoom in on one area that is blooming nicely. You’ll notice few weeds in that area. Look at how you are in those situations of your life. What are your beliefs, your actions, and your intentions? This is valuable for many reasons. First it shows that you have life skills that do work, and it will give you confidence when you begin to tackle the ‘weeds’. Now continue to look at that life ‘bloom’ and see if there are any ‘weeds’. If so, since this is an area of your life that is working for you, you may not have anything more than minor irritants or things that you have accepted as is and they don’t upset your balance. Either way you can then address them and find a way to deal with the irritants or simply move on because things are exactly the way you want them. (Yes, accepting the irritants means you accept them as ‘normal’.)

Now look at a tangled weedy area of your life. Is there any bloom at all? Look at why you ‘planted’ that section of your garden to begin with. Have you out grown that section and no longer really desire the effort needed to make that particular ‘flower’ bloom? Or have your neglected it and it has simply become overgrown and needs some attention? Did nature just take its course and it got out of control because you were not diligent – or really present in that part of your life? In your absence did things happen that you do not like?

Look at the weeds in those areas. Are they old with deep roots that have spread throughout your entire garden? Perhaps you have pulled the tops off in some areas but the roots are still underneath and you have to maintain weed control fairly regularly. I think of these as deep seeded beliefs. They will affect every part of your life. As an example, if you believe that everyone is out for number one you will not feel supported in any part of your life. It is also belief system when someone does what they think they are ‘suppose’ to do instead of checking in with self to find out what they really want to do. This is a common ‘weed’ because we then set up the pattern to put self last or not in the equation at all and find that we have at least a general sense of dissatisfaction if not an underlying anger all the time.

Now look at the parts of your garden/life that are working. Did you have do deal with that ‘weed’ there? If so what did you do? If not, why? Did you deal with the day to day in those areas and faced those things that are running wild in other areas? It is very likely that is the case. You may have snipped or pulled out the surface of the weed and changed your belief or behavior in that situation, but the root has been spreading out in other areas. Just like weeds in a garden. If we are not diligent things will get really tangled and there will seem to be no beauty or blooms for our time and trouble. In addition, we will then stop tending the flowers and wonderful things in our lives and only focus on the things that are not working, or the weeds.

The poem I quoted above appears to be a love poem. Over time I realized that it is so much more than that. I’ve come to realize that our lives should be a love poem. Not just romantic love but love of all kinds and expressions. The primary love story in our life should be with/for us. Not in a narcissistic manner that is about manipulation and exclusion, but in a manner that reflects balance and inclusion of all things wonderful. Remembering to pull the weeds within ourselves when we find them is vital, but making sure to keep that balance and enjoying the beauty of our lives and the world around us. All of us are motivated by payoff of one sort or another. Positive reinforcement gives us passion for more of the same. So look at your flowers to motivate yourself through the weed extermination. Every weed we say goodbye to we learn something about ourselves and our life. Then, being good gardeners, we decide how better to cultivate and enhance our life and soul for greater pleasure.

 Oct. 2007