I started and didn’t finish this blog post 100+ times, seriously, no exaggeration. First, a few years ago, it started in my mind. I had been inspired by some observations that I had many in nature of triumph, persistence, and healing. The idea I had in my mind grew. And then life went on and the idea stopped growing, in fact, I barely even noticed it. Later, the idea came back to me, I worked through it in my mind an awful lot, especially while I worked in the garden. In my mind I wrote and rewrote my thoughts. Eventually, I started writing them down, but then the idea grew so big it wasn’t manageable with my writing skill set (or, I just couldn’t get it there, it was daunting), so I just took a step back. But, it nagged and nagged in my mind, I needed to find another way to nurture the idea but I didn’t know how. Then yesterday, while observing my lovely plants growing in our high tunnel, I found my inspiration, my focus – my thoughts came full circle and I understood the lesson I’ve been wanting to share.
I find my busy mind slowing and looking inward much more than it used to when I was younger. This happens a lot when I’m gardening because gardening has a mind clearning effect on me. I just get in a zone (ohhh, it’s such a sweet and savory place). With a major life change in completing the move to White Sky Woods (it was 5 years ago!) and bringing a dream to fruition, it encouraged a lot of personal growth. The change fueled it, and also, a new lifestyle encouraged it through time availability (although I’ve had some up’s and down in this department), lack of outside pressure, new pace, new self-care habits and nutritious food and healthy movement. I have learned that personal growth cannot be forced – that we grow more or less in each season of our lives, much like nature. I found that at times in my past, I really tried to force growth. Sometimes I felt I needed some specific growth and then I was fraught with challenge. When I was feeling challenged, stuck, and confused that awful, ugly, stinky voice in my head would start talking. It said stupid things, and sometimes it was so persuasive I listened, what?! (The brains neuropathways can be so powerful! These super highways can transport negative thinking based on our lifetime of experiences and thoughts, but the great news is we can make new ones, create new routes that transport positive thoughts, and that’s where change and postive growth takes place! I digress within this extra long parentheses.) When I listened to that bully voice, it halted any growth and I intentionally stop listening in order to recalibrate. It could be best described by “getting in the way of myself.” I’ve had a lot of growth, but sometimes I still get in my own damn way. Albeit frustrating, I know now to give myself some grace and compassion when this happens, even when it feels unnatural.
Back to the garden, this year it feels like it is growing very slowly. Each year is different, so you’d think I’d be able to manage my thinking, worries, etc. by now right? But, it’s still a thing for me, and it comes out of my dedication to homesteading, healthy food for us and the community, so much more, and probably a unwelcome dose of perfectionism. I could get lost in this worry about the speed of my garden growing. I could look ahead, project, or panic plant (yeah, sometimes I do this…if I don’t see growth I just keep seeding more and more, it’s a little…..much, but also sometimes useful like when you grasshopper population decimates you entire spring crop – yea, that happened last year, ugh). Or, I could take a deep breath, have confidence in my skills of planting a garden, be sure to listen to my intuition and then respond, or check again in a few days. Growth cannot be forced.
To remind me of this – there is this bit of magic currently happening in the high tunnel. Each year we amend the planting beds by turning compost into the soil. It does a great job adding nutrition the plants will need during their life. About a month ago, I noticed a few sunflower plants growing among my veggies. Well, I legitamtely am incapable of pulling sunflowers like you would with weeds. I just can’t. Plus, these sunflower seeds were growing from two year old compost, meaning they managed to survive a long term decomposition and heat cycle. So, even though growing sunflowers in the high tunnel is unconventional, I wanted them to stay. And they grew. And grew. And grew!
One is growing nearly in our path which is deeply compacted soil from getting walked on. The conditions for it are not right. Today I saw that the first blossom is about to happen. And just like that, all the thoughts I’d been having about that original blog post came to me, which I immediately understood had to be part of the process of learning the lesson I was getting after, for my OWN growth. Growing plants don’t question. They don’t analyze. Growing plants don’t force. They don’t wonder if the conditions are right, or they are growing directly where they want to be or think they should be. Growing plants have the ability to overcome the odds, and they slow down or give space for others when they can’t grow and when the conditions are right, they grow again.
It’s. Freaking. Magical!
And, I have found my own life mimics exactly what the sunflowers showed me. When I’m ready for growth, it happens. It happens unplanned and unexpectedly. Sometimes it happens after a challenge, or when I least expect it. The process isn’t always beautiful, but the end product is! And, I had absolutely everything I needed within me (plus a little bit a “fertilizer” from self-care behaviors, and a great network of love and support). And then much like that sunflower has, the seeds for the next growth are there, but they are unrealized until the time is right again. I can trust that it is all there.
Do you give yourself room to grow?
Do you honor growth you didn’t call-in or expect?
Can you find the beauty in your growth AND non-growth phases, and see the beauty in who you authentically are?
I bet the people who love you see it. ❤
Plus….who doesn’t love a sunflower? They stand out in the garden with a happy, soul shining look. Why not let your soul shine too?
Wishing you peace, love and nature,
P.S. HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE!
One thought on “Growth When You Least Expect It.”
You are a writer as well as a master of gardening. My favorite line is “I had absolutely everything I needed within me.” Isn’t it wonderful how gardening and nature teaches us all the things we really need to know as we grow right alongside our plants and take time to notice the lessons just waiting to be learned? I’m glad you take time to listen, observe, and take care of yourself. Most of all, I’m glad you share with others along the way.