It was in my childhood that I fell in love with the magical world of plants.
My grandmother had a greenhouse and started her own pepper, tomato, broccoli, and cabbage plants. Every day, I proudly marched down the hill to her house where we would walk over to her greenhouse. I would watch in amazement as the seeds we planted came to life and ever so slowly sprouted out of the soil a little bit more each day.
Some of the seedlings grew faster than the others. Roots would entangle around each other, and the little plants had to compete for water and nutrients to grow. At the time, I did not know why my grandmother gently dug up the seedlings and transplanted them into a larger pot.
As the weeks went by, and I watched the little seedlings grow, I noticed that if a plant grew too fast for its environment before it was transplanted into the garden, it struggled to thrive and grow. But once the little plants were in their new environment, they grew freely.
With proper care, they flourished into full-grown plants that we could eat. Sometimes, my grandmother did not transplant all the seedlings into a larger pot, and over the course of a few days, they withered away, turning yellow and brown. If we did not care for them, they eventually died.
I remained too young to understand the lessons I was learning on growth and self-care.
Entangled roots prevent growth.
As children, we fear little and embrace change fully without knowing we are growing.
Then somewhere along our path in life, fear sets in—fear of the unknown.
We get stuck in the routine of everyday life and start to feel like a plant withering away.
I’m not sure how to explain it, but a few years ago I could not seem to find anything that broke the uneasiness deep within my soul. I felt like I was slowly dying of boredom from my everyday life and needed something to change in order for me to grow—but what?
Many of us talk about changing things in our lives, but talk is cheap without the courage to take the first step toward growth. I spent my whole life dreaming of traveling and exploring new soil. I even had a vision board with pictures of places I wanted to visit from every state in the United States, to Peru, New Zealand, Australia, and Jamaica. Heck, I wanted to see it all!
But, I didn’t even have a passport. Going to get the passport was even too frightening for me. The act of doing is the first action to bring something to life, and I was all talk and no action. All I knew was the comfort of my current surroundings, and I was too scared to uproot myself and the thought of change—growth—terrified me.
Change can be of benefit in our lives and lead us down a totally different path than where we thought we were going. But, we have to trust our gut feeling, take a deep breath in, and jump!
After what seemed like a lifetime of hemming and hawing, I made up my mind that it was time to be brave girl and just go for it. I rented my house out, packed whatever fit in my car—including my favorite little plants—and started a brand new life all the way across the country. Nearly 3,000 miles from anyone and everything I knew.
Driving across the country and seeing more of the world than my small hometown was both the most empowering and the scariest thing I had ever done in my life! But, I knew I had outgrown my little flowerpot. It was time to spread out my roots so I could truly grow.
Self-care—a little watering, if you will—is key.
When I packed up my car, I was only thinking about my roots spreading, and the change within my personal environment. I was not seeing the impact that my growth would have, and failed to understand that I needed to care for myself as I grew.
My grandmother taught me that marigold seeds can be sprinkled on almost any soil and sprout, while nasturtium seeds need to be soaked in water before planting to encourage the germination process. I have learned people are a lot like plants.
Some can easily adapt to their environment and grow, while others need more self-care before they can flourish. I found myself in a new and exciting place, but I was still struggling to grow. After months of beating my head against a wall thinking my move was a mistake, I took some time to journal out my morning thoughts. It did not take me long to realize that my thought process was still the same.
There are many books and programs on the topic of self-care, but I chose The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. Within this book, the author teaches us that the most important tool we have is that of our self-talk and how to dump our thoughts out on paper to start our day fresh.
I began to learn about my inner thoughts—even the little sudden words I told myself. Through that, I was able to understand the things I needed to change. Most of us are unaware of how harmful our inner dialogue is to our lives. When we reread our words weeks later, we can begin to have compassion for ourselves, break the cycle of self-destructive thoughts, and replace them with words that build us up. We learn self-care in the rawest form there is.
Without knowing it, my grandmother taught me that as we grow, sometimes our environment is not conducive for proper growth.
It is our responsibility to recognize that, like the seedlings, we need proper self-care to flourish.
If you had asked me a few years ago if I would have ever moved away from home and traveled alone, I would have said no; just driving on a two-lane highway gave me anxiety. Today, I breeze through six-lane freeways, singing “I Should’ve Been a Cowboy” by Toby Keith.
Have you outgrown your flowerpot? If you could change something, anything, what would you do?