March 31, 2022

Tending to the Mental Garden: A Necessary Practice for an Anxious Mind.


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A few weeks ago, I took pumpkin seeds to plant in the wine-shaped garden pot that I have.

It grows aloe vera, which we found when we moved here. It’s growing pretty thick as weeks go by. I naturally use it to clean my body of any toxic waste and also as a conditioner for my hair—works wonders.

I digress. I decided to plant these seeds to see if anything will grow out of them, and boy did something grow. I would check up on them almost every day, watering the soil, turning it around the seeds, trying to make sure I, at least, try.

These cute, little earth pushers warmed my heart. Every week, more and more seeds sprouted. Today, I decided to take the little plants out of the pot and put them into the earth. It was an exercise I relished with care and detail.

I promise I don’t know much about planting or farming; however, growing up, my grandmother had six different gardens—each served its purpose: one was for apple trees, one was for corn, one was for peach and apricot trees, one was for tomatoes and greens, and my favorite was the one facing the front porch…the flower garden, walled in with stones.

Every day, my grandmother tended to all her gardens—nitpicking, weeding out, complaining about how there is not enough rain or the soil is not fertile enough, or the trees not producing enough.

She loved her gardens like she loved her babies. She took care of them, watered them, and loved them. I never understood how gardening was actually a labor of love; her love language that materialized in provision and sustenance.

We just came to her home and ate the vegetables she got from her soil and cooked with love, or the jam she made from the various apricots and nectarines that she picked from her trees.

What that woman had was pride in the fact that she made almost everything she ate. From the sunflower seeds to the corn we huddled over in winter as it cooked on the coal stove—its aroma entwined with that of stew and dumpling. Everything that woman cooked or turned into dessert, she got from her backyard.

As I plant my little seeds of success and promise into the earth, I realize that the garden was also an escape for my Mme (as we affectionately called her), a way to tend to the troubles in her mind—remove the weeds of doubt and trouble strangling the positive flowers growing in the garden.

She was the matriarch, a woman whose love renewed a passport just to get on a bus to another country to help out a grandchild. At 80, my Mme bought her own groceries and walked long distances just to see her sibling (who I’m named after). She did many things for many people, and all she asked for was to be left alone when she tended to her garden.

I suppose you can say she was the seed that bore many fruits: us. As I firmly plant the sticks around my pumpkin plants and lavender seeds, I’m excited and scared at the same time. I’m excited to have my hands turn a possibility into a reality, reminding me that each day, we need to tend to ourselves—our mental health and our dreams. I work every day at them.

I’m also scared because now, my plants have to be part of this earth; they won’t be as sheltered as they were before. There will be foes like bad weather, plant-eating rodents, and so forth. But even so, every day, I will be there to make sure they grow just right.

Every month I will be planting seeds—try and take care of something in the hopes that it rewards me someday.

My sister gave me this awesome biodegradable calendar that you plant each month and see it grow. How exciting!

Anyway, I will be sharing my garden stories as we go on. Remember to tend to your garden. It may seem like arduous labor, but it will be rewarding in the end.



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