26 Jan Planting what matters
For so long I’ve dreamed of having a herb and veggie garden. The kind like you see in the movies. The kind that I can walk out my kitchen door and pick fresh herbs for the risotto or leaves and veg for a lunchtime salad. I’ve tried and failed many times, mostly because I didn’t know much about growing a garden and also because my heart just wasn’t really into it. We’ve recently moved to a new home and there is plenty of space for vegetables and herbs. So, on our first weekend back after the holiday way, we all went off to the nursery to buy our seedlings to get going. Spinach, peppers, chilies, coriander, aubergines, strawberries, the whole lot. My husband did the prep work for me (yes, I know he’s amazing) so I could literally just plant in the seedlings in their chosen spot. He pulled out the old stuff, loosened and prepped the soil. We were ready.
And so, I happily got going, only to be told I was planting them too close together and needed to separate them out a bit. It ended up looking quite sparse, with big gaps between each plant. I hadn’t quite imagined it to be like that. I knew that the little plants would grow bigger and take up the spaces between, but I wanted it to look like that now! I knew it would take time and daily care. If I planted them too close together now, I’d overcrowd them and they wouldn’t grow as they should. They’d eventually be cluttered and tangled and would not thrive. They’d drown each other out. They had to be planted apart, in fresh, healthy soil, with enough space to establish, grow out and bear fruit. The whole experience reminded me of one of Lara Casey’s Cultivate podcasts I’d listened to a few years back.
You see, the same applies to our lives. Many times I’ve felt like life is so full, so cluttered and tangled. There’s no breathing space and the fruit of my life becomes sour and tasteless, growing out of soil that is dry, unhealthy and toxic. The focus is lost, purpose is cloudy. The feelings are frazzled, edgy and exhausted. Many times, quite often at the start of a new year, I’ve had the best intentions to slow down, be less busy, not overfill our weeks and weekends. But these best intentions don’t really last because there hasn’t been a complete clear out, right down to the soil. It’s been a surface level attempt.
The problem is that we can try to start fresh on the surface, but it doesn’t last long because what we actually need is to completely de-clutter, right down to the core. To properly understand what matters to us and focus our attention and energy on those things. To know what we need to say yes to and what we need to say no to. We need to understand why we make the choices we do, the ones that create overcrowded lives that leave us feeling purposeless and worn out. Is it because of our need for acceptance and approval? Is it because we can’t say no when we know we should? It is because we feel bad to let people down, but our family takes the brunt of it because ‘they’ll understand’? Being more aware of WHY we make these choices helps us to be more conscious of making the same mistakes over and over. Together with understanding what really matter to us, we can then be more intentional about how we fill our lives.
At first, our days and weekends may feel a bit empty, with lots of open space. It might feel a bit uncomfortable at first. But slowly over time, you’ll start to appreciate the space, the time to sit in the garden with your kids without having to rush off to another extramural activity. The space to read a bedtime story with your kids without having to rush off to another evening appointment that you’re actually not even looking forward to. The space to have a conversation with your partner about something other than admin and logistics. The space to enjoy your home, read a book, have a cup of coffee while it’s still hot. The space to invest in relationships that are fruitful and enjoyable rather than the ones you feel obliged to be part of.
When we really de-clutter right down to the soil, we can plant what matters in a healthy, fresh foundation. We can then intentionally care for and invest in these things, aware that anything outside of this would only clutter and crowd out what we’ve planted. We can then enjoy and appreciate these things, the things that bring us joy, the things that give us purpose, the things that really matter to us.