We are all gardeners; each cultivating our harvests and reaping the rewards, or punishments, of our labor. Some create lives filled with luscious foliage, while others grow carefully groomed beds. Some sculpt manicured hedges and others range free in pastures of wildflowers. Some prefer thick forests, while others select space-saving, green, hydroponic structures. And some people’s gardens are just plain unruly.
The beauty of one’s garden often is reflected in the depth of their calluses.
For some, gardening is a hobby; for others it is a career. Many do not realize they are gardeners and so forfeit their ability to select the contents in their personal garden of life. Instead, they allow others to sow the seeds, feeling as though they are victims of the weeds in which they live.
How foolish, we may think, to give away their power—to allow their gardens to run amok with noxious weeds. But who are we to judge?
We all have weeds.
The difference between us and them is that we are AWARE that we have a choice. If we’re honest with ourselves, however, often we’ll discover that even though we know we have a choice, we often do not fully embrace our garden’s potential.
To become a master gardener, we must first deal with our weeds.
Below you will find some different ways that people tend to their garden of life:
Yes, it’s true that many people do not realize they are gardeners, but even when they do know, many of them simply do not care. They pay no mind to their gardens, letting them run wild or willfully handing over maintenance duties to others. To creative folks, such as us, this seems a shame; however, for those who are truly not concerned or bothered about their gardens, they are often content. Some even enjoy the drama of it all. For those who don’t care about their garden, or feel bothered by its contents, then it is of no consequence whether they put on their gloves and dig in. They settle for mediocrity, and that’s okay—for them.
On the other end of the spectrum we find those who march to the beat of their neighbors’ drums—obsessed with “keeping up with the Joneses.” Due to an overwhelming need to fit in, be perfect, or control life, they spend an inordinate amount of time planting, digging, and weeding. They buy expensive tools and often spend large sums of money paying others to manicure every surface of their yards—some choosing to do it all themselves. Some are perfectionists. Others are constantly changing their foliage to match the season, their every whim, or passing trends. They know they are gardeners and they are highly stressed about their obligations.
Then, there are those who care about their gardens yet choose to do nothing about it. They take no responsibility for their lot. A sense of overwhelm or helplessness leads to apathy. Their weeds are often persistent and pervasive. Perhaps they have allowed the overgrowth to get out of hand. Maybe they allowed others to have their way with the planting too long, and they can no longer conjure the vision of what their garden could look like if they made the decision to take it back. In either case, they give up. They choose instead to distract themselves and ignore their gardens.
They may find relief by turning their head, denying their weeds, but the nagging feeling that something remains wrong—even if they won’t look at it—eats them up. If distracted and not thinking about it, they may feel better…but while they’re off frolicking in oblivion, runners are spreading and consuming their gardens. It can be a rude awakening when life forces them to open their eyes and see what mess it has become.
Those with stronger desires and visions for their garden usually take the first, vital step of empowered gardening and put time and effort into dreaming of the garden they wish to create for themselves. They are usually open to the lessons their weeds can teach them and quickly find methods for finding the positivity within the mess. They visualize the details of their desires—daffodils and roses, elaborate stone gardens and soft grass. They hunt for photos that inspire them and remind themselves daily of the power within them and their birthright to experience the joys of a well-groomed, self-created masterpiece.
As they continue dreaming of the glories, they find the persistence of their weeds bothersome. At first, when they realize they do not want the weeds they have, they repeat to themselves:
“I don’t have weeds, I don’t have weeds.”
This initial attempt at wishing or hoping or praying or affirming away one’s weeds is never successful. (Don’t believe me? Try it.) Some get discouraged, while others get proactive and learn methods for maintaining their focus on the garden of their desire, rather than the pesky weeds they do not want. They learn they must focus elsewhere in order to release the resistance to their weeds. They become vigilant in their attention to their dreams. They know better than to wallow in the woes of their weeds for long, and so they seek other, more aligned, activities and thoughts to focus upon. This helps ease the stress of gardening; however, some go too far and fall into the habits of those who “ignore.” For many, this thinking leads to a false belief that remaining focused on their desires while withdrawing negative energy from their weeds will magically make the weeds disappear.
Releasing resistance to your weeds will make you feel better, but it will not do much (if anything) to remove weeds from your garden.
When you step back into your yard the weeds will still be there, and if you remain in denial and try to walk through pretending otherwise you’re likely to get snagged in the brambles. For those who insist that meditating on the stump in their garden will remove weeds, I would like to ask, “How’s that working for ya?” Some will argue this point, however if you’ve ever met someone who eradicated garden weeds simply by intending or focusing elsewhere, I would like to be introduced.
(*Note: It is important to address “Reflection” (below) prior to tending one’s garden.)
There’s a difference between intention and initiative. Taking the initiative—the inspired action—to tend one’s garden is the key ingredient to successful intentions. Positive thoughts and right focus are simply not enough. Unfortunately, many people miss this vital step—where the true power of creation lies. Taking action is scary, and that’s why so many people don’t do it. Action leads to change. Eeek. It takes courage to dig into the earth of one’s garden, especially if it has been many years since it was done or if its condition is hard to face. But tending to one’s own garden is the most empowering action anyone can take. The pinch of the thorns and the aching of the muscles of effort may be painful, but the rewards, satisfaction, and beauty are unmatched.
Once one embraces the responsibility of tending to one’s lot, visions can become realities.
In order to create the gardens of our dreams, however, we must learn how to manage or eliminate our weeds. There are many strategies for weed removal, which can be studied and applied depending on the contents of one’s garden and the preferences of the gardener. Action can be taken to smother the weeds, spray them, and create barriers to block them. There are many books on the art of gardening and many ways in which to weed.
Taking action is the ultimate exercise in the power of choice—we choose with our actions not our thoughts.
Once one embraces and accepts the role of gardener completely, as can be seen by decisive garden tending, the next step is to remember that our gardens are meant to be “Gardens of Ease.” To intend or tend one’s garden with a feeling of resistance, bitterness, or anxiety only continues to sow unwanted seeds and unruly weeds.
In the garden of life, one must find balance between awareness, focus, action, and acceptance. Even the most attentive gardeners are limited in creative power if they remain resistant to their weeds or attached to particular species or outcomes. Dream, visualize, desire—yes—but also embrace what already IS, accept that no garden is perfect, and allow the Divine nature of life to grow and flourish as it does naturally.
Flowers do not toil, and neither should we.
Even when it comes to those pesky weeds, sometimes if we simply allow them to be as they are we will find that there are unexpected beauties they can offer us—such as lovely wildflowers, a sweet fragrance, or the attraction of butterflies.
Some will choose to make peace with their weeds by finding a way to live with them while minimizing the psychological and practical impact. Others will do everything within their power to create the garden of their dreams, yet allow each step in the process to be what it is. They will weed when it serves them, and accept those they cannot, or are not ready to, weed.
When conjuring visions for your garden, and before taking action to tend it, it is important to first check in with yourself to consider the cause and source of the current contents of your plot of earth. Before you can effectively make changes or grow strong, healthy plants, you must take responsibility for that which you have already created.
Some of our garden structures have been there as long as we can remember. Often they are the most stubborn of weeds. We may have in inherited them or they may have been forcibly planted in our soil. We did not plant them and so cannot blame ourselves. They are not our fault. But it’s important to remember that although they may seem immovable, we ultimately have the will to determine our garden’s destiny—no matter how insurmountable it may seem.
Other elements have been sown by those whom we allowed to meddle in our gardens—tending and planting on our turf, often because we felt too small or unimportant to take responsibility for our own lot. These unintended weeds are not here to punish us; however, they are often due to our own self-negligence.
We can take credit for the sections of our garden which we have lovingly and dedicatedly tended—and reap the benefits of their beauty. However, we must also take ownership for the weeds we have planted, the ones we have allowed to run amok, and those we have continued to feed with negative thoughts, poor decision making, and giving away our power to others.
Again, it is important to take stock of the contents of your garden, and your role in creating it, prior to beginning the weed removal process. Aside from those foundational ones that we inherited, noxious weeds do not just “pop-up”. They are almost always a result of poor gardening, neglecting, ignoring, or even intention without initiative.
If you begin eradicating weeds before understanding them, they will all grow back.
You may not have created some of them—so forgive yourself and start fresh, knowing you now have the opportunity to choose. Some of them you did create. However in either case they will not magically disappear. They took time to grow and will take time to leave.
PICK YOUR BATTLES:
Remember, not all weeds are created equal.
Ones that threaten your petunias are superficial. The value of your vanity and the opinions of the “Joneses” are no comparison to the importance of removing weeds that threaten your sustenance and ability to feed your family. The delicate, unwanted flowers can be safely allowed. The passive nuisances can be tenderly dealt with. The stubborn brambles should be carefully and deliberately dismantled. But, when a weed is totally and disruptively distracting—or when it makes you feel helpless or threatens your livelihood, your health, your family, your future—or when it is so hideous that it keeps you up at night… when you have one of those weeds, you are left with no other choice.
Rip it out, roots and all. Done.
So, what’s in your garden? Who do you allow to sow your seeds? What is overgrown, unwelcome, or making you sick? It’s time to grab a pair of gloves (or go raw)… we’ve got work to do. Let’s face our weeds, invoke our creative power, and take responsibility for the future of our gardens.
It’s never too late to develop a green thumb!
Natalie Rivera is a visionary speaker and entrepreneur. She is passionate about empowering others to GET REAL and live authentically. After a decade of living a life that wasn’t hers and developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Natalie let go of everything and completely transformed. Through her journey to healing she rediscovered her true self and greater purpose—to inspire others to transform their lives. Natalie “retired” from the rat race at 24, put herself through school as a freelance designer, created a non-profit teen center, and later created Transformation Services, Inc., which offers motivational speaking, curriculum development, life coaching, event management, and publishing. She is also the Publisher of Transformation Magazine. Visit www.joeelandnatalie.com.