After the party was over, we spent a lot of time in our garden. My mom, dad - and honestly all my aunts and uncles - have pretty amazing green thumbs. I always find myself struck with both awe and envy when I see how naturally it comes to them.
As my mom and I were working in our garden, I noticed she kept giving me little tips. I thought if you took out the fact that she was dealing plants, her advice wouldn't be all that different when it comes to our own self care.
1. Be patient with yourself. I watched as my mom spread soil gently between each stalk of corn and basil plant. She went slowly and meticulously, taking her time to tend to each one. She told me that you have to be patient with each plant - making certain you give it enough time and sunlight and soil to grow at the right pace.
We hurry ourselves and expect instant results and improvement. But we need time. And that's OK. In fact, if we are able to give ourselves permission to slow down and have our needs met, we'll be stronger and happier in the long run.
I think sometimes we need permission to give ourselves enough time and rest and nourishment to grow.
2. We don't all need (or want) the same things. I tend to go for a one-size-fits-all approach in the garden. If my hydrangeas need one pitcher of water each day, my corn must, too. But this isn't how it works. Some plants need more sun and some need more water.
It's the same way with people. We all need different things to help us grow. What works for our friends (say, maybe married with two babies by 28) might not work for us. We have to give ourselves permission to do things differently and to have different needs. I may be corn and you may be basil. We are different. And that's really beautiful.
3. Be gentle with yourself. As I dumped my soil into the garden, pummeling my mint and squash, my mom reminded me to be gentle with the plants. They are tender and delicate. And so are people.
Sometimes I think we forget that we're all human and we need love and gentleness more than we need most things. You are not perfect, but you deserve grace and kindness and positive self-talk.
4. Feeling safe and secure is really important. My mom said our plants weren't growing as strong as they could because we hadn't put in enough soil. Since it was so shallow, they didn't feel secure in the box. She had us add more soil around them, so they felt more rooted and secure. It's important that we understand what we need to feel safe and secure as individuals, too. Do you need vulnerability? Stability? Adventure? Understanding what we need to feel safe & secure will allow us to grow.
5. We need more nurturing than people realize. As we finished gardening, I was trying to crunch numbers with my mom, "How much water does each plant need each day?" I was asking her. And she told me that the plants would tell me if I wasn't watering them enough - they'd start to wilt in the hot Georgia sun. She said that she thinks plants tend to need more nurturing than people think.
And I realized that we're really just the same. I think we tend to live in silos and do our best to keep our needs to a minimum. But, in reality, we are meant to live in community, supporting one another. We are meant to care for one another and nurture growth together.