After spending 3 hours buying plants at 4 different nurseries, then over 6 hours working in the garden, there’s lots of time to think. It was exhausting (but enjoyable) work, dragging gigantic bags of potting soil around the yard, filling pots, sticking plants in the dirt, watering, rearranging while my husband trimmed what seemed like endless bushes and shrubs that then needed to be dragged away into the woods. All this while running inside for a “break” from the sun to catch up on laundry, vacuum under the beds, change sheets, wash floors and dust ceiling fans. When you have been away for 3 weekends in a row, then are home for the first sunny Saturday in weeks, well, it is pretty hard to ignore all the dust you can now see clearly.
Finally, the time came, that long anticipated time to take a long hot shower, pour a drink and sit outside on the chair swing watching the sun set,and getting to finally admire all of our work. My husband and I pretty much collapsed on that swing, silent for awhile just looking around at the trees against the sky, and the colorful flowers in the new cobalt and turquoise ceramic pots I just bought thanks to a gift certificate from my daughter for Mother’s Day : ) “Isn’t it just so beautiful? I just love it! I love this time of year”, said me, the person who pretty much can’t contain herself when she is among the beauty of nature and flowers. “Stop bringing me down!” my husband joked, as he often does when I get super-happy over what most people seem to ignore. We had our discussion about the yard, what’s left to do and everything else under the sun. The peace and beauty of the yard, the trees, the birds, the sky all struck me as heavenly. My husband said something to the effect that heaven is supposed to be like earth (so he read somewhere), and I could understand why someone would believe that. Whenever I am in a garden, it pretty much confirms for me that someone much bigger than us designed all this. When you think about every single flower, they are all so different and unique, yet each just as beautiful as the next. Just like us.
Which brings me to Zootopia…….the movie. Friday night, we went out to see it. We were exhausted from the long work week but, it was an early movie. What does Zootopia have to do with gardening? Yes, I have a touch of ADD and I don’t meant to change the topic, but it all will make sense later. If you have not seen the movie, and are a big fan of diversity, you need to go see it. The movie characters are all different animals, yet they all get along in Zootopia…well, kind of. Just as all of the flowers in a garden are different yet beautiful in their own way, one of the messages from the movie is the uniqueness of each individual animal (person).
But sometimes,(back to humans)….people don’t quite know they are unique and wonderful. Sometimes people struggle. The problems and issues are different from one person to the next, but usually, they are not alone in what they struggle with as others have gone through some of the same things as well. But it never feels like that, right? When people are struggling, it often feels like they are the only one. For instance, when a parent brings their child to Feeding Team and tells us how worried they are because Johnny only eats 5 foods, can you believe it? What is wrong with him?! It is a relief for the family to hear that Johnny is not alone. We see one kid an hour just like Johnny. When a parent brings in a teenager, newly diagnosed with an eating disorder, who has been losing weight, now won’t eat with the family, stopped socializing, is impossibly moody, a parent feels scared and alone, helpless. When they learn they are not alone, this disease strikes many young girls and boys too, and there is help, a parent starts to look a bit more hopeful. When someone can’t get out of bed because of depression, or someone can’t stop eating, or turns to food for comfort, they often feel alone, as if they are the only ones with this problem. Even if cognitively they know other people go through it, for them, if feels different. Other people can deal with it and stop, but they can’t.
Many people I have worked with who have disordered eating (either restricting or turning to food and binge eating) tend to blame themselves. Those who have body image concerns tend to pick on themselves. Just the other day, in the garden shop where I was looking to use my gift certificate and pick out some pots, the middle aged woman who helped me kind of threw me. I could not budge the giant pot I wanted without struggling (and since I did not want to risk breaking it, I asked her for help). When she easily lifted it and placed it on a wagon, all I said was “wow, this job keeps you nice and strong! that is great!” Well, that was enough to trigger her to respond with “but I need to get rid of this stomach!” as she grabbed her middle. It’s everywhere. Instead of saying “Yes, I love being strong!” she was focused on the negative about herself. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is unusual at all. As we pick on ourselves for one thing or another, someone else is admiring us. I do it myself with my curly hair. Growing up in an era when having poker straight hair like Cher was the ideal, my long curly somewhat frizzy Italian head of hair was torture. I ironed it, wrapped it tightly around my head at night with millions of bobby pins, blew dry it, gelled it, anything to de-frizz it and make it be more like everyone else’s. Why is it that when someone compliments me on “my beautiful curly hair”, something inside me just does not believe it? Yes, I have a much greater appreciation for the ease of my curly hair, and at my age, no longer care if I look like everyone else, but still, there is that nagging memory.
Picking on ourselves is not limited to the physical realm. Living in this day and age puts lots of pressure to live up to some crazy physical standard, yes, but I notice people don’t always see the wonderfullness of themselves in other ways. They feel as though they should accomplish more (even my husband, at the end of a very hard working day yesterday said “well, I only got to 2 things on my list” as if working 9 hours doing yard work was not enough?). A co-worker was upset the other day because she did not meet her “productivity” goals of seeing a certain amount of patients that month. She really does not have much control over who shows up, and she loves working with her patients, and develops great connections with them, yet instead of focusing on the wonderful part of herself, she was really down about something she could not even control. Another co-worker only works part-time was upset at herself because she was not sure she did enough for a family. Yet, she always stays late, makes phone calls from home, and goes out of her way for everyone. She is a wonder-woman in my eyes, yet I get the feeling she does not even see it.
Then there are those people who have accomplished so much in life, yet they don’t feel like they have. They have overcome obstacles, gotten to a good place in life, but still they feel they should be doing better. What is that nagging feeling of inadequacy about? Isn’t it alright to just stay where you are as long as you are making ends meet and healthy and happy, and move onto something else when the time is right? Like when you no longer are feeling content and happy. That is a different story. Another friend of mine got to a place in her job where things had changed and she no longer enjoyed her work. She left work everyday feeling mentally drained and unhappy. It was time to leave. But not because she felt inadequate, but because she was in tune with her own need for joy in her life and would not settle for anything less. She was brave to make the change, makes less money but has no regrets. That is different than the person who likes their job, is happy at the end of the day, yet does not feel good enough.
Is there something you have been struggling with that you beat yourself up for every day? Do you feel as though you are the only one, and that something is lacking in you because you can’t fix it? You probably are not alone. So many people struggle with things, yet many of those same people do actually get through it. You can, too. Sometimes, people need help and support from others, specialists, therapists, family, friends. I think the first step is even just recognizing that something is wrong, knowing you are spending way too much time worrying about a problem or feeling “not good enough”. Admitting you have a problem is a better place to be than denying it. It is totally alright to go at your own pace as far as moving forward, staying still is always better than going backward I have always believed.
So…..is there something that is keeping you from “blooming”? You are as unique and beautiful as any flower out there, you just may not see it all the time. In the movie (which I LOVED) the tiny little bunny wanted to be a police officer. The police force was made of giant animals like elephants and rams, and bulls, yet there she was, fighting to prove she could do it, too. The message was, no matter how you see yourself, or how different you feel from everyone else, you really can do it.