Bloom Where You’re Buried
How To Thrive During A Time When It’s Tough To Just Survive
Do you ever feel like life is slowly suffocating you? Between work, spouse, kids, errands, appointments, house cleaning, yard work, bills, and paperwork there’s never enough time a day.
Not only are we supposed to balance these things efficiently and effectively, we’re supposed to do it all while maintaining our weight. Dress nicely. Have perfect hair and flawless makeup. Don’t forget to have a positive attitude and an award winning smile! Accomplish it all with the added stress of a pandemic, extracurriculars, social engagements, politics, school shootings, and overall nationwide pandemonium. PHEW! Easy peasy, right?!?!
I don’t know about you…maybe you’re superhuman…but I am incapable of executing the list above successfully. Maybe it’s because I’m just coming off of a 5 day illness my husband affectionately named “the bathroom floor sickness”. Or maybe it’s because both of my sensory seeking children are home for summer break. Or possibly it’s the fact that I just buried my cat of 13 years yesterday afternoon. Whatever the reason (or a mix of all of them), I feel buried under the weight of my mile long, overdue to-do list.
You’re Basically A Plant
When life gets too overwhelming, I quickly find myself in survival mode. Anything considered an “extra” that is not required to sustain life gets tossed.
Sometimes, the items are helpful to lose, like the expectation of a spotless house or gourmet meals on the table every night by 5pm. Losing these things allows me to focus on what’s essential for survival and self care.
However, sometimes the items my brain chooses to lose are unhelpful. For example, I’m pretty sure in survival mode my IQ drops several points. I suddenly find myself losing my phone (and possible my sanity), burning grilled cheeses, and forgetting about appointments I scheduled weeks ago. Like seriously…making dinner twice and spending extra time finding my car keys that were in the fridge is beneficial to stress reduction…thanks brain!
It’s probably because of signing the closing papers on our new land, but my mind has been consumed with all things “plants” for the last couple of weeks. Also contributing to what I’m about to say, is the fact that my humor amps up as a coping mechanism during tough times…but a quote popped into my head the other day that I couldn’t ignore.
“Don’t forget: Drink water and get some sunlight. You’re basically a house plant with more complicated emotions.”— Unknown
I’m A What?
At first, these words struck me as amusing and nothing more. Like most things, my mind started to overthink and ponder if there was a deeper message hiding underneath. After all, why would this quote be chosen as something to keep in a time when remembering to rinse the conditioner out of my hair is a challenge? There must be a reason.
After much mental debate, I figured it out. There is a parallel. In their most basic form, plants only need soil, water, and sunlight to survive. However, in order to thrive, they require much more. Fertilizer, stakes for support, and pest control just to name a few.
I thought to myself “This sounds like me when I’m in survival mode.” In my most basic form, I only need oxygen, food, water, and shelter to survive. To thrive, I need quiet time, quality time, a completed to do list, and ample time for self care and hobbies. I feel a revelation coming on…
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how many of my loved ones are also living in a state of survival. Every phone call, video message, text, and social media post from my friends is currently filled with prayer requests or complaints about how heavy life has become. I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers. If I did, I’d be a millionaire(Wink!). However, I wanted to share a pared down version of how I’ve survived, and even thrived, during my most challenging of times…by using PLANTS! Bonus!
First, You Need To Get Dirty…
Not that kind of dirty…get your mind out of the gutter!
Before you start a garden, you need to ready the area. You need to clean out the debris that hinders the growth of your plants, install a fence to keep out unwanted visitors, and then amend your soil to ideal conditions.
This can be a messy, and even painful process (watch out for the thorny weeds!). Sure, you can throw dirt on top of everything, but without a healthy base, you’re just costing yourself more money and more headache later.
You might be wondering “how does this help me thrive, not just survive”, but hang in there. This is going somewhere!
My auto pilot response during times of stress is not to reduce my load, but add to it. I’m a people pleasing, therapy shopping, emotional eater. Not a great trio! For whatever reason, I think that a new wardrobe or a high calorie no-no meal is going to make me feel better. In the same way, saying “yes” to everything people ask of me will surely distract me and improve my mood, right? NOPE!
In hindsight, these actually do the opposite. Not only did I just spend money we didn’t have (increasing financial stress), consume terrible food (that’s going to make me feel ill), and commit myself to more (increases stress and decreasing time for self care), but I didn’t remove any “debris” that is hindering my growth in the first place.
For me, examples of “debris” or things I need to “fence off” can be other people’s expectations, my own perfectionism, guilt, chores, commitments I should have said “no” to, the news, or things happening around the world. By clearing these things off, even just temporarily, I can open myself (the “plant”) up to grow, heal, and thrive.
Then, Plant Yourself
Once you’ve cleared the “debris” out of your metaphorical garden, you can focus on the things that matter most. Find what your top priorities are and dig them in deep. THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT: Don’t forget that the type of “plant” you choose depends on the current growing conditions!
For example, if you are in a season of life where you have young children (let’s call them “full sun” plants), then it’s probably not the best time to choose an endeavor that requires your undivided attention (let’s call this a “full shade” plant.) Pretty soon, your “full shade” plant with start to wither and brown in the intense demands of your “full sun” children.
If you’re capable of finding the “part sun, part shade” balance, that’s amazing! Please message me on my Contact Page to share your secrets! We’d all love to hear how you do it!
For those of us balance-challenged folks, make sure to avoid the burn out associated with choosing the wrong time, place, and location for your “plant.” The goal is to get out of survival mode, not make it worse.
Next, It’s Time To Fertilize…
Seriously mind gutter dwellers, I’m talking about amending your soil to the optimal growing conditions. Goodness!
In gardening, this mean adding matter from a compost bin, purchasing high-quality soil, or mixing in fertilizer. Anything that is intended to boost the overall healthy of your plants.
But how do we “amend our soil” when it comes to survival mode? Well, now that you’ve reduced the “debris” and chosen the correct “plants”, there is now more room for self care and things that bring you joy (the fertilizer).
For me, this means laying out in the sun (embracing “plant” mode), writing, reading, binge watching a tv series, and dreaming. It’s also when my creativity is at it’s peak! Some of my most crowning creations were made during a time of intense stress. Creativity is my outlet. Find what nurtures your soul and let it flow!
After Fertilizer, Comes Maintenance
In the plant world, it takes consistent water and sun over a period of time to grow well. Some plants require less time, others require entire seasons. The same can be said for each of you.
I find myself juggling both short growth and longer growth plants. Examples of short growth plants include a task that needs to be done, an event that I’m planning, or even an illness. These are all things that will resolve themselves within a fairly short period of time.
Examples of seasonal, longer growth plants are healing from traumas, grief, financial strain, building relationships, etc. These things will require more attention, more “fertilizer”, and maybe even some “pruning”.
When I say “pruning”, I mean cutting out anything that sucks away the nutrients, hindering the health and growth of your “plant.” Do you have a really negative friend that constantly drags you down? Do you work at a job that drains you? Do you have too many commitments and are overwhelmed? These are all clues that “pruning” may be required if you want to thrive.
Now, It’s Time To Produce
If you have successfully removed “debris”, chosen/planted the right “plants”, “fertilized”, and have maintained your garden properly you will start to experience the fruits of your labor.
There are all kinds of fruits. More energy. Higher stress tolerance. Better mood. More free time. Better relationships. Achieved a goal or reached a dream. Crossed something off your bucket list. Whatever your “fruit” may be, it’s time to sit back and enjoy it.
I’m not claiming my metaphorical method is perfect. I’m not saying it will work for everyone and in every situation. What I can say, is paring down my life to it’s most basic form while in survival mode has helped me navigate some truly terrible times. Most of them, I didn’t think I was going to make it through.
By using this method, and admitting when I need to use “supports” (my faith, friends, family, or even counseling), I know I can thrive in situations where it’s tough to just survive.
Maybe, I’ll even be able to take the “fruits” of my labor and turn them into a kick-@#$ pie! I have faith that you can, and will, do the same!
I’m “ROOTING” for you!
Want to learn more about our homesteading endeavor? Check out the Messy Masterpiece Back Acres Homesteading page!