Just a quick post to let you know my video interview on the “Let’s Get Growing” YouTube show is now available. I talked with gardener extraordinaire Enoch Graham about plants and wellness. The plants and wellness found, of course, in Leaf Your Troubles Behind. We touched on some impressive statistics about how engaging with plants lowers your stress. We also talked about easy activities you can do to get greenery in your life, and the positive psychological benefits of gardening. Plus, favorite plants!
Overall, the interview went great. I always feel self-conscious on video but hey, it is what it is. Goofy smile and all. My ring light burnt out during the last few minutes, so if you see me go a little dark, that’s why. Ah, technology.
Anyway, if you have 20 minutes, you might want to take a peek. I did the interview from my latest green sanctuary nook. It’s a very simple comfy chair, fairy lights, and houseplants arranged in the corner of my living room. A happy place. By the way, if you’d like help setting up your own green sanctuary nook or room, just give me a shout through my Contact page. I’m at your service.
In the meantime, here’s the show. Enjoy!
Having an outdoor garden in which to relax is truly a lovely thing. But you may feel disappointed because you don’t have an outdoor space in which to build one. Maybe you see photos online and they look beautiful and serene, but then you feel lousy that you don’t have the space, money, or time to live your dream. Well, you actually don’t need any of those things. Because sometimes the dream is just as powerful as the real life experience.
Take me, for instance. I’ve always loved those tidy European potagers I see in gardening books, magazines and websites. They’re often similar. They have gravel or crushed lime for a base. They’re laid out in squares or rectangles in a courtyard formation. Sometimes they’re lined with boxwood shrubs or stone borders. At the center, they always have a lovely birdbath or triangular obelisk. I often see lavender and rosemary blooming. Tomatoes and beans tumbling around. Just thinking about it soothes my soul.
Well, studies show that imagining is highly effective at growing our happiness. Also, learning about the potager’s dimensions, materials, plants, and all else can boost a person’s mood as well. And so, while I feel a little sad that I don’t live in the countryside in France where I could walk out in the sun every morning and pluck a sweet pea off a vine, I know living the dream in my head is a positive healthy thing for my mind.
How I Build my Dream Garden
Years ago, the best way to create a dream garden might have been to create a board of photos and articles. Tack up newspaper articles, diagrams from books, photos from glossy magazines. And you of course can still do that. The tactile experience can’t be beat. But you can also create a Pinterest account in seconds. Pin your diagrams, articles on vegetables from that site. You can also get a Pinterest plug in that allows you to pin any photo you see on the internet. It’s an easy, wonderful way to collect your favorite ideas and images.
Yes, it only exists virtually, but that’s okay, because the dream garden is there to soothe you when you need it. I often go to my French potager board when I’m stressed. I read, I pin, I aimlessly look around. There’s no pressure, there’s no expectations. I just allow myself to relax into the joyous escape of a dream garden.
What is your dream garden? My potager is more about a lifestyle. Living in a sunny place where I can simply grow my own food and wander the cheery serenity of a garden. Yours may be a brick patio with a fireplace for entertaining, maybe a cozy bench nestled in fragrant rose bushes. Whatever it is, let your mind fill with anything and everything you’ve ever desired. Don’t hold back and enjoy the exciting possibilities!
It’s no secret spending time with nature can lower stress and lead to a happier life. But sometimes people don’t know where to start. They feel overwhelmed by all the choices and unsure what to do. What’s more, a lot of folks have hardly spent time with nature. Maybe this is you. If so, there’s good news. You can discover your green personality regardless. All it takes is a little self-exploration.
Exploring Your History With Nature
Let’s start with my Green Personality exercise from Leaf Your Troubles Behind. The first step is to get a piece of lined paper and a pen. Then answer this question: what is your first memory related to plants or a natural landscape? How old were you? Where were you? Now write for as long as you can about that experience. If another more powerful experience pops in your head, follow that image and write in detail about it. Try to remember who you were with, the time of day, the sounds and smells around you. Make it vivid.
If this doesn’t jog your memory, try this: make a list of your favorite people from your childhood. Did you ever enjoy a nature-related activity with that person? If so, what was it? And why did you like it?
If there are no joyful memories, is there a sad one? What did it feel like? Describe that in as much detail as you can. Then, when you’ve got it all down on paper, start a new paragraph. How can you reclaim that experience and turn it into a good one? What can you do differently? You have the power to change your life for the better.
Maybe you’re still in need of ideas, so here’s another prompt: if money and time weren’t an issue, what natural experience would you like to do? Would you hike in Hawaii? Camp in a forest? Grow exotic houseplants? Or just have a beautiful little garden in which to sit? You’re only bound by your imagination.
Making Sense of the Memories
Now, from all that you’ve written, circle the words describing positive feelings. Like “enjoyed” or “peaceful” or “fun” or “accepted,” etc. Then circle the activities that appeal to you. Maybe it’s kayaking on a placid lake. It could be riding a bike down a country road. Maybe it’s shopping at a plant nursery or puttering among tomato plants.
Next, put those feelings and activities together and see if you can create a mission statement. Like I want to [nature activity] so I can feel [positive emotions]. This is what will guide you going forward.
This may seem like a lot of work but discovering your green personality is key. You need to know how you’d like to spend time in nature in a way that’s right for you! And once you have your mission statement, you’ll never be confused. You’ll have a north star to guide you on your journey toward stress relief and a green wellness practice.
If you want more information on that practice, you can buy Leaf Your Troubles Behind, or watch my upcoming webinar, available in April, 2023.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you need a way to sort out all the stuff on your to-do list. A long list is useful but what’s really the priority? I’ve noticed if you keep a log for three days, you’ll figure out priorities super quickly. It shows you what you really think is important.
Recently, I did my Sifting Your Time Soil activity from Leaf Your Troubles Behind again. I designed it so readers could sort out the stuff that overwhelmed them and manage it all better. I nicked the strategy from business consultant David Allen and modified it for busy women and moms. It’s amazing what you discover.
What I Learned
First, categorizing things forces you to make tough but spirit-lifting decisions. For instance, when you decide vacuuming the car, which you may have thought of as a Must Do task, actually belongs in a Let Go slot, you feel liberated to forget about it and move on. Later, if you decide to do it, it’ll be a surprising win that will boost your spirit.
Also, when you take a hard look at the tasks before you, you realize delegating can save you. Perhaps, your spouse could pay the bills and your kids could empty the dishwasher. When our kids were in elementary school, we paid a quarter to whoever wanted to empty the dishwasher. It worked great, until they hit middle school when we had to turn that Hand Off chore into things like raking leaves, taking out garbage, and such.
The biggest thing I noticed was all the time I wasted. One small example: from about 4:30 to 5:00 on certain weekdays, I aimlessly checked social media. I took that extra half hour and slotted it into Me Time. That inspired me to use it better. I decided to get outside somehow: take a short walk with the dog, roam the garden, check the garage for things to give away, etc. Putting something light but active in those windows helped me feel more productive and in the moment.
I wish you a productive day!
Hiya, here’s the first post in another series of daily stress releaf ideas. It’s about my Stress Bramble exercise, which may help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed and worried about stuff.
I find it useful to get whatever stress I’m feeling on paper. And find it even more helpful to sketch it out as a bramble of stems and leaves, as if all the stuff in my head is intertwining like vines. Which is how I feel: tangled and messy!
Then when all of my angst and confusion is on paper, I can at least examine it and notice where I wrote the most. Where did I draw the most leaves and words? This helps me feel more aware of it all. And because I’m aware, I feel more in control and able to tackle some of it.
This one from last year shows I worried the most about my sister, which made sense since she was very ill with cancer. I thought about her every day, especially at night. My other greatest worry was, not surprisingly, my kids. The lockdowns did a number on their mental health. Gosh, I’m so thankful we’re coming out of this pandemic!
Have you ever used a mind map like this before? If you want to check out the full exercise, you’ll find it in the Leaf Your Troubles Behind book.
In the meantime, I wish you a stress-free day!