Be Kind to Yourself… Be Well in the Garden


Between school and work, I’ve not had a lot of time to write about anything. Standing so much has been causing back problems, so I’m doing physical therapy again. With new physical goals centered on the professional gains I’ve made during the last few years, I’m happy that I was able to track down the last PT I was with so we could keep going and create a new plan. I’m confident we’ll have some success working together.

But this means slowing down. I’m terrible at that. Luckily, taking the necessary breaks at work throughout the day to reset my body is not an issue with my employers. This makes sense since recently the pain was so bad I was shaking and crying and could not think straight. Of course I kept working all day—because that’s who I am. I’m a determined soul. I love doing what I do even though the pay is not that which I made before I entered into horticulture.

I met with both my PT and primary care physician last week to discuss additional ideas for treatment. The goal is to make it possible for me to be more active so I can remain as healthy as possible and to prevent falls.

Having 2 previously injured areas of my back with a lot of scar tissue, and another spot that gets sore easily, means that my entire body is involved. We all agreed that with the HAE better controlled, this is the last frontier for me in terms of reaching wellness. It’s time to deal with the cluster of childhood trauma/traumatic injury/chronic pain/and PTSD.

This takes us back to the beginning in a sense. It’s funny to say this now, but there’s a pill for this in my case. Something that I stopped taking back in 2001…

So now I take the medication as prescribed, and we wait and see. I’m in good hands. We have an exciting program planned for me.

But this means I will continue to be kind to others, and not let recent bad experiences change me. It’s time for me to built a lot of trust, even though I’ve struggled with trusting others for a long time.

During the pandemic I had a handful of interesting experiences dealing with others and clearly a lot of time to think about those interactions. I’m happy that life is slowly returning to a new normal. Dealing with the anxiety of others is challenging for me, and a pandemic heightened that while blurring boundaries for some.

I speak publicly, and can be very open in person, but this does not make me a doormat, and I do not appreciate anyone who feels like it’s ok to cross boundaries with others or push them around. Writing to me out of nowhere and essentially expecting me to do something for you when I don’t know you is out of line. If I write something like, “No, I’m sorry but that won’t work for me,” please don’t write back to me with your raging privilege because of your perceived intelligence, self-importance, and defensiveness.

I’m grateful for blocking features on social media, but I wish this had never happened in the first place.

Autonomy is something I wish we valued more. I very much respect the autonomy of others, and mistakenly have assumed that if I do so, others will do the same for me, but I can be very naive.

To say that the anxiety of another individual infected my childhood development is an understatement. I became overly autonomous because of it. In general, I’m a very adventurous and easy-going individual, and I very much believe in the right of everyone to be free to do what they need to do in order to be healthy and happy—but this means being kind to others, and for many, this means learning NOT to cross boundaries.

Also for me it means learning to know the difference between being passive versus just letting something go. I’m sloppy in this area, while I watch others around me jump down others’ throats unnecessarily and call it being assertive. It’s no wonder that the Surgeon General released an advisory this week on an Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation in the United States.

Narcissism and trauma surround us daily. We’re numb to them both. (Well, we are until we can’t take it anymore…)

And why do I bring this up on a gardening blog? I do so just to point out that many of us garden to feel better, to ease the anxiety, to soothe mental health issues or daily experience that plague us, and to create safe spaces. Freud would say that our craft allows us to sublimate our harmful impulses and feelings. I think that’s true, but clearly more complicated once you add groups of people interacting back into the complicated equation.

Before a recent interview for a podcast that I’ll be sharing soon, I thought long and hard about this and about dissociation.

There’s a fine line when we dissociate from reality, and for me, I had to enter into the deep end for many years just to survive. Plants very much re-entered my life at that point. I got out of that though leading up to when I became a horticulturist. Being able to live in the world again and to be able to feel has meant the world to me, but we’re all still in this, and I hope to read more substantive content that deals with these issues and reframes these topics in new ways in the months and years to come.

We have a lot to learn, and maybe plants can continue to teach us things…

A book I absolutely loved reading and will be rereading again: The Well Gardened Mind by Sue Stuart-Smith

An interesting article I just found: What IS Mind Gardening?