Sometimes, you go weeks and weeks without an ounce of writing inspiration in you, and you begin to wonder why you even started blogging in the first place, and feel foolish for thinking you had so much to say that you could fill a space like this with your thoughts, and then… BAM, inspiration hits you like a ray of sunlight on a winter day.
Last week or so I posted a picture of Lucy that rather reminded me of that book The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgsons Burnett (find it here). So I searched for quotes from the book that might accommodate the picture, and OH MAN, did I find a treasure trove!
One quote that stood out to me particularly is this one:
Where you tend a rose my lad, a thistle cannot grow.
Such a simple yet poignant concept for me when applied to matters of the heart. The qualities you tend in your heart are those that will bloom. Whether that be roses or thorns, it’s up to you. I grew up in a spiritual, positive, and optimistic household, where my parents worked hard to do right by everyone and where there was a permeating sentiment that things got better, no matter what. I should probably write my parents a note to thank them for this gift of optimism, because as an adult I can see it as just that, a gift. What a beautiful gift in this world of challenges and trials, to believe in the good in everyone and that everything will be okay!
Somehow, in the past few years, I felt I had lost that part about believing in the good in the world. Maybe it was personal experience, distancing from my faith, or any other number of things. I felt that a tender heart had cost me too often, that I had been taken advantage of or duped more than my fair share and that I just looked foolish in the end. That I would be better off treating others as they treated me, and I don’t mean that in a positive sense. I stopped feeling generosity or empathy toward people, and instead felt people got what they deserved. I surprised myself with negative presumptions about how situations would go just because of the types of people involved in them and with hardness toward my fellow humans.
I’m sure I didn’t act like a complete asshole because that is unlike me, but slowly these seeds of resentment and pessimism began to grow and take over, exactly like weeds. I felt hardened, with a “me against the world” attitude. And do you know how a hardened heart feels? Sad, lonely, unhappy…cold. And that’s exactly how I had begun to feel.
The good news is, you reap what you sow, and with the turn of 2017 into 2018, I decided to take my heart back from the thistles of evil trying to take it over and replant those little rosebuds of love, humanity, and optimism! It’s not easy to remain tender in this world and of course I am not perfect, but I truly believe happiness is a choice you can make and that it can be found by making other people happy as well. So, what have I been doing to try and sow my garden full of flowers?
- Using a meditation app called The Calm App that not only has guided meditations for stress, but also for emotions and happiness.
- Practicing gratitude, which can greatly increase your happiness, by trying to pause and think of 5 things I am grateful for at least once daily. These things can be as simple as “I am grateful for a car to get me to work.”
- Trying to release negative presumptions I have about people based on initial appearances or even experiences and assume that everyone is trying to do the best they can do with what they know. I used to be good at this, but at some point found that I held onto negative opinions about others. For example, if you experience a grumpy customer service representative, ask yourself what could be going on in his or her day to make them grumpy rather than be grumpy back. This is easier said than done a lot, but I’m working on it!
- Practicing spirituality. For me, this is a God I believe in and talk to and look to for guidance on how to best treat my fellow human beings and where to go in my life.
- Committing random acts of kindness, including going out of my way to cheer on or encourage loved ones. As a cheery car attendant in North Carolina reminded me last year, “When you bless others, you bless yourself.”
- Practicing self-love. This one is HARD for me, y’all. Any tips are welcomed!
As a mother, I want to cultivate this beautiful garden of love and kindness toward others and herself within my child, as well. The little buds of these qualities that I see in her and the children I work with reinforce my belief that they are innate in us humans, and that encourages me to do my best in these areas, too. I am not perfect, but maybe just seeing her mama grow in the ways she needs to as an adult will be enough water to help my daughter’s roses bloom.
What qualities are you working on growing? How do you tend these qualities in your little one?