“When a flower doesn’t bloom,
you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower”
Alexander Den Heijer
I love learning from nature and using nature as a way to understand patterns, cycles and gentle behaviors that I could possibly adopt to bring a sense of ease and acceptance in my life. One of the things I’ve learned to recognize with my plants and my garden is the importance of paying close attention to what the plants need, take a small action, wait for their response and make small adjustments.
This also reminds me of printing with the big presses, there is a rule that you pretty much live by as a printer and it’s “one variable at a time” which means that whenever you start a run of prints there are many things or variables that are contributing to the overall quality of your print and in order to figure out what is potentially taking away from the quality that you desire you must adjust one variable at a time.
Plants, unlike my presses, have been the most loving and gentle teachers I’ve had. There are so many things that I’ve come to realize with them that truly help me be more compassionate with myself and today’s quote reminds me of a reflection I had the other day when I went to visit my mother in law. She is also a plant lover and since she moved to her house recently she has been making the backyard her own and that includes lots of new plants. A couple months ago she got seeds to plant these climbing plants that have pretty white blooms and when she planted them the seedlings grew so fast and so healthy that in just a week or so she had a ton of baby plants to plant around her backyard. She combined the plants in 3 different pots and placed the pots in different areas in her backyard.
And, last week when we went to visit my in laws I went to the backyard and my eyes couldn’t believe how big one of the plants was, in just over a month this plant had reached all the way to ceiling of the gazebo where she placed this one and was already wrapping around it. After seeing this plant growing like there was no tomorrow I was curious to see how the other 2 were doing so, I went around the gazebo and found that one of them was really struggling, or at least compared to the first one I saw, this one had probably grown only 8 inches in height while the other one was at least 6-8ft tall. The third plant was growing but in a completely different way, this one was growing sideways, it was bushier and the leaves were growing in quantity but were rather small.
Observing this I immediately remembered a conversation I had earlier that day with one of my friends who has been struggling with her job. She doesn’t seem to be fully enjoying it even though it is a position she had wished for for years and her main dilemma is that this dissatisfaction has happened before with other jobs, and in her words, “she doesn’t know if there is something wrong with her”. I have been there multiple times before. In fact I probably have mentioned this here but one of the biggest struggles I faced when I wanted to make a change in my career and stopped offering the services I had been working on for 7 years was the fact that I had created this company myself. So, I totally resonated with that feeling of “something must be wrong with me”.
So, what do the plants have to do with these? Well, as I mentioned before, all the plants came from the same seedlings, they were all planted at the same time, taken care by the same person, planted in the same soil in very similar pots. The only difference between the 3 of them was that they were placed in different areas in the backyard which means that they all receive different amount of light, rain and pollinators because they all had different plant neighbors. There was a clear response from the plants to the environment they were all exposed to.
So, it made me think about the way my friend has felt about her job, the way I have felt about my company and how clear it is that there is a core belief that we have been operating under that says “I am the problem” like Taylor Swift has been reminding us of. Now, here is the thing, I’ve said this before and I say it again, there are different approaches, mindsets, ideas etc. that will work for us in different seasons or situations in our life and that saying “if I’m the problem, I’m the solution” has truly come in handy before for me. But, it is incredibly important to recognize when it’s the best time to use which mindset or as I also like to call it, tool.
In my friend’s case and my own experience when I started to question if there was something wrong with me because I didn’t seem to be fully satisfied with my job, that thought of “something must be wrong with me” didn’t push me to take action and make adjustments. Instead, what this thought left me with was a constant exploration for “my problem” so I would over analyze everything that I was feeling, the reactions, the thoughts, the expressions. It left me in this state of hyper awareness of all of those things I could gather as evidence to confirm that “something is wrong with me”. And, today I look back at this and I can clearly see how this left me in a loop that would never end. In psychology they talk about confirmation bias as the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. And, this is a game a lot of us women tend to play.
We are all well aware at this point that for most of us life has been a constant game to show our worth, to look for validation from the outside world and to make sure we fit in within the standards of “what’s good”. And, in that constant and exhausting work we have slowly given away our power and have been left with the idea that we are broken, we have a problem, we must learn where that problem is, we must learn the lesson and we must fix the issue.
So, yes, we will always have to look through our tool box and see which tool to use in different situations and as we already know life is a constant balancing act. But, what I know for sure now is that whenever I start to question if there is something wrong with me, it is a sign to remember nature, to remember the lessons, to remember that the light, the water and how I nurture myself is ultimately the secret to thriving in any environment. When I remember this, it helps me feel empowered and it helps me get out of a loop, take action and make adjustments one variable at a time.
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