Lessons from My Garden

Paying attention to the little things so I can enjoy the big things

by April Goff Brown

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I’ve spent the last two mornings tending to my flower garden. I’ve been saying I needed to get out there and clear the weeds, cut back overgrowth, pull out things that don’t belong where they are. But, I’d make an excuse that it was too hot, or I was too tired, or my knees hurt. And so while I loved walking around in it and snapping photos, I knew that it wasn’t at its best.

Yesterday, I pulled my daily cards using the Wisdom of the Oracle deck, asking for a message for the day for my highest good. Chop Wood came out. The message is about paying attention to the little things in our lives, attend to the daily chores. 

“Consider why pruning a tree is the forerunner of a delighting in the beautiful blooms when it is in full blossom. The mundane act of pulling off dead leaves, watering the soil, and then leaving it be to let nature take its course is an important step in manifestation,” the guidebook reads. The work to be done may be boring, but do it anyway. Step back from your goals and be present as you do what you need to, allowing yourself to be receptive. Enjoy the task at hand for it will bring bounty.

Continuing with my garden metaphor, with spring as the plants emerge, I am out there making sure that the plants have their place cleared and ready for new growth. The hydrangeas are cut back making room for new growth and blooms. The grass that encroached the garden is pulled away to allow for the plants to take their place. The mulch is laid out to reduce the growth of weeds.  And then I wait and watch for the signs of new life, the first blossoms, and the hope they bring for the later summer extravaganza.

Isn’t that how we start something new? Filled with excitement and vigor, we put our whole selves into whatever is at hand whether it be a new project, a new job, or a new relationship. We are rewarded for our efforts as we see our progress. Every acknowledgement fills us. 

But then, the routine sets in. No more date nights out, for example, as we’ve settled into a comfortable routine and spend evenings at home watching TV. No more spontaneous remarks about how well you’re doing since it is now expected that the level of work you are doing is what you should be doing. We become comfortable perhaps, and go through the motions of our life.

Much like my garden - it was doing very well, lusher than I can remember, and filled with colors of yellows and pinks and purple. My experiment with growing sunflowers from seeds was a tremendous success. I congratulated my self for having such a green thumb. I’d gotten to that comfortable stage.

So, I finally got out there to take care of the mundane tasks that allow my flowers to shine. I uncovered some flowers that were trying to blossom but were covered by overgrowth. I took in the shapes and scents of what currently is in bloom and prepping those plants whose bloom is yet to come. Some of my goals have been reached for this year’s garden and there is more to come.

Always focusing on your goals keeps you living in the future, without taking the time to enjoy today.  The only thing we are promised is this moment in time, and so we need to enjoy it and relish it for the gift that it is. Chopping wood keeps us present, in the moment, letting us breathe away from the big stuff so that we can return to it refreshed.   

I am thankful for Chop Wood. I took it literally and cleared away the weeds, cut the dead stuff, and watched its shape return. I made room for some flowers to bloom because they can get to the light now that the overgrowth is cut away. And I delighted in seeing flowers that I forgot were there due to the crowded grass and unwanted plants and saplings that took over. After a couple more days, I will be able to step back and just enjoy the beauty and satisfaction it brings.

What are the things in your life that you’ve allowed to slip away from you that need tending now? Probably the little things you’ve let pile up. The daily chores you hate having to do. You know, like laundry that gets done when you’ve finally run out of underthings. Or the vacuuming because you’ve noticed a little too many dust bunnies piling up. Or you look up when someone is visiting and are horrified at the cobwebs up at the ceiling.

Chop Wood tells me that by being engaged in daily life, the little things, I am being grounded in my life.  Life is a series of little things for the most part. It’s not always exciting, but that’s the beauty of it in the end. Tending to the little things enables you to truly enjoy the big things when they come along.

Now if the heat of summer will just hold off for a few more day so I can get back out there tomorrow.