December can be peculiar. It is seemingly about the holidays and the happy preparations for the celebrations but in reality, the month is fraught with stress and anxiety. The long, dark hours, the expectations, presents, decorations, cards, parties, weight worries, recitals, year end project completions, performance reviews, tips, cooking, teacher gifts, charitable giving, travel obligations/house guests, weather related problems … its so easy to be overwhelmed. Thankfully, the garden is not clamoring for attention. It is safely tucked in for the season.
Stop! Take a deep breath. Ask yourself why you have allowed yourself to get to this point. Yes, I said ‘allowed yourself’. Has the garden taught you nothing? The life lessons imparted all through the seasons? Permit me to remind you. Get yourself something warm and soothing to drink and read on.
The pact you make with Nature when you start the process of taming it to create your garden, involves:
Do No Harm – That holds for both garden and gardener. So, take on only that which is good for both. Organic, environmentally sound, Fair Trade, low carbon footprints are key words here. And, don’t take on more than you can handle. You’ll only make yourself sick and unhappy.
Think It Through – Don’t be impulsive, follow current trends or emulate others as you’ll have regrets. Just the way you do ( you do don’t you?) your homework before selecting and planting a tree, you must apply that same process to everything else.
Keep It Simple – Take on only what you can do for sure. Be realistic. Simple is clean, pure and elegant. Leave the bows, swags and fireworks to others.
Get Organized – By planning properly, a lot more will get accomplished and you would have allocated time to enjoy the season. Recall those times when the weeding and watering got done and you still had the time to read in the hammock amidst the hum of bees and chattering of finches. Channel that into your frenetic life.
Be True To Yourself – express your true self. Your taste, preferences and style are what makes you YOU. You plant the flowers and vegetables you like, you choose colors that sing to you, you got rid of whatever you didn’t like. Well, apply that to your life in general. You don’t have to throw a party, get a tree, send out cards and such. The party can wait for a time when there is less to do. Instead of a tree, promise that expense to a charity, send out thoughtful notes all through the year. Trust me, the people who really matter will understand and appreciate. Make no apologies for who or how you are. If you accept yourself, others will too.
Let It Go – Free yourself of your own and other people’s expectations. Reread Be True To Yourself above. Keep in kind that you do not have control over very much. So why burden yourself with what is beyond you?
Be Bold – Get out of that comfort zone and try something you’ve always wanted to do but were too hesitant/ shy/afraid to do. Think about how liberating it was when you ripped up the formal flower beds and made a cottage garden instead. Others were horrified but the slightly messy, blowsy look makes you endlessly happy. Whatever doesn’t work out can be remedied, redone, repaired or removed. The world will not end. Actually, the world will not notice.
Pay It Forward – You plant trees for future generations, use organic methods so all living things are safe, sow heirloom seeds so diversity and history are respected. Similarly, when giving gifts think about each individual and give them something that also benefits a larger population – membership to museums and botanical gardens, subscriptions to concerts, gift certificates to local nurseries and other local businesses. Low on money? There is no shame in that. Offer services like a home-cooked meal in January, pet/baby-sitting, helping with weeding in the spring, teaching a skill, fixing a problem like a leaky faucet or creaky door.
Be In The Moment – It is all you really have. Show up for it. Smell the rose when it blooms. Pick and savor the peach when it is ripe and warm from the embrace of the sun. Watch the fireflies every night of summer. This present moment will not come back. Live it well and it will nourish you forever. No regrets. You reap only what you sow.
Now, tell me, are you ready to change your mind about this holiday season? Exhale. Tone it down. Simplify. Own it. End this year on your own terms.