It catches up with you..

I was outside weeding my front garden when I waved to my neighbor. It was windy but I heard him say “it catches up with you”. I looked at all the weeds in my garden and realized the weeds had certainly caught up with me. With time, energy and focus I was getting the bed back in order for spring. Then I started thinking about my life. I thought about how when I do not pay attention to my needs and take care of myself weeds of neglect can sneak in. It is definitely a balancing act. It is impossible to be a master of everything. Personally, I seem to have a lot of everything, which means I dabble. When I dabbled at gardening, I ended up with many weeds. The same neighbor suggested I mulch my garden to keep the weeds down.

Therefore, I stepped back and re-evaluated so I could give a real effort to gardening and not simply dabble. I realized that perennials would work well for me. Thankfully, they seem to thrive on neglect. Then I paid attention to what flourished and added more of that. I removed what did not flourish. I added mulch to keep the weeding down. I did my best to water daily, especially during the warm season.

So how does this relate to the garden of my life? Since I work full time and travel often on weekends I did not get to as many exercise classes, as I wanted. In order to bring more movement into my life I looked at the activities or practices that were “easy” to fit in. I really like the foundation exercises of tai chi so I try to fit those in even if I only have five minutes at lunch or between clients. My son reminds me that over time habits become part of what we do. Now when I have time the foundation exercises become “part of what I do”. I also memorized the first seventeen moves of tai chi so when I had some time I could fit them in. Part of the balancing act is finding what works for you and your schedule.

Think about what you want to cultivate in your life. If you want to eat healthier, try shopping on the outside of the grocery store as much as possible and avoid too much prepackaged food. I try as much as possible to take Sundays for food prep. This can be cutting up vegetables, making soup or preparing a meal that has leftovers. I find the balancing act is easier if I focus less on what I want to remove or give up and more on what I want to add. In my garden, peonies motivate me because I love their color. I love bleeding hearts because they thrive and are so pretty. For me, food prep is easier to add then to focus on removing junk food.

We all have competing roles in our lives. Many of us are partner, mother, aunt, daughter, employee, small business owner, and homeowner and so on. In order to help me set priorities I developed the following guiding principles. I like to think of them as my non-negotiables or my “I will list”. Or to use the gardening analogy, these are the flowers I wish to plant in my garden.

"I will list"

1. Meal preparation: Each week I make at least one to two homemade prepared meals. 2. Check in with my body: Each day, usually in the morning and then throughout the day, I check in to see what my body needs. This may be water, vegetables, movement or rest. 3. Stick to the basics of daily self-care: For everyone this is different. For me it is taking a shower, essential oils, a good breakfast and comfortable clothing. 4. Create something each week: Taking time to write, paint, make jewelry or art journal. 5. Take a rest day: No matter what, I try to unplug for at least an afternoon from social media and give my body a rest from a workout. 6. Create a rainy day practice: I have a lovely little list of rainy day activities. I have the same list for sunny days too which is usually a packed beach bag . 7. Say no: If your cup is empty, fill it up before you add something to it. 8. Say yes to you: Do the things that bring you joy and happiness, add beauty to your day; these happy moments strung together make your one beautiful life. 9. Spend time with those you love: with your phone turned off, fully present, listening, connecting and having fun. 10. Take it a day at a time: If all else fails and you have a day where none of one to nine happen, remember tomorrow is a new day and keep taking it one day at a time.

Tanya Levy, MSW, RSW, CCC is a counsellor, educator, digital artist and jewelry maker.

Click here to see her digital art.

Tanya creates individualized healing photos and offers breakthrough counselling sessions to help individuals create the life they want.

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