Imagine you have a beautiful garden. You planted the seeds, meticulously and lovingly tended the seedlings, pruned and watered and weeded, and now everything is in bloom.
Maybe your garden bursts with colorful zinnias. Or perhaps it is filled with tomato plants whose vines bend under the weight of juicy fruits. Simply walking through your garden makes your heart happy. Bending to pluck a weed or dead-heading a withered blossom rejuvenates you because even such small acts help your garden flourish. Your garden isn’t perfect; maybe your morning glories aren’t climbing the trellis as neatly as you’d hoped, or your onions didn’t get any bigger than marbles, and perhaps some critter is nibbling at your greens. But nonetheless, your plants are healthy and your garden is thriving.
Word gets out that you have cultivated a wonderful garden and others begin to ask for your help to maintain their gardens. You agree, and begin helping more and more people. You spend your days working the soil of others’ gardens so that they too may reap the benefits of your careful labor. At first you feel fulfilled because you can look around and see the beauty you’ve created for others. But you soon become stressed as you try to balance all of the work. As time wears on, you spend so many hours tending to the gardens of your loved ones, family, friends, neighbors, and maybe even strangers that the time you spend among your own plants becomes less and less. You hastily water your thirsty plants, quickly toss whatever is ripe into a basket, and pull a weed here and there as you rush to get the job done in the small amount of time you’ve allotted for the upkeep of your own cherished space.
The day finally comes when you are too exhausted from tending to other gardens that you stop caring for your own garden altogether. Some time later, you return home after a long day of gardening and on your way inside, you pass your own garden that was once lush, vibrant, and loved. The once strong and healthy stems are bent and brittle. The formerly colorful blossoms have faded and withered. Fruits that were once plump and hearty have shrunken and fallen to the hard, packed earth. Your heart sinks. You make your way inside, dragging your heels and hanging your head. You are so upset over your own garden, that you stop working on everyone else’s garden too. You feel guilty and useless.
Days, weeks, or maybe months pass. One day you realize that all your negative feelings stem from the fact that you neglected your own garden to tend to everyone else’s. You get up, find a trowel, and head outside. Hours later, covered in dirt and exhausted, you step back and admire your work. Your garden still looks a bit shabby, but after those few hours it already seems to be coming back to life. Every day after, you spend time in your garden until soon, it is back to its former state and you are again happy. You slowly return to helping other people maintain their gardens, but are careful to always leave time for your own.
We are each a garden. With proper care and love, we can thrive and flourish. However, should we neglect ourselves, we wilt, fade, and wither like untended plants. This neglect often comes during difficult, stressful, and chaotic times. Maybe we’re caring for a loved one around the clock. Maybe we’re working ourselves weary to achieve success and recognition in our career or good grades in school. There are many situations in which we find ourselves tending to everyone and everything except ourselves.
It may seem selfish to put yourself—your wellness, your mental and physical health, your happiness— first. I surely have to fight off guilt whenever I carve out time for self-care and some self-love, which usually comes in the form of practicing yoga, reading, or baking bread and experimenting with recipes from Minimalist Baker, Rawsome Vegan Baking, and Thug Kitchen. But it is this time—be it 5 minutes or 5 hours—that help restore and rejuvenate me and allow me to resume running around doing a bunch of different things.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, always, always, (seriously…always!) make time to take care of Number One: yourself. Find something that you love (yoga, running, reading, writing, making art, lifting weights, napping, singing, cooking, baking, doing puzzles, meditating, crafting…) and let it heal you so that you can continue to do whatever it is that you must do.
P.S. I am currently doing Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga Camp on Youtube. It rocks. I recommend YWA to anyone who interested in yoga and wants to cultivate a home practice!
Liz wore the Earth Medallion Yoga Tank, Enlightened Organic Cotton Leggings, and 3 Strap Organic Cotton Bandeau
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