Saturday, April 12, 2008

Your own half acre

I'm in the middle of reading another Geneen Roth book. (Okay, I'm addicted. But in my defense, she truly is an amazing writer!)

Once again there are so many passages that move me from all the books that I've read by her (so far) and someday, I'll share them all with you. But for now, I'll leave you with this one from "The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It: Over the edge and back with my dad, my cat, and me." (New York: Harmony Books, 2004.)

"My friend Annie once told me that not everyone wants life to be a mountaintop experience. She said that we all get our emotional half acres to tend while we are alive. Some people grow potatoes, and some grow roses, but it's not our business what someone else does with their half acre." page 114

When my husband and I owned a house and an almost acre of land, I eventually started a garden. I carved out a section from the semi-wilderness that was once the former owner's garden (specifically, the length and width of one roll of black plastic.) I turned the soil by hand. (Talk about therapeutic... this was in the early days of my recovery.) I planted the already started plants and watched them grow.

My philosophy was this - I won't plant/grow anything that I couldn't eat. Flowers (except for the bulbs that the former owner had planted) had to be edible. So I didn't have many flowers for beauty sake.

Looking back, it makes a lot more sense.

I was beginning my (very long) road through recovery. ED still had me in his grip and some of the first issues I dealt with (needed to deal with) were my beliefs about me. At the time, I didn't think I deserved anything. I needed to earn everything - burn each calorie I wanted to eat, work for every dollar I spent. Feed others first, provide for their needs, and reluctantly take the scraps for myself.

It makes sense that the plants in my garden needed to be useful to be wanted. Because that was what I believed was true for me. I needed to be useful to be wanted, to be given what I needed in life.

The next year, my garden changed a little. I planted a few sundrops (yellow flowers that I was told would grow like made in the shady spot I wanted to fill.)
You can't eat sundrops. I planted them anyway. And on Father's Day, I plucked a bunch as a centerpiece for the dinner I made my husband. (First course, salad from the swiss chard and basil I grew in my garden.)

And guess what? My mindset about myself had changed a little, too. I was beginning to see that everyone deserves to have her needs filled. Needs are just that - necessities without which we can not live. I was beginning to understand that food, water, air were not the only necessities in life. I started to see that love was a big necessity - one that a person should not need to earn to receive.

Three years have passed since I last prepared a garden for spring. My hubby and I (blissfully) no longer have land to maintain. (Hurray for apartment life!) But if I did have a garden this year, I think I would plant my favorite veggies (a variety of tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, sweet cherry and banana peppers, swiss chard and spinach, and pumpkins,) a healthy crop of herbs (basil and parsley, dill and spearmint,) and a bounty of flowers - some for cutting and bringing indoors, some for the beauty they provide outside.

Beauty is the embodiment of love. In nature, it can be the vibrant color of a violet, the brightness of a cherry blossom, the gentle ripple on a lake. Even the violent crash of lightning which illuminates the sky for a split second or two. Like air, we need to breathe it in, let it saturate every cell in our body. We need to allow ourselves to enjoy it wherever and whenever we are.

After five years of journeying through the land of recovery, I still need reminders to stop and smell the roses. But at least my garden has them now.

So what is in your half acre?


Faith said...

Oh my god Jeanne. This is so incredibly meaningful to me right now. I plant useful plants - nothing just for beauty's sake. What a revelation that is. I am going to read and reread this until it sinks in.

Thank you Jeanne.


Jeanne said...

Hi Faith,

What we choose to plant in real gardens is truly revealing, isn't it?

I'd love to see pictures of your garden as it grows!!

You are quite welcome, Faith.

Thinking of you with lots of love and support,

Angel said...

Jeanne, You have been tagged! Please visit my blog to play along:)

P.S. I really enjoy your blog!