Cultivating Life

MELANIE SZUCS MA, LLMFT, LLPC

Spring is here and with it comes the freedom to go outside and work in my garden again. Can you hear the sigh of relief and anticipation that came out of me? My garden beds are still cluttered with dead leaves and old plants, just waiting to be tended. I eagerly and gently begin the work of removing the old, caring for the present, and cultivating the new.  

Over the past year or so, I have also been at work cultivating my life. I have been examining my garden beds to know them better, to see what weeds have sprung up, and to give love and attention to the plants I want to develop.

One of my favorite parts of gardening is seeing the tender, young shoots grow up from the seeds I have planted. The transformation is incredible, almost magical. In my haste to see these plants mature, I sometimes rush them outside before they are quite ready to face the world, and they wither before they really had a chance. I have seen this in my life as well. Change is difficult and painstaking. When we see the first signs of new life, sometimes we want to rush the process. But if we can have patience, if we can nurture those tender shoots, they will grow the roots needed to survive out in the world.

Gardening is also quite a messy process. Old growth dies and must be pruned away to make way for new growth. Sometimes you have to dig and till and pull out old weeds again and again before they are fully removed from the garden, because they are deep wounds, with deep roots. It can be difficult, tedious, and painful. But seeing beautiful flowers and herbs thrive when they are not choked by weeds is always worth it.

If I am honest, I wish I could have the gardens I see in the gardening books I read, or the fantasy garden I have in my head. But part of the process is learning to work with the garden you have, and to celebrate what it does give you. I am learning to have kindness toward my tender shoots, and not to chastise them for taking their time, or needing to grow deeper roots before going out in the world. I am learning to accept the process of pulling out weeds over and over again, even as I search for new ways to get rid of them. Most of all, I am learning to love my garden and its imperfections, to be curious about what it is telling me it needs, and to invite others to come enjoy my imperfect garden with me.


Lindsey Bandy