Episode 61 Tend Your Own Garden

May 22, 2023

Good morning from New York City. This morning I’m pondering something that I say frequently of late. I notice when I say it people always go “Oh, I like that line. I have to remember that.” It’s tend your own garden. I  don’t say that as a command. I usually give it in context.

When I tell this story about separating from a past love relationship, I talk about the fact that I felt like he wasn’t tending his garden. I also say that I am choosing to spend less time and energy around people who I feel are not tending their garden. It can sound very judgmental, but what I mean by it is this. I think what we used to say is taking care of your side of the street or something to that effect. I’m not sure what the exact expression is. I think we all know what it feels like to be around people that are always complaining – or something bad is always happening to them, or we can clearly see that they’re not doing the thing that they need to be doing – and yes, it can sound a little bit judgmental. But the truth of the matter is it is our judgment call when it comes to how we spend our time and who we spend time with, right?

Honestly, I think of myself as a loving and tolerant person. I’m not one who is quick to fault others. At the same time, I’m very aware of energy and how I feel around other people. For me, this is what having an awareness or a quiet practice is about. It’s about being the observer and noticing how I’m feeling, and being intentional about how I spend my time and who I spend time around, right? So when I talk about people who aren’t tending their own garden it may sound a little bit judgmental, but it really is about me and how I choose to direct my time and energy.

In the case of my own personal relationship, the awareness practice helped me to see that I was feeling angry. I was a little bit passive aggressive, and I was often in victim mode about one subject matter in particular that I felt was important, one that I felt he wasn’t taking care of. I recognized that I was a little bit too up in his business, and the truth of the matter was I wasn’t tending my own garden. My energy was focused on him. So that’s why I think having an awareness and quiet practice is so rich and important. I was able to be the observer and to recognize that I was nagging. I was sort of becoming victim to his not doing the thing that I thought was so important. Ultimately, I was able to find my quiet. Ultimately it was my judgment call and my discernment to make that call, and to realize that tending my garden was about moving away from the relationship.

So this is the language that came to me after that relationship, and I use it a lot now. I think that it is our responsibility to tend our own garden, whether that is our mental health, our rest, getting out of a job that is taking us too far astray from what’s important to us, or taking care of our health.  To me, that’s what tending your own garden is about.

I’m not saying that when you feel that someone is not taking care of their business, you should just walk away. Not at all. Sometimes it can be as simple as thinking about how to formulate a question that will make the other person think, or making an observation. I find it very useful when people make observations to me about myself. I know that that can be uncomfortable, but it’s courageous and loving to say to someone I’ve noticed this about you. How are you feeling about that? Or have you thought about another way to approach it?, or whatever that question might be. I’ve had many friends who complain, and I’m sure I complain as well, but as someone’s friend oftentimes it can be about simply taking the time to think through how to make the observation or ask the question or open the conversation in a way that allows the other person to catch themself or to see that yes, it’s time to take action or tend to something that’s important. As I said, I know sometimes that can be uncomfortable but I know, speaking for myself, I very much value when a close friend is able to approach me about something they know is a charged or sensitive subject for me. And by asking the question and showing up in a loving way, they can help me open a door that maybe feels stuck.

So I want to leave you with this though. Are there people in your life who are not tending their garden who you’re irritated by or who are a drag on your energy or constant complainers , or very stuck and where are you on that? Do you need to tend your own garden and disengage a little bit, or would you like to be the person that shows up and finds a way to open the conversation or ask the loving question?

Sometimes it’s our responsibility to tend our own garden, and sometimes we simply need a little loving support and it’s our judgment and discernment to choose where we land on that. We can choose to lovingly disengage and take care of ourselves or lovingly probe and try to show up and open the door for someone. That to me is what it means to tend your own garden.

I’ll leave you with that. Until next time. From my heart to yours.

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Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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