Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cultivate Your Garden of Life and Happiness

Do you believe you are here on earth to be alive and happy? I do. If you don't maybe you will feel better if you go and read something else...
Still with me?
I cannot help comparing cultivating a garden to growing a happy life. I have been gardening  off and on most of my life. Here I am at age 4 weeding by my Grandma's back door- note the Mary Jane shoes (ever the Dressy Bessy I had to be dressed for the garden in those days- one of my paper dolls had a sun suit just like the one I am wearing- with the ruffles!). I am smiling happily while pulling the weeds.
One of my gardening friends commented that she has never seen a photo of me at any age barefoot. The reason dates from a year before the photo above. My Aunt Rose wanted me to experience the joy of walking barefoot on the grass. A lovely plan for a little girl who was growing up in apartments and hotels as she travelled with her parents. I joyfully took off my Mary Janes and my socks and took my first step on the clover studded lawn. I promptly stepped on a bee! That was the end of my barefoot days but not the end of my gardening adventures... Just recently I have been willing to try walking barefoot on a designated path in my Secret Garden. So far - even though beekeepers have been keeping bees for several years  on my property- I have not been stung. I have a feeling the bees know that I am the gardener who provides their feast and perhaps even that the beekeepers name the queens  after me!
So do I design my life and happiness  the way I design my garden -yes!  I understand that a garden requires quite a bit of maintenance and rebuilding. So does my life and happiness. I design my garden to be as pleasant to work in as I can manage. I am frequently discovering new tools and new methods to make my work more enjoyable and actually manageable. I have had to let go of many designs and plants that are just too labor intensive for me now.  The same is true for my life and happiness. I design my day - note - it is a design, a blueprint, not a rigorous routine- the way I design my garden.
The first principle for me is pleasure/happiness. If the garden / my life is not a pleasure/a source of happiness -why have it?  For me interleaving work with play/rest is key.
I begin most days  at 5:30 (sometimes even a bit earlier). The cats are my alarm clock. They want their breakfast and their lap time. They are not patient and their demands are quite vocal. I usually wake up well before they start in so that I can have a few minutes to appreciate being alive and awake for another day. I like to have a few minutes to wiggle my toes and fingers and wake up my body with some dance like motion. Once I am dressed, I feed the cats, unload the dishwasher and make my hot lemon water. I listen to music and dance around the kitchen as I do my early chores. Then I relax on the sofa in the den plugged into my Italian music/conversations with all 3 cats on my lap .
After awhile I get up, brew a cup of tea,and return to the sofa with the cats. By 7:00 I am ready to get myself and my tools together to work in the garden. Here is what I saw early one morning when I stopped to smell this fragrant lily on my way to the greenhouse:

 By some miracle the little frog was still there when I came back with my camera!

 If it is raining or too cold I do some housework or work on a sewing project. I work for 3 or 4 hours and then change clothes and have an enormous, healthy, late breakfast. It is my favorite meal of the day. I take it out to the Secret Garden on fair days and sit at the edge of the lily pool and watch the frogs and the dragonflies. When I come inside at about 11:30 I check for phone messages and I turn on my computer to check e-mail, work on courses I am taking etc. Yes, I have been up for 6 hours before I get into cyberspace. I work on the computer and/ or I do household chores until about 3:00 when I have a snack or lunch. Again, I take it out to the Secret Garden or if it is raining or too cold/too hot I sit in my glassed in garden room. From 3:30- 6:30 I play and exercise (another form of play for me). This includes chatting to my friends on the telephone or Skype, practicing piano/rollerskating/learning a new dance or exercise routine etc.  At 6:30 I turn off the computer and I feed the cats and tidy up the kitchen. Then I have  a bath, get into my pajamas, and until lights out I read or I listen to music while crocheting or knitting. Even though it looks like I have been playing/relaxing most of the day, I have actually accomplished quite a bit of work.
Not everyday is exactly the same- but this is the general blueprint. Weekends are more free form - and I do indulge in Pinterest and watch movies and catch up with Facebook friends on Saturdays and Sundays. Even when I had my first 9-5 job, the blueprint was similar. I have always liked to have quiet, alone time before school/work and I always preferred to have my main meal at breakfast or  lunch.  I have also always at least attempted to work in playtime between bouts of work! No homework for me immediately after school-I was on my roller skates or my bicycle for awhile first! I scheduled my classes at university  so that I had plenty of breaks and playtime. When I had a 9-5 job  I would ride my bicycle after work for an hour or so to divide my day from work to play.
Confession: when I had my own bookshop and later when I had my flower farm and garden design business I burned out! I did not follow my blueprint  and I suffered from migraines and generally poor health. It took me awhile both times to recover. Some of us are slow learners. It's never too late...
I am NOT recommending my blueprint! What I would like to inspire you to do is to create your own blueprint for a life that makes you happy!
 When are you energized?
When do you work most efficiently?
When do you need play/creativity time?
When are you really hungry and what time of day is best for your main meal (this is about how you FEEL- not social rules!)
What is the optimum time for you to sleep? To wake up?
These are just a few questions to get you started to cultivate your own garden of life and happiness.
No hard rules - just an optimal blueprint!
How do you prefer to schedule your time? Do you like to work straight through the day and then rest/play or do you like breaks in your routine?  I know many people who seem to feel best getting all the work done and then relaxing and having their main meal late in the day. It is all about what works for YOU!
Please leave me a comment or email me or pm me on Facebook. How do you cultivate your garden of life and happiness on a daily basis?
It's lily time!


Anonymous said...

Adorable picture of you doing your weeding. Looks like gardening has long been a hobby for you with beautiful results!

colleen said...

Thank you,Marcia. Yes! Gardens, pets, books, and music are my lifelines. What are yours?