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15 Lessons Learnt From My Plants

Gardening for me is the solution to most of my problems. If I have a headache, I go play in the dirt; if I need to relieve some stress/worry, I go repot a plant; if I need to feed my soul and relax, I walk barefoot on the wet grass and sometimes wet myself with the hose. But there's so much more to gardening than just that. Gardening is a great teacher if only we'd stop to learn.

Are you a gardener? Do you love gardening? Have you ever planted and nurtured a plant - fruits, vegetables, or flowers? Have you successfully killed a plant or multiple plants? Lastly, have you ever thought about the lessons a plant has taught you? Well, I have. But not until recently.

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A few days ago, as I watered my orchids, I started talking to the "Headmaster of the School of Patience" - yes, we the flowers folks talk to our plants and often name them too. Something I once frowned upon and thought everyone who did it was mad. Alas, look at me now, mad with the rest. Anyway, as I watered, I said, "you know, you really are teaching me patience, cause I should have gotten rid of you a long time ago." As I said those words it dawned on me that plants are great teachers. And I for one have learnt a lot in the past few years.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. ~ Alfred Austin

I've always said that the Lord has a funny sense of humour. When I started gardening, I figured He thought it would be hilarious for me to fall in love with the hobby because He knows very well that the first lesson, and probably the most important, would be for me to learn patience. And what better way to learn patience than with these plants or children. (Click here to watch: My Plants Teach Me Patience).

So what are some of the lessons I've learnt so far?

1. Patience. A plant is going to be a plant. It will blossom, bloom, bear fruit, or mature only when it chooses to do so. Therefore, I can choose to patiently wait or I can frustrate myself on a daily basis by being overly anxious and impatient. Believe me, I have frustrated myself repeatedly and cussed the poor plants for not doing what I wanted, when I wanted it. Now I just wait and then get super excited when something does happen. Have I learnt patience in other aspects of my life? Hmmm...not so in progress.

2. Growth takes time, consistency and dedication. I get up almost every morning and water my plants. I spend extra time with them on the weekend - weeding, feeding, extra watering, pruning, etc. I check them for bugs and fungus. I make sure they are doing just fine. When I remain consistent and dedicated to this routine, which takes time, I am rewarded with growth - lush gardens, beautiful blooms, and food. However, when I am not so consistent and/or dedicated they look at me like the evil witch and they do not produce as they should. This is the same for our lives - personal or professional. It takes time, dedication, and consistency for us to grow and flourish.

3. Learn from your mistakes. So you've killed a few plants by overwatering or not watering enough, or by not having them in the right location, etc. No worries, that's fine. It took me many dead plants to realize that if I keep doing the same things repeatedly, without learning and adjusting, I'm gonna keep killing the plants. Same with life. We all make mistakes, whether we learn from them or not is what makes the difference.

There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder.~ Alfred Austin

4. Adaptability & Resilience. Plants have an amazing way of adapting to their environment and are super resilient in most situations. They are survivors. Some grow deeper and thicker rooting systems to withstand varying weather conditions, while others emit scents and saps that ward off predators (I wonder if I can do this...hmmm). You may even notice that your plant is growing in a certain direction - may be towards the sunlight or shade. They are not defined by who owns them and how they've been taken care of. They may droop and wrinkle when not watered enough. Or they may stop blooming if overwatered. Nevertheless, they adapt and are resilient. We are much like plants. When exposed to the elements we put up our shield, we fight back, we learn to survive, we adapt and we become resilient.

5. Plants thrive in the right environment. Put a plant in the right environment and it grows magnificiently. Put a human in the right environment and voila, they too grow magnificiently .

A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them. ~ Liberty Hyde Bailey

6. There's beauty in everything. "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." ~ Confucius. As destructive as a caterpillar can be to your garden, their transition into a butterfly is so delightful to watch. In life, not all situations will be palatable, but if you look hard enough, you will find that little glimmer of beauty.

7. Diversity is key. Can you imagine if you planted the same of everything throughout your garden, wouldn't that be boring? Variety is the spice of life. In planting varied things throughout my garden I get to enjoy blooms and foods at different times of the year. I get to have new experiences with each plant - how they grow, what their needs are. I'm fascinated with the different sizes, shapes, colors, heights, and smells. The same holds true for our lives. If there isn't some form of diversity happening in your life, you may be living a boring one. Just saying.

8. Abundance & Sharing. Luke 6:38 says, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” I've found that the more I pour into my plants and give of their produce, the more they give to me. There's something absolutely magical about sharing. In life you have to be willing to give of yourself - time, money, talents, resources and self. The more you give, the more you receive. This doesn't mean however that you should let yourself be used and/or give of yourself until you have nothing left for you.

9. Appreciate the small things. It may only give you one bloom or a single fruit today. Appreciate it. You never know what tomorrow may bring.