Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

 I asked some friends a question this morning, How does your garden grow?

 Yesterday I was out watering my flowers and considered the above question. I imagine the first thing that comes to mind is a physical garden whether it is a flower garden or a vegetable garden. Both of which take a lot of care. One must prepare the area, clearing it of weeds and stones. Once the ground is ready, you head for your garden center of choice and pick out your plants. Then you decide where you are planting what. Some plants do better in full sun, others only need partial sun. Some plants need a great deal of water while others do well with limited amounts.   All plants will need feeding, whether you use plant food specific for that particular plant or a fertilizer that will feed everything you plant. It takes a great deal of work- getting a garden to grow. Everything has its own particular requirements for it to grow into a healthy, producing plant. Once it is a fully grown plant that is producing, you must take care of it even then. Flowers may need to be kept dead-headed, or trimmed. Vegetables need to be harvested. For the entire growing season you are kept busy- getting your garden to grow. Especially if you want a bountiful harvest of edibles, or an array of flowers that would win awards and should adorn a magazine cover. Butterfly and Bee fight over the abundant flowers you have grown.

But, what of other gardens? What do you do to help those gardens grow? What other gardens you might ask? What about family? You haven't considered family as a garden? Consider this, as a child we were cared for when our parents gave us what we needed in the way of clothing and food with a few extras tossed in along the way. As we grew we learned how to get along with our siblings and various relatives. If we showered them with respect and love, we (usually) got respect and love in return. When we became adults we began to consider the type of person we wanted to spend the rest of our life with. When we met various people we invested time and energy into the relationship trying to determine if this person was 'the one'. Over the course of time, many hours would be invested, various activities- some that you probably didn't even like- but all to work toward the end results of the garden of your own family. When you marry, you will tend to the union through your emotions. Feeding it hope, faith, love, compassion while watering it with forgiveness and mercy. You will prune away the bad branches such as jealousy, envy and anger to name a few. When the time is right your union will produce your own children and you will care for them well. Feeding and watering them with the same emotions you did with your spouse. Training them as one would a vine that you wanted to grow in a certain direction you will train your children to be good, productive adults. Then you will watch them as they move on to their own family garden.

What about your garden of friends? Now of course to cultivate friends is not the same as vegetables, but, many similar things are required.  While you aren't going to be clearing ground physically, you will prepare your heart for new friends when you meet them. While in a physical garden there are times when a volunteer plant appears. You didn't plant it, for some reason it was just there. Maybe the wind blew in the seed or an animal dropped it. However it happened, there it is. The same happens with people. While we may think that we only want certain types for friends, there are times when others will find their way to us. Do we treat them as we do the other people that we deliberately sought out? Or do we rip them from our lives as one does an unwanted weed in the midst of an immaculate lawn? The friends that we have, we must take care of them, make sure they know that we appreciate them, be there for them when they have a need. We need to treat them well, as we would like to be treated. Shower them with laughter, wrap them in peace, take a how to weed out the bad things and feed them with love. Sadly though, there are times when a friendship falls apart. It is not good for either one of you, creating only pain and heartache. When the bad outweighs the good it is time to remove them from the garden.

You can say the same for careers. You prepare when you educate yourself for your dream job. You feed the dream when you practice. You water it when you continually seek out knowledge of and methods for doing this dream. When you land your dream career you feed it by working hard. You water it by continually learning from those who have gone before you. You water it when you seek out better, more efficient methods. You weed it when you remove the things that are detrimental to your career. You see it produce in the way of bonuses, awards, acknowledgements of what you have accomplished.

What of your faith? You prepare your heart, you acknowledge your needs and you seek out the answers to your questions. You feed it when you spend time with those who know more. Those who are like minded with you.  You feed it when you read the words that are given on it. You water it, when you pray, when you openly acknowledge and share without malice or judgement. When you seek guidance in this walk, you are caring for your garden of faith. You learn to discern truth from fallacy when listening to others speak. You realize that there is a difference in religion and in a relationship. Your garden produces when others understand what you are saying, when they seek out for themselves their own garden of faith.

There are many gardens in our lives. It is up to us to cultivate them, to care for them, to bring them to a state of productiveness. So I ask again........how does your garden grow?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dear attacked and or attacker

 I was sitting here contemplating something I read recently. I've carried it with me since, considering what I would say, should I ever come face to face with either the recipient of an attack or the attacker. Having no way of knowing if the most recent incident was real or not and not knowing any of the people involved I can only go on feelings. I can only think of the 'what would I do?' if as I said, I stood face to face with one who has gone through, or is going through, this.

 If I were to be able to talk with one who has been attacked, I would have to be compassionate and tell them- stay strong.
You have a family member with one or more handicaps and you are doing your best to deal with them yourself. Good for you! That is not an easy thing to do yet you have shown that love of family over convenience is what is important. My hope is that you are able to assist as needed, to do for as needed all in love. I hope that in the moments that for what ever reason you are unable that you  reach out to others, allow them to assist you. Let other family members, and or friends help so that it doesn't become too much. Caring for someone who cannot care for themselves either in part or not at all is a very daunting task. It can become too much for one to bear. Let others help shoulder the burden (even though it is a burden of love) so that not all the weight falls on you alone. Even a thirty minute break makes all the difference.  It will be better for you, and for the ones you love.

One incident I recall is where a mother was anonymously attacked over her autistic son. The attacker did not like the son being outside, making noise or a multitude of other acts this boy was supposedly making. Mother, your son has as much right to be outside in your yard as much as any other child has to be outside. Making noise? We all make noise in some form or other-ignore the ignorance.

 There are times when as much as we want, it is impossible to keep a loved one home with us, but for those who can, the road ahead of them is difficult. You have voluntarily taken this road and I do salute you, I do applaud your strength, carry that strength on, especially should someone who doesn't understand attacks. Allow your love to carry you through.

 You, yourself have health issues. You see yourself in the mirror every day. You see the person you have become, whether through neglect of self or through no fault of your own, you see the struggles and the pain and you have decided to do something about it. You have begun to take better care of yourself through every faction that is your life. You have changed your way of eating. Fast food is history, comfort foods are ninety-nine percent history (you are allowed a treat every now and again), fried foods are banned. Your diet now is healthy, one of fruits and vegetables, whole foods- not processed. You have begun to exercise. It isn't easy at first. You have all that excess weight slowing you down. You have other health issues slowing you down- but you are trying and you are determined- good for you. I salute you, I am proud of you and your determination. Carry that on, especially when someone who doesn't understand attacks. Do not allow their actions or words to deter you from accomplishing your goals. Look past the insensitivity of others as looking through a haze of smoke and keep moving forward. Do not allow anyone to stop what you have set out to accomplish.

I could continue on an on over the various things that people have been attacked over. Lifestyle choices, religious choices, the level that radios are played, a yard not immaculate, flying flags..etc..

Sadly I believe we have become a very selfish lot. It has to be our way or not at all. Believe what I believe, live as I live or move. How wrong is that?

Attacker? Did you think I would end this without speaking to you? Did you believe I would give you a pass and not speak of how your actions make me feel?

You make me feel ashamed. Your actions in my opinion are the actions of a coward. You hide behind the cloak of anonymity and secrecy. You spew venomous words that only create hurt, anger and disappointment. Maybe you feel that your idealistic world has been tarnished. Maybe you feel that you have a right to control the actions of those around you. I know people like that and yes, it bothers me greatly. There are things that we have a right to complain about, illegal activities, domestic violence, a yard where danger lurks as in abandoned cars on blocks, a freezer left outside with the door on, dead brush piled high creating a haven for snakes or a risk for fire. If it is a risk, yes, say something to the proper people, if you cannot have a reasonable, mature conversation with the ones creating the hazard. Do not attack people who are trying to do the best they can in a given situation. Applaud them, encourage them, offer to help them but don't attack them.

We do not know the struggles of others. We do not know the storms and battles that the people we see are facing. We do not need to add to those struggles by acting out in cruelty and insensitivity. We do not need to hide behind anonymous letters. We are adults, we should act like adults.