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To be honest, I’ve never been a big plant person. We’ve always had a couple around the house, but when we brought our twin daughters home from the hospital in 2014, we got rid of the few we had. I was recovering from a C-section, taking care of our babies, and taking care of my dog, so just looking at the plants was overwhelming.
When we moved to Colorado in 2018, I started to get back into plants slowly. I laughed when Tim handed me a copy of How Not to Kill Your Houseplant by Veronica Peerless, but it ended up being a helpful guide.
Over the past few years, I’ve received some plants as gifts. I would pick up a new plant every time I went to the grocery store for a while. My friend Camille, by the way, told me to avoid outdoor plants from grocery stores—they have a lot of pesticides that are bad for bees and butterflies—so I only go for the indoor plants.
A few months ago, Tim and I were FaceTiming with a friend, Snake, who is a plant person (Snake is also named Tim, but we use his nickname when we chat to avoid confusion). He saw our plants in the background and asked what was going on with them—they weren’t looking great!
I’ll admit that even as I’ve become a plant person, I don’t always take the best care of my plants. I try to water them regularly, but that’s about it.
I told Snake this, and he said, “Are you also feeding them? And they probably need bigger pots, too.”
I didn’t know that plants needed food. And I sort of knew about pot sizes, but I didn’t realize it was something that I had to pay much attention to.
That’s when Snake told me, “If you aren’t feeding your plants, they’re just slowly starving to death. And Imagine how it feels to be a plant in a container that’s too small for you. And then all your time is spent pushing and pushing against the edges of that container. You want to grow, but you can’t because you’re stuck.”
Can you see the metaphor here?
When we talk about plants, it’s not just about watering them or if they’re getting enough sun. There are other fundamental things to think about when we remember that our plants are living beings.
I’ve mentioned in several episodes that some exciting shifts are going on behind the scenes for this podcast. And a lot of those changes stem from this conversation about plants.
We are so good at thinking about all the things we’re doing and all the things we want to do. And that matters a ton. Are you raising your hand and saying yes to things that are in integrity with you are?
But if we’re only talking about what we’re doing, is that in support of us, the living creatures, being our most alive?
We also need to think about how we’re being fed. Are we consuming things that nourish us? Or are we taking what’s convenient, what’s expected, and called that good enough?
I thought that watering my plants was enough. I didn’t even realize. But that’s why I’m thinking we need to start having different conversations. We need to start looking at our definitions of success, being alive, being in integrity, and being creative.
How can we live lives that are both radical and radiant? How can we embrace radical self-belief and radical delight while knowing that it’s not all or nothing?
There is so much rich nuance available to us. And if we go beyond the checklist of “doing all the right things,” we have to consider how we’re feeding our souls.
You might think, “Oh, I just want to get this thing done.” But is it about what you’re doing? Or is it about how your life doesn’t create space for this? Or how you’re so good at prioritizing other people that there’s never any time left over for the thing?
As soon as you have that thing, doubt is going to ask you, “are you sure?” And that’s where radical self-belief comes into play.
The second thing to think about—with plants and also with ourselves—is the container we’re in.
This might be a literal container, like your home. Or it could be a container you’ve built for yourself, like a relationship, a job, a way of showing up, an identity, a way of being a hand raiser and yes sayer.
You can ask yourself, “what no longer fits? What do you no longer fit within?”
Being a hand raiser and a yes sayer, for example, might have served you well up to a certain point. But it’s okay if you’re ready to put your hand down, take a nap, and walk away. You might be ready for something more profound, more nourishing, and more expansive.
Check if the container that once felt like home now feels like a trap. You might need a new container, so you aren’t spending all of your energy pushing against it.
And just like a plant, you’ll need some time to adjust to a new container. We have to be willing to slow down, sit still, and look around, along with having deeper conversations.
It’s totally normal if you’re looking around at your plants right now and thinking, “Oh, plant babies, I’m so sorry. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to. I thought I was following the rules. I thought I was who I was supposed to be.”
It’s easy to follow the rules and live in this place because we know what to do. And then we wake up one morning, and we’re like, oh, these rules are for a game that I’m trying to win. And I don’t even know if I want to be on this field.
I don’t have three easy steps to get into a new container and feed yourself or your plants. I’m not sure that this is something that can even be three-easy-stepped. But I do know that I want to have different, deeper conversations so we can all bring our awareness to new ways of being.
Glennon Doyle talks about chasing d
irty pink rabbits that we might not even want in her book Untamed. In Everything is Spiritual, Rob Bell talks about the ladders we’re working so hard to climb. Both of them bring up the questions of, “What are we doing? Where is our energy going? And what if we changed it all?”
If this resonates with you, I encourage you to go deeper. Ask yourself if you fit in your container. And give yourself time to consider what container might be even better for you.
How Not to Kill Your Houseplant by Veronica Peerless
Ep. 206: Camille T. Dungy on Living (and Navigating!) the Dream
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Everything is Spiritual by Rob Bell
[04:52] The plant conversation that changed my perspective
[10:39] How we’re nourishing ourselves
[14:18] What container we’re holding ourselves in
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