I found myself with a spare half an hour the other day. In between appointments and pick ups, I dordled in this small vacuum of time. What was I supposed to do with half an hour? Snooze in the car? Grab a quick coffee? Both sounded appealing. But before I knew it my feet had taken me somewhere that has become very familiar to me this spring. I blinked and found myself in the garden section of a well known DIY store.
I felt instantly calm. I was surrounded by colours and fragrance, all provided by mother nature. As I browsed I stroked the velvety leaves and it was like an inner peace rose within me. I was happy.
Just over a month ago I made a decision to take a break from fighting the local authority on, well, every thing really! On matters of social care, direct payments, medical care. It all needed to stop. Just temporarily. I was out of breath and struggling for air. My inner peace was shattered.
I woke up on the morning of my first day of my chosen leave of absence and dropped kiddo to school as usual. I got back in the car. Where was I supposed to go now? I had no appointments. No letters to write. No applications to fill in. I was lost.
I needed a purpose, a project. My mind couldn’t simply just shut down and relax after years of being on high alert. It needed training, it needed to learn how to operate at a slower pace. I don’t know what led me to the garden centre that morning, but somehow I ended up there. I guess my brain followed my feet for once rather than the other way round.
My garden, that was it. Natural art. Colours, scents and textures. I needed to reignite that part of my brain that wasn’t driven by logic or argument. Some creativity was needed.
I picked up some basic supplies and headed home with excitement in my belly. I couldn’t remember the last time I had made the journey home feeling excited, except for when sleep was on the cards. For months it had been a temple of domestic failure. A sharp reminder that I had well and truly put the needs of my dwelling on the back burner. Photographic evidence that my life had been consumed by paperwork for far too long. But the sun was shining and I longed to be outside. The garden was the perfect project.
Now despite coming from a family with a huge love of gardening, I was (and still am) very much a novice. A beginner. But I was determined to learn. I began to read. It was like flowers were growing in my brain. I was reading about a subject that didn’t involve laws and legal requirements. That didn’t have the future of my son riding on it. My mind was filled with roses, sunflowers and clematis. And nothing else. Nothing else was in there! I was focused on a single subject. No multitasking. Just my garden.
As the weeks passed I spent as much time as possible covered in compost and mulch. Never wearing gardening gloves. The feeling of the earth on my hands grounded me in a way I never thought possible. I was absorbed by nature. I was mindful and in the moment. I was optimistic for the flowers that were to bloom. And for the first time in several years that part of my brain that was running on empty, that part of my brain that was so exhausted, it shut down. And it shut down with peace and acceptance. My fighting was done. At least for now.
Several weeks on and you can still find me pottering in my garden on a daily basis. It’s no contender for the Chelsea flower show, but it’s got a splash of colour. As I sat this weekend and watched kiddo play, I looked around. My garden had brought me back from the brink of breakdown. It had saved me. It had made me mindful and calmly focused on creativity. I was connected with earth and nature. Truth be told, I think it saved me from a mental health relapse.
I will forever be grateful to my garden, and to my husband for not paying too much attention to my bank statement over the last few weeks…
Thanks for reading,