Mind the Garden Within

Logan's Love Foundation, Safety Harbor Parks and Recreation, Safety Harbor Garden Club, Mullet Creek Park

In celebration of World Honey Bee Day on August 15, 2020, the Logan’s Love Foundation and the Safety Harbor Garden Club planted a beautiful pollination garden at Mullet Creek Park in Safety Harbor, FL. Like every volunteer activity we do to honor the memory and life of our sweet daughter Logan, these events fill us with joy, love, and purpose that we are making a difference and celebrating the life Logan lived. It’s also a time of deep reflection. The planting of this garden reminds us that life is continuous and forever blooming and through acts of kindness and love, we can make the world more beautiful together.

Through the couple days that my wife Helen, son Cayden, and I spent with Gary and Leslie, two master gardeners at the Safety Harbor Club whose members supported the project, I admired how they were so calm, present in the moment, and full of life and excitement to collaborate on this project with us. There is a grace and peacefulness about them and an energy that just makes you want to be around them. You feel grounded and also inspired by their joy for life. This got me wondering, are they like this naturally…or through gardening did they acquire the gift of patience for slowing down and appreciating the simple things in life and taking time to smell the flowers? As I worked beside them and all the volunteers in the garden that day, there was a meditative quality that came with planting along with a few life lessons about how we can cultivate the garden within—within our heart, our mind, and our soul. If we are open to life and new experiences, we will never stop growing if we can take the time to nurture and love ourselves and others. So here are a few gardening metaphors that came to mind as we planted together on that special day.

Get rid of the weeds: To have a beautiful garden, you must first get rid of all the weeds and clear the space. When I asked Gary what was a weed and what wasn’t, he said, “Whatever you don’t want…that’s a weed.” So in life, get rid of the weeds…those things that are occupying space in your mind that are not adding value to you, your health, your relationships, your family, your career, or your spirituality. Stop and consider what is causing worry that is unnecessary or exhausting you mentally, emotionally, and physically. Tear them out…and let it go! What you think is so important now won’t matter in 5, 10, or 20 years. Think about the things that stressed you in the past, it’s likely that most never happened…so why waste your energy? Live in the now and live for today and accept that there may not be a tomorrow. I’ve found this realization to be a blessing—to live each day and to acknowledge that all things are temporary and that both good and bad situations will come and go. It’s important to appreciate and celebrate that today is a gift, and that the bad storms of life will pass in time. 

Imagine a new garden: There is a sense of lightheartedness, hope, and new possibilities once you’ve cleared away the weeds. Now you can really see what you’re working with and the potential that lies within your garden. This is the time to dream—and dream big. You don’t have to be constrained by anything, it’s your garden! But you need a plan, a layout of what you want your garden to look like. In life, this starts with your purpose. What do you want your life to be about? What do you value? What do you want to experience? How will you give back? It’s important to write these down so when things don’t go as expected or you feel you’re heading in the wrong direction, come back to your plan, come back to your roots, your ultimate purpose and why you are here and what you value most. It’s your garden, you decide what goes in and what you will nurture and grow and harvest in the years ahead.

Plant the garden. Now it’s time to take action. This is where the hard work begins. Know that friends and family can help you. Some have plants and seeds you can use and plenty of advice and wisdom to share. Others have a lifetime of experience (full of mistakes and lessons learned), and tips to guide you along the way—or maybe you just need a helping hand and someone to listen and support you. Know that there are people in your life that love you unconditionally and will always be there. Bring them closer to you. Let them participate in your garden of life…and when it’s time to harvest, give back to them, offer what you have learned to help them prosper and grow their own garden. God provides everything we need, there is abundance for all if we are willing to give back and share and help others. 

Care for the garden. Nurturing the garden within takes self-love, patience, and great care. Too much of anything–sun, water, heat, cold–will destroy your garden. Manage your life with moderation and balance. Be gentle with yourself. Make time to relax, eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Get away from the computer, television, cell phones, the news, and social media. Yes, it’s easy to say but hard to do but if you take it one day at a time, you’ll begin to see slow and steady growth and your spirit within will shine bright and forever bloom. At the end of the day when the sun sets, the world will be so much better with a happier you!

Al Renshaw