NPW Self Curious: Gardening for beginners


Gardening for beginners

This week sees the start of the Lent. Much like the other Christian festivals that have been absorbed into the cultural fabric of our high streets and online advert streams, it’s an annual gateway to abstinence from “naughty” treats and the doing of good deeds for others.

It’s all good: abstinence and charity can be good for us, just like going vegan for January or growing a ‘tache for November are totally worth doing.

But when you get into the nitty gritty of what Lent’s about, it’s a bit harder. Compared to the fairy light-lit, fir tree-lined path of Christmas, to get to Easter we have to hike up a hill in the driving rain.

Advent to Christmas: open a door and eat a chocolate every day, then get a week of presents and family and brilliant telly. Also: send each other pictures of snowy village scenes, then wake on the big day to find it’s just a bit cold and drizzly.

Lent to Easter: do something hard for six weeks, then get rewarded only in the form of overpackaged sugary treats. Said treats are covered in images of sunshine, spring flowers and perky bunnies. Open the curtains on the morning of Easter Day to ice storms and the blowing of such a hoolie that lamb-like frolicking of any kind would need serious protective clothing.

I’m not saying that there’s no point doing any of this if you don’t believe the religious bit. We mark these occasions because they have been elevated by communities where we live for centuries, because they give our lives shape and space to grow, and because they bring us together (whatever our beliefs) to marvel at the world around us and its changes from season to season. Yes: the bunnies can stay.

So I have a question and a challenge:

Question – Are you giving anything up for Lent? (The day after pancake day, aka the annual bad habit splurgeathon to Easter Sunday (6 March – 21 April 2019).

If not, cool beans. Spring is a good time to have a spring clean of whatever system you use to set goals for yourself, whether that’s a diary, post-it, or a mental note, so maybe you’ll do that instead.

If you are, here’s the challenge: if you want to make the most of this six-week intention, I’m not here to tell you to take it to church, but it is worth thinking about the garden you’re planting.

Metaphors of new life, springtime and growth go so far to give us hope for what we can be. If you’re challenging yourself to change a habit or want to show up daily in your life in a different way, here are my gardening tips:

  • Plant the right seeds. What do I want to cultivate? Is it a skill, a behaviour, a value? Or do I want to do a thing? Be specific: if you’re growing tomatoes, choose a variety that will thrive in the conditions you plant it in. For instance, if you want to do good for others, don’t commit money you don’t have when you have plenty of time. Give your time. Time, energy and money are like light, water and plant food.
  • Consider your soil. What is my environment like? Do I surround myself with people, things and instagram feeds that give me the nutrients that I need?
  • Tend to your garden. That’s right, people. Sound the self-care klaxon.
  • Watch it grow. Some days you look out the window and whilst those tomatoes have had the right things, you can’t see growth. Other days your eye is drawn because those beauties are shooting up.
  • Share the fruits of your labour. Like taking cakes you baked into work once your family, housemates or social buddies have had their share, whatever you choose to grow can be shared like a light from one candle that lights another.

“Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.”

Mary Oliver

Claire Eadington geeks out on workflow management, performance and wellbeing. Claire’s TEDx talk about barriers to performance for exceptional women kicked off the 2017 TEDxWhitehallWomen event in London.

Claire writes a weekly blog, Self Curious, on NPW’s website.
Read more blogs here.



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