Tending to Life

A few years ago, I decided to leave the San Francisco bay area and move to a little town called Rough and Ready.

Yes, seriously. It’s a real town. And I chose to live there.

I had decided to give country living a shot & I was determined to learn how to grow my own food.

I packed up all of my old books on Psychoanalytic Diagnosis and Psychopathology and left them in boxes. As we settled into our new country home, I surrounded myself with new books on permaculture and organic gardening.

And yet, just like practicing psychotherapy, there was so much that couldn’t be learned from books. It took time, patience and practice to begin understanding the complexity of influences that affect the health of plants.

Ultimately, it took a lot of mistakes and a willingness to learn from those mistakes.

I attempted to plant about 30 types of vegetables. Nothing really grew very well, but for some reason, I still loved the process.

There was something grounding and restorative about getting my hands in the soil and tending to new life.

I learned so much about myself in the process. As I started working with the land, one of the first things that became apparent was my long-standing pattern of being scattered.

Years of multitasking and rushing from place to place had gotten me into the habit of juggling too many responsibilities at once, and lacking consistency in the care of each specific endeavor.

When you do this in your gardening, you see the results immediately. If you don’t take enough time to carefully tend to your plants, they start to wilt. They get stunted, sick, and they just look sad.

It only took a few days of distraction in the midst of a summer heat wave to do some serious damage to my garden.

After watching this happen, I had this stunning, ridiculously obvious revelation that has had a huge impact on my life.

It’s so simple really:

When you nourish something consistently, it tends to grow and flourish.
When you neglect something even occasionally, it tends to get depleted and stunted.

(It only took me 34 years to figure that one out.)

As I began to notice this very basic concept, I realized it applied to how I care for my body, my soul and my relationships—just about everything around me.

It takes consistent, loving care to create an environment where we can realize our potential and thrive.

When we nourish, nurture & protect what we value, our lives become filled with more of what we love.

When we get distracted and overlook or disregard something we value, things start to go awry.

Neglect a plant and it starts to wilt. Neglect your soul and it does the same thing.

The relentless pace of modern life can lead us to neglect the things that matter most… things like tending to our basic wellbeing.

Taking time to truly care for our bodies and souls is not a luxury—it’s a necessity if we want to be of real service in this world.

What needs nourishing in your life? What is one thing you can do today to nourish and care for your soul?



10 Responses to “Tending to Life”

  1. Noelle says:

    Hi Melissa- This is so beautiful what you have created. My poor garden is also plagued at times by my scattered, multi-tasking ways. Reading this really brings up my yearning to move to the country and slow down. Thank you, and thanks for the great practices and recipes too. It’s wonderful to see what you are up to!

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks, Noelle! It’s so good to hear from you. I’m back in Berkeley now & I would love to come up & visit some time soon. Lots of love to you & Sage!

  2. Nicole says:

    Beautiful post! I would absolutely love to start gardening. I can’t imagine anything greater than abundance of kale right from my backyard! The only thing holding me back is the weather here in Seattle. I feel like I’d have loads of fresh fruits and veggies in the Summertime and nothing the rest of the year. I need to google this – it sounds so beautiful to grow your own plants!

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks, Nicole! I planted a ridiculous amount of kale. Even if you don’t get a great crop, there is still this amazing feeling of abundance when you harvest food you’ve grown for yourself & your family.

      Winters are tough if there’s not much sunshine, but even if it’s only for half of the year, starting a garden tends to be a really satisfying endeavor. “How to Grow More Vegetables” by John Jeavons is a great starter book.

      Glad to be connected!

  3. susan says:

    Consistency + integrity + alignment = fulfillment

    Loving reading your words and seeing you come alive in a whole new way!

  4. Natalie says:

    Hi Melissa
    I am so happy to see this beautiful manifestation of all that you have been doing and learning.
    I am so touched by your awareness and your ability to communicate. This is a wonderful service you and your friend, Natalia are performing. I’m sending it on to Ian and Liana. I wish you all the best and send you much love.

  5. Lou says:

    LOVE this post… so so true.

    I find growing things in the earth so grounding and peaceful.. I’m starting a brand new veggie patch right now… and working on nourishing myself as I nourish the earth :)

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks, Lou. So sweet. I find it interesting that people seem to get addicted to convenience & then they miss out on the grounding & peacefulness that comes from tending to themselves & the land with love. (Hmm… maybe that will be the subject of a new blog post.) Sending love to you & your garden!

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