“So, you cut away the stems that are dying off,” I explained to my girls this morning in the garden. “That way, the plant can put it’s energy toward the beautiful, new growth. See these new buds growing? Now the plant can put its energy toward those and it won’t waste it’s energy on parts that aren’t so good anymore…Come here. You have some Nutella on your chin. Hmm…maybe that’s what I’ll write about today.”
“Ha! Ummm, no. Not Nutella. New growth…making way for it.”
So, here’s the thing I have learned the hard way in the six months since the unexpected loss of my dad….like it or not, we only have a certain amount of energy – physical energy, heart energy, and brain power – with which to process our lives. This is true under the best of circumstances. Add grief, anxiety and/or depression – and we have even less to give. That makes perfect sense. When we feel good we have more energy, and when we don’t feel good…well, we have less.
Many of us struggle to manage that trio – Grief, Anxiety and Depression. They are a tight knit group of visitors, and they always overstay their welcome. They are the uninvited and entirely messy guests who can wreck havoc on our lives.
While struggling to evict those three thankless bastards I have learned some valuable lessons.
I have learned to really sit with what feels good to me. I more easily recognize what works for me and what doesn’t. I have learned the power of NO and the power of YES. I have begun to say more of both, actually. I’ve stopped doing things I don’t have to do, just because I feel like I should. I’ve ordered up more of what feels good. For me I’ve noticed that means doing less. Creating more space, more peacefulness, more quiet, more down time.
What I’ve noticed as I’ve begun to help these uninvited guests pack their bags (as my dad would say, “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?”) is a heightened awareness of the moments in which I feel completely contented and happy. Truthfully, I’ve always been good at taking snapshots in my mind of beautiful moments…but now, I notice more of them, and I swear I feel them more deeply.
Even the really little things, like the feel of my daughter’s small hand in mine as we walk down the street together. I notice them more – the beautiful bits.
The plant doesn’t recognize its dying parts from its new and beautiful ones. It spreads its energy everywhere, equally. It can’t help itself. Just as those of us with that awful trio visiting cannot help but give our attention to them, pulling away valuable resources from noticing and developing the good stuff.
Eventually, we will be able to be more discerning about where we send our energy. This process may look different for everyone, and sometimes (like the plant) we might benefit from a little help.
In time, blessedly, we will be begin to send our energy where we truly want it to go…and we will notice the most beautiful blossoms.