Yesterday I found myself sitting in my mother in laws beautifully manicured backyard. The woman is talented beyond measure for creating an oasis out of nothing by nurturing and tending to her flowers. Her tiny slice of peace is in the center of East Hyde Park where at any given moment you hear construction, traffic, lawn mowers, and kids -- but when you are nestled in her adirondack chairs you are completely unaware of the noise.
In graduate school we studied horticulture therapy -- the practical application of tending to and growing flowers to teach everything from sequencing in little kids to compassion and responsibility in adults. What I never thought about was the nurturing required to truly foster the growth and ability to create my mother in laws oasis. As we were watching my guys play (read get very dirty) I told her about my very dead flowers on my porch. I mean my once luscious fern is so dead it looks like clowns hair and my beautiful purple flowers are a lovely shade of brown -- oops. I said "I'm just so lazy about my flowers, I forget to water them!". She stopped me dead in my tracks and said "you are not lazy, you are just busy nurturing others". Now if you know me personally you know I am anything but lazy when it comes to structure, organization, and expectations for kids. But with flowers -- OOF -- they are goners.
I think about balance a lot (I mean obviously, look at our business) and what that means and looks like. I don't believe you can have all of everything but you should be able to have a little bit of everything. Life is like a buffet in that regard -- some days you need more "me time" just like you might need more of those deliciously pesky filling carbs on your plate. For that exact reason I am constantly checking the easy wins off my list (laundry, dishes, blah blah blah) so I can move around my attention to necessary buckets that need to be more filled that day. But these things are tangible, they are tasks and items on to do lists that you can control and see. How do you balance the things you can not see? Things like nurturing.
Clearly I am not in a season of nurturing my flowers -- and much to my relief my mother in law confessed she was not a master gardener when my husband his brothers were little -- because she too was busy nurturing others. The lack of attention I give my flowers have little consequence beyond an eye sore on the porch and a dent in my wallet, but what happens when we are so over nurturing others that we forget to nurture ourselves and those not in our immediate eye sight? We can not possibly expect ourselves to be number one caregiver for ourselves and everyone else -- not only is it unreasonable but it will also make you incredibly resentful when it is not reciprocated (and lets be honest, your love and caring will not always be reciprocated).
Perhaps the easiest thing we can do is practice what we preach to littles and simply treat others how we want to be treated: with compassion and respect. Cut yourself a break today and everyday (like I did with my flowers!) and don't feel like you need to be everything for everyone. Focus on what you can control -- which is your reaction to any given situation and be happy with that. The balance of nurturing is impossible and that's ok -- pull on your healthy habits, your community of friends and family, and love for yourself to nurture those that need it it the most and be kind and genuine to all others.