(Image by Nickie Cutrona)
Happiness is such a finicky thing to talk and write about because everyone’s definition of what happiness looks, feels, and tastes like is SO DIFFERENT! Most of us are constantly in search of how and where to find it and ultimately feel lost much of the time. In my opinion, it is something that you have to create and recreate every day. You have to recalibrate your thoughts throughout the day and be thankful if you find a slice of it in the end. Some people’s idea of happiness might be a newly purchased purse or living in a big beautiful house, while someone else might be snuggling with a puppy, getting a manicure, or eating a bar of rich chocolate. It’s not my place to judge whose happiness is right or wrong, better or healthier. It is, however, my responsibility to myself, to figure out where my happiness is and then cultivate it and help it to grow.
My greatest place of happiness is right in my own backyard: my garden. It might seem an unlikely place to find such a desired state of wellbeing, but that’s where mine is. There is nothing like the smell of freshly watered tomato plants, or the way the morning light looks on the leaves of beautiful, dark green lacinato kale. It’s magical and special to me and I feel grateful to be amongst such beauty. It relaxes me, helps me to decompress, and reminds me to appreciate the marvelous workings of nature.
I began gardening as a child alongside my parents and grandparents, but it wasn’t until I was an adult in my late twenties that I really experienced the joy that I have now discovered. There is something really exciting about collecting all of the supplies for each spring and getting out there, rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty. I spend countless hours and days prepping and tending to it. Its very therapeutic the way that I lose myself in the process. My thoughts only turned to pulling out the weeds, gently watering the roots or helping guide the squash leaves along the trellis…it’s an art and it soothes my soul. Watching the results of the physical labor I invest over the following weeks is just as rewarding. Watching the plants grow over the following days, weeks, and months is as special as it is beautiful.
I remember the first time I successfully grew a healthy and full head of lettuce, cut it and took it inside my house and made a salad with it. It was one of the most awesome experiences of my life. I greatly enjoy every step of the process. From March through September, from 6 to 6:45am I am out there watering, weeding, and looking over the plants. It is my time in the morning to compose my thoughts, feelings and prepare for the day. What might seem like a chore to some is one of the greatest joys of my life.
One of the other really great things about it is now sharing this with my mini-me who just recently turned 4 years old. She has been out there with me since she was a newborn (initially in a pack-n-play) and who now helps me with weeding and watering. Sharing this with her has made it an even more amazing part of my life. I hope she will someday look back on this part of her childhood and perhaps have some similar fond memories too.
Someone asked me once: “What do you like most about gardening?” My reply: “It’s better than any dating experience that I’ve ever had and is one of the most rewarding relationships of my entire life.” That may seem humorous, and it kind of is, but it’s also true. It’s simple; if I plant it correctly, give it a little love everyday by watering it and care for it regularly, it actually responds back positively by giving me beautiful, delicious produce. Genius concept —> IF YOU WATER IT, IT WILL GROW! Of course, it really is more involved than just mere watering, but there is some truth in that. Sometimes happiness is hidden in the most basic and obvious of ideas, tasks, and places. If someone had told me when I was a child (who was annoyed to have to help with weeding) that one day 20 years later I would find some of my greatest happiness buried amongst the weeds, I never would have believed them. But, there it is. Sometimes happiness is found in some of the most unlikely of places. Good luck finding yours; it’s out there, just waiting to be discovered!