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Watering a plant that was so far gone

For my birthday in January 2021, my mom and I went and picked out a few plants. I quickly learned that I was easily overwhelmed by the different care schedules and tips for each plant, and that my house didn’t have great places to put plants, and babies WILL find dirt no matter where you put it.

I bought an amazing plant that was full, and fiery, and bright. The label cautioned that sometimes its leaves would fall if it wasn’t transported carefully enough. I was surprised that it seemed to handle the journey well and I tried to find the safest and most effective place for it to live in my home.

But one by one, the leaves started to fall, faster and faster. It had been a few weeks and the stress must have caught up to it.

After a few weeks, one leaf was left. Just one…and it didn’t look good.

I was so sad. I felt like a failure and the farthest from a green thumb I could be. All my plants were NOT thriving (and still aren’t if you’re wondering). I wondered if it should be thrown away, and it was neglected as I debated back and forth about whether or not to let it go. I’ve always been pretty attached to things though, so I couldn’t do it.

For a year I watered a dead leaf.

And by me, I’m guessing 50% of the time or more, my kind husband watered a dead leaf.

One week, the life seemed to come back a bit though.

After a few more weeks, seemingly instantaneously the plant was full and colorful again. I still can’t quite understand how it grew so fast after lying dormant for so long.

I don’t know if any of it was my doing. Was it in a good place? Was the sun just right? Was the sporadic watering just what it needed? Was it all along hanging on for the right circumstances or was it gradually growing more than I realized? I don’t know. It’s one of those scenarios that I wish I had a time lapse camera on it because if I didn’t know any better I’d seriously think it grew overnight.

I’ve been pondering on this plant over the past few weeks. Just thinking about myself and my life, my clients, my jobs, my family.

I’m a lot like this plant. I felt like I was doing really well for a while. After some changes in my life, I felt like I was left a straggling lonely leaf. I didn’t feel vibrant or alive. I wasn’t always consistent with taking care of myself. I wasn’t even sure my efforts were worth much at all.

Yet seemingly overnight I felt better! More vibrant. More sure of myself. More full of life. I might not be a hardy plant yet, but I feel like my plant on the windowsill–finally starting to thrive.

A lot of the time our efforts seem fruitless. We exercise, we sleep, we try to drink water, and meditate. Sometimes we think we’re adjusting well, only to have our leaves fall off. Often times, we lie dormant for what feels like so long, it would be impossible to thrive again. But the seasons change, and the sun keeps shining, and just like the plant truly just needs a safe pot, some water, and light, we too can find life again through meeting our basic needs and getting help where we need it.

Have you been working hard at something for a long time and feeling like it means nothing? Are you struggling with mental illness, physical pain, or emotional trauma? Do you go day by day trying to utilize those simple drops of water but feeling no progress?

Remember my plant. I literally saw this plant EVERY DAY and didn’t notice its progress until it was blatantly obvious. I noticed here and there that it seemed to be growing again, but I think I struggled to acknowledge that. Today I’m kicking myself for not documenting or even acknowledging its growth as time went on. And sometimes I kick myself for the same lack of acknowledgement in myself.

The funny thing about plants is we don’t always know what’s happening down in the root system. I think there’s parts of ourselves and our own lives that are hard to observe directly because they’re down in the soil. Trust that the nutrients, light, and water you’re giving yourself are doing something, even if you can’t see it yet. One day you’ll be thriving again… and you know what? If I ever move this plant again, its leaves will most likely fall again; next time I won’t be discouraged though. I will remember that my plant is not dead. Its beauty and vibrancy is not over. I can patiently care for it until it starts to grow again.


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