by Suzannah Ferron, M.A.
I know a woman whose garden saved her life. Not once, but three times. Once, after she moved to the US from Brazil, leaving a lifetime of friends, family and culture. Again when her daughter left home for college. And again when her husband died.
It worked because she loved it—body, mind and soul. Getting her hands in the soil. Watching tiny seedlings grow into young papaya trees. Creating trellises and walkways through herbs and vegetables and flowers. Gardening healed her. It gave her a sense of deep connection with the earth, with herself and with others. After a time, she had so many plants that she sold them for charity fundraisers. She gave seedlings and bromeliads to neighbors as gifts. She invited friends over for a luncheon of Brazilian spiced meat, coffee, and fresh papaya from her trees. After lunch, she would clap her hands and say, “Now we work.” And for hours we would dig in the dirt together, sharing stories, deeply connecting.
Do what you love. It doesn’t have to be a garden. It’s that thing that makes your soul sing; that engages you completely. Psychologist and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called it “flow,” and there are lots of ways of describing it: love, losing yourself, getting totally geeked out. Think of the times when you are most joyful, or feel most free or connected, or when you are so engaged in it that you lose track of time. That’s flow.
If you’re not sure or have lost touch with what that is for you, ask someone who knows you well when they’ve seen you most fulfilled or engaged. Or go on an internal expedition with your therapist. Or head to a bookstore and see what sections or what titles ignite a spark. What piques your interest? What excites you? What has you wanting to know or do more?
Today I invite you to take a risk and grow what you love. That class you wanted to take? Take it. That business you wanted to start? Start it. That model you wanted to build? Build it. That walk you wanted to take? Put your shoes on and go. You never know what will come of it. Because when you do something you love, it’s not just a gift to yourself. It’s a gift to everyone.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman
© Suzannah G. Ferron, 2014