What a spring flower taught me about self-care

It didn’t feel like winter was going to end this year. It was a long season of freezing temperatures, biting winds, and an unheard of ice-storm in late April. But finally, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and it seems that winter is finally over.

Every spring I walk through my flower garden to see how it has fared through the long winter months. I brush away dead leaves, take stock of damaged branches, and make plans for new plantings. This year, I was delighted to see that dozens of white and purple crocuses had pushed their way up through the cold soil. It always amazes me that such tender flowers have the strength and resilience to survive the harshest of conditions.

My personal winter.

It occurred to me this spring, that much like the crocuses, I am emerging from my own personal winter. For several years I have been weathering the effects of illness. Symptoms such as deep fatigue and weight loss derailed my life and prevented me from being the woman and mother I wanted to be. I felt buried by the weight of my inabilities, and my spirit seemed to be as dormant as the world outside.

I’d been neglecting myself.

In the middle of the worst storm of my winter, something occurred to me. I hadn’t been tending my own inner garden. I wasn’t purposefully fueling my spirit or caring for my body. And my illness was the consequence.

Giving time and attention to ourselves is not something we tend to do as women. We’re taught to put all of our energy into caring for others. We fill roles that seem to require giving and pleasing, absorbing and conceding; until we don’t see ourselves anymore, let alone prioritize our own wellbeing.

Tending my inner garden.

When I looked at this pattern in my own life I soon realized that if I didn’t put my own needs first, I wouldn’t survive much less thrive. So, I put myself at the top of my priority list, and much as I do with my garden, I began to take notice of what needed attention and healing. Now, I fuel my body with healthy food, rest when I’m tired, and address issues when they arise. I strengthen my spirit by spending time in nature, reading, writing, and being as fully present as possible. I care for me.

And, it’s working. I’m now in a place of renewal; my weight has stabilized, my energy continues to improve, and my life feels more joyful and balanced. Just like the crocuses in my garden, there is new life in me again.

Preparing for spring.

Like most women, I expect that I’ll continue to face challenging experiences that make me feel like winter is creeping back in. But, when these moments come, I’ll try to remember to not go dormant, but instead, continue to nurture my inner garden – because that’s how I’ll be ready to begin again in spring.

Let me know what you think.

How do tend and nurture your inner garden? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

You’re wonderful.