Lately, life has been a little difficult.
But that’s to be expected. Work is tiring. Keeping the house in order is always an ongoing process, especially if you happen to be incredibly obsessive about how everything looks — not that I’d know. Toby keeps gaining chins at a rapid rate, despite our best efforts.
And self-imposed deadlines are creeping up (oh, haaay book-that-should-be-finished-but-isn’t).
Oh, [First World] life.
But every now and then, we get a little kick in the gut that reminds us to check in with ourselves. Make sure everything’s in order. That we’re doing just fine and not slowly retreating from the world and curling into a nice, tight ball of nerves.
Because when that happens, you need a little something called a Mental Health Day.
Now, I was no stranger to taking these at my last job. But given that my depleted work ethic has since rebounded, it’s hard for me to take some me time to decompress. Still, we all have days that start off like this:
(Yes, that mess Toby’s comforting, who’s sprawled across the bed, is yours truly).
So, for whatever reason, I often fill my mental health days with plant-related tasks.
Whether it’s staving-off an aphid infestation or re-potting plants, there’s something incredibly cathartic about giving a little boost to the quietly alive things making our apartment look that much better. Even if the process is messy. (Like one of my favorite bloggers describes.)
And for very obvious reasons, the whole process reminds me of growing up — my roots, and how and where I’ve come into my own.
As a very late bloomer, I didn’t really find my niche, nor my voice, until a lot later in life. And I didn’t really give myself many chances to thrive. Which is probably why I’d always gravitate toward the bedraggled looking plants in the nurseries. Sort of like how, back in college, I’d always “rescue” the beta fish that looked sickly or generally gross. I’d map my own history onto these struggling pieces of existence and hoped to see something in me reignite or take shape. But alas, usually these attempts ended with a toilet flush or a wilted mess.
Now, though, I’m pretty damn sure where I’m going and how to keep myself rooted — even when we keep on the move. And from that has come a new sense of self — of better understanding my own capabilities and my strengths, and how best to use those skills to nurture new life, new opportunities.
And an unexpected byproduct of all of this maturation has been an understanding of how to deal with the future — the unknowns, the certainties, the scary stuff none of us likes to think about. The warts and tears and politics of getting older, and watching our parents start that bizarrely alien, yet natural process of slowing down. And dealing with the outbursts and bruised feelings and hard decisions children have to make when they start assuming the roles of parents and parents start pedaling backward into childhood.
In many ways, we’re all seedlings trying to conquer a massive pot of soil — make it our own, dominate it.
But before we know it, we hit the outer edge.
And we have to break up our root-bound selves, replenish, and start growing again.