A garden of gratitude, and an emotional compost bin
Working in The Walled Nursery, nature is often on my mind. We live in a really beautiful corner of the world and every step I take I'm confronted by all the change and growth that occurs in spring and early summer; often, I’m struck by the parallel process of growth and change in therapy, and growth and change in nature.
It's something that I've reflected on recently in sessions with some clients - how we are affected by our surroundings, what we can learn from our surroundings, and how we mirror our surroundings.
With one client recently we've been talking about the power of a gratitude journal, and in session last week this idea intersected with our environment - the Walled Nursery around us. With her permission I have shared this here, because it was such a wonderfully inspiring vignette of how we can slightly change our approach to something to make it a more constructive part of our life.
We were talking about what we do with our mistakes and how we can move on from them. There is so much to be gained from a positive approach to learning from our mistakes, rather than revisiting them in our vulnerable moments to re-criticise ourselves for when we didn't quite do as well as we wanted to do.
My client described this as 'the bin’ - into the bin goes every mistake, every not-quite-right, and every almost-good-enough. And those mistakes stay in the bin, perfectly preserved, ready to be revisited by her inner critic.
And then we thought… does it have to be a rubbish bin? Maybe it could be a compost bin. Because the compost bin is a really vital part of any serious gardener’s garden. It's the place they put every mistake, every not-quite-right, and every almost-good-enough. They allow nature to do her magic, break it down, then use the nourishment of the compost to help sustain growth and nurturing of all their beloved plants and shrubs. And the only reason they would ever go back and rake over the compost bin was to help it break down. My client had been watching Gardener’s World the night before, and Monty Don had described compost as 'black gold'. And we were struck by how wonderful it would be if we could see our errors as black gold - that we could take our mistakes, our not-quite-rights and almost-good-enoughs, and turn them into nourishment, nutrients and sustenance for all our intentional growth.
So we're running with the idea of a compost bin and, alongside that, creating a garden of gratitude; little seeds planted for every achievement, mini win, and success from the day. A chance to intentionally grow awareness and nurture all the ways we do well, but often don’t acknowledge when we’re so busy attending to our mistakes. And the compost bin is there only as a source of nourishment to help grow the seeds of gratitude and achievement.
And after the session, in the beautiful sunlight at The Walled Nursery, I went round and I took pictures of the beds, bursting with flowers nourished by black gold. And then I walked over the lawn and I took pictures of the compost pile. That stuff is all purpose magic, learning that can be liberally sprinkled over every new seed of achievement.
And I turned around, with the compost pile behind me and all the nursery laid out in front of me, and saw just how much beauty and growth was made possible by the mistakes, the not-quite-rights, and the almost-good-enoughs.