Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Life MattersBreak free and get back to your roots.
The alarm went off. Since it had only been a few hours since I’d gone to bed, I rolled over and hit the snooze button. I really enjoyed my job and was energized by the work, but it had become all-consuming at some point. My work had even crept into my dreams at night.
Before I knew it, the alarm went off again. Grabbing my BlackBerry, I squinted at my e-mail and then shuffled into the bathroom. I quickly took a shower, washed my hair, and looked at the clock. Arrggh! Late again. I rummaged through my clothes for something to wear, but everything in my closet was black. Black pants. Black dresses. Black shoes. Black sweaters. When did my clothes start to feel like a uniform instead of the creative self-expression of joyful colors, world-jewelry collections, and beautiful fabrics that I’d always imagined I’d wear when I was a corporate executive?
I ran out the door with a granola bar and a small black canvas cooler containing my lunch of a Lean Cuisine and a Diet Coke. The first stop I made was to Dunkin’ Donuts for my “usual.” All fueled up with caffeine and carbs—just like every morning—I headed into work to face the never-ending stream of requests, e-mails, and decisions.
Work always came first, and the long list of “emergencies” I tended to face in the course of my days routinely caused me to put myself last. For example, on this particular day, my boss asked me to join him for an impromptu meeting—and since I was eager to please, I attended. After all, I was a good corporate citizen playing my role within the company culture. By the time the meeting ended, my body was out of energy. I went home, ate a quick dinner, and went to bed so that I could get up the next day and do the whole thing all over again.
I had dreamed of living a creative and meaningful life, but the reality was that there was no time for anything but work, work, and more work. There was no time for friends or hiking or that salsa class I’d always wanted to take. There was no time to build a relationship with a partner, learn a new language, or travel to exotic places. How had I gotten here? I’d always been a vivacious and exciting woman who wanted to live life to the fullest, yet now I felt as if I were living in a prison. It was a prison of conformity, and I didn’t fit in.
Then one day I stared out my office window and noticed a scattering of violets among the grass. They reminded me of the violets that had grown wild where I’d grown up, but unlike those of my youth, I was unable to reach these flowers that were growing outside. It dawned on me that all of my accomplishments—my external success—meant nothing if I wasn’t interacting out in the world. I realized that I was trapped behind glass like an animal in the zoo. I was inside an office building for most hours of the day with fluorescent lights instead of sunshine, artificial plants instead of real ones, and circulated air instead of fresh. Was my entire life artificial as well?
All of a sudden, I had a flash of knowing and realized that the prison bars were in my mind. I was responsible for creating my own happiness, and I’d allowed my life to be gobbled up by my professional responsibilities at the expense of practically everything else. No wonder I was miserable! And the worst part was that I was the one who had imprisoned myself.
So I decided to plant a garden.
I thought that if the power of the Universe made that tender little violet so beautiful and strong, maybe planting a garden would not only get me back to my roots, but also help me tap into that power of the Universe to find myself.
In the beginning, I thought of my garden as a flicker of light in vast darkness. But the more time I spent with my plants, the brighter the light became . . . and I realized that I was moving toward something magnificent. I was discovering freedom. Planting a garden saved my life.
The lessons I learned about being present in the moment—about the importance of the elemental gifts of nourishment and connection, light and shade, balance and renewal—sowed the seeds of freedom, greater meaning, and peaceful happiness that eventually bloomed throughout my whole life. But at the time, I had no idea how important this small exercise of planting a garden would become.