Every gardener needs tools to keep a garden healthy and thriving. This is not only true for the garden, but for the gardener. We get tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, bored, and burned out each year, especially when garden failures appear to outweigh successes. It’s 2018, a fresh start with seed catalogs arriving daily to re-ignite the passions that may have sputtered out over the past gardening season. But what if that’s not enough?
How do we rejuvenate? What tools do you employ to stay physically and mentally healthy and thriving? At a retreat at The Esalen Institute in 2016, I uncovered this tool for caring (fertilizing, if you will) a beleaguered gardenerd. Today, I’m happy to share it with you.
What is F.A.B.?
F.A.B. stands for the three things that help revitalize a weary gardener:
Fueled / Fill the Well
Depletion strips us of inspiration, creativity, and power. That gopher that pillaged your cabbage, or that sandy soil that loses nutrients no matter how much compost you add can make gardening feel like an uphill battle. Each week we must stop to fill the well, to refuel. What does that look like? For me, it’s taking a class (instead of teaching one), going to a botanical garden with a journal, venting with my colleagues after work over soul food, and getting ideas from a walk through a book store.
New Year’s brings a fresh perspective on what is important, what is a waste of our time, and what we really want out of life. Burnout can make us feel stuck, so action is the answer. I have to remind myself to take action to get the support I need in my business or around the house. Delegate, ask for help (like I did with this recent survey – wink, wink, nudge, nudge), and revisit your goals or mission statement if you have one. Eliminate what doesn’t serve, focus on what does. It may take several attempts (like growing cumin – I’m gonna succeed one day), but let’s take baby steps together.
This is the self-care part, the hardest part for me. When my consulting/designing schedule is tight, I forget to drink water. Granola bars = lunch, and personal grooming goes out the window (gettin’ real here). I know I’m not the only one who lives this way for months at a time during the busy season. Some people give their lives to their kids, or to other people’s kids. I give mine to gardens and my business. Balance means scheduling time off and refusing to give it up. It means taking mini breaks, saying NO to work you don’t want to do. For me it means dancing out frustrations in the kitchen to one song, then back to work. Balance means deleting a lot of emails unread, committing to morning meditation (even if my mind is racing the whole time), and sleeping instead of going out.
F.A.B. equals Community
When a fellow environmental advocate and landscaper committed suicide last year, I talked to many others in my field at the memorial service who felt the need for support among colleagues. Thus, F.A.B. was born. One member calls it Friends Against Burnout, which is perhaps a more appropriate title. We share ideas, vent about job-related stresses, offer support, and laugh our heads off.
Gardenerd has been a community since 2007. Self-proclaimed gardenerds join our ranks every day. I want us to grow together, both our gardens and ourselves. Let’s join together to support each other in 2018 for healthier gardens and happier lives. Post your intentions and hopes for 2018 below. We’ll cheer you on!