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One of the hardest things about growing is the patience that you have to have with yourself, the head gardener. Self-growth seems so easy. Sleep is the water and self-care in the form of iced coffee must be the sun.

But this is more than attempting to photosynthesize.

Sticking with the metaphor, I feel like I was just setting my deep roots when I was violently yanked out of the garden, tossed around, and then slammed onto concrete.

It’s taken me some time to uncover them, but even concrete has cracks for roots to find.

This isn’t just a re-planting where you put the plant in a new pot and the roots just have to settle in. This is a regrowth. This is every plant in my garden has been torn out and I must start over, again.

New roots must grow. 

Self-growth is seen as a beautiful process, and it is, but like a gardener, I’m digging in the mud, experiencing every emotion from triumph to dirty anger.

Portions of the garden that were once perfect have been torn up so severely that rocks the size of boulders have been brought to the surface. These must be removed before plants can be introduced again.

If that wasn’t the only challenge, I’m also planting in the dark, and it’s storming. Sometimes I can count on someone else to walk by with a lantern, but this is not guaranteed. Either way, I must be the one holding the lantern, my own light, for this to be successful. Sometimes to hold the light, the shovel must be put down. Look around, observe, then pick it up and keep going. Setting the shovel down here and there is just as important as picking it back up.

Then, I need to re-till the soil. It has to be by hand. Machinery isn’t an option in the way a yacht isn’t an option for sailing on a pond. There, you only have a row boat. In a small garden, you only have the handheld tools.

While you’re working on replanting and re-growing, the world keeps spinning.

It’d be nice if it stopped, but you’re not the only gardener. Others are growing too, at different rates than you are.

Don’t feel bad about this.

Sometimes plants speedily sprout up and other times, it takes a while. Just keep tending to your own garden, keep working on finding your own right fertilizer.

These other gardeners may ask for produce you don’t have yet, or to borrow tools you’re still figuring out how to use. Before, I would always say “yes”, but that was when my garden was flourishing, so I must be gentle to myself now and say, “not right now, but I’ll get back to you”, or more simply, “no.” Those around you will understand – they may even hand you an extra watering can. Those who don’t, it’s best to let go, as they’re probably growing weeds anyway.

You may think an area has been completely cleared of boulders, but it turned out this is only surface level and when you go to plant, an inch into digging you realize it’s not feasible. There is no reason to be ashamed of this and it’s best to not force it. Your garden will not grow greatly if it is littered with rocks. However, do not fear, in time it will grow wonderfully.

You must keep sowing and planting and watering and caring.

Weeds will pop up; they may even look like flowers – don’t be afraid to pull. Sometimes we plant and it doesn’t work out, but try again. Like plants, we are made to grow. We weather droughts and we weather storms. In the evening we collect ourselves so in the sun we can bloom.

Sometimes before continuing to grow we must build greenhouses around the new garden. The time you take to do this is valid too. Everything you do is working that garden. One day, may your small saplings become large, viney, extending plants, in a bustling garden fit to overflow into a jungle. Think back to the small, more lost gardener you once were. Every new plant is a growth to be proud of. Breathe in and relish in those victories because you did that. Jungles are gorgeous, but only because of the magnificent individual plants that come together to create it.