378: Choose to Compost Your Past: How the Arrival of the Spring Season is Metaphor For Life
Wednesday April 3, 2024

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Mother Nature and the cycle of seasons provide endless life lessons and nourishing guidance if we are wise enough to heed her teachings.

More specifically, spring’s arrival, the season as we all know that introduces itself after winter, the latter season of which for many of us can be frigid, keeping us more home-bound and bundled up far more often than we might prefer as well as to cause us to take stock of our home environment most directly and intimately.

It was upon hearing the statement above in a recent yoga class that I immediately smiled. Why? Well, there is much truth in this literal description of how compost is created and as to why it applies to our lives, it can figuratively be true as well. However . . .

We have to choose, and thus remember, to compost in the first place!

In other words, as a gardener, if I don’t take all of my cuttings after pruning and leaves after raking and all that becomes debris no longer needed in the garden and if we don’t place it somewhere to begin the process of composting into what will become nourishing organic matter to later place back in my garden to condition the soil, then I have wasted an amazing opportunity to care for myself well.

Similar to compost, even if we wisely do take the unwanted events in our lives and choose to see them as valuable life lessons or sign-posts advising us how to make better decisions moving forward, we must also remember to be patient. Because just as the debris we place on the compost pile takes time to break down and become what will eventually be placed back into the garden as an asset, we too must be patient as we give our life decisions time to bear the fruit we have invested in by applying the new knowledge we have gained.

Spring gifts us with an abundance of wonderments and opportunities to apply what we have been investing in and working on during winter, or healing or resting in order to feel rejuvenated and reenergized. So not only do we need to remember to view winter as an opportunity to tend to what needs our attention, we must also be courageous enough to step forward into what that rest has given us.

Simply because we plant, water and fertilize a new plant in spring, or pot up a dahlia tuber in spring, doesn’t mean the beauty we hope to come will appear in spring. No, it will not. The dahlias take around 100 days to share their first flower, but once they begin flowering, so long as they have been planted in their right conditions and the gardener keeps dead-heading, the blooms keep on coming until the first frost in early fall. This is beautiful reminder to be patient with ourselves and the changes we have begun to put into place, or the steps we have begun to take that will eventually lead us where we want to arrive. Spring is the beginning of the new journey, but we may not arrive where we wish to go until Summer or early Fall, but we will never arrive if we don’t choose to compost first.

Rejection of any kind

Sometimes what we want but don’t acquire is eliminating future headaches and pain we could not have seen or predicted. For this reason alone, extending gratitude is a great idea. We have talked about this from time to time here on TSLL, in other instances when we don’t first attain what we set out to, we are being asked if we really do want it. And if we do, we gain a clarity and the clarity comes becomes we have chosen to compost the opportunity in the initial rejection. We continue to persevere and improve areas that need our attention and maybe change exactly what we are aiming for as we again, we clarity what we are seeking.

Either way, whether the rejection reveals we need to let go and head a different direction or work a bit harder and refuse to give up, there is value in the rejection if we choose to see it that way.

Unwanted feedback or criticism

When we receive unwanted information about any aspect of our lives – personal or professional, initially it can sting, and it will sting often even more depending upon who delivers the message. For instance, if constructive criticism is provided from someone we respect, while it may sting a little, we can be grateful this individual cares enough to provide the feedback so that we can improve. Initially, that sting may arrive in the form of embarrassment, but had we not received it, we wouldn’t know where we needed to direct our attention to improve.

On the flip side, when we are bullied or teased – either online or by people we don’t personally know, but they choose to pass judgment for any reason, it can sting deeply, partly because we have chosen to be vulnerable and this ‘attacker’ took advantage of our vulnerability to try and cause pain. This sting is different; however, if we reframe what we receive, it becomes easy to ignore as I talked about in Monday’s Motivational post. And here is why they may actually be helping us more than they ever intended. They provide the voice of the Devil’s Advocate if we are working on how to predict what naysayers might say. In other words, never will there ever be someone who is liked or applauded by everyone; but knowing our audience in life is helpful. Not so that we will change being and honoring our true selves, no, no, no, no, no, but so that we can better communicate and connect and demonstrate that we see and understand what they are doubtful about when it comes to who we are or what we are trying to do. In other words, if you hear or read words or comments that are painful to hear, first keep in mind, it is a reflection of the speakers and their insecurity, pain and a myriad of other feelings that communicate who they are and their life experience and you have done something that triggered them. Then compost the unwanted feelings – mine momentarily – do not dwell – on what they said to see if there is any unintentional insights into how to better understand others so that you can practice the compassion that was not given to you.

Moments in which you engaged in a manner you have regretted

We all have moments where we engage, speak or act in a way that either immediately after doing or in hindsight we realize we wish we hadn’t. First, the fact that you have regret shows awareness, and that is a powerful step in the right direction to growth and change. Compost what prompted you to say or do what you did, and learn from it. Maybe it had nothing to do with the person directly, but rather your state of exhaustion or was due to events that had occurred earlier in the day. Take all of this valuable knowledge and either seek out experts or books to learn the skills you discover you are lacking in, or become more aware about your energy levels, taking care to take care of yourself well as a preventative measure.

The end of a relationship/job/life chapter – whether your choosing or not

Relationships of all types end for all sorts of different reasons, from the end of a friendship to the death of a loved one, endings will happen throughout our lives. When we remind ourselves to engage lovingly and in integrity to honor our true selves, it is much easier to avoid feeling regret with regards to how we engaged in the relationship no matter how long it lasted. However, it often takes time to learn how to engage lovingly and with integrity and those lessons of learning will more often than not take place in the myriad of relationships we engage in over our life journey.

Upon reflection, rather than blame or cling, look for the treasures that are being offered to you so that you can move forward with a more loving heart as well as being grounded in who you are (or inspired to become more knowledgeable of who you are).

Lack of fulfillment or connection in a way that nourishing your temperament at work or in personal life

By feeling lack, we are being given valuable information. It may be, to stop looking outside of ourselves or down the road into the future, and instead to start noticing and witnessing all that is going so very well in your life right now and to improve your practice of gratitude. Or it may be a prod to start making changes so that you can realize that either you are correct, you need to go about life differently, or silly you, the life you had was pretty good, but you didn’t realize it until you chose to do something different.

Everyday oopses – embarrassing moments

Spilling the coffee on your new outfit, forgetting your speech in the middle of a presentation, forgetting an appointment, all sorts and yet, seemingly small moments of hiccups can affect the harmony of our day, if we let them. Someone who chooses to compost will learn how to learn from or laugh off such hiccups and go about their day without a hitch. When such oopses occur and they have the effect to derail us from a good day, then we need to do some self-reflecting. Maybe we weren’t as prepared for that speech as we had thought, or maybe we even thought we could wing it, and now we realize that wasn’t the best idea. If we have forgot an appointment, when we reflect, what caused that to happen? Were we too busy, overwhelmed didn’t take enough preventative self-care, or did something occur beyond our control that was more important and we need to remember that life happens, we pay the consequences (maybe there was a late fee or cancellation fee we have to pay now) and move on.

Any behavior of others (words, actions) directed at you or others you care about that was unwelcomed

As we know, we cannot control others, and if we attempt to it is a waste of our finite energy. Attempting to control is a form of manipulation that doesn’t reflect well on us as it reveals more about us and our insecurities than it does about the person we are trying to control. With that said, because we cannot control others, they will sometimes say or do things that are hurtful. There are all sorts of responses we can have depending upon the situation. Sometimes not engaging at all and moving on and away is the wisest idea, but sometimes, we have to respond as a way to stand up for ourselves, others, a cause, etc. With all of that said, when we take the time to compost we will know what is the most constructive choice.

Derailment of goals once set to accomplish

Perhaps when you look back on your life, you see one or more goals that you have attempted to accomplish that just didn’t work out. And up until now, maybe you have told yourself that you failed. However, I want to reassure you, I wholeheartedly doubt that is the case. There are treasures to be found in those unfulfilled goals. You can discover areas of improvement that you can make, knowledge sectors you can learn more about, or maybe that you just need to be more patient, and handle temporary setbacks better. The list could go on, but you can achieve your goals. So long as they are aligned with your true self, are arising from a place that is from you and not pressure or included from others or society, mine the ‘failed’ attempts for the gifts that will eventually bring you to the success you seek.

The examples shared above are general examples of unwanted life moments that can absolutely be composted into what will be, something you wish to be, in your life in the coming months and years. It all begins with shifting our frame of mind.

Each one of us has oodles of debris in our past to compost. Instead of tossing it aside, why not turn it into something that contributes well and into what you want to be part of your life? It is possible, and it begins with you seeing the opportunity to both do so and in being patient enough to let the process of evolution bring to pass what you invest in.

~Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture by Justine Picardie

Episode 331


7 thoughts on “378: Choose to Compost Your Past: How the Arrival of the Spring Season is Metaphor For Life

  1. Shannon, this is truly one of the most profound posts/podcasts I’ve ever read/heard on TSLL – and I’ve been a reader for a very long time! The mindset shift of using what has passed as the fertile ground for future growth and development is a shift I will certainly be making. Finally, I feel that there is something useful that I can do with all of that ‘debris’. Thank you, as always, for your thought-provoking posts.

    1. Grace,

      So tickled to hear this episode spoke to you so much. 🙂 Yes, so many awesome things can become of what we may have not enjoyed or have caused pain. Thinking of you and wishing you much courage and many moments to savor as you compost! xo

  2. I’m back after a bit of a break, due to life circumstances! I devoured your post -the metaphor of compost is so relatable. I am among those who compost regularly, and I must wait patiently for the scraps to evolve. It was so cool to have this gardening activity applied to the things from my past that I can compost into life lessons that will help my current life healthier and stronger.

    I am a big believer in the idea that one will use everything in the present and future that has been experienced in the past. It still amazes me that nature’s lessons are a constant in this world.

    Thank you so much for the inspiration today!

    1. Victoria,

      Welcome back! So lovely to see you back in the comment section. 🙂 Thank you very much for popping round and sharing your experience with ‘composting’. 🙂 As you said, waiting patiently, knowing this provides peace of mind as we journey down a new approach or a new direction. Wishing you a wonderful April.

      1. Things are changing for me – different opportunities to live fully in a new way. I’m doing what’s right for me while I extend myself into new experiences. Great memories are a big part of my compost as I use what I have learned and grown through while hopefully having fun. I’m trying pickleball lessons in May! Starting to work part time at a garden center! Both new for me, both put a bit of the old twinkle back into my eyes! Thanks for being there, Shannon!

        1. I am so excited for you! Pickleball sounds like a wonderful pastime to partake in and to work in a gardening center would be my ideal place of work I have a feeling. Enjoy! And thank you for sharing. xo

          1. Thanks for the encouragement! I looked back in my recent journal and saw that I had written, “Only do things that feed my soul…”. When that is the prerequisite for future choices, it leads you down new and delightful paths. I’m optimistic moving forward as I compost my past experiences to help me grow. Your kind words are greatly appreciated!

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