“There is but one solution to the intricate riddle of life; to improve ourselves, and contribute to the happiness of others.” —Mary Shelley
While working in the garden last weekend, replacing roses and making way for a new peony and future new roses to cultivate the aesthetic of colors and succession of blooms throughout the gardening year, one of my young neighbors while walking home with his father asked if he “could cross the street and say hello to Shannon”. He did, and while he gladly welcomed Nelle’s giddy Cavalier hug and endless kisses, as well as Norman’s nuzzling in for a gentle pet, he asked what I was up to.
Sharing my task, I remember I had a few remaining sunflowers that were in full bloom and asked if he wanted to take a stem of them home (most stems had multiple flowers each). “Sure!”
Snipping the stem long to make for options of vases for his parents when he arrived home, he thanked me for the flowers, commented on how “these don’t look like regular sunflowers (these were Starburst, one of my favorites ☺️),” and bustled back across the street to his father sharing what were now his.
It was never my intention or expectation when choosing to purchase Le Papillon, a choice that the garden heavily influenced my decision, that my garden would introduce and connect me to my neighbors, and neighbors of all ages at that, as it has these past four, going on five years. But it is a with sincere love and interest and joy of gardening, the process and what blossoms, that I immerse myself in this hobby that while full of learning curves and humility inducing reminders of what I have control over in life and what I am best remembering is beyond expending my efforts, I am inspired to continue to learn, inspired to continue to work with what I have, and along the way, apply the lessons I learn to other avenues of life that parallel in a myriad of ways.
So what does this have to do with Mary Shelley’s, the author of Frankenstein, daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, progeny of a woman who her herself was a philosopher and advocate for women’s rights, quote shared above?
The Puritanical default to abhor pleasure or joy, and instead feel guilt for listening to what brings us to life, what feeds our curiosity, is an unconscious muscle memory that until we become conscious of why it crops up, why it attempts to guide us without our permission, can errantly guide our life journey until we begin to believe that we, especially if what brings us joy and deep contentment is not of the norm for the culture we find ourselves, must be wrong in living such a way that infuses us with energy, propels us to find reserves of motivation those who are not propelled by the same thing cannot and will not be able to tap into.
However, when we listen, and acknowledge with aha-like clarity what makes us feel alive, to reference the handful of movie adaptations of Frankenstein (not the novel, which is one of my favorite classic novels, maybe the favorite and often due to the many films has been misunderstood or inadequately presented), we find a strength within ourselves to say yes to honoring what we discover. A strength that is infinite in its reserves of energy should we trust it. Why? Because it will guide us toward, and closer to avenues of life that will, as Shelley shares above, prompt us opportunity to “contribute to the happiness of others”.
“When we nourish and cultivate our own garden, as Monet’s [garden at Giverny] illustrates, we are spreading positive life-affirming messages to all those whose lives we touch. Whenever we create or enhance, enrich or celebrate anything that brings happiness to our own soul and to others, we are fulfilling our human potential to live our best life. Because all positive thoughts and feelings begin from our soul’s inner essence, we can only add joy to others if we experience it personally. By getting in intimate touch with our own strong feelings, we tap into the universe, raising our consciousness to higher octaves of frequency.” —Alexandra Stoddard
As friend of the podcast, Alexandra Stoddard shares in her recent quote included in her monthly newsletter, until we know joy, it is hard to understand what a most priceless gift we give to others by nurturing theirs, as likely theirs will be different from our own. That is expected and a most beautiful thing because that is how the world becomes a garden of diverse and complex and powerful beauty. A garden that is able to nourish us all because, yep, we each have something unique within us to share with the world, if only we would be nourished enough to discover it and supported enough to bring it forth.
So then why the photo above?
What brings us to life, what stretches us, what nourishes each of us will be unique, but for me, one of the primary sources of nourishment is travel, especially travel to Britain and France, and while 18-months may seem a short window to some with regards to my last visit to Europe, and to others a far too long expanse, since it is these two destinations I save up for to visit and stay primarily in Bend in between, I have to share I felt, or should I say, I ached to travel in the many months leading up to my departure yesterday. And the ache primarily came from an awareness of what I have gained, received, found and discovered, as well as felt and what I return home with each time I visit these two countries. This is my nourishment. And similar to Monty’s quote below, part of me, due to the Puritanical guilt perhaps, struggled with how this passion of mine helps others. However, I during and because of my travels, I kept finding endless sources of inspiration to create, connect the dots of life and then share what I have discovered, and this continues to this day, and I feel beyond grateful that doing what I love also could provide value in some small way to inspiring others to live their own fulfilling and nourishing life that brings them to life.
“I used to feel that I should be doing something more important, something more dutiful, but now I feel absolutely the opposite. If you can modestly relate to people’s lives as they live them and improve them in a quiet way, then you might be able to enrich them in a way that runs deeper and longer and truer than their bigger dreams. Gardening made me well and it might have the same effect on others.” —Monty Don
Case in point, I want to give a shout-out and thank you to long-time reader of TSLL, Kelly U., who coincidentally is traveling to England this month as well, and in her comment shared she may not have thought such a trip for herself was possible were it not for TSLL. First of all, Kelly, may you have the most wonderful visit to England. I am beyond confident you will be nourished in ways you cannot imagine at this moment but indeed will be remain with you for the rest of your life as you are reminded that your joy matters, what brings you to life matters. Because when we each find joy, it cannot help but be dispersed to those around us. Joy cannot be contained, and we begin to trust that indeed letting go is the most liberating way to live, so that others can live well and contentedly also.
So now, perhaps as you read this, I am flying over the Atlantic and am giddy to step foot on the terra firma of Great Britain. And inspired by this trip as well as others of similar detail, be sure to tune in to Wednesday’s upcoming episode of the podcast, #366, My First-Hand Travel Tips for Flying Internationally to and Arriving in Britain with Ease and Comfort, and for further peeks and details into my trip in England, be sure to explore becoming a TOP Tier Member as I will be posting exclusive posts here on the blog for TOP Tier Members, a travel diary post style, while I am enjoying my trip which will take me not only to and about London, but out into the countryside as well, a portion of England I have been most eager to visit for some time. I do hope you will join me.
But most importantly, remember that your joy, what brings you joy, an awareness and then a courageous choice to take action doing what brings you to life, is how you give to the world. Have fun saying yes to your life journey.
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