Hey, friends. I hope you’re all doing well on this fine spring day. I’m sitting here in my apartment in Brooklyn, there are birds chirping, it’s sunny, and I can’t wait to get outside for a run. But first, I wanted to get this out — this theme has been coming up in my life over and over and OVER lately.
Where to begin? Well, I guess I’ll begin with an analogy, because who doesn’t love a good analogy?
I’m not a gardener, but I would like to be. It’s a life goal of mine, to have a gorgeous garden. Flowers and vegetables and fruits. Cucumbers and arugula and berries…those excite me the most. Maybe cilantro….other herbs. Flowers of all kinds. I can’t wait. It makes me really look forward to the later years in my life when I know I’ll be a gardener. In my current Brooklyn apartment, it can’t happen. I won’t say it’s impossible because I know you can get little herb gardens and put them out on your windowsill, etc, but I’m talking about a GARDEN garden. Where I can grab something and then go make a pretty meal out of it for 10 people, and put it on a big wooden table. With benches. And then photograph it and put it all in a cookbook. DREAM LIFE!!! Please, come over for dinner. There will be many feasts from this garden of mine, I promise you that.
The reason I bring this up is because this blog post is about the thing nobody notices when they look at a garden. The SOIL. I know nothing about soil, but what I assume is that you need to have the right kind of soil and the right conditions in order for flowers or vegetables to grow to their potential.
The end goal is a gorgeous cucumber or the perfect peony, right? But these outcomes don’t just poke out from uninhabitable conditions. You don’t walk outside one day and see a field of cucumbers fit for a feast where yesterday it was dry and dusty land.
Sure, once in awhile you see a flower growing through the cracks in the sidewalk, and that’s a beautiful spectacle, and you say, “wow, a miracle!” and you take a photo, and you post it with an inspirational quote. Love that. But in order to get any kind of predictable outcome with your garden, it’s going to take rich, fertile, well-cared for soil.
And this all ties perfectly into our own personal goals and productivity and our dreams for big growth.
It’s coming up everywhere, lately.
The importance – and necessity – of a strong foundation. FERTILE SOIL!
All the time, I hear the same thing from myself and my friends and the people I love. Goals, wanting to make more money, wanting to be great at something, wanting to feel optimal, wanting to have a project done, a book written, wanting to reach peak physical fitness, feel happy…you know. All the stuff we want but that feels incomprehensible — like there’s some magic formula needed to get there.
But what we forget to focus on, many times, is the importance of the foundation. The soil conditions we need to grow out of. This needs to be tended to first, and I always forget this, but it’s a huge relief to remember it. Because outcomes don’t (for the most part) just materialize from a random happenstance. Sometimes yes, they do, but do we want to wait around our whole lives hoping for a sprout to come through a crack in the concrete? No. Well, I don’t. I want to cultivate something, nurture something, grow something great.
A nourishing foundation (healthy soil) is necessary for growth (beautiful flowers or a tasty cucumber). And focusing on the soil first might be the missing key to the outcome you’re looking for.
Can you really grow your financial wealth if you don’t have a good foundation set up for your finances?
Can you excel in a sport or enhance your physical fitness without getting a handle on the basics?
Can you really optimize your creative output and flow if your beautiful mind is existing in an undesirable physical environment?
Can you do the work you’re so eager to do in the world if you’re not feeding your body the nourishment that leads to the energy and mood necessary to perform?
It all makes so much sense to me. So simple, and at the same time, so overlooked.
Where, in your life, does the foundation feel shaky, or the soil feel dry…in the place you want to grow the most?
A few signs it’s time to tend to the soil, before your garden can have big growth:
- You’re trying to do creative work in a cluttered and unorganized office or uninspiring home environment and your ideas feel scattered, you have trouble completing projects. Clean and organize or change your environment. Then come the flowers. More on that here.
- You want to make more money and increase your financial abundance but you don’t have a good handle on your basic financial setup — there’s no solid foundation to grow from, so you stay stagnant or have an erratic financial picture. THIS BOOK is teaching me so much about my finances, it’s mind-blowing, really.
- You desperately want to get in shape but you don’t know where to start with a basic foundation for fitness, so you feel discouraged and don’t do anything. I personally do so much better with fitness when I’m on a specific plan, particularly a plan that starts from a basic level and works up. My favorite plan for running is here. My favorite plan for body-weight fitness is here.
- You want to complete a project (multiple projects?) or write a book or otherwise make something happen but you don’t set yourself up with the time, space, environment and BOUNDARIES needed to get them done. I’m speaking for myself because I travel constantly and say yes to a lot of events (I can’t complain, it’s been radical) but the unfinished projects and unwritten cookbooks in my heart are begging for me to take a second to create the boundaries and discipline to let them out. A steady environment (or at least a solid plan and boundaries with your time, even if your environment is changing constantly) is the crucial foundation for allowing projects to bloom to completion. More on how our actions reflect our priorities here.
- You just want to be happier or more satisfied with your life, but you haven’t given any thought to creating the conditions for happiness. Give yourself some space, some breathing room, some quietude. Using the Headspace app for 10 minutes a day is extraordinary soil for growing some peace of mind.
- You want to have great energy levels, happier moods, clearer digestion, glowing skin… but you are putting things into your body constantly that are not fueling your desired level of glowing and greatness. We highly, highly underestimate (MYSELF INCLUDED) how much we’re affected by what we put into our bodies. This is my personal formula for feeling better and it’s the best formula I’ve found. Years in the making, and I made it because I need it. It is the soil from which any smidge of greatness has sprouted in my life.
- You want to find wild romantic love but you aren’t in love with your own life. Love attracts love, so focusing on cultivating the soil — feeling beautiful, surrounding yourself with beauty, finding the sparks of love in your life every day, in your friendships, in your work, in music, in books in art, in self care — this will create the conditions for a romantic partnership to blossom. Truly. More on that here, the best way to attract love.
And the list goes on and on and on. I’m sure you can find other examples in your own life of where your foundation might be undesirable for the outcomes you’re looking for – and I’d love to hear them in the comments, feel free to share.
FOUNDATION, FOUNDATION, FOUNDATION.
Get it in check.
So easy to overlook but so crucial to tend to.
A solid foundation will create the conditions for BIG growth. Big growth can happen randomly, spontaneously, miraculously – of course it can and that’s beautiful. But if your soil is tended to, you’ll be ready when the big growth comes and that big growth will stick around longer, and continue to grow in ways that surprise and amaze you, I am willing to bet.
If the soil is dry and untended to, your garden will probably be sparse and skimpy and not up to it’s potential.
Over and out. Now let’s set our soil up to grow some epic cucumbers. Or anything we want, really.
P.S. I’m teaching a workshop, Wellness Hacks for Creative Warriors, at a women’s retreat in August, in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains — at the Art of Living Retreat Center. It’s going to be an incredible time — I would love to see you there! More here.