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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Holmén

Transforming Your Sh*t to Grow a Beautiful Life

Updated: Jan 15

Embracing life’s challenges with optimism

By Deborah Holmén, M.Ed., NBCT, Published in Change Becomes You

A woman walking in nature comtemplating life
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Life is a wild and unpredictable journey filled with joyous moments and daunting challenges. At times, it may feel like we are being bombarded with an array of difficulties that threaten to overshadow our dreams and aspirations. However, what if I told you that the so-called “sh*t” life throws at us can be transformed into nourishing fertilizer for the growth of beautiful flowers?

The metaphor of cultivating a garden as a symbol of recreating the life we desire helps those looking for personal growth understand how the world works. 

Drawing from the inspirational memoir and personal development book, It Takes A Lot of Sh*t to Grow Beautiful Flowers: A Gardener’s Guide to Life, Deborah Holmén delves into actionable steps that can help us embrace life’s challenges and grow into the best versions of ourselves.

Embrace your sh*t

Life’s trials and tribulations are opportunities for growth and self-discovery. Instead of resisting or running away from them, please take a deep breath and embrace them wholeheartedly. Acknowledging your challenges as stepping stones towards your personal evolution and realizing your dreams isn’t as scary as it seems.

If you have ever created a garden, you would realize a lot of toil and sweat goes into the foundation of the soil. You must remove the weeds and top grassy sod, then sift through the soil underneath to expose rocks, roots, and whatnot.

This is where it all begins, at the most naked and revealing place. We all have this bare soil within us; getting to its source and uncovering its true potential is the first and most challenging step.

However, some want to avoid looking under the surface to reveal what may be lurking in their dirt. They will cover it with pretty petals of clothes, cars, and finer things. They smooth out any lumps and bumps with a story they tell themselves and convince others to repeat it. The storytelling becomes like a Virginia creeper vine whose roots meander to all near enough to listen.

But what happens to our souls when the story we tell ourselves is like this evasive weed? We eventually choke on our own lies and deception. So, like the gardener, we must look closely at what in our life is causing our grief.

Cultivate self-compassion

Just as plants require nurturing and care, so does our well-being. Treat yourself with kindness, love, and respect throughout your journey. When you stumble or fall, remember that it is an inevitable part of growth. Offer yourself forgiveness and the encouragement needed to get back up and try again.

How many of us were given a house plant, thriving in its glory with brilliant blooms brightening our room, only to have it die in our care? I’m raising my hand here. Some claim they have a green thumb, but the secret is they are willing to take the time to learn what must be done for proper self-care.

Much like a gardener, we need to reflect on ourselves and accept that it is our responsibility to bring about change rather than expecting our partner, parent, friend, or boss to do so. We should investigate the reasons why we don’t feel well and seek answers to the recurring shit we create. Just as a gardener needs to understand what nourishes their crops, we must also learn what we should do to finally thrive, accepting that we created the manure- and now we must use it for change.

Rewire your mindset

Change begins from within. Take a moment to reflect on your mindset and consider how it may impact your ability to overcome challenges. Adopting an optimistic perspective allows you to find silver linings even in the darkest moments. Train your mind to focus on possibilities rather than limitations, and watch your resilience grow.

Like consistently weeding a flower bed to let the blooms shine, we must concentrate on the weeds in our minds. Sure, they are always there, but it is the mindfulness of ridding ourselves of the pattern of thinking negatively that will help rewire our brains.

Neurotransmitters grow negative patterns if that is all you give your brain, just as they will create positive synapses. Choose your thoughts wisely. 

Seek support

No garden thrives on its own. Surround yourself with a network of supportive individuals who inspire and uplift you. Seek out mentors, friends, or support groups that can provide guidance during difficult times. By leaning on others, we learn the power of unity in nurturing both our individual growth and collective well-being.

Plant seeds of gratitude

Much like sunlight and water nourish flowers; gratitude is the fertilizer that fuels personal transformation. Cultivate a deep appreciation for the lessons learned during challenging times, acknowledging that they have shaped you into who you are today. Take time each day to express gratitude for the blessings in your life, no matter how small, and witness the transformative power it holds.

Make it meaningful. Journaling is a great way to express this gratitude. By setting specific time aside, you allow your whole being to express this essential daily activity. And, like the gardener, you will eventually see the fruits of your labor. 

Nurture self-care

Just as a garden needs consistent care and nourishment, so do we. Prioritize self-care by engaging in activities that replenish your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Whether carving out time for exercise, indulging in a hobby, or simply taking a moment of solitude, remember that self-care is essential in cultivating the life you desire.

Life’s challenges may seem overwhelming and discouraging, but by adopting an optimistic mindset and embracing the “sh*t” life throws at us, we can cultivate a beautiful and fulfilling existence. Let the garden metaphor empower you to see setbacks as opportunities for growth and transformation.

Remember that it is often from the darkest places that the most beautiful flowers bloom. So take your sh*t, and with love, care, and resilience, watch as your life blossoms into a tapestry of joy, purpose, and abundance. Embrace the power within you to create your desired life, and let your magnificent garden inspire others to do the same.

Deborah Holmén’s book, It Takes A Lot of Sh*t to Grow Beautiful Flowers: A Gardener’s Guide to Life coming soon to bookstores near you!

Published on The Good Men Project in Change Becomes You


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