I can’t tell you how many succulents I’ve killed in the past year. The number that have perished in my residence is astounding.
The farm girl from Michigan and the easiest plant to care for. It’s been a blood bath.
I saw so many gorgeous setups with people and their plants during quarantine. It looked so fun and earthy! I thought, “I want to do that. I want to be like that. I will become a plant person during COVID!”
So I bought succulents, brought them home and was so excited to have them. Then, that was the end of it. My life stayed the same.
I set timers to water them and pressed snooze. I forgot they were sitting there on the ledge. Even when I put them purposely in my path, I walked around them.
In my neglect, they died. Upon the deaths I would tell myself, “This time will be different”. I would go buy more succulents, not water them and they would die. The cycle continued.
A similar thing happened with me and cooking.
I saw loads of people creating special feasts in their spare time at home. They cooked up family recipes and became skilled bakers. People looked like they were having a ball.
I lovingly refer to myself as a “snacker” or a “takeout girl”. So I thought, “This is my window. This is when I will actually cook! And, I will enjoy it!”
I bought the ingredients for the recipes, they sat in my fridge and went bad. I threw away the food I had wasted and felt bad about the waste in addition to not following through.
I tried again, same story. The ingredients to the soup out of the cookbook ended up in the trash.
The one time I actually made a recipe I found it overwhelming and stress inducing. It was not the spiritual ritual and relaxation that it is to people like my sister.
“Ok, I surrender. This is not my thing.”
What I realized in these instances was that it wasn’t that I couldn’t do these things. I very well could have watered the plants and I very easily could have cooked the meals.
It wasn’t even that they made me uncomfortable. From ice showers to showing up online to building a business from scratch during a pandemic, I do so many things daily that are uncomfortable.
In fact, I make a living doing uncomfortable things. I’m good at creating habits amidst discomfort and uncertainty - I’m a performer.
If I was both capable and thrive in discomfort, then what was it?
Why couldn’t I create a mecca of foliage in my windows? And why couldn’t I smile in the kitchen and reap the rewards of a home cooked meal?
I simply didn’t care.
I didn’t care about the plants.
I didn’t care about the recipes.
I just didn’t care.
The problem was that I thought I should care about these things.
I have received message over the years about how healing and important cooking is - especially for a womxn. Some of this has been a subtle hum from culture and other times, it’s been very direct words to me.
These messages echo and quarantine seemed like a perfect opportunity to correct this “area of growth”.
Turns out, even when I tried I couldn’t course correct myself away from who I truly am and what I actually care about. Once you’ve tasted and embodied your real self, there is no turning back. It’s just too good.
To me, food is fuel. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to put my energy into it. I just need my eggs, avocados and veggies that I’ve eaten daily for the past decade. I just want my body to run efficiently. I know what works for me and I do it.
Every time I went to cook, I felt resistance. I wanted to get my fuel and be on my merry way. To me, it was a waste of time that I could be spending on projects or being outside. I didn’t want to spend my precious time on the planet in the kitchen.
Same thing with the plants. I grew up on a farm and even used to work in my Aunt Pam’s greenhouse. I would pot flowers into beautiful arrangements, sell, weed, water - I would do it all and I truly enjoyed it.
All messages and signs, even from myself, pointed to “You should have plants”. However, when it came down to it, I wouldn’t sacrifice what I actually cared about even long enough to water them.
I pressed snooze on the timer as I continued in a writing or playing flow. I stepped over them as I walked to my yoga mat for a practice or training. These were the things I cared about - not the plants.
One of my teacher’s uses the phrase “Don’t should on yourself”. It’s a fun play on words while at the same time speaking major truth.
Whenever I feel like I should do something, it’s usually an argument with reality. Many times it’s an outside force or conditioning that is convincing me to do or be something that I’m just not.
This is what I was doing with the plants and cooking. I was “shoulding” all over myself. Sometimes it’s hard to tell because the world tends to operate in this way. People constantly do what they think they’re supposed rather than what they actually enjoy or really care about creating.
In sharing with my sister, she wisely said “It’s just not you.”.
She was right. Of course neither things caught, they’re just not me! Of course the plants and cooking didn’t take flight, how could I fly with things I don’t actually care about?
The beauty of mindfulness is that it’s a practice. It’s a practice I get to come back to moment after moment, day after day, week after week and year after year.
It’s the practice of coming back to myself, being in relationship with how I experience life and living in alignment with my truth.
Now that I’ve experienced embodied living in my truest expression, I couldn’t even trick myself into deviating from it! Now that I’ve created a life filled with things I deeply care about, I couldn’t back track.
Now that I know my real self, there is no turning back. I can’t abandon her.
Mindfulness allowed me to leave the land of “Shoulds” without berating myself. I put my arm around my shoulder with a loving smile and stepped back into my beautiful self.
I stepped back into the person I actually am. I’m the girl with one snake plant that she waters every other month, who adores flowers outside, has a fridge full of eggs and sauerkraut, and a bowl on her counter with a week’s supply of avocados.
I love her.
Last weekend I watched a documentary on Ruth Bader Ginsburg and was delighted to discover that she also was not a womxn who cooked. In fact, it was a hilarious joke in her family that her food tasted terrible and she was never in the kitchen.
It made me smile so big.
Now not only has RBG given me the very literal reality of having my own bank account and running a successful business as a woman, she has given me full blown permission to be all parts of my true self! Very specifically, to be the girl with no green thumb and who uses her oven twice a year.
I don’t need to fit any mold. I don’t need to care about everything. I don’t need to do everything. I don’t need to be everything.
I get to care about what I care about and be who I am.
She reminded me of a saying my Dad said to us growing up and that has been reflected back to me in all parts of my life lately: “Jack of all trades, master of none”.
RBG fiercely cared about a few big things and excelled at them because she didn’t try to do it all. She didn't "should" on herself. She allowed herself to lean into what she really cared about and who she truly was.
Through that allowance and alignment, she paved a path and created great success as the person she truly was doing things she truly cared about.
Other things that she didn’t care about fell away. And that is more than ok.
How many times in our lives do we go down a path because we think we should?
How many times has society or people sent messages about who we are or what we’re supposed to be doing?
Do we even ask ourselves?
Mindfulness is the practice of creating the space to ask these questions and to do the brave thing: listen and follow the answer.
I’ve experienced the shoulds many a time and let me tell you, they don’t work. Even after a bit of a rumble and a tumble, I always end up right where I started: Who I really am and what I actually care about.
Unless I care, I don’t do it. Unless I care, it doesn’t work. Unless I really care, it doesn’t last.
I kill plants. I throw away the food.
Unless it’s really me, it doesn’t come to be.
How do the shoulds show up in your life?
If you knew that you didn’t need to pretend it was your thing, what would you let go of?
What would it be like to do what truly matters to you? What you care about?
Check in with yourself, is that what you really want to do?
Dropping the shoulds and embracing one’s true self are key parts of what I do in my work in mindfulness coaching and my mindfulness based piano lessons.
If you’d love support on embodying your full expression in living your own life and potential through mindfulness - this is why I am a coach! I would love to hold you high with tools and support as you expand into who and what you truly desire. Book a free call with me here and let’s connect!
And If you’re interested in mindful piano lessons, I officially have one space remaining in my studio. Please reach out to me here if you’re interested! I would love to support you or a young person in your life in my unique container.
Make sure you care.
Make sure it’s you.
In everything you do, may it be true.
Letting you be you so you can do what you're meant to,