What I Learned About Helping Someone Else's Garden Grow

And what that taught me about my own.

My neighbour invited me over to grab some fresh lettuce from her garden this morning. Now, how am I going to say ‘no’ to fresh produce, right? Especially since now I’m opting for lettuce wraps instead of tortilla wraps for my lunches. We eat a lot of food in my home which was one of the reasons we started our own garden this year. When we did, our neighbours were a big help in getting us started.

I am loving my little farm. I hope I never cease to be amazed at all the daily changes, and the way Nature just knows what to do. It is a true relationship between Nature and myself; she’s the teacher and I’m the student, and we are getting along really well.

This morning, thanks to YouTube (my teaching assistant!), I figured out that I have 6 zucchini squashes growing behind these beautiful yellow flowers. (Flowers that are apparently edible. I’m also learning how much of the plant we ‘throw away’ or don’t use…the most nutritious parts, too!)

Anyway, I went over to Cayley’s house to grab some lettuce for my lunch and was taken aback when I stepped into her garden. Like I said, there are daily changes, and I hadn’t been in her yard for quite some time. It was like walking into a jungle (a well-tended and orderly jungle, I might add) of green: tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, peas, potatoes and herbs. Everywhere I looked, things were growing.

And so was something inside me: excitement.

One of the qualities I’ve always been thankful for is my ability to feel inspired and excited about my own possibilities when I see the successes of others. I really and truly am grateful for this (and I attribute it to my father – he taught me that envy is a waste of time and gifts – and to my spiritual teacher, Dr. Wayne Dyer). It would have been really easy to look at her garden and compare it with my smaller one and feel envious.

And envy is something that we talk about a lot, isn’t it? It’s almost like we plant the seeds for envy with the language we use.  Hair envy, blog envy, body envy, garden envy…these are real phrases that we see sprouting everywhere on the internet and in conversation.

My garden has immense potential, and so do I. So do you.

Maybe it’s because we live in a culture of instant gratification that we want what someone else has…NOW. Waiting 6 months from now or a year from now to reap what we sow isn’t enticing if that’s the kind of attitude we bring to life.

The next time you feel ‘envy’ do these 5 things and see if it helps you change the way you perceive what’s going on:

  1. Replace the word ‘envy’ with something more productive like ‘excitement’ or ‘inspiration.
  2. Ask yourself what it is that you really want. What is missing that is making you wish for someone else’s success? You might not actually want the exact same version of success as someone else. You might want something completely different. Use these ‘jealous’ feelings as a map. They’re telling you where you want to go.
  3. Create goals to help you attain what it is you truly want. And remember that part of the excitement of achieving something is making steps toward it.
  4. Appreciate how far you’ve come. In terms of my garden, it really started as me cutting out pictures in gardening magazines 13 YEARS AGO when I lived in an apartment and dreamed of my own land. I cut out pictures and taped them on to blank computer paper and stuck that paper in a binder. A binder that I still have and is still full of ideas that are now coming to fruition. That young woman inside me who is 25, newly married, and dreaming of her future is THRILLED that I have zucchini in my planter right now.
  5. Share your gifts of time, knowledge and mentorship with others. Someone else needs a little encouragement to realize their own potential. Being a part of that can be incredibly satisfying. It will keep you humble. You will never lose sight of that person you were years ago, when you were just starting out in whatever it is you were just starting out. And someone else’s garden can grow.
Post previously published at Let Me Out Creative.

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Taslim is a freelance writer and editor based in Surrey, B.C. She shares her passion for social justice, arts & culture, and travel on her blog www.taslimjaffer.com. Taslim is also a writing instructor who loves to show others how to get their personal stories down on paper, and use writing as a healing tool. A mom of 3, you will often find her at home, simultaneously navigating the land of pre-teenhood, Kindergarten transitions and remembering to check in with her middle child.