Growing green things

The first plant type things that inspired me enough for ownership were cacti. I was in my early teens and I loved the strange mystery of this previously unknown plant. I had several of them. I remember one afternoon hitting upon the most marvellous idea that if I put a huge block of ice on the cacti tray then it would melt slowly providing watering for several days. By the evening (it was summer) the tray and my window ledge had flooded. I learnt how fast ice melts which was likely a useful thing to know. I discovered several years later that cacti are more likely to bloom if they are not regularly watered. So my efforts concerning their daily deluge were somewhat redundant to begin with.

The next thing that I grew was a kombucha mushroom. I was given my ‘starter’ mushroom by my reflexologist. I bought the required bowl (this was at age nineteen, this bowl lived a long and happy life until my daughter’s dad managed to drop it on the floor some twelve years later. RIP epic bowl, may you be resting in kitchen paraphernalia heaven) and all the other bits too. The first mushroom worked beautifully, and the ‘tea’ that was produced was most excellent. The second time my mushroom went mouldy. I did not pursue this a third time, as the prospect of actively growing mould in my bedroom, was not something I had any wish to repeat. (Cue the miniature drawers on my Sindy Kitchen, in which I crushed some grains and mixed them with water. I then left the moosh to grow. I was five and I can still remember the acridity of the smell now). I also grew a crystal (it was blue), potatoes at the end of the garden (those things keep coming back, year after year..) and an assortment of other plants and malarkey. It was fun.

More recently I have grown little peppers (mass bug infestation, despite the daily leaf washing.. how did my world come to this?), basil (bug infestation and leaf mould, double win! One afternoon I could take no more and chopped them all to oblivion, well not oblivion per se, more like stumps, I chopped them to stumps. Now they sit near the window, quietly judging), spider plants (things of such radiant bug and mould free existence!) and my aloe vera. The Aloe Vera is my kitchen monster. She is radiant, forthcoming when I burn myself and is my most favourite plant in my house (the basil knows this, its why it only very quietly judging). It sort of scares some of my friends, but that’s okay, Aloe doesn’t judge.

Ever since I can remember I have grown things. This often comes with contention, but this is met from a place of love and unholy stubborness to will something into existence. Watching seeds sprout, and plants grow is something quite magical. Watching mould develop is somewhat disgusting but still incredible none the less. Nothing is constant and everything is open to change.

Map Point. What inspires me to change?





Map Points

Map Points. I like the idea of thinking about life as a journey, never staying in one place for too long. This doesn’t necessarily relate to physical places, it could do, but I was thinking more about the spiritual and emotional paths that we follow. People often joke about how life doesn’t come with a map, but I think that it does if you can learn to look for the waypoints.

Every situation that we find ourselves in, we can learn from. Even the really harsh ones. Sad things happen to everyone, but having a questioning outlook, and having growth as the prominent mindset can make the difference between moving on and being stuck in the past.

A few sad things happened to me during my teenage years, the predominant one was being bullied. This never took a physical form, but instead took on a verbal one, of teasing, sarcasm and social exclusion. I felt isolated and wanted to be anywhere but school. The stress levels that this produced I guess contributed to the amount of respiratory infections and poorly stomachs that I experienced. I remember vividly one morning of getting ready for school, uniform on, lunch made, bag packed, all was well and then suddenly it wasn’t. I had got to my hallway, shoes were on, and I found myself uncontrollably sobbing, clinging onto the bannister, unable to let go. Even after my mum, who clearly must have been distressed at the sight of her daughter so distraught said I didn’t have to go to school, I still cried and couldn’t let go. It was all that was connecting me to the rest of the world.

I always enjoyed the learning bit of school, and as an adult, I relish learning new things, but my experience of school was quite terrible in many ways. I was always a quiet child, but that didn’t bother me as I was always happy in my own company. I had good friends, but being bullied was a mass invasion into my head space. It was unprovoked, unkind and deeply unfair.

However whilst recognising that it was a horrible thing, I am deeply grateful for these experiences, and for the knowledge that they gave me. Much of my time as an adult has been spent working with children in varying circumstances of hardship. I connect easily and readily to young people, I am not dismissive nor judgemental. I also help to increase their aspirations through my love of education. My passion facilitates others.

I think it would be easy to think about all the negatives only, but unless I can take the positives too, it will always be a resentment, always a burden. For me, understanding this has been critical to my growth. There is so much possibility ahead. And that is exciting.

Map Point. What events from the past do I still think about?


It is too easy to judge the lives of others. We live in a society that sometimes feels conditioned to do so. I remember hearing a close family member talking about his girlfriend, and how nervous, and then how excited she had been to get a job in a cafe. And he spoke about this with pity in his voice. If that was her highest level of aspiration, that can’t have been a good thing? It is too easy to make criticisms of someone else’s life without ever having any idea of how they have got to the place they have got to. I remember once after being treated in hospital for stomach pain with diamorphine, and feeling how terrible that felt on my mental state, my overriding thought was that if this is a high point of someone’s day, then that makes me humble.

Every time we make a judgment on someone else, we are expressing an aspect of ourselves that could be useful to examine. The more extreme things are easier, but what about the passing judgment of his clothes, her hair, his weight, her music choices, his books .. the list goes on. If I judge someone’s weight, what does that say about me – am I scared that my shape might change? Do I perceive laziness or starvation because that is what most closely resonates with me? So rather than addressing my own issues, it feels easier to criticise those that I don’t know or even those that I profess to love.

I guess this could be a perceived entirely as a negative thing that we sometimes engage in, but what if that is flipped, and we use the judgments that we make to question ourselves and why we are making them.

When I first met Robert he was incredibly judgemental of how people looked, which for me was actually a boon. I have generally found it difficult to consistently make myself presentable. It wouldn’t occur to me to recycle my clothes with holes, throw out old makeup, wear makeup differently, take more care of myself physically. It wasn’t that I didn’t do any of things ever, just likely not as often as should likely be recommended! (I now know about the little symbol that ‘suggests’ when makeup is out of date!). Through Robert, I developed a greater confidence about the sort of shops I could shop in (all of them, apparently) and the kind of clothes I thought I could wear (more than I thought) and that has been utterly tremendous. Conversely, Robert’s judgments come from a place of insecurity, but as with all things, he is turning this into a positive that can enrich him, rather than a weight that makes him smaller. Judgments can help us to grow.

Map Point. What things do we judge most harshly?