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Landscaping the Garden of Your Life

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I have built three homes, two with my husband and one on my own.

Before you can start building, you need a piece of land that will accommodate the house you want to build.

  • What kind of home do you want?
  • How big or small and how much can you afford?

Included in that early decision making is asking where you want to live. What kind of community do you want to be a part of, and are there lots available to purchase?

We had lived in Oregon for many years. Ready for retirement, we wanted to be closer to major waterways where we could spend time cruising with our sailboat. That led us to a new state and new possibilities. Finding a community that gave us access to both, we build our home. After his death, needing to downsize, I had to make the same preliminary inventory as the one above.

After the purchase of a piece of property, construction plans can be drawn up with the help of an architect. The ground is leveled and prepared for the foundation, and building begins.

When the house is completed, piles of dirt, gravel and rubble remain. It’s time for the final phase; landscaping your yard to make your home pleasing and welcoming. You consult the aid of a landscape architect.

The first thing a landscape architect wants to know in creating a design is the lay of the land: what is the soil like, what has to be removed, what has to be added, are there slopes and stairs or retaining walls to be built.

Looking around, he considers ways to turn this lumpy, overturned ground into a place of beauty.

  • Are there trees that can stay?
  • Are there deep potholes or mounds of dirt that need to be leveled?
  • Are there rocks or boulders to be removed or repositioned to become a distinguishing and unique feature of this garden?
  • Is new soil needed to welcome the roots of new plants?

I like to use this same analogy of landscaping with our lives.

You have grown up and are ready to make your life fulfilling, satisfying, and pleasing. What rocks, boulders and piles of rubble currently exist in your life?

When comparing our lives to that of a plot of ground ready to be landscaped, we can begin to think of ways to improve or create a new life design.

To begin, start with the basics.

What conditions currently in your life impede your progress?

Are there hurtful labels deep in the residue of your childhood like deep ruts that judge, restrict, and prevent new growth?

Perhaps there are huge boulders of doubt and self-incrimination that prevent you from seeing anything of worth or value.

Perhaps you are so busy comparing yourself to others that you are blinded to your own potential.

What seems like overwhelming obstacles can keep you from envisioning anything new or beautiful, or what can be re-positioned into a distinguishing feature or welcoming stepping stones to small, recessed spaces where you can sit and rest.

Life is a series of developmental stages.

Some are predictable, such as toddler to teen to adult, etc. But there are other stages of development that give us the opportunity to grow and reach a higher level of understanding and accomplishment than we ever thought possible.

It is at these junctures where we can turn our lives into attractive gardens of respite, comfort, beauty, and joy, a place we want to invite others to visit and stay awhile.

Just like an architect takes raw land and designs something attractive and delightful, so you can take the components of your life, create a new design and build something enduring and meaningful.

Where do you begin?

Here are 5 things that can help start this journey.

Landscaping the Garden of Your Life | focuswithmarlene.com

1. Identify what obstacles are keeping you from living a more meaningful life – a life of self-actualization, purpose and worth.

This list might include a difficult childhood, unfair comparisons, failed attempts, unrealistic standards, conflict in interactions with others, negative thinking, and destructive self-talk.

This design goes beyond all that and focuses on ways to empower you. If you are currently going through an upsetting period, take time to calm your mind so you can focus on the design you want for the rest of your life.

2. Take an inventory of what needs to be removed or replaced.

Reframing our circumstances with optimism allows us to believe we can do it. Replacing negative thinking and negative self-talk with an affirming attitude allows us to problem solve.

Make a list of all the positive qualities and characteristics you have. We tend to keep our focus on what was unpleasant, hoping to change what happened. Let go of the past. You have overcome. We learn valuable lessons about tenacity and determination going through tough times.

Don’t minimize the value of the traits you have. How can you make these qualities work for you instead of against you?

3. Get professional help.

The life experiences we have had can be hard to identify and overwhelming in terms of where to begin. Find a good therapist, seek the counsel of others who have gone beyond, read books by the experts or people who have overcome similar things. Join a support group who are not just coping but working on new positive ways to succeed.

4. Create a life landscaping design on paper.

Accomplishing any task requires knowing exactly what needs to be altered or removed and why and how your replacement will move you forward. Remember that completing the design takes time, clarity, problem-solving skills, ability to reframe, etc.

But the design will help you focus on one thing at a time and in an order where the completion of one thing helps the completion of another thing.

For example, after the death of my husband, moving forward I needed to know what changes needed to happen, how I could reframe my teaching and counseling into writing, giving workshops, etc. It required a major move. What adjustments were needed financially? I was redesigning the landscape of my life moving forward.

5. Make a commitment.

Write it down. Read it often. Visualize yourself completing this work. Imagine how good you will feel. Imagine taking charge of your life with confidence.

Life is an ongoing process.

We grow from one step to another step. We are making the corrections and additions that will not only enhance our lives but bring us joy, happiness, and contentment.

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