Just as a garden needs its weeds removed for new life to blossom, removing the weeds of our past will create necessary space for our future growth.
If you have ever planted a garden, you know the joy that comes from creating a pristine and beautiful plot of rich soil. Pulling weeds, amending the soil with nutrients, and removing all the tiny rocks that can thwart a seedling can bring you to the magical moment of running your hands through fertile ground, a beautiful deep brown landscape from which you can grow all kinds of vibrant and juicy possibilities.
As we make the shift from one year to the next, though, sometimes we can’t focus on anything except the weeds and rocks left behind by the previous year. Everywhere I turn I hear the relief in people’s hearts that last year is closing its heavy doors. I don’t think I know anyone who didn’t have some intense growth spurts this year: tragedies touching them personally, upsetting surprises at almost every turn, sudden health challenges, and no matter what their political beliefs, the news weighing on their hearts.
So, how can we clean out and enrich that garden soil in order to start creating beauty in our new year?
We can start by taking some powerful, yet neither hard nor time-consuming, actions to start clearing away some weeds and rocks. We can then add some nutritious love to the landscape. Maybe your rocks and weeds are in the form of relationships gone awry, or unfulfilled promises to people you love. Maybe it’s just little bits and pieces of unfinished business, nagging near-misses and near-successes. Or maybe there is a part of your life that was left in chaos because last year demanded your attention in other areas of your life.
Whatever your starting point may be, here are five actions you can take to get your new garden growing.
Start by picking one and see what it does for the state of your heart.
1. Forgiving Yourself
Finish this sentence “I forgive my ‘last year self’ for…” Write and write and write without thinking or judgment, as long a list as you can muster of things for which you would like to forgive yourself that you did in or before last year. Even if it happened long ago, if it’s bugging you now, it was bugging your ‘last year self.’
2. Forgiving Someone Else
Start writing “I forgive __________’s ‘last year self’ for…” Write and write and write without thinking or judgment as long a list as you can muster for all the people you would like to forgive for trespasses made in or before last year. Maybe you have more than one thing, so just do them one at a time.
3. Physical Messes
Choose one physical mess that has been bugging you or thwarting you, one thing that you could clean up or improve. Is there a stack of papers that requires your attention? Is there a corner of your garage that needs re-arranging, or a drawer than needs re-organizing, a closet that needs cleaning? Commit to a certain number of minutes to work on one or more of these physical messes. Set a timer. If you work past the timer’s ring, great. Ask yourself if you’d like to do another session like this when you are done to reduce the weight of another item on your list.
4. Unfulfilled People Promises
Is there a phone call (or maybe a few phone calls) you can make that might lighten your emotional load? Would it be a good idea to utter an apology to someone for something you did last year that you don’t feel quite right about? Do you need to check in on someone and tell them you love them? Is there someone you didn’t see enough last year that you would love to start out the year seeing? If so, make a point to reach out.
5. Clean the Slate
Start writing “I am leaving the following judgments, misgivings, hatreds, injustices and all-around negativities in last year…” Let ‘er rip! Write until you have nothing else to leave behind.
If you have a place you can safely burn what you wrote down on paper, then do that. Let it disappear into the ether. If you can’t burn it, tear it up into a million pieces or wad it up nice and tight and toss it as dramatically as possible into a trashcan outside your house.
When you take even one of the above actions to clean out your emotional rocks and weeds left behind by an intense year, you are cleaning and enriching your heart.
From that clearing you now have the space where you can create anything.
The seedlings you are about to plant in your new year have a shot at becoming the blossoming flowers and strong trees you want to have surrounding you this year.
I wish you a glorious heart garden and bounty of every kind in your year ahead!
You may also enjoy reading 3 Steps to Love Your Body: A Morning Ritual to Expand Self-Love by Dain Heer