yoga with pets

What a Gardener Taught Me About Letting Go

I’ve lived in condos and apartments all my life, so I’ve never had my own garden. But the properties I lived at required upkeep, and on Fridays, the strident music of machines and the pungent smell of freshly cut grass would invade my open windows.

I have great respect for those who can care for the earth in such a way that it responds. I was thinking about this the other day when I was walking down the happening street in my neighborhood. Two women were pulling weeds out of the sweet urban garden in front of a Yoga studio, expertly yanking this and that to cultivate life.

There were two stories I was obsessed with growing up, and they both involved gardens.

the secret garden hardcover

As a little girl, I used to save my allowance and lunch money (yes, by going hungry) so I could go to the mall. I usually made a beeline for the bookstore, and one day, a gorgeous hardcover of The Secret Garden was perched on top of a shelf.

I happily spent all of my money on it. And I read it over and over again, never tiring of the magical story.

Then, there was the movie Edward Scissorhands. My grandmother was actually an Avon lady, so it was entertaining to see the way they weaved that comedic occupation into the storyline.

However, I couldn’t understand why more people didn’t create art the way Edward Scissorhands did with the shrubs and trees. I still don’t. Imagine how incredible it would be to walk down a street with green unicorns, dinosaurs, giraffes, swans, and children inhabiting every yard.

I guess it all comes down to losing our sense of awe as we get older. Whimsical things are pushed aside, and the acceptable “adult” things take precedence. Because the guy with the shrub safari in his front yard would be pretty ballsy, am I right?

I’m not over-the-hill in my thirties, I understand this. What’s tricky about your thirties is that you’re an adult now. When you’re in your twenties, you don’t know what the hell’s going on, but you play along and pretend you’re figuring things out even when you’re lost as shit.

In your thirties, hopefully you somewhat have your shit together—in a place that makes you sing, on a career path that challenges you, surrounded by genuine people you want to continue investing your time in.

But, what about the awe? Do you still have it? Or, did you lose it along the way?

Often I feel like I’m struggling to hold onto it, to continue marveling at life when the days keep flying by, faster and faster. I try to slow it down, I try to stop and notice. Somehow it’s alarmingly easy to go with it—and suddenly you realize a year has passed. A year.

So, one Friday this summer me and Mr. H took a sanity day to hang out around the house and just be. I was determined to do a 90-minute Yoga class, something I rarely have time for as I’m squeezing in 30-60 minute classes throughout my hectic week.

I had just started my practice, and I was centering myself. Then, wouldn’t you know it?

The gardening equipment struck up in our courtyard, a symphony of shrill that—despite my serene start—pissed me right off.

It was Friday. I’m never home on Fridays. And just like every other apartment I’ve lived in, Fridays are gardening day.

I live in the city, so getting bent out of shape over any noise when meditating or practicing Yoga is silly, I know. It’s a control thing. I have this time that I want things to be a certain way, quiet and peaceful, because I’m trying to de-stress, dammit!

But that Friday, it was gardening day.

I had two choices. I could give up my Yoga practice, try again when the coveted quiet, peaceful setting was more attainable. Or, I could get over it, and continue with the racket outside my window.

I decided on choice #2. I thought it was perfect actually, because it complemented the past month of craziness I had experienced in my life, especially at work—the struggle to remain calm in the chaos.

So, I worked with it. Every time my irritation rose, I breathed deeper. Every time I wanted to give up, I kept moving.

Because at the end of the day, there is very little we can control. Rather than getting upset, we can find the correlation between the emotional instigator and a tough situation in our lives.

I’m not saying it’s easy, because it’s not. Once you begin to recognize this, believe it or not, life gets easier.

yoga hip opener

Lizard Pose

Anyway about halfway through my practice, I was in one of the Yoga poses I truly struggle with…Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose).

I know what you’re thinking.

I’m a Yogi, I’m not supposed to hate. Well I kinda hate this mofo pose, because it’s one of the most evil hip openers out there. The heat rises within me and I want to run away from my mat, never to return.

Lizard Pose took a strange turn this time. When I looked up, cursing under my breath with a cat on my back, there was the gardener—standing in front of my window with his leaf blower.

Do you know what the guy did? He smiled at me and waved.

I did the same, somewhat awkwardly as you can imagine.

Then, he went on his way.

I laughed. I laughed at myself, at my ridiculous attitude. The carefree gardener was like, “Hey, this is kinda weird but kinda awesome.”

And, he was right.

47 thoughts on “What a Gardener Taught Me About Letting Go

  1. Eli Pacheco says:

    I love the thought of you in a pose with your cat curiously around. I remember as a teenager mowing the lawn, being this mixed-up cocktail of emotions and ideas and hormones, and in the din of the mower engine, the world was shut off and i could think or sing or just be. It was like white noise turned up way high.

    So maybe he was having that kind of moment, too.

  2. cravesadventure says:

    Sometimes you just have to let go and be 🙂 It is usually the smallest things that drive me to the brink, irk me to no living end and royally piss me off. Breathe in . . . breath out . . . I am really trying to go with the flow and some days are a success while other days are a crap shoot – ha!

    Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  3. Letizia says:

    I have a huge ewe shrub in front of the house (it’s almost at tall as the house) which everyone says I should prune into a giant rabbit or something, haha! I’m not sure I want to be THAT person, however. I have to admit that I do feel like Edward Scissorhands every time I prune the little shrubs, making little pyramids and round balls. My parents have a shrub in the shape of a deer and another in the shape of Baffi (well, it looks like a cross between a pig and Baffi but let’s not get technical here). One day you shall have an enchanted garden, Britt, full of crazy topiaries and secret passages. I will come over for tea.

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    I love what you said about control. The sooner we realize we have very little over the randomness of every day life, the better off we’ll be. And doing yoga through chaos seems like a perfect literal way to prove the point.

    As for the guy looking inside your window…er…that would have creeped me out for sure. Might have undone all the relaxation I’d just generated from my yoga. 😉

  5. Casey Sheridan says:

    I’m so glad you didn’t let the noise stop you from continuing your yoga session. When I read you had two choices, I thought to myself, “Go with it Britt! Don’t give up.”

    It’s so easy to get caught up in the swirl of distractions and to “harumph” when things are not going the perfect way. When a person steps back and thinks about them, they’re really not worth all the aggravation.

    I’m sure you gave the gardener a good laugh too. Especially with the kitty helping you. 🙂 I know what that’s like. I end up with a cat either on me or a pair of big green eyes staring into my face with the “what’cha doin?” look.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      It’s true. I’ve learned that it’s silly to give up on something just because things aren’t going my way. Kinda like throwing an adult temper tantrum, isn’t it?

      So glad you’re a crazy cat lady too!

  6. danniehill says:

    I grew up putting nature first. I was always in the woods while my parents wondered if I did my homework– usually not. It seems I’ve always lived in places where nature came first, but distractions come in many forms and takes me away from what’s ‘important’. I think the only thing I do that defeats distractions is writing. When in-the-zone the world come come to an end and I wouldn’t hear. I miss that. Now the ocean has me. It’s so good to be able to laugh at one’s self and put things in their place. Great post, Britt!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Nature has always been important to me too, which is why Dallas was not the right place for me to live. I loved the big skies out in the country, but it was flat and far from water.

      Writing is one of the only times I can block out distractions. It’s funny, because Mr. H will leave the house to run an errand—be gone for an hour sometimes—and he’ll walk through the front door and I always give him a dumb look.

      I say, “You’re back already?” He laughs at me. I think it’s been one minute, when clearly it’s been longer. 🙂

  7. Ally Bean says:

    I grew up knowing that I was related to women who gardened, but finding myself the daughter of one who didn’t. [Mom just hated it.] It wasn’t until I was in my 30s with a house of my own that I started to think like a gardener. Funny though, I never put together the idea of letting go in yoga with letting go in nature. Seems so obvious now that you write about it. Love how you worked through your pose and found the joy in the situation. Great post, made me think.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      My mom wasn’t ever into gardening, but she recently retired and discovered a new love for it. It’s tough when you’re working all the time to keep up with it.

      The correlation between yoga and nature is interesting, right?

  8. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    I tried once to do yoga in spite of the noise next door, but really couldn’t. I’m still frustrated about it, though. It’already way too raucous in my head when I try to focus on my yoga practice to add on the surrounding noises. Way too early for me, ha!
    But you made me want to read that Secret Garden…

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      It takes time and hard work, love. And as you can see from this post, even after a decade of practicing Yoga, I struggle with it. I started doing guided meditations a few weeks ago and that has really helped me quiet the noise.

      It’s such a magical story. You’ll love it!

  9. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Love this post, Britt! I need it right now, what with the stress of moving and still getting everything else done that needs to get done in my life. I love your interaction with the gardener. LOL. You’ve made my day!

  10. Sheila says:

    Life really would be more fun if all shrubs were carved into rabbits or caterpillars. That would be better than boring old rectangles. I’ll be over for the topiary tea!

  11. diannegray says:

    I need to just breathe and relax sometimes, Britt. I’m going to take your advice (especially today, now that hubby has decided to watch videos instead of gardening or mowing – breathe, breathe, breathe…..) 😉

  12. Roy McCarthy says:

    Right on Britt. No point stressing over stuff you can’t control. Worrying, raging about it will make things worse. Easier said than but yoga/running/physical exercise usually helps.

    As to noise in particular, I lived on a main road until I was 24 – traffic noise was 24/7. I guess that’s a big reason why I can blank out exterior distractions easily enough. Shouldn’t your back be straighter in that plank or are you cat-proofing? 😉

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I always say (jokingly of course) that if I don’t exercise regularly, I’ll start killing people. It’s rare that I don’t workout every day, but recently I went three days in a row because I allowed work to rule my life too much. By golly, it was true…I had murder on my mind. 🙂

      It’s not a plank, it’s a lunge—so it does change the shape of the back. Also, as I mentioned with the struggle, it is not my “best” pose. There are some people that do Lizard Pose with their hips WAY down. It’s a miracle, as far as I’m concerned.

  13. Karin Van den Bergh says:

    Gosh, yes so recognizable.. haha, the space in between how we want it to be and how it finally turns out can be prrretty frustrating.
    And huh..between you and me.. I’m well in my fourties and still haven’t got my shit together. On the contrary I feel sometimes more shit is hitting the fan 😀 but hopefully I’m getting better equipped in handling it.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I know I’m not alone with the space in between—damn you, expectations!

      You’re doing great, honey. The Yoga/meditation/wellness things we do definitely mean something about handling life.

  14. Stan R. Mitchell says:

    My typical, lame guy comment is that I’ll bet the Gardner wasn’t looking at the cat. ; )

    And on my word did these words hit home…

    “But, what about the awe? Do you still have it? Or, did you lose it along the way? Often I feel like I’m struggling to hold onto it, to continue marveling at life when the days keep flying by, faster and faster. I try to slow it down,”

    It is such a struggle to not grow old in mind and spirit. When you find out the secret to this, will you share it?!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Ha, I doubt there’s just one secret to not growing old in mind and spirit! I could be wrong, but I have a sneaky feeling it’s something we have to keep working at in ALL aspects of our lives.

  15. Gallivanta says:

    Topiary is fun but I wanted a wildflower meadow on my mini-section, so I planted one. It’s wild, and not very proper by Christchurch standards. Birds love it, I love it, bees love it, the neighbor’s cat loves it…..so that’s all that matters. Noise….hmmmm……loved the way you accommodated it. I have trouble with audible distractions. And the encounter with the gardener was priceless.

  16. Kate Johnston says:

    I agree — anyone who can take care of the earth so that it responds gets a round of applause from me! I try to garden, but I’m not very good at it. Mainly my problem is that I don’t have enough time. Cultivating a garden is like cultivating a family, and both are full-time jobs, neither of which pay, so you have to add a third or fourth or fifth job to cover your ass so you have enough money to cultivate your garden and/or your family!!

    I love that your cat climbs on your back while you’re doing yoga. Whenever I try to do my floor exercises, both my cats and my dog snuggle right up to me and try to get on me too. What is it with pets!?!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Gardening is super time-consuming! You definitely have to love doing it. I think it’s even more appealing to me now, because I crave more time away from a computer screen. Too much of our lives is spent on devices now.

      Pets are crazy, aren’t they? I think any time we get down on the floor, we’re fair snuggle game. 😉

  17. jmmcdowell says:

    Okay, just looking at that photo of the Lizard pose made my hips hurt. 😉 I love gardens, and my husband and I may have gone overboard on preparing a new bed in the backyard for next year— 43 by 6.5 feet in size. But the thought of how much the birds, bees, and butterflies will enjoy it is calming, too. I’ll just try not to think of the sore muscles that will be involved in getting everything planted. 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Lizard pose is no joke for me. Others can plop right into it and say: Hey, what’s the big deal? That’s the interesting thing about Yoga—no two bodies are the same!

      No such thing as an overboard garden to me! You’ll have to share pix of it with us one day.

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