What you might not know about me is I am an avid but fickle plant mama. During the early stages of the pandemic, my humble collection of 20 or so houseplants exploded topping over 90 at one point. That includes the cuttings and starts, splits and rescues from friends. Truly, we lived in a jungle.
Today I’ve pared down through plant loss (RIP most ferns in my care) and just the practical revelation that 90 is a pretty unmanageable amount with the rest of my hobbies – hence the fickle attitude of forgetting to water on a consistent schedule for the poor babies.
Thank goodness the leaves droop on so many varietals! That visual SOS has saved many a peace lily. But let’s talk for a minute about how living that plant life (even with one small succulent) can reorient our inner world to a place of rest and restoration simply by accepting that we, too, have a multitude of valid needs and expressions without hardly moving a leaf.
Maybe you’ve seen the cute artwork and pithy saying on the internets – “Make sure you get water and sunshine – you’re basically a complicated houseplant with emotions.” Every time I see it, I remember to dust the plants in my care, but also check in with myself. I love it!
There is gut-level truth in recognizing that at our simplest forms, we are perfectly complex and yet, remain wholly worthy of the time investment we require for true wellness.
So today I just want to offer a few observations about houseplants. The next time you experience pressure in your life to perform, produce, or appear perfect, perhaps bring a simple mantra to mind that recalls one of the below characteristics.
Houseplants Are Boss Because They…
Drop leaves without shame, shedding the old that no longer serves to make room for the new.
Communicate a need through changing colors, drooping, or otherwise being honest instead of hiding the unwellness.
Experience dormancy, knowing nothing is meant to grow and produce through all seasons.
Collect dust and need help clearing out the cobwebs.
Struggle with new growth even out of dormant seasons when the cobwebs are allowed to remain undisturbed or unchallenged.
Drink deeply, but are flexible when life can’t accommodate a perfectly set watering schedule.
Experience pruning as a refinement and launching pad to new growth.
Create beauty in an otherwise barren space.
Propagate themselves to increase their reach and impact on the world.
Grow naturally, without worrying about how the other plants are taking shape.
Bring purification to the atmosphere where they live, not toxicity.
Know toxicity exists within, but unless deeply harmed, understand how to remain intact and non-violent toward others.
Make people smile, make people cringe – they know they are not going to be everyone’s cuppa tea, and yet still they unapologetically blossom.
Make no apologies for having a need – even if it is inconvenient for others.
Create obsessive fans because they are beautiful, yet humble in their elegant approach to taking up space.
How many more life lessons can we pull from the houseplants around us? Make your own list.
I hope at least one of these insightful plant characteristics caught your attention. Which one would you turn into a quick mantra for grounding and rest when the need arises? Maybe you can’t decide on just one, so the mantra you choose could be, “Like a Houseplant.”
Whatever you eventually do, first take a minute to act like your houseplant. Breathe and flutter your arms. Did you know your plants move throughout the day? And not just the calatheas, which move really obviously, following the sunlight. There’s a chance I am too am a calathea cause they’re a little high maintenance and fickle, but holy hell – just stunning and diverse in their presentations. I digress.
Drink a glass of water, find a ray of sunshine, and let it grace your face for the next two minutes. And if you recognize that you are in a season of dormancy? Pause. Watch and count each leaf as it drops from your sides.
This work of shedding our unwelcome, no longer helpful aspects of our life is not futile – and it’s more than pruning (although we could each benefit from a session of this each year, too). It’s an agreement with the natural, wonderful order of our created selves that throughout life, the seasons we experience are not always meant to see us expand our influence on the outside.
Dormancy is the season that our roots go deeper.