Conversations In The Garden-On Being Sensitive


“Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it.”  ~ Dorothy M. Neddermeyer



Several years ago, I was vacationing with family at the beach.  Growing up, I used to watch my dad body surf, and always wanted to give it a try.  This day the water seemed to be calm enough to attempt it….enough of a wave to push you to shore, but not too rough.  So I eased myself into the next wave, skimming the top and riding it to shore.  After a few more tries, the ocean felt a bit rough so I thought, just one more time.



That one more time was almost my last as an undertow took me down under the water.  If you have ever been caught in an undertow, you know the panic that can ensue.  I fought and fought, to no avail, the strong pull keeping me on the bottom of the ocean floor.  So near to the shore yet unable to reach safety.



In those tense seconds when I realized what was happening, I also realized I could die and that these might be my final moments of life.  I am a strong fighter, but in this time when panic was reaching up through my body and strangling me, I suddenly decided to relax.  I let go of all the panic, all the struggling and went with the flow of the water.  I let my primal instinct take over, and suddenly I was on the surface and close to the shore, my feet touching soft sand as the water lapped around my knees.



Fear cannot be banished, but it can be calm and without panic; it can be mitigated by reason and evaluation.  ~Vannevar Bush



DSCN7761I was reminded of this lesson recently when I found myself getting into a knee jerk reaction that brought back some unpleasant memories.  I had been growing herbs under my “grow lights” in the basement and was just about to start my seed growing, when two of the three lights went dark.



And right on cue, I went into panic mode.  How was I going to grow these herbs without lights?  Where could we find replacement bulbs?  I had to start seeds soon, and how could I without these lights.  I was spinning within this deep felt craziness, when I suddenly realized these were similar feelings I had a year ago in reaction to stress on the job.  Stress that finally led to my retirement, and that I thought I had released.  But given a seemingly small crisis, I went right back down that dark hole of despair.  Wow!



And once I was able to step back from the situation, I found I could let go of the panicky reactions and evaluate the situation.  All was not lost.  I could move plants to windows.  I could search for bulb replacements, and I could postpone the seed growing.  All better plans than to keep spinning in this stream of negativity I was creating for myself.



I think the garden has been the best classroom for learning how to handle what life throws at me.  Every year I never know what nature will bring.  A long cold winter, followed by a late freeze killing flowers or vegetables.  A drought or flooding rains.  And each scenario, in each new year, is different making for interesting lessons to learn so much more about my garden and myself.



As a gardener, I have found it doesn’t pay to give in to panic or worry.  When I DSCN7759started growing veggies, the first one I attempted was the tomato.  Any good Italian must be able to grow tomatoes, right?  But every year it was something new….sometimes it was the disease known as ‘blight’ killing the plants, or it was the deer eating the plants to the ground.  But I never gave up trying to get the tomatoes to produce an abundant crop.  Instead I tried hybrid seeds that were bred to fight diseases, and I netted the tomatoes to keep out the critters, but let in the pollinators.



And you know what?  I now have tomatoes.  Oh I still have to be vigilant, to make sure the pests and diseases are kept in check.  But instead of worrying and panicking, I now ease into the situation nature presents, look for solutions, and I don’t beat myself up over what happens.  Great lessons I am trying to stay mindful of as life presents itself.



So am I still sensitive to the curve balls life can throw me?…..Absolutely.  And is my first reaction still panic?…..Sometimes.  But I am reminded quickly that life is what you make it.  It is more about how you react or don’t react.  And in those moments when I need to step back, I go into my garden to be with nature.  To feel the slow pace of life where I take a look around and be in the moment.  Because it is in those moments that I find my inner wisdom calling me to breathe in life and let go.



Note:   The purple iris pictured here is symbolic of wisdom.  




I leave you with another thought about sensitivity, strength and wisdom.   Feel free to download this photo and share.

iris confidence

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

26 Replies to “Conversations In The Garden-On Being Sensitive”

    1. I am never quite sure how folks react to my posts so it is good to know they do help. It helps me tremendously as I write these posts….part of the learning and healing on my journey. Have a fabulous day and thank you Susan!

  1. I t is so true, if we just relax, let go and turn things over to God, we are so much better off. Thank you for all of your wonderful thoughts and words of wisdom. I love the pictures and quotes that you give to us and save nearly everyone. Thank you again and hope you have a very blessed day.

  2. Oh once you’ve experienced that stress/panic/depression cycle, it does have a way of returning even well after you think you’ve recovered. Wonderful words and hints here from a survivor!

  3. What a beautiful post. In the past I have always remained calm when under stress but recently I have found myself becoming rather tense in stressful situations. Your post is a reminder that I need to revert to my former self 🙂

  4. I love your new, to me blog…not that I don’t like your other one just as much…but this one resonates within both my gardener’s heart, and my creative soul.

    I read a book one time on highly sensitive personalities….and it was like a bright light shining into my world…the Professor who had done studies on people for many decades was one herself.

    It explained why so many of my feelings, emotions, and the way I perceived the situations around me differently from many of my friends and family did. It all finally made sense…thank goodness. And it gave me some helpful ways to understand that part of myself.

    I think that’s why your posts resonate so well….a kindred feeling.


    1. I feel the way about your blog Jen…it resonates so much with me….definitely kindred spirits my friend! And thank you so much for saying such lovely things about my blog.

  5. That beautiful iris makes my heart sing (and reminds me that spring really will come). It is such an important lesson (especially for those, like me, who are control freaks) that we can’t control what life throws at us, but we do have some control over how we respond to it. And that makes all the difference.

    1. I never thought I was such a control freak but I am Jean….and this lesson has made the difference for me….and happy the iris brought some delight to you. I know they are waiting patiently under that 5 ft of snow in the garden. We just got another foot today but at least it was in the 20s and not zero.

  6. While I can’t totally relate to the lessons you’re learning from your garden, Donna (because I’ve never really been what anyone would call a gardener), I totally related to the undertow story your told. When our kids were small, we were always at the San Diego or Los Angeles beach during the summer months, body surfing, flying kites, and beach-combing. Once I was caught in an undertow and thought I’d never make it to shore alive. Later I learned about the “relax” bit. It’s the only thing that saves you. What a great message in/about Life! The way you have told this is exquisite. Thank you.

  7. Wise words. A very smart colleague (now retired) used to say: “Rule 1: never panic.” And yet it can sneak up on you in the most unreasonable ways.

    1. Thank you for visiting my new blog Jason although it has been 7 months now since it started so I can’t really call it new any more. You have a wise colleague indeed….something I will try to remember too even in the throws of the craziness that can ensue in life.

  8. I think the undertow would create great panic, but I guess I can’t see the grow lights causing something similar. All different, but I can understand it for you I think. You seem to have been working out issues rather well through your garden.

    1. That is exactly the point as you say Donna….they shouldn’t cause a panic but when they did, I noticed a response pattern that needed work. By stopping and noticing and breaking the pattern I have been able to work some things out. Stress can cause some interesting patterns we don’t even notice. I do love my garden and nature for all the lessons it teaches me. Thanks as always for commenting… means a lot!

  9. Donna, this is a wonderful piece of writing and I feel enriched so much by having read that. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. You are right, sometimes we feel tensed and instead of stepping back and releasing the tension we increase it in a seemingly endless spiral. But the spiral has an end and pulling it further means destruction. Destruction of our strength, whether psychological or physical. I still need to learn how to relax and if necessary, “go with the flow”…

    1. It has taken me some time to learn to let go and go with the flow….I have found when I find myself in the spiral, that is the time to say stop and to step back and rethink it. I am happy Petra that you found this helpful….your comment is so appreciated.

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