Conversations in the Garden-On Self-Nourishment


“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by my self.” ~Brian Andreas



A few months ago I participated in a free online course where 30 inspiring people shared their thoughts and practices on self-love.  It was coordinated by Susannah Conway and called April Love.  It was a time to explore and celebrate ourselves, so it was right up my alley.



One of the early subjects was about self-care.  The question posed was, “Where did you learn about self-care?”  I was intrigued because I had never thought about this question specifically.  And when I tried to recollect where I had indeed learned about self-care, I couldn’t recall anything concrete, which wasn’t unusual as I found out.



Sure I had heard about good nutrition from my parents and teachers…read about it throughout my life as I tried diet after diet.  Knew my diet was atrocious as I was a sugar addict.  I knew it was important to be active, and that once I graduated high school, my college days found me putting on weight that was hard to take off.  I participated in exercise programs and did the yo-yo diet thing.  So this was really the sum total of my knowledge on the subject for quite a while.



My parents were great always encouraging us to try new things, do our best, work hard and cheered us on.  They let us stumble, and they were there to help us pick up the pieces if we needed them.  So I had positive experiences, and had learned problem solving and resilience.



And as I delved into this topic of self-care, it seemed it was asking me to consider so much more when thinking about self-nourishment.  What were the practices that helped to nourish more than just my body? And why is nourishment so important?  Well if we don’t fill our bodies and souls with nourishing foods and practices, then we will be empty, depleted and not able to give to ourselves and others.  I saw this happening when I was working in my 9-5 or really my 7-7 job getting little sleep.



And I see it now with friends and family who are caring for aging parents….we empty DSCN4806ourselves, get sick and our bodies are in turmoil.  We consider our needs last many times, or we think we can push ourselves through and then find time to replenish…a mistake I made too many times as I never did find enough time to replenish all I was taking away from myself in terms of nourishing food, sleep, time for myself to be quiet and at peace.



So that is why in my first year of retirement, I learned finally about self-care and about how to nourish myself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  I discovered that complete health requires all these pathways be nourished.  I am no longer shy about setting limits for myself, and adhering to them when I feel my body, mind or soul out of sorts.



So what do I do to nourish myself these days?  Sleep…lots of sleep as my body dictates.  I have also cultivated some wonderful habits and routines that really bring me peace of mind.  I start my day with meditation, journaling and quiet solitude.  It is a must for me to wake with a quiet mind so my soul can feel nourished.  No crazy busy schedules to ruminate on.  I now make sure my schedule is workable for me, and change it if it is not.



After about a half hour of quiet time, I roust my husband and we take a half hour walk in the neighborhood.  It is great to have him walking with me as this close personal time is also nourishing both our spirits.  And we each crave the quiet time watching and listening to the world wake around us….breathing in the cooler air scented with grass and flowers.  We watch baby birds and bunnies stretching their young bodies and trying to forage on their own.  What a delight and such immense peace and solace gained from being immersed in nature.



Of course a healthy breakfast is a must (lovingly prepared most mornings by my husband), and then it is on to the daily chores and appointments and my work of gardening and writing.  I have settled into this new role as a writer, and it is nourishment as well for my mind and spirit.  Finding this new work that brings so much satisfaction.



I have discovered recently that I need an evening routine that helps to soothe me and quiet my mind so I can sleep more restfully.  I am a voracious reader, and always find reading at night helps to tire me, and quiet my mind somewhat.  But I need something more.  So I am working to add a short meditation and stretching routine.  My old habit of “vegging out” in front of the TV is not the best, but at one time it was an effective numbing technique I used to use.



My garden is always a great teacher.  Recently it has been nourished by the rain, DSCN4807replenishing itself by putting on new growth, sending up more flowers.  Without the needed nourishment from the soil, air and rain, it would not thrive.  We are like that garden needing to replenish and feed our bodies, minds and spirits lest we dwindle too.  So as my life changes and I grow older, I am finding it even more important to nourish myself in new ways I may not have considered before.  Stretching my mind as well as my body, and touching deep into my soul to fill up the wellspring of my being.



So where did you learn about self-care?  Were you self-taught?  And what do you do to nourish yourself these days?




Special Note:   The velvety foliage pictured here is from Lady’s Mantle or Alchemilla mollis, a wonderful plant to capture raindrops or dewdrops.  They look like they are bedazzled with diamonds.  In The Language of Flowers, Alchemilla mollis, means “the little alchemist”.  A perfect plant to feature as I talk about self-care.


I am also featuring my dwarf willow tree in the picture below.  The Ancient Celts used the willow in bringing about psychic visions that produced a clearer understanding of the world.







I leave you with more thoughts about self-care.  Feel free to download this photo and share.


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.

21 Replies to “Conversations in the Garden-On Self-Nourishment”

  1. I was brought up to believe that my duty of care was first to others. And secondly and thirdly to others as well.
    The concept of self care was ridiculed as selfishness.
    I KNOW that it is wrong – but wrestle with it still.
    Quiet time, and time in the garden are my steps in the right direction.
    I have been neglecting/ignoring/abusing myself for way tooooo long.

    1. Well Soosie your acknowledging a change and taking steps will go a long way to begin your self-care! I wish many more wonderful moments of self-nourishment you so richly deserve.

  2. I was brought up believing that extending care to others was and always should be the top priority. The thought was if everybody did so, nobody would be overlooked, and all would get the care they needed. Our world being far from ideal, there are always those who need more, and unfortunately also those who give at the cost of self depletion. A new approach was called for.

    Somehow I was confusing giving my “all” with giving “everything I had”. As it turns out, what can constitute my “all” has to be examined each time to determine how much there is to give without emptying out. I am learning to protect myself as a resource in many of the same ways I have learned to protect soil, air, and water. There is only so much of each, and only so much can be depleted at any one time without endangering the entire system.

    I am my own ecosystem/energy system, and as such all the obvious rules apply!

    1. Somehow I was confusing giving my “all” with giving “everything I had”. I think Deb that is a common confusion for many of us. You always give me a different perspective to consider and I love how you treat yourself a precious resource to be protected….a great visual to share here…thank you!

  3. I think I was in my thirties when I began questioning the virtue of “selflessness,” realizing that one definition could be “having no self.” That was a big breakthrough for me, and it was also about that time that I read Carol Gilligan’s book about women’s moral development (and the difficulty they have learning the importance of self-care).

    I love your photos of the raindrops on lady’s mantle.

    1. It is a beautiful plant after it rains…it just shines! Carol’s book sounds very interesting Jean….self-care is a very difficult step for women even still today.

  4. Very good post, Donna. I think it’s important to have a routine (and a healthy routine at that). When I first retired, I had no routine but I have developed one over time. And it has changed with time too. As one reflects, one begins to find new wisdom/new insights. Taking care of ourselves is very important and sometimes hard to accomplish. But it needs to be a priority. Thanks for sharing.

  5. little alchemist, is worth growing for the name alone!

    I’m still not in a proper routine of sleeping enough.
    And vegging out at the laptop …

  6. As other commenters have said, the idea of self care was not the first trait implanted …it was always others first. So while I never really thought of it as self care, times of quiet and solitude were how I filled the well back up again. When the boys were growing up that could mean a trip to the library or a walk by myself or prayer and reading time when they’d gone to bed or just sitting outside in the summer at night prior to bed. It just seemed natural that I needed that time to myself whenever I could seize it 🙂

    1. Very wise of you Deb to listen and know that you must take care of yourself…and the small ways you mentioned have a wonderful cumulative effect on our self-care.

  7. Donna, I guess this is a very difficult topic for many people, thanks for sharing your experience. I learnt about self-care along the way but I’ve actually embraced that idea not long ago. I understand what it means, I understand what it takes, I try not to feel guilty to get what I need internally or at least I try to override those feelings with my reason. Hard work sometimes… And yes, I’ve been self-taught though I’m very lucky to have a wonderful husband who has been supporting me all the time we’ve known one another. There is plenty of what to learn , right? No matter how old we are…
    I love your photos of Alchemilla mollis, the water drops make it shine. It grows wild here and I always feel intrigued to see it catching the water like that.

    1. It is wonderful to have friends, family and especially husbands who support us and nurture us….and yes I think we learn more every day….I know I do! How lucky to have Alchemilla mollis growing wild Petra!

  8. We are willing to listen and give comfort to others, glad to give as much time as needed. When we can learn to extend that kindness to ourselves, we have learned something!

  9. I suppose I look at nature walk and birding for self-care, but never as specifically as you cite. It is relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time. My world does not revolve around me so I guess I will not be at the level of you in your journey any time soon. You needed to self-focus, but some of us need to look outward rather than inward. I have always needed my many friends and abundant new places to wake me up inside. Home is a place that gets taken for granted as having the peace and quiet of life.

    1. I love hearing about others’ journeys Donna….I think we all need different things at different points in our lives….and it is important that we recognize that as you and I have done in our own ways.

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