I grew up out in the country, where we had a half-acre vegetable garden in the back yard. The planting, tending, weeding, and harvesting of the garden was primarily my mother's responsibility, but my brother and I were often roped into helping out.
As a child, that was just a normal part of our life. Now that I'm an adult, though, my mind boggles at how much work that must have been to keep it all organized and tended throughout the growing season with a plot that large and with as many different things as we grew.
When my life fell apart so badly several years ago and I first embraced the idea of living a kintsugi life, I felt a similar degree of overwhelm as I looked at the changes that needed to happen in my life to create the kind of life I wanted out of the rubble.
There were so many new skills, beliefs, habits, and ways of being that needed to be planted and nurtured. And at the same, there was an overgrowth of unhelpful beliefs, habits, and patterns that needed to be rooted out to make room for the new growth.
As committed as I was to using the destruction of life as I had known it as an opportunity for long-term healing and growth, it was nearly impossible to know where to start or what to focus on moment by moment.
That's when I encountered (and embraced) the idea of using the cycle of the moon as a way to organize my efforts at change.
At the full moon, as the size of the visible moon peaks and begins to wane, I pick one thing to focus on releasing and weeding out of my life. I imagine that habit, belief, attitude, character trait, or pattern shrinking right along with the moon.
At the new moon, as the size of the visible moon begins to grow again from nothingness, I pick one thing to focus on planting or nurturing in my life. I imagine that skill, habit, belief, attitude, character trait, or pattern growing and blossoming even as the moon does.
Some things needed just one period of focus to make the necessary change. (This was more likely true when I came to making external changes.)
Most of the time, though, it would take multiple periods of focus on different aspects of what I was working on for the change to truly sink in.
Sometimes I found myself focusing on the same general issue for several cycles in a row because that was what needed the most attention. Other times, I would cycle between several different areas over the course of a few months, letting each one rest between the times of intense focus.
This simple pattern gave me a way to focus on just one thing at a time so I could optimize my efforts. At the same time, the short periods of focus (approximately 2 weeks from a new moon to a full moon) allowed me to flow from one thing to another easily without burning out on any one.
I also found the gentle alternation between nurturing new growth and releasing the old which was no longer helpful kept me engaged and working at a pace that I could sustain.
In the years since then, overwhelm has been less of an issue as the keen edge of the pain of brokenness melted away. My battle instead has often been with the complacency that comes with ordinary, busy life.
This simple practice has served me equally well in this challenge to ensure I stay focused on growing into the person I want to be.
I still take a few minutes at each new moon to think about what needs to be planted and nurtured in my life. And at each full moon, I consider what needs to be released. It's a practice that continues to serve me well.
Whether you are weathering the storm of a time of brokenness with the pain and overwhelm it brings or are in the lull of a season of complacency, I invite you to consider developing your own practice of focusing on this gentle pattern of tending new growth and weeding out whatever is blocking that growth.
Our family garden had so much potential to feed us (and others) well, but it required careful, diligent work to plant, nurture, and weed it to ensure healthy growth toward its potential.
Your life is the same. What active practice do you have to ensure the health and growth of the garden that is your life?
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