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"We are captives of our own identities, living in prisons of our own creation."- Theodore Bagwell 

Every year in Spring, I look forward to cleaning out my screened in porch. Because we have so many trees in our backyard, the ground becomes covered in leaves in the Autumn months and our dogs drag the leaves inside the porch whenever they come back in from going potty. But you can't just clean it at any hint of warm weather because with the beginning of the Spring season also brings with it the POLLEN season, when everything you see everywhere you turn is bathed in the green, filmy substance. Finally, however, the rains come to wash the pollen away and you know you are all clear to commence your outdoor Spring cleaning. Part of the fun is planting fresh flowers in my pots. I love filling the porch with plants and flowers of all sizes and colors. The more the merrier. And I want to make sure each pot is overflowing with its abundant potential, so I have been known to put three, four, five, even six plants in one pot. For the first month or so, the flowers are a sight to behold.  But after that, many of the pots become harder to maintain due to overgrowth and overcrowding.

My son recently asked if he could do some work around the house to make extra money. I jumped at the opportunity because even though my children do daily chores, it barely scratches the surface of all the chores needed to keep up a family of seven. With a newborn, it isn't exactly easy to clean the pool or pull weeds or water the flowers like I once could, so I decided to give him the honors. On the first day, the boy clogged a line in the pool from vacuuming too much debris at once and it took me three days to fix the problem-but that's a story for a different day(eye roll). Anyway, while I was fixing the pool issue, I instructed him to water the plants and "deadhead" the petunias, where you snip off the dead "flower" part in order to make room for new ones to grow. He immediately became frustrated, and I soon discovered why. These were the pots I had crammed numerous plants into in order to achieve a "fuller" effect. And the idea started off great. Everything "looked" beautiful. But as time went on, the individual plants grew and became tangled up in the plant next to it, ultimately strangling each other and inhibiting both plant's growth. Even though the vine looked really long, as if it were still growing, it was notably producing less flowers and looking less vibrant overall. Because I failed to adopt the "less is more" mentality, and didn't save space for growth, my flowers were actually suffering from accidental overcrowding, not unlike many of our lives. 

"We are often tired and imbalanced not because we are doing too much, but because we are doing too little of what is most real and meaningful."- Marianne Williamson

What keeps us from accomplishing our goals? What holds us back from taking the time to foster more meaningful relationships with the people we love most? Why don't we desire to better connect with our community? And most of all, when did we forget or perhaps, ever truly learn that the most important connection we will ever have is the one with ourselves? Maybe you didn't grow up in a loving, stable environment where your inherent value as a human being on this planet was nourished and praised. You aren't alone. However, in order to move forward in a healthy pattern of growth and beauty, it is necessary to take stock of what you have allowed to overgrow and overcrowd your life, choking you off from the things and relationships that are truly important. If you are a human, and I think you are, you desire to feel important, to know that there is a purpose for your life. That often leads to filling up your time participating in activities and relationships that make you "look" important, purposeful, beautiful, happy, fulfilled, etc.- maybe it's a new well- paying job or a brand-new, expensive car or the ninety- second blind date you've been on this month. But what is likely true is that these activities and relationships ultimately become time-consuming, energy-sucking experiences that leave you depleted of your energy inside and out, and no closer to filling you with the authentically satisfying experiences you were seeking.

Authentic living begins from the inside out. Cultivating your inner awareness into a dependable compass for the decisions you make for your life starts with building at its foundation a strong self-care system, based on consistent practice of The Four Seeds of Self-Care. At its core, each of the four seeds is a practice in mindfulness which, as you grow stronger, causes you to move through your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly life with increasing intention. That intentionality limits the likelihood that you will overcrowd your life with activity that doesn't serve your overall well-being and increases your chances that you will make available your time to care for the activities and relationships that powers the vigor of your life and that are also truly deserving of your time. When your energy is called on from its innate source, and properly directed, all life's challenges are more easily and enjoyably managed, with plenty of space left for more and more beauty to grow.

With love and gratitude,

Kinda and Rachel

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