What Weeds Teach Us


I don’t know about your garden, but weeds have beset mine. The tall ones grasp the earth with such intensity that it seems impossible to uproot them, even with a shovel, which also shows you how long I have ignored them. The groundsels prickle my hands when I try to pull them. Garlic mustard, buttonweed, and thistle all seem intent on camping here for the summer, along with their other unnamed friends. Both rain and sun encourage weeds more than they do marigolds or lettuce or basil or peppers. “Why is that?”, I ask myself.

I bemoan the garden’s appearance, probably as it reflects a certain casualness in my approach to gardening. Or perhaps, it is because I have an image in my mind of the well-tended, beautiful garden I had imagined last March, and the reality falls short.

When I blame myself for the weeds in the garden, I am dispirited and my motivation sinks. The truth is, weeds in the garden are no reflection on me, or the garden, or them. Weeds are part of the gardening process. If I accept them as part of the gardening process, I bypass the self-criticism and get to work pulling them, coming that much closer to transforming my unkempt garden to a beautiful one.

It is the same with weeds in our minds. From time to time, most of us have negative thoughts popping into our heads. And, often these thoughts attack our self-worth and raise fears about our ability to deal with some aspect of our life. They can be thoughts like: “I can’t do anything right;” “My boss doesn’t like me;” “I will never get through the day;” “I don’t have time to take care of myself;” “I am too old to learn new things.” I am sure you could add a few to this list. Often we forget that we are most vulnerable to the growth of these weeds in our minds when we are doing too much, dealing with stress, resting too little, and eating poorly.

My work with my yoga teacher and my yoga practice help me to gain perspective. I come to see these thoughts and fears as being in the nature of things. With the practice of breath and movement, I relax, creating space in my body and mind. With a sense of spaciousness in me and around me, my fear lessens. I become aware how lack of rest or doing too much creates fertile soil for the weeds in my mind to grow. I gain a sense of perspective, and I can begin to accept that those thoughts are just in the nature of things. Then, the garden of my mind has room for flowers to blossom.

On Patience


“How lucky,” we thought. Our plane had arrived early in Baltimore after our 4 ½ hour flight from Las Vegas. Our luggage tumbled onto the carousel with no wait. We called the nearby hotel where we had left our car a week earlier, and the receptionist assured us it would only be a short wait for the van to pick us up.

Our journey visiting children and grandchildren had taken us to the sun and warmth of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. As we stepped into the Baltimore late afternoon, I was glad I had chosen my ‘smart wool’ socks and shoes to wear home, rather than sandals.

Perhaps 15 or 20 minutes passed before the white Ramada Inn van pulled up to the curb of Number 1 Area, and a smiling driver hopped out. As he opened the back of the van and lifted one bag, and then the other inside, we felt close to end of our journey.

We were ready to slip into the warm van as the driver walked to the passenger side door to open it for us. But the door was locked. The driver walked around the van to his door, and even before he said a word I knew. Locked. Back door. Locked. And, the van was running with the keys safely locked inside.

The driver assured us this had never happened to him before, and you could tell he was really upset. I tried to comfort him by telling him the story of how my husband had done the same thing one time. Except the car was a rental car, and it was parked at a Target in Los Angeles, running. Things had worked out there.

But things weren’t working out here. The hotel desk told the driver that no one was available to bring another set of keys to the airport. My husband and driver stood around a little longer, talking, until my husband decided to call the hotel desk. Using what can best be described as his stern Marine sergeant voice, he told the receptionist that they had to get someone to bring the keys. And about that time, a family with 2 kids showed up, luggage in tow, also needing a ride to the Ramada Inn where their car was parked. They were in sandals, and it was getting chillier.

“Someone’s bringing the keys,” the driver finally announced, and he suggested we go inside the terminal, where it was warm, and come back out in about 15 minutes. Of course, all of us took him up on his suggestion. But when we came back out, the keys had not yet arrived. So we waited some more.

When an Inn employee pulled up to Area 1 and handed keys to our driver, we thought ourselves delivered. But when our driver tried the key, it was clearly not to our van. Our driver, now as frustrated as we were, slipped into the black SUV with the Inn staff person and returned to the hotel to find the correct set of keys.

I consider myself a pretty patient person, but annoyance had started to flicker inside me. After our driver disappeared into the early evening airport traffic, I went back into the terminal, sat down, and began to think about patience. Patience just doesn’t happen, I thought. What allows us to feel patience?

Obviously, we make a choice. For I could stand outside in the cold my hands in my pockets, cussing the incompetence of the driver, the van, the Inn and the entire hotel industry. Or I could sit in the terminal, where I was warm, pick up some crackers, fruit and water at a nearby kiosk, and read my book until the driver returned.
What made the difference was my decision to accept the situation and make myself comfortable as I waited rather than expend my mental and emotional energy on something I could not fix. And, I was lucky. There was a place to be comfortable as we waited.

In the end the driver returned, opened the van, and safely chauffeured us back to our cars, so we could begin the final leg of our journey home.

For me this experience was a lesson on the nature of patience. Cultivating patience requires accepting the reality of a situation for what it is, especially if it is not what we would choose. Acceptance allows us to decide a course of action based upon the circumstances that exist. And, that means our course of action is more likely to have positive results, and our bodies, minds and emotions less stress and greater calm.