Many of us picked up new hobbies during Covid—Pickleball has been a personal favorite. And, according to national news reports, gardening has taken off as well, as plant nurseries report record sales. It’s not that surprising when you consider that caring for plants has long been considered an act of healing for the planter.

British neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks once wrote:

“In forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical ‘therapy’ to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens.”

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve written about my beloved garden before. It’s a source of beauty, sustenance and feels like the healthiest thing I can do for myself. If you are one of the millions of Americans who love to garden, then you know the foundational importance of good dirt. It’s not just plants that need suitable soil and enough space (and good light and water). We do too.

There’s a pearl of lovely wisdom to the old saying, “Bloom where you are planted,” and indeed, we’d all do well to nurture the resilience to do just that. But there’s equal beauty and wisdom in the idea of planting ourselves where we can best bloom. I call this repotting. It’s the intentional act of seeking out new soil that nourishes your life so that you can grow deeper, more robust roots and live more dynamically, more courageously, and purposefully.

There’s beauty and wisdom in the idea of planting ourselves where we can best bloom.

Open yourself to new places and nurturing experiences.  

Sometimes that means shaking things up, packing our bags, and heading out on a retreat, a pilgrimage, or just a long weekend away. I want to stress here that repotting need not be extravagant or costly. One friend knew she needed a change and dreamed of spending a few months in Barcelona, but to make it affordable (and to find care for her beloved pet), she found someone to do a house swap with her. On the flip side, Jeremy did a staycation where he intentionally flipped his habits. He used his left hand (he is a righty); cut his technology down to one total hour/day; he went on walking adventures in new areas of his old hometown and gave himself a goal of meeting 3 new people. He told me that the insights he gleaned were far greater than had he gone away for the two weeks he had available.

There are ways to be creative and budget-conscious as you seek fresh, nourishing new ground—taking a series of short weekend getaways might be a more effective way for you to open yourself to new places and nurturing experiences.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to repot.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to repot. As pots go, no one-sized pot fits all. The goal is not to add financial stress or further upend your life but to find a feasible way to step away from your routine and free yourself from your root-bound ways to get a clear view of your everyday habits, relationships, and mindsets. Seeing these with fresh eyes, enables you to know better if they serve you. Maybe you take a new class or enroll in a workshop. Perhaps you go on an epic safari.

Repotting is not about finding the shiniest, prettiest pot; it’s about finding the best soil, the best light, that fits you and your needs.

Repotting creates room for new growth.

It’s the plant lover’s joy-sparking equivalent of Marie Kondo’s decluttering manifesto. When we prune away that which is stale and rote, when we remove ourselves from a routine busyness that drains us, we find new energy to tap into, new space to branch out. The many limbs of our life become stronger and healthier as we invest in our growth and development. We begin to grasp that tricky, lifelong lesson: being present is more rewarding than being productive.

Create intentional space for nurturing what matters.

And, here’s why I most love the metaphor of repotting as we emerge post-Covid: repotting is about creating intentional space for nurturing what matters. It’s the opposite of stuckness, and that’s why it’s so hard. We have been stuck in a reality beyond our control during the pandemic—but repotting allows you to reclaim your power. Repotting means intentionally choosing an environment, place, space, and mentality that serves your passion and purpose. Because if you don’t control what fills that space, something or someone else will —most likely something more draining and stressful than what you’ve cleared out.

This past year taught us that our world could, at any time, be upended overnight. The question is never will things change, but how will we embrace change? How will we intentionally create conditions for new growth? How will we plant ourselves in the most fertile soil so that we can blossom into our most authentic, most beautiful, most passion-filled self? So, let’s find the right-sized pot and get some fresh dirt under our fingernails!
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Barbara Waxman | Middlescence | Executive Coach | Midlife Coach | Gerontology