The garden of life needs good people and ideas

betty ming liu Inspiration, Relationships 14 Comments

Thought for the day: Friendships are like gardens. Every once in a while, they have to be weeded and pruned. Sometimes, a drastic redesign is necessary. 

This marvelous wisdom was presented during a yoga workshop that I took years ago. At the time, it seemed a little harsh, especially coming from an instructor who seemed so mellow and meditative. Wish I could remember her name and thank her now — because I have followed her advice. Now I understand that weeding helped keep her energy positive.

The garden analogy works very well. As gardeners know, some weeds are pretty and do no harm. Others are invasive and can viciously take over a precious plot. Some flowers grow so madly that they’re as bad as weeds. Then there are the plants that stop blooming…do they need to be ripped out? Or are they still beautiful?

I guess I’m starting to think about all this because we’ve just gone through Halloween. For me, Nov. 1 always signals the beginning of the major holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve. Just typing these words is anxiety-inducing. Of course, they are nothing compared to the dread that comes with Valentine’s Day…

The plastic smiles. The pressure to show off a perfect life. The scramble for gifts that people don’t need or even want. The parties that I will and won’t be invited to. Please feel free to add some of your own pet peeves!

The good news is that I’m gradually becoming less grouchy because I’m creating new comfort levels.

Trying to figure out Thanksgiving as a divorced mom was horrible; where should my daughter and I go?

Now we’ve created our own ritual: Instead of a traditional gathering, we try different things each year (e.g., Nicki Minaj concert, feeding the homeless, visiting various friends).

As for Christmas, at this point, I actually enjoy putting up the tree. While gift-giving can be a cash-sucking chore, most of my near-and-dear have similar emotions about buying presents — especially in this economy. So having a very short list has made December more pleasant too.

Still, I dread the coming onslaught of consumer advertising, holiday music and fake cheer.

There’s gotta be a way to tend a special winter garden. Your thoughts?


Comments 14

  1. Post

    i want every minute of my life to count. so i’m getting very picky about how i spend my time and who i spend it with. of course, this month, there’s a new adventure. thank goodness for national novel writing month. it’ll give me something positive to focus on — instead of whining about the seasonal fuss over thanksgiving.

    btw, here’s what i’m doing about the novel: if you’re doing nanowrimo too, here’s a great link to joel friedlander’s blog. this morning, he has a terrific post on how to create an outline with minimal stress. i’m going to start writing right now. and i’m gonna start with the advice he offers:

    one more link. this one is to my fb page. i’m gonna post there daily, just to share how i’m doing as i go through my chapters. thank god for the support that social media offers! if you’d like to drop by, please visit:

    please feel free to drop a note here and let us know how you’re doing on Day 1 — or any other random thoughts from your life today. have a good one! xoxo

  2. Betty – you pressed a button with this one. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I start getting ready for it in January. By the time it comes, there will be hundreds of gifts, elaborately wrapped and piled up to the living room ceiling for my wonderful gay family. A fortune has not been spent, nor have I felt under pressure. The secret is to implement that old cliche about keeping Christmas all year long – quite literally. Shopping is my favorite hobby but i really do not need more stuff myself (well..the odd curio perhaps) so I hit the flea markets, the yard sales, the thrifts on a weekly basis all year long. Inevitably one comes across just the right items for each person or the raw materials to make just the right gift. Buy it. bag it and tag it and put it in the present trove (which in my case is a section of the basement where my gift wrap workshop is set up.) By October, I’m ready to start wrapping. By Dec. 1, all should be ready and its time to enjoy the parties, the fabulous NY store windows, the concerts and most of all, the company of the people I love. As Bob Cratchet said of Christmas, “though it has not put a penny in my pocket, I believe it has done me good and will do me good and I say God bless it.”

  3. Post

    toby, you actually make christmas sound fun. your approach offers me new info: instead of a mad rush to buy dumb gifts, you’re thinking about the people you love all year around. you’re planning ahead in a way that plays to your passions. i don’t know if i can get there this year. but at least you’re giving me food for thought. thanks so much!

    1. Post

      aw, halloween is cute. yes, the ghoulish stuff still bothers me; i still think of 9/11. but i’m trying to go with the flow a little bit more. i loved doing halloween for my daughter and her friends. still think it’s sweet for the little ones — and the big kids who like to party. :)

  4. Betty: I think your yoga instructor’s analogy sucks — if she really meant “friends.” The problem is that people confuse friends and acquaintances, because we tend to use “friend” for both. We all have a lot of acquaintances: people we know from work or class, who appear on our facebook wall, whose events we attend and who attend ours. But these are not necessarily friends.Friendship, as Georgia O’Keefe noted, takes time, and nobody can be counted as a friend who hasn’t been a friend for several years. Somebody’s a friend if they’ve shared a hard time with you, and not given you a hard time about it. A friend is somebody who forgives you for having been a jerk about something, and for whom you did the same.

    You can weed out your acquaintances. A true friend is not something you decide one day to ‘weed out.’ A true friend is rooted too deep in your life. Confusing friends and acquaintances is dangerous. When you weed, you might end up alone.

  5. Post

    friendships are complicated. that’s why the yoga instructor said there are situations that require pruning — and weeding. and yes, costumes are complicated too. :)

  6. The holidays should be just that; a holiday from all the unnessary pressures and obligations we bestow upon ourselves; especially females. We should reset as the recession enters its 4th year As many of us are no longer in the preferred financial shape we were in 4 years ago and a lot of us are middle-aged, with changes in our lives, as we have waded through life’s challenges, let’s celebrate that which we should be grateful for. Look up old friends we may have neglected, join with the family we have left and rejoice with those friends who we have chosen to remain with all of these years, after weeding.

  7. Post

    yankee49, you make me feel ashamed of myself. where is the joy? i don’t even think of the holiday season as being a holiday in the truest sense of the word. thanks for steering me onto a better path.

  8. Betty-

    But you inspired me to think about it.

    P.S. I am a big fan. Also a fellow journalist, from NYC area. Love your sense of humor!

  9. Post

    aw, thanks, yankee49 — you make me feel better about my bah humbug attitude. i appreciate the fact that you all give me room to grow. and if you’re a journo, i need to know your byline. so when you feel like sharing more, would love to hear more about you and your work. thanks for commenting!

  10. I’m a holiday-hater… the music lulls me into a trance-like state with a “what’s another 20 bones?” mantra.

    I think the garden analogy is excellent. I’ve done a tiny bit of weeding over the past couple years, and haven’t looked back once.

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