Friday, February 19, 2016

Munching The Weeds

Nature and metaphor…this pairing is a constant source of insight for me and inspiration for my writing.  Sometimes nature’s wisdom “speaks” while I’m out in the wild.  Other times its wise voice can be heard right in our own backyard.  

The (much needed) rains here in California have fueled a backyard explosion of unwelcome weeds - oxalis, mallow and stinging nettle.  There are also other plants, ones we welcome, popping up in large bursts across our yard - poppy, miner’s lettuce, nasturtium, feverfew and arugula. As I attempted to make a small dent in weeding last weekend, I noticed that along with the influx of gargantuan weeds, there was an army of mighty little ladybugs (or lady beetles to be more accurate) scattered throughout our yard, munching their way across the mallow leaves and either nibbling or tucked, as if napping, in the miner’s lettuce. 

One of many lady beetles nibbling on miner's lettuce in our backyard

Meanwhile, on a family hike we enjoyed earlier this week, several caterpillars, congregated on a single plant, caught my eye, and they too appeared to be either munching or resting.

Hungry and sleepy caterpillars!

These observations are helping me feel more hopeful about a nagging challenge.  I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with clutter and disorganization and have felt as though paperwork, memorabilia and “stuff” have taken root as stubbornly as some of those weeds in our backyard!  In my own defense, I’m dividing my time and attention between parenting and family life, the expanding branches of my work as an artist, notecard designer and maker, after-school instructor and SoulCollage® facilitator (plus the accompanying facets of being a “solopreneur” and doing it all yourself) and each step, big and small, on my ongoing journey of healing and self-care.  This leaves time for decluttering and reorganizing efforts only in fits and spurts.  I take a few steps forward, then falter a few steps back, never advancing far enough to make what I would consider meaningful progress.  My frustration has been increasing to gargantuan proportions similar to the weeds!  To add a level of complication, as I’ve become more conscientious about reusing and repurposing, and creative ideas have become more prolific, I’ve admittedly had a harder time letting go of things.  

This week’s sightings of lady beetles and caterpillars have reminded me that although I may not have the time or energy to completely “pull up the roots” all at once, I can (and will!) make measurable progress if I keep “munching” away at the clutter and disorganization while also allowing space for rest and rejuvenation.  In fact, even in bite size pieces, I’ve already made progress.  The plants we’re happy to see thriving in our backyard are pleasant reminders to pay attention to the positives that surface amidst the challenges, offering perspective and balance.  Little did I know that the “evil mallow” (as it is called by our family) and the lady beetle would teach me these lessons!

How have nature’s metaphors shared their wisdom with you?  (What are some of your favorite organizational tips to share?!)