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Nurturing Boundaries: Cultivating a Thriving Garden of Life

In the ever-evolving garden of our lives, we continue our journey of self-discovery and growth. As we delve deeper into the practice of pruning, we uncover an essential aspect of cultivating a thriving inner garden: building healthy boundaries. Just as a well-tended garden requires protective barriers to shield it from invasive pests, the elements, and even to keep certain plants contained so they do not overtake and smother the other plants, we too must establish boundaries to safeguard our well-being, prioritize self-care, and nurture our own happiness.

Chamomile - Dyers Garden John C. Campbell Folkschool - lgkart
Chamomile - Dyers Garden John C. Campbell Folk School

Boundaries act as the loving fences that preserve our inner sanctuaries, fostering an environment of growth and well-being. They hold the transformative power to enhance our lives, offering benefits that extend far beyond the garden gates.

One of the key benefits of setting boundaries is increased self-awareness. Much like defining the borders of a garden bed with pavers or stones, establishing personal boundaries allows us to clearly delineate our limits, values, and needs. Through this process, we gain a deeper understanding of who we are, what we stand for, and what brings us joy and fulfillment. Boundaries provide us with the foundation to cultivate a life aligned with our authentic selves.

Moreover, boundaries contribute to reduced stress and improved overall well-being. In a garden, boundaries not only keep out unwanted weeds and pests but also create a sense of order and structure. Even if you’re like me and prefer an untamed wildflower meadow rather than a manicured garden space, there are still natural boundaries in place like wood lines, streams, rock formations… you get the picture. Similarly, in our lives, setting boundaries helps us create structure and maintain balance which can allow us to show up at our fullest capacity in every area of our lives. By defining what is acceptable and what isn't, we prioritize self-care and protect ourselves from overextending, allowing us to replenish our energy and avoid burnout.

no can be a complete sentence - graffiti style
Fellow artist Sarah Matthews says this ALL the time!

Boundaries empower us to say “NO” when necessary, enabling us to focus on what truly matters and make room for activities, relationships, and experiences that bring us joy and fulfillment. Similarly, we may need to put personal boundaries in place. Yes, as adults we have to tell ourselves “no” sometimes to create structure in our lives. This could be in the form of a budget, not eating certain foods because they cause inflammation, or only allowing a few days off from movement practices a month, because we can find excuses for everything.

As someone who has been in various stages of burnout and burnout recovery most of my adult life, one of the lessons I’ve learned along the way is the importance of carefully considering where I want to invest my time, energy, and resources - this ebbs and flows with the seasons of my life. When I’m stressed out or upset because a friendship is fading away or an exciting opportunity turns into disappointment, my partner often reminds me “you have to water the plants you want to grow.” In other words, if others aren’t taking the time to make you a priority then stop putting energy into it and if an opportunity is not aligned anymore, find something that is. By setting boundaries around work-life balance, relationships, and personal time, I've started to create spaces that nurture my well-being and foster personal growth, so I can better show up in all aspects of my life. It has allowed me to cultivate deeper connections, engage more regularly in self-care practices, and pursue my passions without always feeling overwhelmed or depleted - though sometimes my inner critic pops in to tell me I’m not doing enough or I overcommit out of pure excitement - then I have to recalibrate. And guess what… that’s ok! While learning about boundaries, I have also learned about living in abundance and embracing the power of self-advocacy which allows me to honor both my needs and my worth.

It’s important to remember that our boundaries will continue to need ongoing care, just like a garden requires regular maintenance. We must tend to them, adjust and refine as needed. I believe it is possible that re-calibrating boundaries might not happen as often once you’re further along on your healing journey, but it is definitely part of the lifelong process.

quote It is possible to live from love and not be a doormat -  Lauren G. Koch
quote by Lauren G. Koch

Something I want to address here is the importance of setting boundaries from a space of love - not from a space of fear or lack mentality - this causes contraction within the body. While fear of experiencing abuse or pain may fuel the initial spark of putting a boundary in place, it is crucial to approach putting boundaries in place with a sense of clarity and kindness. By allowing ourselves time to process and consider all angles of the situation, we move out of contraction into expansion. When we establish boundaries from a place of love, we honor our own needs while also respecting the needs of others. Communication and compassion is key - it's possible the other person never considered their actions to be harmful. It is important to give them a chance to change and show up differently. If you find that your boundaries are not being respected after communicating them or you find yourself being pressured to make exceptions then you have every right to do what is best for you without further

consideration of the other party.

Yarrow Cyanotype - for Boundaries - Anna Taylor Quote - Love yourself enough to have boundaries.
Yarrow Cyanotype - for Boundaries

So as we traverse our life’s journey and cultivate our inner gardens, it’s important to remember, boundaries provide structure, protect our well-being, and allow us to flourish. Personal boundaries empower us to define our limits, protect our energy, and prioritize self-care. When we set boundaries rooted in love, we are actually CREATING possibilities and expansion rather than enacting separation or contraction - there is space for growth, understanding, and mutual respect. It is through this compassionate approach that we can cultivate lives rooted in self-awareness, resilience, and authentic connections, savoring the beauty that unfolds when we honor the sacredness of our boundaries.

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