Doing the tough stuff of change in our lives reminds me of work in my garden at the end of the season. I can celebrate the beautiful blooming that has happened over the course of the year. I can marvel at the growth in the blooms and all of the ways that nature has chosen to expand the beautiful

I also need to notice the parts that are not thriving. That despite my love and money and effort, some things were not able to grow in my space. In some spaces I had been trying to grow something for years but nothing seems to take. Others were neglected or the victim of happenstance–a patch of mildew or a bad storm.

In the garden, at the end of the season, we need to take stock of the places that we need to remove the plants that have failed to thrive. It can be hard work extracting that stuff. I can feel sad because we planted those living things with hope. Some take a few tugs and are gone without a thought. Others have rootballs that can take hours to extract. The tree stumps need professional help.

Once the hard work of getting rid of the stuff that didn’t take is done, there are empty spaces. We can be viewed as space is a possibility. Spaces of unknown they give opportunity for growth. For the healthy plants to spread out and stretch become even more glorious. Or a time to plant new seedlings and try again.

I can feel really impatient, noting that those spaces are not filled with joy yet. I have found myself focusing on the empty spaces instead of seeing the beauty of the plants around them. When we focus on the empty, and sometimes we can’t help ourselves, it can feel lonely. Maybe the spaces leave the garden feeling vulnerable to outsiders. Exposed. Unsure. What might others think about the failure?

Then there‚Äôs all the time and effort invested in those spaces. No matter how much was invested that failed, we need to move forward and think about how we can grow the garden. I can choose more wisely what to plant now based on what I’ve learned.

When I find myself stuck in looking at the empty spaces, I need to breathe air into growing the new. Into celebrating and focusing on the beauty of what is there. The gratitude for what works. And promise patience and grace for the spaces I haven’t figured it out yet. Waiting. Hoping. Trying again with new wisdom.
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Feeling stuck? I can help you get from where you are to where you want to be. Contact me for a free coaching session to see the possibilities at dana@coachingbydana,.com

Written by Dr. Dana Mitra

I am a life coach at Coaching By Dana and tenured academic professor at Penn State.

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