Our gardens — our wills

The well-tended flowers of Boston Public Gardens on a lovely September day in 2007

The well-tended flowers of Boston Public Garden on a lovely September day in 2007

“Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.”William  Shakespeare

The more I think about this analogy, the more it holds up on several different levels.  Gardening is not easy; it involves no small amount of dirt, sweat and failure.  But the rewards, which go beyond the final results each year, are well worth the effort.  And the effort itself is often a pleasure, especially as experience teaches us the most efficient and successful methods.

Discipline and regularity in weeding, feeding and pest control are crucial in maintaining a garden.  In a similar way, discipline and regularity are required for us to give our bodies the food, rest, and exercise they need, while guarding against toxins, exhaustion, and excessive or unwanted weight gain or other stressors.

As with gardening, this may sound like a recipe for NO FUN, but I’ve found it surprisingly easy to train my tastes away from harmful treats and toward more nourishing ones.  And I’ve found, as have countless others, that making a habit of exercise will eventually create a valued place for it in my day, one that I give up only when absolutely necessary, and resume as quickly as possible.

If you are a gardener, you may connect with what I’m saying.  But even if you aren’t, you probably know some tips and tricks you’ve learned to maintain your physical health, and thus increase your ability to brighten the world with your own unique flowers or fruits.  What are some of the most effective “weed control” methods we can use to stay fit? How can we stay replenished and refreshed year after year?

27 Comments

  1. I have only heard of – never even seen – deep-fat-fried Twinkies. They are probably weeds. Stay away from them.

    • Aw, shucks, I was just about to dig into one for breakfast!

  2. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. My morning ritual always includes BREAKFAST. I never, ever skip my morning “fuel” or so I like to think that’s what it is. That, along with my devotional, and I take on my day. Bring it on! 😉

    • Sounds like my kind of way to start the day! A big breakfast is my favorite meal, even when I have it at night :-). I am there with you in spirit.

  3. Jenelle

    A friend of mine is an avid gardener who has been featured in magazines and newspapers. Talk about rewards, it’s truly a magnificent place. In order for it to be so spectacular, she has to be consistent with weeding, pruning, planting, watering, feeding and so forth. So that’s my answer. In order for me to “stay fit” and keep the weeds away, I must be consistent in my exercise and in my treat moderation. No deep fried Twinkies for this gal 😉

    • Yes, consistency is the key to so many things. Gardens, homes and almost everything else demonstrate maintenance is much easier than repair, but it’s hard not to let things slide when everything gets hectic. I really admire people (such as my husband) who have the discipline to keep up their routines in the face of continually changing circumstances. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Jenelle, an otherwise wise man advocated “Moderation in all things!” But, it sounds like you agree with me that there is no such thing as partaking of a moderate amount of deep fried Twinkies?

  4. Sheila

    Julia, Eric, and Jenelle, I have to admit to ONE deep fried Oreo. I also have to admit it was DELICIOUS. 😉

    • How on earth could you deep fry an Oreo? Was it breaded or something? I recently ordered some fried green beans, thinking they sounded healthier than French fries. NOT!!!

      • Sheila

        Julia, apparently very cold Oreos are dipped in thick batter, then (you guessed it) deep fried! I won’t even tell you how YUMMY they are….might keep you awake. Haha

        • Sheila, this validates my observation that the degree of tastiness of a food is inversely proportional to how healthy it is! (Sigh) Oh well, hyacinths for the soul, and all that…

  5. Read the Bible everyday even if it’s only a verse. It might be just the verse you need that day. God bless. Love you.

    • Amy, that’s good advice I’ll try to heed. Keep us in your prayers! You are ever in mine. Love you too.

  6. Lovely pic! Though I have successfully made yoga a part of my routine I am yet to master a lot of other aspects like a having healthy breakfast, positive thinking, etc. Life these days is teaching me some valuable though painful lessons. Anyway the best thing we can do for others is to take good care of our own ‘gardens’.

    • Bindu, I think you are right – taking care of our own physical and mental health is the foundation for lasting service to others. I have found that the most painful lessons seem to be the most valuable. That’s a hard truth, but perhaps it’s comforting to know that there is a payoff to some of the hardest experiences. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Mike Bertoglio

    I liked what you said a while back about taking the stairs instead of the elevator. This summer each morning on the way to class- I would walk the 124 stairs of Morningside park in Manhattan.
    At the fair this week they have giant three pound German sausage corn dogs-fully two feet long and it would take many many stairs to work one of these off.

    • WOW, that is an amazing bit of exercise each day! I bet it made you more alert in class!! As much as I love hot dogs, I don’t like them if they are too big and fat. Good thing for me, I guess.

  8. Rebecca S

    I’ve been running for four months and I have to say, I love it and hate it. I am learning to enjoy the struggle. God has taught me some eternal truths in plowing through the pain. When I’m convinced I can’t do anymore I hear HIM say, “wanna bet” Then I do and I’m truly grateful I didn’t quit. My spiritual struggles are the same. He’s not so flippent with me about them, HE’s so good and patient. The one verse a day no matter what is great advice, and usually leads to more verses and more love. God know I need all I can get. Praying for you always Julia.

    • Thanks so much, Becky – it’s nice to see you comment here! I am no runner, at least not anymore. In high school the various sprints were about the only thing I did well athletically, and I could run the 600 in about 2 minutes, but it was a real grind. Sprinting I loved. Now walking is about all I can manage, but that’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I do think running is a good analogy to spiritual growth. It involves so much pushing through resistance and self defeating internal chatter (“I can’t do this ANYMORE!!!”) God is definitely good and patient. Thanks for your prayers, and for being here!

  9. That’s a beautiful garden you’ve shared from Boston. A spoke to a travel agent at a conference my husband was at. She being the wife of another delegate. I asked her which city she loved visiting most in USA and it was Boston. I was slightly surprised, but having not been there, quickly added to our bucket list.

    I’m afraid I can’t give any tips on sticking to exercise. Alys and I were just talking about that. My hubby started this summer making a major commitment and has been really successful. He has lost 17 lbs. I’ve been trying to lose 12 for 2 years, LOL. One thing I guess I do is NOT buy anything I have no control on. IE. cookies, Baked goods etc. Last week I bought a pack of 8 gingersnaps (the big ones) and ate them in 4 days. It’s hopeless trying to limit myself. It’s better not to bring them home.

    • I totally agree that the best defense is to have NOTHING in the house that I do not intend to eat. I had a goal of losing about 17 pounds when I hit my max point (after a long cruise, naturally) and it’s been at least 5 year and the closest I got was losing 10 pounds. When Jeff was first diagnosed I dropped down to within 2 pounds of my original goal, but that was shock and grief, which resulted in NO appetite. It just amazes me that even then I could never reach my original goal. I’m not big but I have a very small frame and feel much better when I carry less weight. The only way I can stick to exercise is to walk, which is about the only form I consistently enjoy, but it beats nothing.

      • If you’re healthy enough to participate, walking is really accessible to most on any budget and you just need sturdy shoes. Alys and I went hiking in the hills today, early enough to beat the heat. Saw a bunch of dogs with their peeps and little people with their parents, fantastic spot. I tend to not eat when I’m stressed and grieving. When I went thru a divorce I lost 20 lbs and kept it off for years. Then I gained when I left work. Too close to the darn fridge. I think you look AWESOME by the way, but it’s good to have goals, keeps us from going nutty and eating everything in sight.

        • Proximity to the fridge is the biggest hazard of working from home. One day I realize how much of my time is spent just making cup after cup of tea 🙂 and it’s so easy to grab a snack when I go into the kitchen to re-fill my teacup. I just love seeing the dogs when I’m out walking. Anytime dogs are around, it’s instantly friendlier. Hope you are having a Mary Poppins chalk drawing kind of day – I always had more of those in California than anywhere else! 🙂

          • LOL, I really do feel like I’ve popped into a crazy wonderful chalk picture, Thanks for that wish and lovely image. We’ve had a gorgeous day. Started early, ended late 😀 Hugs, Kisses, Food, Shopping, Hugs, Kisses, Food, Shopping…..We’ll you get the picture 😀

            • Sounds therapeutic for sure. Have a jolly holiday!

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