Our conscious choice

Whoever tended this garden brightened my day, and probably their own, too. Mission San Juan Capistrano, California, July 2004

Whoever tended this garden made a choice that brightened the day for me and many others.
Mission San Juan Capistrano, California, July 2004

“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we shall tend.”
Sarah Ban Breathnach

Every day I wake up with a mixture of thoughts, some pleasant and some not.  There are always things I look forward to doing that day, and things I dread.  It’s much easier to get up and go about my day cheerfully — or at least without complaining to myself — when I focus on the good things.  Ruminating over unhappy thoughts does not start my day well.  Every day, I get to choose which way I start out.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to learn this simple lesson, but it is.

How did you feel when you woke up this morning?  Were you grateful to have been granted another day?  Or did you get up with a sigh (as I do, too often) thinking of all the tasks still undone that were awaiting you?

Here’s a challenge: let’s tend our mental gardens, those secret places where we spend time when no one is looking.  If we don’t make sure to water the flowers and pull up the weeds, it’s likely to become a place that isn’t so cheerful.

So take care of the garden of your mind — where Mr. Rogers reminds us that we can grow all kinds of ideas — and let me know what’s looking good today!  Maybe we can even send each other some virtual seeds.

One year ago today:

Hope is at the root



  1. Good morning, Julia. That is a great reminder.
    Not only do our thoughts help improve (our degrade) our mood, but out of our thoughts come our actions, which further drive our subsequent thoughts and actions, which further drive our … You get the idea.

    • Susan, that’s exactly how it works. Funny, I usually proof these the night before they publish (since I generally write them two weeks in advance) but I forgot to do that last night, as I had made it a goal to get to bed EARLY. Despite getting far more sleep than I usually do, I just couldn’t make myself want to get up this morning. I realized I didn’t even remember what posted today, so when I opened my computer to proof the blog, it was as if I was writing to myself. I really needed that message this morning and it came in perfect timing. The day turned around fairly abruptly. Thanks so much for being here with us!

  2. raynard

    Julia, I learned that ” too much electronic stuff before bed throws off your sleeping patterns. one reason why I dont have a TV in my bed room.. While I listen to a old radio program on my ipod, my wife’s new thing is bring her kindle to bed along with her cell phone. Anyway, I posted 3 of your recent blogs on my FB page. A friend from our church sent me a note about how she was encouraged by one she read.( I think we are to something here) Even if you get other readers of your blogs to repost, others will be encouraged and blessed just like me..(Food you thought and your soul I like that.. be blessed

    • Raynard, I’d happily get rid of the TV altogether, but my husband and son love it, so we compromise. One of my absolute rules always has been “no TVs in the bedrooms” since I read long ago that electronic stimulation can adversely affect sleep. I try to avoid using the computer after dinner for that same reason, but I seldom succeed completely.

      BTW thanks for sharing my blogs on your FB page. I had a much higher number of views than usual yesterday, particularly last night, so I bet your posts had something to do with that. I appreciate it!

  3. MaryAnn

    Your idea to “pull up the weeds” is something I am learning that makes the day much better. A few years ago, my grandson, Aaric, “taught” me that pulling the weeds from our hearts leaves room for the good things God wants to cultivate there. He was about 7 or 8. “Out of the mouths of babes”…..

    • Yes, weeds spring up rather quickly and get out of control easily. Your grandson is right – we need to make the ground ready for the good things! I need to do that in a literal sense, as we are trying to prepare or renovate some of our flower beds. I find weeding very satisfying, especially if I can listen to a good book on tape while I’m doing it.

  4. I love Fred Rogers. In fact I just posted one of his quotes today on Facebook. Lots to think about, Julia.

    • Alys, I love that quote you shared! Jeff gave it to me soon after I started this blog, and I will probably use it here sometime. Mr. Rogers was an amazing man, and the more I read about him the more I admire him.

      • Agreed. We need more like him, a bit of a scarce commodity these days I fear.

  5. Better still-I’ll send you a spiritual bouquet of prayers, that your day will be as good as you wish it to be.

    • Thank you Alan! Despite my less-than-cheerful mood on awakening this morning, it really has been a nice day, so your prayers are answered! I appreciate it.

  6. Sheila

    Julia, I’m afraid to tell you what kind of seeds I’ve planted. Think grapes! 🙂 I’m looking out my hotel window at Childress Vineyards in Lexington, NC. Everytime we stay here I think (or imagine) it’s Tuscany. We are on our way to Bristol for a weekend visit with family. I hope tomorrow finds you “walking on sunshine”! Hi to Jeff and Matt. Love, Sheila

    • WOW, how cool! I didn’t even know grapes would grow on the east coast – I think of Napa and Sonoma, and that dry Mediterranean climate which I thought was a requirement. You’ll have to let me know how they do. Have fun in Bristol!

      • Sheila

        The grape seeds are definitely imaginary. Haha! This is a beautiful vineyard and owned by Richard Childress of NASCAR racing fame. There are several wineries here in the piedmont. Well, we are about to have breakfast and see friends in Winston Salem. 🙂

        • Hey, you got me with that one. I asked you to send me virtual seeds, yet I was still thinking literally! Aren’t vineyards beautiful? I know nothing at all about wines, but I just love the sight of a vineyard, especially when the leaves start to turn colorful.

  7. What a ‘happy’ garden! Some gardens are too serious with their orderliness and symmetry. But I love these types of garden, looking more natural.
    I did not wake up in a pleasant mood, but soon I made up my mind and stopped being harsh to myself.

    • Mornings are usually the hardest time of the day for me (though some late afternoons find me very sleepy as well). I just have a hard time waking up, no matter how long I’ve slept, unless I am able to sleep until I am just ready to get up (which is very rare). Like you, I try not to be too harsh on myself, though I’ve always wondered why I can’t just spring out of bed ready to go, as my husband seems to do.

      I love the mission gardens. They do feel very “happy.” They are full of paths and benches and such, but also have that lovely wild feeling. I like all sorts of gardens, from formal to totally overgrown, but I do prefer a more natural look.

  8. Michael

    And that is the secret of Galatians 5 to cultivate the positive fruits of the spirit-gentleness, kindness, patience….”
    And do you put the big rocks in the jar first? Something I often forget to do- but if you leave room for the big rocks then there is always room for the little pebbles to fill in the spaces between.

    • Yes Michael, I love that analogy because it’s such a helpful illustration of how many of us can fill our days with things of lesser importance. That passage about the fruits of the spirit is more needed than ever – who couldn’t use more of ALL of those traits! Both from within and without.

  9. Michael

    Here’s a little quote I came across on the happiness controversy: ” I am of Irish ancestry and so have an overwhelming proclivity toward gloom and pessimism that has enabled be me to deal with the brief periods of happiness in my life.” William Butler Yeats.

    • I love that. It sounds a bit familiar, so I might have seen it before, or something like it. I have to wonder just how serious he was – much truth is spoken in jest, but maybe he wasn’t jesting!

  10. Michael

    That garden is an embarrassment of riches.

    • Yes, no matter how lovely the inside of the mission churches are, when you walk outside into the gardens, the gardens win, hands down. Somehow, that seems appropriate since it’s a rather pointed reminder of how much better things come out when the results are more obviously entrusted to God.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: