Everything I learned about about self care I learned from my tomatoes

My family know that I am in no way a gardener; instead of having a green thumb, I seem to not be able to keep the least demanding plants alive. Until now.

A few months ago, a good friend told me that I could plant cherry tomatoes with half a bought tomato from the supermarket. My six year old adores cherry tomatoes and they are expensive little things (the tomatoes that is, and perhaps my six year old too!) so I thought, what the hey, let’s cut one up and plant it.

We buried two cherry tomato halves in soil and waited patiently. I obediently watered our tomatoes whenever the soil looked dry. Every day we examined the soil for any sign of greenery. Nothing happened for a few weeks. I thought my fate as a non-gardener was sealed. But I kept watering, and hoping, and thinking of those tiny little seeds lying buried in that dark soil.

Eventually, on a very thrilling morning, we saw a couple of tiny leaves poking through that were decidedly not weeds. Oh, the excitement! I kept dutifully watering my little seedlings, and added some fertiliser every week.
Thomas (left) and Thomasina (right). And yes, those are eggshells in the soil. Adds calcium and helps little plants grow! #greenthumb
Thomas (left) and Thomasina (right). And yes, those are eggshells in the soil. Adds calcium and helps little plants grow! #greenthumb
I pulled out weeds and kept the soil moist. I was really rooting (pardon the pun) for those little leaves, and started looking forward to seeing them every morning. My little leaves grew riotous. Every day, they poked up further and further, quickly becoming tall and bushy, so much so that I had to begin to stake them. (Yes, me! Staking tomatoes!)
Thomas and Thomasina - early days
Thomas and Thomasina – early days
Getting big - gotta stake them!
Getting big – gotta stake them!
In a bit of a Boaty McBoatface moment, we named one Thomas and the other Thomasina. I started talking to Thomas and Thomasina every day, just spending some time watering them and sending them my encouraging thoughts. In fact, they became a big part of my stress management plan. Thomas and Thomasina rewarded me with tiny white flowers which turned into tiny green tomatoes and then – weeks later – actual red tomatoes. 
#proudmummymoment
#proudmummymoment
 

I planted Thomas and Thomasina at a time when I, too, was ready to thrive. The last four years, on top of what seems like a whole adult life of anxiety, neuroses, hangups, and a complete inability to be kind to myself, were intense. Intensely dark at times, with incredible stresses I had never imagined. I felt, at many times, what those little seeds must have experienced – the oppression, the terror, the overwhelming panic of being buried. But like my little seeds, I eventually learned (with help) to relax into where I was and start caring for myself. I tamed that awful voice in my head that gave a running commentary of how I was stuffing up, again, in all areas of my life. I made space for the person I had forgotten I used to be. I asked myself, during challenging times, what I needed at that moment. I learned how to take proper breaks. I stopped working at nights and weekends. I gave myself little pep talks whenever my knees felt shaky. I let my loved ones care for me. I spent time with my beautiful family. I learned to breathe slowly and deeply through every waking moment. I put myself first because I realised if I didn’t, I had nothing left to give. And when all else failed, I phoned a friend and had a laugh.

Thomas and Thomasina have taught me so much about life. When you feel buried under it all, relax and take a breath. Start where you are and use what you have. Shower yourself with self care. Believe that the sun is still out there. Don’t give up hope. Add the things that truly nourish your soul and give you the courage to put out tiny roots. And when you break through the surface, and see that amazing blinding sun, keep reaching for the stars. Stand tall and proud. You are amazing!
 
And most importantly, you exist to keep the circle of life going. (I love the song. It’s actually my ring tone). You will bear fruit and this gives everyone hope and spreads the love. 
 

Like Thomas and Thomasina, I was buried but reached for the sun and stars. I’ve learned so many things about how to care for myself so that I can be my best self and help others. And I hope you’ll come along with me on this journey so we can learn from one another and stand tall together. Just like Thomas and Thomasina.

When I see those blessed red tomatoes now I imagine they are whispering to their seeds,

It’s ok. They buried me once. And look at me now!” 

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