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Tending to Plants, Tending to Life

I’ve been trying to get into blogging more but life get’s in the way.

I’m a plant lady.


Okay, let’s try for real this time.


Right, it’s the 2nd week of the 2nd month of a new year and I’ve been taking stock of my life. A part of that means trying to unearth what I’m being called to learn in this season of my life.

We tend to get our lessons from our lived experiences (if we’re open to it), from the people in our lives, or even fictional works. And then there are lessons from unlikely places—my plants, for example.


A little background, I had no idea how I wanted to decorate my apartment. I needed something that diffused the existing browns while adding some level of vitality. Plus I needed an outlet, a hobby, or just something new to direct my attention to. Cue me becoming a plant mom!


It’s been quite an experience, and I’ve learned a bit about plants and life. So if my plants could share any words of wisdom, I think it would go a little like this…

Facts from Fletcher the Fiddle Leaf Fig


Fletcher was my very first plant. Now this was when I was more interested in the aesthetic of having a plant than the actual care that it required. And that dissonance became quite evident when Fletcher lost most of his leaves 2-weeks into my care (or non-care but I digress).


I sent it into rehab (code word for handed it off to a coworker so he could tend to it) and he bounced back. Better than ever too, I carried him home and then I actually started to take care of him.


I read all the articles about how to take care of a fiddle fig, I created a watering routine, I routinely cleaned the leaves and then I watched him thrive. So much so, that he started to get taller than me. And that’s when I learned my first lesson.

Sometimes you have to cut back

There’s a thing with Fiddle-leaf figs where they’ll grow so tall and so soon that they fall under their own weight. So under advice, I trimmed Fletcher to allow him to grow outwards, rather than upwards.


In life, there’ll be times when you have to cut back to encourage new growth. You’ll have to pause at your seeming success and reflect on whether or not what you currently have serves your highest good. And sometimes that cutting back may mean a redirection, reprioritization, a re something to get you into alignment with a path that’s even better.


I’ll be the first to admit that this can be hard, especially if you tend to ruminate on your choices like me. But discernment goes a far way and some of the best things are on the other side of a hard decision.


Which leads me to my second lesson from Mr. Fletcher.

Life can be hard, and then suddenly, amazing.

So Fletcher branched out and grew even fuller than before. A few inches sacrificed for the greater good, no biggie. He started to put out new leaves on both branches… and then he stopped. There were no new leaves for weeks and I thought that was it. I thought my efforts were in vain, but then I remembered my goal with these plant—to have them as reflections of my own life. I wanted the efforts I put into my plants to be a reminder that I needed to apply that same effort in my own life.


So I continued watering, rotating it so all the leaves for enough sunlight, wiping all the dust off and keeping my fingers crossed. And then it happened—I saw a new bud.

Image my surprise, and sheer delight when I realized that it was not one, not two but three leaves forming from that single bud.


And for me, that was a testament and a reminder for me to keep trying. For very specific reasons, I had a more or less a bumpy start to the year and I. But I kept at it, I worked on my routines, I tried to stick to my promises, even when a resolve didn’t seem in sight. Because sometimes life’s like that. Sometimes it sucks ass and you cry a little, but you keep going and then one day it surprises you and turns into something spectacular, like 3 new leaves.


Vicky and Vincent , The Twin Spider Plants


Now Vicky and Vincent are twins. I split them from the same plant into individual pots. They have taught me the most important lesson to date.


These spider plants are one some of my most recent additions but there’s just one problem—they just don’t fit. I’ve done my very best to get these plants to grow or at the very least to be stable. I’ve watered them, changed their potting soil, switched positions to try and figure out what spots gives them optimal sunlight exposure, but nothing works. They are absolutely adamant on dying. Initially I thought them not adjusting was a failure on my part and maybe it is. But the long and short of it is that no matter my efforts, they just don’t fit. They won’t grow and I’m done trying with them. Finished. Finite.


And yes, it’s easier said than done. Because even though I know that I need to get rid of them (read repurpose the soil and pots), I’ve been procrastinating. In fact, I’m staring at them with their miserable brown leaves right now.


I imagine you’re saying ok Ashleigh, please get to the point, quick.


The point I’m getting at is that it’s hard to give up on something you poured so much effort into, isn’t it? And this obviously isn’t about plants. Personally, I’ve stayed in many a places that I’ve outgrown and held onto many a things that simply don’t fit into my life anymore. But the truth is that some things won’t grow under your care, no matter how much you try, no matter how consistent you are, no matter how committed you are. Because it’s not you, whatever it is, whoever it is, just isn’t for you anymore. Maybe it was at some point but things change and you (I) need to be brave enough to let things go when the time is right.

So I’m getting rid of those plants (this isn’t about plants)

It comes down to discernment of course, to determine if it’s really worth it and then a little courage to act on it when you realize it’s actually not worth it all.


So yes, very glaringly different lessons from both plants . So what about my other plants? Well, they’ve all collobaratively helped me to realize something else. The quality of my life will be determined by how and when I can find moments of joy. Right now they do a pretty good job of that. Seeing my plants thrive give me a daily dose of serotonin. Plus, they force me to open the blinds and all the windows because I refuse to let them die from lack of sunlight. Hard to admit but taking care of my plants has also forced me to take care of myself.


There’s supposed to be a conclusion I think, but my brain has given up the ghost now. I can leave you with a song though that’s completely unrelated. 🙂


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