A Garden of Self-Love
Making time to take care of you
As humans, we need love in our lives. Familial love, romantic love, platonic love; we can’t thrive without it. There is, however, one difficult kind of love that we all need to practice regularly: self-love.
Self-love can take many forms. Taking care of your mind, body, and spirit; setting healthy boundaries; asking for help when you need it; believing in yourself, or letting others take care of you.
There are nearly endless ways to loo out for yourself, take care of yourself, respect yourself. Sometimes it’s self-care like making yourself a healthy dinner, or other times it might be cutting a toxic person out of your life.
There are many ways to tend to the garden of your own self-love. Just like any garden, the tending takes work. If we don’t weed, turn over the soil, feed, and water the flowers, and keep the pests away, then a garden won’t flourish. So too must you care for the garden of your heart.
Weed out those negative thoughts. Where are they coming from? Are they insecurities? Fears? Judgments? Examining them takes work, but getting to the root of negative thoughts can bring relief. Sometimes self-love is going to therapy, talking to a friend, praying, meditating, or journaling.
Turn over the soil of your mind. Sometimes you have to dig down and find something beautiful and rich beneath the surface. When you look beneath, what do you find? Passion for a hobby? Affection for an estranged friend? The desire to find a better job? Sometimes this process involves getting a new start on something in your life that has become stagnant.
Feed and water the flowers in your garden. Find ways to get inspired every day, even just a little bit. Read a book, watch a movie, write a story or a diary entry, make a new recipe you found online, teach yourself to knit, practice your favorite sport, or create a vision board. Honor the creative part of your soul and don’t let it lie fallow.
Don’t let pests ruin your hard work. There are bound to be some people in your life who bring you down or make you question yourself; there are people who stress you out or who treat you badly. Do not let them rent space in your head. Sometimes we are stuck with them, as with bad co-workers or bosses, perhaps, but others we have the ability to leave behind. Cut the loose the ballast that drags you down.
Your garden lives in your heart and mind and it requires your time and attention. You may also want to or be able to help weed a friend or partner’s garden; this selfless process can also enrich your own. Treat your garden of self-love with kindness and gentleness and it will reward you with a bountiful harvest.
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Deidre Delpino Dykes, an author of speculative fiction, may actually be three birds in a trench coat. She is the co-organizer of the Columbia Writers critique group in Maryland and a passionate player and GM of tabletop role-playing games. She is working on a novel-length manuscript and enjoys writing short and flash fiction, some of which have appeared in Wizards in Space vol. 1, Ghosts on Drugs, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Deidre tweets as @DeidreDykes and previously worked as a slush reader for Clarkesworld Magazine.