The Giant Lesson We Can Learn From Plants

I’ve been dabbling more and more into gardening over the past few years. There is something about digging around in the dirt, nurturing the seeds into sprouts, and watching them grow to their full potential that swells my heart with pride. I would not go so far as to say I have a natural green thumb but I am learning as I go. Last spring I went to the nursery to pick out some plants that would do well on my shady back patio. When I read the label sticking out of this sturdy looking foliage I was instantly sold: Caitlin’s Giant. I had to have my namesake plant.

For a while, my garden bloomed and thrived in the intermittent sun and shade provided by my roof awning and the misty marine layer near the beaches. I transplanted most of the plants into decorative planters and thought a hearty serving of fresh compost ought to keep them all nourished and healthy. The plants, especially Caitlin’s Giant, did their best to sustain their own unique homeostasis for as long as possible. Adapting to their new environment much like us human’s do.

As a human, you can move somewhere new and do your best to assimilate to your new home: learning the streets, making new friends, starting a new job. You can eat something new and your body will work hard to digest the foreign food, extracting the nutrients it can and disposing of the rest. This is a process that our bodies normally handle in moderation. Things start to go haywire when you bombard your system with a lot of new, foreign, or perhaps toxic substances. Your body tries it’s best to make use of what you are feeding it, but, over time, the bad stuff, the toxic stuff doesn’t get disposed of. The toxic stuff starts to leach out of your digestive system and into other systems like your bloodstream.

Fortunately, when your body is invaded by toxins it goes to work, summoning an immune response to fend off the intruders. This is where we get inflammation. Inflammation shows itself in many forms; rashes, digestive problems, headaches, body aches, and sometimes even more troubling issues.

Inflammation makes us feel less than our best. And while food is a huge contributor to inflammation in the body, other sources of discord in our life can also cause imbalances in our bodies, our moods, and our hormones.

So, back to Caitlin’s Giant. Remember, she looked good, she had a new planter, she had some compost mixed in with her soil. But this beautiful plant started to brown up, shrivel, and die. I found this distressing. I had been doing everything I thought was best to care for her, yet she was still dying. What could I do?

I started by cutting off any part of the plant that was dead and toxic. With all of the dead foliage removed, I could see that the soil was suffocating the plant. Insufficient drainage combined with too much compost was not only killing her, it was also attracting pesky insects that were feeding on the healthy leaves. As a last ditch effort, I transplanted her to a more spacious planter that would allow the soil to drain and Caitlin’s Giant to spread and grow as much as she desired. She is now a healthy thriving plant and has even branched off to form new blooms!

I know people are not plants but I find the journey of Caitlin’s Giant to be an important example of how we, as humans, need to take care of ourselves. Removing the toxic elements from our lives is vital for us to thrive. What’s toxic is individual to everyone. It may be food like dairy, gluten, or red meat. It might be a person that drains your energy or treats you badly. It might be an environmental factor like heavy metals in your tap water or noise pollution. We are facing a global epidemic right now so our personal health is of the utmost importance. Instead of falling prey to the fear-mongering across media outlets and social media, I encourage you to use this quiet, slower time to look inward and ask yourself if anything in your own life is causing discord, dis-ease, or negative emotions. If you land on something that no longer serves you or isn’t working for you, considering taking a break from it or eliminating it completely.

We are not sentenced to our current state for the rest of our lives. We are living, breathing, ever-evolving human beings. We owe it to ourselves to love and nurture our bodies. Sometimes that means giving up the junk food, taking a break from alcohol, blocking that toxic ex or fair-weather friend. Spring is a time of new beginnings, it could be time for a new you!


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