Taking Care of my Plants (& Myself)

Sifa was so supportive when I was first considering my internship in Puerto Rico. He has always wanted me to reach my goals and get the education that I want. He did, however, worry about my mental health while I was there. I worried about it too. I have learned that Sifa really likes me to depend on him and while I like it too, it has become important to us that I am able to take care of myself.

The week that we started to talk about the internship I went out and bought a plant at an estate sale. It was a beautiful potted mini jade with small succulents around it. When I brought it home Sifa was pleased and he said, “This is good. Now you can practice taking care of yourself by making sure this plant stays alive.” We laughed, but it struck me as really true. I always have the strength to take care of myself, but it takes consistent care, remembering to do it, and just more confidence. I was confident that I could take care of my plant and some of that confidence made me feel like I could take care of myself.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a wedding and was given several small succulents and cacti to take home.

I was ridiculously excited to get them so I went out and bought a bunch of pots from the thrift store to plant them in. I later went to Home Depot and found out that half of my pots wouldn’t work because they didn’t have drains. The lady literally told me, “They will die,” and walked away. Ha okay… Later at Ace they told me why. I had previously read that you can sometimes put gravel at the bottom of a pot without drainage to keep the soil from being too wet and they explained to me that this could work short term, but the sitting water invites bacteria that almost always kills the plant. Shoot. The memory of Sifa telling me to take care of my plants went through my head again- so I splurged and bought another pot with a drain.

Since then I have been thinking a lot about how good it is to learn how to take care of my plants. Taking care of my plants teaches me new skills, makes me more aware of my surroundings, gives me confidence, and helps me feel needed. In that same way I need to be taking care of my own needs.

What I’ve learned about plants since getting my succulents and cacti:

  • They need lots of sunlight.
  • They need water, but not too much.
  • Drainage is key!
  • Gravel at the bottom of a pot is only a short term solution for no drain.
  • Buy porous soil (drains quickly).
  • Check on them i.e. don’t forget about them.
  • Ask experts for advice/help.

What I’ve learned about myself:

  • I need lots of sunlight.
  • It feels good to feel needed by my plants.
  • Don’t forget about my own needs.
  • Taking care of others/plants should not replace my self-care routine, but be added to it.
  • Confidence is key!
  • Pretty things like plants make me happy.
  • Ask others for advice/help.

While I did not really intend for my planting to become such a metaphor, I am just loving it! Little by little I hope to improve my state of mind and capabilities and learning to take care of plants is just a small step in the right direction.

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