Curb Appeal: The Soul

Zoë and I have lived in our home for about 6 years now. While we have slowly made changes to the inside of our home to make it feel more like us, our yard was another story. I have long felt like somebody should have nominated us for Curb Appeal: The Block. We definitely had the worst yard on the block. Now mind you nobody has said anything, but we knew. The original owners had had over planted and neglected the maintenance. We had continued that tradition and now things were dying because they were overcrowded. With neither of us being gardeners, we were not even sure what to do to enhance the curb appeal of our home.

Well, the reality is that while we had some ideas as to what we wanted to do, we lacked the funds to transform our dreams into realities. While we could have probably done things on our own, we also lacked the equipment, the skills, and the knowledge. So what do you when you don’t know what to do? If you are me, you take it to the Creator in prayer. So that is what I did. The answer came the next day. I began dreaming about a friend of ours, Billijo, who had offered to help us with the yard last year, but then wound up moving out of state. She was back in town for a while, so I asked if she was still willing and able to help us get things started and she said yes. What a perfect birthday gift for my wife, who had been talking about wanting the yard of her dreams for her birthday this year.

One of the first lessons Billijo taught us about gardening was the need to set boundaries. One of the first things she did was to go around the front yard and dig a ditch that would become the edge of our space. It was a visual cue for her about where the lawn would end and the planting would begin. She talked to us about how space needs to be left when you are mulching around trees and how you need to leave space around bushes and plants so they have time to grow and develop. As I listened to her talk, it reminded me of something I had read in a book called Margins by Dr. Richard Swenson. Swenson talked about how we need to envision our lives like sheets of papers and ask ourselves how big are our margins. We need to remember to keep adequate margins in our lives. If our lives are overflowing into the margins, financially, emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually then there is little room for us to grow and evolve. Like the bushes in our yard, we may develop financial, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health issues and in the process, we compromise our health. Just as I learned the importance of leaving space around the bushes in my yard, I have had to learn to make sure I leave margins in my life. How big are your margins?

One of the other things I learned is that things are not always what you think. To look at the soil, well at least that which we could see under all the weeds and stuff, it did not appear that we had healthy soil. It appeared that way to us and to Billijo. We learned that weeds, which had lots of, and compaction were indicators of soil problems. Then the digging started and what we discovered was that beneath the service we had good soil. There were lots of worms, which we learned is a sign of good soil. It reminded me of how there is so much more to each of us then what appears. How often do we look at someone and judge them just based on what they appear to be. Then when we take the time to get to know them, when we dig below the surface, we discover the richness and the wealth of who they are. I can remember when I first met one of my best friends years ago; she was prepared to discard me because I was one of those irritating weeds. However, as we dug below each other’s surfaces, we have come to appreciate the richness of who we each are. We have grown closer over the years, but because we were willing to dig and appreciate the rich soil beneath each other’s surface. Now our friendship is rich and ever growing. If you were to compare our relationship to soil, you would find lots of worms.

One final lesson I learned today was a reminder that it is all about the journey. From talking to our neighbors, I learned that nobody had done anything to our yard for years before we ever moved in. what we began to address today was at least twenty years of growth. The work needed to restore our yard to its potential beauty and health was not going to happen in one day. It was going to take time. While Zoë and our friend Billijo accomplished quite a bit of work today, there is still much more to accomplish. We discussed what was to stay and what was to go. They removed about eight bushes and Billijo dug the border. The edges were trimmed and our neighbors stopped as they were walking the dogs to tell us how much better things were looking. While I appreciated their feedback, today was a reminder of how spiritual transformation and evolution is a process. We have not gotten to where we are in our lives overnight. Working through the changes we seek to make in our lives is not going to happen in one day. For some of us our lives are like our front yard is. However, just as we made progress in our yard through the answering of prayers, hard work, and the love and support of friends, so can we continue to evolve in our own lives. Unlike on the show Curb Appeal, it does not take $20,000 to give your soul a makeover. It just takes faith, perseverance, hard work and the love and support of those who seek to enrich and fertilize your life.