Back view of senior woman with her arms outstretched in nature living in Freedom from Fear

Freedom From Fear, It’s a Choice.

In last month’s blog, I wrote about Finding Joy in Turbulent Times. Little did I know at the time just how turbulent our lives were about to become. A few weeks ago, most of us couldn’t spell pandemic. Now we have a name for the fear and anxiety many of us are experiencing.

We’ve moved into an unprecedented time and it appears a “new normal” is unfolding. If you’ve been anxious and fearful, know it is okay, that you’re not alone, and that we’re all in this together. 

What’s important to remember about this time is we all need to find ways to grow our resilience and adapt to the change that is occurring around us. You can grow your resilience like any other skill.  It just requires a choice to accept the situation and a decision to move through it, not around it.  It means embracing acceptance and to step towards and into what is challenging that will build resilience and ultimately freedom. 

Something that has helped me to step towards what’s causing me fear and anxiety is Elizabeth Gilbert’s new talk Facing Fear With Compassion on Insight Timer. I highly recommend it!  This quote lingers and continues to inspire me:

“The opposite of fear is not courage. The opposite of fear is compassion. You cannot chase fear out. You can only bring love in. Bring love in and the fear starts to subside.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

If  find yourself in a similar place, remember this: 

You cannot control what’s going on out there,
but you can control what’s going on inside of you,
in your home and in your garden.

Something that’s helping me right now is creating an energy buffer to keep the fear gremlins away and to make space for more love, beauty, humor and joy in each day.  This is how I’m doing it:

1. STEP AWAY FROM MEDIA.

Stay informed… not obsessed. Stay away from negativity and even thinking negative thoughts. Watching the news increases our fear and anxiety, adversely impacting our immune system, which is the exact opposite of what we should be doing — building our immune system and focusing on self-care. 

2.  STEP OUT INTO NATURE.

Get out into the sun as much as possible. Viruses hate the sun. Feel that sunshine on your body. Go for a brisk walk. Breathe in fresh air to clear your lungs. Listen to the birds singing. Give thanks for the beauty of Mother Nature. Keep moving.

3.   EMBRACE SOCIAL DISTANCING.

You may already be tired of it, but the fact is, it’s saving lives.  And here’s the thing … practicing physical distance doesn’t mean we can’t explore new ways for social connection.  People are getting creative with setting up tea dates, happy hour visits, and even movie nights via Skype, Zoom, and Netflix.  It does require some outside of the box thinking, but it can keep us connected, while also keeping us safe. 

4.   MAKE IT FUN.

Be on the lookout for belly laughs wherever you can find them. Like Art Linkletter used to say: “Laughter is the best medicine!”  Call your funny friends. Binge on funny movies. Search YouTube and Google for videos of your favorite comedians. (When was the last time you watched Johnny Carson?) Even in the most trying of situations, there are gifts of humor and opportunities for light-heartedness around each corner when you’re open to the possibility.

5.   FOCUS ON BUILDING AND BOLSTERING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.

By cutting sugar from your diet, you can boost your immune system by 50%. Eat nourishing whole foods, hydrate a lot before you go to bed, drink warm water and warm liquids like coffee, tea, and soup. You can also boost your immune system by cooking with foods like garlic, ginger, peppers, and radishes. I’m not a physician, these are the supplements I’m taking daily:

6.   SEE THE SILVER LINING.

On the other side of the chaos we’re experiencing, of all events being cancelled, is the gift of slowing down and spending more time at home. Read that book or tackle that project you’ve been putting off. A friend of mine has been going through thousands of photos and is making photo books for her family. My sister is taking a deep dive into spring cleaning. Explore a new hobby, or just rest. This is your chance to choose “being” over “busy.”

7.    PLAN, PLANT, AND TEND.

Gardening is the PERFECT ANTIDOTE to the  news. Caring for a garden places your focus on enriching, life-giving activities, that can lift your spirits, rather than bring you down. Even if it’s still cold outside or raining where you live, this is a great time to plan for the spring.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
~ Audrey Hepburn

  • Re-think your entryway. How can you make it more beautiful and more inviting? What plants would you like to bring in which will add color?
  • Plan your kitchen garden. It can be as small as a pot of salad greens and lettuces outside your kitchen door or a container with your favorite herbs.
  • Explore and research how you can integrate more adaptive gardening tools, techniques, and resources into your habits and practices.

8.    LET YOUR FINGERS DO THE WALKING.

This time of ‘Stay home. Stay safe.’ is providing is an ideal opportunity to research and explore garden design, how to and planting websites. Consider meandering through the following:

  • Seed Catalog Websites: Now is a great time to order from seed catalogs and plan your spring raised beds and gardens.
  • Nursery Websites:  Shop online to find bareroot fruit trees, maybe a dwarf fig or lemon would be fun. You can’t go wrong with either.
  • Gardening Inspiration Websites: Go to your favorite gardening website, find a new blog or podcast, and just “be” in a garden frame of mind.  

We’re each finding our own ways through this extraordinary time. I think most of us also realize the imperative need for change because the way we were living was not sustainable — not for ourselves and not for our planet.

I believe we will get through this and we will be far better off as a result. My greatest hope is after this is over, we will be a kinder, more loving people, living in a united country and a peaceful global world. 

We’ll get there through our individual and collective choices. For me:

  • I choose yoga and meditation to help me stay calm and to keep my body flexible.
  • I choose to nurture love in my home and to cultivate beauty in my garden.
  • I choose Mother Earth and sunshine to heal me.

What will you choose?

Whatever your choice, know this — no matter what, you’re not alone and we’re all in this together.

With gratitude, love and compassion for you,

Toni Gattone

Toni Gattone

Adaptive Gardening Expert and Inspirational Change-Agent. Toni’s enthusiasm is contagious. She is passionate about empowering gardeners with practical, how-to information. While gardeners of all ages and abilities appreciate her work, she especially enjoys working with modern elders, boomers and seniors who are growing older and yet want to live bolder lives. Her posts are information rich, with helpful resources, that will keep you coming back for what’s new. Toni is a caring and compassionate gardening guide and cheerleader, and oh by the way, she’s very Italian.

2 thoughts on “Freedom From Fear, It’s a Choice.”

  1. Hello Toni,
    As we know, being in the yard brings so much joy to many of us. One thought in this new world I have focused on is in my last 40+ years of plant sales, I have never been home in the spring during the day to enjoy the cool morning with the puffy white clouds and blue skies as much as I have been the last two weeks. I have also taken mid day bike rides.

    It is so much better to focus on the joys in life.. Like the joy of waking up with Cheryl every morning.
    Take care my friend.
    Paul

    Reply

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