Whether we are caring for others or ourselves, tending can feel like a burden sometimes.
Taking the time to do the daily tasks that keep our lives running smoothly so we’re prepared for success and challenges is no easy feat. Routines can feel monotonous and time-consuming. Making slow, incremental changes in our lives can leave us wondering:
Is any of this working? What is any of this even for?
But tending doesn’t have a big bang or a goal to celebrate every day. Yes, we want to celebrate our wins — even the small ones — but tending is more of a feeling of small contentment and joy in everyday life.
What we can (and should) do is take some time to celebrate the places in our lives that we’re tending to on a consistent basis.
When my mother died when I was 26 years old, I was living in Asia and just barely made it back in time for her passing. It was so incredibly painful to see her at the end of her life and I did not feel in any way prepared, or present for the experience. I was avoidant, spaced out from living in Asia for many years, and generally disconnected from my grief.
And so my grief found a way to express itself in other ways. I became so sick that it took me three months to recover, and I felt totally dismantled and disoriented as a human being.
When my father died 4 years ago, I had well before made the decision to care for him in his transition from this life in a different way. I cared for him in a way I did not have a chance to do for my mother. And while my father had great skilled nursing care, it was as much a benefit to me, spiritually and emotionally, as it was to him, for me to tend to him during this time.
And when he passed, I felt ready, present, and welcomed the grief like an old friend.
What a big difference giving care as a practice can make to our lives.
When people pass away, they’re always most grateful for their relationships (or even regretful of the ones that they didn’t tend to enough).
Why not take the time to savor and enjoy these relationships right now? Why wait until you’re on your deathbed to do so?
In May, we’re taking some time to celebrate our people — especially those who are nurturing us and tending to our needs.
This includes our mothers, of course, but we also want to take some time to celebrate the invisible mothers. The helpers. The aunties and uncles and best friends who are supporting our caregivers.
The places of business that are supporting all types of caregiving. Not just motherhood. The ones who allow encourage their employees to work from home or offer hybrid work models to cut down on commutes, giving back hours of their workers’ lives each week.
What does it mean to tend to things, yourself, and other people — in a way that leaves you resourced, and also builds your preparedness for big success and meaningful transitions?
How to Tend Your Life
Tending is a combination of caregiving and pruning.
You need to spend time daily watering the areas of your life that need to grow. But you also need to cut away the parts that no longer serve you.
The most important (and honestly sometimes the most difficult) part of tending is doing it every day. We sometimes consider this our routine, which honestly can sound sort of monotonous and boring.
But when we look at these small, daily tasks as caregiving or tending, we start to put love into our networks, bodies, and visions.
Don’t Wait to Tend
We don’t wait until a plant is dead to water it. We water it a bit every day.
Our society isn’t set up for tending — it’s set up for acute need. That’s why we feel guilty when we take time for self-care.
When we tend, we stay out of fight-or-flight mode.
Our dreams and visions become reality when we put in the time to care for them. They’re no longer goals on a dream board. Our brains don’t know the difference between imagined successes and actual successes.
Before you can start to tend to your life, you need to know where to do so.
Boundaries are one of the best tools in our tending kits.
Where do we need to prune? Where do we need to protect? Where do we need to shield? Where do we need to water? Where do we need to pinch?
If you need some inspiration, skip to the section below of three common areas that need tending.
Support Those Who Tend
Move to support businesses that support all types of caregiving — not just mothers.
There are so many people out there who are invisible mothers. The aunties, the uncles, the best friends. The caregivers who are helping the caregivers.
All of these gardeners need recognition.
3 Areas That Need Tending
1. Tending Your Network
No matter where we are in the process of Emergence, we need to be ready for two things: success and challenges.
If you reached unexpected success tomorrow, would you be ready for it? Do the people in your network know how much you value them?
Make a list of your cheerleaders.
We can start the tending process by reminding our cheerleaders (our caregivers) how much they mean to us and how grateful we are to have them on our team. Whether it’s an email or sending a small gift or some kind of acknowledgment, take the time to recognize these caregivers.
And what’s your plan? What’s your plan for keeping them posted? As you prepare for your big win, your big accomplishments, or your big success?
I’ll make a list or put them on rotation so that I’m reaching out consistently but effortlessly to let them know how important they are.
And yes, maybe you need to prune your network to make it more effective.
2. Tending Your Body
It’s so much more difficult to handle both challenges and success when you’re tired and burnt out. Physical self-care is one way to tend to your body so you’re physically ready for anything.
Are you investing in a self-care routine? Are you nourishing your body as well as your mind?
You’ve got to water yourself by getting into physical habits that will help you shine and feel stronger.
When shit hits the fan (good or bad), you’re going to need those habits to fall back on.
3. Tending Your Vision
It’s so important to tend to your vision and your goals every day.
Whether you’re spending time shaping them or acknowledging your progress, it’s important to spend some time with your vision.
Acknowledge the steps that you have made, tweak your messaging, and compare the updated output to your original intent. Don’t be afraid to alter your goals so that you’re in a constant relationship with your vision.
Tend to it as you would a bonsai tree, allowing it to take shape naturally. Perhaps your vision will move itself in a new direction; it could stay in its original shape.
What’s important is that you’re in a constant relationship with your vision, and you’re tending to it.
It’s a give-and-take.
When you’re trimming a bonsai, you’re looking at where it’s naturally going. You prune around the shape it naturally takes. You may need to prune back certain areas when you notice other, smaller ideas taking shape.
All these ideas need room to grow.