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Some days I wind up talking so much to my kids and answering all of the endless questions that I just don’t want to listen to myself anymore. I’m an introvert at heart, and while I love my children, all of the explaining and thought-interruption can conjure up images of people coming at me in straight jackets.

Sometimes that can sound appealing, but then they’d be like Oh wait a minute, we can’t take her away now because it’s almost 5 o’ clock and she needs to make dinner, and they’d have to set me free again.

Pfffft. So much for “me time.”

Anyway, the thing about all the talking is that it forces you to explain out loud everything you are doing. If you’re setting a good example or if it’s a teachable moment, or if you’re not doing anything too embarrassing, this can be good. But other times hearing yourself narrate every little thing you do can make it painfully obvious that you might be making some bad decisions and are probably much weirder than you thought.

What are you doing this for, Mama? What did it mean when you made that face at Daddy after he turned around, Mama? Why are you hiding in the pantry eating all of those chocolate donuts, Mama??

But the beauty of somebody constantly asking you WHY all the time, is that sometimes the forced reflection can lead to tiny epiphanies. Case in point, when I was weeding our garden beds, and my daughter watched me cut away the dead parts of the plant.

“Why are you taking the bad parts off of the plant, Mama?”

“Because, sweetie, you have to get rid of all the bad stuff in order to let the good stuff to come out.”

And after I heard it out loud, I thought, Ain’t that the truth.

It’s not the first time the garden gave me clarity. When I’m feeling off-balance, questioning things, or having a bad day, the garden makes me feel better. I probably sound like a hippie, but I’m telling you, digging in the dirt always gives me perspective. It simultaneously reminds me to let go of small thoughts, yet to see the significance in the little things. It gives me gratitude.

I talked through this process with Penelope recently, the two of us with our shovels, tilling the soil to get it ready for our veggie plants. Tilling is necessary for healthy plants to grow because it breaks up the soil and allows the air, water, nutrients, and good bugs through.

We talked about the worms and what an important job they have in the garden, keeping it healthy and helping our veggies grow. How the ladybugs are our friends, since they take care of the bad bugs and protect our plants. Another turn of the shovel revealed a worm and, without any prompting from me, she leaned toward it and said, “Thank you, worm.”

I think we need to till our souls just like we till the soil. We can’t be afraid to get in there – we have to dig, turn things over, let the fresh air in. We have to see the stuff that’s not-to-pretty, and acknowledge it. To let the things like worms and bugs do their job. It isn’t until we accept the whole picture, no matter how faded, ugly, or out-of-focus it may be, that we can allow it to all work for us. Weed out the bad, embrace the good.

You have to remove all the bad stuff in order for the good stuff to come out.

Let’s be soul tillers. Grab the cutting shears and shovels. Cut loose what’s no longer serving you (gently, that’s the key), and make way for the new. Turn stuff over. Break up the clumps. Let the air in. You’ll feel better, and you’ll make room for the good stuff to grow.

And remember, no matter how bad a day you’re having: even chicken poop turns into fertilizer.


Alessandra Macaluso is the author of What a Good Eater! , Lucy the Bee and the Healing Honey, and The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. She’s also a Qigong and Tai Chi instructor, and overall wellness advocate. Her work has been featured in several anthologies which can all be found on her Amazon author page, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and many other online publications.

Alessandra is a northerner-turned-southerner, enjoying the south with her children, Penelope and Ciro, and her husband, Greg.

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