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The Secret Garden (Ego)

Originally posted May 2018

I invite you to meet two of my alter egos, Lilly and Rose, as each move through their gardening journey of life.

Lily is the creator of a huge garden that is well known by many. She mastered her craft and people took notice. The amount of energy, love and care that went into this garden is obvious to anyone who visits. There is so much attention to detail. As you walk through, you can see that she has grown the perfect combination of both fruits and vegetables. And then there is the space she created for sitting and enjoying her garden, a beautiful area surrounded by flowers. As I stroll through the flowers there is a sacred space nestled within. This is Lily’s safe space for meditation, yoga, self- reflection or whatever she wants to use it for. Just beyond the flowers, you will find a wild area. This is the area dedicated to herbal and medicinal plants. No one other than Lily is allowed into this area. She allows nature to take its course here.

When Lily started out along her gardening journey, however, this was not the case. Lily was not well known; actually, she was unknown! She was just a girl with a passion for gardening. Lily’s best friend, Rose, also had a passion for gardening. The girls shared their secrets with each other, and really enjoyed seeing each other’s creations. Lily and Rose followed their hearts and did what they loved. It was fun, exciting, and people started to take notice. People noticed that both of the women were extremely talented, each having their own unique style. Before long, each woman was offered opportunities in different directions, as their skill sets complimented different desires. Each woman went their separate way, doing exactly what they loved, and business started growing quickly for both. Lily and Rose were in awe that they were getting paid to do what they love. The ladies were each featured in local news stories. As they gained recognition, momentum on the growth of each business picked up at a fast and steady pace. They were each on their way to building a life and business greater than they imagined.

As business grew, Lily and Rose lost touch. They did follow each other’s success; however, each was so busy with their own growth that they didn’t see much of each other anymore. So, when Rose showed up to take a tour of Lily’s garden, Lily was ecstatic. She couldn’t wait to hear all about what Rose had been up to. Lily admitted she had been so focused on her gardening that she wasn’t sure what Rose was up. Lily wanted to hear everything.

The two women sat in the garden and Rose started cry.

“Why are you crying?” Lily asked.

“I don’t know what happened, I’m not even gardening anymore.” Rose replied.

“Tell me what happened.” Requested Lily, and she listened.

Rose cried as she spoke of how the gardening that she once loved is no longer a source of joy for her. She started explaining to Lily that as she grew, she hired an assistant, Bee. Bee wanted to learn everything. She was attentive to every detail and in the beginning seemed to be the perfect employee. Bee was a perfect student and helper. As Bee gained knowledge, she started experimenting on her own. Bee would come to work with ideas of how to change what I am doing. She was constantly trying to improve or change my work.

“Where any of these ideas helpful?” Asked Lily.

“Yes, some were fantastic and others not so much. The problem is that I had a system and I did not want anyone changing my system. My business grew because I did things my way. I had mastered my own system. You remember Lily, how we used to compare all our trials and errors to develop our systems,” replied Rose.

Lily chuckled at the memory, “Yes, I remember how much work it was in the beginning. We learned so much. I remember thinking that we had discovered something magical, only to then discover why no other gardeners used that method. It was definitely a learning curve.”

“Yes!”, Rose continued, “So, Bee wanting to change and improve things that she did not fully understand would frustrate me. I did not want her to experiment, I wanted her to do as I taught her to do.”

“I hear you.” Lily nodded. “And did she?”

“She did, however she started experimenting on her own time. She took my system and all she was learning and did what she wanted. She learned as much as she could from me, stole my secrets and became my competition!” Rose exclaimed.

“So, Bee used what you taught her and her work is the same as yours? If someone hired her, would the garden be identical to the one you created?” Asked Lily.

Rose laughed, “Of course not, no one does what I do! My work has my heart, my energy, my love and is created from my passion. Bee had her own twist on my work.” And as she spoke, her voice lowered. Hearing the words coming out of her mouth was shocking.

Lily looked at her dear friend, seeing the painful clarity on Rose’s face. Their eyes met as Rose went on. “She became my competition, because I fired her. I felt threatened and didn’t want her learning any more of my secrets.”

Lily put her hand on Rose’s knee, “Rose, remember how many secrets we used to share? We used to laugh at the mistakes we made, the breakthroughs and all the silly things we thought we knew!’”

“I do.” Said Rose as realization set in. “And it went downhill from there.”

Lily looked at her, “I don’t understand?”

“I didn’t trust anyone after that.” Rose went on, “I had a series of helpers. Each showed up, eager to learn and work. Each had their own ideas. I made it clear, their ideas are welcome anywhere but my garden. This was my business, my ideas, my system and my way. I had a system that people liked. They liked me. They liked my work and it was important to me to keep it the way people knew and liked. Experiment on your own time, not in my gardens. They did. Each took my tips, my tools, my plants and made them their own. When they admired my work and asked questions, at first, I shared. I loved teaching. I loved seeing their faces light up as they learned. It reminded me of us, Lily. Then as they took everything I taught them and made it their own, I started to feel threatened. Some became competition, their work was amazing. As their business grew, I felt cheated. The more this happened, the more I started to hide. I stopped sharing. I was so fearful that others would steal from me that I stared hiding everything. I put walls up around my gardens so no one could see what I was doing. I didn’t share any of my secrets with my new assistants. When potential clients came to see my work, I would take them on a private tour. When they asked about maintenance and care, I started getting defensive. Looking back, I can see that I thought everyone was going to steal my work. Every question became an accusation or a way to possibly take form me. My passion quickly became my jail cell. I built bigger walls to keep people from seeing what I was doing. I worked alone, so no one could steal my secrets. Eventually, the walls were so big, no light could get to my gardens. I was alone in a garden, with walls so high, the sun could no longer nourish my beautiful plants. Everything died, and with it my passion. I have not gardened since.”

“I see,” Lily said as she watched her friend in this moment of clarity, “And what have you learned from all this?”

A tear rolled down Rose’s cheek as she spoke, “I allowed my fear to rob me of my passion, my joy and my purpose. I learned that if people want to learn from me, I should feel honored. It means I have a gift. Gifts should be shared with the world. Looking back, I can see that no one can ever steal my gift, it’s mine. I have my own flare that can never be duplicated or stolen. If my flare inspires another, that is exactly what I wanted. I wanted my flare to create sparks. The assistants were those sparks. They came to me to help them turn their spark into a flare. That was my purpose. I see how my desire to be the biggest and brightest flare actually put out my fire completely. I can see so clearly now. How did you do it Lily? Did you face these same fears?”

“I did,” replied Lily, “However I interpreted them differently. When my assistant wanted to improve or change my work, I gave her a spot of her own in my garden to experiment in. We made a deal that it was her space and she will document all that she does. Every change, every experiment gets a detailed report of what was done, the desired results, and then the actual results. In her space, she could do anything she wanted, on her own time. When on my time and working in my garden, she must follow my system and what I taught her, without exception. She agreed.”

“Did she take what she learned from you and compete with you?” Asked Rose.

“No,” Lily continued, “She is actually my Vice President. Allowing her to have her own space and do her own work taught us both. She did some of the same experiments we did and got different results. Together we dove into the variables to see what was different. The things we were able to learn together allowed both of us to grow in ways that wouldn’t have been possible individually. We learned from each other and documented everything, every variable, every detail. Matter of fact, we are writing a book based on all that we have learned from the data we collected.”

“Wow!” Exclaimed Rose. “Were you ever afraid of anything or have any challenges?”

“Of course,” Lily explained, “however, I made the decision that people will do what they are going to do. I can either allow their actions to stop me or I can do what I love and trust that all will be ok. So, I focused on what I love. I worked in my garden. There were people who wanted my secrets. There were people who took my system. There were people who wanted things from me, others who brought me things and many who tried to get me to change. I was approached by numerous people with different intentions and agendas. Some I listened to, others I didn’t. I learned not to allow them to determine how I gardened. If they had a great idea, maybe I tried it. However, I did not have to. I respectfully declined many offers and did what I do. It didn’t matter to me what they thought, it was my garden. I stayed true to what I knew and didn’t worry about what ‘people’ were saying. Who were those ‘people’ anyway?” Lily laughed.

Rose raised an eyebrow and thought to herself, those ‘people’ are the voices I listened too. Those ‘people’ are the voices I feared. Those ‘people’ are what I allowed to destroy my dream.

As I said in the beginning, I am both Lily and Rose. Bee represents the choice to allow either pollination or destruction. Rose is the version that allowed fear to destroy my dreams. Lily is the version that I strive to become. I realize that I punished myself by saying “what if you didn’t make that mistake?”, “What if you weren’t so scared”, “what if beat myself up question?” to “what did I learn from that experience?” I no longer see my failures as bad things, as I have accepted the only way I can learn is by failing. I now see all those Rose moments as beautiful growth. I am grateful for each experience as it taught me how to move through those same fears and emotions the next time. I have accepted that Lily cannot exist without Rose inside me. And I continue to work daily on self-acceptance and self-love.

We are all the gardener of our own thoughts, dreams, and realities. We have the choice every minute of every day. The choices we make determine how our garden grows.

When faced with fear, adversity, and challenge, what do you do?

How do you handle it when someone admires and wants your work?

Do you stay true to your path or allow distractions, opinions, and voices to derail you?

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