Nourishing our Happiness

There are many facets of health. Some are internal, such as spiritual or mental health, while others, like physical or social health, are external.  Because of the liberal arts nature of the school I attend, students are required to fulfill general education core requirements. One such requirement is “Wellness Concepts,” a course I’m currently enrolled in. It stresses the use of “wellness” over health, because the definition of health is “the state of being free of illness or injury.” Wellness, so says the argument, goes beyond simply not having health impediments but attaining an optimum level of well-being.

Health connotes well-being to me, and I don’t wish to nitpick over the differences. There have been times in my life when I have tried to separate the different aspects of health, such as when I only focused on eating well and exercising. I was nourishing my physical body, but I neglected my emotions and social connections. Health is all about balance, and can’t be broken up into little, isolated pieces. Treating our physical selves well is definitely a huge part of being healthy individuals, but we can’t focus on our bodies and neglect what feeds our minds, spirits, and souls.

Do you think I’ve used the word health enough yet? Yeah, me too!

 To shift gears just a bit, today I fed my happy self. Since I was a child, I’ve had a tender affinity for plants. Plants fascinate me—the way they emerge, timidly at first from the soil, slowly gain confidence from the sun and then stand proudly as if they’ve conquered the world. Which in a way, they have. Growing up in the country with a mother who let us have patches in the garden (but also held us accountable to weeding them!) fostered my love affair that continues to this day. What can I say, I’m a biophiliac. Indeed, when “I grow up,” I want to be a farmer. I participated in 4H, as many Midwesterners do that live in the country, and aside from the family history of dominating in the rabbit department my niche was plants. One year, I proudly took home best in show in three different categories: tallest sunflower, best flower arrangement, and best gladiolas. My thumb’s been stained green ever since. 

When I moved to Texas and was desperately yearning again to commune with nature and the outdoors, I started a garden. Unfortunately, the wiles of school and the heat of Houston summers often seduced me away, but I would seek refuge there on occasion. I found purpose in plants, in tending to the earth, in weeding and nourishing the life I’d placed in the soil. When I began my tiny oasis in the desert backyard (our property has a fair amount of sand and iron ore), we placed a pear tree in the back. I’m not ashamed to say that I would go out and not only chat with my little tree, but give it massages. With nutrient rich, compost-tea esque concoctions. It was loved. And, it’s now producing pears without another tree nearby. . . spontaneous reproduction, brought on by a babyhood of nourishment? I’ll take the credit!

You can see the dry soil, my pear tree, marigolds, tomatoes, and eggplants!

Now, I work on the organic garden at my school. Our farm manager noticed my affinity for excessive connection with the plants in our garden, and has thus put me in charge of growing the seedlings for spring and summer. Or maybe I was just a terrible ditch digger, and he wanted me somewhere my talents wouldn’t go to waste 🙂 . I’ve spent four hours this week in the biology department’s greenhouse, tending to this creation of life.

All the soon to be seedlings!

I already have some sprouting that I planted last week!

Health. It isn’t just about exercise and eating well.

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