There’s a special place I go to hit Pause on the noise in my life

Why working in a garden takes you back to your roots.

By Nonkululeko Britton

What do you hear when you truly listen? For a while, I heard a lot of noise.

I’m not talking about the noise you hear when you turn on the news (there should be a health warning that comes with this particular endeavour).

I’m not even talking about when you unmute your WhatsApp notifications – only to receive yet another COVID death notice.

I heard my own noise. The unending checklist of tasks I needed to get done for the business, as well as other responsibilities that await me as a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend.

If I listened closer, I would’ve heard my heart-rate peaking from the sprinting I was doing in my head.

My emotions and nerves were shot, and my kids, who sounded louder and whinier than usual, felt the wrath of my irritability.

And so, at the height of a farming peak season, I reached for my internal pause button. This is where other clever agripreneurs would be salvaging the blessing of gloriously warm days and imminent rainfall, after a dry spring.

I took a break from the business of installing and tending to my clients’ backyard food gardens, despite there still being a demand for my services.

I decided to tend to my own garden. The first task was to weed out all the “yucky stuff”, as my 7-year-old son says. I started exercising again, to shed the excess luggage I’d picked up during lockdown.

Working with a biokineticist has helped fix my disfigured core, improving my posture even when I’m working in the garden.

My mood has improved and so have my stress-levels.

The next task was a revelation. Exercise alone wasn’t going to make me feel more like myself again. I added breath work and meditation, as well as a more plant-based diet. That’s when I started to see the magic happen.

I feel more grounded now, thanks to the yoga and breathing techniques. I’ve learnt how to release all that doesn’t serve me, and bring in what I needed to improve sleep and feel bliss.

I have become precious, once more, about whether the vegetables I was eating were grown using indigenous, natural and organic methods.

I go out of my way to collect organic veggies from my parents’ food garden, as well as from other organic farmers I’ve supported in the past.

I spend more time in my own garden, weeding, and trimming overgrown plants. I harvest tomato for making sauces.

I have found glorious plants I’d forgotten I had planted in spring, the most stunning being crystal apple cucumber and cucamelon, which I’d never planted before.

I was pleasantly surprised by a butternut plant that grew from our compost heap, pushing its way through the wooden compost box, and spreading over our small backyard garden.

What emerged from that are 10 extraordinary butternuts we’ve started enjoying and sharing.

We’ve been devouring homegrown potatoes of intriguing colours. I had forgotten how flavourful organic butternut and potatoes could be, no match for anything we’ve bought from the store.

I’ve fallen in love with gardening and vegetables again. My clients were doing great with the gardens we helped them start.

We could rejoice from each bountiful harvest from our backyards, while contending with Mother Nature’s pests.

With food as our medicine, my family and I also always have herbs as part of our meals, and medicinal herbs such as African Wormwood (Umhlonyane), to boost our immune systems where needed.

We religiously drink shots of Buchu to keep illness at bay (touch wood). Nothing warms my heart like hearing the kids recounting health as top of the list of things they are grateful for.

I feel more ready as I work my way towards pressing PLAY on business, preparing new and existing edible gardens for the change of season.

I hope I’ll remember to breathe through each moment, pause often, and be grateful for the gifts of health and happiness. Gone is the noise. It’s refreshing to hear birds and quiet again.

  • This article first appeared on the Change Exchange, an online platform by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes. The opinions expressed in this piece are the writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BrightRock.
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