“How a Flower Kissed a Sad Princess and Turned Her Into a Frog
Chapter 1: The Princess
Engraved into the plaque hung on the chain-link fence surrounding my soul, the golden rule is written in bold gothic lettering.
‘Do unto others as you would like done unto you.’
It serves as a reminder to those interested in making a home for themselves in my heart that treating others the way we (and more importantly they) want to be treated is the only admission requirement for the community of characters close to me. Each morning, as I begin the day by watering my garden of intentions, it reminds me I am the sole enforcer of that rule. I am the only principal at my school of thought, the only conductor of my life’s symphony orchestra, and the only one on the ship who knows how to navigate using the night sky.
Yet somehow, I seem to be the only person in the community garden that gets away with breaking the single rule. Or I should say got away with. While my brain was busy being a landlord and making sure that all the other tenants of my soul were well taken care of, my actual body was hiding in the shadows. My skeleton was skipping the permaculture classes offered and not doing the required reading. My tendons, instead, gallivanting with shadows instead of showing up to do yoga in the sunshine. My body was just not doing the work. And it took being forced to kick everyone else out of the garden for what I thought would be a few weeks of societal lockdown for me to finally notice the wreckage my little self had been causing on the grounds.
To speak in less cryptic terms, I was sad. For a long time. I mean, frankly, the saying is ‘do unto others as you want done unto you’ not ‘do unto yourself as you want done unto you.’ I guess the latter seems redundant yet somehow, I had never learned that rule or been taught to enforce it.
For context, years ago, I had been in two back-to-back, deeply codependent relationships. The second of which did a number on my view of the world, my ability to be outwardly optimistic, and my personal interest in trusting anyone new ever again. When that relationship came to an end, I grabbed as much chain and as many padlocks as I could find and locked my heart down. Only people who had already been admitted were allowed re-entrance to the park and there was a full review of all current guests, many of whom realized they no longer wanted to hang out in the newly dark, depressing place that they were in anyway.
And for half of a decade, that was the state I left my soul in. I went to therapy, which was somewhat helpful but also absurdly inaccessible and somehow still stigmatized in our society. I worked my job in market research – an industry that my studies and technical skills lend themselves well to, but that can be a manipulative driver of our overconsumption (something not entirely in alignment with my worldview). I hung out with the people who I still had, despite constantly feeling like I was burdening them with my presence. And I lived. Sort of. But more than being alive, I was simply not dead yet.
Chapter 2: The Covid
When Covid-19 came and told everyone to isolate, it meant being forced to have my brain and my body sit down in the very middle of my soul and have the hard conversation they had been putting off for so many years. My mind laid out its truths and told my body all the reasons it had stopped producing as much serotonin and dopamine, all of the hurt that had accumulated, and how it had felt betrayed by my body’s unwillingness to crave vitamins or create endorphins.
My body listened and apologized for how mismanaged their garden had become, how it had stomped on all of the flowers as a cry for help, and how it had felt abandoned by my brain – because while my mind was taking care of everyone else, it had somehow forgotten to teach my body even an introductory course in gardening.
And in that moment of honesty and mind/body connection – for the first time in many years – it began to rain. At first, it was just a couple of droplets, then a sprinkle, and then it continued to escalate until it was a downpour of healing and progress that seeped into the grounds of my being.
In a place where flowers were meant to grow but had been in a drought for so long that the soil was beginning to lose hope, freshwater began touching the earth’s surface again and the dirt exhaled. Petrichor. And then slowly, one by one, all the plants righted themselves with the sun and began to grow upwards again, blossoming back to life.
Basically, I just finally began to work on myself. And that is hard. And scary. Really looking at yourself in the mirror and being honest about the ways that you can grow is daunting, and that’s what makes it so easy to procrastinate. I started with small things. I started journaling, which I had done in the past but never consistently or with much intentionality. I started meditating when things began to feel overwhelming rather than drink a glass of wine. I signed up for some extracurriculars and classes I thought might add additional color to the dynamic canvas of passions that I was painting.
And at the end of each new week I felt I had completed without killing any soul plants, I bought myself a bouquet of flowers. And over the last year or so, those flowers have served an almost romantic purpose – solidifying and reminding both my mind and body of their partnership and connection. Their promises to each other.
Chapter 3: The Frog
My mind and body were (and still are) happy again, they are friends, they check in with one another, they still argue whenever it’s time for me to go to sleep but melatonin usually settles those disputes. My soul’s garden was buzzing and bright and blossoming, which I felt I needed to share however I possibly could.
Not to mention I was really starting to miss people and was going a little crazy from being inside so much. I missed the human connection I had kept at arm’s length for years but I also just missed being able to have my dang brother over for a game night. I missed physical touch but more than that, I wanted to touch other people’s hearts the way that flowers had uplifted mine. And just as I was wondering how I could possibly figure out a way to anonymously gift flowers to strangers…. This cute little frog hopped up next to my yoga mat and asked if I wanted help. He introduced himself, told me that is exactly what he does, and offered his assistance.
So together (usually on Sundays but really whenever we feel the universe telling us to), we wake up early, go to the fresh air flower market, sit in a park for a while building bouquets, and then go on a long, mindful walk to drop them off for unknowing strangers to find. We leave a card with each one encouraging the finders to do whatever they wish with their new flowers but to do it with joy in their heart – imagining all the possibilities of where they might go once we step away.
But more than anything, those long walks are a time for us to touch base. He tells me all the innocuous gossip surrounding life on his lily pad and I keep him up-to-date on how I’m maintaining my happiness, about all of the new seedling shipments we get in, and about the familiar visitors who swing by for a cucumber smoothie.
He keeps me honest and when he sees me forgetting to drink enough water or get a full night’s sleep, he turns into an enforcer frog, but only when he needs to. And the only stipulation he has ever insisted on to our contract of mutualistic encouragement is I add two more sentences to the plaque on the outside of my heart.
It now reads:
‘Do unto others as you want done unto you.
Do unto yourself as you want done unto you.’
(If you do not heed these words, beware of frog).”
Read more powerful stories like this:
‘I asked him to drive me to the ER. ‘I’m scared of my thoughts.’ He said, ‘Drive yourself if it’s that bad.’ I knew it was over.’: Woman leaves abusive relationship, discovers self love, ‘You’re worth fighting for’
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