Being in nature has a way of dissolving our worries – or at least providing us with a temporary reprieve from them. There is something about the beauty and peacefulness of the outdoors that lightens the stress load of pandemic living. Like many people, I’m filling my COVID-19 windfall of downtime with all things gardening. My garden practice is not only helping to ease stress, it’s helping me remember why life is a gift meant to be enjoyed – even during these uncertain times. 

I come from a long line of gardeners. Growing up, my grandma and mom taught me the ins and outs of cultivating a vegetable garden. As a child, I grew my own side-garden along with them, marveling as my seeds transformed into beautiful plants I could actually eat.

Planting a vegetable garden each spring is a tradition I’ve continued into adulthood. I’m still excited — and surprised — when my tomato plants start producing, or when my bean plants explode with a daily offering of deliciousness.

But even though gardening has been a part of my life and lineage for some time, I’ve never approached it quite the way I have this year. Most years, I plant my seeds and starters in the spring. I set up drip lines to ensure they get enough water. When I remember and have time — usually as an afterthought — I weed and harvest.

Summertime is full speed for my family. The days and weeks are filled with travel and kids’ competitive sports. But not this year. The restrictions imposed by a global pandemic have transformed the way we all approach daily living.

Before the pandemic, my constant comings and goings made it challenging to savor my summer moments. An unexpected effect of being mostly at home is the time and space to slow down and cherish the ride.

Instead of planting a vegetable garden out of habit and sort of forgetting about it, I’m actually nurturing my tender shoots on a daily basis. In other words, I’ve been enjoying the process and art of gardening.

This year’s garden is not only providing my family with nutrient-rich food; it’s also teaching me. It’s a daily reminder of the magic of life. Right now, that reminder feels especially important.

These are some of the lessons the art of gardening is teaching me about the magic of living.


Each of us is a gardener of our own life. While the seeds we plant don’t always grow into what we’d hoped, it’s important to not give up on nurturing them. After all, we don’t want the weeds to take over.

Instead we can brush ourselves off, regroup and replant what we do want to grow in our lives.

Knowing what we want is powerful. Spend time visualizing your dream garden — your dream life. Then put that in motion, one seed, plant and action at a time.

Hold space for your garden to transform. Offer patience and stand in awe of what comes up each step of the way. Approach your life as you would tend to your ideal garden — with regular nurturing, patience, attention and excitement.


In order to keep your garden vibrant and healthy, you have to remove the weeds that sap the energy and life force from your growing plants.

Life is like that too. It may be uncomfortable to stand up and speak your truth to those who overstep. But maintaining healthy boundaries and weeding out your energy-drains will make for a happy, vibrant life.


I love everything to do with planting my garden, but in the past, I didn’t put as much passion into the act of harvesting my crops. This same pattern has been true in my life.

I’m quick to give and help others, and I’m really good at being productive. But I have a habit of being an over-giver and an over-doer. Harvesting my garden regularly has helped me see that receiving with an open heart is just as important as giving.

Harvesting regularly has helped me enjoy the fruits of my labor both in the garden and in my daily life. That might mean asking my family to pitch in and help more with daily tasks. Or it might mean celebrating small business wins as they come up instead of focusing on what still hasn’t come to life.

I’m learning that harvesting is about actually appreciating – and accepting – the fruits of one’s labor. It feels good to reward yourself periodically instead of constantly pushing with a nose to the grindstone.


There is a delicate ecosystem in a thriving garden. A happy garden needs nutrient-rich soil and just the right amount of water and sunshine. Then there are pollinators, among other important players and factors.

Recently, my broccolini plants started to go to seed and transform into bright yellow flowers. I was going to prune them back to make room for something else — until I noticed the buzzing of a host of happy, plump bumblebees. They were loving up these yellow flowers and doing their important work as pollinators.

I had an a-ha moment about the importance of living in harmony within our communities. Bees are key players in a thriving garden. I decided it would be in the best interest of my garden and the bee population to leave the flowering broccoli, and trim it back after the flowers had run their course.

The bees prompted me to be mindful of how my actions affect the communities around me.

The art of gardening has helped me understand we all play a necessary part in creating harmony within our communities.

And it’s easier than you think. Sometimes action is simply considering how your behavior affects others, or making minor adjustments for the greater good of humanity.

Happy gardening!

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  • Emily Madill is an author and certified professional coach, ACC with a BA in business and psychology. Emily is one of Thrive Global's Editors-at-large and a coach at BetterUp. She has published 11 titles in the area of self-development and empowerment, both for children and adults. You can find her writing in Chicken Soup for the Soul:Think Positive for Kids; Thrive Global; The Huffington Post; TUT. com; Best Self Magazine; MindBodyGreen; The Muse;; TinyBuddha; Aspire Magazine and others. Emily has a private coaching practice and an online program offering courses that support others to create lasting habits around self-love, well-being and all things related to time and weekly planning. She lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, with her husband, two sons and their sweet rescue dog Annie. Learn more at: