In working hard the past few days on revisions for the second edition of my book The Skinny, Sexy Mind, and in anticipation for my trip to France in two days, I have decided today to share one of my favorite excerpts from the book. I hope that you enjoy reading about how the gardens of Paris inspired me, and will hopefully inspire you as well, to garden my own mind to think beautiful thoughts. Enjoy the read below!
Healthy thoughts produce a healthy body. Your mind must be cultivated like a garden. Create a garden of healthy thoughts in your mind and learn to nurture and tend them through to full maturity and fruition. As in a garden, you never just grow one thing, and you never have a garden for just one season. Gardening of the mind is a perpetual act, with different types of care demanded with each changing season. A garden is sown, watered, wedded, nourished, protected, and pruned. It is watched with patience and with a discerning eye for intruders. It is protected and tended to with the care that a mother lends to her child. Patience in gardening is essential, but so is a vision of hope in what is to come.
Gardening is about making something come out of nothing into full life and vibrancy. Maybe that is why I am so moved by urban gardens. Our minds are like cities in that they need to be sprinkled with gardens to enable life to truly thrive. We need the gardens as escapes from the city life we are confined to in our minds. Bursting with life and greens, they are places where our hearts and souls find revival. They are places where nature can speak to us and give us life.
Planting a garden is only half the battle. Successful gardening requires meticulous maintenance. So too, in gardening the mind, planting positive thoughts is only half the battle — positivity must be maintained and cultivated on a daily basis. When the buds of the flowers start to peep through, all the attention you have mindfully paid your garden will be worth double its time. You will have ownership of your garden and pride for how you controlled its development. You will be able to share your harvest to empower and bless others.
I never liked gardens before I went to France. After my first stroll through the Parisian Jardins de Luxembourg I knew that what I was experiencing in that moment was unlocking my soul in a way I never knew possible. I can still recall entering the garden gates unknowingly on my second day in Paris, giggling with my best friend Melissa who was exploring with me, and suddenly becoming speechless as we walked. Luxembourg was like a hidden oasis brimming with green life inside the grey stone city walls of the narrow Parisian streets. The August breeze kept up cool in the heat of the sun as we walked through a world unbeknownst to us. Watercolor artists painted in the shade of the lily-covered ponds, young children pushed wooden sailboats around the central fountain and joggers trotted aimlessly along the dirt pathway that intersected throughout the entirety of the garden. I felt peace and I felt alive. It was that day, while sitting in the grass surrounded by lovers and picnickers, that — as film director Alexander Payne said in the short the 14ème Arrondissemont in the film Paris Je t’Aime — “I fell in love with Paris and Paris fell in love with me.”
During my time in Paris, and on every subsequent trip there since, the Jardins de Luxembourg are the soul of my stay. Even if I am only able to spend five minutes there, it is all I need to remind my soul of how it feels to come alive. Les Jardins de Luxembourg, les Touleries, Vaux-le-Vicompte, and of purse, Versailles enabled me to experience indescribable transcendence through manicured nature. These French gardens speak like art to my being and soul, and like art, they are fragile and demand maintenance.
Gardening creates a unique sense of accomplishment for its creator; it is a sense that encompasses both immediacy and patience. It brings life. Interestingly enough, gardening is a constant. It is never finished; every season brings new growth and new weeds.
The mind is no different; we must be in a continual state of self-awareness and self-evaluation to properly cultivate the full potential of the gardens of our mind and soul.
Paris, je t’aime, et j’arrive!