What kind of plant are you?

You know how when you go to the garden store to pick out plants, you have to make sure you get the right plant for the right environment? Not too much sun, not too much shade. Sometimes I fall in love with a plant that is labeled “full shade.” I just can’t have it because it simply will not thrive on my “full sun” front porch. I’ve run this experiment and it leads to sad, scorched flowers.

What are your ideal conditions to thrive?

What are your ideal conditions to thrive?
Original art for kerrystutzman.com by DallE

So it goes with us as well as our children

I think it would honor all of us to pause and ask, “What kind of plant are you? How about your kids? Full-sun? Part-sun? Full-shade?” And then, based on the answer, look for ways to make modifications in our lives. We do this with plants… scootch the flower pot forward to get it out of the sun, water some plants more than others, provide stakes or cages as needed. We modify the environment to help various types of plants have what they need to thrive. And yet, I’m not certain we are always so good to ourselves.

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – Julie Parker

Thanks to inspiration from Marie Foleo and her class, “Time Genius,” I recently asked myself this question: “In what conditions do I thrive?” I made some shifts, like getting clearer when work starts and stops (tricky when working from home). I got more realistic with my calendar and to-do list, blocking out large chunks of time for uninterrupted writing. I modified my workspace so it was cleaner and more organized. Now I’m working on moving up my bedtime so I can get up earlier and enjoy a slower pace before starting work.

What are their ideal conditions to thrive?

What is your children’s best environment? How about your partner?

A few aspects to consider are:

  • How much time with people?
  • What sort of schedule?
  • Home environment?
  • Activity level?
  • What do you love to do? (Is there enough of that behavior?)
  • What do you detest doing? (Is there a way to off-load some of that?)
  • Habits?
  • Relationships?

In my work with parents, I often hear about bumpy situations when a child is over-scheduled and stressed. Or has too much activity. Or too little. I like to ask how the parents can create more chunks of time for their child to be in their ideal environment.

We have to be real about what we can and cannot change, especially when members of our family thrive in different conditions. But wouldn’t it feel respectful for us to recognize if we have a full-shade child growing up in a full-sun environment? I think we would have more compassion for their struggles. And perhaps we would be more thoughtful about creating more ideal conditions. Maybe we would even be braver about advocating for the right conditions.

How about you? Have you inadvertently created a life, schedule, household, and/or job that has too much sun? Or too much shade?

Living in your ideal conditions may involve simplifying.
Simplicity is not about deprivation. Simplicity is about a greater appreciation for the things that really matter.
Living in your ideal conditions may involve saying no.

Are you invested in creating the healthiest environment for yourself? Even if you can’t do an overhaul of your life, what are adjustments you can make to help you thrive?


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Kerry Stutzman MSW, LMFT

My passion is helping my clients develop close, connected families and healthy relationships. For the past 20 years I have been helping people discover the best version of themselves.  Learn more

Brett King LPCC NCC, MFT

My specialty is couples therapy with parents. I also have expertise in parenting, betrayal recovery, and addiction.  Learn more

Debbie Bassett MA, LPCC, MFTC

My focus includes trauma, attachment, anxiety, depression, and relational work; including a focus on children and teens, parents, and couples.  Learn more

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Amy Cobb MS Family/Human Development

I specialize in working with parents and caregivers with children from cradle to college, with special focus from birth – 10 years old. Learn more

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