Inch by Inch

I woke up this morning humming part of  The Garden Song by David Mallett – the closing song at Betsy’s memorial service.  The song describes how by taking small steps, mulching, weeding, etc., we can make our gardens fertile ground.

Betsy, my mother-in-law, was deeply connected to nature.  An avid gardener and bird-watcher, she tended to the small details of life, in and out of the garden.  While I only knew her for 3 years, I saw how she applied this verse to every facet of her life, including her garden.  I’m hoping the emergence of this song from my subconscious signals a turning point for my life; allowing me to tend more fully to the small details that create my body’s fertile ground.

You see, I’ve been struggling with chocolate this last month.  I’ve been fabulously successful staying away from wheat and sugar throughout the holiday season, but I have stubbornly persisted in eating chocolate despite the headaches and hangover feelings I experience.

Saturday was Betsy’s memorial service. It was lovely: tender, funny and moving.  The church (and following reception) was packed with people who had been touched by her kindness, care and competitiveness (she was a wicked tennis player).  I did well for the first half (or more) of the reception, but when overwhelm and fatigue set in, I started reaching for chocolate – homemade Buckeye’s to be exact.  I engaged with the same pattern later that evening when the family hosted out-of-town guests for dinner (this time with fine chocolates).

It was no surprise to me I woke up irritable on Sunday morning and developed a headache by mid-morning.  I spent much of the day nursing my sugar/chocolate hangover: napping, drinking lots of water, eating lots of vegetables, and staying clear of people while the poison left my body.  This is a pattern I’ve played out way too many days of my life; robbing myself of more satisfying interactions with myself and others in exchange for immediate “comfort”.

authenticity, transitions, life coaching, emilah, wholehearted living, self worth, worthy, being enough,

Late in the evening, Jake and I watched Brené Brown’s DVD The Hustle for Worthiness.  Watching it, I was reminded, yet again, that authenticity is a daily practice and that no matter what my practice looks like on any given day, I am worthy of love and belonging.

I can make choices on Sunday that serve my body and spirit better than the choices I made on Saturday.  Inch by inch, day by day, I can practice being present to my experiences, breathing, and making choices.  I can forgive myself and move on.  These small steps actually express love and allow belonging.


For someone who has struggled with feeling worthy for years (me! you?), this can seem like hard work, requiring attention and discipline.  Yet, it’s the way my life becomes fertile ground for what Brené Brown calls wholehearted living.

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone; I am enough.

It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

Betsy was an example of someone who experienced herself as worthy. (Although, I doubt she would have ever considered using the word to describe herself.)  She tended lovingly and consistently to herself, her family, their home and the gardens and communities of which she was a part.  She practiced authenticity and wholehearted living daily – without being interested in labeling how she was living.   She simply lived.

So as I step back into a sugar and chocolate-free life, I draw courage, compassion and inspiration from these two womenBrené & Betsy.  I’m sure they never even knew of each other, but I see how Brené’s research beautifully describes how Betsy lived and how Betsy’s life was a shining example of Brene’s research.  Simply put, I’m grateful to walk this path, inch by inch, with them.


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  1. Emilah,
    As always, I am inspired and deeply touched by your sharing. Thank you!