On the cusp of turning 40, and knee deep in attempting to start seeds for the first time ever, I had a dream that has turned into my mantra, an anthem of sorts, for this decade. 

In the dream, I am seated at a picnic table with a group of people that I don’t know in real life. We are discussing my garden. 

A middle aged man asks me, “Are you going to grow corn? You have to grow corn. What would be the point of even having a garden if you’re not going to grow corn?!”

“Listen,” I said, with just enough force in my voice to let him know I meant business. “This garden is not a democracy. You are entitled to your opinions about what I should grow, but in the end, I decide.” 

I woke up both laughing and wanting to hold onto the energy that I had embodied so effortlessly in that dream. 

The line, “This garden is not a democracy” kept rolling around in my head; I even made this piece of art for my altar so I wouldn’t forget this key message.

The way I see it, this garden I am planting in my dream is a metaphor for my life. 

Then the question becomes, who am I allowing to have a say in what I plant? Who, in the external world, has earned that right? And what voices, within me, do I wish to heed?

All too often, especially as women, we treat our lives as if they were democracies, where we are stuck making decisions by committee.

Of course, there are folks in our lives who are a part of our committee. Life partners, family members, etc. whose council we purposely seek out or who are naturally part of our big life decisions.

I am not speaking about them. 

I am speaking about everyone else. 

The people on the fringes of your life. The outer circle. Your old co-worker. That acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in years. All the randos on the internet. 

There are so many people who do not deserve to have a say in what you are planting in the garden of your life. 

Yet, how often do we still concern ourselves with them? With what they might think of us and our choices? Whether they are judging us in reality or only in our minds, we allow them to turn our lives into dysfunctional democracies, where we are more worried as to how our decisions will look to the masses than how they feel in our own bodies. 

Enough of that. 

My friends, this garden of mine is not a not democracy. And neither is yours. Or at least it doesn’t have to be. 

People will have their opinion on what you plant. Let them. 

Then go right back to tending the seedlings in your life that bring you joy, nourishment, and meaning.