• Joanne Peters

Planting Seeds of Purpose

Gardening for Senior Living

Awe, yes, Retirement! Retirement is a significant milestone, an achievement in one's life. A reason to celebrate the many years of commitments, routines, dedication, and the years of marching towards that final day, you can say: "I am Retired"!

Retiring during the COVID-19 Pandemic is cause for pause. The trips, the cruise, the family reunions, the retirement party, all canceled. Never has there been a better opportunity to stop and reflect on our future priorities. And I say, FUTURE because "today is the beginning of the rest of your life." Let us ring the bells, bang the drum, celebrate this new life I like to call Growing Older, Bolder and Wiser!

However, not everyone's journey to retiring included weekends off, scheduled paid vacations, planned trips to far off lands, or even hefty retirement funds. Because of that, not everyone's retirement days will be the same; yet they can be quite similar. Retirement is the opportunity to begin a new life, a new routine, a time to engage in activities you have always dreamed about doing. Awe, yes, a New Purpose!

If you like being outdoors, why not consider gardening? Planting a New Seed today is an opportunity to believe in tomorrow. A bit of nervousness may start to wane and confidence is slow to grow if you have never given mother nature a try. Be fearless, forge on with a new resolve, let mother nature take you away, watch her do the magic.

Upon germination, the cotyledon usually becomes the embryonic first leaves of a seedling life as it begins to sprout in one of the bays of an egg carton. Within your spirit, a sigh of relief bubbles within as you see baby sprouts! A happy heart begins to grow inside, and a new mental attitude begins to appear. A sure sign to head to the shed and organize your tools, watering can, hat, and gloves. Check your hoses, soils, and plant food stock, all mandatory for a successful summer garden. You now can call these sweet little ones your "Leaf Babies." You have now found a new purpose in retirement, something to take care of, a new skill to master. The future brings beautiful flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables, and visits from the bird's bees and butterflies. Shouts from within, cry out; I AM A GARDENER!

With sheltering in place recommended for older adults this summer, we would be wise to find activities to keep us satisfied and busy. Gardening gives you a chance to focus on something daily; it puts your mind to work, planning, and making a goal for each season. There is nothing better for your mental outlook to concentrate on things that grow and thrive. ("something to take care of!")

There are many health benefits to gardening. Here are 5 excellent reasons why older adults would want to add this to the daily activity list.

First, let Mother Nature heal your soul as she provides the needed Vitamin D that comes from sunshine. Vitamin D also increases our calcium levels, which benefits our bones and immune system. Of course, wear your sunscreen and a hat while you are outdoors.

Secondly, gardening provides "Mood-Boosting" benefits by providing an opportunity for a peaceful activity in your backyard. An excellent place to practice meditation. If you are in a bit of a livelier mood, then get your groove on; hook up your hearing aids to your smartphone, listen to your favorite music and dance around the garden, listen to your favorite Podcast. While time usually flies by in the garden, you may not even realize you have broken a sweat!

Thirdly, the experts at AARP say that gardening is an aerobic exercise. The simple movements in the garden can build muscle, stamina, and helps your cardiovascular system. Working in the early morning hours is most pleasurable or after the sun has left the garden area in the late afternoon and early evening. In some guru gardening groups, they recommend putting your new plants in the ground when the moon is full.

Fourth, gardening provides your body with an opportunity to stretch. While pulling weeds, reaching for various plants and tools, twisting, and bending, and even watering, your body will find muscles you did not realize you had! Yes, you will be sore, easy does it in the beginning. Limit your time and build up to more extended periods out in the garden.

Fifth, gardening is not just about curb appeal. It is the caring of the plants that give you purpose. It is the color of the big beautiful bouquets, the humming of the birds, and watching the bees eat the nectar that pollinates your flowers, free for the asking, food for your soul.

From tiny little seeds, a bit of potting soil to the hoe and rakes, these tools lead you to an all-time summer fun activity. Caring for your "Leaf Babies" is an excellent activity for retirees. The physical side of gardening can contribute to a healthy weight and blood pressure levels, and just surrounding yourself within flora and fauna can improve your mood and mental health.

And finally, a word to the wise as you consider planting a garden this time of year. My dad would make me chuckle when I would ask him how many zucchinis we should plant? His stock response every year was 7, of course, 4 for us and 3 for the gophers!

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” - Warren Buffet

Until next time…Joanne Peters

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