Turning Your "Crap" Into Fertilizer
All of us experience difficult, even horrible, events in our lives. Howcan find meaning or purpose in an event, and allow it to become a source of strength?
The road from Kitchener to Elora, Ontario is a beautiful country drive through rolling farmland. Large fields of wheat or corn are accented with fences, trees, and pre-Victorian stone houses. In a single word, it is picturesque. At certain times of the year, however, that beautiful drive is accompanied by the pungent smell of fresh fertilizer. In other words, farmers have spread manure on their crops to help them grow. While it might look rather beautiful, it also stinks.
During one of those drives, I was going through a particularly difficult phase in my life. When I am struggling with challenges, I listen to the inspirational work of certain speakers and authors. On that specific day, I was listening to an audio by Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith.
Those of you who know me, know that I deeply respect Rev. Michael’s work and quote him on a variety of issues. On this particular CD, he was talking about how the “manure” (i.e. the crap) from our pasts can become the fertilizer that nurtures our futures. The simultaneous fragrance of the fresh manure on the fields around me seemed to add power to his words. As I endured the smell and listened to Michael, I started repeating the mantra “something fabulous is growing under the ‘crap’ I am going through. This experience is fertilizing a great future.”
This led me to think about how the other “crap” from my past had fertilized my life now. I started thinking about how I could turn more of those experiences into even better fertilizer. After all, if I had to endure the experience of manure in my past, something fabulous might as well grow from it! I, too, could be like these farmers’ fields, growing wonderful produce from the manure of life, so to speak. I took a deeper, or smellier, look at where I was still holding onto negativity and past painful experiences—where there were still piles of manure in my consciousness. I started exploring how I could transform those past experiences into something positive in my life.
Each one of us has experienced manure of some kind in our lives. There have been disappointments, hurts, losses, illnesses, setbacks, and failures of every type. Some of these have been so large they took months, or even years, to recover from. Others, while spanning short periods of time, had life-altering impacts. All of these experiences can be used to create strength, understanding, personal power, and joy. Sometimes figuring out how to transform them can be challenging, but it is possible. Research on recovery and resilience has shown that when we can make or find meaning and purpose from a negative experience, we heal better.
I’d like to share a personal story with you. Several years ago, my fingers brushed a large lump on the side of my face, just in front of my ear. At first I ignored it; however, it was growing at a disturbing rate. I eventually went to a local clinic that scheduled an ultrasound for the lump. The results stated the lump had “internal vascularity.” This is the centre present in most cancerous tumors. The first diagnosis was that I had cancer in the side of my face. “Crap!”
This diagnosis spun me into a process of deep self-exploration of exactly where my life was, and was not, on track. I’m proud to tell you that my assessment at the time was about 80% on track. When I took this scenario out to the worst possible conclusion—dying—I realized I had completed enough of what I wanted to do in my life so much so that I could have actually died with inner peace. In fact, I was actually more comfortable with the idea of dying than most of my friends and family members were.
That being said, it was an uncomfortable two weeks while I waited for the biopsy results. It is with great relief that I tell you that the biopsy was negative. However, because the lump was still growing, I opted for surgery to have it removed. Tests on the lump after removal confirmed it was negative.
Now, it would have been easy for me to stop here. But, I didn’t. I took this scare literally as a warning signal. I looked in the mirror and into my own eyes and said, “Girlfriend, what are you going to do about the 20% of your life that is not on track? Are you going to wait until something like this happens again, or are you going to do something about it now?”
Needless to say, I decided on NOW. Because of this scare, I exploded more passionately into life. I took a look at where I was fully being myself and where I was hiding my truth. I explored my values and goals and how much I was actually living them and making them happen. I began to ask myself what I REALLY wanted! It was easy to do since I had just explored my death and had taken a good long look at what would have been left undone if the tumor had been cancerous. All those “undone” desires and longings became physical goals I set and began working towards.
I had an opportunity to work with Michael Beckwith’s organization—I took it. I sold my condo and went down to California for six months to work with Agape at my own expense. It was one of the best experiences of my life!
My changes didn’t stop there. It was during my time in California that I began my career transition to a full-time coach, and the first nudging towards hypnotherapy began taking hold. I began to hear the early whisperings of what would eventually become a loud call to move back to Ontario to be near my family. I moved to Kitchener and opened my hypnotherapy and coaching practice. Now, because of law changes in Ontario (arguably more manure), I have returned to school to increase my credentials. Eight years later, great things are still being fertilized from that manure of finding that tumor in my face.
As a result of the surgery, I now have a beautiful six inch scar that runs down the side of my face and across my neck. I LOVE my scar. Every day when I look in the mirror, I am reminded of how precious life is. I am reminded to NEVER leave anything to a more convenient time. I am reminded of how quickly everything we think we know can change, and how our best laid “plans” are often puffs of smoke in the greater force of Life. (By the way, one of the running jokes at Agape is, “Do you know how to make God laugh? Show him your plan.”)
I use this scar to remind myself of how important it is to live fully, passionately, and completely engaged in life every minute of every day because there may not be a tomorrow. Life is for living, right here, right now! The next time you see me, ask me, and I’ll show you the scar (just know that I’m likely to say something about the magnificence of life when I do!).
Truthfully, it is not difficult to turn manure into fertilizer. Many of us, if we are honest about it, can see how something good came from what appeared to be a horrible experience at the time. However, it can take time for the good to grow or appear. There are things in my life that took ten years for me to start to see the good that came from them. Let’s face it. When the manure is on the field—it stinks! Regardless of what grows from it later, we still have to endure the smell at the time. If you can find a way to channel that negative experience into something beautiful, it can help you find meaning and come to terms with the experience.
To turn your “manure” into fertilizer you can start by asking yourself the following questions. They may help you find beauty that can grow from it.
- What good came from this? What do I know or understand because of this experience?
- What do I know or understand because of this experience? How can I use this experience to have a better life or stay focused on what is important?
- How can I use this experience to have a better life or stay focused on what is important? Five (or ten) years from now, how will this situation be exactly what I needed to propel me in the correct direction or learn the skill/heal the wound I needed to learn/heal?
- Five (or ten) years from now, how will this situation be exactly what I needed to propel me in the correct direction or learn the skill/heal the wound I needed to learn/heal?
- What greater truth or higher learning is present in this situation? How can this story be used to empower and inspire someone else on his/her journey?
- How can this story be used to empower and inspire someone else on his/her journey?
- How can I grow something beautiful from this fertilizer?
Ultimately, plants that have been fertilized become food that nourishes us. How can you nourish yourself on the challenges from the past and use them to have a glorious, lush, healthy, and beautiful life? If you need help with that, book a session. One of my favourite aspects of coaching and hypnosis is helping people connect with everything that grew from that fertilizer, and how it can be used to get them to where they are today.
Remember, there is usually a direct link between the amount of fertilizer you have to shovel and the strength and quality of the plant that will grow from it later! It is easier to deal with the stench of the manure if you can stay focused on the plant that is growing from it! By the way, the fruit and vegetables that grow from those farms I pass on the way to Elora, are the best I’ve ever tasted!