Some time ago, I suffered from a major case of burnout, due to work related stress. This sadly and inevitably led me into a deep state of depression. After trying to be brave, hold my head high and to keep my proverbial shit together for many months, I spiraled into a dark place, withdrawing from my world, unable to face my reality. Shutting out my colleagues, friends and even close family, it was my mind’s way of coping. My physician suggested I take sick time, of which I had plenty saved. Over the years, I never thought I had time to be sick and like many of you, rarely took a vacation day, never mind a proper vacation….it just wasn’t me. I was so immersed in my work-life, that I didn’t take the time to listen to my mind or body, and to take time out when I needed it. So, there I was, I basically had to take sick time to try to heal myself and get back to my normal, resourceful, happy, healthy self.
Now, in my office at work, I had a beautiful orchid plant, that my colleague (& best friend 😊 ), had given me as a gift. We had a running joke that I was kind of hopeless with plants and didn't look after them very well - either forgetting to water them or over-watering them, which wasn’t exactly conducive to a healthy plant. But despite my poor attempts to look after my little orchid plant, it thrived and produced beautiful, delicate white blossoms.
I began to think that it possibly thrived due to the positivity that I liked to promote within my work-space and when working alongside my colleagues. People would often meet with me to discuss their challenges and issues, and as a senior director and leader, it was my job to guide, support and inspire (the absolute favorite part of my role!). Being the leader of around four hundred people at that time, I spent a considerable amount of time working through issues with people, in order to achieve positive outcomes. It was noticed by some around me, that people would often come into my office looking unhappy, angry or frustrated, but after spending time there with me, they would leave calmer and more positive… I think my little orchid plant soaked up the positivity and that's why it thrived.
Now you're probably wondering where this is leading to, but please bear with me...
When I was out on sick leave, my little orchid plant was left in my office on its own, with no water, laughter, positivity or attention of any kind for three months, and just as I was about to return to my beloved job (having stabilized my depression), I was told to work from home for a few weeks…. during which time I was laid off!
After eight years of dedication to my beloved job, “Exceptional” on every single annual performance evaluation, working more hours in a day than I ever cared to admit, weekends and holidays, when I had finally burned out and needed time to heal – I felt cast aside...
and my little orchid plant had been left alone in my empty office to wither and die. A few days after the news of my lay off, I was given a date and time (one hour!) to pack up my office of eight years (which is a story for another day). As I packed, I picked up my once beautiful orchid plant - it looked so sad and awful. No attention for four months, had left it with two pale, limp leaves, and a dried-up stalk where there once was stunningly beautiful blossom and a few withered flowers on the surface next to it. It kind of summed up the way my heart felt at that point.
So, I brought my poor little plant home thinking there may be no way to revive it….
Not one to give up easily on things, I cleaned up the soil around the little dry stalk and faded leaves and put it in the window in our kitchen (which is the hub and heart of our home - where we hang out and gather with friends and family around the huge kitchen table). I began watering my little plant, making sure it had plenty light and heat, after several weeks with no signs of any life, a tiny bright green shoot appeared amidst the paler surviving leaves. As it unfolded it turned out to be a beautiful bright green leaf – stronger, healthier and more vibrant looking, than any other leaves that came before it.
My little plant recovered over the weeks, adding a couple more strong, healthy leaves and began looking much healthier. I was so happy and relieved that my little plant had survived and was once again thriving. I thought of how it had adapted, and that, although it may not produce flowers anymore, to me it didn't matter - it was healthy and strong in its new form…and I loved it!
Many months later, I noticed a green shoot that looked a little different from the other new leaf shoots I had seen. I thought it would be too much to hope for, that it could have regenerated into a plant that would actually have blossoms on it again. But every day the shoot grew a little and began forming into a stalk that had some teeny tiny buds on it. I was absolutely amazed!!!
In the following weeks, my little plant blossomed with many delicate white flowers and looked stronger, healthier and even more beautiful than ever before.
My little orchid’s journey from strong healthy plant to dried up, dormant shadow of its former beauty, looking like it had no life left in it - through revealing its hidden strength and adaptability leading to an incredible recovery, inspired me. That with a little time, love, care and hope, it had not only survived….my little plant was thriving in its new environment (I left the dried out stalk as a reminder of how sick my little orchid plant had been and how it had been revived better and stronger than before.
I think as a world, we have the capacity and resourcefulness to adapt, recover and thrive.
And maybe, just maybe…as we move forward, we will also be a little more aware of the impact that we have on the people and the natural world that surrounds us and take a little more care of them.
I used to believe in the saying “all good things come to an end”
but maybe not…. maybe they can learn to adapt and evolve – To be stronger, healthier, more beautiful than before.
As an update these are the latest pics of Hope – my little survivor orchid. You may notice the previous dried up stalk is now surrounded (and supported ❤ ) by the new stronger blossoms.
As for me…. like my little orchid (that I named Hope), I’m stronger, healthier, and much happier than I ever was before. In fact along with my coaching business that continues to grow and which I absolutely love doing, I’ve embarked on a new adventure that is in a completely new direction for me….more to come in my next blog, that I promise will be posted in the coming days, revealing “The New Adventure”😉
Please stay safe, healthy, and happy!
Yes, during the Covid 19 lock-down, my hair got longer than usual, and I normally have it tied up….and, I generally have my puppy (not so much a puppy anymore at ~100lbs!) Bodie, by my side.