Whenever I need inspiration, I walk out into my garden.

This time of year (Autumn) most plants and trees seem to slow down and ready themselves for a deep winter sleep. Except my all time favorite… the succulents.  In their subtle way they seem to show up when the cooler months arrive, with blushing cheeks and rare flowers. .

The rosette-shaped, Desert Rose

Anyone who observes them will agree – they are carriers of hidden potential.  According to the dictionary, potential can be defined as latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness. Succulents can grow and multiply with almost no resources. They have the ability to survive in harsh conditions with little water, poor soil conditions and very high temperatures.  I am a keen collector of these hardy beauties and collect them wherever we travel. They are great teachers and I would like to share some of their survival skills.

  1. Finding water. In desert ecosystems these plants are most prolific near riverbeds. Even if it is dry, these are the most likely places for water to accumulate in  case of rain. When the water comes, the plants will be there to receive it. When it does rain, succulents absorb a lot of water quickly.
  2. Keeping water. Most succulents have extensive, but shallow root systems. These clever plants have evolved a number of strategies for holding onto this water. They tend to have a thick waxy coating, which helps to seal in moisture.  Because water is a scarce commodity in the desert, succulents have to protect themselves against thirsty animals.  They protect their water supply by being prickly, like many cacti, or by being toxic, by growing in inaccessible locations, or by camouflage.

We have a lot to learn from these survivors.

They simply NEVER GIVE UP on the possibility to LIVE, SURVIVE, THRIVE AND MULTIPLY.

They remind us also to position ourselves in ways that will enable us to receive whenever new opportunities cross our paths. The ability to take in new information, absorb it and store it, is one of the amazing abilities of the human race. Just like succulents we need certain things to grow.

According to the philosopher George Gurdjieff (1866-1949) human beings need “three foods” to keep moving, going, developing or at least to have the possibility of development. Gurdjieff was also one of the pioneers of the Enneagram, a study of human behaviour.

THE FIRST FOOD is physical food and water. We can’t develop if we are starving to death or don’t have water to drink.

THE SECOND FOOD is very interesting – air. Obviously we are all breathing right now, but when we breathe more deeply and fully, we start to breathe consciously. This kind of conscious breathing develops something that is not just automatically part of the self. It starts to bring presence, what Gurdjieff called self-remembering. Through the body and breath we are more here right now. When we are actually present, we get fed by what’s here in the moment.

THE THIRD FOOD is only accessible from a state of being present in the moment. From here we can take in impressions. If we are present we take in life. In the evening we see the stars, we really look at the face of a friend or loved one and see the miracle of life and beauty in their eyes. The more we are here the more we get fed by life, even by our difficulties. We will realize that we have been starving for impressions and that it’s a big reason why we feel so isolated and cut off.

I believe that after all these years, Gurdjieff’s observation is still relevant and just like the succulents we need to spread our roots wide in each moment. There is enough nourishment in the “now” to fill us with positivity and meaning, if we are aware and ready to receive it. We have the ability to absorb pictures and impressions and allow them to fill us with a sense of wonder. We are part of creation and once we notice that we are all connected to the flow and mystery around us, we realize that we were never separate, isolated or cut off.

Experiencing that we are part of something far greater than what the mind can comprehend, results in the desire to play our part, show up and impact the world in a way designed specifically for each one of us.  A full appreciation of this will result in a sense of urgency.

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”   -Charles Darwin

Succulents fight one heck of a battle to keep the nourishing water they absorb. Humans also struggle to contain and protect nourishment.

Dr. Rick Hanson states the following on the negativity bias of the brain: “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones”.  So the brain registers negative experiences immediately in emotional memory, whereas positive experiences – unless they are very novel or intense – have standard issue memory systems, requiring something positive to be held in awareness for many seconds in a row in order to transfer to long-term memory.  if not, these positive moments of enjoyment or encouraging feedback just flow through the brain like water through a sieve.

Growth from within

THE SECRET: Tap into internal resources and multiply.

I am mesmerized by the fact that I can dissect any desert rose, strip it from all external support (water, soil and sunlight) and leave it anywhere inside the house,  just to witness how it simply taps into internal resources, bringing forth new forms of life. Magic. A kind of magic that I recognize because of a deeper awareness that I share this ability. We can only recognize that which we have personal experience of. On reflecting back, I realize that I had seasons when  I felt dissected by life, circumstances, people or even myself. In the midst of these perceived tragic events I felt stripped of all external support. As stated, this form of isolation was sometimes caused by others, but often by myself. The important question is not determining who and why. The answer to this is irrelevant and a waste of energy. The question is whether I chose to shrivel up and give in to powerlessness or whether I tapped into my internal resources, (the greatest one realizing that I am supported by Life) that was absorbed by my widely spread out root system.  Did I store and protect what I was meant to find or did I allow thirsty animals to take that which was destined to sustain the new life born out of me?

Every time change knocks on the door  (and you can take my word for it, it often will), we have a natural ability to survive, thrive and give to a much greater degree than possibly imagined. 

May you take time today to visualize these God-given abilities in yourself.

Position yourself in spaces where nourishment will flow.

Open your root system to reach far and choose to absorb whatever the Source of all life provides.

Store and protect what is given, from those who want to alter, grab and steal from you.

Tap into your life and the Support provided within and live from all your resources.

Pass it on and empower new forms of life.






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