Garden Coaching (me) and Life Mentoring (not me)

I spent my morning in the most beautiful garden. Terraced and hosting gorgeous views, the quiet of this mountaintop garden was captivating. A high elevation, and an early hour (8 a.m.) allowed for a light sweater. To make the morning sweeter, my client was a charming lady, about 20 years older than I.

She is one of those rare women, that when you meet them, you find yourself squaring your shoulders a bit more, and holding your head higher. She epitomized grace and confidence, was kind enough to look past misplaced manners, and likely finds common ground with any individual.

We chatted as we surveyed the garden, discussing a new perennial bed here, cutting down a few trees there, pruning some shrubs in the corner, and wondering if a new design was in order for the front. Several times she mentioned a class she’d taken when she was in her 50s–my age now. When she did, I had to stop myself from grabbing her arm, and saying, “Please tell me about being 50.”

I wanted to her to tell me about the last two decades of her life. I had a billion questions for her.

Mostly, could you tell me that the next 20 years has more than just getting old in it? Is there joy or purpose over there?

She confided a few details of her life, enough for me to know it hadn’t been all ease. There was some deep pain tucked into the those two decades, and before. And though, I slowed my pace down considerably to meet her’s, and waited as she caught her breath going up steep hills, she was still there, creating her garden, wondering if the lavender should be replaced or we should replant with something else.

In case you missed it, I am in desperate need of a mentor. But few are found, and most are enjoying a retired life, and sadly, living in a retired community. They are separated from us! How I hate that. What wisdom this woman who has already traveled the next 20 years–my next 20 years–has for me.

I sometimes want to mentor the young mothers–not about parenting their children, they are doing an amazing job there–but in their marriages, I watch them, in my social and work settings, assuming their husbands are happy. (Is he? Or does he just dislike conflict?) They assume there is no limit to the demands they can put on their husbands, or that there is no demand he will not find a way to grant. Because men are so good at that–quietly going about getting the job done, while dying inside. I don’t want to criticize or judge them these young women, just instruct them. The fathers they currently raise children with, will be the husbands they grow old with. Why not be his best friend?

I so wish the woman who was ahead of me in her marriage, had stopped for a brief moment, and turned around to tell me that. What a difference it would have made. Maybe not a different outcome, but a different story. Perhaps one with more grace in it..

I so wish the woman ahead of me now, would turn around and tell me her story. What treasures could I gain?

I could use a mentor over a therapist any day The mentor has charted the path. She knows the stumbling blocks, the obstacles, the switchbacks. She knows that if you just keep going, there is life ahead, even when you think there isn’t.

I grabbed onto bits and pieces of my client’s life, as she kindly shared some stories. I did not interrupt her with my questions, but stayed with the garden talk because that was the day’s job. But oh, in a minute, I would have torn up that check, trading it for an hour of her wisdom instead of mine. Because, I have a sneaking suspicion, just an idea, that perhaps, she knows where joy lives.

2 thoughts on “Garden Coaching (me) and Life Mentoring (not me)

  1. This is beautiful Cinthia. I feel your longing and share it myself. I hope you have an opportunity to move beyond the garden with this woman. Little does she know she has the pearls we long for.

    • Amen, Wendy. I plan to make excuses to visit! And yet, so many that age (and our age) feel their ability to contribute is long gone–and so many young folks believe that too, at least that’s what I hear. 🙂

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