Sunday, September 18, 2011

I am a garden, not a landfill.

A few years ago, I found myself getting slowly pulled into a world filled with what I like to call “Junk food Journalism”. I was continually turning to media sources that were laced, if not fully entrenched, in sensationalism. Readers were attracted through shocking and catchy titles, and then led on a journey through bias, gossip, and creative license. I categorized it as entertainment. I thought, “What possible harm will this cause? I simply enjoy the frivolous and vacuous stories”. It felt like a temporary escape.

However, over time I noticed that I was spending less of my free time on things substantive, and was more frequently turning to these “news” sources. Strangely, I also slowly began to feel a disconnect to things I once found important in my life. I even felt a little empty inside.

One day as I was walking my dog through our neighborhood, I noticed several beautiful spring gardens that were beginning to fully blossom. The thought just popped into my head that, “I am a garden, not a landfill”. It became very powerful to me that I had a choice to either dump loads of shallow and empty thoughts into my head, or I could carefully select and plant thoughts and information that would grow and blossom into something beautiful and meaningful. The latter thought was instantly more appealing.

Since this transformative moment I have found great pleasure in planting this garden in my mind. Over time it has expanded from thoughts and information into choices and actions. When given an option of a news source, or a leisure activity, or even a plate of food I now quietly say to myself, “I am a garden, not a landfill”. More often than not I find myself planting something that will have the opportunity to grow into greater joy, peace, and wellness.

Erin Stitzel is an interning therapist at The Awakening Center. She is a Masters student at Northeastern Illinois University and will graduate and gain licensure in August of 2012. She specializes in eating disorders, depression, anxiety, trauma, and grief. She runs the Saturday Eating Disorder Recovery Drop In Support Group at TAC on Saturday mornings from 10-11:30am. For more information please call 773.929.6262 (ext.12).


  1. great reminder to be mindful of what influences our focus and perspective through how we spend our time.

  2. Lovely! Thanks so much for this article!