Reflections from the Iris Respite House Healing Gardens – May 2023

Morning glory flowers shine in the morning, bloom vibrantly through the day and then stagger toward their end in the evening. Life, death and rebirth, all in 24 hours, and all on the vine of a plant many people regard as a weed! The ebb and flow of life is our focus for May. At the moment, the Hope Grows healing gardens are most definitely in a state of genuine flow, and perennials, perfect examples of this, are leading the charge. Right now, bursting forth with blooms and leaves, they seem to grow several inches overnight, it’s flow time! By November, though, they will all be in ebb, the leaves and stalks drying up. Hence, the out and in breath of Mother Earth at Hope Grows.

In our often-greedy American culture, it’s easy to be blinded by images of a culture in constant flow. Buy more, eat more, earn more, go more, be more! I certainly am guilty of getting sucked in by that. Nature, and real life, however, are completely different. Ebb and flow in nature is unavoidable. It’s built into the system. Its why people preserve fruit and vegetables, and squirrels stash nuts. In our adult lives, especially during our working years, we try and guard against ebb as much as possible by making a living. Prudent souls, cognizant of the rhythms of nature, will save money for a time when they may not have the flow of money from work. Those that mistake periods of flow for constant, may not be as wise.

I think it’s one of the lessons from the garden. Our days are full of gains and losses, high tides and low tides, growth and die back. It’s as natural as the rising and setting sun. The challenge for us as humans is to wisely maneuver both states. Do you try and control ebb and flow, make it work on your time? Or can you just let it be? Can you be grateful for both? Or are you too afraid of ebb? Can you respect both states of mind? Can you stand as tall in ebb as you do in flow? Can you maintain flow? Without regular maintenance, even the most beautiful of gardens in full flow can get out of control, and you run the risk of losing your harvest, diminishing one of flow’s greatest benefits. The best gardeners will know how to work the land in both states.

Today, actually, is my Hope Grows anniversary, as I call it, my Hope Growsiversery! As I write this reflection, I am celebrating 2 years to the day of working and learning in the Hope Grows gardens. And I’ve started to trust the garden. It’s taken a while, but before experiencing the grounding rhythms of the garden’s ebb and flow, I was a ball of worry and stress. I had not learned how to trust the land. It’s only been this spring, after the reassurance that comes from experiencing something twice, that I’ve been able to feel some of my anxiety fall away. I can almost hear the plants laughing at me, after 2 years, saying we knew what we were doing all along, glad you finally caught on!

In the coming weeks, I will be planting our 2023 cut flower garden. For me to harvest the flowers, I have to usher that garden out of ebb and into flow. This includes adding compost to the soil, choosing the most optimal spots for all the seedlings, watering and fertilizing. When those plants flow with flowers, I will give thanks to God for the bounty, and then I get to do one of my favorite parts of my job: cutting and selling bouquets, which wouldn’t be possible, nor seem as sweet, without all the previous season’s ebb. The next time you find yourself in a state of ebb, resist the temptation to fear or look down on it. Instead, try giving thanks, and keep an open mind, for the stage may be ‘being set’ for a flow you never could have imagined.

Written By
Jessica Giannotta


What does anticipation do to our psyche?

Anticipation can have both positive and negative effects on our psyche, depending on the situation and our individual personality traits and experiences. On the positive side, anticipation can create a sense of excitement and motivation. When we are looking forward to something that we expect to be enjoyable or rewarding, our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and motivation. This can help us feel more energized, focused, and engaged in our daily lives. For example, the anticipation of a vacation or a special event can help us get through a difficult work week or other challenging situations.

However, anticipation can also create anxiety and stress. When we are waiting for something that we fear or feel uncertain about, our brains can release cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. This can make us feel on edge, distracted, and irritable. For example, the anticipation of a difficult conversation or a medical procedure can cause anxiety and make it difficult to focus on other tasks.

In general, anticipation is a normal and natural part of the human experience. It can help us feel motivated and excited about the future, but it can also create anxiety and stress. By understanding how anticipation affects us individually, we can learn to manage our emotions and reactions to different situations.


Caring for a loved one can be a challenging and emotionally demanding, and anticipation can add to the stress and anxiety of our lives. There are some ways caregivers can handle anticipation.

  • Communicate with the loved one: It can be helpful to have open and honest conversations with the person you are caring for about their needs, expectations, and concerns. By understanding their perspective, you can better prepare for what lies ahead and work together to address any issues that arise.
  • Plan ahead: Anticipation can be particularly challenging when you are uncertain about what to expect. To reduce stress and anxiety, try to plan ahead as much as possible. Make a schedule of appointments, arrange for transportation, and prepare any necessary supplies or equipment in advance.
  • Take care of yourself: It’s important for caregivers to take care of their own physical and emotional well-being. This can include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and finding time for self-care activities like exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends and family.
  • Seek support: Caregiving can be isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. Reach out to family, friends, or support groups for help and advice. You may also want to consider working with a professional caregiver or therapist who can provide additional support and guidance.
  • Stay positive: While caregiving can be challenging, it can also be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Try to focus on the positive aspects of your role and celebrate small victories along the way. Remember that you are making a difference in the life of someone you love, and that can be a powerful motivator.

Finally, it wouldn’t be complete unless I mention nature. Anticipation is a common phenomenon in nature, and it can be observed in various contexts. For example, animals anticipate the changing of seasons, the arrival of food, the mating season, and the migration of other animals. Plants also anticipate changes in their environment and adjust their growth patterns accordingly.

We can use the lessons from nature’s anticipation to reduce stress in our own lives and there are many effective ways to engage in nature to help. Forest bathing, gardening, hiking or walking in nature, birdwatching, nature journaling and forest therapy are some ways.

If any of those spark your interest, give us a call at Hope Grows, we can guide and support you. These activities can help individuals connect with nature and reduce feelings of anticipation and anxiety. It’s important to find activities that work best for each individual’s unique needs and preferences.