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Life Lessons and House Plants? – Blog by Jane Barry

Last week, one of the plants in the Liberty Recruitment office died. It had been looking decidedly unhealthy for a while and last week, if finally succumbed to the conditions in our workplace and my attempts to revive it by over watering!

Not the most auspicious start to the new Year perhaps – and certainly not of great significance in the scheme of things for a social media or blog post either! But please stick with me.

The plant was given to me over 20 years ago by a former boss and mentor, just prior to his retirement after a long and successful career. I have nurtured and treasured it ever since. It has moved house and workplaces with me 8 times, it has survived living in conservatories, bathrooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and offices during its life and always thrived…until last week.

Still sounding a bit trivial? I guess so.

Yet the plant had significance for me as my old boss passed away in his first year of retirement and, apart from the experiences he shared with me, the plant was the only physical memento I had of him. So, sentimentally at least, its demise meant more than it might ordinarily have done.

As I have been in a reflective mood since, I recall how my boss spent the last months and weeks counting down the days to his retirement. He would come into the office and say, “Only 4 weeks and 3 days left Jane”; “Just 3 weeks today Jane” etc and every day I would hear more about what he planned to do when his working life finished and his retirement could begin. And the thought of him not getting to enjoy a long and well-deserved retirement still makes me sad.

Yet with the departure of his office plant (it was never ‘my’ plant, always ‘his’) I also now realise that he taught me one more important lesson. I know that his example led me to live more ‘in the moment’ and not to take the future as a given.

I know that I need to focus on the now and what I am doing. I know how to slow down from time-to-time and savour the present. I know that to notice what’s around me – both big and small – is crucial and I am thankful for everything. Taking note of the small things helps me cultivate more positive experiences and so I refuse to just count the days any more. I understand that worrying today won’t change what happens tomorrow and so I consciously try not to waste too much time with a furrowed brow and tightly clenched teeth!

Yesterday I came into the office and one of my team had bought me a new plant (now named Colin) for the office. It’s a simple gesture but one that helps focus my attention on looking forward rather than at what has passed. And I know that my old boss is looking on somewhere, smiling wryly at this and I’m sure he would have approved.

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