It’s Earth Day, a day that coincidentally lands during the week I was signing papers for the house I’ve been in for nine (9!!!!) years.

A house I was afraid to buy, because the first house I bought in 2006 ended up being an expensive lesson in riding the waves of unprecedented economic conditions.

A house I was proud to buy, because my in-between years of renting apartments and townhomes left me craving a yard once again.

A house I bought because the yard was full and lush, teeming with birds, bees, and butterflies.

A house in a location that was nearer to both my social activities and my work activities, making it easier to do both with more ease.

2015.

A house I purchased just before a career change.

And I got busy. A 10-minute commute turned into 20. Travel became more frequent.  

2016. The yard comes back full bloom. Another big career change.

So very busy. A 20-minute commute turned into 30. Days became even longer, and travel became even more frequent.

Busy traveling. Busy commuting. No longer near work. No longer feeling connected to the community. Barely having time to do basic chores.

Noticing the yard needed attention. Sneaking it in between trips. Grabbing the big brand name fertilizer, the one that makes the yard green super fast. Instant results. Everything needed to be super fast.

Just a short month or two after I bought the house, on a trip to Portugal, a rash broke out on my foot. Within hours, it had spread quickly, and I feared it would ruin the trip.

I went to a pharmacy. They gave me something with a name I didn’t recognize. It worked faster than anything I’d ever used for allergies. Super fast.

When I looked up the active ingredient of this Portuguese cure, it was a big brand name in the States. Three times stronger than its alternative. Super fast.

It became my new go-to for seasonal allergies that seemed to get worse every year. Why use something mild or generic when you could get rid of them super fast?

2017. The yard isn’t coming back the same. The grass isn’t as green, and there aren’t as many visitors.

The soil, once rich with worms, is dry and cracking.

I’m reaching for solutions, anything fast. Anything to bring it back to life.

And at the end of the season, I go off this allergy medication, as I had done at the end of every season.

My body wasn’t having it. I wrestled with sleep for weeks. I drove home feeling as though my body itched from the inside. It reminded me of the commercials that would air when the campaign against meth first came out.

I had suppressed the symptoms so strongly for so long that my body fought back with full force to let me know that the underlying inflammation was still there.

And I had suppressed the symptoms in the yard for just two seasons before it let me know that it was going to be a barren wasteland if I didn’t do something to actually nourish it.

Ironically, I’ve always been one to drive to the root of the matter. It’s what “radix” means, the name of my company. To get at the root.

But I wasn’t doing that in my own life. I had come down with a bad case of “it will be better when” syndrome.

If I can just get this result now, I will take care of it better later.

If I can just get this result now, I will have time to do the thing I really want to do later.

We can often find something that will get us a result. Super fast.

And then another thing pops up. And another.

Like my yard – or my body – it requires more attention to more problems later. Or something stronger for longer. Both of which cost us more in the long run.  

When we need instant results, it’s hard to get at the root.

At some point it pays to get a clear picture of what’s really going on now, and match that with the reality of whether or not the actions you’re taking line up with the future you claim you want.

Too many organizations throw more money or more people at the same problems without really taking the time to step back and systematically assess: does everything line up here?

The next time they need results, they find that everything around them is a little more cracked, a little more dead. Or flaring up a little stronger, needing more attention and resources than the last time.

They suppress the early warning signals of the system. And create greater long-term risk because of the vulnerabilities in the system. The ones that weren’t actually fixed, but suppressed.

I learned from this – and also from working with and studying many individuals and organizations since – that one either has the courage to face the signs early, or else rebuilds from desperation later.

What happened with my own systems?

In 2019, I started dumping loads and loads of compost on the yard. I restored everything to a state better than before, with birds, bees, butterflies, turtle doves, owls, and more visiting regularly these past few years. I started the pivot out of a corporate role to start my own practice.

In my spare time, I took courses in soil health and nutrition. Because what else was a person going to do for fun during 2020?  

And with the help of an osteopath and functional medicine this last year, I’m closer to reversing any damage I may have done to my immune system, when I suppressed its early warning signals of distress.  

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