Divorce and Stinging Nettle? Here we go with the clichés of divorce being like a weed that takes over the yard or divorce packing a sting. Sure, there is that. I hope by the time we are done with the analogy it will make a little more sense, it won’t be too sappy, and it will remind us that by simply shifting our mindset, we can find the good in things, even when we are talking about divorce.
I woke up this past weekend to a beautiful and horrible sight. All of the rain we have been having in San Diego has resulted in my yard exploding with amazing green growth. In a blink, the brown of winter has turned into the green of spring and my yard is a sea of growth about chest high, moving toward becoming an untamable overhead jungle. It was time to do some mowing or weed pulling before it was too late. I went down into the midst of it all and quickly found that my weeds were not your run of the mill, friendly neighborhood weeds, but were instead stinging nettle. If you are not familiar with stinging nettle, it looks harmless enough but if it brushes against your bare skin it leaves a mark and a lasting painful sting. It was time to go to battle. I traded my shorts and t-shirt in for long pants and a long sleeved shirt. I dug a pair of leather gloves out of the shed. I dove in and started pulling the unruly nettles out by the roots. After some time I had cut a swath of brown into the sea of green, but had only put a small dent in the task. It was overwhelming and the lack of progress frustrating.
As I cringed at what lay ahead, I remembered hearing about stinging nettle being an indicator of fertile soil and that it actually had many healing qualities. That was the extent of my knowledge and for now, it was a thorn in my side and would only get worse if I didn’t press on with the task. I went inside for a glass of water and decided to do a little more research on stinging nettle and if I might find some actual use for this burgeoning jungle that awaited me. What I found was pretty amazing. Stinging nettle can be eaten as a leafy green like spinach. It can be dried and turned into a tea rich in antioxidants and vitamins. It can also be mixed into your compost heap to return rich nutrients back into the soil. To this point I had taken all the nettle I had pulled and placed it into the green waste bin to remove from the yard. I now realized I was sitting on a gold mine.
I shifted to being a farmer and harvester of a valuable resource. I took my leather weeding gloves off, and dawned rubber ones for the task. I gathered the leaves into a pot and brought them into the kitchen. The internet abounds with various techniques of soaking, drying and steaming the leaves to remove the sting and prepare them for consumption. I soaked them for about 15 minutes then steamed them with some other vegetables and ate them over pasta. It looked and tasted very similar to spinach. I started the process of cooking them up and freezing them to stock the freezer with this unique supplement to our meals, rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, silicon, potassium, manganese zinc, copper, chromium, and vitamins A and B. We will be gathering a batch for drying to give the tea a try and once the harvesting is done we will take all the remnants and mix them into our composting. This daunting task of weed removal has turned into a productive and healthy endeavor of making use of what had been a hidden resource.
So how does all of this fit into divorce and divorce mediation? Divorce can be that huge daunting task looming ominously before us. Couples are compelled to gear up and prepare for battle. We ready ourselves for what we hear will be a long protracted war and lawyer up accordingly. If we don’t know any better we can proceed by scorching the earth, pulling everything out by the roots then looking to pick up the pieces once we finally come out on the other side. We can throw it all into the green waste container and roll it up to the curb, or we can also step back and try to find a healthier way to do it. Divorce mediation is slowing down and finding guidance to a better way. It is harvesting the leaves and finding a way to take the sting out of them. It is being open to constructively tackling the lousy situation that awaits. It is taking the time to learn about other options to a productive and healthy solution. Making that shift in mindset can turn a yard overrun with weeds into a garden of opportunity. We can’t take the hurt out of divorce, but we can find good ways to approach it to remove much of the sting.