It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry


Me judgmental?  Never!  Well maybe a bit…let’s face it we all are judgmental in our way.  We have our own beliefs and values which then color our way of thinking and acting.  We know what we like and don’t like…at least for the moment.  In my case the moment may change quickly as I learn about new things.  Recently a blogger friend, Marcia Richards,  wrote about her pet peeves in her post, My Persnickety Side.  It got me to thinking about my pet peeves, what irks me, and then further how judgmental I really am.

When I think of judgement, I think of competition and not in a good way.  I have never thought of myself as competitive with others.  In school I excelled so naturally I wanted good grades and worked hard to get them, to be the best for myself.  I knew I wanted to always increase my grades until I hit that perfect 100%.  I would even beat myself up for making one mistake and losing that perfect score.  Not a healthy competition…it lead to poor self esteem.

In areas where I felt I lacked any expertise or knowledge/talent, I wouldn’t compete…I would actually avoid those subjects, activities and competition.  It is referred to as not taking a risk or going outside our comfort zone.  It is what held me back from writing for 40 years or even thinking I had any artistic talent.  And sporting competition I find too stressful to watch.  I feel awful for the players when they don’t win.  Actually I avoided any sporting competition and instead sought peaceful activities and pursuits when I wasn’t competing with myself.

Over the last year I have worked hard to temper my “persnickety side”.  Recently I read about non-judgmental observation; we take in information and choose to integrate it or not integrate it into our philosophies/ideas at the same time appreciating these different ways of thinking.  It means learning without passing judgment.  Not an easy task because I think we all look at things and say; “I wouldn’t do that”; “I wouldn’t wear that”; “I wouldn’t plant that” and on and on.  I learned long ago to thank people for their opinions, but I did not feel compelled to act on someone else’s feelings or thoughts.  And I thank both my parents for letting me learn through my own mistakes, and for knowing when to back off and not nag too much.

And when it comes to the garden I tend to think of it as art…not to be judged…to be created, discerned, appreciated for all its different forms…I may decide I would rather plant natives in my yard due to my habitat, but I do not judge someone else for not planting natives.  Formal gardens just aren’t in me and I tend to love the looser form of a cottage garden, but I do love the beauty, work and detail someone puts into a formal garden.

So in pondering this idea of not being judgmental, I am trying to discern a few things about my garden this year:

  1. Which seeds in my veggie garden are the better performers this year?  I bought seed from Renee’s Garden, Botanical Interests, Seeds of Change, Mike the Gardener’s Seeds of the Month Club.  So which are germinating, growing and producing the best.  I will watch and take notes to see which may be the better seeds for my garden next year.  The radishes from Renee’s have done nicely so far under cover and are showing signs of small radishes..they may be ready for picking by next weekend along with arugula, lettuce and spinach.  Setting out the early veggies under the row cover in mid-April despite all the cold weather may have been a success…we shall see soon.
  2. Snakes:  While necessary in the nature, I am not keen having the thought of finding them sliding over my foot or hand in the garden, although I think they would tend to run from me.  For now when we find them, we move them to the forever green area  They tend to like our pond filter and we constantly find them there.
  3. Rabbits:  They are cute little buggers, but this weekend we found 2 trying to build nests.  I had thought we had adverted nesting bunnies this year since it was so late, but like everything else they are nesting late too.  Actually we saw the smaller one and we were trying to chase it out.  We never saw the other bigger rabbit.  She chased the smaller one (pictured above) and that’s when we saw the larger one.  And thank God since she was just finishing her nest.  Yes we chased her out too, and dismantled the nest.  Our yard is not a restaurant for the rabbits; well it is, but we try to discourage nesting in our yard.  We will not move or disrupt babies found in nests, but they usually never make it because of the cats and birds of prey nearby.
  4. Voles:  No I have tried to find some redeeming quality, but I can’t.  I hate them and will do just about anything to rid the yard of them…stay in the meadow!!!
  5. Swallows:  Yes I know they are beautiful in color and flight, but my God they are nasty when nesting.  They will dive bomb, and hit you if you come close.  My garden needs to be tended and I cannot wait them out for a month while they are sitting on the nest.  The other birds live peacefully with us, and accept our presence although we try to not be too invasive.  Oh and swallows are relentless in trying to oust other birds from the nesting boxes.  At least the wren gave up trying to oust everyone and just built her nest…the swallows bully the sparrows all day to try and get the nesting boxes…come on give it up and move on….I don’t like bullies!!
  6. I gave up in the back gardens trying to fight nature with all the water we get in spring.  We expanded our rain gardens, and planted water loving grasses and irises in them.  They will capture the natural run off of the yard as it slopes slightly down hill following the grade of the landscape.  I am also filling the surrounding area with more moisture loving natives and some exotics since I know the areas in the back gardens are wetter.

I have learned that I tend to be more judgmental of things that I do not like in myself; of behaviors I realize I display that are not so nice.  I long to find my daily practice to be one of reflection; of listening without judgement and reflecting….learning…valuing…discerning the gift of each person and the gifts they have to give us in the garden and in life.

Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.~ Swami Vivekananda


Special Note: While I was unable to visit my mother in Arizona for Mother’s Day (I called her), I visited my husband’s mother’s grave to pay our respects.  The lovely bulbs I planted at my mother-in-law’s grave have bloomed and are a beautiful sight.  I had brought some flowers from the garden not knowing what to expect.  I think she would have loved the flowers blooming.

People normally say Happy Mother’s Day to most middle aged females and not having any children, I always felt compelled to say, “Thanks but I have no children”.  Instead I say, “Thanks”…after all Mother’s Day is, I believe, a time to celebrate women for all they do to raise, love and positively impact children; nieces, grandchildren, foster children, students etc.  Happy Mother’s Day to you all!!

Monthly around this time (usually the 10th) I guest blog at Walkabout Chronicles.  I hope you can join me.

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All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.


58 Replies to “Judgement”

  1. an interesting post Donna, thought provoking, I love the differences in people and everything, like you I am not into formal gardens but appreciate the time someone spent on them, I am the same with textiles, I love the freer impresionistic artwork but can still admire the skill in traditional perfect points,
    on another note, your rabbits just nest, over here they burrow, deep, so you can never see the nest, this time last year I had big problems with them burrowing very close to my house so I am keeping watch this year,
    I think the best way with gardening is to try to go with nature, there are some wonderful plants that love sun and wet soil as I am finding out, some native to your continent I don’t know about area, where I have wet soil coming down the hill from the neighbouring field I planted some Alder trees by the boundery they are said to soak up water and they have, this is the side of my house where the previous owner had damp problems, it’s no longer a problem, Frances

    1. Frances your comments are so wonderful…our rabbits dig a small, shallow burrow and cover it with plants…they stripped the top from a gorgeous dianthus just growing to make a soft nest…she was just bringing in more drier plant material to cover on top and then she would have had the babies that night probably and covered them with her fur and the plant material…once I see the fur I know the babies are in the nest…I have found some wonderful natives to plant for the rain gardens…I wish we could plant trees but we have large ash trees in the area already that were on the property…glad you liked the post…

      1. oh they use Dianthus in the nest, not being able to see the nest down the burrow I didn’t know this is where my Dianthus has been going, I thought they had been eating it, I put wire cages over to stop them but they are ugly, thanks, Frances

        1. Frances they also love to dianthus so I suspect they were eating and nesting with it…good thing you protected your plants…

  2. A very thought provoking post for Mother’s Day! I love the first quote of your post. We have so much in common…including our dislike of voles and rabbits and gardening in an informal style. I have tunnels throughout my garden from voles, rabbits, moles and chipmunks. It should be a buffet for the snakes and birds of prey. They really are falling down on their jobs!

    1. Karin I have long thought we are kindred spirits…whenever I see images of your flowers, I see mine mirrored back at me…those snakes and birds of prey are definitely slacking off this spring…they did however make meals of the rabbits this fall I suspect…very few are remaining, but that will change soon 🙂

  3. This is an interesting post. I always thought I am judgmental. Then I realized I am being judgmental about myself. LOL! I guess we learn to be less judgmental and take on the role as an observer as we go along. After all, we change, others’ change, the experts’ opinion change over time. I don’t take everything as seriously as I used to.

    I have a neighbor who thinks I should get rid of my ornamentals and focus on fruit trees. Then there are some who think fruit trees attract bats and we should avoid that. (We don’t talk about natives here.) I can choose what I wish to grow and they can choose to voice their opinion.

    I have put a link to your blog in my latest post. Thank you for your caption. Thank you for your votes. Have a Fun week ahead!

    1. I so agree that we change over time and let a lot of things just roll by us…I am finding that others opinions are just that their opinions and I am under no obligation to act on them…I love your caption posts and how wonderful you chose mine…your posts always bring a smile to my face…I did not realize we could vote more than once so I better get moving and vote daily.

  4. I love that quote by Wendell Berry – it hit me deep inside. Definitely something to ponder. Ahh, perfectionism – I have fought that battle, too, for most of my life. One reason I like gardening so much is it is my way to commune with nature. Although I’m trying to create something of beauty, I realized early on the garden is mostly a product of God’s. I am still working, though, on being able to sit in the garden and contemplate, without judging, restraining the impulse to jump up and “edit” a weed or mentally erase a plant that doesn’t look good, etc.

    I appreciate your honesty and thoughtfulness and your sharing your journey with us.

    1. Sheila I am so happy the post spoke to you. I have found by sharing my journey I am indeed learning life’s lessons more thoroughly, more profoundly…it certainly is my therapy.

  5. Donna another inspirational post, I suspect you are only judgemental of yourself. You excelled at school, myself totally middle of the road, maybe a bit thick. Now because you know me so well, I am sure that you will want me to tell you that you have left out the little word (to) in the second line of your first sentence. As for swallows I love them, never knew they were vicious little sods.

    1. uh oh I am fixing that right now…and my husband the editor read it too…I am glad it inspired you and yes I am very judgemental of myself…swallows are exactly that…vicious little sods

  6. Oh, interesting post, Donna. What I find spooky is the way being judgemental becomes so normal inside my own head that I don’t even notice how often I’m judging people–it’s like “white noise” in the background. Not ideal! Sometimes I think half the benefit of gardening (or the other arts) is that it reminds us that other people are different and that we can engage with those differences respectfully–not just whitewash over them but really appreciate them, like your enjoying the work someone has put into a formal garden. Good luck with those rabbits, swallows, and voles. Your veggies look beautiful! And I love the ipheion photo.

    1. Glad you liked it Stacy…as soon as I put the ipheion picture up I thought of you…like you mentioned I was finding judging people was becoming common place for me and I needed to step back from it…I also think gardening and meeting other bloggers has helped me…

  7. Donna, thanks so much for mentioning me and my post in your blog! Re being judgmental, I think negative criticism toward ourselves and others is the type of judgment to avoid. The rest of it is more like opinion or preferences. If I came to your home and said, “Oh Donna, your garden is planted all wrong!”, you’d have every right to say, “Who are you to judge my work?” But if you said you think long gray beards on men are unattractive, that’s just your opinion, (unless you’re telling a particular man he should shave off his ugly beard!). I assume, from what I know of you, that you do not try to hurt other people’s feelings, so I wouldn’t consider you a judgmental person. Besides, those of us who are hard on ourselves are usually kinder to others. Great topic and, as always love the photos and quotes!

    1. Marcia I love your blog and am inspired so much by it….it deserves a shout out…thx for the kind words and thoughts…as to being judgmental I try hard to make sure I am not leaning that way…this post prompted a bit of another post at Walk About Chronicles which I hope will be up tomorrow on Life’s Lessons as I learned them from my parents…

      1. Donna – the post will be up tonight or tomorrow 🙂 We had a couple of others cued up first. So sorry it wasn’t up right on the 10th. We will be on time in the future so your readers can expect consistency.

  8. Very nice, Donna. If I am judgmental at all, it is of myself. I try very hard not to judge others. Aren’t we all are doing the best we can with the circumstances we are given? As for my garden, I plant what makes me happy.

    1. Carolyn that is the best way to be..plant what you like and do the best you can…and try not to be too hard on yourself…

  9. Donna – I always look forward to seeing which word you chose for the titles of your posts. A 40 year-long writer’s block – that must be a record. How did you unblock it ?

    1. I stopped writing in high school because I was so busy with college I had no opportunity to do creative writing…then I encountered self-esteem issues and wouldn’t take a risk…just this year I was working through a book about finding myself and one of the days lesson was to take a risk…and I did and published my first blog post…that was last August and it has snowballed in a positive way ever since…

  10. Dear Donna, I love this post – very thought-provoking. The idea of “learning without passing judgement” really intrigues me. Your veggies look amazing! P x

    1. Pam I am so happy it spoke to you and that you are intrigued..the veggies were grown under cover for 3 weeks in all the cold and rain..I am just amazed at how well they have done..

  11. I, too, struggle with this human tendency to judge. Although I understand that it is through judgement we assess important situations, we learn what pleases us and what doesn’t, and we improve areas of our lives, I try to use it in those ways without letting it run amok. Being human, it does take on a life of its own….sometimes. I am also always trying to let things come in through observation, and let the judgement filter through and out. And my natural tendency is to treat each living thing with kindness, understanding, and tenderness, but voles, well, I simply cannot find a drop of good feelings towards them. They have cost me money, time, and a great amount of effort. I still could not kill one in cold blood, but they have irked me to no end. Finally, your last thought was so comforting, for I am in the same circumstance, but I have felt like a mother (of sorts) to my brothers, my friends, my cats, and my garden. I also think most women are natural mothers to all. (A very nice and thought-provoking post.)

    1. I love how you say we observe and let the judgement filter through…how we use it in a productive way…I am glad you liked the post and that it brought you comfort

  12. Terrific post! How true that we are most critical of others when they display our own weaknesses, though we might not admit it! We once had many bunnies in our yard, but then the foxes came and cleared them out. I put our vegetable plot near the dog lot to discourage critters from treating it as a banquet hall. For the most part that worked. Tonight I saw a bunny by the front drive. I smiled to see him, but if he is eaten by the fox or the hawk, so be it. As my oldest son once told me when he was a child: that’s just the food chain!

    1. Out of the mouth of babes…so true it is the food chain, but so hard when the animals are so sweet and innocent looking. Glad you enjoyed the post Deb.

  13. It amazes me how often you run across those that judge. It can be just little snide remarks or off handed compliments with hidden meaning. What a shame to have this part of human nature. It does not seem to occur elsewhere in nature. It is not like the animals are out judging each other. I find it best to ignore rather than judge. Let those doing the judging have no one that cares.

    1. A good philosophy and one my mother would talk about…just ignore them…and never get down on their level…oh I feel a couple more life lessons in a post coming on…I think it is hardest to ignore the snide remarks, but best if you do most times…

  14. Happy Mother’s Day, Donna. I agree it’s a day for all women who nurture the next generations. My aunts and other female mentors are nearly as important to me as my own mom and I have tried to encourage my children to form bonds with their aunts and mentors, too. I think we have a lot in common re: judgmental tendencies toward self. I’m learning, like you, to appreciate my own gifts without measuring them to others’. Your gardens are looking inviting these days!

    1. How nice that we do have a lot in common so that we can see we are not alone. I am finding that my writing is therapy for me and as it turns out for others and that makes me smile. The gardens are finally coming to life. I will look out one day soon and say, “wow where did all you flowers come from”.

  15. Donna, I so enjoyed your post. It really hit home. Self criticism, self esteem, judgement, avoiding competition, taking chances, well, it sounds all too familiar!
    Thank you for the honesty and for sharing these insights.
    Personally, I’ve learned, as time goes on, that we’re similar to gardens, in a way. Beautiful because of our individualism. Gardening sure is therapy!

    1. Karen so glad you could visit and I am glad you enjoyed the post. Funny just how alike we all are in many ways. I love your analogy of the garden and our individualism. So true.

  16. Non judgemental listening is such a challenge, but like you something I aspire to learn more about. Its funny, I’ve spent most of my life claiming not to be competitive, but have lately come realise who wrong this is. Like you I have tended to avoid things I think I will be really bad at, something I am trying to change. I seem to be good at happily learning from others, but strangely intolerant of my own failures. Thank you for another thought provoking post Donna. And your vege bed looks packed with lovely healthy plants. I hope you can harvest them without being dive bombed by swallows!

    1. Janet so glad you liked the post. The veg bed is always an experiment. The less I fret over it, the better it does. Don’t laugh, but I will have to watch out for those pesky swallows. I replied on your post about the water walls.

  17. The best slap in the face for being judgmental is when you judge a person or a plant negatively only to find out later that they are really nice or are a really good plant. This always happens in an obvious way so I consider it a message from “up there” that being judgmental does not pay off. I just commented yesterday when viewing a garden full of corkscrew conifers and bright red metal sculptures that I can really appreciate any garden where the gardener has obviously displayed his or her love of plants no matter what the style. Who knows, there could be corkscrew conifers in my future? I wanted to read your memoir but now can’t find it. Could you leave me a link?

    1. Boy can I relate to that slap in the face…an not so subtle reminder. I emailed you the link to the memoir. Hope you enjoy it.

  18. I am fairly new to your blog, but this is not the first time that I’ve read it and felt your words strike a chord.

    In the middle of a busy work day, a busy “life” day, I find this post simply arresting – it literally stopped me in my tracks and I know instantly that I’m reading something really meaningful…something that truly matters to me.

    I appreciate so much your truthfulness with yourself and with us, and like so many other readers the subject of this post is one I can certainly relate to. (all too well, I’m afraid!) Living in NYC has definitely made it much harder for me to observe without judgement and to live and think positively. That negative snowball quickly turns into an avalanche if we let it, which in turn affects every aspect of our lives and beings, as well as those of the people we are close to.

    I’ve actually been thinking lately of telling some folks at work that I’m “just trying to get through a day without saying anything negative about anyone” (including myself!)…you may have just inspired me to do it.

    Thank you for this candid, honest post and for the wonderful (and greatly needed) reminder to us all that a little temperance goes a long way.

    Lastly, thank you for always including such inspiring quotes – I don’t know how you always find such great complements to your posts, but you do and I appreciate them too.

    1. Aimee I am so very humbled and touched by your comment. It pleases me when my experiences touch others and can help them. I have to remember daily to stay away from the negative and not judge because we easily can slip there if we are around it a lot. The quotes I think are messages I receive…honestly! I have quotes emailed to me daily and many I find there. I also have a few websites that I peruse looking for just the right one that adds to the post; those that inspire me as well. Again it is wonderful that others find them inspiring too….I really thank you for the comment from the bottom of my heart…it has inspired me to keep going when sometimes I am unsure if anyone really wants to hear about my life issues…it has uplifted me on a not-so-great day when I was feeling a bit glum…thank you Aimee!!

      1. I’m so happy to hear that! Your post re-directed my day in the best possible way…and I’m not sure that would have happened if I hadn’t read your blog today. Please keep writing and sharing! It does matter, and we do care, and I’m very grateful for every word.

  19. I always listen to my own judgemental criticisms of others as I know they are probably my own weaknesses that I can’t tolerate in others. That’s one way of discovering my own weaknesses.
    Your post is indeed one to reflect on, Donna.

    1. Thx Rosie…I have found that to be true as well and try to pay attention to what I am judging…hope you had a wonderful birthday!!

  20. a most original and thought provoking post, Donna. So refreshing to read especially when it rings so many bells. As a therapist non-judgemental listening has become second nature but in the garden, Judge Joe Dredd takes over!

    1. Laura so glad you could relate…funny how we judge our gardens…I have a different lense these days…poor performers are being ousted and new natives added ….

  21. I understand about judgement – I used to be that way too until recently when I started to mellow down a little. You are right, it is quite stressful to be that way, but I thought my easing up a bit had more to do with aging :). It was fun to read about your garden – as you are planting more moisture loving plants, we are contemplating xeriscaping…

    1. Masha I have actually found myself mellowing a bit too but need to keep going with the mellow idea…I can understand your need to xeriscape…I actually do have those plants more in my hot, dry front yard and near the road…it works..now if I can solve the wet areas I am good 🙂

  22. Myself, I believe judging is a natural human trait, not inherently good or bad. How else does one decide anything without making judgement calls??? I also learn a great deal by watching and hearing others judgement calls.

    I do think there is a difference between judging and condemning. And also one between judging and rudeness. And finally many people unfortunately cannot seem to stop at judging for themselves, and they feel fit to judge for everyone!! Those are the people whom I associate judging in a negative way, where it isn’t just an opinion.

    1. What a great perspective you have. Of course we judge but you are right when it turns negative then that becomes the problem.

  23. Donna, It’s another wonderful rainy Spring day, so I’m taking time to look over the Blogs I follow. Wanted to see what you have been up to. Do much enjoy your postings. Today’s on judgement is really very good indeed. I have been pondering thought recently on similar topics for another blog I write. Just posted thoughts on anger, toxic relationships, making decisions. Must be the time of year for all of us to be doing some deep thinking. I think it is also gardeners like us who see life at deeper levels, and work to live there. I will visit again soon. Jack

    1. Jack I am so glad you were able to visit and that you enjoyed the post. I also appreciate the comment. I too believe gardeners see life from a deeper level and that is why I am able to write about those lessons and perspectives I see and experience. Today is our rainy day and I am busy writing my next post before my crazy day job work week starts. I did not realize you wrote another blog and will have to check it out…Cheers and hope you are finally having a good spring…

  24. I often have this discussion with my mother when she is being what I would say is judgmental. She will say she is entitled to her opinion. I respond that opinions are fine but when it becomes a “should” or “shouldn’t” like “He shouldn’t wear pants like that” or “you should do it this way” and comes across as your view or perspective is superior…that is when it has negative impact. When our view is trying to change or manipulate how someone else is or does things or lives then I think it crosses the line from opinion to judgment. It can be fine line sometimes. Live and let live. 🙂 I think we all catch ourselves crossing the line sometimes…
    I think I need to reread parts of The Gifts of Imperfection also regarding the self judgment. This is a great post that has provoked a lot of thought!

    1. Liane you know how I love to provoke those thoughts so I am glad the post did just that. It does seem to be a fine line that when I cross it, I usually regret it immediately…I am shown the error of my ways and reminded to not judge others so fast. It is even harder with family not to cross that line though..

  25. Wonderful images with your thoughtful insights. I think if I were a tiny creature I would very much like to live in your garden. Thank you, peace and continued good things for you in gardening, writing, and in life.

    Diane Solis

    1. Diane how lovely of you to visit my blog and garden. I am so glad you enjoyed it and I would love to have you stay in my garden. All creatures are welcome….just finding your blog and looking forward to exploring it…thank you for your kind words!!

  26. What a wonderful way to look at Mother’s Day. I think that is just the way to do it for sure. I’m with you 100% on those darned voles. Awful critters they are.

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