"The Secret Garden" - Welcoming any or all thoughts about this lovely book :-)

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Hope67

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Back in December 2018, I started a thread called “Book Suggestions – Maybe something calming, enjoyable to read?
https://cptsd.org/forum/index.php?topic=11302.0

Quite a few suggestions were put forward including one by Kalmer who said: The Little Princess? 
Within that same thread, Blueberry said:
“ I love The Secret Garden too. I re-read it ever so often. The story of the little girl in the attic is probably The Little Princess by the same author as The Secret Garden.”

This led me to reading both books by Frances Hodgson Burnett ‘The Little Princess’ and then ‘The Secret Garden’ (both of which I had read as a child numerous times, as they both resonated with Little Hope, and still do).  Infact, Little Hope (maybe aged 8 years or so) wanted me to collate all the things people wrote about ‘The Secret Garden’ - and so:

On June 16th 2020, I wrote in my Journal:

“I noticed that quite a few people talked about 'The Secret Garden' and I really would like to open a topic to discuss it there, because those words that people said about it, they are so meaningful and I might ask if I could collate the comments and put them in that topic, if people didn't mind - I think Blueberry, Notalone and Woodsgnome all mentioned things about it, and I love that book so much - I've still not managed to read it.  I might message them to ask if I can quote what they said, and open that topic up - as I really value that book and related to the characters.

Thank you Notalone, as you replied and said: “Regarding, The Secret Garden, you are welcome to quote me on anything I said about the book.  

Thank you Blueberry, as  you wrote: You're welcome to quote me on The Secret Garden too. I'm sure you could open a discussion on the book as it pertains to you and/or us and cptsd on The Cafe board at least.

Thank you Woodsgnome, as you wrote: “  Yes, you also have permission to reference any observations I've made concerning the book. I only recently read it, then watched a series that BBC originally aired in 1975 based on it. There are others but most reviewers say that the 1975 version hews closest to the original book, an opinion with which I concur.

Woodsgnome continued and said:
“The book made such an impression on me that it became the centrepoint of today's therapy session. Although a voracious reader, I'm rarely as struck as I have been by 'The Secret Garden.' “

So I’ve started a thread in the Cafe section (as per Blueberry’s helpful suggestion for where it could go), and have just been through my Journal and also other areas of the forum where I noticed comments on this subject, and am collating them here:

On 25th May 2020, I wrote in my journal that

I've got a children's book to read this afternoon - 'The Secret Garden' - I'm looking forward to reading it.  So maybe that's what I'll be doing. 

Then later that same day, I wrote:

I managed to read a little of 'The Secret Garden' today - but only a few pages, and didn't feel able to concentrate properly on it.  It seemed quite a dark book - didn't realise it was about cholera deaths causing the young heroine of the book to be orphaned - I've seen the film of 'The Secret Garden' and didn't notice that part.  What interests me about this is that in this book, and in 'The Little Princess' by Frances Hodgson Burnett - there's similar themes - the children in those tales are quite lonely and oppressed and sad in some way, but seem to have a feeling that they are 'special' at the same time, and I really relate to that kind of mixed feeling within myself as a child.  Lonely, misunderstood, oppressed and yet feeling that sometimes I was given gifts and treated as being special. 

Notalone said:


I like "The Secret Garden," but it does have some parts that could be disturbing.



I replied to Notalone:
“Hi Notalone - yes, I think there are heavy parts in that book 'The Secret Garden' as well - but I know I like the story - and the freedom of escaping into the Secret Garden itself, so I'm hoping it will be like that when I read it. 

On 26th May 2020, I wrote:

So I'm reading 'The Secret Garden' and two parts really resonate with me, from the perspective of the young orphaned girl - and I wanted to quote them, to remember them "...she had begun to feel lonely and to think queer thoughts which were new to her.  She had begun to wonder why she had never seemed to belong to anyone even when her father and mother had been alive.  Other children seemed to belong to their fathers and mothers, but she had never seemed to really be anyone's little girl... no one had taken any notice of her."  and then another section which is "She frowned because she remembered that her father and mother had never talked to her about anything in particular.  Certainly they had never told her things."

I imagine how this must have felt to me, when I was Little Hope, and the fact that this character in the book I liked was similar to myself - in terms of feeling lonely and isolated and having no feeling of bonding with her parents - really like they just didn't care about her/me.
Hope  

On 29th May 2020, I said about the book:

  I realise that in reading and empathising with the lonely orphaned girl in the book, that I am connecting with that part of myself that was lonely and isolated in my early childhood, and I have been reminding myself that people do care about her, and therefore people do care about me.  That is helping me in my attempts to re-parent myself and bring all my parts along to know they are all valued. 

Blueberry said:
“Hope, I loved "The Secret Garden" as a child. I still have the book and re-read it often. Idk if I saw myself in Mary as a child, I don't think so, but I loved the mystery and the garden awakening.”


I replied to Blueberry and said:
I am enjoying reading 'The Secret Garden' again - I think it's a long time since I read it.  Thanks for what you said, and I'm looking forward to the garden awakening - that's a lovely way to describe it. 

I've been thinking about what aspects of the character's situation resonates with me, and I think it's the fact that no one in her family had communicated anything meaningful to her - and I relate to that.  Also, I notice that I must have been looking at her experiences as a young child and thinking that I could emulate her - i.e. I think it was the gift of the skipping rope she got that made me seek to have a skipping rope to play with myself.  I can't be sure of my memories about that.

I'm finding it helpful as I read the book, and when I feel the younger parts of me responding to the content of the book, and then I can use my adult self to reassure and protect the isolated younger part of myself - and that's been helpful. 

Thanks Blueberry, for commenting as it made me more thoughtful about the character in the book, and my empathy with her. 

Notalone said:
I think that I like The Secret Garden so much because the thought of a pretty, safe place sounds wonderful. Also, the three children in the story are very unique and they come together and are accepting of each other just as they are and develop special friendships. I am looking forward to hearing any thoughts you choose to share as you get further into the book.

It wasn’t until June 11th that I was able to mention that:

“(I also want to write a note to remind myself that I wanted to write something more about the book 'The Secret Garden' as I know that Notalone had said about the characters, and I wanted to talk more about them, and how I'd felt reading that book - I've nearly finished it, so maybe in a day or two, I can reflect and comment on that, as I wanted to do that).

Notalone, it strikes me as really thought-provoking what you said about the three children being unique and coming together and accepting each other – that stayed with me in my mind.  For some reason whilst writing all of this out – and seeing what was written, I find I can’t move into any further thoughts, as I’m feeling ‘stuck’ with the thoughts I’ve expressed – and somehow I felt I wanted to gather everything everyone had said about it here – and that doing this in this thread, it feels important to a younger part of myself – hence I’m doing it, but feeling as if other parts think I’m a bit crazy – however, what I know is that within this forum, people understand and accept. 

In other areas of the forum, these are comments I found about this subject:

Woodsgnome wrote:

“My best current gratefulness vibe originates from this forum, actually. A voracious reader, I recall several people here having mentioned an old novel titled The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, as having been meaningful both when they first read it, and again when revisiting it later.

Well, I didn't have the first childhood encounter with it, and I read mostly non-fiction anyway. But I couldn't resist taking a look -- and I was blown away. It spoke directly to my experience and how I came to interpret life based on early abandonment, rejection, and loneliness.

Then delving into the storyline of The Secret Garden what I found at first to be somewhat intriguing grew into seeing between the lines via the main girl and eventually the boy whom the tale centers around. Like any story, some might not find this sort of tale relevant; I had some hesitation wandering into it myself, but it grew on my heart once I shook off my resistance.

The eventual outcome -- rediscovering the long-lost garden itself, but deftly celebrating the human effect this had on the characters lives -- well, suffice to say it spoke volumes to my current needs.

In a way, I live in a secret garden of my own making, but I've forgotten that aspect over the years. Now I'm reminded of it, thanks to the suggestions to check this out by other OOTS forum people Thank you.

There've been some film productions that are based on the book. The best one is a 1975 BBC series (7 30-minute episodes) which follows the book closer than later versions do.

Very grateful I found this, and especially to those on this forum who pointed it out.  

Blueberry replied to Woodsgnome and said:

“As one of those who recommended The Secret Garden thanks for commenting on your reading of the book and what it means to you!  I'm grateful for your information that the 1975 BBC series is the one that follows the book most closely; in addition to knowing that, your pointing it out might propel me to try and watch it somehow on my computer,  something I've been interested in doing for years. My childhood copy of the book even has a pic of the film, possibly even the series you mention, on the back cover. 

It’s 17th June 2020, and I’ve spent some time looking through the comments and collated them, as best I could, in this thread.

I think I did this for Little Hope, as that part of me (likely aged about 8 years or so) – wanted me to do that, and would love it if anyone wants to add any further comments about what this book has meant to them.

I still haven’t quite re-read it to the end, which replicates a theme for me that I find endings quite hard, and maybe I don’t want to finish it – but once I have, I will hope to return here and write more.

Apologies for such a long thread.  I realised as I went along, that people had written quite a lot – and I wanted to capture it all… as it felt precious and important to do that.

Hope :-)

I looked around again, and found that Notalone wrote:

I just watched "The Secret Garden." Thanks, Tee for recommending it. It is such a good story. I enjoyed it, but some of those people really need therapy.  

“I thought about all of us being in a secret garden. We could all be there and play and dig in the dirt and pull weeds. Little B could be there, blowing bubbles, with Poor Richard. Little M, I know you have your own garden, but maybe you could come to this one too and teach us about how to take care of the flowers. Tee, Little Elpha, Three Roses, Blueberry, Snowdrop, Human, and anyone else who would like, come to the garden!

In the story, the garden and friendships brought healing to Mary and Colin. Maybe this garden and our friendships will help to bring healing to our hearts. 

Notalone, that is such a lovely idea.  I really like it.

18th June 2020
Thanks to everyone who mentioned things, and for giving me permission to quote you in this thread.  I hope that anyone who wants to comment about the book will enjoy doing so in this thread, if they want to of course! 

Hope  :)


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notalone

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I'm glad Little Hope wanted this post. I think it's a great idea. The Secret Garden is a delightful book and it is fun to talk about it with my friends.

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Hope67

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Hi Notalone, Yes, it is a delightful book.  I am also glad that Little Hope wanted this post.

__________
TW - there might be some triggering things in what I'm going to write, because I think that some themes in the book are triggering, but it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what they are, and why they're triggering (I think)

I've been reading more of 'The Secret Garden' today - and just wanted to jot down these notes I made, whilst I was reading it:

illness, death and taking care of roses.
Trapping Colin and keeping him weak.  Rose in a pot.  Shielded from the sun. 

(I felt like these were themes I related to - being held back from having a normal childhood, and being kept in a trapped state of being)

There's a section about Colin where it says "He had lived on a sort of desert island all his life and he had been the king of it, he had made his own manners and had noone to compare himself with"
In the book, Mary relates to that.

(So do I)

I love the descriptions of the garden and the colour of the flowers and greenery.

I love the Magic and the mystic circle they have under the plum tree.

I also love the way they describe the meal they enjoy between the children - seems that they get provisions that they like, and can enjoy them - because they're not prescribed by what the parents wanted to give them.  They feast on nice food, but also on freedoms in the garden.

I've got to the chapter called 'The Curtain' and I personally find this quite triggering.  The first paragraph is just talking about the Robin guarding his mate who attends her eggs, and that depiction of a family where the M protects her eggs and the F guards and protects the M to help protect the eggs - it made me feel quite emotional, and I came here to write these notes.

I hope this is ok to be in the Cafe section, as I feel like I'm bringing it down a bit, but I have mixed feelings about this book - I see so many themes within it, and reading it as an Adult - and how it evokes feelings for smaller parts of me.  It is very powerful.

I'll hope to finish it sometime soon, as I am getting nearer to the end.  (I do wonder if I ever actually managed to finish it when I was a small child, as I know I rarely read books through to the end - I tended to dip into book, and suspect it's because I couldn't process stuff in a continual stream - due to dissociating a lot).

Hope  :)

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notalone

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I hope this is ok to be in the Cafe section, as I feel like I'm bringing it down a bit, but I have mixed feelings about this book - I see so many themes within it, and reading it as an Adult - and how it evokes feelings for smaller parts of me.  It is very powerful.
Hope  :)
I think that is the power of a good book; emotions, thoughts, characters or situations you can relate to.

It's been awhile since I read SG. The first time I read it I was an adult. It was given to me by a dear friend, with whom I still have contact. Maybe I'll read it again since we are talking about it and my 12 year old and 11 year old (Parts) have been very present. My concentration is pretty low. Maybe I'll see if I can get it audio.

Another thought I had about the book:  The three children basically took care of themselves and each other. There were adults around who made sure there was food and clothing, but beyond the external, the children developed into a caring community. As someone with DID, I can relate to a group of hurting kids trying to look after each other. It is too simplistic to look at my life that way, but it is a picture of the inner group of children.

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woodsgnome

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I remain fascinated by how strongly The Secret Garden has impressed and inspired my heart and soul. Also how it dramatizes everyone's journey to their own inner place of growth. Especially relevant in this tale is that the prime movers are the children Mary and then Colin, both growing up in rather desperate, forlorn and almost hopeless circumstances. This despite their wealthy backgrounds -- in the end it only seemed prosperous on the surface, while deep within there were enormous wounds stifling their route to inner riches.

The best potential for these two was the odd chance that they'd somehow uncover more meaning to life; but it was hard to come by, especially from the rather stiff adults living in their own gloomy patterns. That's the first thing I noticed -- this rigid adult-oriented world resembled my own backstory (minus the violence that also featured in mine). In The Secret Garden Mary discovers that she can find her own way out, and she finds just the right encouragement (e.g. Martha & family) at the right time to pull off not only a change in her own outlook. She also had garnered enough empathy to assist Colin out of his lifelong funk as well. He too had experienced privilege, yes; but had really never been allowed to see the bright side of things. Until Mary, assisted by Dickon,  was able to do what no adult was capable of showing -- that there was a secret garden full of magical delight, wonder, and meaning.

In discovering the outer garden, the inner one is likewise affected. The residual anger and bitterness of their past, while it's never wiped out entirely, finds an alternative with the discovery and rebirth of the garden. My own discovery had to wait a long while, and is still developing (no garden can ever be truly static). Parts of my own path were very dreamlike, as they were early on for Mary; but eventually I found ways to make part of my own secret garden a key part of my life.

This isn't some fantastic ever-after discovery, as again, all gardens need tending and nurturing to stay functional and beautiful. I'm lucky to have discovered a path that took me to a living situation that resembles my own version of a secret garden.
Yet I also often forget to stay focused on tending this garden. When I slack off a bit, the miseries of the past come roaring back and greatly upset my precious goal of flowing in peace. Then, if I remember that I am in the new garden, I can find that there's still magic to be had, one bulb at a time.

For me, anyway, that's part of my takeaway from reading The Secret Garden. On the surface, it can be enjoyed as a fun story (at least in the end -- lots of anger and grief en route). The tale reminds me that, under the surface of the cold ground of one's own being lies the secret to finding the way to our heart's delight, home, and source of resilience.

Thanks for setting up this section, Hope  :hug:

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Hope67

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I'm enjoying reading the things that people are saying about 'The Secret Garden' - and I am also enjoying the fact that we're communicating about it here, so thanks to everyone who has been contributing in this thread, and sharing experiences, thoughts and feelings relating to this book. 

I've asked permission from Marta to include what she also said in my journal on 29th May, which was:

Marta1234 said on 29th May 2020:
Hey Hope, I’ve been wanting to add to what others have said for sometime. The Secret Garden used to be my favorite movie, and I used to replay the whole “garden” thing wherever I stayed when I was little. It was something where I used my imagination outside. “
I repled to Marta and said:
“Hi Marta - thank you for sharing your experience of 'The Secret Garden' and I related to what you said.  " :hug:

Notalone and Woodsgnome - I've just read what you both wrote.   :hug: :hug:

I'm getting towards the end of the book - and I've just read Chapter 25 'The Curtain' and Chapter 26 'The Mother!' - I just jotted down a few notes, and wanted to share them here:  In 'The Curtain' chapter, I had begun to read about how the robin was tending the eggs, and it had caused a whoosh of emotion when I was last reading it - hence I stopped, but I re-read it today, and I wrote 'Importance of treating the eggs gently'  I was also struck by how the robin was watching the children so intently - "At first the robin watched Mary and Colin with sharp anxiety.  For some mysterious reason he knew he need not watch Dickon' (My thoughts about that were that I related to watching other children, and adults, and knowing which ones seemed safe and which ones didn't.  Hypervigilant and careful.

I was also interested in the robin's perspective - how the robin thought about the process of teaching the robin babies to fly - allowing them pace and time to learn - therefore supportive parenting - and I like this part:
"But then she said indulgently that humans were always more clumsy and slow than Eggs, and most of them never seemed really to learn to fly at all.  You never met them in the air or on tree-tops." (that makes an inner part of me laugh, it's funny)

I was struck by Colin's lack of fondness for his father - he said "I used to hate it because he was not fond of me.  If he grew fond of me I think I should tell him about the Magic.  It might make him more cheerful."  (this strikes a very emotional chord in me, reading this)

I've just noticed as I look at the book, that I mislabelled the chapter as 'The Mother!' but it is actually called 'It's Mother!' (that freaks out a part of me - it's like my M strikes fear in me, to make me mislabel something... urgh...)

Within that chapter, I was again very emotionally affected when Colin said to Dickon's mother "You were just what I - what I wanted', he said.  'I wish you were my mother - as well as Dickon's!'
That response from the mother of putting her warm arms around him, it is something that my inners/young parts crave.  We never had that experience with my FOO M
(Part of me is laughing now at 'FOOM' )

Whilst I've been writing these things, there's been another part of me (possibly - well definitely an inner critic) who is annoyed by me, and is telling me I shouldn't be doing this, writing this, and how silly it all is). 

But it's NOT silly - it matters to be able to reflect on things, to write about things, to process things, and I am so grateful to have a place where I can do that, and to read the experiences of others here. 

I want to insert a quote that Woodsgnome said, but I'm scared I'll get it wrong, so I'll exit this and then do it...  Or maybe I can write it here: Woodsgnome said "The tale reminds me that, under the surface of the cold ground of one's own being lies the secret to finding the way to our heart's delight, home, and source of resilience."  I really like that - very positive and meaningful. 

Hope  :)

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Tee

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I thought your thoughts were cool insights on the Robin and the need for a mother to wrap her arms around you. 

I struggle with trusting people and being hypervegalent around new people too.

There were times growing up and even now I can totally relate to Collin wishing I had a different mom.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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notalone

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I finished SG; combination of reading and listening on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx_GpxQvi5E

Whilst I've been writing these things, there's been another part of me (possibly - well definitely an inner critic) who is annoyed by me, and is telling me I shouldn't be doing this, writing this, and how silly it all is). 

Not silly at all. Your thoughts and feelings about it aren't silly and sharing it on OOTS is not silly. I am enjoying the fellowship of this discussion.

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Blueberry

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I finally watched the 1975 film on YouTube last night and I loved it! I also came away with all sorts of motivation to do stuff today. I was either going to go on a hike OR do a massive clean-up/clear-up in my apartment. I did neither. Just lay around dozing and sleeping. A bit like Colin himself, except I haven't been writhing around screaming.

I loved that they had a real robin in the film. When Mary, Colin, Dickon and Ben Weatherstaff were singing together at the end, that brought tears to my eyes because I know how wonderful singing in a group can be. (But I haven't done any step towards singing myself in months.)

Like you Hope, I find it humorous in the book when the mother robin is comparing her Eggs and young chicks to the children on the ground.

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Hope67

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Hi Tee - I've only just seen your reply here - and thanks to you for sharing your thoughts.   :hug:

Hi Notalone - I hope to look at the u tube link soon, thanks for sharing it.  Thanks also for saying that you don't think it's silly to discuss these things.  I must have been affected by an inner critic to have thought that, and thankfully today, I don't feel it's silly at all - I am so grateful to everyone that we can talk about these things, and this wonderful book.   :hug:

Hi Blueberry - I hope I'll be able to watch that 1975 film soon - I think I'd love to do that.   :hug:

Hope  :)

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woodsgnome

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So glad this thread popped up again. It's almost odd (or not) how when I feel down I always find it soothing to watch a bit of the 1975 BBC version, or read some from the book, and feel so much better about the resilience, beauty, and magic can be found in life; and how we each have our own secret garden to cultivate and care for.

Now that I know the story so well (I've written mountains of material concerning it in my private journal), I'm even noticing new metaphors and symbols woven into it that I hadn't noticed before. In other words, it's grown on me just like a garden.  Discussing it with my T today, I started calling this my 'summer of the secret garden'.

I had no idea how powerfully that story would be for me, but am so glad I found it.  :bigwink:

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woodsgnome

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In my previous post, I referred to how I noticed various metaphors in The Secret Garden. There's lots, some more apparent than others; some silent, others included in the script dialogue. As has been mentioned, the robins obviously are very symbolic.

In the opening segment of the BBC 1975 series, there's a scene showing Mary alone in her bungalow in India, following its desertion by the people fleeing the cholera outbreak. Mary is left behind; then she spies a snake slithering away. She begs it to stay, not realizing the drastic change to her life already in process; then the snake moves on, ignoring Mary's pleas of "don't go" and leaving the scene.

This didn't occur to me at first, but on later viewings I remembered how highly symbolic snakes can be. One big one is that some occasionally shed their skins, and new growth replaces the old layer. So I saw that as a huge unspoken metaphor, silently suggesting how Mary's life was about to undergo a radical change.

And of course how that's true for all of us at some point -- shedding what needs to be discarded. It might not be what we wanted at all, but perhaps -- just maybe -- it might end up better than we ever could have imagined, as it did for Mary (and how dramatically she affected the lives of those around her).

There's lots of other little/big messages embedded in the story, adding to the delight I found in it.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2020, 01:10:31 AM by woodsgnome »

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Hope67

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Woodsgnome, I ended up watching the 1975 opening scene to look at the depiction of the snake in it, after what you wrote, and after Blueberry mentioned that she'd watched the 1975 U tube version.  I am excited to know I can watch it anytime now - because I keep the book close by - just because the cover of the book has become something that is somehow a transitional comfort object - reminding me of the comfort of that garden.

(I'm putting this in brackets, as I feel a bit embarrassed to say, that I love the fact that many of people's names in here are very Secret Garden like - in my mind - e.g. I think of snowdrops, blueberries, roses, owl, woodsgnome, notalone, tee, marta,  kizzie, sceal, deep blue, and so many more of the people who I feel are meaningful to me as support in this forum - and I imagine us in a safe and secure garden - I really do feel embarrassed to say that, but I've said it)  I feel bad for missing some names out, but it's because my mind can't remember all the names I want to mention, and I am embarrassed, and I feel silly now, and want to erase it altogether.  But I won't.

(Now wondering if I'm blended with a younger part of me - as I'm feeling like I'm writing as a much younger person).

I'll stop there.
 :grouphug:

Hope  :)


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Snowdrop

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I love the idea of us all being in a safe and secure secret garden. I don't think it's silly,and you have nothing to feel embarrassed about. I'm glad you kept it in. :hug:

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woodsgnome

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 :yeahthat: I agree -- nothing to feel silly about.

I do the same sort of viewing with the 1975 youtube episodes -- every so often watch a 1/2 hour or so, maybe read a small part of the book, and instantly feel better. Even if, as in the early parts especially, some of the topics are a bit rugged, knowing that the journey towards wholeness will shift for Mary picks me up too.

The best part of the 1975 version (some might think them a tad long) is its correspondence with the book; even much of the dialogue is present, word for word. The music is fitting but subdued, if even there -- not interfering with the narrative as happens in many movies, and not loaded with other shenanigans that deter rather than support the tale itself.

Interesting take on the names we've chosen for OOTS. Hadn't thought of that before, but it's true -- we're all in the process of creating and reclaiming our own secret gardens, and no one else can take it from us.

 :sunny:

A