Relationship Lessons from the Hole Garden

by Betty Lochner on July 21, 2011

My dogs, Penny and Ruben, are hole digging freaks.  They dig on walks, in the yard, in my garden, in my neighbor’s garden — anywhere they can find dirt.  This year, after years of resisting and fighting them over it,  we broke down and set aside a space for them to dig in the yard.  I even put a sign out to let my neighbors know it’s not my yard mess — it’s the dog’s doing. 

 Click here to see them in action.

 As you see, Ruben is working hard on the upper section while Penny does a little remodeling.  She really just follows his lead. My husband is encouraging them to get moles. But really they are just building a summer play house.

They will spend hours, if you let them, on their summer project. And, they are happier – though dirtier – than I’ve ever seen them.

Do you have a Hole Garden? 

I mean that figuratively, of course.  Do you have a passion for something that you love that maybe no one else truly understands or sees the value in? Maybe it’s art, yoga, dirt biking, spending time alone, writing.  Or something really strange like digging holes for no good reason.

I think Ruben is on to something.  He may be a dog, but he got me thinking about applying the hole garden principle to my relationships:

1) Embrace your hole garden. Everyone needs a passion. A creative outlet. Something that lets you express yourself and who you are.

2) Resisting something you don’t understand about someone may damage your relationship. People want to be accepted and understood. 

3) Sometimes you have to make space for someone else’s  hole garden in your life. Set aside space, time or energy to support their passion. Unless it’s illegal or inappropriate, find a way to make it work.

Does someone in your life have a passion that you don’t get?  Is it time for you to accept and not judge, even if it seems a little odd or without real purpose?

And, what’s your hole garden?  Do you give it the space and time it deserves in your life?

Please share your thoughts in a comment below!


 Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 gigi August 28, 2011 at 4:47 am

thank you for sharing this, I really appreciate it

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