I hadn’t grown up growing things in my northern New Jersey town. My diverse community was full of shops where we could easily pick up produce, and so I’d never given thought to the idea of digging into the earth myself.

But years later, after moving to the Midwest for college and medical school and then starting a family, I decided to try my hand at gardening. As a busy physician and mom, it was the perfect way to be outside without having to venture too far from home, and I already knew I was good at tending to things. 

As a family, we dug up the backyard and made a big raised bed to give our seedlings room to grow. My husband set up an irrigation system. Each of my three children wanted in on the adventure, and so they chose their own special plant to grow: my oldest chose purple peas, my middle jalapeños, and my youngest cherry tomatoes. I added in some other vegetables I wanted to experiment with and added in some flowers for good measure too. 

Perhaps it should have come as no surprise, but I realized quickly growing plants wasn’t much different than growing people. I think I’d somehow hoped that my thoughtful planning and diligent watering would mean that I’d end up with a beautiful harvest. But if you’ve ever dealt with Mother Nature in any form, you know that she is not one to be controlled. 

During the first few seasons, the spoils of my hard work seemed minimal. What I thought would result in the perfect pepper or the ripest tomato just didn’t, and I could find myself disheartened. I was tempted to give up at points, but instead I did some research. I made adjustments. I drew on my patience. 

I started to recognize that the relationship I had with my garden was a long-term one. Just like my kids, I couldn’t just exert my will and expect it to conform. It was a process of learning and adapting, working with its needs and strengths, and being willing to adjust with life had plans I wasn’t expecting. 

I love working with people and the field of psychiatry for many of the same reasons. My work with patients is always a process of unfolding. I take the time to understand each person’s unique story and what conditions they need to thrive. 

I’m looking forward to harvesting this year. I love knowing that it won’t be perfect and it won’t be the last. It’s all a work in progress.

Dr. Charla Jones is a board certified adult psychiatrist with more than 12 years of experience and a special interest in women’s health. Dr. Jones attended the University of Dayton as an undergraduate, followed by the University of Cincinnati for medical school and residency training. Upon completion of her residency, she completed a two-year advanced psychotherapy training program through the Cincinnati Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Dr. Jones has worked in a myriad of clinical settings including adult inpatient, psychiatric emergency room, and private practice. She has spent most of her career treating patients in outpatient settings for healthcare organizations including St. Elizabeth Physicians, Novant Health and TriHealth. Prior to joining the team at Galia Collaborative, she worked in a primary care setting working collaboratively with primary care physicians to support the whole-self of patients. Dr. Jones treats a variety of conditions, including depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.

I believe..

  • A physician's job is not to judge patients, but to listen empathically and strive to understand.
  • At any given moment, we are each doing the very best that we can.
  • You can give something 110% and still not get the outcome you want or expected.
  • A successful relationship between a doctor and a patient requires mutual respect, trust, and honesty.
  • Walking away from a bad situation isn't a failure; it's being brave.
  • Sharing struggles and imperfections leads to more authentic relationships with others.
  • Life is too short not to make time for fun.
[spacer]

Get your free Mental Wellness Self-Assessment

For guidance, inspiration, and the scoop on our goings on, join our community list. You'll also get your "Mental Wellness Self-Assessment (+ Our Top Five Tools to Up Your Mental Health Game)" in your inbox right away.