Saturday, July 2, 2011

Gardening...and Learning

Small...but weed free!
I wrote this post on Facebook a few weeks back on June 4th.  Just re-read it this morning and decided to re-post it here...along with the update at the end.  Read on!!!

This afternoon, I had an opportunity to learn from the Master Gardner right outside my front window.  My birthday was 7 weeks ago and my aunt decided that the overgrown mess that was in front of our house needed to be landscaped as my birthday present.  A few days after my big day, she came prepared with shovels, plants and mulch...and proceeded to remove the weeds that had overgrown the empty, ignored space...and replace them with beautiful flowers...a rose bush, and two other things that I can in no way identify, but are pretty nonetheless.

Those of you who know me well may remember that when it comes to gardening, landscaping, growing green things in general...I have a decidedly BLACK thumb!  Simply put, plants die in my presence, as if the mere thought of being near me is too much for them and they shrivel in despair.  My aunt, knowing this, tasked my younger son with the care and nurturing of this new colorful addition to the front of our home.  (Clearly, a tactical error on her part.  Because, while I may not be able to grow plants well, I certainly can and have grown children! In fact, it's my specialty.  I know a lot about this child,  and this boy is no more a gardener than I am! However, I digress...)

So, today...7 weeks later...the plants are still living.  But as I walked by the flower bed as I do each day to get into my home, I noticed that the weeds had nearly overtaken the beautiful flowers.  And I stopped.  Normally, I wouldn't have.  But for some reason, I did.  I looked carefully and could almost feel the poor things crying out to me to save them.  Me...Ms. Black Thumb!  Clearly these flowers were not too bright...but truly they were troopers...sticking it out in a weed infested bed, unable to do anything about their plight, but refusing to succumb to it either.  So I did what any kind, tenderhearted person would do...I began pulling weeds.  And somewhere along the nearly 3 hours it took me to accomplish the task, I learned a few things about life and myself.

1.  Weeds are not easy to pull.  Now, this may seem obvious to you gardening-type people...but it's not so clear to the plant killers like me.  I began pulling at the decidedly grassy type weeds by pulling on the blades, assuming that the rest of the plant would come out of the ground, too.  No such luck!  The blades came off easily, but these babies had roots that went DEEP!  In order to fully eradicate these menaces from my flower bed, I had to get dig down deep and remove as much of the root as I could.  Removing just the obvious, visible portion of the weed may have made the flower bed LOOK better...but it wouldn't have fixed its real problem.  The real plants...the ones that my aunt intentionally planted there...need resources that the weeds' roots steal below the surface of the soil.  If I wanted to really save those plants, I had to be willing to go deeper than I wanted to and remove the source of the problem.

The life lesson here?  Take care of the root of my problems, not the surface issues that people can see.  Take my weight problem for instance.  Obviously, people can see the excess weight I've carried for years.   I am slowly but surely removing it...69 pounds of it gone as of today, thank you very much!  But what people can't see and don't know is the root of that problem.  Am I as concerned about finding and eradicating THAT as I am about just looking better on the outside?  It's not enough to do lose the weight if I don't lose the mindset, attitudes, and habits that allowed it to pile onto my body in the first place.  If I don't lost those things, the weight will come back.  Guaranteed.  But there's no way I'm allowing that to happen.  I'm committing myself to pull the "weeds" out of my life that allowed me to become an obese woman in the first place.  And I won't rest until every last root has been unearthed and eliminated.

2.  Digging out weeds is hard work...and not at all pretty.  For those of you who do this on a regular basis, I commend you.  I, however, do not.  And there is a good reason for that, besides my aforementioned black thumb.  For as much as my new exercise program is benefiting my overall health and wellness, I still have knees that don't function properly.  Sitting down on the concrete near the flower bed was not an option for me.  Kneeling was impossible, squatting unthinkable.  So, I had to perform this task from a bent over, standing position.  For nearly three hours, my neighbors got a great view of my backside as I pulled the weeds from in front of my home!  Did you know that the blood rushes to your head every so often the longer you are bent over like that?  I do.  Once or twice, as I was standing up to allow the dizziness to subside for a bit, I asked myself why I was doing this.  Why all the effort for some small flowering plants?  And then I looked at them and remembered.  I could not knowingly allow those plants to die without trying something to save them from their fate - the one my aunt resigned them to the moment she planted them in front of my house.  So, I bent back over and resumed pulling, trying desperately not to think about how unattractive my rear end looked to my poor neighbors.

What I take away from this is that often, the best, most necessary things to having a better life take work.  They take time.  They take sustained effort.  They take pushing past comfort zones and allowing ourselves to feel a bit dizzy and uneasy, knowing that in the end we will have accomplished something monumental in our lives because we refused to yield to the path of least resistance.  I need to allow myself to be seen as unattractive from time to time by those around me while I work on achieving my goals.  (And if you've ever been to the gym or pool with me to work out, you will surely understand that I am incredibly unattractive while reaching for some of my goals!)  Anything worth having in your life, is worth the effort to attain it...even if it means letting others see my unflattering backside!

Still think ivy's pretty...but not in my garden!
3.  They may be pretty...but they're still weeds.  Ivy is pretty to me.  I've stenciled it as a border near my ceilings and chosen it as the pattern for the comforter on my bed because I love the look of it.  But it's a weed.  It grows without being cultivated and spreads rapidly.  It invades.  And if you let it...pretty as it will overtake and eventually kill whatever gets in its way.  There was ivy in the flower bed in front of my house until a few hours ago.  And I was so tempted to leave it there because I like how it looks.  Until I remembered that if I leave the ivy, everything else in the flower bed will die.  Not may die.  WILL die.  And somehow when I looked at it that way, the ivy wasn't so pretty anymore.  Oh, I still liked the look of it, the shape of its leaves, the particular shade of green it has.  But when I realized the havoc it was trying to wreak in my flower bed, it became less attractive to me.  And I pulled it out.

Allowing things to stay in my life that I enjoy but are not good for me spiritually, mentally, emotionally, or physically WILL hurt me in the end. Period.  No matter how good they matter how tempting they are, I can't allow them to stay rooted.  They have to be pulled or they will invade every part of my life and overtake me.

And finally...

4.  No one will pull your weeds for you.  My son was tasked with this chore by my aunt the day she planted the flowers.  But never once did he even try.  He walked by the flower bed for the past 7 weeks, just like I did, noting its increasingly overgrown condition, and yet doing nothing to remedy the situation.  I wonder if he even remembered my aunt telling him to take care of the plants?  I have a husband and another son who ignored the plight of the plants just as easily.  Even this afternoon, while the younger boy and my husband watched me work, neither of them offered to assist me.  Truly, they didn't even cheer me on.  They didn't consider the job to be worthy of praise.  The weeds didn't bother them.  They bothered me.  So if something was going to be done about the weeds, it would have to be me that did it.  Without their help or encouragement.  And that's exactly how it happened.

It'd be nice to think that someone could work on my goals for and with me.  But they can't.  They won't.  They have their own goals, which is as it should be.  They may cheer me on as I go after my own achievements, but ultimately, this is MY task to accomplish on my own.

So, I've had a productive garden got freed from its weeds and my life is getting cleaned up, too.  Not a bad way to spend the day!

And now the update...

A month later, my flowerbed is still weed free.  I have learned the daily discipline of pulling weeds.  It doesn't take me 3 hours anymore.  It takes me 3 minutes...on some days.  Other days, it's really no work at all because I never allowed the weeds to take root.  Not surprisingly, the flowers are healthier looking and beginning to grow!  Prior to this, they were roughly the same size they were when my aunt gave them to me.  I had forgotten something essential to all living things...they were meant to THRIVE!  Without so many weeds, my flowers are now getting that chance!

The life lesson in that for me?  Better every day really means BETTER EVERY DAY.  When I daily make the conscious choice to do things better than I did them the day before...I GET BETTER EVERY DAY!!!  What used to take me hours now takes me minutes.  I'm on top of it.  It's not overwhelming me.

The same is true of my workouts.  What I used to take 45 minutes to do, I can do in 20 or less.  What I never used to be able to do, I can do.  I just took my longest treadmill walk this morning...and talked my way through the whole thing.  My cardio endurance is better...BETTER EVERY DAY.  Those 3 words are SO powerful!!!

And an update for my weight you know, I'm no longer sitting at the 69 pound mark..its 74 pounds now!  5 pounds in a month?  I'll take it!

Have a great day, friends!  Be BETTER TODAY!!!


  1. Every one has a mantra. I love yours - Better Every Day. That is definitely plaque material and a positive perspective.

  2. My mantra was borrowed? Does that count? It sure is what I keep playing in my head, original or not! Thanks for comment!

  3. I love gardening so I can resonate with you on weed pulling and the application you made with each point. To make the blog a little more interesting, post a picture of your subject matter, your garden. I would love to see it.

  4. Thanks for the suggestion, Terrie. I will try to figure out how to do that! Still a very new blogger!!! Gotta warn you, though...I wasn't fibbing about that black thumb. I'm probably the only one who loves my little flower bed. The garden is decidedly tiny...but there are NO WEEDS!!!

  5. Here ya go, Terrie! Thanks for the suggestion! I've learned new tricks for the blog! And it wasn't that hard...go figure!


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