A productive past couple of days has left me feeling accomplished and very tired. It has also left me feeling very behind and lacking.
I have been finishing up the inside of the house, in preparation for new carpet being installed on Friday. I have finally finished removing wall paper, priming, and painting two coats on walls, as well as priming and painting (2 coats) on the ceilings. Old carpet and padding has been pulled. Floors have been swept. Closets cleaned out.
So why is it that I am feeling behind? Because my yard is covered in weeds. Look at it! It is horrible.:
They are everywhere I look. The kids only help by “blowing on the pretty white flowers”, not realizing how much I hate those pretty white flowers. My mowing seems to only help for a day or two, then over night everything comes back stronger than ever. Or so it seems.
Then it rains. It all grows bigger and bigger, laughing at me, while I have been whittling time away on inside work. All hope is gone, I may as well throw in the towel now and not even try gardening this year!
(throwing in the towel)
I decided to walk around the yard, snapping pictures of all the ways I am failing as a gardener. See, I wanted to show you exactly how bad things had gotten. The proof is not in short supply.
By the time I had completed my trip around the yard, I found more that I was expecting.
See, my focus had been distracted to the one part of the yard that received the most impact from our house work during the past two years. It is the place where a 6+ foot deep trench had been dug and the dirt piled up, where trucks had been driving, where trees had been cut down, where wood chips had been piled since late last spring, and where almost no grass is growing. My focus had been on this part of the yard. Even though this small part was small in comparison to the whole, it is what my attention went to every time I pulled into our yard or looked out a window.
Meanwhile, in other section of the yard, flowers were blooming and growing. Places that in years past held no flowers or were struggling, were now showing signs of thriving. Color was showing up everywhere, pushing out the brown and mud of winter.
Isn’t this often how we view our gardens and life? We worry and focus on the small part we are working on, forgetting to look around, forgetting to look at those places we improved upon in the past.
There will always be bare spots, weeds, lackluster parts of our garden. And life. People, including ourselves, live up or down down to our expectations of them. If all you expect are weeds, then that is what you will find. You will find yourself too tired to go do battle to take back your yard. Other things will call out to you which seem to have a higher likelihood of success. You will throw in the towel before you have even started.
However, if you can look at your garden and find all the things going right, or the potential for things going right, then that is what you will see. You will find you have more energy to make it like you want it. The rainy days will not seem so forlorn, but instead will be watering your flowers, making them ready to bloom brighter when the sun comes out.
Don’t believe me? Take a look again at the pictures above. Can you tell which part of the yard I feel better about, the part I have higher hopes for? Hint: it is not the one with the “pretty white flowers” that my kids like. The part I feel better about I am more likely to spend time in, working to make it even better.
Yes, I am talking about gardening, though the analogy works very well for life. A conversation with a friend this week reminded me of that very point. I proceeded to tell her about all the ways I am failing (persistent weeds), all the things going wrong (quick growing weed), and all the ways I should have done better (deep rooted weeds). She then proceeded to encourage me (spreading flower seeds) and remind me of where our family has come from in the past (those perennial flowers planted several seasons ago that are now stronger and flowering more). I was reminded to stop looking over at my neighbor’s life (“The grass is always greener…”) and focus on mine.
Sometimes, our garden really is shabby. That is when you choose a corner to start improving upon, pulling weeds and planting things you enjoy. Other times, it is only your perspective, looking at the areas still in progress. You forget to turn and see the things you have added to make your garden your own. Do not get so focused on the seed that your forget to see the flower.