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September, 2015:

Greenhorn Gardener

The beginning of my patio vegetable garden

The beginning of my patio vegetable garden

I started a little patio vegetable garden in flower pots about a week ago. I thought it would be fun to try to grow some of my own food.

My expectations for this project are very low. Remember, I’m the person who killed a cactus.

I’m having so much fun with this science project. Every morning when I wake up and every afternoon when I get home from work, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. One of the first things I do is open the blinds to the patio to see if I have new growth on my plants. I’ll stand there for minutes observing the taller talks and emerging leaves. NEAT STUFF!

A few days ago, I had just woken up and in my pre-coffee stupor, I was so excited to get out to my mini garden that I walked straight into the screen door instead of opening it first. That’s how much I love this garden.

I have 6 flower pots in my patio garden. So far I’ve planted cucumbers, beans, and broccoli. The peas and parsley will be planted in a few weeks. The seed packets said there should be sprouts within 7-14 days. I had sprouts within 3 days on the cucumbers. I was filled with glee to see this project off to a good start.

Every day I see new growth. The beans and cucumbers are doing well. The broccoli . . . eh, we’ll see what happens. I was warned growing broccoli from seeds is challenging.

One of the things I’m enjoying most about this garden is the lack of expectations and wonder that goes along with it. Besides providing water, quality soil, and placing the pots in sunlight, there’s nothing I can do to impact the results. Either they’ll grow or not – and since all of this is new for me, it’s exciting to see the progress. And since they’re such tiny plants, there’s a noticeable difference every few hours.

Yup – I’m a big dork who loves her garden.

Self-Preservation for September

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams, used with permission

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams, used with permission

I was laying on my therapist’s couch the other day (yes, I see a therapist and yes, I lay on his couch), when I looked up at him and asked, “What the fuck is wrong with me?”

One of the things I love about my therapist is he will lovingly but bluntly let me have it when such a response is warranted. This was one of those times. He basically said that I am a perfectionistic, anxiety-filled, traumatized, recovering addict who refuses to put self-care above escapism and achievement. And if I keep pushing myself so hard, one of three things is going to happen:

  • I will have a heart attack,
  • He will be forced to hospitalize me,
  • I will learn to cut myself some slack.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept that I am human with limits, and even harder to accept that I am a human with multiple potentially terminal conditions. I have “muscled” through many of the challenges in my life to date, and unfortunately that is at best a temporary solution – survive for now and worry about the consequences and long-term effects later.

Well, now it’s later.

I’m at the point in my life and my recovery that not taking care of myself is probably not an option. I wouldn’t be surprised if I am one of those people who should be on a massage table or an acupuncture table once a month, not as an indulgence, but as a necessity. And it’s not that I don’t know about self-care; I just suck at consistently applying these principles to myself.

Did I mentioned that, because of our conflicting travel schedules, I don’t get to see my therapist again for nearly a month? It’s not that I can’t go that long without seeing him, I just don’t like to. Looking at it from an optimistic perspective, this is giving me the opportunity to take on more responsibility for taking care of myself and to rely more on my support system (because I also suck at asking for help too). I think this will also be a month of more – more music, more sleep, more gardening, more exercise, and more hugs – less mindlessness, more mindfulness.

A friend suggested that my default answer for the next month should be “No.” I appreciate her advice, but I know that can’t be a hard and fast rule. There are too many awesome opportunities, things that I really want to do. My challenge will be being thoughtful about the opportunities that I accept.