I’ve noted before, that while my mom passed many of her talents to me, her green thumb was/is not one of them. I love the look of nature, but I’m not the one that likes to convene in it on a regular basis. At least not the type of nature that means digging in the dirt and getting overheated! But at the beginning of each season, I pretend to have a green thumb for one day and get everything “back in order” so that my husband can then attend to it for the rest of the summer.
As I was “convening” this season, I realized that weeding is something that can apply not only to my incredibly overgrown side garden (see photo for evidence), but to life as well. Before I share my observations with you, I want you to jot down all of your daily, weekly, monthly responsibilities, activities and obligations (or at least in your head to start). If it makes it easier, you can download some great planner pdfs here to organize what you already do. Think of all of these things as making up your “garden” or your life. Some are nice to haves, some are must haves, and I dare say, some are complete time and energy sucks. So follow along and see if you agree with my correlations between weeding our gardens outside and weeding our life gardens.
The Longer You Wait, the Worse It’s Going to Get…We’ve had a very wet Spring and while the weekdays have been glorious, the weekends have been fairly miserable. As a result, I didn’t get into the “outdoors” until Memorial Day weekend and as a result the weeds have really taken hold! Now that we are taking a closer look, what in our lives needs to be weeded out? Cleaned up? Cleared away? What is taking over the “statement” plants or what’s really important? Now is the time to get started. “Weeds” don’t go away on their own. You’ve got to get down and dirty to do a good job. There is no time like the present!
Looks Great From Afar…Even my crazy, thorny, over grown side garden looks great from the street. It’s planted to look natural and it’s mostly green, so the complete carpet of weeds just blends in. You don’t tend to notice weeds until they sprout out of perfectly planted rows or very meticulously landscaped areas. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t live in a perfectly planted world and meticulous is not a word that could describe anything in my life. So to really get a good look at what needs to be taken care of, or cleaned up, in our lives, we have to move in for a closer look. And remember when you are driving by others’ gardens and they look perfect, they aren’t…now keep your eyes on your own garden!
Clover is Easy to See...There are many weeds that are clearly weeds, no question…like clover, milk weed, dandelions. So I always tackle those first. There is a great sense of accomplishment to cleaning these out. They don’t have strong roots, they are easy to see and they typically do not spread. When you look at your schedule, life, and/or responsibilities, what are the easy things to eliminate that are no longer serving you? For me, these are typically things that only affect me. Wasted time online or added responsibilities/chores that only I care about or notice. Pull them out and start to see your progress!
You Can’t Help Hurting a Good Plant in the Process…In my gardens, the grass is the most prolific and gets its self all interwoven with the “real” plants. You have two choices. You can go for broke to get it all out, or leave it be. To go for broke, not only takes more work, it seems so wrong because you inevitably hurt part of the plant that it has overtaken. This is like weeding in our life, the hardest things to eliminate, that are no longer serving us, are the ones that will affect others. The carpool that is way more work than it’s worth…the gym that is way out of your way, but you’ve been going there for years…the group of friends that you really have nothing in common with any more. It’s hard, I totally get it, but when you cut back your plants, they flourish with new growth. It is a temporary “hurt” that is worth it in the long run.
Did I Plant This?…Half of what I pulled out this weekend were actually things that I think I planted at one point. Let’s generally refer to them as “ground cover”. They help fill in the garden when it’s new and they seem like such a great idea, until you realize that they reproduce quicker than gremlins and now you can’t see the flowers for the ground cover. While it might be a “plant”, it’s now acting as a weed. So it has to go to save the rest. What in your life made a lot of sense at the time, but no longer fills you up, or serves it’s purpose? Volunteering falls into this category a lot for me. In those cases when I raised my hand once to help and then it got bigger, and more involved, until it seemed more like a job than a favor. It’s okay to realize that what once served you and fulfilled you, no longer does. The longer you hold on to these things, the longer you go without being able to find something new to fulfill you.
Too Much of a Good Thing, Isn’t So Good…I’ve heard my Grandma Schuler say this so many times–usually about people, but I digress! There are probably unbelievable treasures in your garden and your life that have flourished year after year and have grown with you, but perhaps are starting to take over. The front of our house is lined with climbing roses that become very unruly by the beginning of each new season and if left to their own devices would gobble the house whole. Are there activities and responsibilities in your life that you absolutely love, and can’t part with, but might need to be trimmed back? Family obligations seem to fall here for me. I can’t decide one day not to be a mother or a wife any more, but there are some things that come with these roles that I need to cut back–spread the wealth so to speak. I need my space and they need their boundaries. It’s a win, win!
Get Them Out. All The Way Out…My mom was adamant that you couldn’t just weed something out and drop it right there. “They are nasty buggers and they will take root again!” So we would have to make a pile outside of the garden and then take that as far away as possible when we were done. As you are “weeding” your life, you need to be clear and decisive. Pull it out all the way to the root and remove it completely. Do not leave yourself open for it to come back. In other words, don’t say, “I need to take a break”, or “I might be able to do XYZ again in the fall.” If you want to remove it and are going to go through the “pain”, make it permanent. There is nothing to say you can’t bring it back in later, but it needs to be on your terms, and not because you feel guilty about “taking a break.”
It’s Time for the Preen…As soon as I have the weeds out of the garden and pitched as far away as possible, my husband comes through with the weed resister stuff. Sidebar: I don’t want letters from organic farmers telling me that I’m killing the world, and I have no alliance to any products–this is an analogy, so bear with me! It doesn’t matter how diligent you are, how hard you pulled, how far you threw them to the curb, weeds happen. Little by little they blow in the wind, land, and take hold again. In gardening, you may use a product, mulch, and/or an ongoing weeding schedule to keep them at bay, but regardless of your method, it’s not a one and done situation. So once you’ve “weeded” your life, you need to put something in place to assure that the weeds don’t come back. Plant new flowers, or enjoy the space, but give yourself the permission to say no. I like the idea of a delayed no. Everything is no when asked and then you give yourself a week to reconsider. Knowing you don’t “have to” gives you the space to really see if said “opportunity” is something that is worth planting in your garden. If not, you’ve already said no, so there is no guilt.
Ready to pull up your sleeves and get a little “dirty”?
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.