My maternal grandparents have run a thriving greenhouse/wholesale plant business for most of my life. My paternal grandmother grew the most beautiful violets in her house. My paternal grandfather was a farmer. I, however, can kill a plant faster than any of them can grow any of their plants. It’s a talent I’m not particularly proud of. It’s not for lack of trying. It’s not for lack of research. I know what plants need – water, good soil, and sun (but some plants don’t like sun, and some plants don’t like as much water, and it’s these details which trip me up). My husband once congratulated me for keeping a low light, low care basic green plant alive for 2 years (it died this spring a sad, lingering death).
My problem was that I just didn’t have the time to devote to my plants to help them thrive. Some of them survived despite that. Let me tell you, it is so much easier to put a beautiful, blooming flower into the ground than it is to drag out the heavy 50 ft. hose and water it regularly. At our last house, we had flower beds on all four sides of the house. This necessitated 2 – 50 ft. hoses to reach them all. My husband believes in buying LIFETIME GUARANTEE hoses that weigh a ton. No, we never had to replace them, but they were almost impossible to wrap up neatly (and really, what’s the point of having beautiful flower beds if you’re just going to leave the hoses laying out like an eyesore?). After watering, I always needed to take a shower to get all the dirt off my arms and legs. After awhile, we even cut back the depth of each bed substantially, but it was still incredibly time consuming and expensive.
So that brings me to our current home. I still need flowers to kill look at. So my husband built me 2 very small beds. I’m talking less than 45 square feet each. In addition, he put a small lightweight hose between the two beds, hidden in a garden pot. All the rest of the landscape bed is rock. No watering, no mowing required. It is FABULOUS! It takes me less than 5 minutes to water both beds and rewind the hose. I think I can handle 5 minutes a day. No shower afterward required because the hose doesn’t drag through the dirt. And, even if I DO kill the plants in the beds, they are so small that it doesn’t cost nearly as much money to fill them up again. (Just so you know, I have NOT killed any of these plants; our four kittens have beat me to it. AAARGH!)
Here’s the point: my plants are thriving instead of surviving because I’m giving them the care they need (well, except for protection from kittens – but the kittens are SO CUTE!) Many times in life I have felt like I was merely surviving – barely keeping up with our meals, laundry, our family’s emotional needs. And we didn’t have enough time or money to fix the problems. So the only solution was to CUT BACK. But cutting back is hard work too. I truly enjoyed what I was doing. But I also knew life had to be more about thriving than surviving. Otherwise, what’s the point?
So, how did I cut back? By taking 3 steps back, 3 deep breaths, and looking at the big picture. I mean the really big picture. Then I asked myself some hard questions:
What’s most important in my life? My family, my faith in God
Where do I want to be in 5, 10, 20 years? Financially independent; flexible enough to nurture relationships with the ones I love; NOT in a remodel
How do I want my family to remember me when I’m dead? Interested in them (not self-centered), kind-spoken, encouraging
Why am I truly doing what I’m doing? Tradition, perfectionist tendencies, peer pressure, living up to others’ expectations
These questions were not easy to face. Frankly, it would have been so much easier to turn on the tv and veg out. But, answering those questions helped me and my husband to change the direction of our life; and, though it’s been difficult, it has also been rewarding on so many levels. For me personally, I feel like I am much better aligned to what’s important in my life, rather than just rushing from one busy day to the next, merely trying to survive.
I choose to thrive.