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  • So far, 2012 has been quite an interesting year. I don’t know whether it’s always been intentional, but I feel like since embarking on the Leapyear Project, I find myself more actively pursuing the things I have always wanted to do. While I have never officially written a Bucket List (I really should), I often remark “I’d love to…” Typically, however, those statements never travel beyond the daydreaming stage into reality.

    One of those “I’d love tos” was planting a garden, so this Spring, I took a small leap and rented a Community Garden plot. It’s something I’ve talked about for years. As a vegan, I have this very whimsical dream of me growing, harvesting, cooking, canning, and surviving off of food that I have grown. In this fantasy, I wear flowing, flowered sundresses with floppy straw hats, carry a basket, and ride my bike everywhere. Oh, and it’s always perfectly sunny with blue skies. And my hair always looks good.

    Unfortunately, reality did not reflect my idyllic vision in any way, shape, or form. Turns out, gardening is really freaking hard. The ground was not lushly fertile, waiting in anticipation to provide me with bountiful crops. It was hard, barren, clumpy, and jam-packed with weeds. The sun did not lightly kiss my skin and lovingly offer it’s warmth to my budding plants. It was hot; really, really, relentlessly, sweaty hot. Rain did not fall gently from heaven to bring relief and hydration. Ever. Seriously, it never rained. And to be honest, carrying water in a jug sucks. It’s awkward and heavy, and you have to take a bazillion trips.

    Needless to say, exactly five minutes after showing up at my new garden, Primrose Park Community Garden Plot #262, with my canvas bag brimming with shiny new gardening tools and organic seeds, I wanted to walk away and never look back. I stuck it out for several weeks though; making my treks to the plot like a prisoner in the chain gang. I spent hours hunched over, weeding, weeding, and more weeding. I watered, I weeded, I planted, I weeded, I cursed, I weeded, I prayed, I weeded. I told myself I loved this (I didn’t). I told myself I was a cute little gardener (I’m not). I told myself my garden was going to be lush and bountiful (it wasn’t).

    Finally, I admitted defeat. This did not come easily to me, as we Lincolns don’t give up. Once we’ve made a commitment, we will see it through until the death. But, the garden was making me crazy; stressing me out and dragging me down. I had to let it go. I had to allow myself to fail, to release the fantasy, to admit that I was in over my head, walk away, and forgive myself. It was harder than I thought it would be; I was filled with shame every time someone asked me how the garden was going (I had really talked this thing up), and I still feel a twinge of guilt every time I drive by. But it was the right decision. Failing was a leap for me – not an intentional one – but one I needed to take.

    I can grow a garden, I know I can. But it takes time, and determination, and dedication. And while I have those things in spades, they are already allocated to other leaps; important, life-changing, massive leaps. And by failing, I learned to set boundaries; to protect myself, my time, my sanity, my health. I can do a lot of things, I just can’t do all of those things at the same time – and that was a lesson I needed to learn.

    Since walking away from Primrose Park #262, I have planted a quaint, Michelle-sized garden on my patio. It’s small, simple, relaxing, inviting; exactly what I hoped gardening would be. Maybe next year I’ll have time for a full garden plot, but for now, I will embrace my failure.
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