Like Rome, a landscape is not built in a day.

Unrealistic expectations much? Yes, that is me. I have never been one to accurately estimate what is achievable, even when I was once in my top condition of energy level and capability. Just ask anyone who has watched me attempt a basic child’s birthday party and accidentally over-plan a lot of enthusiastic, elaborate and creative details until I’m hectic, stay up until all hours the night before, trash the house trying to prepare day of; and end up arriving late to my own kid’s party, harried, with some details still incomplete. I’ve been doing this with little adjustment for literally 24 years (age of my eldest son in July!). Oh, and it’s even worse for major holidays!

Now there is this new (to me) concept of spoons. Have you heard of it? I find the whole metaphor to be a bit cliche and more than a little bit annoying. It rubs me the wrong way, yet I have to admit that is is accurate and legitimate. Apparently I’m an official “spoonie”, which is not a club I would have opted into, had I been given a choice. Here is a short and easy to read article about “Spoon Theory” for readers who are uninformed about this part of chronic conditions/illness. I just realized that this subject is the perfect follow up to my last piece, in which I discussed feeling as if my garden and Permaculture practice/education are embarrassingly conceptual, with very little physical evidence to show for it all. I feel sad to share that my efforts in the yard and garden that I determinedly set out to transform with great intention have frequently been stalled out for weeks at a time, that the very old brassica seeds from the early 2000’s that I planted outside with hope of them containing magical life and longevity actually were not viable and did not germinate, the ground I upturned to plant them in instead sprouted an abundance of dandelion, thistle and invasive unidentified life, and the seeds I began indoors have had somewhere near a 15% success rate and are also a breeding ground for hundreds of tiny, black gnats. I did realize, which is an important teachable moment, that I should not have upturned that soil and grass. My heart told me “No!” as I aggressively attacked it through a mounded snow drift, determined to put in those early seeds during March!

I knew deep down that layering cardboard, mulch and other biodegradables would better serve the mini-ecosystem of that dirt patch, but I had no mulch, wanted to get under the snow, and was rough and aggressive. Permaculture fail, right there, and good evidential learning about the dangers of an emotional landscape of fabricated urgency and unbridled impatience. What I gently planted without soil disruption, in a logical spot under a gutter where water flows, and gently covered with a mulch of dead grass, is growing! Sweet pea shoots are going to make it. I did that first, on my first day outside, with love, patience and thoughtful intention, and it worked.

Today I pushed myself. I pulled weeds, made a place to plant a pumpkin patch, mixed mini-clover seed with sand and overseeded my lawn in hope that it will take over the godawful lawn and require less mowing and watering, eliminate weeds, attract and feed bees and be eco-friendly.  I also harvested rhubarb, plus did lots of household tasks, some car maintenance and more, and I have spent all my spoons. I fear I have spent tomorrow’s also. Crap! I’m laying down feeling cranky, very irritably overly sensitive to the sounds of my energetic children’s voices, dizzy from working too hard and stressed about how the heck I’m now going to pull off a dinner meal. I’m done like burnt toast, but the work of being a single Mom on a Saturday isn’t, and the work of a viable garden or even a maintained yard is so, so not complete. I wanted to cry about it, and I was about to, when a little voice in my head whispered, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, silly, and the people working on it probably weren’t even disabled single moms. Developing a landscape that you love will be years in the making, if you even live here long enough to see that much progress. You can’t see measurable progress each day just like you can’t watch the growth of a flower in action unless you speed up a video of it. Just keep at it even more slowly because you are trying too hard, and stop expecting any particular, measurable outcome. Just be legitimately curious about where this is going as if the project is not a thing you are trying to achieve and control, but is it’s own endeavor with a direction of its own coming through your fingertips, much like how a child is born coming through a mother but is really not the possession or direct product of that mother and is very much their own individual.” What a lovely, frank and inspiring dharma talk my inner knowing gave to me as I lay on my bed, collapsed in dizziness, overwhelmed, defeated and frustrated. I picked up my phone, clicked on my blog app and began madly typing, and here we are. Now to get this family fed and do something about a massive rhubarb harvest on my kitchen floor (anybody need some?) and to try to recover my children from the deeply immersed land of video games that they escape to when I’m not monitoring them and I’ve asked them not-so-sweetly to lower their voices because my senses are on extreme overload.

P.S. On a happy note, the many hen and chicks that I pilfered from plentiful patches on sidewalk edges while walking dogs professionally last spring are vibrant and proliferous, and so are the pot of wild strawberries that I dug up from under a tree in a public park, and so are the iris given by a friend. Seeing the small bits of evidence of progress from a year ago show me that I am always moving forward, one little step at a time.

P.S.S.  Its beautifully raining and taking care of soul… I mean my newly sown clover.  Okay, I mean both. I was hoping that would happen.  Yes!


2 thoughts on “Like Rome, a landscape is not built in a day.

  1. This is wonderful and so well written! You inspired me, I love your authenticity and vulnerability. And yes your inner self is very wise ❤


    1. Thank you, Kate! It is so nice to hear that you are inspired by my thoughts spilled out blog-style. Thank you for reading my post!


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