Life is Like a Garden

garden

I’ll be the first to admit I do not have a green thumb. For many years, I had my own garden and was proud of my accomplishment of NOT killing things. They did okay, but wasn’t anything spectacular. I spent hours a week weeding, watering the plants, and tending to it. I researched which plants you should and shouldn’t grow next to each other. I bought a small greenhouse to start the season earlier, so I could reap the benefits sooner. I carefully measured (with a ruler mind-you) how deep I planted the seeds in the cups. It took time and dedication. But, I did it and the sense of “I freaking did it” when I harvested my plants was awesome.

If you do research and understand the laws of nature, you can create, grow and cultivate gardens that overflow with fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Same applies to life. If you use those laws of life to your advantage, you can grow a life full of meaning and beauty.

In life, each of us is growing our own gardens within us. Life brings us all kinds of circumstances, and some have a painful path to walk. Every thought you have is your soil. We’re all given a little piece of ground to work with. My garden isn’t the same as yours; and yours isn’t the same as the next person beside you. Each garden comes with different soil, seeds and climates.

In a garden, weeds steal nutrients, space, water, etc from other plants. They can overgrow the garden and take over whatever is in its path. Weeds like fear, envy, grief, rage, doubt, insecurity, etc can all feed those weeds. It’s important in any trial that you’re pulling those weeds out. It’s okay to have certain thoughts and feelings while going through tough times; however, it’s not okay to let things go, fester and become a deeper issue.

All gardens have potential to blossom and be beautiful. Sometimes while taking care of the garden, you have to get your hands a little dirty, play in the soil, and tend to the pests. In life, we have to do the same things when circumstances and trials come our way. We can turn our heads the other way and ignore those weeds, but what good does that do? Why bring out the weed whacker, when you could pull those few weeds here and there? It takes constant tending and, perhaps, years to uproot certain weeds.

Gardens grow with love and care. Feed your garden with truth, acceptance, trust, joy, dedication, forgiveness, patience, thankfulness, inspiration, kindness, etc etc.

I’ve had to take care of my garden a lot in the last few years, more so this year. I can see how things and circumstances I’ve had to go through have led up and helped me be where I am right now. 2014 hasn’t been a kind year to my family or me at all. But, I have two choices – become angry and resentful for the cards dealt my way or look at it as a growing opportunity. Like I’ve said many times before, life doesn’t come with guarantees or promises that it will be easy. I haven’t arrived, nor will I ever fully arrive until I’m taken from this earth.

With a garden, you have to learn to let go of things that are out of your control. I can be OCD at times (shocking!) and want to plan out every aspect of life. I planned races this year and had some pretty lofty goals, only to have things out of my control mess that plan up. Vineman Half Ironman was going to be MY race. I went into it with a stellar training plan, hired an amazing coach, had a race plan to accomplish and shave off an hour from my previous half Ironman time…I had all my ducks in a row…My nutrition going into the race was the best I’ve ever executed. I woke up race morning and ate my calories. I did the swim and set a personal best. Hopped on the bike and started eating/drinking…only to start puking within the first few miles. I couldn’t eat the rest of the day and my “run” suffered. I had no intentions walking a majority of the run, but I had to do whatever to get to that darn finish line. I planned to do my very first marathon in October and signed up prior to Sarah’s diagnosis with breast cancer. Well, I got my genetic testing done, got a surgery date scheduled, and had surgery. No marathon for me this year and I’m completely okay with that!!

Our lives are subject to elements that are completely out of our control (sickness, death, storms, disease, etc). When I had my garden, I had to deal with all sorts of pests – rabbits, foxes, deer…I couldn’t get rid of them and putting a fence/cage around it did nothing to keep them out. In fact, I think they started taunting me even more when I put up the cages. In life, it’s the same thing. You can put up protective barriers around your life to not let those pests, hurts, pain or whatever in, but they’ll still get in some way, somehow. You can put walls up, but that only lasts so long.

Prior to surgery I had plenty of fears, a lot of them I built up in my head, and let them consume me at times. It was part of the process and dealing with emotions. Here are a few for example: 1) I wake up during surgery like Sarah did during her second biopsy. 2) I lose blood supply to my nipples, they die and are surgically removed anyway. 3) My incisions pop open and take a heck of a lot longer to heal. 4) The drains get snagged and pulled out, which results in fluid build-up and pooling between the expander and Alloderm. Infection settles in and there’s the possible removal of the expander anyway. 5) My body rejects the expander and they have to open me up again to remove them. 6) As a result of number 5, I’m flat-chested for at least 6 months before they can try the whole process again. 7) No sleep, blood clots, issues prevent healing. 8)…..

All of those fears couldn’t be controlled. I learned to deal with those issues as they came up. I couldn’t plan things out or be in control; whatever happened, happened.

Right now, I’m focusing on letting go of my fears and worries with this double mastectomy and life after. This last week I’ve had a lot going on and much out of my control. I could bore you with all the things and details, but I won’t. Mostly, anxiety/fears leading into this week. I have plenty of fears and concerns with more doctor appointments and even going into this second surgery (expander/implant exchange) come December (fingers crossed!!). I don’t want to get too excited, because that could very well change. Again, out of my control! I cringe at the sight of seeing gauze, bandages and tape. I fear I’ll get super sick again like I did. I’m scared and fearful of the pain that will come with this next surgery. Although, most of my research and talking with other’s have said the second surgery is a complete breeze. No hospital stays, less pain, bounce back quicker, and much more. I don’t like the unknowns. The worst of what could happen already happened with simply doing the double mastectomy. I don’t know what to expect with this expander/implant surgery, but I do know it’s not worth stressing myself over the ‘what-ifs’. I cannot control the outcome, but can only trust my doctors that they’ll what their skilled and trained to do. They’re the experts.

I can’t keep feeding my thoughts and fears, because it leads to other problems. I’m pulling those weeds in my garden and replacing them with seeds of love, beauty, self-knowledge, strength, and acceptance. I want my garden to continue blossoming into something even more beautiful. Growing a garden takes time and constant nurturing and tending. It won’t happen overnight and I’ve accepted that a long time ago. I can’t advise you on what to do in your garden, but I can be there to love you and support you no matter what. I haven’t worked with your terrain, fertilizer, weather conditions, pollination, climate, etc etc. I cannot tell you how to grow the best garden. I’ve weathered different storms.

I’m learning to bend with the storms, let go of the conditions I cannot control, let the storms and rainy days better me, trust the sun will continue to shine, and continue to blossom. And you know what? I want to share my garden with others and let them in on my journey.

I’m learning to let go, one day at a time. I’m learning to continue taking care of my garden and mind.

“Life is like a garden, you don’t end up where you started…”

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