As a dabbler in gardening, art, home repair, cooking, greening, and general wellness, every once in a while the world seems to speed up around me and I can't get anything accomplished. Notice I didn't say "mom" above? That's because it's the most integrated role, the one that I don't dabble in, that is integrated into who I am, and also the part of my life that takes 90% of my energy.
When something else starts encroaching on my energy stores, everything is thrown out of balance. That's when the world spins and I can't reach out to stop it unless I start paring back. Don't judge me, I know it's not a healthy balance, it's just the one I've come up with to keep doing the things that interest me.
Lately, though, I've been in the center of an energy vortex and have had to make thoughtful decisions about what to keep and what to let go. I sent an email asking if there was someone who wanted a booth at my favorite art market. (For artists: never leave the organizers stranded! If they can't find someone to fill your spot you still better show up.)
The real energy suck was the community garden. I've been a part of the garden for 5 years, and spent the last 2 managing it. There were problems in the garden that we didn't have in our home garden (and vice versa) including things like not having continuous access to a mower or weed eater. Bermuda grass that thrives year after year. Volunteers with great intentions who come along, start a project and never finish it. There were about 4 or 5 of us who would work 4 hours a week taming the demons, growing food to nourish our bellies and to nourish the recipients of the local meals on wheels program.
So I read books, I learned ways to plant seeds in lieu of using gas-powered equipment. I researched, planned, sourced, and worked. I watched the seeds grow and could see success in the very near future...as in 2 weeks away. In 2 weeks we'd be there, fully planted, most of the Bermuda grass eradicated.
I was excited, I was thrilled, and I was proud.
And you know what they say about pride.
I feel silly crying about a garden as I type this, but it's part of gardening, right? The loves, the losses. This place that has been my Saturday morning sanctuary suddenly became an energy zapper as I was told repeatedly that it didn't look good. That the work I put into it was an eye sore. I clawed and scraped for answers, solutions, tried to explain the bigger picture. I explained the course of action, cheaper and greener than chemicals or tilling.
Early on I was told the garden model wouldn't be sustainable, so for 5 years I fought to find a way to make it sustainable: less input needed for weeding counting on fewer volunteers each week, healthier soil so less amendments needed, the addition of perennial vegetables so there's always something edible. It was well on its way to my vision, it was taking off.
And all it took were a few text messages, a few words to pull it all down on top of me. My vision wasn't acceptable. "People are complaining."
I forgot the stigma of unkempt grass.
And it occurred to me: I'd worked so hard on the sustainability of the garden, but not on my emotional sustainability. I couldn't work through feeling like a failure, I just had to let it go.
A plot of dirt, so deeply entwined in my veins that I know it's time to walk away.