Last summer, day after day, my garden lay neglected. I was nurturing the growing baby inside me. I had no energy to garden or for anything else. I felt nauseous and utterly exhausted every waking minute.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was put on bed-rest. Weeds filled the garden paths and beds. Dinner was frozen veggie burgers from the freezer almost every night. Library fines added up, because the four minutes drive to return books felt arduous. I told myself I’d return them tomorrow, not today.
Everything that was nonessential for my life was left undone. Even though gardening is one of my deepest loves, my garden fell into the nonessential category too. For the first time in over a decade I wasn’t planting, weeding, harvesting every few days. The few plants I had planted before I got pregnant were neglected.
My daughter, my health, and my husband were the only essentials I had energy for- and barely even them.
Every day I dragged myself to walk around the block and do some stretches. That 15 minutes of activity was all I could manage. I was counting down the days till I could see my baby boy and get my body and energy back.
But if you know anything about newborns, you know that the baby might not be inside anymore, but your body isn’t your own again.
After he was born, I started having more energy, except I was getting less sleep. Still my garden lay neglected. My husband comforted me by saying that the strawberries, raspberries, and other perennials, didn’t need a lot of tending and would still produce next year.
I eyed my garden from the window, knowing that in the spring I’d be back out there in full force. Winter passed, the baby grew, my energy started returning.
As I began poking around in the garden beds in March and April, I noticed my strawberry bed seemed lacking in strawberry plants. In some spaces, I could only see the leaves of violet plants and dandelions. I looked in another bed, more violets. I felt the tears leaping to my eyes. The signs of neglect were everywhere.
Huge swaths of violet plants, covered what had once been my strawberry bed. I thought back to 2 years prior- there were a few violets amongst the strawberries, but I left them, they’re edible plants and there were only few violets here and there.
While my son was growing inside me and I was clocking hours on the couch- and my daughter memorizing show after show of Octonauts- the violets were concocting a plan. For domination.
Little by little they spread their seeds- I don’t even know what violet seeds look like! I bet they’re tiny.
The violets choked out the strawberries! The garden bed is blanketed by violets. Leaf after leaf is the signature heart-shaped leaf. But my heart does feel joy when I see them anymore.
The violets outnumber the strawberries by at least 5 to 1, maybe more.
I still appreciate violets. They’re sweet little plants, especially compared to poison ivy. But I now know, that sweet flower with a reputation for shyness is as pernicious and opportunistic as any other weed. The gentle violet can dominate a space and knock out the competition.
Violets showed me important a lesson about life and about gardening.
I’m about halfway through weeding the strawberry bed now. Every few minutes, as I pull out the violets, I think of the book Essentialism. The violets are the trivial many that took over my garden bed. Now the strawberries are the essential few.
In the grand scheme of things, its fine. I’ll weed the bed, put in more strawberries and lesson learned- don’t turn your back on violets.
Outside of the garden, I’m thinking about my habits.
Our habits, our lives are like a garden bed.
Maybe we are spending time on things that aren’t bad (violets are edible after all and pretty). But are we spending time allowing or doing the habits that if we practiced them would lead us to our dreams (a big strawberry bed full of ripe red berries!).
Scrolling through Pinterest isn’t really bad. Watching a show a night of TV isn’t bad, per se. But are they the violets in my life?
If we want to spend more time on what matters, we need to focus on what is essential and important to us. A great resource for exploring this is the book Essentialism.
The trivial many vs the essential few is taken from the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Essentialism is similar to minimalism, but instead of objects, it looks at actions and habits. We have limited time and energy to complete the things that we wish to do, but if we don’t prioritize what we will do with our time and energy, something or someone else will direct it.
Could we be spending more time weeding out the ‘violets’ so that there is plenty of time and space for the ‘strawberries.’
For me, my ‘strawberry’ habits that I want to cultivate every day are exercising, writing (my novel and more articles), and learning to play the violin. I’d love to hear what your strawberry habits are. Reply back and tell me (complete sentences/correct grammar are optional if you’re short on time :) I read and reply to every email.
I am not yet doing each of my strawberry habits daily, but I’ve got 1 done daily and have a commitment to all three of my strawberry habits.
If you want some support and inspiration for how to get your strawberry habits, sign up to stay connected over email. I’d love to help you stay focused and making progress on your strawberry goals, whatever they may be.
Blessings and love to you,