Sibling Assignment #179: Gardening: A Lesson in Patience

I gave the sibling assignment this week:

"As spring lurks somewhere around the corner, it is time to think about gardening. Each of us have had different experiences with gardening at different locations. What we have all learned is there is a huge learning curve when it comes to gardening. What lessons have you learned from gardening? Share about a particular plant, gardening as a whole, or whatever you want." You can find brother Bill's post here. I will link sister Carol's when it is completed.

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace." May Sarton

When I first began to garden I wanted instant gratification. I was an impatient garden. It was only fitting I planted big, bright annuals around the outside of the house, filled pots with more colorful flowers, and shoved way too many flowers in each bed I planted. What I did at my first house was probably really not gardening. It was more curb appeal. It all looked pretty, but then the flowers died in the fall and I started all over again the next spring. What I did learn was how to pick out healthy annuals, what color combinations worked, and how expensive it all was.

I had more of a plan at my second house, but then that impatient gardener, instant gratification need crept in also. I had more area to garden. I needed to do much more to amend the soil, What I did do different with my second house was read and research. I attended a class on home landscaping, I studied plants native to my area, I explored perennials vs. annuals because I planted and tended to the flowers more and Everett did the vegetable gardening. In the nineteen years I lived there I learned from trial and error. I killed lots of plants. I learned how to grow roses, I learned how to propagate and winter over plants, but I still didn't slow down and exercise patience. It was often hard for me to appreciate what we had created, because I thought I needed more in a spot, or another burst of color, or some interesting foliage. I still wanted every inch of the flower beds blooming. I didn't want to wait for plants to mature. The trees and shrubs overtook each other because we didn't space them like we should have. 

I did walk away from that gardening experience with much knowledge. Whether it was dividing flowers, starting then from seed, or buying them at the nursery I learned species that were successful, ways to create pots of containers that worked, and how important location was. We learned that maple trees were a beautiful addition to any yard. The most important lesson I learned was to focus on four seasons of interest and color while gardening. This was the part I liked best. If a shrub is going to bloom in the spring, what would it look like in summer? Did it have colorful branches to brighten up a gray time in winter? If you are investing in plants for the long haul, you want them to provide more than one season of beauty.

I am now retired and planning gardens in another home. I was forced into patience last summer because the house wasn't ours yet so I couldn't jump into my frenzied pace of planting flowers, plus it was later in the summer, it was very hot, the smoke from wildfires was bad, and we were exhausted from moving. We did  bring lots of containers with us that helped add color for the remainder of the summer.

I slowed down. I walked around with paper and pencil and took notes, I tried to visualize what I wanted my garden beds to look like. I read and researched again. I saved money by shopping fall sales. I thought about specific color schemes. We planted bulbs in October so we would have color greeting us in the spring.

As the snow still falls and the days are cold and gloomy, we are ready to move forward. New vegetable beds are being prepared, some plants were wintered over, and I have plans for what to add for annual color when the time comes to plant. I will continue to practice patience as best I can.

Sibling Assignment #178: Blending Self-Discipline and Creativity

  Brother Bill gave the sibling assignment this week.
"Back at Whitworth, the Chaplain's office used to put together a book of meditations for the season of Lent that reflect upon some aspect of the forty days leading up to Easter. 
Let's pretend we are at Whitworth.  Each of us has been asked to contribute a Lenten meditation and we were asked to write about one of three topics  -- or a combination of them:
mystery "

Today my meditation is on discipline.  Actually, I will focus more on self-discipline. When the word is heard, often images of punishment, military code , or training for a marathon come to mind. Discipline may be seen as rigid and unbending. When people try to be creative while being disciplined it often rubs them the wrong way.  An artist may feel like they are being fenced in. It may be too structured. Todd Henry said ,"Discipline simply means making an agreement with yourself and keeping it. " 

That doesn't seem so rigid. When a writer tries to stay focused on completed a piece of writing, a goal may be set to write so many pages a day. That doesn't take away from the creativity. It just provides an agreement you make with yourself. I am working on expanding my experiences with art forms. I don't want this to be a "wishy washy whenever whatever" project. I have scheduled a day of the week with a friend to work on creative works. I have made an agreement with myself to keep broadening my creative skills. That is self-discipline.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Galatians 5:22-23 " But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."  Self-control is also self-discipline and believe me, this is a mighty list of fruits of the Spirit. While we work to demonstrate these, Jesus would want us also to show self-discipline. It brings us closer to our agreement with our own selves. It helps us reach the goal of being creative. 

Whether it is in reading the Bible, raising children, performing on stage, writing poetry, or creating a art journal, it all takes self-discipline. When a friend gives up chocolate for Lent, that is self-discipline. When people choose not to eat meat on Friday during Lent, that is self-discipline. 
When a person wants to expand their creative endeavors with writing, painting, practicing photography, drawing, or designing,  self-discipline is needed. 

Yes, a person can follow their muse, but there is a time of being true to yourself and your art. There is a time to commit. There is a time to make an agreement with your own self. There is a time for self-discipline.  I hope I can stay the course.