Archive for May 15th, 2012

May 15, 2012

Do your plants look like you?

As I sit down tonight, hundreds of thoughts swirl through my head.

What am I forgetting?  What’s left to be done?  What have I started?  Did I water?  Did you see the wind today?  Oh, no!  I forgot to water.  Those poor little things are going to die!  When am I going to get back over to school?  The chemicals.  How do we deal with the chemicals?  When is the soil coming?  What’s the bigger picture?  Measure in the morning, design mid-day, consult, baseball game.  I think I have time to measure!  Wait, finish plan, then measure, then design? Not sure I’ll have time…

Life has been crazy lately.  While I’m doing things I love, I’m burning the candle at both ends so to speak.  Yesterday my body tried to give me a wake-up call, it knocked me down for a while.  Sore throat, worn down.  I’m doing better today than yesterday, but honestly ignoring the leftover warnings.  I just have to get through this week and then I can take a breath.  Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Life is funny that way, at least for me.  When it rains, it pours and I hate to say “no”.  I want to make it all work, especially in areas that I’m passionate about.  But when it comes to living mindfully, I know that what I’m doing is flat-out flying in the face of mindful living.  How on earth can I take in each moment when I’m going mach 10 and my mind is racing 100 miles ahead of my body?  And when my body is waving red flags like an accident in a NASCAR race I ignore them.  I’m really a fool.  For what am I going to do if I maintain this speed?  Crash.  Hard.

But here I am.  Trying to make it all work, trying to make it all happen, trying to make sure I follow through on my word because if my word means nothing, then what does that say about me?

Please tell me you’ve been there.  That you’ve had your days or your weeks, where things keep piling, and you keep pushing, thinking the end is near, then pile on more until the pile gets deeper.  You whittle away until finally you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Tell me I’m not alone.

So what does all of this have to do with gardening or sustainable living?  I thought you’d never ask.  Like people, plants have needs.  We both need ample amounts of water.  We need sunlight (heard of Vitamin D?) so do they.  We need firm ground, so do they.  We need air, so do they.  (Thankfully we exchange our air with each other.)

Our bodies wave flags when something is wrong.  So do plants.  We get tired, get headaches, get run down and finally get sick.  They get run down, wilt and finally get sick.  But if we’re paying attention to ourselves and our plants, we can stop it before it gets that bad.  Plant leaves get dull, cup toward the sky (to catch water), then if we continue to ignore them, they wilt.  Wilt in a plant is called stress.  Funny, we have that word about us too, don’t we?  When we get stressed our skin gets dull, eyes look dull or red, we feel run down… and wilt.

But what’s the long-term effect of stress?  In plants, repeated stress equals death.  Thankfully plants are a little more dramatic than we are.  When we have repeated, long-term stress, we get sick.  Our bodies go into survival mode.  Remember, we started as hunters and gathers except the difference is that the stress then really was life or death.  Now?  It’s “just stress”.  Or is it?  Stress is linked to many problems today including obesity and long-term illness and I guess, if we don’t take care of ourselves and continue that pattern… yes, perhaps even death.

Loving this post, right?  Okay, I’m not meaning to take a sour turn or to bring anyone down, quite the opposite, in fact.  What I’m suggesting is that if you get home, like I did today, and find your plants looking limp, wilted and thirsty, grab a mirror.  How are you doing?  How are you feeling?  Limp?  Wilted?  Thirsty?  Often times the care we give our plants reflects the care we give ourselves.  Too busy to take care of your plants?  Chances are you’re too busy to take care of yourself.  So the next time your plants need water, grab a glass for yourself.  If your plants are getting leggy because they need more light give it to them, then get outside, go for a walk.  Do they just look sickly?  Give them food.  Good food.  Compost.  And while you’re at it, grab yourself an apple, bring it outside and take a break to care for both of you.  Before long you’ll have yourself and your plants looking fabulous!