The Beautiful Mask
This is a close-up of the Miss Kim lilac in our front yard. It’s carefully pruned into a topiary tree form. The plants in the foundation bed around it are groomed, the mulch is plentiful and weeds are nowhere to be seen. From the front, my yard looks like someone has got it together. This is the yard the world sees—strangers walk past all day, never knowing otherwise.
Behind the Mask
My back yard is a totally different story. Overgrown flower beds abound, weeds are everywhere and mulch is sparsely distributed. This is the part of my yard that I put on the backburner; the part that I put off again until “next year;” the part that, since no one but me sees it, I tend to neglect. This is the yard that few ever see–the select few people I trust with my disorganized, out-of-control side.
Putting It All Out There
My goal is to gain the courage to invite a group of people for a garden party—people I wouldn’t ordinarily choose to see the “mess.” I’d like to put myself out there—all sides of me: the good, the bad and the ugly. I’d like to have a great time and feel the confidence of “this is me…take it or leave it.”
I’m not feeling it yet…maybe next year…
WEED: HIDING TRUE SELF
SEEDS TO PLANT: CONFIDENCE, COURAGE & ACCEPTANCE
This is my favorite flower. This beautiful indigo iris was given to me by a coworker when we first bought the house ten years ago. At the time, flowers were absent in our back yard, and we had few resources to invest in landscaping. We relied on generous donations from friends and family, of cuttings from their own gardens to populate our landscape with flowers.
Over the years this iris has been divided, replanted and spread throughout the yard. It has grown from one cluster to many planted in little tufts throughout my back yard. It gives me joy every year. Whenever it blooms it reminds me of the generosity of my friends and family and how much I appreciated the gifts during a scarce time in my life.
Since that time, we’ve both moved forward and we no longer work together. I wonder if she knows how much that one small iris has spread over the years and how much I still love it. I doubt she realizes that her gift has made such a lasting impact on my life.
WEED: FEELING I DON’T HAVE “ENOUGH” TO GIVE
SEEDS TO PLANT: GENEROUS GIVING–EVEN ON A SMALL SCALE
This is my neighbor’s yard. It is immaculate, well-maintained, tended daily if not several times per day. All of her plants are tidy, contained, i.e. under control. I am so impressed with her ability to nurture all of her plantings so lovingly.
What Does She Think of My Yard?
When I see her working outside, sometimes I wonder what she thinks of our yard which is the exact opposite of tidy. Sometimes I’m embarrassed that I haven’t kept up with my landscaping, and I wonder if she thinks I’m lazy or disorganized or just don’t care. If I follow this line of thought, I can get myself pretty worked up about all the things I “should” be on top of and more dedicated to.
Last night, I visited her in her yard and expressed how beautiful I thought it looked. She thanked me, but began pointing out the things that she wished she could change and that she was irritated about. She pointed out with frustration some weeds here; some uneven spots there and the plants the rabbits had munched over the winter…
I laughed to myself and started pointing out all the flaws in my backyard.
My neighbor gave me a big smile and said, “Angie, it looks beautiful from here.”
SEEDS TO PLANT: LOVING ACCEPTANCE
This hideous little guy showed up after a trip to my grandmother’s house this spring. You see, my 92-year-old grandmother decided to move from her home to a senior apartment complex to be closer to her friends, so the whole family was getting together to help her with the moving process. This gnome was given to her and my since-deceased grandfather long ago by my cousins; and mysteriously found its way into the trunk of my car. Now it’s hiding by my garage in a tangle of bleeding hearts and lamium.
My Grandma is and always has been a fiercely independent and capable woman. She lived through the Great Depression and never lost the ability to make something from nothing. She is the queen of substitutions and from her I learned that, when it comes to baking, applesauce can replace just about anything. I also learned from her that every object has many uses and that if you don’t absolutely
need something it’s a good idea to go without. From these lessons, I can find my way around almost any obstacle, because I’ll find a way to reach my goal if I’m persistent and resourceful enough, and able to see the potential in things and people.
The Weedy Side
The “weedy” side to this lesson for me has been hanging on to things well past their usefulness. This keeping of things “just in case” & “because they’re still sort-of working” has resulted in my owning of 3 multi-function printer/copier/fax machines—none of which “multi” function as well as any number of things that I save “just in case.” In other words: CLUTTER. I realized the same must be true for Grandma, because in going through her cupboards, we found Tupperware lids without the matching bottoms that Grandma was still using to sort-of contain her food and other things that were only sort-of broken.
Now my goal is to simplify. Repair, recycle, donate or discard the things that are not living up to their true potential or are no longer necessary. To let things go with the faith that everything I need will be available to me (and in working order).
SEEDS TO PLANT: SIMPLICITY & FAITH