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No Rain, No Flowers

This is a story about gardening, but it's not really about gardening at all.

Back at the beginning of March, we ordered some new hedging plants, the delivery company said they'd be with us in seven days. I was so excited about them, and as the weather got warmer and warmer and I spent more time in the garden I grew more and more impatient for them to arrive.

Every time I tracked the parcel they gave me a new date, and I just kept on preparing my garden, bringing compost round to the right places, layering it with cardboard over the bare soils and weeds that were exposed when we took down the old fences. It was back breaking work, digging out fence posts and weeds in the hard rocky soil, but it would be worth it in the end, plus I was getting a tan from all my outdoors time. What's not to love?
Then the email came that my plants had finally been dispatched, nearly two months after I ordered them - only the day that the email arrived the weather had turned and it was cold and raining. I was so sad. My bare root plants were due to arrive and I was going to have to try to plant them in hammering rain - and the weather forecast wasn't looking great for the next day either.

I'll admit it, I was feeling a little sorry for myself. Maybe there was a little PMT mixed in there, maybe it was because I also had to have a few difficult conversations with team members too, or maybe it was just because I had a bit of a fever and was slightly under the weather, but I was downright disappointed when those plants arrived. I smothered myself in console.

My husband was working in his office, teaching live classes online, so I stomped out into the garden on my own in my raincoat and wellies to start digging in the driving rain.

Then something changed. As I got outside, I witnessed what I like to call an everyday miracle.

All my little annual plants in my vegetable beds, who have been struggling for weeks to send out tiny shoots were looking vibrant and I swear many of them had doubled or even tripled in size overnight. We had radishes ready for harvest immediately and pea shoots looking less like shoots and more like vines! There were strawberry plants cropping up everywhere and the rhubarb looks like it has a plan to take over the whole of Bedford!

Feeling a little encouraged I started to open up the box, only to find that the garden centre hadn't been able to fulfil my order due to a failed crop of the plants I wanted, so they'd upgraded me to a far more expensive option and sent me a £50 voucher to say sorry.

By the time I got around to digging that first hole, I was grateful for the waiting. That hard, barren, rocky soil that we'd been struggling with over the Easter holidays had already started to soften under the cardboard and the rich compost that we had layered over it. There were worms and pill bugs galore in there, and in many places, I could just push my hands and trowel in the first few inches, where I'd virtually needed a pickaxe before.

A few plants in and I was grateful for the rain too. Yes, the job was muddy, but I was burning up and the cool rain made it possible to complete (most of) the task (Matt finished work and helped with the last two plants) without getting too wiped out.

So why am I telling you this?
I promise it's not just about gardening.

During this time of quarantine, there seems to be a frenzied nature to panic learning everything we can and not 'wasting time' and feeling like we need to use these moments to get ahead. I'm hearing from many burned-out people who can't cope with it and feel like failures for not meeting lofty goals.

I'm getting multiple calls each week from parents talking about home education because they're scared their kids are getting behind and they don't want them to miss out on valuable months of education.

There's also a sense of despair amongst many of my friends that run their own businesses, that they aren't in control of whether or not they will be able to survive this. 

I wanted my garden done and perfect in the Easter holidays - ready for when Matt 'went back to work' at his desk. I couldn't attain that goal, due to external forces, and it was frustrating - but in the meantime, I got on with other things and lo and behold my goals were accomplished with so much more ease when I could work on them, because of the preparation time I had been allowed by the delay.

You aren't in control of when the government ends quarantine, when your child's school re-opens or whether your normal business will be allowed to resume. But you can change the narrative around it.

You can choose to rest, you can choose to do your best (no more and no less) and trust God or the universe that somehow this will work out for you. It won't change your circumstances, but changing your thoughts around your circumstances may help you through them.

So how do you change your thoughts about a situation?

I'm a big fan of affirmations. We teach them on Oil Camp III for those of you who want to get involved in that. We choose a positive thought or belief (something realistic that you are capable of believing on a good day) and we anchor it with something sensory, in this case a specific essential oil.

For example, I was going through a difficult patch last year and two of the affirmations I chose was 'Everything is always working out for me' and 'It's okay, helps on the way'. These little phrases remind me that God/the universe has a plan for my life and that He will rescue me, even if I can't see where/when. Eventually, something good will come out of anything. I repeat these phrases, morning and night, whilst taking deep breaths of (you guessed it) ....Console.

Every time I smell Console now, I remember to think about the macro-story of my life, instead of the micro-story of my current situation.

I'm a big 'feeling' person. My life is a high contrast rollercoaster of ups and downs.

As much as I loved the glorious sun, my garden needed rain.

I needed rain.

Without rain, there's no growth.

Sometimes it can be a journey to learn to accept that there may be benefits to things we are going through, but we might not see them until we get to the other side.

Choosing to accept that won't change your circumstances, but it can help bring you peace.

Choosing anxiety won't change your circumstances, but it will rob you of peace.

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