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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Cheerfully incompetent

About 60 days ago I injured my back. I pulled up a tree and gave myself sciatic nerve issues. These past weeks have been agony, but I am lucky to have found a great chiropractic wellness center (which I fondly refer to as "the pain palace") and helpful advice from Jess and Val who have experienced the same thing. Walking the dog, using a standing desk at work, and lots of careful stretching have culminated into me getting back into the garden today.

What a mess it is. Weeds everywhere, compost stone cold, vegetables long past their pick date, roses that need deadheading, the list goes on.

But today my return outside was markedly different. I spent more time taking care of myself than taking care of the garden. I did my morning stretches, walked the dog, stretched again, then went outside. I limited my activity to two garden beds. I was out there for only a few hours and did some mildly strenuous work. Happy to report that I was able to bend and yank vines without issue. But then I cleaned and put away the tools, came into the house with the harvest, made myself a cup of tea and have called it good for the day.

I walked past the lima beans that desperately need to be picked. I walked past the green beans that are trying to outpace the weeds. I walked past the blooming dandelions and sow thistle. I walked past the crabgrass, horse herb, and johnson grass. I walked past the 10 bags of unopened mulch laying in the beds waiting to be spread. I walked past the okra and zinnias that are covered in powdery mildew. I walked past the garden beds that have rotted corner posts and are springing their sides. I walked past the boards that are cut and ready to use for bed repair.

Once I'd harvested the sweet potatoes and squash, I lightly raked the beds and threw on a cover crop of crimson clover. It's way too late to plant it. Worse, I just lightly patted it in and failed to give it the usual dusting of compost. I used five year old seed which has a small chance of germinating. I don't have a Plan B mulch prepared. I hear my own voice telling people during my master gardener speaking gigs never to do what I just did.

But I did it. Then I just walked away. Cheerfully incompetent.

This willingness to sacrifice myself for a bigger picture has always been a problem - and is something my employers are happy to exploit. I've got a huge compulsion to finish things, to work on large projects, to push myself to exhaustion. I don't spend time stretching, exercising, or just being quiet, all because I see some cog, some stray string, that needs to be repaired/built to keep the wheels of my life turning and the web of my existence intact.

And then my back said "uh uh girlfriend." My little voice reminded me that my friend Jennifer (who blogs at Rock Rose) has always cautioned us to warm up, do some core work, and otherwise take care of ourselves before running outside and doing something stupid.


So now I'm trying to do better. I'm trying to turn my focus from what needs to be done to what I must do to care for myself. And please, I'm not being a martyr, no one would ever describe me as a selfless humanitarian or care giver. "Hard worker" and "dependable" are two things that come up instead. I'll take that, but it's time to be a little less of those and more cheerfully incompetent - someone who is happy to turn away and not try to solve everything.

Someone without back issues.  Ha!

Thanks for listening and don't call me if you need rock hauled.