Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it. ~ Simon Sinek
Sometimes life gets away from us — often it happens in summer, I’ve found. Things start getting out of hand. You’re gone for awhile, there are a lot of graduation parties or family events or sports…. What started as a few weeds untended in the garden quickly become a daunting patch of weeds, then, if neglected, a jungle. My sister-in-law teases that she’s growing some nice weeds this year. Sometimes things happen and it’s too easy to start feeling overwhelmed. But I want to encourage you to stick with it! Don’t get discouraged! Don’t give up!
“But you haven’t seen what’s going on here,” you might think. Ha ha ha! I’ve lived it!
In fact, this particular summer has been only what I can describe as “crazy.” It’s been a weird, crazy summer for me. As some of you know, my Mom has been ill for some time, and since late spring has gotten steadily worse. We live out of town, and it’s been a real challenge to keep up with her needs, to keep on top of her current state and do our best to help out. But it’s been weird in other ways, too. It’s been predominantly only me and my eleven-year-old daughter Betsy living at home this summer. JJ moved out last fall, of course, and Cecily and Danny are both working at The Ranch this summer, ministering to kids using horses in a camp setting. They are only home for about a day and a half on the weekends, and they are exhausted when they get home Friday afternoons. They pretty much sleep, wash laundry, and go back to the Ranch on Sunday. And of course, our load of hay caught on fire and we haven’t seen a replacement yet, so we’re scrambling to keep our horses fed. Altogether it’s been weird having almost no help around the place — and consequently, almost no routine or structure. We didn’t open our pool, haven’t really sat outside around the firepit or in the screen-room like we usually do, and it feels like we have hardly done any other summer activities.
So yeah, yeah, you don’t really care too much why my summer has been weird and crazy and totally disorganized. The point is, it has been. This spring I worked really hard to clear all the weeds out of the paths in the garden, and by now, guess what… yes, of course, there are weeds starting to take over the paths again in spite of a generous layer of mulch. And there are weeds in the raspberries. And I didn’t get my apples thinned and bagged. And there’s a too-big pile of chicken dookie under the roosts in the henhouse. And you know what? It’s not the end of the world! I’m still getting peas. I have lots of ripe blueberries and raspberries. My tomatoes and cukes are starting to come in. My pullets are almost big enough to take off their chick grower rations and put into the henhouse. Things are still moving along.
Sometimes, especially when we’re tired — especially when we’ve had two or three not-perfect years in a row we want to throw in the towel. But to be honest, when is it ever a “perfect” year? There’s no such thing. Granted, a couple years where things get way out of control may be a sign for us to cut back a little. Maybe don’t plant as much next year. Just do your favorites. Maybe just peppers, beans, and strawberries. Or whatever. Or maybe decide not to raise your own pork next year. Or hire someone to cut your firewood instead of doing it yourself. Scaling back is okay. That’s not quitting, that’s reality. Joe Perfect over the fence there, with his immaculate gardens, doesn’t really have a life. He does nothing but weed and start the next batch of seedlings. So give yourself a break and just ease your way into taking control again in five- and ten-minute increments. I always promise myself I’m going to go out to pick some fruit or veggies, and I’ll just spend five minutes pulling the worst of the weeds. I always get sucked into it and get more done than I planned. But if I don’t … so what!!! I got five minutes of the worst weeds pulled, and I’ll do five more minutes the next time I get out there.
Instead of getting down on yourself for not doing everything you wanted to do perfectly, pat yourself on the back for taking steps toward living your dream! It’s a journey, an experience, not a destination. It’s about spending time with your hands in the dirt, the joy of producing some of your own food, and the pleasure of creating a life that you love.