Monday, May 14, 2012

Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Tired. Sore. Sunburned... and GRATEFUL!

I made a rough calculation of my garden areas today and am suddenly aware that there is a number associated with exhaustion... and that number is 4000. Yes, you read that right. I have about 4000 square feet of planters in my yard. Not a huge number when compared to the number of stars in the sky or for that matter the national debt, but for a solitary grounds-keeper - aka, wife, mother, author - at times it is a bit much. On days like today I am unsure whether to feel overwhelmed by the gardening tasks or joyous at the opportunity to spend so much time with nature.

As of this very moment, I think I'm equally committed to all sides of the coin.  Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Tired. Sore. Sunburned. And, grateful!

If you are more akin to sitting on the couch in the air conditioned comfort of your home than to sliding on a pair of gloves and throwing your hands in the dirt, I feel inclined to persuade you to your yard.

Let me share to you the top five reasons I enjoy gardening

#5. Fresh Air and Vitamin D. - Okay, so this I suppose goes without saying. We all know that fresh air is cleansing and pleasing to our bodies but perhaps you've overlooked the benefits of Vitamin D. Since there are very few foods that contain Vitamin D, the easiest way to get it is from the UVB rays of the sun. Since those rays don't come through glass, sitting in front of  a sunny window simply won't do the trick. Vitamin D is needed for bone strength and development. It helps with immune function, cell growth, anti-inflammation, and can't help prohibit many diseases such as MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and even some cancers. Doctors recommend about 30 minutes of sun exposure twice a week. If you've got a big project, don't forget your sunscreen though. Too much sun is as dangerous as too little!

#4. Appreciation of Nature. As I write this I'm listening to crickets chirp in the yard. At first morning light their chirps will be replaced with those of birds. Notice the animals and creatures that share your environment. Appreciate the colors of a butterfly. Wonder at the miraculous life-cycle of a day-lily. Awe at the wonder of all the living things that make up our world and recognize the power that not only created them but sustains them.

#3. Satisfaction of Hard Work. - At the risk of sounding cliche' there is nothing more satisfying than a hard day's work. Productivity is how I define my day and I'd guess that I'm not alone. Most of us measure the success of a day by the amount of work we've accomplished. And there is nothing more visually apparent and justifying than seeing the progress in your yard after a day of weeding. Even more so comes the satisfaction as your plants grow whether it be from week to week or from year to year.

#2. Relaxation. - Now doesn't that sound a little contradictory? How can Hard work and Relaxation possibly exist in the same bullet list? My husband would refute that they simply can not exist together... furthermore, he'd argue that the word relaxation doesn't deserve to be included on a list about the joys of gardening. In fact, he'd oppose even to the use of the word "joy." However, it's one of the top reasons why I laboriously tend to my yard with such dedication. For me, relaxation is a mental state not necessarily a physical one. Which means, though my hands may be vigorously involved in the dirt, my mind is free to do as it will. Subsequently this means doing what my mind does best... WANDERING. I don't worry about deadlines or chore lists or overbooked calendars... I just wander. Which, leads directly to the #1 thing I get most out of gardening....

#1. Mental Stimulation - Now you see just how oxymoronish I really am. Hard work, relaxation, and mental stimulation hardly seem to be words we typically associate with each other, but they are so simply intertwined that I can't even begin to define why they coexist let alone how. While my brain is busy relaxing it wanders and amazingly enough sometimes it wanders to wonderful, creative places. I've written scenes, brainstormed titles, designed sheds, and planned parties while my hands were busy working. I've had genius thoughts, inspirational revelation, and even stimulating yet quite conversations. Gardening can be creative gold!   

Take up a shovel! Plant a tree! Tend to a garden! Who knows, maybe you'll love it too!

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