As a child, I spent many summers helping in the garden. I helped my mother can and freeze vegetables. At the time, gardening seemed pretty much pointless to me. Why go to all of the trouble of gardening when you could just buy the same thing at the grocery store? I really didn’t understand why she was so passionate about spending countess hours digging in the dirt.
It is only recently that I have discovered for myself the joy of gardening. There’s something magical about the process of digging in the dirt, nurturing what you’ve planted, then eating what you’ve grown.
There are many life lessons to be discovered through gardening:
• Healthy eating – Growing your own vegetables results in healthier eating. I get excited about eating homegrown tomatoes. Picking some up in the produce department at the grocery store just isn’t the same.
• Reduction of grocery bills – Gardening reduces grocery bills. Seeds only cost a few dollars at most. When purchased at the store, red and yellow bell peppers are expensive. Tomatoes aren’t far behind in price, and more often than not, the ones bought at the grocery store lack the flavor that homegrown tomatoes have.
• Patience – Gardening teaches that some things can’t be rushed. A seed takes time to sprout, no matter what you do.
• Surprises can be delightful – Sometimes a wrong label can be attached to a seed packet or plant. Disappointment in not getting the vegetable you had planted can change to joy and wonder at the unexpected. Life works the same way. Surprises can initially be unsettling, but almost always work themselves out after the initial shock wears off.
• Letting go – After planting a garden, you don’t always get to experience the fruits of your labors. I grew up in a Methodist parsonage, and moves were a frequent part of my childhood. There were many times my mother put in a garden in the spring and was not able to harvest what she planted. Instead of complaining, she saw it as a gift for the next minister and his family. In life, there are many times that seeds of growth are planted in others, but we aren’t given the opportunity to witness end result.
• Weeds – If weeds aren’t kept under control, the desirable plants will soon be overtaken by unwanted growth. It’s like that with taking care of your health as well. If you don’t take care of yourself, weight gain and inactivity will creep up and overtake your life just like weeds in a garden.
Weeding and pruning permits and refines growth. Identifying and ridding ourselves of undesirable traits and habits can permit the beautiful parts of us to flourish and grow.
All of us have different traits that can be labeled as weeds. Mine were overeating to numb feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy and to negate pain. I have to focus on keeping my plot weeded every day so that my garden can continue to grow and flourish.
As time moves on, I continue to identify other weeds in my life that need to be dug up and destroyed. Some I know about, but their roots are still holding firm in the soil. Others I’m not even aware of yet. Life is like that. We are all a work in progress.
I challenge you to plant a garden this spring. Eat healthy, save money at the grocery store, exercise, and learn about yourself – all in one activity. There are many people in our area who are very knowledgeable about gardening. Ask around for help if you you have never gardened before. Who knows? You may form a new friendship as well.
Information about beginning gardening can also be found at the following website: http://www.spark people.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1292.
Lee Anne Grace is an elementary music teacher for Tupelo Public Schools. After reaching a weight of almost 300 pounds and failing at numerous diets for over 25 years, she has been successful at losing weight and maintaining her weight loss for three years. She is the mother of two teenage daughters and enjoys running in her spare time.