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When things are hard, sometimes they get harder. It is what it is—or whatever frustratingly true phrase you might apply to this fact of life—can seem like such a flippant dismissal of life’s hardships. But… it is what it is.

After moving thousands of miles, facing a lot of difficult stuff, and digging up hope (and digging up that garden), I got hit with a super sharp pain in my side. And, before we even had health insurance sorted with our new situation, I landed in the hospital with an emergency appendectomy.

Ouch. Not only the physical pain of it. The inconvenience of healing isn’t what I want or need right now. My husband tells me being a martyr is not the same as being a hero; and that not taking care of myself does no one any favors. He is so right! But that is more of the annoying wisdom that is frustratingly true—but not really what I want to hear right now.

My garden? The tilling? All of it is out of my hands now. The nurse laughed when I lamented that I wouldn’t be able to till for six weeks. She said—maybe you can water your plants with a very small can.

My cilantro, chives, and basil are growing beautifully in the kitchen window! I will have to share pictures later. The vegetables, hollyhock, and lavender depend on my daily tending in their small cove outdoors. I had been helping to control their exposure to the elements using some clever ideas from a Better Homes & Gardens article. I started them in containers and chose a spot on the front stoop where the sunlight was good, and I could tend them easily.

But after falling ill, the resulting hospital stay, and recovery, I fear they may be lost.

I’m not giving up though. Recovery is hard, and I mean recovery of any kind. It can take from us so much, so fast, and it can seem so unfair. Sometimes it seems all the effort, research and learning, time spent and time sacrificed in other areas were completely wasted on some good intention that is now completely ruined through something beyond one’s own control.

As I was making my lengthy to-do list, I began doodling—which is a common thing for me. I started the meditative practice of a mandala. My approach is pretty casual and happens spontaneously in the margins of my notebooks and journals. But it is a good practice to help us creatively connect and remember that—no matter circumstances in our lives—we can only control what we can control. Begin in the center, small and simply, and make your marks traveling outward. Find an approach and make it work until you can create something with mind, body, and spirit.

I’m not giving up on my garden. I’m starting with what I can control, and focusing on what is working. My herbs are doing beautifully, and I think a hollyhock is pushing up. Maybe a couple things were lost, but enough can be saved. And it is still May—maybe I can get some sprouts together before the end of June and have a garden to show for anyway.


My husband has offered to finish the tilling, and said his price is more years of marriage. I said I’m okay with that deal. This isn’t what I planned, but I think it will work out just fine–probably for the better. I will start small, and build from there.