Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Gardening For The Unemployed

It's been seven weeks since I lost my job and everything was fine until the end of April. That's when it became obvious that my part-time paycheque did indeed make a difference in our household. So now I'm waking up at three in the morning, worrying about money and hoping the savings account lasts through the summer.
Everything was fine because I am editing a manuscript under the guidance of an experienced mentor and anticipating writing the first draft of a book about Stella, my dog who died three weeks ago. After 25 years, I finally have developed SINGLE-MINDED FOCUS about writing books and that's all I want to do. I want to pour everything I have, everything I am into getting those precious letters after my name: author of.
So I'm waking up at three in the morning, wondering what job I could get when the savings run out and knowing that the reality of writing in Canada means you have to have an "off-writing" job to support your writing.
There is only one solution for this anxiety, for this exhaustion: get thee to the garden.
Three hours of cleaning and snipping and weeding and tidying and greeting the green shoots popping up through the soil is the antidote to worrying about the future. Gardening has a way of reassuring you that the future will take care of itself. The perennials will come up again. The weeds will return. There will be two months of lugging water jugs around the yard every evening.
These gardens demand single-minded focus. Kneeling in the garden, the wet earth seeping through the knees of my jeans, I think of nothing but the task at hand: Will the bee balm come up this year? What am I going to do with more lilies? and Where did that hole in my garden come from? There is planning to be done: this bed needs more daisies, this walkway needs to be wider, that's the perfect spot to grow more phlox. Call the chiropractor tomorrow morning.
Just like a day spent writing, the end of a day in the garden comes with proof of the work done. There is a sense of accomplishment in ten fresh pages, in gardens that are free of dried leaves and twigs. Right now, it's easier to anticipate the blooming of the garden -- in a month -- than it is the publishing of the book -- in a few years.
Of course, my friends, there is the ultimate relief for anxiety and fear: digging up that damn ornamental grass and hacking away at the roots that have spread their tentacles into the irises and echinacea. Nothing demands single-minded focus like ornamental grass -- and writing books.

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