Hi, it’s me. I’m pretty excited because yesterday was the six month anniversary of launching this newsletter, and I couldn’t be more excited about how all this is working out. Seriously, I think I’m on to something. I started this project with a few goals and a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish and I’m super grateful you keep showing up here. Thank you.
On Monday night I reached out via the Substack chat function (because now it’s available on desktop vs the app — yay!) and asked you all what I should write about. I have several essays I’m working on right now, but they’ve been slow to come together in a meaningful way, and I was discouraged. Out of desperation and curiosity, I thought I’d see what would happen if I did this:
And wow, was that fun! Some great topics came up that I added to my list, but since several of you brought up gardening questions, I think I’ll go with that this week. Thanks again for being here!
When I was writing and producing animated videos, a typical project would run about six to eight weeks on a fairly predictable schedule: two or three weeks to concept and write, a couple weeks to illustrate and storyboard, and a couple weeks to animate.
I worked from home when I was doing this, and our kids were in late elementary and middle school through these years. I didn’t have a garden then — we lived in a condo. But around this time of year I would book my client projects, set up the six-week schedule, and have a small panic attack as I realized the kids would be out of school for the summer before the project ended. Where had the time gone?
I thought about this a month ago when we got Bryan’s diagnosis. We were starting something, and I didn’t know how or when it would end. I was already late to start the first of my seeds. What would the next three to six months look like for us? Would I have time to start seeds and tend to all my seedlings? Would we have the budget to buy all the compost and supplies I needed? Would I be too overwhelmed to deal with the harvest later in the year?
This is the part of my personality I struggle with – the part that shuts things down before they have a chance to start. I was ready to give up the garden this year and just throw a bunch of flower seeds out there to enjoy because I couldn’t see a way through with all the unanswered questions we had at that time regarding Bryan’s treatment plan.
I wanted someone to show me how this ends.
Bryan asked me what was the worst thing that would happen if my seedlings died, and the worst thing I could think of was pretty minimal: my time and about eighty bucks in soil. Maybe my pride. I already had the seeds.
So I plowed forward (ha!) and started my onion seeds. And then I started my tomato seeds. And in a couple weeks I’ll start my pepper and basil seeds. I dialed back my plan a bit – less edibles, more flowers.
The garden is full of life lessons. This one is about sowing the seed and not knowing what will come of it. Nature is unpredictable, yet every spring I have hope that my garden will grow, and I do my part to urge it to life. In the garden, I’m never discontent with not knowing the future. It’s always a future hoped for, yet not seen. And I’m content in that. The mystery of it is my happy place.
And so I garden, and my hands in the dirt remind me to not worry about the other stuff.
Thanks for the writing prompt, friends.
Until next time,
News + Notes
In case you missed it on Saturday, I sent out a new update about Bryan’s cancer treatment plan:
"In the garden, I’m never discontent with not knowing the future. It’s always a future hoped for, yet not seen." Love that, and your photos are gorgeous. I'm not a gardener myself #supportlocalfarmersmarkets but I do recall the need for something green and growing just after my diagnosis. Probably shouldn't have picked the finicky bonsai plant I did, but it served its purpose. Keep planting those seeds, in the garden and here on Substack.
Happy 'Stackiversary', Jen! I've loved this little walk around your garden - and the pictures are wonderful! I'm the odd one out in an otherwise very green-fingered family (I think you call that a 'green thumb' over there?) but I'm trying to improve my efforts!