Last month I decided I wanted a flower bed in my backyard. Something with bright cheerful flowers. The bed was already laid out with fancy bricks lining out a section of the yard, but it was filled with weeds, scraggly shrubs, and some weird plants I didn’t really care for.

     "Gardening is an exercise in optimism." —Author Unknown

I was highly motivated to create this new garden bed. Which is a good thing because it was a job that took a large portion of three weekends to complete. A job requiring time that could’ve gone to scratching a few tasks off my very long To Do list. Important tasks that really need to be done like fixing the hole in my bathroom ceiling, repairing the torn screen on the screen porch before mosquito season, re-mortaring the loose bricks on the front porch, or replacing the broken light switch in the hallway. And, those are the easy jobs on the list. But, NO, I wanted to plant a flower garden!

     "Gardening is a mirror of the heart." —Author Unknown

First I had to dig up and transplant three six-foot tall flowering shrubs that weren’t getting enough sunlight. Then two different ones that weren’t getting enough water. Then I dug up and transplanted some miscellaneous perennials. This was the easiest part because I used them to fill some holes my neighbor’s dogs dug in the hill behind my garage (easy because I only had to dig once). Last to be dug up were the weeds. Next, I turned the soil, then raked out all the debris such as roots, rocks, twigs, and leaves, plus a few lost Matchbox cars and plastic army men. Then I relaid all the fancy bricks making the bed a little narrower than it was before. It was finally time to plant some flowers.

     "Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow." —Author Unknown

I went to the nursery and bought some impatiens because they come in bright colors and grow in the shade. I have very little sunlight in my heavily forested yard. I also picked up some pine straw to mulch around the new plants, and a little wire fence to keep my dog out of the flowers. Finally the job was done and I had a flower bed with 30 plants. It doesn’t look like much yet, but it makes me happy. I walk outside and look at it every morning. And, if I haven’t bored you yet, I will now explain why this is worth writing about.

     "More in a garden grows than what the gardener sows." —Spanish Proverb

You see, I haven’t done any gardening in over a decade. Oh, I’ve done plenty of yard maintenance work, but I haven’t planted anything new. I used to do a lot of gardening, but 13 years ago I found out my wife was leaving me. Gardening was something we did together, but that wasn’t why I stopped. I stopped gardening because I wasn’t feeling right or good or whole. I felt empty, lost, and sad. There are loads of logical reasons I could give for why I wasn’t gardening. I didn’t have the time for it. I had a business to run. I had young children to raise. I had to find a new wife... (OK, maybe that one’s not logical.)

     "One who plants a garden, plants happiness." —Chinese proverb

Yeah, I thought that replacing her would bring everything back to normal. Once I broke free of the initial staggering depression that hit me when she left, I started searching for a new wife. I imagine a lot of people do that. I don’t know how well it works out for them, but for me it wasn’t happening. I came close a couple of times, but eventually I realized I needed to work on the reasons my marriage failed before I got married again.

     “Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.” —Alfred Austin, poet

I put some real time into learning about relationships. Including some therapy. Once I started this journey, things started to normalize in my life. Not enough to put any plants in the ground! Over time I learned that in a healthy relationship both partners feel good about themselves, respected, cared for, and safe. I also came to understand that instead of chasing beauty, charm, and wit; I was better off finding someone who is kind, compassionate, giving, and joyful.

     “These flowers symbolize my health.”

It’s all paying off. I’ve been gradually feeling better about myself for some time now. And, finally enough to plant flowers. Is it time for you to plant a garden too?

Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. is an author, humorist/speaker and innovation consultant. He works with companies that want to be more competitive and with people who want to think like innovators. Robert is the author of ...and Never Coming Back, a psychological thriller-novel about a motion picture director; The Annoying Ghost Kid, a humorous children's book about dealing with a bully; and the inspirational book: Wisdom in the Weirdest Places. For more information on Robert, please visit www.jumpstartyourmeeting.com.

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