From Point A to Plan B

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Every experience is an adventure when working at The Garden Corner. It starts out differently each day.

Some mornings come a little quicker than others (perhaps due to some late-night article writing). These mornings cause me to stumble out of bed after my fifth alarm hits the fifteenth snooze (thankfully, my husband is a deep sleeper) and slip on the first pair of pants that I can find.

Other mornings are calm and collected. The birds and the sun join me in a comfortable routine that can only be described as picturesque. The sweatshirt is fresh out of the laundry, the socks manage to match, and both shoes went on the right foot on the first try.

Occasionally, there will be a morning where I can take a leisurely pace and tidy up the house before the desperate onset of my zombification calls for a cup of coffee. The rest becomes a blur until that first sip of chocolatey goodness of a mocha touches my bloodstream.

No matter which morning I experience, I always finish my pre-work procedures with a quick glance behind me after backing out of the driveway with a single thought “what is the worst that could happen?”

The answers slowly surface on my commute to work, and they are always varied. Perhaps someone will ask me a question, and I will not know the answer. Maybe I forgot my rainboots again and found myself unprepared for a sudden hail storm in the middle of spring. Suppose my car breaks down on my way to work causing me to be egregiously late. Or worse- maybe I will have to do some actual gardening with real-life plants.

Being the type of person I am, I recognize these instances as real issues and challenges; therefore, I must make sure I am properly prepared. I now drive around with a box of extra clothes in my car for various weather- induced outfit changes. A walkie-talkie app is downloaded on my phone, placing co-workers at my fingertips if I have a question. That pesky oil change light has been tended to, and I always make sure to account for the regular morning traffic. Feeling ready for any outcome helps me lower the anxiety caused by these somewhat outlandish stressors.

Without a doubt, I know that regardless of any preparations that I may or may not have carefully put into place, something will go wrong. In those instances, in my experience, I have found it best to have a just-in-case plan. An elaborately outlined, mostly realistic, but entirely theoretical plan that I have listed out step by step in my head created and executed in my imagination, all on my morning commute. Note: to prevent excessive spiraling, this morning process is limited to the twenty- minute drive from my house to work.

These plans help me move along with my day, there is always a list of projects for me to start/ continue/finish, and I simply cannot be held up with worst-case scenarios all day. I know that, in the end, I have to be prepared for and accept failures as they inevitably will be an outcome
at some point. This daily practice that I have just so happens to be very, very useful in the garden as well. There will always be changes, unexpected weather, and all of the best-laid plans (or planted plants) can fail. So, I have applied my daily routine to the outdoors and listed it below for anyone interested.

First, in the garden, you simply have to get up and get to work, accepting any adventure that comes your way. Gardening experiences can vary. You can be unprepared and rushed, you can be structured and precise, or you can be relaxed and simply see where the garden takes you. All that matters is that you get going!

Second, recognize the obstacles. They can be realistic or entirely imaginary. Answer the question for your garden “what is the worst that can happen?” In my experience, most people have a list of stressors floating around, and I would like to think that plants have a similar list. Your garden experiences a variety of stressors: bugs, weather, and seasons. Plants experience all of these troubles just as we do – in one way or another – some just handle them better than others.

That brings us to the next and third step, prepare yourself and your plants. Recognizing triggers can be healing for both humans and plants. Proper watering, fertilizer, bug repellent, and sunlight are all tools that allow your flowers and shrubs to flourish. Questions can always be passed along to someone with more practice. Feel free to text us pictures of any plant that is not following your plan for advice. Most of my gardening experience has been trial and error. After all, we can not just ask the plant what it needs.

Then we find ourselves a just-in-case plan. While this may be as elaborate as you would like, I recommend sticking to the simple answer – if all else fails, try something else. If your preparations do not succeed, simply do something different.

While I am neither a professional in stress management nor gardening (yet), I have found this process of rationalization makes any work less daunting. For now, I will keep working in my own yard as I preparedly shovel and scoop according to plan. After all, what is the worst that could happen?