The weed pressure is on. It’s finally starting to tail off from mid-June insanity, but much time has been spent pulling pigsweed that seems to sprout, grow a foot, and go to seed during one long, midsummer’s day.
Our squash is trying to take over the known world. We’ve got eight or so baby sunburst squash just a week from eating. We’ve got teeny, tiny baby tomatoes, cukes, tomatillos. The peas are done and the beans are ramping up. The sunflower heads are growing slowly, creeping open with great suspense. We’re harvesting potatoes for the table. The basil is thinking about bolting and, after months of flimsy, floppy carrot tops, they’re now standing bolt upright in straight little rows, anchored firmly in the ground.
Working around these green, growing delights, pulling unwanted visitors and squashing hundreds of brilliant orange three-striped potato beetle eggs has give me a lot of time to think.
Especially about my dad. About families. Especially about happiness. About the kind of person I want to be.
I don’t think of myself as a goal-setter. I don’t write things down and chart out a direction. But I do think in terms of six-month, one-year, and five-year plans. I was really good at it for many years, but over the past year I’ve let it lapse. I’m not sure how to plan things like this with a life-partner, someone else with a work schedule, vacation schedule, opinions, and ideas about how money should and should not be spent. There was also the wedding to plan last year, a horrible work expansion to navigate, and then the Long Winter of Death that was, literally, about survival. Then there was house-buying, an all consuming goal that didn’t pan out as planned or hoped.
Over the past year, I’ve felt like life has just been happening to me and I’ve been rolling with the punches as best as I was able. Most of the time I was drowning. I felt like I was being flung from one crisis to the next and I couldn’t get any foothold anywhere. I couldn’t figure out a direction. I couldn’t make any plans. And I got cranky. Really really cranky. I took on the right to complain, to soak in negativity, to ooze a slime of conflict and unhappiness. P was stressed too and my usual rock-solid-benefit-of-the-doubt-granting partner was growing unhappy and we were feeding each other’s unrest.
But the other day he snapped out of it. He said unprompted and with firm conviction, “And today I decided I’m in charge of my attitude. And I’m going to choose to make the best of it.” He subtly encouraged me to do the same. I resisted, citing my right to complain about everything I had to put up with.
Tricky thing is, I had been unhappy with my unhappiness. But I couldn’t figure out a way out. P was right, of course, the route was internal, the decision clear. I was in charge of my own attitude and I had to stop choosing to be so pissed off all the time.
So I’ve been doing some internal landscaping during those long hours pulling pigsweed and smooshing bugs. I’ve been choosing to be happy. Remembering how to walk away from negative conversations. Remembering how to grant the benefit of the doubt. Choosing to withhold judgement. Letting go of negativity. Reminding myself it’s not always about me. Counting all the things I’m grateful for. And the fruits are fast-maturing and satisfying. I’ve been sleeping better. Difficult encounters don’t haunt me for days. I’m able to let go of past grudges and forge new ground with a brother I’ve hardly spoken to in years. I’m reminded of a less-jaded and less defensive me. I’ve missed that person. She’s been waiting for a break in the storm, some sunshine, TLC and hard pruning, but her roots are poised and ready for growth.