Keep Calm and Get Dirty

This blog post was Freshly Pressed on April 9th 2012. Yay!

There is a lot going on in my life right now. Most of which is actually inside my head because these things have yet to come to fruition. For the first time in my adult life, I’m actually excited.

I’m not really a fan of being excited. That makes me sound totally boring, doesn’t it? And, for the most part, I am boring. I prefer to keep my body’s vital organs at standard speed, and I’ll do almost anything to prevent my heart rate from increasing or my oxygen intake from surpassing how quickly my brain can actually process what the hell is going on.   I hyperventilate easily and my doctor once sent me to a class to learn how to breathe correctly.  I was genetically set up to fail at rationalizing. Life would be so much easier had my Wisconsin-bred mother just simply passed on to me her family’s biological abilities to ride in the backseats of cars without getting sick and to withstand subzero temperatures.  But nooooo…I was gifted with the anxiety attacks. Unfortunately, I get cold and queasy quite often.

I say this only because my level of excitement is pretty much matching up with my level of anxiety and, for about a good decade or so now, I have forgotten how to differentiate between the two: anxiety (ugh, dreadful) and excitement (happiness!). So while I work on these two emotions and train myself to separate one from the other, I spend a lot of time in my garden getting my hands dirty, figuring out Plans A, B, and C, and imagining how much happier I can be. The hard part is not the imagining, it’s the making it happen. Especially when I’ve become so dependent on other people’s use of time.

Apparently, I’m not really a fan of being patient, either, but that’s another story for another day.

In the meantime, while I was imagining Plan A this morning, I came to realize that my garden has become of sort of drop-off shelter for homeless plants. With our four raised beds, only two of which are mine, we should have enough cucumbers and tomatoes to supply the whole block come summertime. However, yesterday, I was asked to find room for four more cucumber plants.

Four more? Because the six we have isn’t enough? Good thing I like pickles. Add on top of this my evolving obsession with flowers, with which I seem to have plenty of success and not enough room, and the displaced seedling saga seems neverending. Surely we can take in a lemon cucumber seedling, a few squash plants, and er…there’s no room for the eggplant! Yeah, there’s also no room for four more cucumbers, a lemon cucumber, and a squash. TAKE A NUMBER AND HAVE A SEAT, EGGPLANT!

And just like any other respectable homeless shelter,  I have yet to turn a single plant away. Besides, the busier I am kept, the less likely I will be to totally lose my shit in the next coming weeks as Plan A becomes more and more of a reality…


displaced plants

displaced cucumbers and an out-of-work gnome

ground cherry seedlings

ground cherry seedlings that taught me much about patience and will soon teach me how to make a vinaigrette




verbena, my newest potted flower

larkspur seedings

my late-coming larkspur seedlings, in cahoots with the ground cherries

white alyssum

white alyssum



nugget imperial lantana

nugget imperial lantana, for the butterflies

Considering a lively Facebook discussion last week regarding the lavender, two sides were presented – how lavender has a calming effect on crazy types like myself and how lavender has been deemed a culprit in short-burst & short-term memory loss. I chose memory loss. I figure it works out for me in this way: while I am conscious and aware, I would prefer to be as calm as possible. In fact, if I wasn’t sure I’d look like a complete idiot around town, I would have strapped that lavender plant around my neck and shoulders to have it readily available to sniff in the event I feel a situation (which seems normal to most everyone else) could only mean impending doom.

Actually, there’s my Plan D: strap the lavender across my face like a horse’s feeder trough. I’M SUCH A PROBLEM SOLVER!


About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
This entry was posted in flora and fauna, food, gardening, happiness, health, life, outdoors, photography and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to Keep Calm and Get Dirty

  1. Lee I says:

    I once left a lavender flower (sprig? stalk? waddayacallit?) on the dash of my car. When it dried out, all the little blossoms fell off and lay there for months. I just needed to give them a tap with my fingers and the lavender aroma would spread throughout the car. Really cheap and easy and longlasting.

  2. An out-of-work gnome? Now THAT is funny. As for the lavender, you could always get it in as an essential oil in those little bottles that are are an inch tall. Of course, if you get caught sniffing it and can’t convince the cops it’s not a controlled substance, don’t blame me. –Mizz Chairman of the Garden

  3. Now now…that gnome looks very content guarding that pot. That’s a big job for such a little guy!

    Fun post. I guess I should say congrats and calm down and wow and good work…all in response to all of the above. I’d say that’s a blog that elicits a few reactions!


  4. mackerelskies says:

    Technically, if lavender both calms you *and* causes short-term memory loss, it helps you out in two ways – it calms you down until you forgot what you were so worried about in the first place!

  5. Neetika says:

    What an “exciting” post ;), i don’t think you sound like a boring person at all cos i had real fun reading this!! And i must say, your garden is so neat!!

  6. Talking With Bees says:

    Just cm across your blog and it stimulated a few thoughts.

    Would beekeeping make your anxiety better or worse? I live in the city and find Urban Beekeeping a great way to relax and keep my sanity.

    There is also a new type of beehive in the UK which is suitable for suburban beekeeping. I have written a bit about it – Beehaus Review. It makes beekeeping a bit more accessible.

    Finally, it is also worth considering plants, flowers and herbs that are bee-friendly. I have been researching this and have a page on my blog to encourage people to use Bee-Friendly Plants.

    • Dena says:

      I have thought about beekeeping but not too intently! I’m more of a backyard chicken kind of girl. Thanks for the suggestions on the bee-friendly plants as I did do some research on butterfly attracting plants. That’s the good thing about gardening…there is always next season to try new things!

  7. Glad to hear I am not the only one who doesn’t know how to breath properly. (So I’ve been told by doctors et al). Hey-misery loves company. Lovely blog & Congrats on the FP.

  8. Kevin says:

    Congratulations on being “Freshly Pressed.” I love that you are a shelter for wayward plants. Like you, I have a fondness for the throwaways, the ones that need a little bit of TLC. I also love the ones the annuals that managed to reseed and survive the winter — I figure if they put that much effort into surviving, who am I to weed them out? In fact, I give them a position of prominence. Anything is possible in the garden. Feel free to visit my site. Enjoy the day!

  9. The Hook says:

    Intriguing title… about gardening?
    Very clever, my friend!

  10. The photos you have taken are sooo awesome that i feel like taking gardening as my hobby.
    Thanks for the refreshing pics! 🙂

  11. What a great good morning post! Thanks for the smile – now breathe! Best to you, and congrats on the FP nod (don’t get too overexcited now 😉 )!

  12. lijiujiu says:

    After I saw the article and the pics, I knew the “Keep Calm and Get Dirty” mean.
    Thanks for sharing.

  13. This has been a very bad year for the gnomish economy. After considering a bailout; the dwarves left the Faerie Union to its own devices and now the pixies are responsible for stabilizing the Fae currency. Every job helps to ease the burden on the economy of these Old World cultures. Good for you, hopefully you can take some more into your employ instead of those illegally immigrated scarecrows.

  14. Suggestion: Spend more time in the garden…a great place to remain grounded in more ways than one!

  15. onetruemuse says:

    I do the same thing, when life gets fuzzy I go out to my little patch of yard and stick my hands in the dirt and plant flowers and tomatoes. Gardening is so calming, and you see the results of your efforts so that makes you feel more in control as well. What would we do without nature? Blessed be all.

  16. basangsisiw says:

    Inasmuch as I love to keep the wayward plants in my vegetable garden, I am bound to keep my vow to the ones I primarily was responsible for and the very reason actually why I am gardening, my veggies. Sorry, but anything that will put the growth of my babies in jeopardy shall be completely annihilated. (Sorry weeds. Forgive me stray-out flowering plants for taking shelter in my veggies’ territory. It hurts me to uproot and transfer you to where you should truly belong but have to do it for dear veggies.) Good for you for being such an accommodating host.

    Anyway, congrats on the FP! I had fun reading it. Thanks!


  17. jensine says:

    Thanks for sharing and TAKE a deep breath

  18. Love it! And what a better way to add peaceful “excitement” to your life than being in the garden and getting your hands dirty. That’s one of my favorite and most effective ways to ease my racing and over thinking brain. 🙂

    Lovely blog! ~ April

  19. I am right there with on the anxiety, the queasiness, and the homeless plant syndrome. Nice pictures, too!

  20. Corey Frye says:

    Way to go on getting Pressed! You deserve it.

  21. Thanks for sharing the plantings. I think it’s time for me to do the same. Connie

  22. kelseywood says:

    Love the photos! I, too, find that being in my garden makes me daydream and scheme… lots of great ideas and not enough time to bring them to fruition…

  23. kelseywood says:

    Love the photos! I, too, find that being in my garden makes me daydream and scheme… lots of great ideas and not enough time to bring them to fruition

  24. Sam says:

    I am super jealous of your lovely plants/garden. I kill everything!

  25. Pretty flower pix. I’m intrigued by your plant orphanage. A similar thing has happened to me with cats, though thankfully I’m stopped at 2 now. Also, your comment about lavender made me laugh! I, too, choose memory loss.

  26. Wow, so much going on on this short post lol. I had no idea where it was headed or where it’d end up, but I enjoyed reading it.

    Thanks for posting. I’m sure we can all find respite in our gardens:)

  27. The photos made me stop and read the posting. Thanks for sharing!

  28. ~Matt says:

    Always a lovely read!

  29. johndwm says:

    Love the bit about the lavender! Is this really the traditional replacement for the SSRI? i think youre right and like the idea of strapping it like a horse feed mechanism below one’s face!! People just dont understand the choices we hypersensiitivetypoes have to make….

    • Dena says:

      Hypersensitive. I like that word.

      • johndwm says:

        Its a condition of our existence we have often been told we are wrong to feel hyersensitive but the only thing wrong is the voices that tell us this. It is supreme. It is like being 100degrees below zero on a clifftop . Living requires it. Even death is welcome if it contains such a state of life… I think….

  30. the garden is an amazing place to relax and free your mind for a moment

  31. A fun blog and wonderful pictures. Gardening and helping to grow things is a great way to encourage abundance in your life! Congrats on FP!

  32. Nice, interesting blog. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  33. integrityisyou says:

    seriously i wish i could garden. i dont mind the getting dirty thing but i honestly am so scared of bugs and snakes! i live in the city suburban type area with an ok front and back yard and all i am scared of is snakes! why? lol awesome blog!

  34. Angela says:

    Thanks for this. Your story about differentiating anxiety vs excitement really rang home for me along with the “doing” rather than just planning. Totally feel this. great

  35. bisnis2qta says:

    the pictures are so good…

  36. starlight says:

    nice post.. i’ve always wanted to plant lavenders on my garden..

  37. Dena says:

    Thank you to everyone who stopped by! This was a huuuuge surprise and I had to laugh when I realized my visitor count was due to being Freshly Pressed and NOT because of my email account being hacked into just the day before (which actually happened).

    To touch on a few points many of you made:

    1. Gardening was never an option until I had the time. Thanks to state government layoffs, I am now gardening.

    2. My anxiety issues are shut up by being outside. Trees make me happy. So does a large body of water. I suggest everyone find their happy place.In fact, find six.

    3. The out-of-work gnome is busy once again! He’s not one to show much emotion, but I think he’s pleased. Besides, one of us has to work.

    A big, big WELCOME to all my new followers!

  38. Dena says:

    I would also like to point out that while I am trying to respond to everyone personally, WordPress Duplicate Word Police apparently have a problem with me using the words “Thanks” and “Thank you” too often and won’t allow me to post my replies. I’m sorry…

  39. Kate says:

    Great, fun post, and lovely photos – I’m desperate to get some lavender like yours for my garden too 🙂

  40. Haha this really made me laugh, I love the homeless plants analogy, hilarious!

  41. Tie Dye says:

    I love this post. I have anxiety problems and find gardening to be a useful relaxation tool. I love that you consider yourself to be like a homeless shelter for plants. I wish people would drop one or two by my house! I better be carefull what I wish for, eh?

    • Dena says:

      Too bad you’re not closer – I’ve got sweet pea seedlings and nasturtium that have no room to grow! Gah! I’ll find space …but seriously considering a few giveaways! Thanks for stopping by!!

  42. Congratulations making freshly pressed. Prayer is a wonderful way to calm anxiety I use it daily in Jesus Christ name. Not trying to push anything on you just sharing life is really hard and I just cannot navigate life with Jesus. I am a survior of a semi truck car accident smashing into my GOD mothers vehicle and I am forever disabled with rods surgically inserted in my pelvis. GOD created a miracle of life for me and the ability to walk but pain and suffering is a daily occurance from the trauma I survived. If you need a friend send me a note 🙂 GOD loves all his children. 🙂

  43. Enjoyed your blog today thank you for sharing 🙂

  44. There is something therapeutic about gardening and getting your hands in the dirt. My wife will often disappear into our garden when she’s depressed or upset about something and it usually seems to help her quite a bit…. and gardening is easier on the body than meds =P

  45. ecomom22 says:

    I love the title of your post, I had to giggle because I garden when I’m stressed and lavender is my favorite smell – I don’t hardly have enough in my garden this year. I’m working on a butterfly garden so maybe I can add more just because – thanks for such a wonderful post, photos are beautiful! Reblogged to

    • Dena says:

      Thank you so much! I am on my first year of gardening, with many more to come I hope! Yeah, I plan to add more lavender to my gardens in the future, too!

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