Gardening cultivates fresh perspectives on my own growth

For everything there is a season — including plants and change

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by Lara Govendo |

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, I took up gardening as a hobby. Since I was high-risk for catching the virus because of my cystic fibrosis (CF) and a suppressed immune system from my double-lung transplant, I spent the time isolated. That proved to be the fertile soil to grow my new passion, as well as dig deeper into my own growth journey.

I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, but I jumped in anyway, which is progress for me. Too often I get stuck in perfectionism and set impossible standards for myself. This time, I didn’t wait until I knew everything before trying something new, nor did I use my lack of expertise as an excuse not to try.

I spray-painted old tires to make them into planters. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel (literally), I used the resources I had. That’s a good reminder for life, too.

Buying seeds and plants was exciting! I picked out my favorite vegetables and the prettiest flowers I could find. When I started planting, though, I learned some unexpected life lessons as I saw the parallels of gardening and my personal life.

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Life lessons

Seeds take a while to cultivate before they grow. I bury them in the darkness of dirt at the beginning of the season and take care of them, even though I can’t see what’s happening below the surface. I’m impatient to see my plants grow. I don’t want to wait for them to germinate and push their way to sunlight.

Darkness and impatience are parts of my journey living with chronic illness, too. Sometimes I feel buried beneath the weight of health hiccups and continual health management. Besides feeling dark, it’s just plain old hard. I keep pushing through, even when I don’t feel like it, but I get impatient and frustrated when change doesn’t happen on my timeline. It’s disheartening when I take care of my health and don’t see an immediate reward, especially when I’ve worked diligently and don’t see any shift.

In these times, I need those reminders that seasons don’t last forever. Even when it feels dark, there’s a fresh season with new possibilities coming. I notice that when I’m on the brink of giving up, I tend to see the first fruits of my labor. It’s the same with my plants. When I least expect it, I see green sprigs burst through the dirt, pushing their way to the light.

It dawned on me that I need to practice the same grace with myself that I offer my plants as they grow. I can’t rush the process. Waiting with expectation until plants bear fruit takes faith. There’s nothing I can do to force them to grow. I just have to wait.

Living through seasons of waiting can feel like standing still. Learning the art of rest is key, especially with chronic illness. I can’t force myself to function outside of my body’s limitations. It never ends well.

I tend to forget the messy middle during those seasons, though. It’s easy to look back with hindsight to see the growth while forgetting how it happened. It’s a timely reminder to embrace uncertainty, permit myself to rest, and risk believing in better days.

Fresh seasons

Now I look forward to the spring to see the green sprigs bursting up. After the dormant winter, seeing the persistence of my plants revitalizes my own determination to grow despite the circumstances.

New growth comes from having patience with the process. Recognizing that seeds need fertile soil to grow is key to my own growth. Bearing fruit does happen — in due time.

Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.


deborah ann haupert avatar

deborah ann haupert

Soil especially wet soil has many germs with bad outcomes for people with CF.


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