Mindful with Irene (25)

Last year, thanks to a promotion run by the local supermarket, Irene experienced the trials and tribulations of growing a vegetable garden. Now, they’re running the promotion again…

“Would you like your complimentary packet of vegetable seeds?” asks the cashier happily as I’m packing away my groceries. “Yes,” I say out loud; “Noooo!” I think to myself… You see, I have a huge hangover from this promotion from last year. How happy I was with it at the start; my daughter and I dived into the whole affair, wholeheartedly and with all the best intentions. Pots were bought, seeds were sown, plants were sprayed, bigger pots were bought, plants were repotted, and well, you get the picture…. Every day, we sat at the breakfast table, feeling proud of ourselves because we had spotted a few more green shoots.

But something went wrong along the way. How much water did they actually need? Were we supposed to add some more earth, as the shoots looked pretty exposed? When should we move them outdoors? And had we repotted them into the right-sized pots? Gradually, there were less and less of those joyful, feeling-proud-of-ourselves days, and the disappointment and irritation began to creep in. Because I didn’t get to see—or taste—the fruits of our labor (think crunchy radish, tender broccoli and juicy cherry tomatoes). As usual, I was too impatient, did things wrong and, rather than nurture the few plants that did manage to grow, I left them in the lurch and went off on holiday in the school break. Needless to say, that brought an end to our allotment adventure. And it left me wondering: How about others? Is there anyone out there who has actually managed to grow a vegetable garden using those promotional seed packets?

And now those promotional packs are back again. The Dutchman in me thinks: Of course I want them, they’re free after all. But, at the same time, my heart sinks to my shoes. Not because, knowing me, these seeds won’t grow to become edible produce, but because I know I’m letting myself be led—yet again—by the end result rather than the process. How often do we write in Flow about the pleasure of actually doing something, of enjoying the moment itself; that, for example, it is good to draw, regardless of what the end result looks like, or how wonderful it is to sing out loud, even it is completely and utterly out of tune.

This year, I’m going to turn those promotional seed packets into a little mindfulness project. I’m going to see if I can simply be happy with just the doing part of things. To just have fun with seeds and earth. With no expectations or final goals getting in the way. To enjoy having a mini greenhouse on the window sill, simply because it looks so nice. To buy pots in which to plant the shoots later on. To experience the enjoyment of doing instead of fretting over the result.

But naturally, I secretly hope that, as well as all that “letting it be,” I also get to enjoy a salad full of goodies from my vegetable garden this summer…

Irene, together with Astrid, is the founder and creative director of Flow Magazine. She lives with her children (10 and 13, co-parenting) in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Each Friday, she writes about how various Mindfulness lessons apply in her daily life.

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