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Meadowlark Hospice

Dawn's Notes

Seedin' and Weedin' - April 2018
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW

During the winters in Tennessee, the humid, cold air could cut to the bone, especially if you were a small child in an old farmhouse with only a fireplace for heat.  My parents and the younger children slept in the room with the fireplace.  During the night the fire burned down to ashes, and the room was cold by morning. 

My oldest sister and I slept together in the front bedroom.  We wore long, flannel nightgowns, and before we went to bed, we would “toast” one side in front of the dancing flames of the fireplace, then the other.  Next, we ran down the hall, jumped into our fluffy, ice-cold featherbed, tucked our feet into the tail of our nightgown, and shivered until our bed warmed up. 

As springtime approached, my siblings and I started thinking about being outside.  We longed for the first day we could run around without shoes and feel the cool grass on our bare feet.  We looked forward to picking wild blackberries in the fields, of swimming, exploring, and growing things. 

We grew up before electronics, when toys and books were a rarity at our house.  Consequently, we developed an appreciation of the wonders of nature—trees, wild flowers, birds, and growing things. 

As the ground warmed, our thoughts turned to digging and planting.  Looking back, even though we did not realize it, our mother was the master planner of our gardens.  She would talk to each of us and ask, “What do you want to grow in your garden?”  And we would tell her our list which might be peas, onions, potatoes, squash, green beans, corn, or tomatoes. My mom would make suggestions, seeming to keep track of what each kid wanted to grow.  She steered our planting in the right direction—toward a balance of different kinds of vegetables and not too many of the same thing, for instance, not all six kids growing potatoes! 

We first staked our little gardens out with string and dug the ground with a digging fork—there were no modern-day tillers.  We planted the seeds just right, then eagerly watched for the tiny plants to pop up through the soil. 
Even as small children, we learned the difference between vegetables and weeds.

Growing our garden was not just for fun—it was serious business—we depended on the food, and it taught us responsibility.  When it was time, we dug the potatoes and onions and let them dry for the winter.  We canned quarts of green beans and tomato juice, blackberries for pies, and jars of blackberry jelly.  Oh, the fragrance of blackberry jelly cooking on the stove!

We were country kids, unlike my first husband who grew up in the city, not knowing one plant from another.  During the first years of our marriage, he did not mind tilling our garden, but more than once, he accidently tilled up our vegetables along with the weeds, even though he gradually learned which were which.

Similar to telling the difference in a vegetable and a weed,  in life it is important to recognize what is good and what is bad, whether they are deeds, words, or thoughts that will help us rather than harm.

Just as weeds can take over and ruin a garden, negative thoughts and rumors can trouble our heads if they are left unchecked.  There is a quote:  “Don’t let negative people rent space in your head.” 

Especially after a loss, it is important to grow something beautiful in the garden of your mind.  Think about what you want to grow.  Plan, then plant the right kinds of seeds, and chop down the weeds.  Plant thoughts that are good, kind, and peaceful—it will help your heart heal.

Your mind is the garden,
your thoughts are the seeds,
the harvest can either be
flowers or weeds.

- William Wordsworth

By Dawn (Thorn) Phelps RN/LMSW

Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
Meadowlark Hospice
709 Liberty, Clay Center, Kansas
(785) 632-2225
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator