I have to say, I don't really have all that much experience with this sort of thing. In my adult life, if I had flowers it was two things. It was typically something in the bulb family or hanging baskets. I found bulbs to be simple plants that are fairly hardy, tough to screw up and come back year after year with very little effort. Hanging baskets were similar. Simply read the label, consider the placement and see how much sun they need..... and done.
In the past couple of weeks, work has been very busy with the start COVID testing, so simple watering here and there was all I really needed to do to keep things going in my yard. This week though, I took the leap. I found myself with an unexpected few hours off. A little time on my hands had me wondering what I could put in on my newly appointed outdoor space brick patio (It had been power washed, redone and fire pit added on a previous pandemic boredom day). A simple trip to the garden center and I would find myself with two braided hibiscus trees, a peach one and a pink one, well according to the label. Neither had bloomed yet. What exactly did I know about hibiscus trees? Not a damn thing, but the braided trunks looked cool for sure.
So, I did what I always do. I bought some dirt designed for trees and shrubs and plopped them in that and watered. Easy peasy. Then it happened. In the days that followed, the peach one would have a few leaves turn yellow. Then they began to fall off. I would pull off the dead stuff and the next day there would be more. The pink one did not have that problem. In fact, it had a bloom. A simple consultation with Google would tell me my poor peach hibiscus tree was "stressed." Ok. A stressed tree? It gave me multiple different explanations as to why. Too much water, not enough water, too much sun, not enough sun, some variety of spider, the PH was wrong...... and go. It was my job to figure it out. Well crap. I have clearly left the simplicity of bulbs and premade baskets and entered the deeply emotional world of the hibiscus. However, I like a challenge and was not ready to let my little tree die.
Multiple times a day I found myself babysitting my hibiscus tree as if it were my own child. I test the soil. No, it's moist. I let it dry out a few days, as maybe it was too moist, no change. Soil PH? I got nothin'. More leaves falling, no blooms..... Now I'm stressed right along with my little tree. Was my tree going to make it? Yet here's the pink one on flower number three, with a few yellow leaves that were there when I planted it. Yesterday, before my shift, I found myself just staring at the trees. I was determined to figure this out. What was the difference? Same soil. Same water. Same flower food. It was then I noticed it. The peach one was placed in a corner. It made sense to have one on either side of the patio door for the sake of symmetry. Then I realized, that same symmtry meant far less sunlight, so I moved it next to it's sibling. This afternoon, just 24 hours later, I would walk out to no new yellow leaves and the most beautiful bloom I have ever seen, with new growth on all of the branches and my tree was back in the game.
All of this shuffling around and concern for my stressed out tree has me thinking about how many times I take life at 100 mph. I carefully balance working the long shift, taking on school for the kids, home obligations, running a business and race training. Every minute of every day snatched up with a list of tasks so large I could never possibly get it all done in the time I have. I'd love to say it doesn't end up for me the same way as it does for my stressed out tree. I'd love to say I don't have insomnia or that there are not times that clumps of my hair come out in the shower much like my stressed out leaf shedding tree. As my work hours have ramped up lately, I can neither confirm, nor deny that has been the case as of late.
However, this weekend I had on my list a virtual 5K. A race put on by some friends who always support me, and as it was a good cause so I had registered twice. So, yesterday, I found myself at the trail head staring down the 10k with a bit of anxiety as most of my long runs as of late have been cut short due to other obligations. I would set out on the trail and run solid for an hour and 18 minutes. Along the way, I found bright sunshine, cool temps, even splits and even saw a gigantic turtle. At the end, I would see a good friend running the same race and she would cheer me on to the finish. All of my other friends did the run as well and posted their results in a community effort that felt like the first normal thing this spring. In the shower that followed, there were no hair clumps and last night, despite my mild sunburn from a glorious run, I admittedly slept a bit better for the first time in a while. I suppose we all need to pay better attention to the times our own proverbial leaves are falling off, and our blooms of progress are no longer present. We need to see that at times, although the design of life appears to be logical and symmetrical, strictly adhering to it at 100 mph can leave us in the dark corners of stress actually achieving very little balance and stunting our own ability to move forward and grow. Maybe the trick is to find those people in our lives who can help us to pump the brakes a bit, pull us from the dark to join them in the light so that we can once again find balance and burst into full bloom just the way we were meant to. It is only in those moments we will see the best is yet to come.