Growth, Goals and why I like Gardening

“What do you do for fun?”

I ask this question whenever I interview someone. It can tell you so much about a person.

· “I’m in a softball league” (I’m a team player).

· “I love tennis” (I’m competitive).

· “I like to knit” (I’m contemplative).

· “I’m a runner” (I’m focused).

· “I enjoy cooking” (I can be creative). Baking is more of an exact science, making bakers more specific people.

You get the idea. The above may not work every time but what does come through is that there is more to this person than just work. They have found ways to get more out of life beyond their career and that’s someone you want to work with.

I find this all ironic because if you ask me what I do for fun, it’s been disappointing. For the past five months the answer has been, “I like to write” or “I like to see theater” which would be way more interesting if both weren’t connected to my job.

You could say I am blessed to work doing something I love in an industry I adore. That would be accurate. But really, among friends, I was getting boring.

No one wants to talk about work with their spouse or friends or family all the time. There used to be more to me. I used to do yoga every Sunday and when I didn’t do yoga, I’d go for a hike. Lately I had decided that neither or those would do it for me. What else could I be getting done in the hour it would take to hike Blue Mountain (a beautiful place nearby)? Or in yoga, I had to leave as I felt like my inability to “just breathe” could cause me a panic attack.

I was sad, that two hobbies I once loved were not on the table for me right now. And I hope to go back to doing both activities soon, but in the meantime, I needed an escape. Enter David, one of my best friends, who has had to learn balance and knows me very, very well.

If there was one person who would talk to me about work for hours, it’s David. He’s a producer with a hit show running Off-Broadway but that’s new news. Before that he worked in a million different jobs in the theater industry doing sales, marketing and being an associate producer for years before he made the leap to open his own office. Like me, he’s in a start-up all his own and like me, he’s a workaholic. We both married actors, he has cats, I have kids and bonus, he now lives down the street from me in Peekskill.

He had been my hiking partner and we’d spend those hikes talking about work. It was the best of all worlds. But now, he knew, I needed a new hobby.

David has the most amazing garden. He grows flowers and vegetables. I love this space as it’s beautiful, tranquil and a place I often escape to when I need it most. I wanted a garden of my own and with my birthday coming up, I asked David to “give me a garden for my birthday”.

Yesterday, we went home depot with a gift card and he helped me collect all I would need to build a space of my own. He helped me till the soil and pull out all the weeds and put in new richer soil to help my plants grow. He asked me where I wanted to place all the flowers I had picked out and then…he left me to figure it out on my own.

“I love this. I’m not even thinking about work for the first time in weeks”, I told him. As I knelt on the ground with dirt under my manicure, discovering a worm under a rock.

“I knew you would”, he explained, “Gardening is all about goals and growth. That’s the way you think now. You’re going to plant these things. You’re building something.”

“What if the deer eat them? What if they die?” I asked.

“Plants are more resilient than you think. Spread their roots so they can grow. If they fail, plant more things. In a year, this garden is going to be gorgeous or we’ll need to start over”, he gave me a hug and he left.

I spent another hour building my garden. It looks good. There’s more to do and I will do it. Doing hard work and feeling a sense of accomplishment, it’s nirvana to me.

Working at a start-up, every day is about hard work and trying things and seeing what might grow. So maybe, my hobby is work-related after all. And if that’s what makes me happy right now, then I’m going to make another Home Depot run today and just keep going. Plus, I still need to mulch.