You Can’t Do It All

I have just been out in my garden and, as is so often the case, it prompted a post. Hope you like it.

A few years back my garden was my pride and joy. When my children (and several other people’s kids!) had stopped using it as a playground, and the sand pit, swings, and slide became redundant, I began to reclaim it, bit by bit. For a while the lawn served double duty as a rugby pitch and my washing line prop is still a pole once used for vaulting, but once the offspring disappeared it became my own personal terrain. My pet project.

It was a labour of love (and source of huge expenditure) but the results were worth it. It was a joy to see the garden I had oft dreamed of emerge. It wasn’t Kew, and wouldn’t win any prizes, but it was mine and it gave me huge pleasure.

Letting Go

However, about two years ago we were finally granted planning permission to build a wee bungalow for my Mum on a plot of land opposite our house. This too had been a long held dream but the vagaries of Bath planning delayed it for year after year. We reapplied for a third time, having drawn up lots of different plans and permssion was granted. Suddenly (or so it seemed after the enforced delays) we were in the throes of building a house with builders, and the consequent disruption, despite having fabulous builders!

Temptation

We have lived in our family home for over 30 years and during that time I have had many a fantasy (not shared by my husband) about knocking down walls, replacing windows etc, but in the way of these things very few had become real. But now I had a team of lovely builders at my beck and call and the temptation was too much.

How much would it be to knock down that wall? Really, that cheap if we let you do it when it’s raining and you can’t work on the house? Great, it’s a deal! Oh and we’ll now need a new floor, new…”

Many similar conversations followed and at one point I found myself ‘supervising’ the new build, a new kitchen installation in my mother’s old house, and major works in our own! And I had more training and coaching work than I could handle! Of course, my husband was a huge help but I had very clear ideas about how my Mum’s new house should be designed, and I’d been plotting the wall removal in ours for ever, so I was voluntarily at the helm. Ms ‘I can do it all’!

The Garden

And I still wanted my lovely garden. But the garden became a dumping ground for rubbish and ‘possibly useful one day’ items, like old sinks, bits of pipe, and tons of wood to be stored for our new wood burner (another addition to the Woods household!)

The trouble was I wasn’t always around to supervise where all this rubbish went and a lot of it ended up on in places it shouldn’t. My lovely garden was being destroyed. I’d come back from a day training and wail:

But there’s a beautiful clematis on that trellis, don’t you remember? Oh no, all my white tulips are under a pile of wood! You can’t put a wood shed there it’ll block access to the pond”

In short, and in all honesty, I was a right old nag.

And one day it dawned on me.

To achieve the more pressing and immediate dream of building my Mum’s new house and gaining my lovely huge kitchen diner, I had to let the garden go. And so I did. I made a conscious decision not to worry any more about it. Not to go rushing about like a demented witch every time I came home and found something on top of something about to bloom, or right in front of the window so it looked like a world war two bomb site. And not to nag my poor husband ragged about it.

Relief

It was actually a huge relief. I hadn’t stopped loving my garden – I hadn’t given up on the dream, but I had relegated it for a wee while.

And that’s what we all need to do sometimes to survive, postpone things in order to achieve more immediate aims. It’s what sociolgists call ‘deferred gratification’.

Sometimes we have to let go of our sacred cows, our long held dreams to get where we need to be. If you feel like you can’t see the wood for the trees (in my case it was the literally the trees for the wood!), pause a while. What is the most important to be doing right now?

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Posted on April 19th, 2010 by

4 Responses to “You Can’t Do It All”

  1. Oh Jane, some days I think we are clones! We’re a remodeling family but my house has been the last on the list forever. I finally hired out to get my office done. I had other space to work in but I was so antsy to get back in. Just wait until I figure out how to fund the kitchen remodel… better be in the summer when I can use the grill! LOL

    I tend to take on lots and then wonder why I am frustrated. So when I next get to that point, I will remember these lines from your post: “And that’s what we all need to do sometimes to survive, postpone things in order to achieve more immediate aims. It’s what sociolgists call ‘deferred gratification’.

    Sometimes we have to let go of our sacred cows, our long held dreams to get where we need to be. If you feel like you can’t see the wood for the trees (in my case it was the literally the trees for the wood!), pause a while. What is the most important to be doing right now?” Thanks!

    • Jane says:

      You are very welcome! I also got my office redone and now have a beautiful place to work in! You may be right about that clone thing……Good luck with your plans!

  2. I think it is easier to let go sometimes if the vehicle is via someone else (like your builders)That way you can put the initial ‘blame’ somewhere else! I think you need to focus on the positive of what letting go gives you. At first that is REALLY focus & if you can get others to support you in this then it will become easier.
    Lovely post!

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