My Plants Are Dying; Thoughts on balance

August 12, 2011 2 Comments

I’ve always prided myself on having a very green thumb. In college I took an amazing course called Practical Botany. The course was a fabulous combination of traditional lecture along with a long lab time, which was held at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens near campus. I devoured every bit of the course and it solidified my love of growing things. My college rooms were filled with plants. I even made a modest attempt at a vegetable garden in the back of the house I shared with eight others my senior year, despite the fact the yard had been filled with weeds and stray beer bottles for many many years.

Since then I’ve successfully grown houseplants, perennials, and vegetables. I’ve always seen growing things as effortless. Well, not effortless exactly. There is caring, tending, watering, replanting, weeding. Simple tasks that have very good results. A little bit of attention and my plants always thrived. It never felt like work to keep my plants healthy.

But now I find myself in an unfamiliar place. My plants are dying. I looked at them the other day and noticed yellow leaves where there should be bright green. I saw the dreaded brown, wrinkled remnants of once lush greenery.

Dying Plant


What is happening? I’ve always been so good with my plants. What have I done?


The answer was not difficult to find. I’ve neglected them. I’ve fallen out of my rhythm of care, my weekly watering and pruning, my monthly plant showers, my every so often dusting of leaves.

Life is busy, in so many wonderful and exciting ways. I’m growing this space. I’m building the first issue of Sparrow Magazine. I’m nurturing two children who are growing before my eyes. I’m supporting my husband and watching as he reaches amazing new heights in his career.

Somewhere in all of the excitement the plants have gotten lost. Fortunately I know just what they need. For the next few days I will be giving them a little extra attention. One watering wasn’t enough so I’ll be giving them fresh drinks for a couple days. I’m apologizing to them and promising to be better. I’m gently dusting leaves, removing the old to make room for new, healthier growth.

Seeing my plants struggling forced me to think about what else in my life is currently out of balance.


What else is wilting that I just haven’t noticed yet?


My plants signs of neglect may be more obvious than some others. I can see the neglect very clearly in the yellow and brown leaves the drooping branches. The signs in other aspects of my life are more difficult to discern.

I know my body is missing consistent exercise. I know that I would feel better if I didn’t stay up so late and then guzzle several cups of coffee in the morning. I know my children would love more of my undivided attention and to not hear me say “just let me send off this email and then I will look at your picture (or car or building or dance)”. I know my husband and I would benefit greatly from an evening spent together without our computers in our laps and the TV playing in the background.


A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. ~James Allen


When life gets out of balance (and you can count on the fact that it will at some point) there are always ways to get back on track. I also think it is important to remember that when the scales of balance are tipped, you don’t have to get everything back to some idealized state. A little attention to one area of neglect can reap many rewards.

With everything I have on my plate right now I’m not going to worry about getting into a consistent exercise routine. While I know it would feel great, I also know there are some priorities ahead of exercise, for right now. While I’m not worrying about getting to the gym right now I am planning on getting into a consistent exercise routine again when my son starts school in a couple weeks. This helps take the pressure off so that I can focus on the more important task of putting together an amazing debut issue of Sparrow Magazine.

I can count on having a lot of late nights putting together the debut issue of Sparrow in my near future. Being a working mom who spends most of every day with my kids, working at night, after they are in bed, is my reality. I know that now isn’t the time for me to pressure myself into decreasing my caffeine intake. I also know that there are many foods I can eat to nourish my body and keep my energy running high. I will make lots of kale chips, avoid sugar, and eat foods that help keep me grounded, like Dal and maple syrup sweetened steel cut oats.

After all, it’s about balance, right? It’s not about perfection. It’s about weighing priorities and doing what works best for the time. Things shift, events happen, changes occur. Living a balanced life doesn’t mean that everything is getting equal attention all the time. Some things are always going to need (or demand) more attention than others. To balance we have to make careful, deliberate choices that move us forward.

I might not get to the gym, but I will romp on the playground with my kids. I will push myself working late nights, and also nourish my body with power foods. I won’t spend every night connecting with my husband, but I will take some time away from my work, close my computer and talk with him.

While my plants still have yellowed leaves and are looking less healthy than usual, I know they will recover. Already some of their leaves have perked up, reaching with determined hope towards the sunlight streaming in through the windows.

Filed in: Blog, Self Exploration

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  1. Molly Persinger says:


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