I Had an Epiphany in the Garden. Here’s How I’ll Try to Apply It to Life.

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Back in 2011, when we first bought our house, the back yard was a wreck.

Our house was built in 1890 and behind it is a tiny cottage that was built in 1889. Next to the cottage is an enormous Norway Maple that’s estimated to be the same age as the cottage (nearly 130 years old!), with evidence of having survived at least one lightning strike, possibly two.

The previous owner hadn’t been in the back yard for several years prior to our purchase, she admitted, and from end to end and side to side, it was covered in knee-high ground elder (aka, bishop’s weed), punctuated by large branches that had fallen from the maple tree.

We moved into the house two days before Halloween in 2010, so when the snow melted in late March that following spring, I couldn’t wait to create some gardens. (Our very first venture, dismally, ended in both of us contracting extreme poison ivy: Scott was in the emergency room hooked up to IVs and I was put on steroids for three weeks to help heal the blisters that resembled second-degree burns.)

Despite the early challenges and the enormous amount of work it took to clear the yard, create some sort of hardscaping, till and amend the soil and much more, I loved it. I’d get up at 4am to work in the gardens before work. I had no idea yet where we’d have sun or shade come summer, so I haphazardly planted whatever I could get my hands on, mostly throwaway plants that I’d found for free on craigslist.

And all that summer, and even more so the next summer, and to the moon and back the third summer, I loved our gardens. I spent as much time as I could in them, happily puttering around and humblebragging about them to anyone who came by for dinner or a cocktail.

By the fourth season, though, things took a turn for the worse. And for reasons I couldn’t put my finger on, by last summer, I was about as sick of our gardens as anyone could be and I understood, if not exactly why, then how it was that the previous owner could’ve ignored the yard for years, because I was on the verge of that myself.

A few days ago, though, on a Saturday that was the first nice day of spring, I set a goal of at least cleaning out the beds–just raking the leaves and getting rid of some branches and twigs that had fallen over the course of the winter.

And as I was futzing around and smelling the wet earth and the moldering leaves and the new spring, it dawned on me, finally, why it was that my love had turned to loathing.

Each spring, filled with determination that had built up all winter and feeling as though I’d had the physical strength of an ox, I’d eagerly tackle the bishop’s weed. I’d spend several weekends every March and April and May pulling and picking and plucking at it (it spreads by root and seed and rhizome).

Eventually, after exhausting days and evenings spent in tandem first with a weed gizmo, then bloody-knuckled bare hands, then a weedwhacker, it’d look as though there was progress, enough so that I was ready to get to planting. Except that here, in Western New York, you can’t really plant anything other than trees in the early spring or you risk losing your plants to a late hard frost. So, in that nethertime between losing many days of my life to clearing out bishop’s weed and when the soil and sun said it was safe to plant, the weeds would once again take over.

Before Memorial Day, defeated and downhearted, I’d throw in the towel and secretly pray for an early autumn.

Last weekend, though, as I eyeballed the bishop’s weed hiding under the layer of maple leaves that were supposed to smother it over the course of the winter (but didn’t), I decided that this year, instead of putting all of my energy into the weeds, I’ll instead put it into the things that I love: the soil, the plants that bring happiness and food to bees and butterflies and birds, and the smells of the earth and grass around me.

This, then, is my epiphany: F*ck the bishop’s weed. Let it have its way.

I can choose to focus on it or I can choose to let it do its thing. And while it’s doing its thing, I can nurture the things I love, until they’re so healthy that they hold down the weeds on their own or, at least, find a peaceful coexistence together. And if the bishop’s weed wins when all is said and done, so be it.

And so it is with my baldyhead: F*ck alopecia areata and all its forms. Let it have its way. So far, it doesn’t look like anything that Doc and I have tried will turn this around. I won’t fight it anymore. Am I giving up on it (or on hope) entirely? No, that’s impossible–not when, every time I catch my reflection, I still bristle.

But instead of focusing all of my energy on fixing what’s wrong with me, I’ll focus more on blossoming to the best of my ability. I’ll likely never smother this weed o’mine, but hopefully and at the very least, maybe we’ll find a more peaceful coexistence.

Thank you, bishop’s weed, for this lesson. I embrace you. xoxoxoxoxo

{Note: These are my own experiences with applied kinesiology, which clearly aren’t meant as medical advice for anyone else. But I know a lot of friends and family members are grappling with a huge variety of autoimmune issues and other ailments, so I’m happy to share my experiences. And if this is your first visit and you’d like to follow chronologically, click here. Otherwise, enjoy!}

{Photo by Froken Fokus, courtesty of Pexels.com, thank you!


  1. Beautifully written and love how you are able to always look for ways to challenge and improve mentally. The way you “feel” is the most important. xoxo.


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