I’ll confess that I’m a bit of a list person. I like writing lists then crossing things off. Not just for shopping, but also for managing daily life and work. At work in particular I use a spreadsheet to manage tasks, which I update at the beginning of each week. It’s always nice to get to the end of a week and look over what I’ve got done. However, when it comes to gardening, pre-ME I didn’t use lists that much. I generally knew what I wanted to do and let the months and seasons guide me.
Secondly, I found I often felt upset at my perception of ‘how little’ I did in the garden. I would say “I only got x done” or “but I have so much else to do”, with the implication I wasn’t doing enough. This was of course being unfair to myself, expecting that I should be able to do and achieve (a bad word, I know, but apt in this context) the same as I did when I was a healthy gardener.
Being constantly tired not only means I have less energy to do, but less energy to think about doing. Writing lists, crossing off a task, gives me a strong personal sense of achievement. In this case I’m using ‘achievement’ to mean respecting myself and the context within which my health is situated. In fact I’ve found crossing tasks off a list, no matter how small, adds to my joy of gardening again. Because now I think “wow, I’m getting a lot done given how little energy I have”.
Of course, sometimes it is nice to go out into the garden, throw the list to the wind and just potter. Yes, there are things I want to get done and ticked off, but one of the great joys of gardening for me is pottering. Whilst having ME has meant I have needed to be more focused with how and where I’m using my energy in the garden, it’s also good for the ME soul to occasionally go into the garden and have a good potter about. It’s nice to get things done (tick), but it’s good on occasion to have enjoy some pottering freedom.
I hope to (will) return to health and do away with the gardening lists eventually. But until then, lists help me maintain a positive sense of what I get done in the garden, even within the limitations of a chronic illness. Now, I’ll just go and tick off writing this blogpost from my other task list. Tick.
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I welcome your comments and thoughts. And if you blog about gardening with ME/a chronic illness, link to this post in your blog, and leave a comment below with a link to your post, so we can all find each other.
Twitter hashtag: #GardeningWithME
Recent Gardening with ME posts…
Gardening with ME: gardening in your head
Gardening with ME: planning the kitchen garden year