Early in June, at a garage sale, I bought two tomato plants for $1. One produces large tomatoes and the other produces small tomatoes. I planted them with my strawberries and then went on with life.
They grew like gang busters. Leaves and stalks everywhere. My husband had to help put in stakes and tie them to help hold them up. But there had yet to be a tomato from either one of them.
The other night, my husband was working late, and the son unit had been put to bed and I decided it was time to tackle the hugely overgrown tomato plants.
The thing was I didn’t know where to start. So I went to Youtube. I typed in: how to trim a tomato plant. This great gardener excellently explained and demonstrated how to do it.
The basic principle was if a branch has all leaves and no tomatoes it needs to be clipped. It’s taking energy from the tomatoes that are growing. Also the extra leaves are taking the sun and blocking the tomatoes from getting the sun which is keeping them from ripening and thriving.
So I began. I found a pair of scissors and I began digging through my hugely overgrown plants. On the first plant only one branch out of ten had tomatoes. And just like the video said they were being overshadowed by other leafy branches, and not growing. Clip. Clip. Snip. Step back, snip some more.
I stepped back to admire my work and was shocked at the difference. It was so clear. The plant looked happier. The green tomatoes were reflecting the light of the evening sun. I turned my attention to the second plant. As I began working on the second one I had a realization.
Tomato plants are like responsibilities in my life. If I have too many responsibilities or obligations my energy/time/attention is going in too many directions and nothing is growing or thriving.
One of the tasks I had for myself was to draw a circle. Then I was to divide the circle into pieces (like a pie) to represent how much energy I was giving each thing. Some of my categories were my son, my husband, finances, household tasks, bible study, this blog, etc.
My husband had the idea of then adding in how much stress each thing takes or has. I have a ridiculous amount of internal stress and we have been on a journey of trying to understand it and lessen it.
In trying to sort through the stress I have realized I feel things very deeply. I always saw this as a flaw, as something I needed to curb. But I can’t. It’s who I am and I am trying to learn how to love this trait about myself instead of being overwhelmed by it or stressed out about it.
As I continue to read Present over Perfect I have been faced with so many things about myself that are true and twisted. I am so thankful for this book, because it is helping me to deeply feel and not be ashamed of it, not be embarrassed about it. Also it is gently offering me truth in the midst of the raw and real.
As I thought about the tomato plants and viewed my circle of energy and stress I began to have some clarity. I am very hard on myself. I get stuck in my head. If I have to step back from something or not get something done, I feel like I have failed. As I thought about the tomatoes I considered how they had not failed. They weren’t growing because the plant had to much going on. The tomato didn’t say to itself, “why can’t I do more? I’m frustrated I have physical limitations.” No it was doing it’s best to thrive and grow in the situation it was in.
A quote from Present over Perfect has helped me so much. “The darkness is the lie, not the light. The light is the truth.” This quote has become my mantra for the last week. Whenever I get overly stuck in my head or feel my overly judgmental self come into the conversation I quote these words. The darkness is the lie. I don’t want to believe a lie. I want to believe the truth. What is the truth in this situation?
If you ever think, “What is she talking about, I never think that or feel that way.” I would encourage you to look around you, because I guarantee there is a friend, co-worker, sister-in-law, or a woman in your world, who does feel this way and she needs your friendship. She needs your simple words and different perspective to help with hers. Maybe read Present over Perfect with her and talk about it together.
So what about you? How is your tomato plant/energy circle? Do you have too many things spinning around you? Is there something you can let go of or say no to or just stop doing? If you get stuck in your head like I do, find a friend. She doesn’t have to understand it, she just needs to be your friend. Listen to her words, listen to her suggestions, pour some extra water into your soul and see if you can help it to grow and thrive.