A Lesson in ‘Can’t’

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” ~ Bobby Unser

I Can Do 100 Push-ups?

I’ve always been an optimist, a positive person, a rainbow-in-rain or glass-half-full gal. I stand accused of living in La La Land. Those in my circles know I detest the sentence I can’t. I usually retort with one of two quotes, depending upon the situation:

  1.  Whether you say you can’t or you can, you’re right. ~ Henry Ford      … OR…
  2. …And that is why you fail ~ Yoda (And I used my best Yoda impersonation for effect.)

My kids and their friends have gotten it from me plenty of times, so they know to choose their words carefully when a frustrating situation hits ’em in the face lest they get the old talk.

Well, this past week I ate my own words with a healthy helping of crow. I guess one is never too old to learn.

The goal in martial arts class was to crank out several push-ups, then spider crawl on hands-and-feet quickly forward 10 feet to repeat again and so forth across the gym floor. I became super-frustrated as my feet were successfully sliding me behind the starting line and into the bleachers. I was going nowhere fast.

“I can’t move forward! My feet are slipping!” I yelled to the floor, sweat dripping from my face, secretly hoping my instructor would feel my frustration,

Oh, he felt me alright. He heard me too.

“Everyone — 50 push-ups.” When Sensei Ro gives a direct order, you better get to it before it gets worse. I knew why he gave it: my most hated two words are his most hated two words too.

As my arms and shoulders were reduced to fleshy noodles, I knew the boys were going to be upset with me for that one. We got back to it — my problem yet unresolved by me — and the same stinkin’ words spewed from my lips in Freudian fashion…again; I didn’t even hear myself saying them. The second I CAN’T bought us all another 50 more push-ups. Arguing and complaining is futile in this situation; best to keep your mouth shut and play the game.

My. Bad. My very, very. BAD.

The groans from all of us were audible. To my ears in particular, hey were deafening. I struggled not to cry as I pushed through the last 10 reps, hoping I would having energy left for the remainder of the lesson, quietly mouthing the words I’m sorry to my boys whenever I caught their sad, sick eyes.

Today, a week later in class, I pressed through every challenge and talked myself mentally through it. I solved problems. I kicked Can’ts butt with several different kick combos. If I Could Have any harder, I would have chugged right on out to that station right along with the Little Engine.

Lesson learned; and I’m not likely ever to forget that one.

Can’t Never Could Do Anything

I have been told the last five years since gardening dirt playing in earnest that you can’t have a garden in the backyard without putting in a ton of work, a significant financial investment in materials and tools — or most probably both. Looking at the serendipity space where our edibles grow, I know all those people were dead wrong.

So, so wrong.

My trick? It’s really no trick. It’s mimicking nature where I can, and Nature don’t need no Home Depot or Lowe’s. I leave the heavy lifting to the underworld beings who both provide nutrients to the plants and churn the soil for me. Not micro-managing is the hardest part, staying out of the way and de-humanizing the garden area however I can.

I do, however, collect bags of leaves like my life depends upon it, but that’s hardly work. All my property’s own leaf litter gets raked or mulch-mowed — a gift back to the trees that shed them. Lifting a lightweight trash bag of dry leaves from someone else’s curb into the van is way easier that lugging mulch or soil from a garden store.

And best of all, it’s free for the taking!

My wall is complete now for the winter, steady and strong until March when the ‘green’ returns to our area and the lasagna piles can be haphazardly thrown together once again for spring fruits.

My wall, er uh, WALLS are getting bigger every year.

A Nice Leaf Haul

The BIG Wall
(Trump Should Hire Me as Border Secretary)

Winter 2016

Brussels Sprouts, sprouting
Onion and Basil volunteer
18-month-straight Peppers
(And a ‘Mini-Wall’)

Japanese Greens, Herb Garden

Japanese Lettuce — Tastes Like Wasabi!
Herbs to the left
Empty keyhole to the back

My neighbors had so many bags of leaves collected for their Christmas clean-up, that I delivered 20 more bags to the school to feed the worms in their edible gardens.

The race with the trash collector merited a couple of schedule cancellations, but 80 bags of leaves makes for a successful morning in my book.

Education is Key, Knowledge is Power

And so I’m passing on my genius (ha! I love to call it that) to the elementary school. There’s a soil TEKS, and who better to provide a fun and engaging lesson on dirt basics? (That would be me.)

The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers loved my PowerPoint presentation on soil and lasagna gardening so much, they would like me to lead the lesson for more than a hundred students.

But that’s not all. They will learn that providing for the earth provides for us in return. The lesson will also scratch my Trash Nazi itch as we recycle cafeteria waste (bonus!!) to feed the soil. An army of enthusiastic kids to both amend and plant 10 garden beds at the school will keep me engaged and enlightened through the first month of the year. What’s not to like?


I can’t wait!
(Oh oops. I think I CAN.)

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