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  • tamelamarsh18

Cold chills in June

Updated: Feb 2

Those of you who have encountered me "in the wild" know that I find great joy and comfort in gardening -- most of the time. I chose the name "Garden Therapy" for my business, after all, because working in the sun and dirt is as much therapy for me as it is improvement -- or therapy -- for the gardens I help clean up or create.

Sometimes, life or brain chemistry brings me to a level so low that even a few uninterrupted hours working in a quiet garden doesn't boost serotonin levels enough to work any kind of magic for me. That's been happening for me lately. Just pulling myself out of bed has been a struggle -- even though I know that as soon as I pull on some work clothes and pull my hair back, I'll be ready to happily go tackle another gardening project.

If you've read my blog post about Lady Luck, or if you've seen me wearing my purple t-shirt with the big lady bug on the front and the silver lady bug earrings to match, you probably know that lady bugs hold a special meaning for me. "To make a long story longer," as one of my closest friends likes to say, lady bugs seem to appear at times when my doubts are at their highest. If I'm grumpily pulling at weeds, losing all confidence that I have any business running a gardening service, a small, speckled lady bug, with all its cute cheeriness, will appear -- just minding its own business, crawling up a blade of (dreaded) liriope or nestling into a strand of creeping jenny.

I'm not Catholic, but I imagine those lady bugs to be sort of like my own personal rosary beads. I take them as messages and reminders, and I have an actual, physical response to them. "Yes," I'll nod my head. "I see you Little Lady," I'll say while I move the insect to a safer venue. Then, I smile and send up a heartfelt prayer: "Thank you. I see that message. I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and I'm where I'm supposed to be. Thank you for reminding me."

So lady bugs are my messages of encouragement from the universe. But they don't exactly give me goosebumps. So why did I title this post "Cold chills in June?" Because of something that happened this week that, much like the lady bugs, is a coincidence orchestrated by the universal forces that some might call fate, others might refer to as God, while others might brush off as a whole lot of silliness.

Through Garden Therapy, I not only rehabilitate and create gardens and landscapes, I also strive to cultivate relationships with the humans who own the space. Sometimes, the connection we feel -- client to gardener -- is instant and obvious on both sides. Other times, I (and I'm sure the clients) wonder how in the world we'll get through working on a project together. But of all the people I've worked for since founding the company, very few have not become friends, or at least fond acquaintances.

Last week, I was speaking with a lovely lady who often asks me to work side-by-side with her in her beautiful gardens. While we work, we converse and have discovered that we have several connections from previous years. She and her husband knew my parents years ago; her daughter went to school with my brother; her husband and my father worked for the same company for many years. It's been pleasant to hear some old stories from new perspectives. But the "ah-ha!" chills-down-my-arms moment came when she mentioned her daughter's profession: It's exactly the niche, obscure field in which my older daughter hopes to study and work someday. To me, that's fate intervening to bring an opportunity for pursuing a life dream. Cold chills rose on my arms while standing in a sultry June garden.

Last week's chill blanes were not the first time I've had epiphanies through gardening. It's not the first time I've felt like the universe was gently nudging me toward something or someone who could help me -- socially, emotionally, or in business -- or someone to whom I could be of assistance.

My clients are more than customers. I don't come home at the end of a long day and forget every conversation from the day. In fact, I "talk shop" so much at home that my husband and children recognize many of my clients by name from the many stories I share, or the statements of joy or concern that I make in the evening.

Today (June 28, 2023) is the Silver Wedding Anniversary for me and my husband. We didn't celebrate, opting instead to delay observance of the day until a time more convenient for each of our schedules. And I only share that to say that what I found during work today was even more poignant to me because it was our 25th anniversary. One gentleman client (who I adore and wish he could be an adoptive grandparent to me and my family) had me doing some work at his house today. A neighbor came by and stopped me to ask how the man was doing, which I thought was strange -- it was his wife who had been ill. And then the neighbor explained that his wife had recently passed away. My heart sank and I've spent the rest of the day worrying about how I might help ease his grief.

Tomorrow, a good friend and client is heading out of town to help care for her brother-in-law, whose wife just died. Her husband's brother has advanced dementia and no provisions have been made for his financial or medical care. Her proverbial plate is full. I cannot even imagine, and my heart is full of thoughts of her.

Last week, a client with whom I adore joking and teasing while I pull weeds, trim shrubs or plant, texted to tell me she is retiring and therefore won't be choosing to afford my services any more. I cannot fathom not being able to pop by this lovely lady's home to see her smiling face. I already miss her so much!

I could list a whole lot of incidents that I have been privileged to witness in my customers' lives. I don't want to go down a sad path, sharing tragedies and thereby dragging you, Dear Reader, down, and I don't want to risk sharing someone's private information without realizing I was overstepping. But what I want to emphasize is that all of you, Dear Customers, are my Gardening Family. And I love you, each and every one.

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