Looking back, this season has been more challenging than I could have ever expected.  As a gardener (and as a garden center owner) you couldn’t have scripted a more adverse set of circumstances than played out this year.  Going back to spring, do you remember that 2” of snow that came on May 12th?  Snow in May is not appealing for the planting of or shopping for plants and flowers.  The May snows melted soon only to be followed by 90 degree weather in early June that simply refused to go away.  I tried to keep track as we went along, but we were down 12-15” of rain at some points this summer further exhausting my desire to garden in any way.  Parched soils couldn’t be watered enough to save many of my vegetable plantings and any newly planted shrubs in my garden required constant attention.  My potted plants looked fine until I went out of town for a week and then they were kaput.   

Success was hard to find in the garden this summer. 

Just when I felt as though I gained some traction, the leaves began falling and any gardening time I had was taken up with raking, blowing and cutting down perennials.  For me, looking in the rear view mirror, it just wasn’t an enjoyable year for gardening. 

To top it all off, we all had to endure a depressing political campaign that made me feel embarrassedirritated and ashamed as an American.  By the time of print, the deal will be done but regardless of the outcome a long and rugged road lies ahead for the healing of our country and our political system.  

This is a view nobody would have chosen to have in their mirror.     

On a personal note, my wife Mary Lynn broke her ankle in June so our summertime activities were limited to what she could do while hobbling along on crutches.  In spite of my desire to be fully supportive I couldn’t help but be frustrated at times by the situation and the limits her injury had on our day to day lives. 

Broken mirrors are bad luck and so are broken ankles. 

The days have grown unbearably short, the trees are harshly barren, a cold wind blows… it isn’t hard to get caught up in all that negativity that appears so large in the rear view mirror.   

I met with a friend the other day that passed along depressing news… his wife had a reoccurrence of breast cancer.  After 30 years of health following her successful fight the first time around, it was back again.  I passed along my support and asked how they were coping with the news and his answer caught me entirely by surprise.  He told me they were completely fine and this was just another bump in road, nothing to get too worried about.  “You know,” he continued, “we lost our son 10 years ago and after something like that happens to you, nothing that follows can really throw you too far off track.”   

Wow. It just hit me… really hit me.  How selfish… how self-absorbed of me.  How could I be as worried about something as insignificant as my garden or politics?  How could I think so self-interestedly, act so self-centered, be so full of myself?  How did I so quickly lose sight of the road ahead? What I realized is that I had spent far too much time looking in the rear view mirror to see what lies plainly at my feet and along my path. 

If and when I am conscious of my surroundings (and in touch with reality), I find myself surrounded by a multitude of examples that make me so thankful for everything I have.  How easily I have been distracted by events of relative insignificance. How could I have lost sight of not only all the goodness I am surrounded by but also the inspiration provided by all those people, all those things that encourage us all to persist?   

A new season is upon us… a holiday season of giving, of hope and of reflection.   

This season I aspire to find myself again through giving of myself to others in need.  I seek the hope of a better tomorrow by providing a better today for someone I will never come to know.  move to reflect more on the special people and blessed circumstances I am surrounded by rather than the larger than reality image projected by things out of my control, distractions of those with negative intentions and situations that are insignificant when seen through the prism of a well balanced awareness. 

There is a reason that rear view mirrors are so small and windshields so big.   It is far too easy to get caught up with what has passed only to lose sight of what is most important ahead of us.  If you’re looking for more from your holiday season (and more from your life) I challenge you to find the inspirations that are clearly visible when we are focused in the right direction.  

Now go outside and have fun in the dirt!