What Flavor is Your Lemonade?

Jen’s Gem: Where there is hope, there is life.

If you have been receiving my posts for a while, you may remember that I wrote last year about the pruning of my azaleas. They’d been neglected for some time and while they were absolutely stunning on the outside, inside they were deader than dead. (Click here for a refresher!)
I worried that I’d killed them forever since the remains were so pitiful. It was hard to imagine them ever coming back to life. On the bright side, I’m certain my mailman got a few laughs from the misshapen bushes. An arborist I am not!
Each spring, I am greeted by a plethora of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths on the side of my house. However, this year, the blizzard we experienced resulted in only one or two blooming. What I saw after the snow melted was heartbreaking. Instead of a sea of yellow, purple and pink, all I saw was green. Tall green stems with a little bloom here and there. I was beyond disappointed.
It’s common knowledge that I love the warmer weather. My landscape reflects this by being filled with nature’s bounty. While I was grateful that my lawn was perking up, it was clear nothing else was and it seemed like winter was here to stay.

Making Lemons Out of Lemonade 

I began my spring lawn cleanup with a heavy heart however, I decided to press on and make the best with what I had. Local stores had sales and I thought if nothing else, I can disguise the barrenness with mulch and a small plant or two.
You can see the results from the pictures. Not only did my near-dead azaleas come back to life, they are thriving. Still misshapen and odd-looking, they fought through and came out shining! The brown mulch that replaced the previous stone enhances their new beauty. Two pink rhododendrons have joined the party and while dwarfed in size compared to their friends, I’m certain they will catch up.
I transplanted the bulbs on the side of my house since I was told they may simply have gotten overcrowded. I’m excited to see what will show up next spring.
The transformation of my landscaping is so similar to my own that it’s uncanny. For the past few years, I was all but dead inside but put on a happy face because that’s what I’ve always done. ‘Never let ‘em see you sweat’ is the motto ingrained in my DNA and I’m pretty good at it. But as I began to break the chains of this old habit and remove the dead branches, I became hopeful that I would bloom again.
That hope however didn’t come easy. As humans, it is hard to see the good through the bad. It’s hard to be hopeful when all seems so grim. We live in a time where hope is all but lost.
My azaleas didn’t lose hope. Why? Because they knew who they were. They knew their purpose and what they were made of. They knew that even though their outsides were damaged, inside they were whole. They never forgot this simple truth.
That’s why they bloomed. And that’s why they will grow bigger and stronger through the years.

Hope is Not Lost

We’ve forgotten this tenet in our society. We’ve forgotten that at our core – in the root of our spirits – is a force so strong and so powerful, it can get us through the toughest of trials and the darkest of days.
That seed of love is there for all of us, if only we’d stop covering it up with mulch and letting our branches die out. Rediscovering this for me has been life-changing and I’ll be forever grateful.
The world will continue to tempt me to forget this truth. Each day I will be tested to see if I can hold on to it so I must be diligent. I’ve seen the results of a hopeless existence and I’ve no interest in going back there.
As I stroll around my house, pops of color greet me. Streamlined walkways and newly-planted grass are my reminders that hope is a wonderful thing. If the events of the day attempt to steal that hope, all I need to do is take a look at my landscape. All is well.
Does your life resemble my old azaleas? Are you broken or dead inside but putting on a good show? It may be time to do some pruning and transplanting of your own.In the coming week, I’d like to encourage you to think about the things in your life that are not working, to let go of obligations that no longer serve you and to make a commitment to rediscover what was once lost or forgotten.
You may be surprised at what you find.

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