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This post is personal, because in this busy brain of mine, all things are connected, and though I mean to write about gardening, I need to write this first. You may stop reading now.

I’m not much for resolutions, though I do have a mental Rolodex of good intentions. And because it’s that time of year, I thought I’d note them on paper. It comes as no big surprise that the bulk of my list looks exceedingly familiar. I’d love to know if your lists are anything like mine.

Exercise. Do more, of course. Hasn’t this been on everyone’s forever list? I’m pretty good about daily walks, quick-paced for two or three miles. On this point, it helps to have a dog. Pumpkin can tell time. Once it hits nine o’clock, time to put on my shoes: we are going.

Pumpkin employing Chow Chow mind control
Pumpkin employing Chow Chow mind control


My son tells me I have to up exercise intensity. His all purpose recommendation for long life: Deadlifts & Squats. Squats, sure, I’m working on that, and it’s handy for the garden. But deadlifts—we’ll just see. His argument is compelling and has to do with posterior chain strength. Sounds reasonable, and as soon as he adapts his Rx for my stature, I’ll give it serious thought. And then get clearance from my doctor.


No 300# Dead Lifts for Me
no 300# dead lifts for me


And that leads me to a wee wrinkle in the ole exercise plan. As I’ve mentioned a few times, I super duper broke my arm a year ago October—and now physical therapy exercise is premier on my list. I’ve made great improvements, maybe back to 75%, but that last 25% is pretty important. My physical therapist (PT) told me not to plan on a lot of gardening this year, and I thought, oh pshaw, imagining myself to be King Kong. But turns out, she was right.


My Bionic Arm
my bionic arm is not as cool as it looks


I only recently came to understand that I have to do these shoulder exercises for life! WHAT? How did I not know that? My PT said, “Well, if you didn’t want this to be so difficult, you should have broken a less complicated joint.” I love her. The timing of her message was perfect. This is my shoulder. I want it to work as optimally as possible. This is what I have to do. Grumbling won’t help. Please pass the purple band.


you start light & work your way up
start with light weights & work your way up


I also see another doc who practices Active Release Technique. I credit my daughter and son who insisted I seek alternative treatment when my surgeon started talking a second surgery, Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA.) I mentioned this to my neighbor, also a doc, and he said, “I’ve seen that surgery.” Pregnant pause. “It’s gruesome.” I’m so glad I went the non-invasive route. It’s been incredibly helpful, and my ART doc has also helped me adjust expectations about ever being “done.” He suggested I think of my shoulder exercises as a way of getting started with whole-body exercise; so I’ve adopted that philosophy: PT is my Gateway Exercise. Please borrow this quip if it helps.

Another thing my physical therapist said that was inspiring: you gain so much by doing so little. So I hope you can use this too. It sure helped adjust my attitude. These days, she also talks about the importance of shoulder health for all. I never would have thought of it. Would you? And so now every exercise that I do for my left shoulder, I also do for my right. It helps me see how far I’ve come—and reminds me how far I still need to go.


Diet, another perpetual list header, right? I’m aiming for a more plant-based diet. This includes growing some of my own, and greater bonding with my Vitamix. No deprivation, but rather by way of adding more interesting foods. I’ve seen fabulous fare from my daughter’s Vitamix, and I could use mine to better advantage. However, I’m happy to report that I’ve quite mastered dairy-free Chocolate Mousse. And I finally made a roasted carrot and squash soup. We had it New Year’s Day, and it was delicious. I could feel my complexion and eyesight improving with every bite. Thanks due here to fellow bloggers, Heather T. for serving similar soup on a plant nerd day, and to Alison C for reminding me I meant to make it the first place.


Reading Material
Reading Material


Learn more about everything, but especially gardening. It’s so incredible, isn’t it, how much there is to learn and how many tools are at our fingertips. I’ve got stacks of books that might move me in that direction—and I promise to do more than look at the pictures.

Read and Write, the big Kahunas on my list this year. This is the thing I’ve been avoiding, even in the lead-in to this post. I’m a life-long reader. I’ve had a teetering stack of books on my nightstand since grade school. But for the past several years, I’ve all but given up fiction. When I read now, it’s usually about plants, or political news, or feathering the nest.


Teetering Stack of Books
trusty teetering stack of books


For me, writing is connected to reading, all writing as it seems, including this blog. I’d been writing and hoarding forever, and I’ve actually completed a novel—which was reviewed and work-shopped by a terrific writing group. They say it’s done. My novel is a coming of age story called Pecking Order. I haven’t looked at it in ages, and I need to do another editing pass—with the added benefit of hindsight.

My motivation for writing has always been to sort out life’s peculiarities, to understand how we got here. I didn’t know that in the beginning, why I was writing, but always felt compelled. While I can honestly say the book is fiction, it is infused with artifacts from my life as a good Irish Catholic girl, and I’ve not been able to go near it since my mom died. She struggled with Idiopathic Myelopathy for years, and finally succumbed to the ALS-like disease in 2009.

Then just about when I was ready to pick up the novel again, my arm went to pieces. I’ve thought of Mom so often throughout this healing journey, how graciously she handled her debilitating disease. Josephine was a study in courage.

I believe this is the year to send my book out the door. I credit and curse this blog for putting me back in the writing saddle. And while this particular post is only tangentially related to gardening, I somehow need to address my writing aversion in order to move forward. I’ve always loved how writing helps me sort through my thoughts, and not to get too woo woo on you, think there’s something magical about it, how things you’re not even aware of fly from the tips of your fingers. Elizabeth Gilbert does a great Ted Talk about the magic of the creative process.

We have 27,000+ plants on the plant lust website now, and Megan has just imported a fresh batch. I’m excited at the prospect of researching new nurseries and their wares. So now back to the task at hand, researching, ogling plants new and old, and doing my best to write about plant life—and my life relative to them.