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Giving Yourself a Decade

As my kids have grown older, we've had quite a few discussions about . . . oh, adulting.  About purpose.  And imposter-syndrome.  And tedium and routine and same-ness and is-this-all-there-is?  (Ahh . . . the 20s . . . )  My usual advice is . . . 

Give yourself a decade.

As in, look back at where you were a decade ago.  Sit there for a moment or two and think about how far you've come, how much has changed, how different life looks now . . . a decade later.  And then, think a decade into the future.  Project; try to imagine . . . because your life today is going to be THAT different from the life you'll be living in a decade.

I've been doing a lot of giving-myself-a-decade lately.  It's easy for me, because I have this huge life-marker thing going on this year: a decade post-cancer.  I love thinking back to the person I was before-diagnosis . . . and comparing her to the person I am now.  Realizing . . . how much can really change in a decade!

Like this, for example.

This is the view across my patio . . . right now.  The wisteria are exploding.  The air is so perfumed you can smell it in my kitchen.  The pergola and the swing and the surrounding gardens feel like they've been there forever.  


But . . . a decade ago?

Back fence design project 002 copy

Ummm.  Not so much.

A decade ago, I had just completed the Master Gardener requirements for the Garden Design certification.  I hadn't really started working on my plans for expanding my garden yet . . . when that stinking cancer diagnosis came in.  But I used those months during chemo to think and dream and plan.  It gave me something to do, and - mostly - it gave me hope for a future. 

My initial plans and sketches looked like this . . . 

Garden design process back bed 002 copy

(And while there isn't any wisteria in that design, it was always there in my head.)

Tom and Brian and my dad worked together to bring my plans to life.   Tom did the digging.  My dad designed the pergola.  Brian was eager to learn.  Together . . . 

More pergola 001 copy

they built it for me!

More pergola 008 (1) copy

Give yourself a decade . . . and things can really change!


Plans can become reality.  
Beauty can take root.  
Hope can flourish.


Whenever you feel a bit stuck, or think nothing ever changes, just . . . 

give yourself a decade . . . 


and see where it takes you!


P.S.  Before I had cancer, I doubt I'd ever have plunged into a major garden project like this one.  (And I'm not sure I could have convinced Tom, Brian, and my dad to become such willing participants, either.)  I would have gotten bogged down in the planning; I would overthink it; I would say . . . maybe-someday.  But having cancer really did change the way I thought about things, and it made me much more willing to go for it and take some risks.  It also helped me just . . . embrace beauty and create something for the future.



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Kym, you always make me think! I love this idea. This is going into my journal. Stay tuned.


I wish I had words to express how much I love this post and am taking your words to heart. I always admire your garden photos, but just kind of thought they had been there forever or you had planted them with ease. But with those before and after photos, I now see wisteria, and the changes in both you and the landscape. You've given excellent advice to your kids and readers, and taken that give-yourself-a-decade beautifully! XO


Oh how I love this post. Such awesome advice. I also love that Tom, Brian and your Dad all helped to make your garden dreams come true. That is such an inviting space Kym. It all looks so peaceful and lovely.


WOW! Dynamic story and the wisteria are lovely...I love the smell and know that I’ll never look at a wisteria or smell the fragrance without thinking about you and the phrase: “give yourself a decade!” Thank you for sharing this lovely life-lesson!
Happy Weekend and Enjoy those wisteria; ours have long gone.


Excellent advice that is so appropriate...and timely....and well, current! It is so true - when you think you are stuck, off kilter, lost, in the weeds of life - look back and see how far you have come, changed, grown!

Thank you so much (and I am so glad your garden vision is such an amazing reality today! XO


Wow! Your post was amazing and the comments from your readers were also amazing! Happy weekend.


Wow. Wow. Wow. Even in cases with photographic evidence, you really do need to stop and think sometimes... let it all really sink in... how & why did *whatever* come to be... and who helped?? Great advice for the kids, too. (Kate referred to herself as an "aging millennial" the other day and it made me laugh.)

kathy b

Wow what a meaningful post. I will share with my kiddos. :) your blooming place is amazing


This is such a great, tangible example of what you're saying, and you're absolutely right that while a decade may seem like no time at all to some of us, so much change happens in that time. I certainly wouldn't wish a cancer diagnosis on anyone, but I love that yours pushed you to do something that you can now enjoy every day.


You made yourself a beautiful place. Congrats on the 10 years post-cancer. Wishing you many, MANY more beautiful springs and a beautiful place to sit and relax.


What a fabulous and meaningful post!!
Your garden is absolutely beautiful.


No one could make a decade look as good as you AND your garden! Oh, my. That's quite a change and proof that the advice is solid. This is "my" decade marker, too, but there nothing to mark it as beautifully as as your wisteria (how I love that flower!).


Gardening is such a beautiful metaphor for life's changes. You hit on something wonderful. I wonder if Tom, your dad, and Brian who all helped you do the muscle work, feel as gratified in the same philosophical way for all their hard labor as you do - or will it always be for them mainly a testament of their love for you at that difficult time. Since tomorrow is Father's Day that's what popped into my head.


I love this post. Your attitude is wonderful and your wisdom is such a gift to all of us who get to read your words. I've sat under that pergola with you and it's a magical place.


Kym, this is one of my favorite posts I’ve read. Thank you—for your wisdom, advice, perspective, and beauty. I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear this until I read it! Thank you...again and some more.

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