Last spring was a gardening disaster for me. Read: epic failure with a side of WTF?

I had started with the best of intentions, so very excited to have a tiny plot of dirt for the first time in years just outside my apartment’s patio door.

My mom and both my grandmothers were gardeners. Some of my earliest memories are of them, hose-in-hand, watering greenery or plucking weeds. So here was my chance to carry on the legacy of proud women gardeners.

I WOULD plant vegetables! I WOULD have beautiful flower beds bursting with bright, cheerful blooms. I would sprinkle in seeds (that secretly felt more like sprinkling magic pixy dust) and with water, love, and sunshine, things would grow, grow, grow!

So I tilled the soil; I lay watering line; I churned in organic fertilizer; I prepped the hell out of my flower bed.

After that, I carefully selected packets of seeds from my local nursery and studiously followed the directions for planting them. Perfectly spaced, exact depths, kept the ground moist, my job was complete.

… and then, the birds came.

I don’t remember putting up a sign that read: “Free Bird Buffet – Tell your Friends,” but that is exactly what happened.

My soon-to-be magical back yard turned into a scene from a horror movie, complete with potholes where the determined critters dug their way into my precious soil to hunt down every last speck of bird-food… I mean, garden seeds.

By the time they were done feasting (which only took, like, a day), my back yard looked more like a moon-surface-wasteland than the tropical jungle I had dreamed of.

After sharing some choice words with the birds, I brushed my hands of this whole gardening-thing and walked away.

(…Yes, I know I could have bought bird netting and tried again but I was so demoralized from the experience that I decided I wasn’t a gardener—not this season at least—and the local wildlife would have to find some other location for their next party.)

And so my failed dream garden sat: barren, empty, not a fleck of green in sight.

But dreams are hard to kill…

Fast forward to now. A year has passed. Spring is here again. I’m eyeballing the plot of dirt, listening to the happy birds warble in the distance (reminding me of what fun it was last year when I tried to plant things) and then—BOOM!—what do I see?

Is that a dab of green valiantly pushing up from my uninhabited garden plot? Surely it must be a weed! An unwanted invader. Or just a leaf that blew by and was lodged in the dirt to mock me…

Or maybe, just maybe…

… A seed survived the carnage.

when Dreams die

A sunflower.

One lone little plant made it through the frenzy, bided its time for a year, and then popped up just when I needed it too.

Right when I thought my dream garden was dead, this itty-bitty seed sent up two tiny leaves to prove me wrong and remind me that we cannot give up on the things we want, no matter how many damned birds flight in and try to take it from us.

How many times have I done this in life? … Allowed a setback—large or small—to derail the path of something I truly desire.

But real dreams have magic in them, and they will pop back up when you least expect it.

Do dreams dieThey will push through the loamy clay trying to weigh them down, and brave the hordes to remind you not to give up, not to give in, and that a little dirt under your fingernails is good for the soul.

I’ve been watering my sunflower every day—which is a requirement for both dreams and sunflowers to grow strong—and he (yes, he) now has friends that I’ve planted all around.

‘Cause that first little seed makes you want to plant more. And more. Until you finally have that magical garden you’ve always dreamed of.

The birds be damned. The reasons why it won’t work, be damned. The setbacks and holdbacks and excuses can all eat dirt.

I’m taking ownership of my garden. Time to dig in. Because every flower must first push her way through the mud.

… besides, I’ve always liked dirty talk.


Keep growing, my friends, and don’t let the birds keep you down.

Love always.
— Olivia —


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