My body let me work hard yesterday. But I had to keep asking it. As it is normally functioning fine early in the morning, the trip to Home Depot for supplies early in the morning was uneventful. I was able to get the lumber, landscaping fabric, and a new 6.5 inch saw blade for my circular saw with nary a hitch in my step. Upon returning home, I was even able to get started right away on “ripping” 4 inch strips out of the 3/4 inch plywood I had just purchased. But around 10:00 though, Parkinson’s started to throw a fit. Now, the occasional 75 foot walk to the garage and back to the backyard is no longer the carefree stroll that it should be. It’s an arduous journey. One that I’m well accustomed to. Fighting my body the entire way, I manage to get to the garage, swap a depleted Makita 18V battery for the fresh one on the charger, and grab some more screws. Parkinson’s was not going to make this easy. But I was determined to get the raised garden in the backyard completed and ready for topsoil.
You see, my house was built on a hill. The backyard is highly sloped and very susceptible to erosion. The soil behind the existing retaining wall has been eroding away in many places to the point that the bottom course of the retaining wall is completely exposed. However, because the existing structure of the retaining wall is generally in good shape, it’s worth saving. So I designed an expansive raised garden downhill from the retaining wall with the goal of bringing the soil below the retaining wall back up above the bottom course. This should save the retaining wall and over time, arrest the gradual loss of soil that has been eroding from beneath the retaining wall for some time. The cost of this project is substantial. By the time you add up the cost of lumber, hardware, soil, and plants, it’s easily close to $5,000 dollars. But if I didn’t do it, the cost of a new retaining wall would be at least $30,000, probably more. I have been working on this project since the Spring. It’s finally close to being finished.
I don’t always have a productive day. Many times this past summer I would begin work on this project and, despite a mighty struggle, I would fail to accomplish much. I might have gotten upset, discouraged, or even quit. But I’m learning to let go. Trust the process. To not fear failure. Shrug it off, and reassess for the next time. In doing so, I’m growing in ways that might not initially seem possible. Working with a Parky body, I’ve had to sometimes get creative about how to get materials in place, honing my ingenuity. I’ve had to push away pride at times and ask for help. As I have limited energy, it’s been important to plan ahead to accomplish as much as possible. When things haven’t worked out as planned I’ve had to be flexible. On the worst of days, when nothing has gone right, I’ve been able to fall back to gratitude, to maintain a positive outlook. I’ve been forced to be patient with myself. Finally, I’m learning that though I might have to forge my own path to get things done, through persistence, I can accomplish great things!
I never know just what kind of day I’m going to have. Yesterday my symptoms were moderate. When Parkinson’s symptoms would strike, I would take little breaks until I could move around reasonably well again. Then work until I needed another break. It was slow, cumbersome, painful work. But each time I worked I pushed myself to last a little longer, asking Parkinson’s for a little more time. Slowly, my body started to give me more and more time between breaks until around midday when, remarkably, as if hitting a switch, I was fully “on” for the rest of the afternoon. So my persistence paid off, this time. I had an incredibly productive day overall for someone with a movement disorder. But as is usually the case with Parkinson’s, I had to fight for it. When the raised garden is finally fully complete, I will enjoy it all the more knowing what it took to get it done. I will enjoy it all the more knowing how much I’ve grown through the process.
I know that building a raised garden may not seem like a great accomplishment to some. But the lessons that I’m learning are applicable to much, much greater things. I believe that the universe has plans for me.
But if I’m wrong, at least I’ll have a nice raised garden and an intact retaining wall to enjoy.
A few words for my fellow People with Parkinson’s (PwP). The universe handed us Parkinson’s. Cruel as it can seem, take the challenge head on. You’ll have good days and you’ll have bad days. Learn to let yourself grow.
Who knows what you’ll accomplish? I’m cheering for you.