Monday, April 27, 2015

What Growing Herbs Taught Me About Chasing My Dreams

Growing herbs this spring has been one of the best decisions I've made in some time because it is truly teaching me about what it means to go after my dreams.

In March I walked away from my job as reporter and content manager for the Christian Post to follow my dream of being a broadcast and multi-medium journalist. I completed a 14-month broadcast training program last year (as a refresher to my undergraduate degree in journalism) and I want to step out on faith and really use that training.

It has been the scariest thing ever because so far I am not working with any company.

I am visiting local stations and pitched myself as a reporter. I write monthly for a career and life style website called The CorporateSister. I've also working on a website to feature my freelance articles about city of Baltimore and TV.

But so far I have little to show for my efforts -- that is terrifying when I have some much banking on this choice. Literally.

Over a month ago I started a garden of cilantro plants to ease my mind a bit. Cilantro is my husband’s favorite herb.

I've done some planting in the past with the help of a church friend who grows vegetables and fruits in his backyard. But it’s been a while. Plus the last time my friend Percy gave me seedlings so I have never started a garden from scratch before. I really forgot what to expect.

The first lesson I learned is it takes time to see results when you are starting from nothing.

I started my seedlings in late March with a seed packet, empty K-cups, potting soil and worm castings (aka worm poop).

As gross as it sounds, the worm castings are actually very potent. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good fertilizer.

Once I potted everything, I stared at that dirt mix every day waiting for something to happen, and I was frustrated and anxious at times. The back of the packet stated it would take 14 to 21 days for the first sprouts to appear but that seems like a long time when it’s Day 1, Day 5 or even Day 10.

I struggle with patience when I’m starting out with a new project and I have vision of how I want everything to turn out. Sure, I use those SMART goals everyone talks about (although I do hate writing them) but things never happen exactly as I plan it. That’s when I get frustrated and panic.

Back to the plants, by Day 14 one k-cup had three or four shoots but the rest were still dormant. But one day I woke up and checked on them and three more K-cups had cilantro sprouts. I just needed to wait for it.

The second lesson is to stay consistent.

I felt a lot of doubt back when I had little more than K-cups filled with dirt.

Was this a stupid idea? I mean you can buy fresh herbs at the store. Also I’m no Barefoot Contessa with a vast garden in my backyard that I cook from regularly.

Was this a junk packet of seeds? I paid less than a dollar for them so maybe they were too cheap to ever do anything.

All these questions were swirling around in my mind every time I watered the seeds or put them out in the sun. It felt like I was wasting my time. It felt like I should stop kidding myself and drop the whole project. But I pushed myself to keep going, to keep watering and moving the cups into the sun every day. I never felt happier than when I saw those first seedlings. My hard work had not been for nothing!

Which brings me to the final lesson: it’s all worth it in the end.

I am still working to see the sprouts of my freelance work but the cilantro is a beautiful reminder that my hard work will be rewarded if I don’t give up.

Now that the cilantro leaves are coming up, I’m planning on making this recipe from Martha Steward.

(Photo: Screen grab of


What are you growing in your garden? What lessons are you learning?

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