Backyard Clutter

By Gina Ross Murdoch

As a result of the pandemic and of being more aware of my surroundings, I have found a new love for gardening. This is what happens when you are spending more time at home and taking stock of your environment. I see my growing love of gardening as a metaphor for what has been going on over the last year and a half and how so many of us are looking in our own backyards (actual or virtual) for joy, comfort, and beauty.

I started tackling a very large project in the backyard feeling underprepared and overwhelmed. Landscaping has not been a love of mine in the past, so I was approaching this large project as a novice. Questions filled my mind including: How long would this project   take? Do I have the time to accomplish the task? What expertise do I need to select plantings properly? And will the project be a success? However, I was determined to dive in and create a beautiful rose garden that would provide endless beauty and delight to my family.

Rose garden before

I decided to take the project one small step at a time giving myself adequate time in between to rest, reflect, and approach the project each time with a renewed sense of excitement. There were days when the task was daunting and times that I truly believed that my vision would never be realized.  But bit by bit, square foot by square foot, I removed all the brush and got down to beautiful brown dirt. At this point, I had removed all the distractions and was down to a blank slate. I now had the opportunity to decide what I wanted to plant. I had eliminated all the backyard clutter and arrived at a space where there were endless possibilities.

I chose all roses including yellow, white, pink, red, and multicolor for my planter. I then built a rock wall around this beautiful new area to preserve the work that I had done and highlight the beauty of the arrangement. When I stepped back and looked around, I was proud of taking on such a large project, getting way out of my comfort zone and trying something new.

Rose garden after

During these challenging times, I have spoken to so many who have found ways to look into their own metaphorical backyards, clean out clutter, and plant new ideas. That introspection and re-evaluation is never easy. It often pushes you out of your comfort zone, but that is where new growth is planted and thrives. We have all needed to adapt, re-evaluate, reflect, and change. Approaching a project that will both challenge and delight you can be a transformative experience. Mine centered on gardening. Your project could be much different but still lead you to a new sense of accomplishment. I only offer the suggestion that you give yourself time to advance and rest. Both are critical when traveling your journey of discovery.

I hope you will all find delight in tending to your own gardens whether that may be physically, virtually, mentally, or spiritually, and I hope you enjoy the fruits of your labor and learn as much as I have.

Rose garden - yellow rose closeup

*Gina Ross Murdoch is a seasoned executive in non-profit management and has served as MSAA’s President and CEO since 2016. Her career includes leadership positions with chapters of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as the American Diabetes Association. Earlier, she spent 14 years overseeing development activities at a large chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, leading explosive growth initiatives and ground-breaking strategic projects. You can contact her at president@mymsaa.org to share your thoughts on how MSAA is improving lives today, or to learn how to get involved in our mission.

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About MSAA

As a national nonprofit organization, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a toll-free Helpline; award-winning publications including a magazine, The Motivator; website featuring educational videos and research updates; S.E.A.R.C.H.™ program to assist the MS community with learning about different treatment choices; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; a resource database, My MS Resource Locator; equipment distribution ranging from grab bars to wheelchairs; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; educational events and activities; MRI funding and insurance advocacy; and more. For additional information, please visit http://www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.

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