Apr 10

Planting Words

by Hannah Holt »


A few weeks ago I stood amidst piles of books, boxes and packing tape when my son walked up and asked, “Mom, can we plant our garden now?”

I looked at him. I looked at the stacks of items to be sorted and packed. I thought of my long to do list, but said, “Sure. Let’s do it.”

We gathered the seedlings we had carefully nourished in the days before our move became final. My son collected his shovels and the watering can. In the middle of our hurry, we took an entire afternoon to garden.

It was my favorite thing all week.

That was Colorado. We now live in Oregon. We will never see the fruit of our garden, but planting it felt right.

Along a different vein, I recently entered a piece I wrote into two grant competitions. In the large national competition, it did very well. In the smaller local competition, it didn’t even place.

There are a variety of reasons for this, and I won’t go into them other than to say: I can’t decided how other people should received my work. I can do my best, but some will always dislike the offering.

Earlier in my career, I received a series of emails from a woman we’ll call Kate. Kate hated my work. I’m not sure why she kept returning to my site. Perhaps she enjoyed finding new ways to disparage my work.

Her emails used to make me mad. What is her problem? I thought. I write about graham crackers and pipe cleaners for crying out loud! I never replied to Kate and eventually she went away. (Trolls usually disappear if you don’t feed them.)

But it made me wonder: Maybe I’m not any good. Maybe I shouldn’t spend my time on these meaningless creative pursuits. At the time I didn’t have many followers, and no one would have noticed if I’d simply given up.

However, that’s when I realized, I don’t write for other people. Well, alright I DO, but that’s not WHY I write. I write because it brings me joy. It’s my garden of contentment.

In Colorado, I didn’t plant a garden because I expected tomatoes. Yes, I hope someone, someday will eat tomatoes from my garden, but planting it was enough.

We left our home in Colorado a little more beautiful than before. I can’t control how the world will receive that beauty, but I can create it all the same. And that is a beautiful feeling.

(Garden of the Gods National Monument, from our trip to Colorado Springs last December)

  1. Susanna Leonard Hill

    What a lovely sentiment, and so true! (And really, you have to feel sorry for people like “Kate” who have nothing better to do than disparage people, but it’s hard when people attack you!) I hope you’ll soon have a lovely garden in Oregon!

  2. Tara Oliver

    awww good post, Hannah! good post! I think it’s sweet that you planted a garden in Colorado even though you knew you’d be leaving it. the things we do for the learning of our children. or the beautification for someone else in the future. :)

  3. Kirsten

    Hannah, what a beautiful post. I love the idea of planting a garden that someone else will enjoy. It’s like that whole idea of “pay it forward.” I hope your move is going well and you are enjoying your new home.

  4. Mom Holt

    This post made me realize that there are many things we should do just for the sake of the doing….the value of the doing feeds the soul. Your post fed my soul…..as have many of your past writings. Please don’t ever stop. I am always passing your creative endeavors on to my friends with young children. Just please don’t ever stop.

  5. Beth Stilborn

    Thank you. That hit just the right note.

    Someone, and I wish I could remember who, was asked what he would do if he knew this was the last day he would have in life. He said, “I would plant apple trees.” Giving hope and life even though you’re not going to be there to appreciate it is such a great gift!

    And what a wonderful gift you gave your son when instead of brushing off his request with a harried, “There’s too much to do and we won’t be here anyway” you took the time to plant the garden. He will remember that for a long time, and he will have learned such valuable things about priorities and love and forward thinking.

    Thank you.

  6. Julie Hedlund

    I love this post and your outlook. Taking any action out of love is always going to make the world a better place and be worthwhile. It’s good to get out of the “outcome” thinking and into the joy of being thinking…

  7. Heather

    This post makes me smile. I read it first thing this morning and the feeling of it has stayed with me all day. Your son will remember that in the midst of change and packing, your response to his need was “yes”. What a beautiful gift to give him.

  8. Natalie

    I loved this post Hannah. I always ask myself the same questions. “Why am I writing and who am I writing for?” The answer is always the same. I am writing because it’s what I love to do! So just keep planting your gardens, Hannah…(and of course, keep writing!) 😉

  9. Hannah Holt

    Your comments have fed me today. Thanks for planting such thoughtful words here.

  10. grandma weight

    That photo of C or is it E?, “planting” is priceless!

  11. Hannah Holt

    C is the one in the picture. Both girls enjoyed planting (but mostly digging and getting really dirty).