Kat Atwell is a freelance writer, blogger & stage presence telling stories that deliver laughs, validation & community.

Mental Health | Wellness & Self Image | Experiential & Reviews

Spring hasn't quite sprung, but it gets points for effort.

It's springtime! The birds are chirping, the snow is melting, and I'm predictably consumed with the need to suddenly become a plant person. This happens every year, with good reason: Plants are amazing. For me, the most beneficial aspect of having greenery around is to reduce stress. I love putting together an arsenal of tools to keep my mood elevated.

Photo by  John Salzarulo  on  Unsplash

Wherein the challenge lies, however, is actually keeping the plants alive. Being able to keep thriving plants alive is great. Worrying about why your plants are dying and what you're doing wrong is counter-intuitive to that whole stress reduction goal. I have managed to kill bamboo - "lucky" bamboo, no less. I've also killed off air plants. That takes effort.

One of my biggest hurdles is perfectionism. I want all the plants flourishing in my home, and when I say all the plants, I mean ALL THE PLANTS. I'm a go big or go home plant enthusiast. I can't go to a nursery and leave moments later having purchased a single philodendron. After inevitably roaming the aisles for at least an hour, I typically roll out to my car with a squeaky-wheeled cart full of ferns, pothos, aloe, etc.

Additionally, during this nursery visit, I will somehow convince myself that this is the year I'll be able to plant and maintain a successful herb garden on my balcony. It goes without saying, then, that all of those herbs will eventually wind up in creative, time-intensive recipes I've never made before, because I'll also somehow magically become a person who loves to cook. The dinner parties I will then never throw, but will fantasize about in great detail, will also be tremendously successful. My dinner table will be impeccably set. My house will be clean. And the healthy plants will provide a welcoming ambiance never before achieved in my home.

Photo by  Lily Banse  on  Unsplash

Photo by Lily Banse on Unsplash

Wait. I missed a step. After having come home with all the new plants, my 11-year old daughter will become consumed by the need to get even more plants. She will want the flowering ones. Her goal will be to attract butterflies and to fill our balcony with fragrant blooms. She will also deep-dive into researching all of the plants already purchased to determine if they are safe for our cats. If, for some reason, she stumbles across an indoor plant that could be hazardous to their health, she will immediately chastise me, chase the cats into a bedroom , and then delicately pick up the offending plant and carry it out of the house with the same laser focus a parent assumes when carrying a sleeping toddler from the car to her crib with the goal of not stirring her from slumber.

These are not our cats.  Photo by  Aleesha Wood  on  Unsplash

These are not our cats.

Photo by Aleesha Wood on Unsplash

Neither is this one.  Photo by  Andy Holmes  on  Unsplash

Neither is this one.

Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

We will not discuss the obscene amount of money spent on all these plants, much less the necessary tools, plant containers, potting soil, balcony boxes, ceiling hooks, my inevitable new addiction to making macrame plant hangers, etc. It will be…substantial.

And a month later, my daughter and I will again be surprised that we have managed to kill the majority of our new plants, and our balcony will look forlorn. We will be ashamed of what we’ve done, and we will keep the dead plants on the balcony way too long. The entire experience will then be blocked from memory, so when the next spring rolls around, the cycle will start over again. We are nothing if not predictable, not to mention weirdly optimistic.

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
— Margaret Atwood

Happy vernal equinox, everyone!

An open letter to houseplants that might wind up in my house.

If kisses were snowflakes, I'd send you a blizzard.