Goals, Outcomes, and Daffodils

daffodils in snow

As I left my office yesterday afternoon to walk to the car, my heart was equal parts heavy and joyful.  Heavy for a friend whose life is in a tangle right now.  She’s sad and confused and overwhelmed.  I remember those sunless days in my own past and ache for her.  I know she’ll figure it out and find herself on the other side of this, but right now she has no place to rest.  The path ahead seems so long and dark and she’s having a hard time believing that she will find her way.

The other part of my heart was joyful, because yesterday I reached a goal I had set for myself a few months back.  February 4th marks the one year anniversary of Baddest Mother Ever.  I wanted to reach 100,000 page views on the site in that first year.  That happened yesterday!  Thank you so much for reading and sharing and building this community.  I feel great joy that I have stuck with this and it is growing.

These are the thoughts that were on my mind when I looked down into the snow and saw green shoots of daffodils peeking up into the frigid air.  Those shoots took me right back to a time in my life when I had no idea what my future would look like.  My birthday is in late October, right around the time you plant spring bulbs so that they can sleep through the winter and surprise you in the spring.  I got a big bag of daffodil bulbs from my mom for a birthday present about a month after Fartbuster came home with lipstick on his collar that first time.  I hadn’t told anyone about our situation because I was ashamed of my husband’s behavior.  One bright Sunday afternoon, I took my bag of bulbs and a trowel out to the backyard and started planting them around the pine trees and along the fence.  On my own and with time to think, my thoughts gravitated back to our marriage, my trust in him, and whether we would ever get back on track and feel normal again.  With each bulb that I tucked into the earth, I wondered, “Will I still be living here to see these come up in the spring?  Will I be married?  Will we make it?”

I tried to bury my fear and sadness with the bulbs.  I committed to a goal–I would be in that house in the spring to watch these flowers bloom.

Well, I reached my goal–I was in that house in the spring when the daffodils bloomed, but Fartbuster wasn’t there.  My marriage was gone.  That’s the difference between a goal and an outcome.  A goal is a milestone along the path.  An outcome is the result of all those goals…with a measure of dumb luck thrown in.  So yes, I reached my goal of seeing the daffodils bloom, but the outcome wasn’t what I had imagined.  Simply achieving the goal didn’t predict the outcome.

We don’t always get to control the outcome.  We control the goals.  I planted the daffodils at just the right depth and I added bone meal.  I tucked them into the warming red dirt and I covered them with a layer of pine straw.  But that’s as far as I could influence the outcome.  Floods or freezes or insects could have taken it from there and the outcome would have been out of my hands.  Same thing with my marriage to Fartbuster.  My goals, like going to counseling and working on my own self, were reached.  Instead of saving my marriage, I saved my self.

So if you’re walking briskly through the cold wind, with your chin tucked to your chest, look around for that little shoot of green.  That daffodil has something to tell you.

15 thoughts on “Goals, Outcomes, and Daffodils

  1. NitaB

    As usual a beautiful inspiring piece that reminds me of our first convo during Alumni Weekend and you told me to just keep pushing through. Whenever I read your blog I’m reminded of that convo and it puts it all in perspective.

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  2. Holly Parker

    Beautiful, Ashley. Have you ever read The Journey by Mary Oliver? My favorite poem and it’s about saving yourself. I read it in the midst of my sadness/confusion and it changed my life. Or maybe I was already changing and the poem confirmed it. You are such an inspiration. Hope you keep blogging forever!

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  3. Pingback: Fartbuster Lost It | Baddest Mother Ever

  4. obsidiankitten

    And you can’t make anything grow any faster by pulling on the shoots.
    And re. my first marriage…I saved myself, too. Not the marriage, but that’s okay. I got a much better one going now!
    Love you so very very much!
    Am waiting for the book, hunny… =)

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