The very beginning of my garden journey

My garden journey really started in my childhood. I had an inflammatory disease called Kawasaki that attacks the heart at the age of five. After recovering, I was regularly sick. You name it, I had it. The more I got sick, the more allergic reactions I started to have to the antibiotics I was given. I continued to battle with annoyingly persistent health issues into my adult life, just accepting it was the hand I was dealt. ‘Get more medications and keep moving.” That was how I went trudging through life. “Head in the sand” fit me perfectly at that time.

My journey zigged and zagged. It was dirty and messy at times.

I adopted poor habits. I’m human, right? From my poor food choices, lack of quality sleep, and repeated poor decisions. Add in the stress of a divorce at the age of 29, and the pressure was building up. I struggled with career identity in my 30’s, testing out other professions as second jobs. Draining myself more and more. I felt insecure about my lack of a high paying career. I was competing against societal pressures and the comparison game, trying things that I misidentified as “successful”. The journey of chasing “success” was doomed to be unsuccessful. The more I chased a false reality, the less intentional I became about who I was.

My garden journey wake up call

Then I had a major anaphylactic reaction to hair dye. Talk about a wake up call! It wreaked havoc on my body and left me unable to see clearly or digest food, among a host of other issues. Navigating the medical system opened my eyes to the disconnect between patients and real cures. Frustration and shock set in by the lack of communication and collaboration regarding my health conditions. I wasn’t listened to. Instead, they referred me to other doctors. And I never got any acceptable answers.

I was forced to reevaluate my life. It was time to go back to basics and accept all the areas of my life that were adding to the burden of my compromised health. Finances? Career? Relationships? It was all coming to a head.

The first steps of my intentional garden journey

I knew deep down I had to slow down and get my “hands dirty.” It was time to start to be intentional with my decisions and say no when the advice didn’t feel right. I refused to accept “There is nothing you can do,” or “Take this pill,” or the best yet, “Can you get better insurance?” Instead, I had to trust my intuition.

I started to investigate health, wellness, nutrition, our food system, and the impact of stress on wellbeing. There were many internet rabbit holes trying to understand my symptoms and how I could support my body’s ability to heal. I realized how disconnected I was from my body and emotions. Most importantly, I realized I had missed the connection between them.

The education started and after a night of binge-watching documentaries on Food Matters TV about farming and our food system. As I sat there, it hit me: my soil was depleted. Literally and figuratively.

It was time to get my hands dirty and really dig into what I needed to do to get myself back on track. My life had become unnecessarily complicated and it happened without my realizing it. I just wanted to feel simplicity again. I had to get honest with myself about what I really wanted to accomplish in this life and why.

Time to clean up my life

My garden journey started with my diet. I headed back to my garden and got my hands dirty. I had a new appreciation for my garden and all the clarity it gave me. Learning about the health benefits of the food I was growing supported my healing journey. I researched how to enhance my garden to better support my health. Over time, I became more intuitive about bringing my garden harvest into my kitchen. As I took the time to plant the seeds and nurture those little seedlings, I continued to gain clarity. The dirtier my hands got, the better I could ground myself in what I found fulfilling.

Then I started to see the changes

I started to look at life through a different lens. The days of throwing random ideas around to see what would stick was over. I rolled up my sleeves and became intentional with my actions. I started one area at a time and slowly cleaned up each mess. Doing the work was messy, dirty, and humbling. But the gift I got is better than I ever imagined.

I have my health and a new perspective on what it means to live an intentional life. Health means something different to me know; it means true well-being. I cleaned up my health and my life and went back to simplicity. It truly is about the little things in life.

I wouldn’t trade my garden journey for anything. I wouldn’t even trade the constant dirt under my fingernails! So, go ahead and roll up your sleeves. Get your hands dirty! Let’s keep planting gardens, big or small. Let’s all revel in everything the garden and everything Mother Nature has to teach us. It’s worth the journey.

P.S. Throughout my garden journey I connected with many medical and healing professionals to whom I am forever grateful. I would be remiss to not acknowledge them. They helped guide and awaken me on this dirty journey.


About the Author: Katie Oglesby is a Health and Garden Coach residing in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with her husband and two Springer Spaniels. Get to know more about getting your hands dirty, cleaning up your life and planting a vibrant garden at