Julie Seifert

Let’s Play Catch…Up Part 1

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Well, it has been 10 months since my last blog, and let me tell you, a LOT has happened in those months.  I just read my last blog and it was about my transition to working at a plant nursery in an annual greenhouse.  I was very upbeat and honest about the transition, and it kind of took me back.  Because I am nowhere near that place today.

A little background–last March I left my career in finance to begin a career in horticulture, which I had been studying since August 2017.  I was a babe in the woods (pun intended), and there were many things I was trying to get used to.  One of the biggest ones was the cut in pay.  It was quite a shock to see that first check, about 1/3 of what I was used to making.  I forged on.

As spring moved towards summer, the greenhouse was HOT and busy.  Mandatory weekends.  My closest colleague announced she was leaving.  I was devastated.  There was no one there I learned more from or felt closer to.  I began to doubt if I could handle staying, and she provided some insight on what was to come, as she worked in the greenhouse for a full year before me.  It didn’t sound promising–even hotter temps, lots more lifting (my back was struggling already) and I was developing heat rashes on my legs.  I considered a change.

I saw a posting in my school horticulture group that a country club was looking for an assistant horticulturalist.  I thought this could be interesting and I might possibly have the mentor I was looking for.  I looked into it, applied, and got the job.  I should have thought it through more in hindsight.  It paid more AND had better benefits, but the job was listed as “gardener” on Indeed.  I quit the greenhouse and went to the country club.

The mentor I thought I would have happened to be on medical leave, with a return date unknown.  I was the only woman on staff which didn’t bother me, and I had a friendly and understanding assistant superintendent that took me under his wing.  I got to create some beautiful planters, and help water and maintain the extensive annual plantings.  But then it started raining.  And raining.  My days were spent outside looking for something to do, and I drove around in my little cart picking up sticks (gorgeous old trees on the courses) and trying to keep busy.  I ended up weeding a hillside of thistle in the rain, in my shorts, and ended up with serious scratches on my legs that required antibiotics and steroids to heal.  The heat rash was coming back.

The main horticulturist came back after about a month, and I was so excited that we could work together and I could learn!  However, she felt really behind on her duties since she was gone so long, and proceeded to go out on her own to get things done.  This left me again looking for things to do, and literally looking for new weeds on a daily basis.  I had a great tan, but I was bored silly.  The 6 am start time was brutal, and let’s just say baseball hats and polo shirts aren’t particularly flattering on me.

I started to rethink my choice to go into horticulture.  I told myself I had done all the research, heeded the signs, etc., but I was not happy.  Add to that being a victim of a car accident that left my car totaled, and I was really questioning my choices.  I was making very little money, not happy with my current job, but I had pride and I had ego.  I talked it over with my husband, and as usual, he was supportive of whatever choice I made (with a slight hint of “I told you so”, which I duly deserved).

Here are a few things I learned during this period of my life:

  1. Sometimes you have to jump in with both feet to experience what you think you want.  You can’t just sit on the sidelines discussing it.  You have to DO it.
  2. Give it time to play out.  Looking back, I quit the greenhouse after only a few months, before experiencing for myself what it would be like.  Had I stayed, perhaps I would have had more opportunities to learn and move up in the company.
  3. The security of having benefits is REAL.  My husband’s health insurance was OK, but expensive compared to my old one.  Not contributing to my retirement was weighing on my mind.  I was almost 50 years old – would my body support me doing this for many more years, as my retirement would likely have to be put off for several years?
  4. And greatest of all – money.  I was feeling serious anxiety, something I am not prone to, about the lack of money I was making and contributing to our household.  Then the car accident.  Oh, and did I mention the mold in our basement that had to be re-mediated?  It was piling up and I was beside myself.  I did not want to get into serious debt.

What to do??  Stop, assess, lessons learned.  Before I took any further steps, I had to really assess where I was mentally and physically.  I had to ask myself the hard questions.  I had to be happy that I took that leap of faith, no matter how it turned out.  And I had to come away with lessons learned that would serve me in the future.

I took action.  But that is for the next blog. Stay tuned!

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