“Think like a a queen.  A queen is not afraid to fail.  Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.”  Oprah Winfrey

Yesterday was a doozy.  I had planning a landscape project for weeks, and the day was finally here when I would get the dingo and begin the work.  My husband, Dennis, took the day off too, and we were ready to go.


It had rained the previous night, but they said it would stop in the early morning.  When we started about 8:30am, it wasn’t raining.  But shortly thereafter, it started to drizzle.  I was on the dingo, getting my bearings, and was ready to dive right in and start removing grass.  My husband said he would start digging around a tree stump we wanted to remove.

The first thing I did was dig a hole in the ground as opposed to scraping the sod.  Not good.  I tried to backfill it, but I couldn’t move the dirt.  I moved on, and tried again.  Some success.  But the tracks of the dingo were ripping up the grass I wanted to keep.  I kept moving around, trying again and again, and frustration was building.  I turned the machine off twice and said I was done.  But it looked so bad, I kept trying to go back and fix it.  It only got worse.  THEN THE DINGO GOT STUCK IN THE MUD.  I had no choice but to abandon it.

I called the rental place and asked if they could help – no, they didn’t do that, but they referred me to a towing company.  I called them and they ended up being almost an hour away, and said it would cost way too much.  I tried two other towing places who both said they couldn’t do it because the machine was off pavement.  I called the rental place back and told them, and they really had no answer for me, except to try to use cardboard or 2×4’s to get it out.  We tried cardboard to no avail.  I was beside myself with frustration and anger at myself.  Why didn’t I give up earlier?  Now things were way worse and I was completely at a loss.


On a whim, I called a local landscaping company, Jamie’s Landscaping, in West Chester, Ohio.  I told them my tale of whoa, trying to hold back the tears.  The man on the other end could not have been more nice.  Without hesitation he said he would send someone over to get the dingo out of the mud.  I finally exhaled.  I thanked him profusely.

In the meantime, I joined my husband in getting the stump out.  We actually used the dingo to some success in dislodging it, but there were large roots that needed to be cut.  The tree had actually fallen over, and we thought the entire root ball had dislodged, but it was not meant to be.  We pulled out the hand saw and loppers and tried to free it.  After about a half hour, we had freed the stump!  Finally a triumph, and I put that squarely on Dennis.  We got our dolly out and loaded the stump on it and dragged it to the back of the yard near our fence and dumped it.  We grabbed up our tools and went inside.

I was in a foul mood.  The rain was really coming down, and it had been a few hours since I called Jamie’s.  I called them back and they assured me someone was coming.  I was cold and hungry but I wanted to suffer for a while after being so stupid as to think I could actually do the job I had been planning for so long.  Meticulously measuring, staking things out, buying supplies, and I even did a scale version of what I wanted to install.  Now I was left with a mud pit and some messed up grass.

Two guys from Jamie’s got to our house around 2pm and freed the dingo.  I wanted to hug them, but instead put my hands together in prayer and couldn’t stop saying thank you.  They had literally saved my day.  I called the rental place and told them they could come and get it.  I then called Jamie’s and set up an appointment for an estimate to fix the damage that was done and make my landscape a reality.  It will cost more, but I know for sure that I can’t do it.  I need help to make it happen.

Dennis and I decided we needed a beer, so we got ready and headed to our favorite brewery, Fretboard, and chatted it up with our bartender friends, the owners, and other patrons.  I was putting the day behind me.

I felt like a failure.  Dennis kept saying, well, at least you learned something.  I said yeah.  I learned how hard I could really cry, a new level of frustration, and that in my haste to get things done, I throw logic aside.  I knew the ground was wet, and with the rain we had the night before and that morning, the ground was squishy.  I should have called it off.  When I started working with the dingo, my confidence was low, I should have called it off.  I should have hired a professional.  But I thought, I learned how to use a dingo at school, I should put my learning to use.  Well, sometimes you just have to learn at the school of hard knocks.

But all that aside, I did learn things.  I need WAY more practice on a dingo before I would feel comfortable using it again.  I learned it is too early in the season to do major work, because the ground is just too wet.  And our yard tends to retain a lot of water due to the clay soil.  The fine gentlemen that came to rescue the dingo said they work great on flat land, not so great on hills, and I was trying to work on a slight down slope.  I learned I need to start small.  I learned I should listen to my teacher, Kim, who told me an alternative way to remove the grass, which I dismissed because I wanted results NOW, and her method would take a couple of weeks.  My husband was right – I did learn a lot.

One of the biggest things I needed to face was feeling like a failure.  I had to turn that thinking around and think that the MOMENT was a failure, I was not.  I have mad skills, and I can do a lot in my yard, from edging, to planting, to weeding.  But when it comes to the big stuff, I need to leave it to the professionals.  And I need to learn patience.  I was just so excited to make my vision a reality that I jumped in with both feet, and as it turned out, I was ankle deep in mud and water.

Today the estimator is coming.  I am indebted to Jamie’s Landscaping and look forward to doing business with them.  It is rare these days for someone to help without asking for something in return.  I find that honorable and refreshing.  And that’s a company I want to hire.

When we move forward with the work, I will be patient, and know it will get done the right way.  I can then do the work that I KNOW I can do, and what I truly love, which is choosing and planting plants.  In fact I already have my plants ordered, and can’t wait to pull the whole thing together.  I was in a deep, dark, pit of despair, but I pulled myself out, with the help of Dennis, a few beers and March Madness.  Everything is going to be all right.

What does all this mean for you?

  1. No amount of planning can prepare you more than actual experience.  I watched countless videos of dingo projects, how to operate it, and relied on my very limited experience to think I could do detailed work.  Get the experience or hire a professional.
  2. Start small.  I decided to put in 950 square feet of planting beds myself.  TOO MUCH.  I should have started much smaller, and just kept adding on.
  3. Be patient.  I desperately need to work on this one.  I want instant results, and this got me in trouble.  Sometimes you need to put things off until the time is right (when the ground isn’t soggy in my case or it isn’t raining).
  4. Know that you will recover from failure.  It is important to remember that YOU are not a failure, the moment failed.  You will have another opportunity to do the work with your new found knowledge.
  5. Don’t give up!  Will I ever get on a dingo again?  Only if I have the opportunity to have someone experienced teach me.  Will I give up on my landscaping dreams?  No.  I will used what I learned from this experience to help me in future endeavors.  I can do this, and you can too!

It feels good to get this all out.  I hope it helps you if you are experiencing feelings of being a failure.  We all have the opportunity to learn and try again.  Now what can I plan in the yard next?

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”  Winston Churchill

One Reply to “Recovering from Failure”

  1. So sorry things didn’t work out for you. Unfortunately Dennis was right (I hate when husbands are right) and it was a good learning experience. Look above at those 5 insights! Plus you were brave enough to let others know you failed so that you could help them. Glad you got to relax with a beer at the end.
    PS you should definitely go on all available social media, give Jamie’s 5stars, AND give that rental place 0 stars.


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