Urban Garden Denver Blog

Unexpected Downtime

You might expect a Labor Day weekend garden blog to be about cleanup of summer blooms or prep for fall planting, but sometimes life takes unexpected turns. So rather than a Labor Day weekend of puttering the garden, my body decided that an appendectomy was in order.

I had been saving some notes on the topic of downtime (or Sabbath) for this blog because I find that time outdoors in my garden can be contemplative and provide space for my mind and soul. I learned that a hospital room and enforced rest can also provide a bit of separation from daily life as well.

I read an article last week about how our brains need downtime in order to learn, synthesize information and create. (My editor should make me cite the source, but since I am my own editor for this blog and I wrote up these notes longhand in a hospital room, I’ll extend grace.) In contemporary culture we have found ways of filling all our “downtime” with electronic devices and activities which make our brains keep responding to new stimuli. What research is showing is that our brains need free time and space for mulling. For example, after taking a walk in nature, research subjects were more able to synthesize information they received prior to the walk. Now I’m not sure surgery and pain meds are quite the same downtime, but I did disconnect from my computer and electronic stimulus for several days (other than texts which I did appreciate).

God knows how we are made, which is why he instructed the ancient Hebrews about Sabbath and taking a day of rest. Many religious traditions have time of contemplation or meditation as a healthy practice. Jesus, God in the flesh, took time away from the crowd.

Of course, voluntary Sabbath is preferable to unexpected pauses. But enforced Sabbath can also provide space for the brain and soul to rest.

I hope my next Sabbath can be outdoors in my garden, not in a hospital room. But there is a lounge on the NW corner of Porter hospital’s 3rd floor that has lovely views of the mountains and the tree canopy of south Denver. I enjoyed some time with my husband watching the evening cloud formations from that vantage point on Saturday night. I was discharged today and plan to sit on the porch — thankful that my unexpected downtime was short and not more serious.

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  1. * Beth K. Vogt says:

    Carla, Here’s hoping your next Sabbath rest is somewhere other than the hospital, which are not well-known as places of rest.
    You were in my prayers. Glad to hear you’re home now.
    Continue to rest and give yourself time to recover.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago
  2. * Kathy Skipton says:


    Sorry to hear about your hospital stay but sounds like you made it worth while. Get better and see you soon. I always enjoy your Urban Garden Blogs.

    Kathy Skipton

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago
  3. * Melissa says:

    Yikes! Glad to hear you are recovering well! Planned downtime is better then unplanned–and even moreso if there is no hospital stay involved. 🙂

    Rest. Breathe. Refresh.

    Every good thing to you,

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago
  4. * Robin says:

    The ability to see beyond the immediate ‘ends’ and reflect on what God is doing through unexpected ‘means’ is a gift. And you have the additional gift of being a wonderful writer as well. What a beautiful combination.

    Glad you are better! Miss seeing your smiling face in the office. See you soon!

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago
  5. * Mary M says:

    Carla, it was great meeting you and your hubby at Stephen’s last night. And, as you can see, I checked out your blog 🙂

    I’m interested to see if we can grow anything in our backyard. There are still some turnips and squash left over from the former owner’s garden. I’ll be starting from scratch in terms of any gardening knowledge and am wondering what are a few good vegetables I can plant as “practice” this fall. Any suggestions?

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago
    • You can try some spinach or lettuce for the fall season. It all depends on when we get our first frost, which can vary a lot. But lots of people have luck with a few greens in the fall.

      | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago
      • * Mary M says:

        Great, thank you!

        Posted 9 years, 8 months ago
  6. * Karen says:


    It was great to see you for a short visit to the office today. You look like you are recovering fabulously. So glad! 🙂

    Karen Aalund

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 8 months ago

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