Singer Lukas Nelson Convinced Me to Build a Simple Garden

Dawn DeBois avatar

by Dawn DeBois |

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Music has always been my escape. One Christmas after I had back surgery as a teenager due to severe scoliosis, the only gift I asked for was a Walkman. The ability to have music surround me, thanks to my headphones and a small, portable radio, seemed like the only answer to my discomfort in a 65-pound plaster of Paris body cast.

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Music and a new Walkman helped Dawn navigate tough times during Christmas of 1982. (Courtesy of Dawn DeBois)

While stuck at home in that body cast for three months, the Walkman reminded me of singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” with my teammates on a bus headed to a swim meet. When Heart’s “Barracuda” came on, I recalled riding in my grandmother’s brown station wagon to Acadia National Park in Maine, with all the windows rolled down and my hair blowing in the wind.

Each year, I look forward to concerts at the waterfront pavilion in Bangor, Maine. Last summer, I saw Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real perform “Turn Off the News (Build a Garden),” a song that not only created memories, but also prompted an important life goal.

I was raised by foster parents who were about the typical age of grandparents. “Gram” was retired, and my uncle was disabled and in a wheelchair due to an automobile accident. Every morning at breakfast, we read the newspaper from front to back. After dinner, we watched the news on TV.

Because of this, today I feel uninformed if I don’t know what is happening in the world. However, it’s very easy to become consumed by today’s world of 24-hour news channels. At last summer’s concert, I felt like Nelson, the son of country music legend Willie Nelson, sang directly to me with his song about turning off the news. Why not do something constructive instead?

Lukas Nelson’s suggestion that we should build a garden instead of listening to constant news resonated with me. I have an enormous backyard. I have plenty of room for several gardens, and I love fresh vegetables. But because of Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) and psoriatic arthritis, I don’t have the energy or the ability to take advantage of the great space I have for a garden.

In March, while I was stuck at home, I started devouring the news again. This caused a lot of stress and an increase in my LEMS autonomic dysfunction, which in turn caused me to have a vasovagal syncope episode. This is when a person faints because the body overreacts to certain triggers, causing a sudden drop in blood pressure.

I fainted with no one around, landing on my head from a standing position. I was unconscious from the fall long enough for the blood on my face to be dried and crusty when I finally regained consciousness. The severe concussion I suffered reminded me even more of how important it is to be mindful and to protect myself from constant news. Stress increases disease symptoms of all kinds, especially autoimmune diseases. I had to limit my news intake.

Nelson sang:

“Trust builds trust
All that negativity’s a bust
Trust builds trust
Don’t you wanna be happy?”

Recently, my neighbor posted a photo of her beautiful new container garden that her husband built after she found the instructions on Pinterest. Container gardening involves planting in containers rather than directly into the ground, and it’s something I realized I can do without my LEMS and psoriatic arthritis getting in the way.

“Would your husband be willing to build me one?” I asked my neighbor.

Not only did he build me one, but he also offered to pick up the materials so that I could avoid the store.

It took me weeks to paint the planter, pick up enough dirt, find seedlings, and plant them. Energy is fleeting with multiple autoimmune diseases. However, each day I did a little bit more until it was finished. Friends, neighbors, and my son helped me arrange the planter and its heavy contents until I found the perfect spot on my deck. Now, all I need to do is water them and enjoy.

Easy to maintain, container gardens are a nice escape from the daily noise. (Photo by Dawn DeBois)

While we won’t be attending any waterfront concerts this summer, I can still hear Lukas Nelson crooning in my yard every day as I water my garden.


Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia.


Erin avatar


That garden looks amazing. Can’t wait to see what you grow in it. Way to go!

Dawn DeBois avatar

Dawn DeBois

Thanks Erin! The first salad with the lettuce from it was amazing!! In Maine, we don't get FRESH fresh veggies until our gardens come in due to being at the end of the road for trucks delivering to grocery stores. With COVID, it's been even worse. I'm hoping I can bring the lettuce inside once it gets cold and keep it growing...maybe??


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