Plant Yourself Where You Can Bloom

St. Francis de Sales, the gentleman saint and ...

St. Francis de Sales, practicing his blooming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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“Bloom where you are planted.”

 — The Bishop of Geneva, Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622)

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We’ve all heard these words of wisdom.  Blooms are beautiful, and graceful, and showy.  They also smell good.  And who doesn’t want to smell good?  But the old adage sounds a little to me like, “Shut up and get back to work.”  I mean, making the best of things is always a good idea, but there’s nothing wrong with thinking outside the planter.

You may be a late bloomer, in full bloom, or just wearing bloomers, but I think we can all agree that blooming is good.  A bloom is a plant’s marketing campaign.  It’s like walking through Macy’s.  You’re only going in for the white sale, when all of a sudden you’re sidetracked by the bright lights and juicy colors of the cosmetic department.  Your head turns.  Left, then right.  The next thing you know you’ve walked headfirst into a woman spritzing you with this year’s version of Miss Dior Eau De Toilette.  Suddenly you’re dancing around like a bee on a stamen.

English: A picture of compost soil

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When someone tells me to bloom where I am planted, it’s usually because they’ve buried me in dirt.  “Sit here, I’ll bring you water when you look dry.  Now, do something fabulous!”

Last year I planted some zinnia and sweet alyssum seeds.  They came up great.  They bloomed where they were planted as expected, and at the end of the summer, I pulled them out and dragged their dead, lifeless carcasses to the compost pile.  Their job was done.  I gave them water, sunshine and the occasional human-to-plant conversation.  I enjoyed their grandeur, and I was grateful.

On the way to the compost pile last fall, a few seeds fell off and nestled into the scrappy little spot between our driveway and the neighbor’s.  In the spring, they germinated.  The seedlings were unnoticeable until their height surpassed those of the weeds.  Eventually demanding my attention, I realized they were unmistakably zinnia.  It wasn’t until a few weeks later I noticed the smaller, daintier white flowers of the sweet alyssum too.
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My front garden blooms every year.  It greets me on the way in, and rivals the draw of any cosmetic counter for the bees and butterflies.  But it was the courageous zinnia with its alyssum companion that made me smile the most this summer.

While weeding the cracks, my neighbor called from his backyard deck, “Don’t pull the flower!”  I knew they were smiling too.  And it made me think about Saint Francis de Sales’ words a lot.  I thought about the difference between blooming where you are planted, and finding a place to plant yourself.

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When you find a place you want to grow, you’re no less beautiful, and you smell just as good — provided you practice personal hygiene, of course — but it might take a little longer to get noticed, because people won’t expect to see you where they aren’t looking.  But once you rise above the weeds, and they get a chance to know you for who you are, you will make them smile.  You will be blooming in a place they didn’t even realize needed a flower, or knew that one could grow.

In time, you might even find that they make a regular garden out of it, and you can take pride in knowing that your blossom was the first of many.  And maybe . . . just maybe, as one day they haul your body off to the compost, one of your seeds will fall in a crack in some other forgotten space . . .

Or maybe that’s another story.

Peace . . .


Are You Living a Life of Balance or Control?

 

Balance is a condition in which an object is subject to equal forces or weights, enabling it to remain steady.  The world is in constant flux.  Nature is in an endless state of rebalancing itself.  Humans, being more of nature than we are willing to admit, are drawn to the never-ending endeavor to balance.

Chances are, in the past twenty-four hours you have thought about balancing at least three the following:

  • Workload vs. Personal Time

    Yin and yang stones

    Yin and yang stones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Relationships vs. Solitude
  • Spending vs. Saving
  • Weight Gain vs. Weight Loss
  • Sleep vs. Wake
  • Exercise vs. Rest
  • Perfection vs. Acceptance
  • Beauty vs. Function
  • Work vs. Play

Since the beginning of time, we have pontificated the meaning of balance.  Think yin and yang, buddhism and dualism.  The ancient Greeks, Chinese, and the Aztecs all had great philosophers of balance.  Give the word balance a go in your search engine, and you will see that nothing has changed in over two thousand years.  Humankind still seeks the point of balance.

The problem with being human, is that we not only strive for a thing, we believe we can conquer it.  We seek to achieve balance, as if it is something that is owned and kept.  However, balance is only present for the fleeting moment between too much and too little; on the border between light and dark.  The point of balance is so fragile that a soft breeze or speck of dust can overcome it.

A world with true balance would be one without wind or heat or rain.  The cost of balance is monotony.

Life is not meant to be balanced.  In our struggle to own balance, we have moved away from the natural ebb and flow of equilibrium.  We have shifted toward a desire to rigidly control it.  We believe that if only we could control everything (see the above list), existence would be a breeze.  In a balanced life, we are prepared for any situation, there is time for all our duties and passions.  We are healthy, happy, financially secure, and love what we do for a living.   The natural world is not one of total control.  It is fluid, in motion, swinging one way and then the next.

Barbara Billingsley in the pilot "It's a ...

Barbara Billingsley in the pilot “It’s a Small World”, 1957. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent too many years trying to devise the perfect menu plan, budget, schedule, diet.  I tried to control the motion around me.  Each day was a new chance and every bedtime was another failure.  Friends hear me say that June Cleaver was my idol, and we joke about that, but it was real.  Many of my best years were lived trying to be a fictional character in a time period that no longer existed.  The time with my children — the laughs, what I learned, the privilege — I wouldn’t trade for anything on earth.  If only I hadn’t felt such a need to control it all . . .

While the cost of perfect balance is monotony, the cost of maintaining control is turmoil.  A person believing he can achieve balance is one fighting against the natural movement around them.  He is trying to stand still in the surf or stop the wind from destroying a house of cards.  It is not the peaceful existence he had hoped for at all.

I am learning to enjoy a life of natural balance — shifting when the tide rolls in, regrowing after the fire dies out, appreciating the warmth of the sun before nightfall . . . because I cannot tell the sun when it is time to set.

I have found life is more peaceful this way.  Sure I am still drawn to making the compulsive list or two.  They can be found tucked in backs of drawers or folded between the pages of books.  And so I allow myself these occasional fits of contemplation, pen in hand, eventually admitting that the balance is in the imperfection.

Peace . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How I Lost Over 150 Ugly Pounds in One Week

Five days off work, plus two weekends equals 9 days in a row of over-indulgent ME-time!  Some people travel.  Others reconnect with nature or family.  I like to choose a theme.  This week the theme was Decluttering.  If you know me at all, you will know that anything worth doing is worth making a list:

Items that need decluttering include:

  • Coats
  • Table Linens
  • Entertainment center
  • Clothing
  • Undergarments and socks
  • Pajamas
  • Cleaning closet
  • Pet supplies
  • Cookware
  • Beauty and health products
  • Crafts
  • Books

Half Price Books

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me.  I decided to start with the books.  Three boxes have been patiently waiting for their trip to the Half-Price Bookstore for several years, so this was an easy beginning.  I dusted them off, trying hard not to fall back in love with any of them in the process.  I only rescued two.  One was a trail-guide to trees, which I’ve actually searched for twice this year.

“Oh, hey . . . HERE you are!”

The other was my How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk book.  I can’t believe I was going to give away the all-time best book on communication EVER.  What was I thinking?

Because today is a beautiful sunny day, I dressed in a lightweight t-shirt.  I checked twice to make sure you couldn’t see the dark-colored bra underneath, finally deciding it was only visible if you were staring at my chest.  At my age, I can only hope for so much!  My brushed hair fell in soft waves along my shoulders.  With my cheeks blushed, eyelashes curled, I looked in the mirror.

“Hello, beautiful!  Looking good!”

On the way out, I grabbed another stack of recyclables harvested from craft supplies and patterns, and a sack of trashed junk from the basement.  Both the trash bin and the recycle bin are nearly full, and the garbage pick-up was yesterday!  My step lightened as I went back in to grab the latest box of culled books.

“Wow!  How much does this bad boy weigh?”

I stepped on the scale with and without the box.  It weighed in at around 38 pounds.  No wonder I was looking so great this morning.  I’ve lost a lot of weight!

Balancing the box against the store window while pulling the door open, I looked down.  The weighty box stretched my shirt, revealing not only my plentiful cleavage, but the black brassiere I had carefully checked for show-through.  I released the door and hauled up on the neckline of my t-shirt.  A chivalrous employee ran from inside to hold the door.  Hiding behind my sunglasses, I accepted their offer and retreated to my car.

George Washington smiled smugly from the ten-spot.  He knew I was taking him to coffee.  There I ran into a friend from work.  She asked how my week of decluttering was going.  After I shared with her the fruits of my labor, she said, “Well, you look . . “

“I know.  I look great, right?”

We shared a nod and a broad grin before I went on my way.

Clearly the weight loss was showing.  As with any plan, you need to stay motivated, or you’ll be right back where you started — or worse.  The problem with taking nine consecutive days from work, is that nine days is exactly how long it takes to forget how energy-depleting work life is.  Today, on day eight, I’m all like,

“I can keep up this momentum!  All I have to do is to come home from work and spend a half hour each day organizing and decluttering!”

I seem to have forgotten that feeling of wanting nothing more than to put on my p.j.s and melt into the couch.  Not to mention getting ready for the next day,  bedtime rituals, possibly mustering up enough energy to eat a healthy dinner.  And how, by Thursday, I usually just say,

“F*** it, give me a peanut butter sandwich.”

English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, m...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t get me wrong, I love my time off, but she’s a tease.  Everything seems attainable from this side of the time-clock.

So what’s my plan?  How do I keep moving forward after the success of a 150-pound week?  Maybe these inspirational quotes will be more effective for decluttering than they have been for weight loss.

“This is a journey, not a destination.”

“One pound at a time.”

“When I feel like quitting, I ask myself why I started.”

“Good things come to those who work their asses off.”

“Keep calm and carry a gun.”

Wait . . . that last one I read on a t-shirt at the gas station.

Never mind.

Peace . . .


Note. To Self:

When I began this blog, back when I called it WholeyJeans, I worried about what would happen if I went back and read my first posts.  Would I want to edit them?  Would I find them embarrassing?  Would I want to delete some of them?

Now that I’m in it a while, I find I’m so busy trying to keep up on other peoples’ writing, I don’t have time to go back and read my own.  Yet when asked for whom I write, I answer, “Myself.”  So just in case my self should stop by, I’d like to leave a little note.

To Self:

I’m glad you’re stopping by to check out the blog.  I’m curious to know your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment.

There are a few things I should probably tell you.  People are saying that you are too hard on yourself.  You should really lighten up.  After all, you do your best in everything you try.  Other things that people say is that you are hard-working, creative, dependable, responsible and wise.  I’m proud to say that you are my self, and if you insist on being such a hard-ass, I’m going to have to step in.

I don’t want to share rumors, but I’ve also been told you are quite the worrier.  I understand wanting to research and prepare before you move forward, but with all due respect, I think it’s paralyzing you.  It might be time to set aside the details and take some small steps.  Moving in some direction is better than not moving at all.  You don’t learn anything sitting still, you know what I mean?

That’s pretty much it for now.  I’m really glad you stopped by.  Keep up the good work.  I know it isn’t easy to balance time, bank accounts, family, health and recreation.  But if you keep doing what you’re doing, everything is going to be just fine.

Remember . . .

Be yourself. You’re okay. And it really doesn’t matter what other people think.”
– Taylor Schilling

Which is completely unoriginal, and very easy for her to say.  When you’re rich and beautiful and famous, I can imagine it would be a lot easier to not care what people think.  But it’s true anyway . . .

Peace . . .

 

 


I Did It Again

Yes, yes . . . I changed the name of my blog.  Again.  I hope this one sticks.  Maybe the blog evolves.  Maybe it’s me.  But all of a sudden I realize I have to change this name!  I really thought hard about it this time.  There are so many things to consider:

  • Is the name already taken?
  • Does it say something about me?
  • Does it fit with a tag line I like and is meaningful?
  • Does it give you an idea about what you might read here?
  • Is it clever?

 

Oh yeah.  And . . .

  • Is it spelled correctly?

Did you ever notice that about WholeyJeans?  I was so caught up in all the other points, that I spelled the word Wholly wrong.  I also used it for the URL and now I’m stuck with it.  I’m a pretty good speller, only relying on spell-check for a few words that trip me up.  It really irks me every time I see it.

So I thought . . . alternative . . . there’s a word I can spell.  And the new name was born.  Or something like that.

What do you think?

Peace . . .


Who Am I?

Who Am I is a popular ice-breaker game for groups.  Each person goes about the room asking yes or no questions until they think they know whose name is pinned to their back.

This is a game we play all through life, testing different viewpoints and personalities, and continually asking the question, Who Am I?

Blogging is no different.  Writers publish posts and seek feedback through likes and comments.  We may start out thinking we are one type of blogger, but evolve to find out we are someone completely different.

I began blogging after writing an amusing story to a work friend.  With just a little encouragement, she convinced me I should start a blog.  The time was right for me to learn something new, try something gutsy.  I had become disenchanted with life.  Everything seemed rather pointless.  So I began putting my thoughts on the internet and asked the brazen question, Who Am I?

As it turns out, this writing thing is a great therapy.  Better than a journal, the public medium insists I keep my words in check with honesty, respect and kindness.  As the tagline reads, I write about life and all things peaceful, balanced, whole and precious.  For me, these are the segments of happiness which, when joined together, bring meaning and purpose.   If I can make you laugh while doing all the above, it is most certainly the buttercream on my cake!

While I write for the therapy, for posterity, for love of the words, it is my sincerest hope that I motivate you to turn inward asking the question, “Who Am I?”

Peace . . .

 


The Best Gift Ever

My oldest child, a daughter, turned 28 today.  Before she was born, I had no experience with young children.  I didn’t have younger siblings, I didn’t babysit, I didn’t even talk to the younger kids in the neighborhood.  We didn’t have those What to Expect When You’re Expecting books, or even the internet, so I had to rely on my Lamaze classes and old wives’ tales.  I was entering a foreign land.  I remember our birthing class instructor telling us that not everyone bonds immediately to their baby, so if it doesn’t happen right away, don’t worry — you aren’t a bad mom.  I stored that sentence away for future use — you know — just in case.  As it happened, I needed it.

The delivery itself was pretty typical.  My husband was with me.  My parents were close.  It took all day, with a few hiccups — dehydration, labor induction, hyperventilation, a shoulder caught on the umbilical cord — nothing exceptional.  I still remember the relief when she finally surged into the world.  I felt done.  Spent.  I wanted to be left alone.  But there was a placenta to deliver, and an episiotomy to stitch — complete with novocaine shots in a most sensitive area.  I just wanted to be left alone.  And there was this baby they held next to me as if she were some type of magical pain reliever.  But I was still in pain, and this expectation being placed on me wasn’t helping.

Scan 1Later they fed me the best food I had ever eaten.  I think it was a cheese sandwich.  I fainted in the shower, I was wheeled to another room, and I tried to sleep.  They brought her to me for feeding, and showed me how to swaddle her, how to hold and burp her, and always asked if I had any questions.  If she cried, they came.  If I cried they were there wanting to know why.   After one has a baby, there are tears.  There just are.  And not knowing why made me feel like I had failed another test.  I just wanted to be alone.  There is no way to be alone in a hospital.

A day and a half later they told me I was going home . . . and I was taking this breastfeeding, crying, pooping person with me.  There were things to arrange, papers to submit, a car to bring up, and finally they left me alone.  Me and this . . . person.

Sitting in our hospital room with the sunlight filtering through the blinds, holding my baby exactly as I was instructed, I looked down at her.  I shifted her so that she was lying in front of me along both arms, looking into my face.  I called her by name, and told her about all the things waiting for her; the home, the flowers outside her nursery window, the little outfits folded into a new dresser, and the crib that had been waiting vacant for so many weeks while she grew.  I apologized for not knowing a whole lot about being a mom, but that it would be okay, because we would figure it out together.

Scan 2In those few minutes, a special place grew in my heart that exists to this day.  It is the place where I hold everything that belongs to motherhood — the love, the memories, the heartache, the sacrifice, the ferocity, and the wisdom.

For all the times I’ve wished that I’d had this motherhood thing from the onset, I have this one perfect memory of finding it all at once; like opening a door you never knew existed in a house you had lived in all your life.  The three children who followed had a mother who, before they took their first breath, already held them in that very special place in her heart.  But my first has the honor of planting it there.  Of all the gifts I have received from her . . . or anyone in the world before or since . . . it was this first gift from my newborn that I hold most dear.

Peace and Love on your birthday, sweetheart . . .


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