Posted in Great Outdoors

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 . . .

Posted in Happiness Project

Blueprint of Happiness

September brings another year for me.  It’s the month I was born.  In more recent years this has not been a time of celebration as much as a time of reflection on growth, possibilities, and life.  It seems like the perfect time to create a Happiness Project guided by the book of the same name by Getchen Rubin.

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Every project needs a blueprint.  Plotting a project takes time.  You need to look at it from all angles, decide what should come first, and what is the best time for each step.  As it turns out, a Happiness Project is no different.

I used four things to generate my blueprint:

  1. The First Splendid Truth from Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project
  2. A list I like to call “Things That Make Me Happy” — I know — creative, right?
  3. A quiz that Gretchen calls How Well Do You Know Yourself? which I would recommend to anyone contemplating a happiness project, or not.
  4. The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

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At some point, I ran headlong into the conflict between what makes me happy and what I think should make me happy.  For instance, all the experts say exercising will boost my energy, suppress appetite, and lift my mood.  They also tell me if I don’t like exercise, I just haven’t found the right one.  I like playing with the dogs, bicycling, gardening, and taking walks; none to the point of exhaustion.  I have more interesting things to do with my time.  Exercise makes me hungry, tired, and cranky.  It’s right up there with doing laundry.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not going to exercise.  Moderate exercise allows me to sleep better and keeps my joints mobile.  And doing laundry keeps me looking and smelling fresh.  Yet I’m never going to confuse either of them with happiness, and if I never had to do them again it would be okay with me!

By focusing on something I think should bring me happiness but doesn’t, I am neglecting something else that actually does.  It occurs to me that this is how a Happiness Project works.  I will be focusing on the things that make me happy.  If I tell you to notice the red things in the room, you will instantly see them, whereas a minute ago you did not realize they were there.  As I focus on the things that make me happy and the opportunities to create happiness, those things will appear in places they were once camouflaged.

I like finding myself one year older every September.  The temperatures are usually cooling and the humidity is dropping.  School busses once again follow their paths, the fruit is heavy on the trees, the garden swells with harvest.  It is a good time for me to focus on energizing.

Some of the harvest is swelling more than others.
Some of the harvest is swelling more than others.

Here will be my daily intentions:

  • Get Outside – That sounds simple enough, but some days I’m only outside long enough to walk the dogs and transfer from my car to work or home.  I’ll be making a point of getting outside to feel the elements, hear the birds, and smile at someone.
  • Music – I want to listen to at least one song that moves me in some way every day.
  • Run an Errand – Getting things done energizes me.  I love getting to the end of the day knowing I completed some little thing.
  • 15 Minutes of Nothing – The first step to joy in Martha Beck’s The Joy Diet.  This may well prove the most difficult action of the four.
Look at the free book I obtained while at the State Fair yesterday!  How timely!
Look at the free book I obtained while at the State Fair yesterday! How timely!

 

Posted in Great Outdoors

In the Midst of Beige

Speaking of color . . . we were, weren’t we?  I am a highly visual person with a brain hard-wired for color association.  I dream in vivid technicolor.  The colors often symbolize feelings.  I once had a very passionate dream about someone I should not be dreaming passionately about.  The walls were a deep cranberry red, the flush of lust.  Outside the window, there was a light illuminating the innocence of pure white snow.  It was a calm, quiet, flurry of snow, but I was content to stay inside.  I woke up just as the kiss touched my lips, my heart pounding against my rib cage!

As a mother of young children, it was not uncommon for me to hear people remark how cute it was that I dressed us all in the same color, something I would never intentionally do!  Clearly, it had been a red day (or blue, or green, etc.) and the clothes I chose for each of us reflected the color that fit my mood.

When I see a color that catches my eye, I will instantly see other items in the room that match it.  I will say, “Ooh!  I like the color of your blouse.”  Then, “Oh look how it matches the straw in your drink and the book on that shelf!”  I notice immediately if two co-workers are wearing the same color.

It should come as no surprise, then, that this is my least favorite time of the year.  The hues drain from the trees and flowers, leaving behind the browns, tans and grays of death.  I’ve noticed my mood spiraling downward, weighted by the bleak of winter.

Walking with the dogs today, I forgot my camera at home, but did have my phone with me.  Setting up a scavenger hunt for myself, I went to work searching for signs of color in the drab landscape.

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A fiery twig announced its presence along the trail near the fence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sumac and red berries (nightshade?) light my way along this desolate scene.
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Raspberry vines in subtle violet bow to winter’s cold.
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The patient pine dons her dress of evergreen, having watched the other girls in their crimson frills and gowns of gold. Finally she is the belle of the ball . . .