Mar 30, 2015
The sainted shrub did not resurrect itself this Spring. As I suspected, I had killed my birthday present to myself. The forever lusted after beautyberry bush, with its sumptuous purple berries clustered up and down its languorous limbs, was decidedly dead and was probably doomed to be yard waste from the moment I laid eyes on it last September at the Adkin’s Arboretum’s native plant sale.
I blamed it on last October not being as rainy as I needed it to be. The truth was that I didn’t remember to water my special shrub enough. It died of thirst right there is its driveway grave, expensive and neglected. I really hadn’t wanted the bush to die, I was just busy keeping a toddler alive and in check inside. So last week, I ceremoniously yanked the beautyberry’s carcass from that specially dug hole and surreptitiously tossed it over the side of our yard. I was pulling the band-aid off quickly to avoid the constant pain of staring at its dead shell in my driveway anymore.
I have a self-proclaimed brown thumb. Not as if the pre-Spring weather last year didn’t make it that much worse when a final frost killed this giant Lady Rose shrub above and my rosemary bush plus took the fig and hydrangeas down to the ground. Yes, I had help putting my garden into their present shambles. But somewhere along the way, I lost heart too.
Before the children became my omnipresent purpose, I spent hours and hours outside playing in the dirt of my house’s 9 flower beds. I have horrible luck with plants but what did survive managed to make me feel kinda good. Now I go out and all I feel is overwhelmed and like a failure. Worse, I do things like leave perfectly good planters and pots out in the weather to freeze and crack. Nothing can escape my doomed touch. Neglect and decay and ruin seem to be my decorating theme outside.
Thankfully, my husband Mark has gotten the planting bug and I watched him practice his own garden therapy last year when he lost his father to congestive heart failure. Gardening was really so very good for his soul as was the ritual distribution of his bounty. I hope to be back to gardening again some day. But until that day, I’ll try not to think about my garden.
Of course, this is also me hoping that those of you out there who love digging in dirt and like me, can find pity enough in your hearts to help me out of my dark doomed garden place. Anyone? Perhaps your name starts with M?
Mar 27, 2015
When I forget what I’ve been up and how much I appreciate my writing, I end up reading something and remembering.
I felt very privileged to have written this piece entitled My Face for the Talbotspy.org here. In honor of its three-year anniversary, I’m republishing it on my blog. Enjoy the fun read.
If you met me at a party, you’d notice my laugh is the loudest. I’m extremely social. Yet this fun time Charlotte has had a whole lotta nada for the social networking. I figured Twittling and My-facing were perfect ways of busily avoiding intimacy like the plague. I wanted no part of that universe made of desperate ego maniacs with short attention spans. The over reaction gave away the doubt beneath.
Like so many people of a certain age, I defensively declared I had no need for this Facebook phenomenon. Perhaps this was a knee jerk reaction to new-fangled technology making me feel stupid. Both fear of the unknown or of assimilation by the Borg are still fears. I have heard many fearful declarations to this specific anti-alliance. And sometimes we encounter our destiny on the way to avoiding it.
I was writing and publishing articles online and chose to rise to a new terrifying challenge of creating my blog. I fully understood I needed to socially network for this cause. And I was anxious. This was the ego-maniacal unnecessary and unacceptable activity. And my precious privacy was hard-earned. But I was seduced by the ability to pontificate to an enraptured audience. My ego “liked” this. Therein lay the carrot.
I asked my (very popular on Facebook) friend to convince me to join Facebook. She said flatly, “Three years from now, Social networking will be a given and this conversation would be ludicrous.” Just do it. Everybody’s doing it. She reassured me no one could see or speak with me there without my permission. Vampires need an invitation to come in.
So my angst and I joined the Facebook extravaganza on Friday May 20th, 2011, at around 2PM. I was typing away about my fab self in my profile when, Wham! , I get a friend request… from an ex-boyfriend? One of these search buttons must be for all the people you’ve schtooped. I don’t hate this guy but I had no plans to ‘party hardy’ ever again in a tavern of his choice. I rode out the panic and nausea and you know what I did then? I “friended” him. Because that was what this exercise in mass marketing and conquering fears was all about.
I returned to the FB flame on Saturday, finally found the link back in my spam folder, and, Wham! , it happened again. My all-time biggest crush ever from long ago and far away was requesting my friendship. My present husband was the long awaited exception to this boy who gave me hope when I wanted to give up on men altogether. I felt guilty for even reading the benign message from crush-man. In a ten minute span, I went from stunned to giddy to devastated. Of course he was married and had two beautiful children. I shut the computer down. Either these Facebook people were a specific kind of crazy or I was missing something.
I queried fellow members about the true meaning of the Facebook “friend”. Die hard FBers were bewildered by my bewilderment. It was a true friend who said she too had been freaked out initially when she joined. Now it’s her nighttime ritual. She kindly added that, in an ideal world, I would be allowed my fantasy crush forever. So it’s still me, I thought. I endeavored to try again and to pursue this friend-making thing with zeal.
After a month, crush-man became a human being. As his real life continually popped up on my news feed, I was able to release him from my heart to his happiness. Simultaneously and slowly, I sent “friend requests” to people from schools, social gatherings, neighborhoods, and workplaces of my past and present. As I connected with more people, I began to see my real deal.
This precious privacy I’d clung to and coddled was also known as isolation with a capital ‘I’. I‘d chosen to hide my life, ashamed for growing old and fat because, you know, I was the only one getting old and fat. Who’s crazy enough to deliver themselves on a silver platter for the judgment of the free world? Apparently me.
I had worried about dredging up past resentments with this reconnection with people from my past. Instead, I found myself cheered by them. Our lives connected in unexpected ways. I caught important news I would have missed, like the birth of one friend’s twins and the loss of a beloved old cat for another. Snail mail cards went out immediately. I saw that Facebook is friendship “light”, a safe way of sharing without having to invest much. Showing up outside of this medium is how you solidify the “real” friendships.
As similar pieces of a larger machine, we need to connect to fellow human beings. I recognized how it’s not always about me as the interconnected web of humanity was scrolling up my screen. This online community cleverly coaxes people out of dark corners, away from the whisper of past shames, to a place where they are empowered to speak and be heard. I was blown away by the hope this deceivingly simplistic medium brought into my life.
Gratefully, I reconnected with the used-to-be-me, one person at a time in a memory lane parade of where I’ve been and who I’ve become. I missed the girl these people seemed to still think well of, or at least didn’t dislike. Today, I’m still timid at requesting the friendships of complete strangers but I’m gaining courage. Remember, I have a baby blog I have to feed.
When the next ex-boyfriend found me, I was ready. I asked why he had friended me and he professed he wanted to see if I was doing well. I sensed he also wanted to show me how well he was doing. Maybe, when they put my name in that search box, my ex-boyfriends sought the closure and self-forgiveness I had yet to seek. Or maybe I was a good schtooper. I am good with either possibility.
Mar 25, 2015
My life’s forest has always been invisible but for my own trees. I’ve always known I can’t see me but now I believe I’ve blocked my view. I need to get the heck out of my way. Maybe you knew this about me and I thank you for keeping it on the down low until I figured it out. I can tell you I have stood at the edge staring at where I thought my forest was for a long while. But there’s no chance to appreciate the beautiful forest if it’s invisible.
I feel like I’ve been waiting for others to tell me what I have that is of worth. To tell me what’s interesting about me. As Po’s Dad in Kung Fu Panda said, to tell me what my “secret ingredient” is. But what I really have craved is my recognition. My affirmation of me and that internal faith that whatever “it” is, it’s there.
Like the child who is so desperate for her parent to like her and pay attention to her. “Please, Mama, can you tell me what you like about me. Tell me what I’m good at.” As Supertramp sang, “please tell me who I am.” Whether you have kids or not, you are your own parent for the rest of your life. And that parenting includes giving yourself the recognition you crave.
I have often felt so impatient about my blog, my writing, and finding my purpose. I wanted to hire someone to help me get on with it. Hurry up and become already. And then it began to happen. I started to hear what people were saying, what they enjoyed, and which things inspired them. And slowly, the person that I already am, that I want to be, that I want to work hard to become better at being, is emerging. She’s just been hiding among the trees in the invisible forest.
It’s dawning on me that I’m not too sucky. And I may have a talent or two that are slightly impressive. If I step back and give myself the time and space to see it, I just may see the forest for how really beautiful it is. Purpose and positivity only help when you recognize and value them.
I find danger to my self-esteem comes when I’ve compared myself to others who are in another league. For example, in the design world, people who constantly devote their lives, money, and extreme experience to design are going to have great spaces. And of course stuff done on the fly cheaply is going to look sucky compared to people with a lot of money, experience, and taste. So I think I can’t even stick my pinky toe into that stream of water with those people. And it’s such a good excuse to avoid doing this kind of work or anything that you love.
Yet my vision and creations are good, just practiced in a smaller league way. Experienced blogger and coach Kathleen Shannon points out that we’re all at different levels of doing, blogging, or writing. I’m a B girl looking up to the A girls who don’t really see me because they’re looking upwards to their A girls. Kinda like it was in high school when you admired your upperclassmen and they didn’t know you existed. But I can shine if I hang with other B girls and I look pretty kickin’ to the C girls. It’s me comparing my Bananas to their Apples that’s freaking me out.
Who cares what anyone thinks really. If it’s crap, it’s still my crap to be proud of. And I suddenly felt a bit better when I realized all of this. And I’m ready to put that part of myself out for review. Because not only is everybody doing it, but I’m an original. I’d like to give myself a hard time for having to do everything so differently but that is what keeps my style so interesting and endearing. Did you catch Fiona’s bedroom makeover? Stay tuned for more design fun.
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And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.