Its been one of those reflective kind of days…one where you make a BOWL of coffee to get your Sunday morning started. It helped. A little.
Gardening has taught me many lessons and today I find myself frustrated because why can I embrace and indeed celebrate imperfection in the garden but not in myself? It is kind of a big question. But one that has plagued me all day today. It was gnawing at me while I was curled up on the coach reading the Sunday Times with the hub and later still in the garden, pulling her imperfect weeds from my imperfect perennial bed. You should see the unwelcome moss growing. (How does one get rid of moss by the way, in a gentle way?)
Imperfection in the garden for me becomes an invitation to creativity. Like that tough spot that won’t grow anything because it is too dark and under all those cedars. In the garden, trouble-spots can become challenges and for some of us, a welcome one at that. This embrace of imperfection extends beyond the garden and into our homes as well – like that chipped coffee mug you always choose or moth-eaten sweater that so needs to get tossed but inside of it you feel such comfort. And it’s just that: imperfection soothes. And when it does “it” isn’t really experienced as imperfection at all. But a gift to be cherished however forlorn its appearance or function.
How might my life look and feel different if I began to face my own personal imperfections the same way I engage in my garden? Why not an opportunity for creativity? A gift to be accepted, not resisted? In my head I know it would spare me some suffering. I just need my heart to catch up.
She was one of my favorite life-stylists and talk about someone who cherished the little things, the simple things, the homemade things in life. Just this past Saturday morning, I was curled up in bed with a bowl of my favorite cereal and armed with my laptop and me poised to read the new posting on Off the Rails by England-based garden writer, mother, and wife Elspeth Thompson and found myself reading instead a tender post by her husband that her life had tragically ended. Tragically.
You can read her obituary in the Telegraph here.
I first met Elspeth through her many books that she authored or co-authored – A New Country Garden being one of my favorites. Her life reflected a reverence for beauty that speaks to the heart of things for me. Especially her commitment to creating beauty in the most unlikeliest of places (like the old railway carriages she converted to a sacred space). I think there is something prophetic about seeing things that other people don’t see. Such as beauty where others see rubbish, or imagining transformation – not a run to the dump to just get rid of the thing.
Unfortunately, the prophetic in this sense of the term comes to an unwanted halt when one considers the breadth and complexity of pain of which a human life might endure. Our sight can fail us here. And with Elspeth, we experience a dramatic reversal of sorts. As we remember her (and others we have grieved the loss of), we see so much LIFE. All the while there remains hidden from our view, a very personal reality that see’s things differently. And it is this difference we grieve.
R.I.P. Elspeth. You continue to be an inspiration.
My blog and website haven’t been the only things in transition. Transition, ugh. I will offer my reticence to use that word in a bit but to its credit it captures my reality (ok, real quick: isn’t life one big fat transition? I think it’s the time-limited implication of the word’s use that I abhor. So neat and tidy with a clear beginning and end. And come to think of it, maybe that’s why it gets my goat. I envy that which I stand in want of: some order). Anyhow, my husband Andre and I are expecting our first little little person in August (I seem to relish the chance to say rather dramatically to strangers and friends alike and prefaced with a generous pause for effect : “I am with child.”), I just wrapped up my final leg of coursework and psychotherapy training so I can finally hang out my OTHER shingle as therapist and pastoral counselor, and oh – its major planting season! We (remember, I am with child) have been planting like the wind and I am barely coming up for air. So, although I haven’t been blogging I have given myself ample permission to refuel and be inspired by others’ whims and writing such as Deb’s blog Carrots and Kids.
During this time of uh-hem -transition – I find myself in need of some stable footing however small. For me this means taking the time amidst it all to delight in what many of us call simple pleasures – like treating yourself to a steamy latte and when the barista asks for here or to go, you answer for here and you take hold of the generous earthen mug or bowl because it symbolizes slow instead of speed. Or if you were my husband, the nightly ritual of devouring a Hostess’ Ding-Dong or Swiss Cake Roll (or both) and washing their waxy goodness down with a big ol’ glass of milk. I have some dear friends who frequently ask and I them, how are your nurturing yourself? What little thing have you done today that gives you a little bit of joy? And this is a question that I have really needed to ask myself as of late – big time. And thank you Deb for your post 10 Things that Make Me Happy for reminding me to do so and that although life seems to be spiraling in new directions within and around me there are ways at my fingertips to ground myself. And for me, this means listening and receiving what our 5 senses have to offer and doing so intentionally and with gratitude.
So without further ado, here is my Own List of 10 things that make me happy and I will try not to make them all plants. And also let’s assume coffee at any time day is a given shot of happiness…
1. Cinnamon rolls. No, not the fancy schmancy cinnamon rolls from one of Seattle’s finest bakeries. I want ooey-gooey artificial goodness that you can only find at malls or airports. That’s right: Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. Child and I love them.
2. Collecting treasures on the beach: shells, beach glass, what have you.
3. Mrs. Meyer’s lavender scented dryer sheets or really any of her home arts cleaning supplies. Makes laundry much less arduous.
4. Scented candles. My candle use started in earnest when I began working at Ravenna Gardens. Who would have thought a two buck votive could give you so much pleasure. The fragrances Venus and Luna by Archipelago Botanicals my absolute favorite.
5. Magazines (ditto, Deb). Like scented candles, it is the gift that keeps on giving. I still find it difficult to part with my stash of Domino mags. R.I.P. Domino.
6. Receiving my weekly updates from babycenter.com comparing my little one’s growing size to various fruits and vegetables. This week he’s the size of a butternut squash.
7. When my library book holds become available for pick-up. Such a thrill!
8. Letting one plant steal the show, such as an urn shock full of violas. Yum.
9. Handwriting letters.
10. Coming home to a generous hug from Andre with these words: “you are doing SUCH a great job at taking care of our baby.”
And now I get to ask, what are 10 things that make you happy? I really really want to know.