Are You A Flower Or A Gardener?

gardenerIf I recall the story correctly, and that is questionable at best, I believe Mr Dreamboat went to a psychic not long before we married.

Fortunately for me, or at least he has not told me, the psychic did not tell him to run away from the wedding as fast as he could. Thank you, unknown psychic. I owe you a solid.

In the many years that have followed the one time meeting we have enjoyed times of blissful romance along stomach turning twists in the rollercoaster that is living out loud. I wonder if the unknown psychic knew. I couldn’t have imagined it myself.

There are a couple pieces of advice that he imparted, one such item was that in each relationship there is a flower and there is a gardener.

The flower stands in colorful glory, dispensing beauty and attracting attention while the gardener quietly tends the tender blossom, nurturing and providing nutrients wherein it can grow.

For a long time I believed with all my heart I was a gardener. Mr Dreamboat is a big personality and he indeed attracts attention for better reasons than simple beauty. He is deep and kind and permanently sociable. People gobble him up like the rare beauty that he is.

By contrast, my gardener’s personality is sometimes curmudgeonly and unsociable. I am not made to be in the constant spotlight. Throw me the occasional accolade and I’m good for a long season without anything else.

I used to believe the unknown psychic without question. I made sense of the observation by imagining what a balanced relationship would look like. And I was wrong.

In every relationship there is a flower and there is a gardener, but these are not fixed stations. There are times I nurture and there is a healthy dose of nurturing I receive from the kindly hands of the man I refer to as Mr D.

Balance doesn’t look like a steady scale with pluses and minuses always coming in at a 50/50 split. It goes back and forth. It waxes and wanes. Balance is a long journey and can never be judged by just one day or even one year.

We are each flowers, we are each gardeners and it is balanced to know this and to embrace the delicate dance that is a relationship that is worth the dirty hands, the rainy days and the glorious garden it will someday become.

Like, share, comment, tweet and plant a seed to see what grows.

Nine Apologies & A Lack Of Remorse ~ A List Of Ten Things

1. I’m sorry that I cannot always see the damage of which I am capable.
2. I regret not following my gut time and time again. It deserves far more respect than I’ve ever given it.
3. It’s never a good use of time trying to impress others and ignoring the things that make us feel happy.
4. There is a mouthful of sadness when I think about all the time I’ve wasted being self-conscious and self-loathing. Every moment was a waste.
5. The painful truth is that the words we say can be flip and damaging like a wicked sharp no regrets iiknife. Nothing but the kindest of truths should be thrown about like confetti. Would that I’d done that more often.
6. I regret smoking cigarettes all those years ago. Wasting one’s health comes only second behind wasting relationships.
7. I’m sorry I wasn’t, nor will I ever be, the perfect wife and mother. It was my plan to do so. Silly human.
8. I deeply regret all the judgment of others. I see it now as a poor reflection of myself having nothing to do with anyone else. Perception is a powerful thing.
9. Would that I could see clearer, love harder and float down the river that sometimes seems like Divine Chaos.
10. I have never once regretted walking away from the dark relationships I knew could not be saved. Not once.

Like, share, comment, tweet and say you’re sorry when you’re wrong. Think about a world where that happens when it needs to!

You Might Be A Freak If…

Last Saturday dawned a delectable perfection of a weekend morning. These last few weeks have been spectacular with clear skies and an edge to the warm air that promises fall is on the way but has not yet arrived. If the weather were a food it would be your favorite dessert, warm and sweet and indulgent.

Here at the YFR&ZAR we took the morning slow and it was after noon when my daughter and I left our little corner of the world and went on what I have dubbed The Penance Drive.

I’d accidentally demanded too much change at a market the day before and had to drive the long distance back the next day to make it right. My immortal soul is worth way more than the ten bucks I made on the grift. It’s worth at least a Benjamin. At least.

The Penance Drive was nothing short of wonderful. It certainly wasn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday. Zoë agreed to go with me and the two of us happily drove to Sauvie Island for a day trip that couldn’t have been any better.

It was on this drive that we spied a big yellow Jeep with longhorns gracing the grill. It was magnificent. It was bold and peculiar. It was a statement.

I tried to point it out to Zoë and while she saw the yellow jeep, but it was not only bold in design but sped by us far too fast to be able to ogle the long horns it sported.

“I love it,” I told her! And I did.

There was no way to fully grasp what I was thinking about the yellow jeep until I said it out loud, but I really did. I loved it.

I would not put them on my car. I wouldn’t even buy a yellow jeep, I don’t think, but I don’t have to want what you want, live the way you live or think the way you think in order to love what you’re doing and how you’re living.

I don’t have to be you to appreciate you and be grateful that your way of thinking is a part of our world.freak flag

As the yellow jeep disappeared ahead of us, Zoë and I discussed it in that theoretical manner.

“I am glad he walks this planet,” I said, for surely it was a “he”. “I am glad he drives this freeway.”

We are better when we embrace our differences, appreciate one another’s sensibilities and we are stronger when we are all free to fly our own freak flags.

Like, share, comment, tweet and do a little dance on the aisle of your local grocery store. The world will thank you.

You’re Not Afraid Of The Battle Are You?

I had to look at the magazine three times to make sure I got the quote right. I think it’s that important.

In our bathroom you would find Smithsonian Magazine and there are some remarkable articles devoid of politics or agendas, just science and history and sociological interests. You should subscribe if you’re into that sort of thing.

“Battles are where the fun is,” said E.O. Wilson

E.O. Wilson is an evolutionary biologist and he’s changing the world, and apparently he’s not afraid of a worthy battle. So why are we?

Every morning I wake up and I have to admit that recently I am not ready to carpe diem. I am only admitting this to myself as I sit here writing it. You see, I’ve come to a place where I don’t know what I’m doing. Every day is a new challenge and unlike the days when I was herding children to and from school and activities, cleaning house and dabbling in life, I knew what to do.

I knew where to get the best prices on groceries. I knew what time to pick the kids up and that the laundry needed to be done. Every day. All day long.

As mundane as those tasks sometimes were, I knew how to do them. Surely I did not appreciate the comfort inherently in a mundane task. These days I sometimes crave them. I am not proud of this truth.

Fortunately E.O. Wilson brings me back to reality today. Indeed, battles really are where the fun is.

Growing and learning is not comfortable. It means waking up in the morning and not knowing exactly what or even how we’re going to progress, advance and move on down the road of life. It’s hard and it’s scary and sometimes in my weakest moments/weeks or possibly months, I crave the mundane.

Then I remember that life is either a grand adventure or it is nothing at all (that one is compliments of Helen Keller).

Let’s be uncomfortable. Let’s embrace fear. Let’s wake up in the morning with grand daring adventureschemes and crazy ideas we have no idea how to accomplish. Discomfort doesn’t mean bad. It just means we’re living instead of existing. It means we’re moving and shaking up the way we see the world and especially ourselves.

Today, I choose not to dabble in life, I choose the worthy battle, I choose the grand adventure. You come too.

Like, share, comment, tweet and jump into the deep end of the pool. Come on in, the water is fine.

Practicing Envy ~ Not For The Faint Of Heart

I have experienced the sad sort of aching and loss more times than I like to think about. I have perceived beautiful talents and rare gifts that have made me ache with envy.

I find it ironic that it is not uncommon to see other people’s talents and successes and instead of feeling gratitude for such beauty in the world, we feel slighted somehow, unworthy even.

The other day as I meandered to the beach after a lovely day painting in the sun, I stopped at the notable Lawrence Gallery in Sheridan, Oregon. Tucked away in Oregon’s Yamhill county and wine country, the gallery’s offerings include iconic art and artists at the beginning of their creative journey. All of it inspires.

One such inspiration is a twenty-something artist from Portland whose art is breathtaking. It is alive with color and emotion. The artist, Jennifer Diehl, is young, talented and successful. And I experienced that aching envy I wish upon no one.

Why do we do that? Why is it that we believe someone else has the superior journey? That their gifts are grander than ours? Not just different, but better. Why do I do that? I should know better. I do know better and yet I still do it.

The beauty of being transparent is that in airing these fatal flaws and habits we’re able to make sense of them, or at least begin the work of transformation with the help and insight of others.

“Zoë, I saw this young woman’s art today and I felt so… jealous. I felt cheated for all the years I wasn’t painting.”

Truthfully I can’t remember exactly what she said to comfort/correct me. It was something to the effect that I’m on my own, no less important, path, that I have time and talent and life in which to experiment and grow. It was something about being valid in my own right. It was something about being accepted and acceptable.

jennifer deihl art

I believe that when I look out at life with envy, that I am being ungrateful and dismissive of what I’ve been given. I have been given so much. So many gifts, so many opportunities and yes, many struggles from which my greatest blessings have come.

I am who I am. I am sometimes a force, a talent, and an example. I am sometimes ungrateful and wanting of grace and perspective. If I’m willing to be the bearer of bad news, I would tell you that we are all those things.

I think the goal is to be the former a lot more often than we are the latter. I believe the way to do that is to say it out loud when we’re ungrateful, own what we feel and thoughtfully take ourselves back to the place where we respect and appreciate the unique and brilliant journey that is our own.

Most importantly, it’s a process, a journey, not a destination.

You should definitely check out Jennifer Diehl Art. It will take your breath away.

Like, comment, share, tweet and give your life a great big hug. Because it is yours and because it is life.

Michelle Church ~ I Want To Tell You A Story

Today I would like to tell you a story. It is as real as any story you’ve ever read. It’s as much of a fairy tale as you choose to believe. It is a story.

My story is about you and though you may think that I can’t possibly know you, I do. I know you just as well as I know myself. Every morning you wake up. Every day, all day long you breathe, in and out and in and out. There are some things you like and others you don’t and some border and perhaps cross over into deep loathing. But probably not that many.

You have idiosyncrasies that make you unique like the proverbial snowflake yet in some ways you are a simple person. Just like me.

My story matters because it isn’t really mine and it’s not always told, but it is this:

You are loved. You are cared about. You are a lovely part of a miraculous world and no one, and I mean that no one is just like you. You are needed. Your voice, your heart, the way you think and the gifts you bring into the world, where and when you are.

you-yes-you-are-a-gift-in-this-world-let-your-light-shineIt’s true, you’re imperfect. You have faults and you make mistakes. Agreed. There’s no getting around this part of the story. Sometimes you do things you shouldn’t even when you know you shouldn’t. This is also true. And, perhaps, unavoidable.

But those are minor details. They are true, but they’re a different story. Not this one.

This story is short. It’s just the part where you are loved, you matter and you bring special qualities and acts of kindness that no one else would or even could. It matters that you are here. am glad you are here.

The recent death of a beloved comedian, the anniversary of the tragic happenings of 9/11 as well as some terrifying studies I’ve recently read have been on my mind. I think of the little things, the smiles, the hugs, the tiny offerings we are to one another and I believe it’s truly a tragedy when anyone’s gift leaves this world too soon.

And so I want to tell you that I love you. I am grateful for you and I wouldn’t change a thing about you. Just be you. Be glad to be you exactly as you are and those tiny offerings as well as those that are grand, they will make a difference in the world that truly matters.

Let us all live happily ever after.

Like, share, comment, tweet and feel a hug from me because I’m sending it to you.

Ten Things Saturday Was Made For

I don’t like to have favorites. If a child asks me my favorite color I make a split second decision to appease him, but it’s not really valid. There are so many great colors. But those are the words of a boring adult, so I make something up.

Neither do I like to play favorites with the days of the week, though Wednesdays and Thursdays can really be bummers if things haven’t gone smoothly. Sundays were always touted as a day of rest, though in my experience they’ve often been the most hectic day of the week. But Saturdays, unfettered and shining like a golden opportunity? I’ll take two every day of the week.

  1. There is no shame in sleeping in on a Saturday. None at all. You just help yourself to some fine, quality slumber and own it on Saturday.
  2. Brunch. Sure, it lends itself to a Sunday as well, but that can get sticky if you’re opposed to going out on that day. Because we’ve already slept in, brunch is a shoe-in.
  3. Thrift store shopping never looked better than on a cold, autumn morning, chai tea in one hand and a friend that makes you laugh by your side.
  4. A lazy Saturday is all about getting lost and loving it. No need to worry about being to work on time or making it back for an important meeting. Saturday was made for wanderers. You should be one.
  5. Farmer’s markets make me feel… connected. They make me feel part of something. Maybe it’s part of humanity, maybe it’s simply about commerce by Saturday is the day for that.
  6. And since our veggies are nice and fresh, taking a long Saturday afternoon to meander through the kitchen, cooking up something delicious, that’s the way to spend an Saturday afternoon.
  7. If you’re not inclined to sleep in, Saturday is the day to get your hands dirty. Clip back the weathered roses, plant some thyme and feel the sun, or rain if you live near me, on your face. Either way it’s exhilarating.
  8. Holding hands. With your love, your friend, your child or someone in the hospital. Don’t just break into any old room. That’s not a good idea even on a Saturday. big dreamChoose well. That’s all I’m saying.
  9. Give yourself a break. Whether it’s emotionally or physically needed, just give yourself a break. You realize you should be doing that a lot more often than you do, right?
  10. Feel grateful. Not just the rote kind of gratitude. The kind where you close your eyes and you can feel it in your bones. I mean deeply, plainly and openly grateful for the breath in your lungs and the voices that call you by name.

Like, share, comment, tweet and while we’re at it, you might as well have a cinnamon roll while you’re at it. Mmmm… yummy…


controlfreakI’ve never thought of myself as a control freak. The epithet alone is a negative one and I prefer to think of myself as a go-with-the-flow kind of girl. Indeed, my life from top to bottom has taught me that there’s really no way to control anything and so I’ve convinced myself I’m somehow beyond that particular personality peccadillo.

It is, of course, pride that precedes our fall and I am not immune. In a conversation with my daughter it was pointed out to me in the unceremonious way of family that I am a control freak, though I keep it on the down-low.

Keeping it so far down on the low, as a matter of fact, I was even able to keep it from myself. That’s why we need family. It’s why we need close friends. All of us need our flaws pointed out in a way that makes us feel more idiosyncratic and charming than ashamed.

My personal bugaboo, or more accurately, one of my personal bugaboos, is that I believe any bad thing that happens to me, was somehow created by me.

It’s as easy to see as the nose on my face, and I have no wimpy nose gracing this visage. Once Zoë said it, I could see it as if I were looking in the mirror and it sat boldly on my shoulder. “Everything that happens to you, you think is your fault,” my daughter admonished.

And it’s true. I simultaneously don’t want to be a whiner/lover of all things “sick”, nor do I want my life, my health in any way to be out of my control.

I know this goes against common beliefs. “Take your health into your own hands,” and “You create your own reality.” I’ve said before that I’m a believer in those things. I’ve also admitted that we need to take it all with a grain of salt. Sometimes bad stuff happens. Sometimes there are germs and viruses that are truly out of our control.

Not even your obsessive application of hand sanitizer is going to get you out of everything. And by you I mean me.

I believe with all my heart that life is about the journey. It’s about learning and living and loving everything that you can possibly love. In order to do that, sometimes we have to get sick. Sometimes we have to feel unwell, so that the days when we waken with a smile and a passion for life that is unquenchable, then we can say, “I’m so lucky to feel this way, on this day, at this moment.” And we can cherish it.

There’s just no other way to fully feel it all.

I am not in control. Say it out loud with me now. I am NOT in control. I can impact, I can influence and I can make things better sometimes, but in the end. I am not in control.

And because I’m not in control, in just a little bit, I’m going to take a nap. Cuz, you know, I’m not in control.

Like, share, comment, tweet and be good to you. You’re the only one of you that you have.

Einstein Said It Best

Throughout our lives we are admonished to be or do or “stay” in some way shape or form. Robert Frost chided that “nothing gold can stay” while Ron Burgundy asks us to “Stay classy.” When I was in middle school all my friends hoped in writing that I would “Stay cool” over the summer break.

stay curiousI’m completely convinced that I have never been, nor will I ever be cool so there’s no dice on that one. Classy? Maybe, maybe not. I have my good moments and I have some seriously non-classy moments as well and since nothing gold can stay, well, I’ve come up with another plan.

Life is about change. It’s about learning and growing and it’s about becoming. How can we ever commit to “staying” anything but curious?

Curious gives us the leeway to be who we are, believe what we believe, but it leaves the door open on it all. If I am curious, I don’t condemn, mistrust or judge in any way. If I am curious, I leave possibility on the table and room to grow.

Like, share, comment, tweet and stay gold, Pony Boy.

This Advice Will Make You Crazy

The other day I chose not to read an article informing the world that it isn’t good for you to floss your teeth. And I had to think to myself, “Are you kidding me? Seriously?”

This type of information does nothing more than make me tired. So very tired.

I suppose the fact that I have spent much of my life in pursuit of a healthy body, I’ve come to understand that sometimes enough information is enough information and so I eschewed this “new” information and each night I floss my teeth. I’m going to let those chips fall where they may.

Staying somewhat abreast of the latest science and studies is great. You do that. But at some point enough is enough and too much, well that’s just crazy-making.

I’ve read the a ton of parenting books, I’ve read studies about diets and wellness and at one point or another I’ve paralyzed myself emotionally and physically.

Running is good for you. It is bad for you.

Carbs are good for you. They are bad for you.

Eat mostly protein. Too much protein is bad for you.

Let kids raise themselves. Be a Tiger Mom.

Kids need a ton of structure. Let them roam free.

For all the things I’ve read, I am clear that Coke Zero and Chick-O-Sticks have never, nor will they ever be, considered health foods. Mores the pity.

And so it goes and so it will always be. There will be helpful information out there and there will be information that contradicts it. As human beings trying to live the best lives possible we can sometimes gorge on information and well-intended advice. At some point we’re going to have to give in to the best advice of all: Use your brain. Moderation in all things. You do you.

I through that last one in just because I like it so much.

Like I said, I’m going to floss my teeth. Every night. It makes me feel good and you know how I feel about dental care. I’m going to parent the best I can and have faith that life will treat my progeny those things I’ve neglected.

Perhaps it’s best to maybe take a break from the advice columns for a while. There’s too much out there that makes me crazy.

Like, share, comment, tweet and stop reading so much. Use your brain, woman! Use your brain.