As Winter winds down and Spring is fast approaching (I hope), I’ve begun planting seeds to expand my indoor garden from just flowers to veges too. However, a few days ago, I witnessed the slow wilting of one of my plants AGAIN, which eventually died yesterday. Cause of death? Drowning!
The poor plant, a perky little seedling, had begun sending out more mature leaves as that of its full grown counterparts and just shed its infant leaves. I was so proud of its progress since this was the lone survivor of the four I planted a few weeks ago.
The first one died of a broken neck/stem as my lovely little princess tossed a ball madly all over the house. The second had its dirt dug into as my princess-pirate tried to find a place to hide her treasure. The third had another plant fall on top of it as princess and doggy played a pretty intense game of tag. So with all the other siblings gone, I was really rooting for this little orphan, but sadly she has now passed on to Rest in Peace.
Today, as I transferred the dirt from that seedling’s pot to one slightly larger to plant new seeds, princess asked if she could help. I was sad at the loss of my plant and she could tell but I allowed her to help anyway so she could understand the process and how important it was to take care of her things as well as those of others. She is also becoming a great little helper and I’m using all these little opportunities to develop her sense of importance and self-worth. (Stuart M. Perkins describes the importance of teaching kids self-worth beautifully in his post here: https://storyshucker.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/just-some-vanilla/#comment-7008). As we talked she told me that she gave the plant a lot of water because she didn’t want it to get thirsty and die. I smiled as I told her thanks for taking care of it but to wait for mommy next time since the plant only needs just a little bit to drink as she was still a little baby seedling and not yet big like the other plants.
Our gardening/self-worth lesson ended with an apology from her and hugs and kisses for us both. She is growing nicely and it’s so much nicer when things end with hugs and not tantrums.
Looking forward to the new seedlings and for Spring too — God willing!
So this week I witnessed something wonderful. My daughter and I saw a caterpillar crawling along the wall by the kitchen window and deduced we may have brought it in with us when we picked flowers earlier in the day. So we decided to take care of it — give it food and water and a place to live — a covered bowl with air holes into which we put leaves and water in a bottle cap.
The next day, to our amazement, the caterpillar wasn’t moving! It had crawled under a leaf and appeared dead. We were both a little sad but I decided to touch it just to make sure. Fantastic, it was still alive! Upon further investigation, it turned out it had shed its skin and its shape was slowly changing. We kept observing for a few more days, all the while doing the touch test to make sure it was still alive. Amazingly, shapes of little wings were becoming visible. It was transforming into a butterfly.
I wasn’t sure how long the entire process was supposed to take, and kept forgetting to do the research. And then TODAY we saw the butterfly! It was healthy, and beautiful. My little munchkin wanted to do the honors of releasing her into the sky and so she did. And then our little ‘foster child’ flew off ready to live the next chapter of its life. Transformations are wonderful. Nature is wonderful. Life is wonderful. There is still beauty amid the chaos you just have to know where to look. Enjoy!
*Originally published August 2015
Contents written: August 23 2014 | Edited: August 29 2015 | Copyright 2015 Moylom Enterprises
Why do we repeat our past? Is it because we did not learn the lessons we were meant to learn from our trials and experiences? Or is it because we somehow forgot those lessons learned? What ever the reason, we tend to revisit our past to find answers, to gain perspective, to see where we were and to decipher how far we’ve come. If, however, we thought we were moving forward only to discover we’ve gone full circle and ended up right back where we started, then it may be time to take a closer look at the steps we took and perhaps try a different path.
Granted that during our analysis we sometimes find patterns and similarities that are downright astounding, often we have to go back and analyze before we can fully appreciate or understand how to move forward. In the past, we may have dismissed an event as simply a coincidence. But under careful scrutiny we may discover that several similar incidents have occurred. So was it actually just happenstance or a subconscious choice we made based on some truth we unknowingly seek?
A person with unresolved issues with his/her parent may unknowingly choose a mate with many of the characteristics as that parent and attempt to make that relationship work as a way of correcting the parent-child dysfunction of the past. But often enough the relationship doesn’t work because the person is faced with the same series of problems with no clue of how or why things are going wrong or how to fix things. One solution would be to simply dismiss it as bad luck and plow ahead to the next relationship in hopes that new one would work. Others may say, let the past remain in the past and happily leave their baggage locked away. But my obsessive, compulsive, detail-oriented need-to-know nature is forcing me to deal with this head on — to go back to the source, the parent, to try to find resolution there. Or if complete resolution cannot be found, then at least the healing process would have begun. The hardest part is taking the first step back to a painful period but as hard as it is sometimes it has to be done.
I am at that point now! I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to start, I don’t know if this time my voice would be heard and I don’t know if going back will actually help or if it can somehow make things worse. Should I write a letter? Should I call? Should I meet in person? I don’t yet have the answers to any of these questions but I do know that I’ve procrastinated about this for years and now I don’t think I can put this off any longer. My only wish is that God put the right words in my mouth and speak on my behalf. I NEED to heal…I NEED to break free of this burden…I NEED to move forward for myself and for my sanity.
A good friend said to me recently, that our past comes back to haunt us when there is unfinished business to be resolved — kind of like ghosts in horror movies. He may have a point! Without closure the ghost of unresolved issues will continue to haunt my soul.
As a kid, I had very low self esteem. I grew up in a culture where a family’s way of showing love is to fill you up with food. I don’t remember being hugged much. And I don’t remember being told “I love you’ much either. But I was fed, clothed, cared for and given an education too, but ultimately food equaled love.
I had 3 aunts who lived a five minute walk from each other, so when mom dropped me and my brother off to play with our cousins for a few hours there was an abundance of food at each house. I’ve always had a healthy appetite so needless to say, I was a chubby kid!
Luckily I grew out of my chubby state by the time I became a teenager but by then I had already developed an unhealthy self-esteem and getting in shape wasn’t because I wanted to be healthy but because I wanted to have cool friends and perhaps have a boyfriend too. I wanted to be liked — I wanted to be loved!
My parents mostly criticized and almost never gave praise. My brother and I were expected to be successful but there were very few positive words of encouragement to help boost our endeavors. Instead we were ‘scared straight’ 24/7 as though in boot camp. Here is an example of my mom encouraging me and my brother to do well at school:
You better study your lessons and do well in school or else you’ll become a vagrant! (vagrant = homeless person)
Mom, why do you always have to preach ‘doom and gloom’? Why can’t you say something nice for once?
Because you better not grow up to embarrass me! You better grow up to be somebody!
Me thinking to myself:
I’m gonna become a vagrant just to spite her. Hmm, yeah, that won’t do any good as she’ll just disown me and I’ll still be a vagrant. Terrible plan…
(I was a book worm and my brother hated to read anything, let alone study)
Why can’t you be more like your sister. She ‘might’ amount to something, at least she’s trying, but you, what the hell is wrong with you?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll study mom, relax already…
Yes, all you know how to do is relax. You’re a smart kid but why are you so lazy. You’re just like your father!
By this time everyone in the house has had a dose of mom’s “encouragement”. The dogs are the only ones home free but that’s just because they’re outside in the yard and not in her immediate path. But they’ll get there’s come dinner time as one of them is bound to get in some kind of trouble either with her flower beds or vegetable garden or would have rolled around in something disgusting requiring a bath. Oh the horror!!!
I don’t know how my brother processed mom’s words but I internalized them, deeply. They hurt. They cut deep. Sometimes I believed them. And sometimes, just sometimes, I hated them so much that it lit a fire in me to prove her wrong.
Those ‘sometimes’ moments eventually grew. I learned to ignore her ‘doom and gloom’ talk and began to speak my own words of encouragement to myself. If she said I couldn’t, I’d say, “yes I can” and I did! I became stubborn. I became bold. I started taking control of my own destiny and soon there was a power struggle brewing in my childhood home. Dad was present but not involved (unless mom instructed him to “DO something!”) so there were no words positive or negative from him. He was the comedian, he made us laugh. I guess we all needed to laugh amid all the negative but I needed dad’s voice but he was mostly silent. My brother seemed unaffected so it was up to me to fight for the positive atmosphere I needed. I had to break free.
By 16 I started pushing boundaries and mom pushed back, hard, but she was losing control and she knew it. By 18 I had ‘one foot out the door’ but in my hometown you’re not considered ‘of age’ until 21 but I couldn’t wait that long!!!! And by 19 I was gone. How? One of my aunts rewarded me with a vacation trip to celebrate my successful completion of high school and for scoring well in all my exams and that was my ticket out. I didn’t know it at the time, but yes, that’s the day I left home and have not been back since.
In a new country, in a new culture, in a new atmosphere, I slowly began to feel free. Free to be myself; free to surround myself with positive people and free to nurture my inner spirit — to finally begin to heal the emotional scars inflicted upon me for as long as I could remember. For every good I accomplished I learned to praise myself. I never felt entitled to anything (and still don’t), for everything I had then (and do now) I’ve had to work hard to get it. There’s nothing wrong with hard work for it certainly builds character, and such character pays for itself ten times over when others appreciate you for who you are and see your inner strength and beauty. The important thing however, is knowing ones own worth. What good is it to have others see value in you if you don’t recognize your own value? Perhaps you do see your own value but there’s someone, a special someone, who thinks the world of you and you just can’t see why. How do you wrap your brain around this new phenomenon? It’s foreign! It’s never happened before and you don’t know how to process it. How can this person be telling the truth when all your life no one else had seen/validated such value in you? The only way to know for sure is to test it. How? With time.
Will that person still see your value six months from now? A year from now? Do their actions match their words? Does that person’s character and the people with whom they keep company speak of good quality? Is that person always true to their word? Ultimately, only with time can all these questions be answered. The real question is, do you want to find out? Or will you simply dismiss this person as crazy for seeing something of value in you that you don’t think is there? To dismiss them may mean passing up an opportunity for a great friendship or perhaps something more. But in the end the choice is yours.
‘Self talk’ can be a useful tool when positive but can be detrimental when negative. I’ve done both and it is so easy to beat myself up when I’ve done less than I thought I could/should have. A simple bad day can become so much worse if I allow unhealthy thoughts to attack me from the inside. Focusing on the positive yields better results but it takes practice. And it helps when I can take the focus off myself to help or be there for someone else instead of wallowing in a pit of self-pity or self-defeat.
But sometimes I just want to be alone, after all I’m an introvert. My strength comes from within and it is in those quite moments alone that I can focus on the voice of God speaking. It is in those moments that I can look up to the one who is greater than I — God. He carries me when I’m weak and makes me strong. He sees my value, He cherishes me, He provides for my needs before I can even speak them and all He asks is that I keep Him close. I don’t feel I deserve His love as my inherent need to ‘earn’ the love and respect of others gets in the way of accepting His love at times. But I need not ‘earn’ His love because He Loves Me unconditionally. He loves me in spite of the things I cannot do and delights in the knowledge that there are things I can do and that I use the gifts with which He’s blessed me for good. And though I feel unworthy (still) I’m humbled that He loves me so.
This unconditional love allows me to speak positively to myself. It boosts my inner strength. It makes me know that even on the bad days — the days when I’m not at my best, I’m still okay; I’m not a ‘write off’; I still have value; I’m still worth it. It’s sad when others don’t see your value but it’s even more sad when you don’t see your own value. But if God thinks I’m worth it, if He thinks you’re worth it, if He thinks we’re ALL worth it, then who are we to question His omniscience?
I choose to believe that God has a plan for me. Sometimes my faith is weak and I grow impatient as I try to figure out what that plan is, forgetting completely that all will be revealed when the time is right. And so I also choose to believe that if God sees value in me then His plan for me must be awesome!
I try to extend this same consideration to everyone as I try in earnest to see the good in others. However, given the crazy world in which we live, that trust is often abused/taken for granted. It certainly can leave one feeling jaded and over time can even discourage trusting in others period. But it’s hard to silence a trusting heart. It’s hard to silence a heart that loves deeply. It’s hard to silence the heart of one who loves unconditionally. It’s just sad that sometimes the one who is loved so deeply does not feel worthy and so refuses to accept unconditional love when given.
There is one such person out there who has my unconditional love regardless of where life takes us. I see his value. I see his strengths. I see his weaknesses. I see his heart. I see his humor. I see his intelligence. I see his gentle nature. I see his smile. I see his warmth. I see his faith. I see His willingness to be led by God. I see his love of God’s word. I see his willingness to be a good person — a better person. I see his ability to love. But it’s sad that he doesn’t think he’s ‘worth it’. I see his worth though, and to me he is worthy of my love and always will be.
Contents written: October 24 2015 | Originally published: October 24 2015 | Copyright 2015 – 2016 Moylom Enterprises
The following is a fascinating story by Stuart M.Perkins on the fine art of molding individuals instead of tossing them aside as trash not worth our time. It has provided much food for thought since I first read it months ago and I’m sure if you read it too you can see why. Enjoy!
A longtime friend commented during dinner that her next door neighbor’s son was on the path to nowhere and constantly in trouble. She thought herself clever referring to him as “a weed in the garden of life”. Although an avid fan of barbed words and wit, I found her comment harsh directed at a kid who was barely a teenager. He was dismissed and labeled as worthless. A weed.
“But maybe he’s a pokeweed!” I said in a positive tone.
She rolled her eyes. I recognized the look of resignation on her face. The look many of my friends have when I spit out a puzzling one-liner and they know a story is coming. She sipped her drink and grinned, arms crossed in silent permission for me to proceed.
Years ago I had a yard packed with plants. It was full of boxwoods, azaleas, and geraniums surrounding a dogwood centerpiece. A problem area at one end of the garden saw pokeweeds sprout thickly every spring. I chopped them back, broke them off, stomped them down, but still they sprouted. I finally spent a day digging up the massive roots and unceremoniously dumped them in the woods.
The very next weekend I was in the woods again to dump my centerpiece dogwood which had spent two years dying a slow death until I finally cut it down. I noticed that some of the pokeweed roots dumped a week earlier had sprouted while simply lying in the open air.
A week later, back in the woods to dump grass clippings, I saw that all of the sprouting pokeweeds had died except for one scrawny stem with two leaves. It leaned feebly towards the light. I pondered the struggle of that weed and impressed by its determination, I picked up the withering root and took it with me. In the hole where my dogwood had once grown I replanted the weed. Right in the center of my garden.
In only two days the frail sprout became sturdy and turned a darker green. I watered the pokeweed daily and even fertilized the baby beast. It took off.
When friends dropped by they told me, as though I didn’t know, that I had a weed growing in the center of my garden.
“Why are you leaving that there?”
“What’s that doing in your garden?”
“What is that awful thing?”
“It’s my pokeweed.” I responded each time.
My grandmother loved to garden and I learned all I know from her. Nannie said about various plants in her own garden, “It’s only weed if you don’t want it.”
I wanted this pokeweed.
Summer passed and the pokeweed grew. And grew. It was soon taller than me.
Hi. How are you? How was your day? Would love to hear all about it!
This is my routine with munchkin everyday. This simple act has many uses:
a) It’s my way of hearing what went on at school (and at afterschool)
b) it keeps her engaged so she doesn’t run off down the sidewalk (little trick I learned ☺)
c) It encourages her to think about the appropriate answer for my question
d) it trains her to remember events in chronological order
Living in the fast-paced environment as New York can make us forget the simpler things in life that bring us joy. A simple “Hi, how are you?” is said without even expecting a real answer. The words just fall out of our mouths and we keep moving. And if by chance we linger just long enough to get a reply then we’re actually surprised!
I’m guilty of the aforementioned scenario and when a person opens up and really starts telling me EVERYTHING I wonder how long they’ve been waiting to have someone ask and genuinely listen.
Been feeling a little lonely lately. I miss having deep, intelligent, grownup conversations with people who actually know how to listen effectively. There are a few people with whom I communicate regularly but I keep them at arms length because something is missing. They simply don’t know how to engage in conversation that demonstrates reciprocity and at the end of it I’m either exhausted, frustrated or disgusted and have made a mental note to not do that again any time soon. So I write, read your blogs, comment, and read the comments of others. It’s the next best thing to conversation. And though it is by no means a substitute for a live, warm body with whom to chat, or to ask about their day, and to hear their recount and relish every detail, it helps to have a few ears out there in Blog Land to honestly listen.
Thanks as always for taking the time to read and comment. You are appreciated!
Hugs and best wishes,
Originally published: December 6 2015
Contents written: November 26 2015 | Copyright 2015 Moylom Enterprises