Stretch Your Roots

IMG_0600 - Version 2I always feel a bit mean every spring when I pull flowers out of their clever plastic starter containers. You know those skinny 6-packs in rusty-orange or the square greenish-black ones. Every time I gently separate the stringy roots on my annual flowers, I kind of wince inside. But I learned in college botany that it’s actually good for container plants’ roots to be separated before transplanting into your flower pots and garden spaces. The older a container plant gets, the more its roots can entangle into a fibrous ball. The roots need a little separation to get more nutrients and to thrive.IMG_3350 - Version 2

The other day as I was planting my annual flowers, I thought about where and what we sink our roots into. Some of us settle down and spread out roots in our families, our friends, our careers, our home, our church, our sports, our hobbies. But what happens when we are tugged out of normal environment and plopped into new ground? The job ends. The kids go off to college. The friends move. Illness subdues. Retirement arrives.

Like balled-up plant roots, it’s beneficial to branch out, and often before these life transitions. Perhaps it’s time we branch out with new hobbies or go deeper with some friends. Instead of talking about travel, plan the trip. Or, if we are feeling ho-hum about work, we ask for new challenges.

When our roots have room to breathe and stretch out a bit, we can experience the tagline of this website “Live free. Move forward.” Ahhhhhh. . . now where did I put those gardening and travel magazines?

Brave and Resilient Tip #69: Branch out. Stretch your roots.  

Full Bloom

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Life gets messy sometimes. And sometimes we’re a mess. I think you can relate to circumstances spinning out of grasp, leaving us jumbled and frustrated. Some days we’re just muddling through, just waiting to collapse on the couch.

This spring when I planted my annual flowers, I certainly made a mess. Those poor baby plants had to feel tumbled and tussled as I tucked them in decorative pots. I uprooted them from their flimsy plastic containers and gave them room to breath in their new earthen homes. But at first they looked wilted. Pitiful. Hopeless.

In time, regular water and sunshine helped the young flowers recover into full blissful bloom. But the transplanting process they endured left a scattered mess of leftover soil and discarded seedling containers.

Growing into a blissful full bloom in our own lives often starts as a mess. New jobs seem impossible, doctors order tests, aches and pains invade, kids act out, spouses close down, another date dead ends, bosses expect perfection . . . . Yet somehow under the pressure and struggles our character grows, our soul gains resiliency.IMG_0600 - Version 2

Author Alice Walker describes our wriggling transformation from messy to magnificent, from wilting to full bloom: “There is always a moment in any kind of struggle when one feels in full bloom. VIVID. ALIVE. To be such a person or to witness anyone at this moment of transcendent presence is to know that what is human is linked, by a daring compassion, to what is divine.”

May we sense a VIVIDness, an ALIVEness right now in our messes knowing that our wilted state will some day blossom into beauty.

Brave and Resilient Tip #36: Growing into full bloom often starts from life’s messes. 



Flowers or Weeds?

This past weekend, my friends’ 3-year-old daughter found it enthralling to pick the yellow “flowers” in their backyard as a bouquet for Mommy. The darling cherub was so giggly eager to preserve her handpicked dainty flowers in a sippy cup of water just for her mother. Last year her 5-year-old sister plucked the yellow beauties at the park and we also kept them well watered in a sippy cup just
for Mommy.

DanielDandelionsTo me the “yellow flowers” are annoying dandelions that I dig up and spray every spring before I can get my lawn sufficiently safeguarded with weed ‘n feed fertilizer. I’ve come to detest dandelions messing up my green grass. But do I need to become like a child in my middle-age thinking? What is there about a child’s perspective that nudges you to examine your own?

Yellow flowers or weeds? It all depends on your point of view. To exuberant children who know nothing of pesky weeds and toxic chemicals, dandelions are bright and beautiful. To me, who ran my own lawn service as a teen and who studied weeds (not “Weed”) in college, dandelions are an annual landscaping evil. But what if I paused to consider a child’s view of the pointy little buttercup florals?

Life is like a yard sprinkled with dandelions. Part of our resiliency is learning to acknowledge other people’s dandelions, er, viewpoints. Some of us need a little practice at accepting truth that may not fit our preconceived grid. Others of us need to put down our weed killer spray and rethink our perspective.

As my pastor is known for saying when mentioning two different perspectives that are both true: “Which one is right? . . . Both.” A dandelion (meaning “lion’s tooth” because of its shape) is both a perennial plant with florets and it is a weed. But it’s also a medicinal herb used for upset stomach, joint pain, and much more.

Oh, for the patience not to jump to conclusions about facts or people and the wisdom to stretch our viewpoint or soften our stance. Perhaps today you’re facing a particular situation or problem. Is it a dandelion or weed? Perhaps it’s both.

And if you’re like me, you can choose to view dandelions as cheery flowers when you’re with children and annoying weeds in your own yard. This morning I noticed some of those golden floral, medicinal weeds cropping up in my landscaping rocks. Now where I put the Roundup®?

Brave and Resilient Tip #27: Learn to consider and respect other people’s viewpoint.