Eye of the Storm – Honor Yesterday You

Congratulations! You made it through another week! Let’s take break shall we? Last post in the Eye of the Storm series. Let’s get started. 

Today we will continue the theme of honoring yesterday you. One of my favorite ways to represent this is flower bulbs. In the fall I take the bulbs from various places:

  • Bulbs I have ordered from various catalogues
  • Transplants I dug up from around the yard to move to a better location
  • Gifts I have received from friends and neighbors

I plant them in pots and spots all over the garden. And wait.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas… all come and go. And we wait.

Snow, ice, Valentine’s Day come and go. And we wait.

The weather finally breaks and smidges of green start to peek out. I have no idea what it is, but I know it is pretty. I know Yesterday Me set up this moment of beauty for me to rest in.


This tough season will pass and brighter days are ahead. Maybe there is something you can do today as a gift for Future You. I am not talking about pushing harder today to get more accomplished for tomorrow.

What if Today You could say no to something today that would benefit Future You? If you are not sure where to start, I would love to help you. Download this Sustainability Checklist to help you figure out what is serving you or draining you. 

red tulip
By |2020-06-22T14:27:24-04:00June 23rd, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Eye of the Storm: (Re)considering What Brings Happiness

For years I told my husband that I did not need bouquets of flowers in order to bring me happiness.

“It’s a waste of money,” I said. “They will just end up dying.”

“A nice sensible potted plant is fine,” I said, “but flowers are silly and frivolous.”

I think the truth is I decided way back when that flowers would not bring happiness because then my feelings would not be hurt when I did not get them. This has nothing to do with Bixby – this goes back about 25 years. 

Young Susan

Back in the day there was a special kind of hell called “Valentine’s Day Carnation Sale” at our junior high and high school. This was a day ear marked to make sure everyone saw me loping through the halls (keep in mind I was one of the tallest PEOPLE, not just tallest GIRLS in my grade) empty handed. At least that is what it felt like.

The pretty, petite, popular girls carried armloads of red carnations, giggling about the secret admirers and boy friends who sent them flowers. I scuttled off to the gym for basketball practice, my feelings hurt and my hands empty.

awkward teenager
Me in 7th grade. Yes the photo quality is bad, but the reality was not much better.

So I boarded up my heart and decided I did not want flowers. If I did not want them, then it was me who got what I wanted when I did not receive any. Or so I told myself. Sometimes we make up weird truths to not have hurt feelings, instead of just saying our feelings are hurt. 

Today Susan

I’d rather be a hypocrite than the same person for 20 years. 

Adam Yauch, Beastie Boys

I am not sure when I turned the corner to want flowers. Definitely after I was married. For sure when I was growing joy in my own garden. 

vase of flowers is happiness

Everything in this vase came from my own garden. One of my favorite times in the garden is the end of a few hours of work. There is always a sense of accomplishment:

  • Patch of weeds cleared out
  • Compost spread onto growing veggies 
  • Newly planted flowers bringing color to a blank area
  • Backache that says I exerted an effort

This is when I go around with my scissors or clippers and take a small cutting of a bunch of random things. Then I bring them in and arrange them. At least arrange them like a PE major. I have seen gorgeous arrangements in garden centers by the pros, but I love mine because they are from my clumsy paws. 

Better yet, someone gave me everything in the above photo.

  • Pampas grass from a neighbor
  • Iris from a friend thinning them out
  • Euphorbia that Ellen Ashley gave me after helping in her gorgeous garden

The cheapo in my is giddy because they were free, of course. But there is another layer. There is always another layer if you sit quietly enough. This arrangement has a story. Even the vase, which I picked up for only 50 cents. This vase is from Reconsidered Goods, a non-profit creative reuse center in Greensboro. 

One of the three pillars of sustainable productivity is having a physical environment that works with you and brings you joy. 

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

William Morris

It turns out I love having bouquets of flowers in my home. I love it even more when these flowers come from my garden. Embracing what is true has helped me to be able to improve my physical environment. This is all part of the process of creating a life that does not need to be escaped.

Look around the space you are sitting in right now. What do you love and would benefit to having more of? Could you throw out or donate something? What is keeping you from taking action on either of these things?

By |2020-06-17T17:43:28-04:00May 26th, 2020|Environmental Surroundings|0 Comments

Eye of the Storm – Come Back Stronger

About five years ago I had 2 orthopedic surgeries back to back and was in a boot for over 3 months. Translation: No exercise.

We sold our house, but could not settle on a new one to buy so we moved into an apartment. Translation: No gardening.

Since I could not drive because of the boot, I worked remotely for 12 weeks. From the uncomfortable rented couch while Bixby had a desk set up in our bedroom (see previous apartment woes) about 15 feet away. Translation: No alone time.

Considering all of the above we naturally thought it was the perfect time to get a puppy. Translation: No quiet.

Excitement on Lucille’s “Gotcha Day” – little did I know the energy a puppy took!

My mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law came to the rescue with a bedside garden. This kit was really dummy proof, but I ignored that fact and really felt accomplished when this amaryllis bloomed to life.

The bedside garden that saved my sanity (and probably my marriage, if I am honest).

Later that year we moved into our new home. I decided to just observe the new yard for the first year to see what I was dealing with before starting to plant much. Plus there was not a lot of free time – puppies, am I right?! The amaryllis stayed on my night stand.

The next year I planted it in the yard and nothing happened. I was pretty sure I killed it. Never in my life did I think it would come back stronger. And then, though the magic of Mother Nature, the amaryllis came back with a vengeance. A glorious, rich red vengeance.

amaryllis - come back stronger
That same bedside amaryllis living her best life outside in the garden today.

I have thought of this often this year. 2020 has been difficult to say the least. But we can learn from Nature.

  1. Growth that you are not even aware of can be happening underneath, out of sight.
  2. There is a difference between death and dormancy.
  3. Sometimes what shows up after that dormancy is a truer version of the original.
  4. A season of rest will help us come back stronger.

Are you in a hard season right now? That season might be a Tuesday, COVID-19 quarantine, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or all of these wrapped together in a neat package called 2020.

I would like to suggest you take a moment to breathe and think about a time when all seemed lost and gone only to have it flourish even better than before.

Like Fawkes in the Harry Potter series, sometimes we have to go through the ugly phase in order to rise from the ashes better than before.

Like the amaryllis in my garden, sometimes we have to be dormant for a time to come back stronger and more beautiful.

By |2020-05-16T09:40:24-04:00May 19th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Tuesday Tenderness

Just wanted to drop in quickly to share this view from a recent bike ride – a little nature to soften the sting of this Tuesday. I wish I could somehow share the amazing smell of these Wisteria blooms. It was such a treat to roll under a small tunnel of them on a recent ride. I had to pull over and snap a couple pictures.

By |2020-04-26T20:49:03-04:00April 28th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Little ray of sunshine: A small attitude adjustment

Last week I was SUPER grumpy and stomping around so my people knew how grumpy I was. I turned around after picking up my work bag and saw this view. In the almost 4 years we have lived in this house, I have never noticed the sun come through the window like this until this morning when I really needed this pick me up. So I snapped this picture on a whim.

Now a better photographer would have framed the photo better instead of leaving the Instant Pot lid on the left and the janky paper towel hanging off the roll on the right. A better housekeeper would not even have the papers lying on the counter bar behind. I, however, am neither of these today.

But you know what – neither of those versions of me would have this picture. What a great reminder to stop, slow down and look around. Even when you are grumpy. Enjoy the small, beautiful things in the world, friends.

Morning sun on flowers
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
By |2019-11-23T15:29:42-05:00November 23rd, 2019|Mental Well-being|1 Comment

Take a Break

This poor Gerber daisy. I potted it, then killed it.

It rebloomed. Then I killed it again.

And now look at it! It is trying so hard. Just like you and me, friend. Sometimes when life is hard and our energy is dried out, we need to rest. When the intensity of life is hotter than the sun facing our back porch at 4pm, we need to rest.

Then when we have gathered the energy we need we can also rebloom.

red gerber daisy blooming
Take a rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.
– Ovid –
By |2019-11-30T16:27:39-05:00August 18th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Oh, Deer.

As you well know, I am a Midwesterner married to a Southerner. He hunts, I pretend meat grows wrapped in cellophane in the case at Lowe’s Foods. So our whole married life I have made snide remarks to him and The Boy when they go out murdering Nature’s creatures. With the exception of one said creature. The one that does this to my flowers. All. Of. My. Flowers.

I want the deer that did this on a kabob.

I am not the best gardener so when I actually grow something in my yard the produces beautiful flowers, I want to enjoy them. If I choose to remove them, it will be to put them in a vase in my house to bring Nature inside. The damn deer seem to wait until the night before I plan to cut them for vases and boom – snack time. You would think that 80 pounds of Labrador Retriever would be a deterrent, but not so much.

Lucille chases deer in our backyard natural area most mornings, but she really only phones in her effort. It is not all out like she means it – not like it is when she is going after a tennis ball fiercely. Our guess is that she is half assing it because she does not know what to do when she catches the deer. This only happened once. She was chasing a deer at early o’clock, caught up to the deer and sort of bonked her head against it, stopping cold, looking around. It was like time stood still. Like when that hottie says yes to a date. Like when your mom says yes to candy before dinner. You have no follow up response, because you thought the answer was no.

Then Lucille turned around and ran back to the house. Ever since then, the deer come over every night for midnight snacks.

Fridays in the Warm Weather Months

Flowers in pot

Often on Fridays during warm weather months you will find me taking my work conference calls outside. Even when it is hot as the surface of the sun, here in the shade of the umbrella it is one of my favorite places to be. Barriers to completing tasks seem smaller and emails seem fewer and shorter when this is my view.

By |2019-11-30T16:39:48-05:00May 17th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments
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