Addiction

I’m an addict.

There I said it. That’s the first step, right? Admitting it? Well I admit it. Shamefully.

I can’t stop buying plants. I can’t stop deadheading, pruning and digging. I can’t. 

I thought I was done buying plants this year when I got 2 giant Crape Myrtles to flank my front sidewalk. There. Beautiful. Half off. And I’m done. 

It’s too hot to keep planting anyway. All that’s left at the nurseries are scraggly, half-dead close out plants. I’m done. My garden is almost full. It looks nice. I’ll maintain and won’t plant another thing until next year. Well. Maybe I’ll pull some perennials out of my pots and put those in the ground. There. Done. I did get these free succulents. I’ll put those in pots inside. There, that looks super classy. Now, I’m done. What else could there be. I’m done.

Lowe’s has 75% off all plants on Sunday?! What!?  I won’t go. I don’t need anything? Why would I go? It’s probably all dead stuff I don’t need to try to revive anyway. I’m avoiding Lowe’s. 

This morning I went to Lowes and bought 20 more plants for $30! Guess I better get to planting. If you think about it, I’m doing something good for the earth by planting more plants. My house looks nicer. I’ll get a nice tan. It’s hard work, which is fulfilling. This is a good thing. It’s not a problem… just one more plant.

 I can stop anytime I want.

I’m not an addict.

Why don’t toads stress eat?

Logan was frustrated that a toad peed on him and asked “Why don’t toads stress eat?” It was the perfect question. Or better yet, why don’t humans pee when we’re stressed. It would definitely prevent a lot of us from gaining stress-weight. Also, I think the diaper/pad industry would be booming.

And would it be acceptable?

“What’s with Frank?”

“He wet his pants again.”

“Aw. I really hope he gets that stress under control.”

The reality is, only humans stress-eat. It’s what separates us from the beasts. Well, that and opposable thumbs and a few other things. I’m typing this as I boredom-eat a granola bar I wasn’t even hungry for. I don’t think animals do that either. Pop open the fridge and look around until something seems interesting, then mindlessly eat that cherry pie. Most animals don’t even HAVE fridges.

The point is, and there is a point, animals don’t really seem to get stressed unless they have a good reason. Like say, when my careless 8-year-old is carrying Kebby around by his leg (Kebby is the toad with incontinence issues.) 

If Kebby only gets stressed at death’s door, then maybe I can chill the eff out about my new flowers dying in this ridiculous heat, or someone hurting my feelings, or stumbling over my words in a Toastmasters meeting, or stubbing my toe. 

When it comes to stress, I’m going to be like the toad. 

(Hopefully, I’ll never pee my pants, but you know, if I’m in a scary situation like Kebby was today, it could happen.)

My kids are the only ones not in sports

The last time I went to a sporting event to watch one of my kids was in May. It feels like an eternity. I see all my friends going to baseball and soccer games and I can’t help but worry that my kids are being left behind.

It’s not like we’re doing nothing.

We’re fishing. We’re nature walking. We’re swimming. We’re jet skiing. We’re tubing. We’re outside, spending time together.

But still. I sit there and scroll through Facebook to see all my friends at sporting events. I text my friends to come over and hang out. “Can’t. Have another late game.” Should I be a late game?

When I was growing up, there weren’t sports until fourth or fifth grade. There was no worry that we’d miss out or not be very good because we didn’t start sports in the womb like Brazilians do. Donnie started basketball in 4th or 5th. I started volleyball in 5th and we both played D1 sports. But… times, they are a-changing.

There’s a theory (Jerry Seinfeld?) that it takes 10 years to master something. So… if we start our kids in competitive sports at age 4, they’ll be ready to rule the high school and prime for a full ride when they graduate, right? Maybe. I’m sure that many hours focusing on one thing could really make a person an expert. But. At what point does expert level peak and passion start to drop? Does passion always drop?

I’ve seen very talented kids quit sports when high school is done or worse before they even get to high school. Burn out. I’m afraid of that.

I want my kids to grow up playing sports but I also want them to enjoy their unstructured “I’m bored” childhood. I think it’s good for them. So I’m going to continue to take the approach that we’ll do sports, but we won’t over-do sports. And, if my kid wants to be a 6’7″ Metaphysicist, then so be it. (I say this through gritted teeth).

So yeah, my kids didn’t do any sports this summer. No practices, no tournaments and no camps. Will they be behind in skills? Probably. Will they eventually catch up? Maybe. All I know is that when I see them out fishing and tumbling down a grassy hill, giggling all the way, I know we made the right decision.

All I know is that when I see them out fishing together or tumbling down a grassy hill, giggling all the way, I know we made the right decision.

Contribute more than you criticize

“How might we…” is a phrase that behemoths like Google, Apple, IDEO and others swear will facilitate more open and productive brainstorming. In a group setting, it’s intimidating to throw out new ideas. It’s much easier to say no to everyone else’s ideas than to step into the arena and prepare for tomato-pelting. That’s why everyone does it. 

Except me. 

I’m an idea-giver. Ideas well up inside me until I feel like I’m going to explode, then I have to let it out. I have to say it. Embarrassing or not. I just do it. And it sets me up for all kinds of failure and tomato-pelting. But I don’t care. I do it anyway.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t criticize an equal amount. I criticize. Some might say, I’m judgmental. It’s human nature to be a little judgmental. It’s how we know to not go home with the creepy guy from a bar. It’s why we won’t let the pedophile babysit our kids. A little bit of judgment and criticism is ok. That’s not exactly the type of criticism I’m talking about. I’m talking about when we look at others’ creativity and say “That’s not good” or something else negative. 

When I hear phrases like “contribute more than you criticize” it reminds me of why I started this blog in the first place. I need to check myself regularly. Am I passing judgment and not putting myself out there to be judged? (Hides Audible review screen)

Among the 5 books I’m reading and the 3 books I’m listening to, am I writing? Am I creating? 
Am I contributing?

Uterus Garden

My uterus fell out.

I can’t go to work with my uterus out. What will people think? Besides, I wouldn’t be able to get any work done.

Round and round thoughts like these circled in my head…. and then I woke up.

I didn’t lead with the fact that this was a dream because that’s usually when people walk away, zone out or log off (can you still log off? Is that even a thing anymore?).

This is not the typical underwear at work, falling off the side of a cliff or teeth falling out. It was incredibly specific and real. 

So naturally, I had to poll the women at work. “Um. Yes. Girls, what does it mean if your uterus falls out? Er, um, in a dream?”

One: Pregnancy

Two: Happy that you’re not having anymore kids. So happy that you don’t want your uterus anymore.

Three: OMG. LMAO.

Four: The internet says dreams about your uterus could mean you’re working on something creative.

Me: Like my garden?!

Four: Yes! That’s it!

And that’s how my garden got its name: Uterus Garden.

Freak!

That’s what Josh Hein called me as he slapped me on the back in the church parking lot on a cold night in 5th grade.

Freak.

What did that mean? How was I a freak? What were my freakish features? I don’t want to be a freak.

Those thoughts swirled through my head as I cried and twirled my hair around my fingers. My hair. That I’d labored long and hard to make “perfect” for that evening’s mass. My hair. That was incredibly difficult to manage. My hair. On top of my head. My freakish head.

Why?

That slap on the back changed the course of my night, and at least for the next few weeks (ok months). And, for whatever reason, maybe insecurity, maybe mildly traumatic, I’ve remembered that night from time to time. Why did Josh do that? I thought we were cool? I mean. Weren’t we cool? I’m certain it wasn’t because he “liked me.” (I hate that and I wouldn’t do that to anyone I liked).

I thought about that night most recently when I was picking up groceries at Walmart with my family. As I was loading, some guy hung out the passenger’s side of best friend’s ride (like a SCRUB, thanks TLC), and yelled “Nice **** for a little boy!”

I froze. I didn’t turn around. I was thrust back to 10-year-old Danielle– shy, insecure, proud of her ‘do that took hours to perfect. I’m 35 years old. I’m being called a freak. I shuttered. I got back into the car.

What did that mean? How do I look like a boy? What were my boyish features? I don’t want to look like a boy.

Those thoughts competed with my very adult thoughts of: Don’t let some dumb kid bother you. You’re a woman. You’re not a kid anymore. Let it roll.

And those thoughts competed with my friends’ thoughts of: He’s a bully. He’ll say anything to make himself feel better. He’s probably jealous. He probably likes you.

I choked back tears as I twirled my hair. My unmanageable, messy hair on top of my head. My boyish head.

I tried not to give this event a second thought but the thoughts kept creeping back up, third thoughts and fourth thoughts. I sought reassurance by telling this story to my close friends and I got what I wanted, unsolicited compliments and offers to “kick his ass.” It helped. They’re great.

I didn’t realize why it really bothered me until I matched this story up with something that happened 25 years ago. It was Josh. He was calling me a freak again. He was slapping me on the back and invalidating me. Years of growth, success, unabashed vulnerability and just plain life-living and here he was again, to bring me back down.

And it worked! Why? Why did it work?

Why do strangers with an opinion have so much effect on us?

Why do THEY make US feel like freaks?

A pact with the wasps

I have a problem.

We moved into our new lakehouse without realizing that a family already occupied the house. A family of wasps.

Wasps scare the bejesus out of me. I’ve been stung by a wasp once. I was 14 and I’ll remember is that it’s the stuff of nightmares. The plan since then has been to avoid wasps altogether. Don’t go in their house and they won’t come in my house. We won’t be meeting for tea, we won’t swap recipes and neither of us will be getting hurt.

So here I am, unknowingly breaking the pact I made with waspkind all those years ago. I did it. I did it to myself. And now, one of us has to go. I called the Bug Guy, or Master of the Creepy Crawlies, as I imagine him when I make the appointment. He came to my house and told me that I needn’t fear and my pact should hold firm because these are mud dauber wasps. “They’re not aggressive. They actually eat spiders. They won’t hurt you,” he promised.

After weighing the fear-pounds of spiders vs. wasps, I begrudgingly let him leave without spilling any wasp blood on my newly planted hostas.

These are good wasps.

These are good wasps.

These are good wasps.

I said repeatedly as I grabbed my hedge trimmers.

These are good wasps.

These are good wasps.

These are good wasps.

I plugged in the trimmer and readied the stance to clean up miles of boxwoods in front of my house. Then it began.

Bzzzzz!

Gah! What the-!? I smack my own face.

I look around. Nothing.

BZZZZZ!

AGHH! I jump and run across the lawn. Ok. That was a wasp.

After 5 minutes of repeatedly telling myself that “These are good wasps. They won’t hurt me.” I went back to the bushes and got back to work.Then left and right the wasps began dive bombing

As soon as I turned on the trimmer, they came out. Left, then right, then left again. The wasps were dive bombing me! I’m hopping and dancing across the lawn in a hibbity-jibbity manner as I try to get the bushes done.

My 8-year-old yelled that they won’t hurt me and I can only hope the neighbors don’t think I’m having some sort of seizure, what with all the spasming and neck wrenching.

I finally finish trimming the hedges. It looks like Edward Scissorhands first sculpture, maybe before he actually got good and was just hacking at foliage with his razor-blade fingers. But… the job is done. I guess.

Now the wasps have a less overgrown place to raise their wasp babies and peace between Danielle and waspkind has been restored… until next time.