Monday, August 22, 2016

Blooming where you're planted (or not)

Today's post is a bit different.  I know, usually I blog about birds and flowers and insects and sheep and other happy things.  I love to share those things and I know that at least some of my readers enjoy them too.  Today, though, I want to tackle a slightly more serious subject - one that is important to me, and one that I've learned a lot about in the past few years.  These thoughts are based on my own experience, and I'm sure others will disagree, or have other viewpoints.  That's OK - everybody is different.  I just want to share what I have come to believe.  I'll throw in a few gratuitous flower pictures, since it's a post about "blooming," just to keep it cheerful!

There is a common and long-used saying that most people are familiar with - "Bloom where you are planted."  There are a number of different ways to interpret that phrase, but my personal interpretation has typically been around the idea that one should appreciate one's surroundings and the opportunities that one has at any given time, rather than always wishing for or wanting something else.  It's a wise saying, because if one is always focused on things one doesn't have, one can become despondent and frustrated.

At the same time, I have to admit that I don't entirely agree with the sentiment behind the phrase. There is a difference, to me, between blooming, and just living.  If you put a plant in a place that isn't appropriate for it, the plant might continue to live, putting up leaves every year, photosynthesizing and carrying on...maybe growing a couple of inches each year and putting out a few more leaves each year.  It might even make a flower or two, if it's feeling so inclined.  The thing is, that plant is living, without thriving.  It might be blooming, but only sporadically.  You could dig up that plant and move it to a different flower bed, where it gets more sunshine and perhaps has better access to soil nutrients, and suddenly that plant is going to grow a foot in height every year, throw forth dozens of blooms, and create new networks of branches and roots that reach far beyond what could ever have happened in its previous position.  

I know about thriving after transplanting, because I am that plant.  

On my former property in Nova Scotia, I felt as if I was planted in a deep, dark hollow with little sunshine and almost no water.  I struggled to grow any roots and I certainly wasn't blooming.  I tried to take advantage of opportunities but I felt like every step was a mountain to climb.  Everything was a sea of obstacles and I didn't know where I was going to end up.  Then, I started my own business.  I began to feel a little better - perhaps because I was being the change that I needed to make.  It wasn't enough to bring me into the sunshine, but I made it out of the cave.  I began to be able to make improvements to the house, which helped me find some water and fertilizer.  After that, I met Marc. He was like a whole big dose of sunshine and water and fertilizer, all wrapped into one.  My life became so much better, and I began to grow more leaves and make buds and roots and start to look like a proper plant instead of a wilted mess.  I moved to New Brunswick to be with Marc, and to live in his house.  I was no longer alone and stuck in an isolated location, and I had the most wonderful company.  The thing is, even with all of that, I still wasn't blooming.  

I can't explain exactly why it is that being in the right place, as well as with the right person, has been so critical to my well-being.  All I can say for sure is that there is no way I would have bloomed where I was planted if we had stayed where we were.  I would have lived and been relatively content, but despite the odd flower now and then, I would not have truly bloomed, no matter how many times I was told to bloom where I was planted. Now that we are in this new home in a new location, I can literally feel myself grow.  I don't mean that I'm getting any taller, or wider for that matter!  I feel myself establishing roots - strong ties to this place, and a desire to remain here for the long term. Every day I wake up with joy and hope and a desire to make the best of each day.  Every night I go to sleep with a feeling of deep contentment and a sense of being home.  I felt that way in Iowa (even though I never expected to do so when I first moved there), and I remember all too well how I lost that feeling when I came back to my Canadian home was really upsetting.  I thought I was "coming home," but instead, I felt like I was a stranger in a strange land.  

The important thing that I want to share...for anyone who needs to hear that if you're not blooming, you need to do whatever you can to transplant yourself.  It's not always going to be easy and it's not going to be instant, but you need to take steps to make it happen.  Being in the right place is vitally important for some of us, and if you're one of those people, don't ignore it.  Some people really can bloom wherever they are planted, but I am not one of them.  It's not about money or possessions or other material things.  It's about a feeling of home - being in the right "soil" and having the right amount of "fertilizer" and the right amount of "light" and all the things you need to make yourself bloom.  Only you can really know what those requirements are, and maybe you haven't even found out what they are yet.  

Sometimes those requirements change during your lifetime.  When I was in my 20s, I adored being in the city.  I loved the hustle and bustle on the busy streets.  I wanted to be where the action was taking place, and I enjoyed the buzz of being in a big city.  I loved walking around in downtown Toronto - trying new restaurants, checking out new boutiques, watching the world go by in high heels and tailored suits.  As I got older, I wanted to be somewhere quieter, where I could think and dream in silence when I wanted.  I guess you could say that I "found" rural living while I lived in Iowa.  I didn't grow up on a farm, but I came to appreciate the rural lifestyle and all that it could bring to my life.  My heels went to the back of the closet and my make-up bag found its way to the back of a drawer somewhere.  For many people, that would never be an enjoyable option.  I go back to my example of plants - some plants are designed for full sun, some for full shade, and some for a combination of the two. Some need a lot of fertilizer, while others need very little.  Some plants need wet conditions, others need it dry.  People are just like plants - we need different things in order to survive, and we need specific things in order to really thrive.

To me, the phrase "bloom where you're planted" has become synonymous with "settle for the best you can get."  Sometimes, when things aren't quite right, you do have to settle, but most of the time, you can do something, even if it's slow progress, to improve your situation.  Keep striving.  Keep moving towards that goal.  Don't give up.  Enjoy what you can in the situation you find yourself in, but if you know it's not right...don't believe that's all there is.  There's more.  I found it.  So can you.


Beth Donovan said...

Lovely post, Claire. I'm really enjoying reading your blog. And it's been so nice being able to watch you bloom from all you share with us here and on Facebook.

And soon we get so see more adventures of Fezzick the Goat!!

Michelle said...

I am so happy for you, Claire. And I think I get it. My best soil is here in NW Oregon; I have never felt so well rooted and thriving as I do here, even though I had all the other essential elements in my life.

joanna said...

Impressive post.
There are so many facets to being happy in oneself. I would suggest that location is but one of them. But it is an overridingly important one. And it is probably the hardest to face and deal with. Mostly because a new location will take a long time to evaluate and is often dependent on what one does for a living. It takes courage to change , especially between countries and continents.
In addition, admitting that one is living/was born in what appears to be an unsuitable place for one's mental well-being, can be a political minefield. Relatives are not always at ease with one of their clan picking up sticks and saying farewell.

I have lived all over the world - on various continents and in varying climates. What can easily happen is that you feel you have the right to the best of each location.
Putting pros and cons into perspective can be hard. That is why so many of us have two domiciles in totally different places. But today's economic climate may put a stop to that soon.

I'm sure you will set many readers thinking with this.
I forget how I arrived here, but I'm glad I did.
Stay happy :-)