Tag Archives: life


I’ve been thinking about cultivation.

I’ve been gardening.  Last fall, I broke up the ground for a veggie patch and sowed it with black gold from my very own compost bin.  This spring, I took up the cardboard and dug around, delighted to see worms as a fruit of my labor.  Then I salvaged wood from my back porch, cement blocks from a broken down outdoor fire place, spiked spacers from a patio job at my parents’ house, and nails rescued from my late grandfather’s tool bins and fashioned a raised bed.  I filled this bed with bags and bags of dirt purchased from the local farm co-op into which I mixed composted chicken poo from a dear friend and neighbor.  Then I planted seeds.  Every night I went out and planted a few more kinds.  Today, the first little shoots poked up.  Little beet leaves lifting up their delicate green leaves.  In the pouring rain today, I was tempted to go out and offer them shelter.  I worked so hard and so have they; to have them washed away would be so sad for us all.  I convinced myself that they would survive the downpour because we have worked so hard together, and I built them up on furrows for just that very reason.  I have set them up for success.

Cultivation takes time.  It takes dedication, love, passion, and a desire to set something up for success.  To think – what do I need to give you so that you will succeed?

The dictionary definition of the word is too exacting, too…dictionary-like.

When a day goes by (or more often 3 or 4) where I can’t get my hands dirty, pull up weeds, chop down invaders, make space for the unexpected windfalls (like the small plot of wild columbines that I have been protecting from the lawn mower), my heart sinks, a get restless, my butt goes numb from too much sitting,  and I begin to worry about anything and everything.  But when I give myself time to cultivate, I am peaceful in my heart.

This garden cultivation is really a metaphor, you see.  Have you figured that out yet?  It is a metaphor for the artistic work that I do best.  It is a metaphor for mentoring artists, for wooing donors, for working with a scene partner, for directing a play.  It is all cultivation.  Setting things up for success is an act of cultivation.  Sometimes things happen in minute increments that you can barely detect–or maybe not at all, like those little beets that were so busy underground while I looked at blank dirt for a week and hoped my cat would stop digging up my careful rows.  Sometimes it happen all at once, like the clematis that bloomed early along the back wall of my garage and gifted us with huge purple stars of beauty.  One day it was green vine, the next, flowers the size of my head.  Sometimes it is a slow steady slog, like the days I spent hoeing, hammering, and hauling dirt.  But, without it, my little plot would fail.

I like to cultivate things.

I would Die for You

I walk around with fear in my heart.

It can’t be helped.  I’ve tried.  I can’t get away from it.

Of course I’m happy and spend many joyful days, but I’m also anxious.  I worry.  And I scare easily.  Just Monday, walking home from the local Memorial Day parade, two fighter jets flew so low that my heart stopped.  The last time I heard that sound was the day after 9/11 when the skies were supposed to be quiet, and all I heard were the jets at midnight and I raced to the window hoping it wouldn’t be my last moment on earth.  I worry.  It’s what I do.  So when these jets flew over head, my heart stopped.  And then they flew on, and I laughed with my mom, and hid the tears bursting from my eyes.  I was so scared that I cried.  Over a couple of low-flying planes on a bright summer day.  And don’t even talk to me about the last time I went on a log flume.  Like I said, I get scared.

So, yesterday, I worried a lot.  With Do-bug at school, a dark sky, and tornado watches in an area I thought would never see such devastating storms, I barely got anything done.  The fear was too strong.  I worked intermittently, with one browser window glued to the storm tracker, and I’m not sure I was productive in anything.

To ease my tension, I joked about the unexpected along with everyone else.

But I also had run to the grocery story for water and cans of food and checked with Do-Bug’s dad to make sure he had a plan for shelter for the two of them.

Then, an hour later a friend posted this video.  My heart didn’t stop.  It raced.  And I raced to the phone.  I knew my dad was at a meeting somewhere.  And sometimes his meetings are in Springfield.  Springfield, where a Tornado had just touched down.

I got him on the phone at a restaurant at the exact same moment that my mom logged into facebook to find me:

We were all okay.  For now.

Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending for my family.  We’re all okay.  Our homes are too.  They never touched down on the North end of the Pioneer Valley.  And in Nashua, well, we barely even saw rain.

But this morning I heard about the mother who sheltered her teenaged daughter in the bathtub.  Her daughter is alive although in the hospital.  Her mother didn’t survive when their house collapsed.  I was driving when I heard this.  I cried.  It was hard to drive.  I cried tears of relief that we are all okay.  Tears of grief for this family who is not okay and the many others who are not okay.

And then I realized something incredibly important.

I would die for my child.

I never knew this before.  It is a relief to know this.  Because I can’t stop her heartache with a hug and a nurse anymore.  And I can’t predict that she will remain as healthy as she is now.  And I can’t predict that the U.S. will remain a country where I can walk down the street and be 99% sure that I am safe.  But if the time comes when I need to protect my child’s life with my own, I will do it without hesitation.

There is comfort in this knowledge.

That love can give life.

Quite O’rwhelm the Senses

The side effect of beginning a new project, any project really, is that it is constantly buzzing through my head.

If I’m not trying to figure out what to tweet or write in the e-news, or remembering who I need to follow-up with, or write a thank you note, or which chapter I’m on, I’ve got visions of Hamlet running through my head.

Every few months, this culminates in a day with a single thought running on top of these buzzes: curl up in a ball. curl up in a ball.  curl up in a ball.  curl up in a ball.

But I don’t. I forge on.  I sift through the to-do list, I patiently explain to my preschooler why screaming is not an option, I call and make appointments, I fold laundry, I scrub things, I research and comment and tweet and compose emails, and I sift through the to-do list yet again.

And the day ends with stress nightmares and I wake up with a stomachache.

And then I shut everything off for a couple of days.  Everything.  I ignore emails.  I don’t listen to messages.  I shove away the list running through my head.  I sew and go for runs.  I go on adventures in life.

And after a time, I’m ready to go back and forge on again.

This time, I’m back.  But I don’t feel ready.  I’d like a few more days.

Maybe it’s the end of summer on top of it all.  Family vacations are over and Do-bug will be starting school next week.  My personal fiscal stress rises to five alarms about this time of year with several impending birthdays and the holiday season approaching with nary a penny saved.

So the challenge this week is to forge on and take the time, all at once.

I don’t know if it’s possible, but my sanity depends on it.