Bloom where you are planted, the saying goes.
But, what if we’re not blooming where we’ve taken root? Do we just stay put, confined to whatever or whoever is stifling our growth? Or, do we pick up stakes, literally or figuratively, and try to blossom elsewhere?
My garden provides lessons in this theory all the time. Most of the time I get lucky and place plants and flowers where they thrive under the right amount of sun, shade, and moisture. But, sometimes, despite my best efforts, it doesn’t quite work out. So, I dig the plant up and move it to a different spot. Sometimes it takes a little more work.
The most recent lesson came from a little sweet potato vine. I love the vibrant chartreuse, heart-shaped leaves of the plant. The vines make great accents in flower pots, as they grow and flow around the planter.
Except in the case of this one little sweet potato vine I had in a planter on my deck.
It simply refused to grow.
I watered it, trimmed it, and turned the planter.
But, it refused to grow.
I even filled its little pores with music from the speaker on my deck.
Still, it refused to grow.
So, I gave in, capitulating to forces beyond my control. I considered throwing the plant out, but those of you who know me well, are aware that along with refusing to kill any living thing, I’m also pretty stubborn.
Instead, I dug a hole by the base of my steps, beside a dwarf butterfly bush, and tucked the little shy vine into the ground. I lovingly patted the dirt on top of the newly transferred Ipomoea batatas, sprinkled some water on it, and hoped for the best.
Virginia Hamilton, the most honored author of children’s literature did just that. As a young writer, she was encouraged by one of her professors to leave Antioch College in Yellow Springs, to learn from another instructor at The Ohio State University. The professor there encouraged her to spread her wings and head to New York City. It’s what a writer did back in the 1950s. While there, Virginia’s writing not only flourished, but she also met the love of her life, poet and teacher Arnold Adoff. The couple eventually moved back to Yellow Springs, but the roots of Virginia’s writing deepened after transplanting herself to a new environment.
My little sweet potato vine is also a reflection of my personal journey. For a time, I found myself committing to opportunities that although they were very fulfilling, didn’t seem to reflect my purpose. Eventually, I felt as though I was living a life that was taking me in a direction other than what I felt entirely comfortable with. I was beginning to feel stuck and going through the paces based on others’ expectations.
As life came to a crossroads, a dear friend of mine offered great advice. “Jules, look in a mirror, and ask yourself, what brings you the most joy,” Susan said. Before the conversation was over, I knew the answer to the question. Writing, researching, and sharing inspiring true stories with children is my jam. And, I can do this anywhere.
So, I transplanted myself. Always longing to live along the banks of the Maumee River, my husband and I found the perfect home for us. While I work in my office, I’m inspired by the sights and sounds of nature, from fox stalking the banks, to the screeches and squawks of six juvenile eagles who soar above. New writing opportunities continue to develop and present themselves, and my soul feels at peace. I’m thriving.
Maybe if you’re feeling stuck, if people or circumstances in your life are holding you back, you might want to consider uprooting, physically or emotionally. Try and find the conditions that are just right for you to grow and flourish.
It doesn’t have to be a huge effort, sometimes even the smallest measures make a difference. Take a walk in the sun, dance in the rain. Nurture your soul by calling a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
Just like my little sweet potato vine, sometimes a little change is good.