Saturday, April 28, 2012

The beauty of struggles


I've got 30 rosebushes in my yard, and they're all in rip-roaring full-bloom now. This, for your enjoyment, was the first full flower of the season.

What makes it touching and remarkable is that it's on one of the smallest bushes, the "runts," and one of the ones that I thought wouldn't survive long-term. But it has, against the odds of my tendency toward sometimes haphazard planting and periods of neglect. I love my yard, don't get me wrong; I just planted everything years before the dramatic shifts in my personal and professional lives. My dear plants are like my human friends, though, and they're hanging in and always glad for when I can be there for them.

I've always rooted for the archetypal underdog. The tiny plants that have struggled and are now producing gorgeous flowers. The local family-owned businesses that seem to have weathered the worst of the recession. The personal goals I've heard of my clients pursuing, despite the nay-saying from their families and friends.

In all these scenarios I've muttered to myself, "C'mon...just a little more. You can do it...". There's both the feeling of overwhelm and depression that something is just too big to accomplish. I tell clients to just do one small thing for today, and see how it feels. Then something the next day, and then the next. There's something to be said for the "one day at a time" maxim popularized by twelve-step programs. Indeed, each of us only has now to do something. Then, the rush of happiness and relief for having prevailed! And you know what? The most formidable obstacle, the foe, is almost always within each of us--not some massive outside force. Even if there is a mountain of bills, unemployment, underemployment, dysfunctional employment.

Winston Churchill may have been one of the first contemporary motivational speakers, when, in 1941, he said, "The pessimist sees the problems in every opportunity. Whereas the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem...
Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."

Struggle is useful in providing value. The necessities (groceries, housing) and the little indulgences (a Saturday night out), are so much more treasured when purchased with "hard-earned money." Perhaps the recession gave us the reality check we needed after the consumerism-mad '80 & '90's. I never thought I would enjoy "living small" so much, but I do. Frugality is fun!

Recently, I've gotten well-meaning, but irritating, input from men who walk their dogs past my house, and see me working in the front yard. One immediately said, "You shouldn't be cutting your own lawn." And why not, sir? Another grinned and muttered, "How cute!" CUTE! Listen, buddy, that's a fighting word in my book! I'll report you to the international sisterhood of WWMTOL (Women Who Mow Their Own Lawns). The first guy, on his return trip, admitted that "things are looking good here."

I've got a longtime friend/colleague I want to invite over sometime soon. My recent DIY forays are nothing compared with hers. She fearlessly tackles the hard stuff -- replacing windows in her living room, renovating bathroom plumbing, redoing flooring, etc., etc. When I go to OSH, and tiptoe down some of the aisles, I still sometimes feel like I did when I was a little girl, trying to infiltrate some "Keep out. No girls allowed" perimeter set up by some of my boy pals.

Time to call my friend. Time to take how-to classes.

Time to woman-up, and know that I'm capable of doing the stuff Tim Allen did on "Home Improvement," and making sure the job actually turns out.

Next in my cross-hairs of ambition: painting the kitchen and replacing the linoleum -- myself!



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