Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about blooming.
I know, how deep, right?
Thinking about blooming in the springtime?
Call someone call Oprah! Tell her to get out the overstuffed chairs and place them in the forest! It’s time to sit down and talk about how deep and unique I am for having a revelation basic to the human existence! (Btw, I never planned on referencing Oprah so much in my writing. It just happens sometimes so I’m rolling with it.)
Anyway, blooming- I’ve been thinking a lot about it.
Which is sort of new, because I don’t exactly have a green thumb- In fact, I’ve killed every plant that I’ve ever owned. Every single one. Even the succulents on my front porch, which I assumed were basically indestructible. After 15 years of attempting to have greenery in my home, the plant-killing became too much for my conscience to bear so I finally gave up.
I’ve never even been one to notice flowers, much less learn their names, how to care for them, or appreciate their unique beauty. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not some kind of cold, cynical monster who landscapes her front yard with exposed aggregate instead of grass, I guess you could say I’ve just never exactly stopped to smell the roses.
Last week flowers made me cry.
They weren’t even flowers that someone picked or bought or presented me with. They were just out in the wild. And by “the wild”, I mean that one island of trees in the middle of the parking lot at my kid’s elementary school; the one that runs the length of the carpool lane.
There were cherry blossom trees in full bloom there, in the middle of all that asphalt, bursting with so many pink petals that they covered the entire surface of the ground below.
It probably feels like I’m about to ramp up here into some metaphor about life springing up out of dead places or something, but that’s actually not where I’m headed. (Although, maybe it should be a post for another day? ??♀️Please mark yes or no and put in locker #7.)
Actually, what struck me about these trees was the fact that they’d always been there. For 5 years I’ve driven past them twice a day and I never noticed them. I mean, really noticed them.
But they’d been there all along, quietly blooming at exactly the right time.
Do you know when the right time to bloom was?
It was right now.
When the ground is soggy, the skies are gray, and the rain is still falling.
In that in-between time when summer hasn’t arrived yet but winter is definitely gone.
I sat in my car and I cried actual tears when I saw those trees.
Have you ever felt stuck in the in-between?
I think sometimes the hardest work is to be in the middle of a thing. To keep showing up wholeheartedly, over and over, knowing that the finish line is far off, and not knowing when you’ll reach it.
The middle can feel like a painful limp when we wish it was a confident leap.
The middle can feel confusing.
In the beginning we’re excited and the way ahead seems clear, but when the terrain starts to get steep and difficult, it’s easy to get bogged down. To lose your bearings. To constantly wonder if you’re still on the right track. To get tired. To think about turning around and heading back. To question if you’re actually as brave as you thought you were when you set out.
I’m in the middle of a couple of big projects right now. One is the deeper, creative work of writing my first book proposal. The other is the more visceral, challenging work of getting physically healthy and strong after a rough year on my body.
Both of these projects are deeply personal- no one can do this work for me. Trust me, I would’ve delegated a long time ago.
Both of these projects matter to me. They matter so much that I’m desperate to hurry up and try to complete them.
I keep making the mistake of thinking that if I could just finish, and finish well, THEN I can bloom. Then I can offer real beauty to the world around me.
But the thing with “hurry up and try” is that it hurts my soul. It kills my joy. It makes me feel pressured, afraid, self-involved, overwhelmed, and underqualified.
When I hurry up and try, I forget to enjoy the process- and as a friend recently reminded me, the process is my actual life.
I think the reason I cried when I saw that row of trees blossoming right there in an elementary school parking lot, was because they bloomed in the middle.
In the in-between season and in the middle of the landscape they were already in.
They didn’t wait for an easier, more convenient time- like summer when the sun is shining, the ground is soft, and the birds are chirping. They didn’t wait for their scenery to change, assuming they need to be out in some grassy meadow to bloom properly.
They did the hard work of blooming right then, right there in the middle of the asphalt, against a gray sky.
And you know what?
It was beautiful.
Beautiful enough to stop a cold-hearted-plant-killer like me in her tracks and make her cry like a ninny right there in her car, on a Thursday morning.
As a mom of littles who’s struggling to do my creative work and pursue my dreams in the middle of motherhood and my right-now life, those trees were a gorgeous reminder to bravely, patiently, and audaciously inhabit the season I’m in…without trying to rush ahead.
To bloom anyway.
To trust that there’s both beauty to be found and beauty to offer, exactly where I am.
In the middle.
Do you find yourself in the middle of something that feels big and difficult?
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*this post was sent from my computer and my heart*