confessions of a bad houseplant waterer


Some days I just shouldn't get out of bed. Not because I'm running a temperature, not because I have a runny nose, but because some days I don't find myself to be the best at being around people. You can call it PMS. I'm comfortable enough with myself to acknowledge that I have those days. But today is not that.

I have an office plant. I've had him for a few years. I saved him from being tossed aside after a big fundraising event when I worked and lived in Phoenix. He was beautiful and green and lush, and they were just going to toss him because they no longer had use for him. I call him a "him" because he has a name. I call him Ephram.

Today is one of those days where I feel like I'm being pulled in many directions, but can't focus on any of them because my mind is back at home cuddling with a cat, or sitting on the porch feeling the breeze and watching all the different cars and people drive along Iron Ave. It's not just because it's Friday, but also because I am exhausted. And, every time another co-worker comes in my office asking for something new I sigh morosely.

The last few weeks I have been very very busy. I didn't have a moment to spare. One of our new directors came in at one point last week chit-chatting with me and noticed that Ephram was a little sad. I looked up and promised myself that I would take him to the kitchen sink that evening and give him a good soak and he would be soooo happy. Fast forward a week to yesterday, when the same director pops his head in to ask me something and says "you still haven't watered your plant!" Oh, Ephram, I'm so sorry. Took him to the kitchen immediately to give him a bath.

Albuquerque is wonderful. I love living here more and more each day. I can't say enough kind things about each new person I meet here. But today, I just want to spend some time with me. How nice it would be to lay under a tree at Tiguex and read a book and fall asleep today. How relaxing it would be to slowly roam through the produce section at Sunflower with nobody in my way, so I can sniff each and every fruit to find the perfect one to eat. Today is the perfect day for a bike ride along the Bosque. THAT sounds like a great day.

And then I looked up this morning to grab a book off a shelf in my office....where is Ephram?!

oh yeah, he's still sitting in the sink in the kitchen waiting for me. Since yesterday. This is our dance, Ephram and me. He sits high and proud on his shelf. Looking full and regal. Then time passes, and I become busy and full of work and projects and school and board meetings and events and marketing projects. Until one day someone walks into my office and points out that my once beautiful plant is dying. So I love him and water him and talk to him and try to give him the energy he deserves. And he is spectacular once again. Then the cycle continues.

My Ephram is a poignant thought for me today. How I treat him is how I treat many things in my personal life. I take on a lot. I like to be busy. I'm very good at what I do, and I enjoy my work and extra projects. BUT, the toll always comes to be paid when I walk back into my personal life. I need to find balance in these things. I've felt more comfortable and relaxed and joyful since I've lived in Albuquerque. More than I had for a long time. The result has been rejeuvanation, and me taking on more projects.

Recently I've begun purging my physical attachments. I'm finding new homes for things that I've carried around in my home (and heart) for many years. I'd like to focus less on physical items and more on the activities and lifestyle that makes me happy. I enjoy everything that I do, but I want to enjoy those things without having the feeling of neglect and regret when I walk back into my home and see what I could have been doing while I was away doing other things.

So, on behalf of myself and Ephram. I'm having a yard sale tomorrow. I've be processing and thinking about this for a long time. I have some fun things that I'm getting rid of, and some things that my heart needs to let go of. My theory is that if I release my attachment to some of these things, I'll free up room in my heart and mind for the things in my personal life that deserve more energy.

My list of things that I'd like to work into my personal schedule includes:
- water Ephram every 3-4 days. He likes that. It keeps him happy and bright.
- Transport clean folded laundry from the basket to the drawers that are empty waiting for them. I have a habit of waiting so long to put away the clean clothes that all of a sudden I just have to wash them again, never having made it to the dresser.
- pet each cat at least twice a day, and not when they sneak into the bathroom and beg for pets while I'm in the bath!
- when i come home at night, put my shoes in the bin that they came from that is in the closet, rather than in a pile next to my side of the bed. I think it would save me the time of having to organize and put the whole pile away weekly like I have been. the same goes for my jewelry and its pile on my dresser.
- spend at least part of each evening on the front porch enjoying the Albuquerque air and the trees.

I've posted these very personal entry because I know that time management and balancing a professional and personal life is challenging for many people. Sometimes I feel alone in some things, and I know I'm not in this. I see how Ephram bounces back every time I put him through stress, and it reminds me of one of my favorite traits in myself - the ability to weather the storm and pull through stress. But, I'd rather be like Ephram in that I'd like to take on stress like water: soak it in, let it make me stronger, let it run off my leaves, and brighten up my color.

Me next step: transplant Ephram into the new pot I bought for him. He totally deserves some new space to grow. I have a new office, so should he.

Views: 3

Tags: growth, life, personal, profession, stress

Comment by Adelita on August 30, 2008 at 10:17pm
I think we totally lead parallel lives - Similar jobs right next to each other, way too busy, toss shoes and jewelry in piles...It's funny how sometimes we think we are the only ones going through so much and then realize we're are all very similar in our experiences.

Today was one of those rare days for me - I got to be alone. I read, made some jewelry, hung out with my dogs and admired my tomato plants - all uninterrupted. Sorry I missed your yard sale. I know you got good stuff!
Comment by cathyray on August 31, 2008 at 11:26am
I, too, am a very bad plant waterer. That never stopped me from trying, tho. I've always loved plants & what they add to my environment. Always had a lot around. A few years ago I decided it was time to stop the torture. I was watching Oprah & she said (so you KNOW it is true) that your home or surroundings reflect your insides. I looked around at a bunch of rootbound brown plants & decided to give it up. I knew I was rootbound ,brown & shriveled myself. I cut out the "deadwood" from my home & life, vowing to leave the plants to others. I still had a few plants that refused to die that I have nursed on. I enjoyed a relatively plant free existence for awhile. Slowly plants began to come back into my life, my brother & sister-in-law moved, my neighbor brought some over after her father died & she was over powered with plants, etc... I have to laugh. I'm almost back where I started. I look around my living room now & see one plant practically laying down, wanting water.

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