Category Archives: Reflection

In Closing

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Jenner

Dear 2012:

It seems like just yesterday that I was addressing you formally, asking you to straighten up your act and fly right, to slow down so time doesn’t fly so quickly. I wrote you an open letter pointing out that you weren’t being friendly so far, and respectfully requested that we do this thing together.

This was a hard year for me. And I’ll be the first to admit that it didn’t go according to plan (which reminds me, I need to not try to plan everything so much). My mantra was ‘this year sucks’ and it stuck with me. I had a lot of scary hurdles, ones with spikes and flames, set before me, each one higher than the one before it. Some I flew over. Others I walked around. A girl has to choose her battles.

I didn’t start working out more, but I’ve never been one to exercise and actually enjoy it, so something has to give. I would like to find something that doesn’t feel like such a chore when I do it thrice weekly, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to do (local yogis, I’m side-eyeing you). I did take my swim class, but when I wasn’t working I cancelled my gym membership because it was something I couldn’t afford and could live without. I didn’t lose the 30 lbs. that I wanted to either, but I’ve mostly made peace with that too.

I did have my garden this year, and while it wasn’t at my own little house it was still a nice little garden. In the coming year I’m joining forces with a friend who has a great spot for a garden and we’re going to double down on our efforts. And we moved, which was on the docket for the year. We moved under duress and it didn’t feel like the experience it should have been (but when is moving fun, right?). And all of our family and our friends pitched in and made it a breeze, we were so thankful. Are we in our perfect home? No. Do we love it and recognize our good fortune to find such a beautiful place to live that we can afford, in this outrageously expensive county? Yes. Someday we’ll have a house with a yard again, but for now an upstairs flat with hardwood floors, beautiful views and a gourmet kitchen is nothing to sneeze at and we are so thankful.

I got that ‘time’ that I whined about, in the form of not working a traditional job for the entirety of the spring and summer. While unplanned and entirely scary, it taught me a lot about myself, reminded me how to make a dollar stretch when you don’t know where the next one is coming from, and showed me just how much Having Not is better than Having (i.e. not having a job as opposed to having a high paying job that makes you physically and mentally sick, not having that new pair of shoes that are stunning and on sale but having a houseful of those you love over for dinner on that same $30, you get the idea). I was scared shitless most of the time that I wasn’t working, worrying about all kinds of things that were beyond my control. And just when I put my foot down and stopped worrying, I found a great job at an amazing company, doing something that I never ever thought I’d be able to do, much less do well. Getting out of my comfort zone for just a few minutes put me smack dab in the middle of an even better one. After a couple months at said job I was having lunch with a friend who was also my boss for a long time, and when I told her I was back in sales I expected her to laugh. And laugh she did, at the fact that I ran screaming from something and came full circle back to it. She praised my decision and said that I have a mind for it, whether I like it or not. She’s not one to sugar coat things and it made me even more proud of my decision.

And I’m still a stress case. I’ve always been one, even my mom will tell you that I have always had deep worries in my heart, most of them completely unfounded. It is who I am, and I’m OK with it. Being a worrywort stress case also makes me a control freak (Cadi? A control freak? Nooo…). Yeah I said it. If I can control a situation I don’t have to worry about it. Most of the time it’s helpful, the rest of the time it’s like herding cats. But it’s me. I did read an article yesterday about the top 10 jobs for control freaks, and wouldn’t you know that the first job listed is Sales? I had to laugh. And I didn’t do the swimming and yoga or as much gardening as I thought I should, but damn if I didn’t hone my sewing skills this year. I can’t stress out when I sew, because it requires so much single-minded thought that I just can’t think about anything else (just ask that loaf of bread that got forgotten in the oven this summer ~ always set a timer when sewing). And I have a handful of great new clothes and pillows for my house that are one-of-a-kind and mine all mine.

Looking back, 2012, I do see that there were a lot of good things this year, that came in strange packages. It took some long gazes at some of them to see what they really were. On this end of the year, I have to say you shaped up your act, 2012. And I also have to say, so did I.

See you around, 2012. And thanks, for everything.

~Cadi

Little Girls and Little Things

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I stopped by the market yesterday to pick up a bag of spring mix and some apples. My little market has the greatest of the great local produce and it’s my favorite place to get first-of-the-season autumn apples. I picked out a couple of winners (Arkansas blacks and pink ladies) and headed to the check stand. On my way there I passed by a display of nuts still in their shells. I circled once, twice, and then swooped up a small bag to bring home for my coffee table.

The simple display made me think of my grandparents’ living room, where my Grams always had a bowl of unshelled mixed nuts on the coffee table with a pair of silver crackers during the fall and winter months. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, filberts (which I later learned are hazelnuts) and Brazil nuts, who have a less than P.C. name for many of a certain generation. We had to google their proper name yesterday when I got home.

I spent many an afternoon as a little girl during the adults’ cocktail hour, trying to crack these nuts open and get to the sweet meats inside. I always had the hardest time, either not being able to get my small hands around the cracker to get enough grip to crack the nut open, or getting enough leverage somehow (usually using both hands) and smashing the nut to bits that went everywhere (because I didn’t have a hand under my work). She never got mad, and neither did Poppa. Someone would always show me the best way to attack the nuts for good cracking, or crack them for me when I was frustrated and didn’t want to try any more.

I got older, my skill got better, and I would try to crack the walnuts and pecans and Brazils open and keep the nut meats intact. It’s harder than it sounds; my dad and my grandpa are both pretty good at being able to mine entire halves from walnuts and pecans. And my Granny was always pretty good at it too, when she was a bit younger.

As I sat on the couch with the cat tonight, with my silver cracker and my bowl of nuts, it was a small joy in my day thinking back on these times gone by, being a little girl and the little things in life. I’m sure if I call my Grams tomorrow she probably has a bowl of unshelled nuts on her coffee table, and I take some comfort in knowing that even though the world around me is changing so much every day, there are still some things that I can depend on. Simple things, like a bowl of nuts and not being able to crack them correctly.

Not Lost

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I swear I haven’t forgotten you.

My new job is wonderful, and I absolutely love it. I’m surrounded by amazing people, I work in a warm, welcoming environment that fosters growth, appreciates hard work, and is chock full of people that love to teach and love that I love to learn. I found an amazing match, and I’m so very thankful. It’s real life proof that sometimes the best things come after a period of struggle, and that everything happens for a reason. All this and a kick-ass benefit plan. No they aren’t hiring!

I planted a garden at the very beginning of the summer (it was still spring, actually). I scraped together a handful of dollars that we hadn’t carefully allotted to our very tight shoestring budget, and bought a handful of fruits and veggies that I knew I would be successful in growing. After the first few months of this year the last thing I needed was another failure, another reason to get down on myself and doubt my footing in the world. I lovingly tucked them in to my little garden boxes at a generous friend’s house, and tended to them several times a week, pulling weeds, adjusting irrigation, fertilizing, encouraging. I was excited about the few volunteer green bean vines that decided to join ranks, and built them a little makeshift trellis. It was going to be my best garden yet! Even if I wasn’t working or able to pay Farmer’s Market Rates I was going to be able to keep us in fresh organic veg all summer!

My first squash popped up, and I tended it daily; watching it grow, so excited that I was going to have my first veggie to show off proudly. Look what I grew! All was well, we had a target date for completion of the growth period, this squash and I. And then tragedy: it was decimated by the resident free-range hens. So were the next four squash.

My tomatoes had set fruit but wouldn’t ripen. My pepper plants were blooming but that was it. My beans, well, they spit out a few spindly offers. My cucumber was dug up and killed by some wild or domestic animal, my next cucumber was ravaged by beetles. I decided all was lost and cut my garden loose. Obviously you aren’t cut out for this. You obviously don’t know what you’re doing and I’m not going to teach you. I guess I made a series of bad choices with you. No, it’s not your fault, I shouldn’t have brought you here in the first place. 

Fast forward to today. I ran in to the friend whose dirt I borrow for said sad garden. And she told me that it had some ripe goodies in it that she was avoiding picking, but if I planned to abandon it she’d pick and eat gladly. I promised to swing by today and have a look on my way home from work.

You couldn’t imagine my surprise. Yes, it was overgrown and the crab grass and purslane had taken over. Sure, my squash plant had a bit of powdery mold in a couple of spots, and some bugs had done some feasting on my tomatoes. But in all, this was the little garden that could. My spot of dirt had produced this entire bounty:

 

…and this is after I gave a crop share to the bugs and chickens, and some things to the lady of the house. I had quite a moment out there, so proud of my little plants, sucking in the late afternoon late summer sun. I took my time lovingly picking and placing this bounty into my bag.

Then it hit me.

This garden captured my life this year. Trying so hard, too hard, to be something that someone else wanted it to be, then being abandoned by the same someone who thought that it just wasn’t worth it, someone so full of buyer’s remorse and not willing to give it a chance to be something great. Cutting it loose without even really giving it a try, cutting it down to size for not being what my ideal Sunset Dream Garden should be. Well, who the hell am I, anyway? And why would I do this, so quickly after it had just been done to me? Had I learned nothing at all in that experience?

Today, against all odds and after weeks of neglect, these plants showed me they were more than I bargained for. More bang for my buck than I could have imagined. If I had just had a little faith in them, gave them time to get established, trusted them to do what they set out to do, I could have watched them blossom and grow and be magnificent. Instead the land owner got to see that, and it made me a little sad. I apologized to my garden, and did some weeding and tending – then decided, no, you know what? It’s done better without me than it did with me. I’ll visit and pick what’s coming (I have TWO volunteer cherry tomatoes that are just getting ready to go nuts!) and trust it to do what it knows how to do.

This brought me back to me, to my new job, to our new house, our now healthy beast of a cat (who is literally chewing on my ankle vying for attention right now), and how, when a couple of horrible people tried to cut me down to size, tried to tell me that I was something I wasn’t (or better yet, was something that I most certainly am NOT), I didn’t just lay down and die. I sprang back. through the weeds, pushing away the bugs and pecking hens, and showed the world just what I could do, when left to my own devices. What do you think of me now? 

And that, my friends, was powerful.