Doing New Things, Reluctantly


The Lilacs Bloom, The Garden Grows, I Find Joy in Doing Something New.

A view of our patio and my old puppy dog.

I grew up in Southern California in a single parent family and we did not have the time or the space to garden. My mom always kept our yard and house spruced with pretty potted flowers, but apart from the ubiquitous fruit trees, growing food was unheard of.

Several weeks ago, thanks to my husband’s adventurous fortitude, we planted some seeds and they continue to grow, some at lightning speeds, and some seemingly much slower than last year.

As my husband is the one working the long hours outside the home, watering all the little growing things has fallen to me.

I hate being out in the plain view of my neighbors, who might yell at me for not picking up dog poop in our shared front yard fast enough, but I’m enjoying the garden time in spite of myself.

I even find myself pulling weeds.

Heck, the Green Zebra, Purple Cherokees, and all number of others veggies aren’t the only things growing right now.

I’m growing too!

Heirloom tomato sprouts.

I’ve always joked that my inertia is at rest. I’m certainly not much of a doer.

(I have a problem with do-nothingism.)

If it weren’t for my husband, who knows how long it would take to discover my love of growing fruits and veggies?

He’s been asking me daily where I think we should put the fennel, or the radicchio, or the Japanese eggplants, and Armenian cucumbers, not to mention all the tomatoes – six varieties!

And every day, I answer, “I don’t know, babe.”

Because until today, when I suddenly found myself enjoying the watering and the weeding, I hadn’t realized how much gardening space we’ve lost to the path our neighbor is putting in.

I was a reluctant gardener, really not present or observant about what we were doing.

Heirloom tomato seedlings.

But, now I look forward to getting out there with Tim and squeezing all these little guys into our limited garden space.

Some will have to go in pots, I think.

I count myself lucky that I married such a patient and encouraging man. He doesn’t nag at me, but he gently urges me to help out with the gardening, and slowly, I become less afraid to do things I’ve never done before.

I cannot wait until the fresh veggies are coming out our ears.

And, as I often do, I’ll quote the little girl on the Shake’N Bake commercial, “And I helped!”

Veggie seedlings.

Another view of our patio.

View of our garden and new path.

Another view of our patio.

What Is Your Measure Of Success?

One of the hallmarks of depression is supposedly low self-esteem. I would have told you during my years of clinical depression that my self-esteem was fine. I liked myself. I thought I was an inherently good person. I never did what I’d observed in a few others – verbally berate myself as stupid and worthless – I considered that to be pathetic behavior.

But looking back, I cannot deny that my self-confidence was nil. I felt petrified by my fear of uncertainty and incompetence. This fear prevented me from learning what steps to take to achieve in my endeavors and from knowing how to socialize with others. These qualities unfortunately lead to a downward, self-perpetuating spiral of depression. You feel terrible, you feel unable to do anything, you do nothing, you feel worse.

For me, turning thirty has been a welcome transformation in my life. I have a lot more confidence in myself, both in that I can take steps to minimize my ignorance about whatever activities I wish to take on, and also in that I care less what others think of me. One of the easiest ways to damage your self-image is to get caught up in shoulds. I should have a career, I should have children, I should volunteer, I should be able to keep a clean house, I should be able to throw fun dinner parties.

I’ve stopped listening to that inner voice that tells me I’m not successful enough by measurable standards. So I’m not good at having a career; nor am I good at domestic skills. Where does that leave me? It leaves me the compassionate, interesting person that I am! It leaves me here in the moment feeling gratitude for my miraculous, mundane life. I’m learning that it is enough just to be. And a thousand times better when you pair that being with a connection to those you love.

I love being married. I love being a daughter, a sister, a teacher, and a friend. I think I will love being a mother. I love connecting with others, something I wasn’t able to do when deeply depressed. This is what it is to be joyful. This gives me not only confidence, but faith that I will be successful in life whether or not I have physical markers to show for it.

At least, this is what I tell myself. : )

On Joy And Housewifery

I need a change.

Further reflections on the title of my blog.

Once you’ve been blogging for a good while, you can’t really change your blog’s name.
The current title just came to me one day when I was reflecting on how difficult it was for me to write on my original knitting blog, The Shaggy Dog Story. Once the name popped into my head, I couldn’t shake it. It gave me a sort of theme to focus my writing, but it was broader than knitting and would allow for me to write things I wasn’t sure belonged on a knitting blog.

I had at one time started a secret journal called Selective Blindness For Joy. I loved that title, but I was starting to outgrow its bleak message. “Selective Blindness For Joy” is what afflicts me during bouts of depression. It’s how I think I’ve lived a lot of my life, but as I found myself married and turning 30, that was beginning to change. My husband has taught me how to see joy in life and I guess I wanted to reflect that new outlook in the title of my blog.

So, not wanting to continue in the negative vein of Selective Blindness, I suddenly felt that I wanted my life to encompass joy. Along with that I had just learned that there was a name for the situation that I grew up in – hoarding. I now have misgivings about that unfortunate name, compulsive hoarding, but at the time, when my mom admitted to me that she was a hoarder, I finally felt that this vague dysfunction that had plagued me and made me feel different my whole life was more solidified. It was defined by boundaries. I’m not a defective person, I’m not permanently damaged and doomed to suffer depression, I’m just the product of a parent who is severely chronically disorganized.

But, why Housewife? Once I realized that I wanted to write about my struggle to become domestically successful given my upbringing, I couldn’t get the phrase Joyful Housewife out of my head. Housewife as a concept encompasses everything I’m passionate about in life good and bad. It isn’t that I fully support the use of the word to describe women, it’s that I am okay with my ambiguity about that word and all of the issues it conjures up. I’m obsessed with the search for what it means to be a self-actualized woman. I’m obsessed with the quest to balance work life, home life, and motherhood. Seeing the word housewife every time I write urges me to examine these feelings, questions, and issues.

I want to drop the word from the title of my blog daily, but what should I replace it with?

I’d kind of like to revert to Selective Blindness For Joy adding the tagline Domestic Bliss, Eventually.