Throughout my adult days, there have been the same threads always running through and determining how I spend my daily life. Caregiving, creating, and relating with plants. On repeat.
I have continually revolved around all of these themes, a recurring pattern of one after the next and then over again. I worked on farms, dedicated myself to the study and practice of midwifery, went to fashion design school. I have worked in a garden centre, been a postpartum doula and nanny, spent hour after countless hour creating jewelry and purses out of beads. I have been a landscaper. I have studied herbs and concocted herbal blends. I have designed, sewn and knit clothes for sale. I have been a medical assistant, a phlebotomist. In its own way, I have loved each job and each experience. For a short while, each has drowned out each of the other obsessions. But always, after a time, I have found myself feeling dissatisfied as my heart calls out to fulfill at least one other of my callings. And so I have gone through life switching out what I am doing, replacing one love for another, and round and round it has gone. A kind of wheel of career- job life, often wobbly, threatening to get a flat or fall off, causing me to spin out. I have always wanted more than to be immersed in a role. I want to be driven. However, I have never managed to feel that compulsion for any great length of time while gratifying only one division of myself..
But time went on, and I did begin to feel more unified. I don’t think I noticed at first.
I think that if we pay attention as we grow older, we can find ourselves becoming more satisfied with life. In some ways we become more content with the slowness of life, itself. But there is something else taking place. Experience can show us who we are. For so long I believed that the movement through and around my three great passions was just the way things are supposed to be. I had different seasons to my life: this one for being immensely creative, this one for medical work, that one for putting plants to the forefront. And so on. Even though I was always left feeling a tad unsettled, I felt it really was okay. And I suppose it was. I was getting to know myself better, during the more unstable periods of adulthood. I was making the most of what I had.
But then, I was given the incredible privilege of being able to buy a home with a small piece of land attached. Life began to shift into a new pattern. Though I hadn’t yet the clarity to realize this was happening I was moving beyond living “seasonally”.
When I first began to plant out my new garden, a garden that was really and truly mine, to do with what I pleased, I was plagued with incredible guilt. I thought of all the people living in apartments and condos who were stuck with no garden of their own. They didn’t have this luxury. Why did I get to plant a garden when so many others were not able to? While seemingly selfless in nature, these thoughts were actually self-absorbed and navel gazing. I assumed that everyone wants to turn over the soil of their entire front yard, remove the sod, and create the biggest garden they can. Since this had always been my main reason for wanting my own home, I hadn’t stopped to think that we don’t all want the same thing. While I know these kindred spirits do exist, I eventually realized that I could stop feeling bad about what I was so grateful to suddenly have. This happened when I began to look around. I realized that many homes are owned by their residents. (Many people don’t rent). That most of these gardens, from a plant obsessed perspective, are relatively sparse. It dawned on me that in actuality I was in the minority and that most people, when able, do NOT want to turn their entire yard into a garden. They do not grab a shovel every spare moment they have. They are not fantasizing about squeezing in one more perennial. True, they might love to garden, and they might gush over gorgeous flowers, but they are not quite so nutty about it as I am. And so, I embraced my good fortune and ran with it.
As time in my new home went on, I continued to sew clothes for myself and my kids. I enjoyed this immensely, though I still felt like I wasn’t finding enough time to be creative. I still felt a certain lack. I could not quiet the voice in me that was shouting out, very loud and very clear, for more.
I was spending so many hours immersed in caring for young children, I didn’t need to do any more caregiving! But still, when I went to work in our local medical clinic as the Medical Assistant and phlebotomist, I enjoyed it immensely. At least I did in the beginning. Interacting with the patients has been a joy. I love making the attempt to help each and every patient relax into what is usually a stressful situation, involving uncomfortable vulnerability. This is my favourite part of the job. At the start, I was learning so very much. The learning curve was steep and I felt I had to fake a lot of knowledge, such as about prescription medications. My background was in midwifery, not disease and aging. In the beginning, I had no idea what the difference was between metoprolol, metformin and rosuvastatin. As I mentioned, I wanted our patients to feel comfortable and safe and I didn’t think that admitting that I didn’t have a clue what a statin even was, would raise their confidence level. I did learn about all these medications, and how to do an EKG, and what level you want your clotting time to be if you are taking anti-coagulants. And so on and so on. Although it was exhausting, it was also exhilarating, and I loved delving into high-level caregiving again.
But after a time, the newness died down, I was still learning but the pace much less extreme. I admire western medicine. I believe in its value. Still, I couldn’t throw myself all the way in because, well, I am an herbal medicine maker. The Providers I worked with were very open to my knowledge. But I was not a primary caregiver. I have never wanted to become a primary caregiver. My heart was always at home in my garden and in the fields, with the medicine growing there.
I lost the passion for my work at the clinic. I also sewed less and less. I still have the fabric cut out for a dress I began two years ago. Maybe I will finish it for a grandchild someday? Who knows?! I still haven’t put the pieces away because I am not one to leave a project unfinished. Lol. Although I had never given up making skin balms and tinctures, I harvested more often and created ever more blends. I set out to perfect what I had been making for years. I began sharing these concoctions with more and more people, receiving more and more positive feedback. My enjoyment of putting together these products has only grown and it was with total joy that I taught myself to make botanically enriched soaps. I love helping in this capacity. Since the beginning, this fulfillment has always been real and lasting.
At the same time, the less I sewed, the more I played with flowers for the sheer pleasure of both the creativity and the experience of spending time with blooms indoors. My passion stretches from arranging fresh, cut flowers all the way to creating out of dried flowers. My excitement about dried flowers is growing exponentially. Although it has been a slow, cool spring, I already have twine strung across my studio ceiling, flowers hanging to dry. I am dreaming of creating many wreaths and dried arrangements this fall and winter and offering a dried flower subscription to those living both near and far.
Everything has come together into one. It occurred to me recently that I am no longer settling for one season for creativity, another for caregiving, and still yet another segment of my life to be spent in the garden. I don’t know how I managed this magic. All of my passions have met and are all existing, intertwined, interdependent, winding their ways together as one. I don’t know how I was granted such good fortune. However, I do know that I wake up grateful every day.
Your Local Small Market, Point Roberts Community Center: Saturday, May 21, 11am to 2pm
Saturday May 14 and Sunday, May 15, 11am to 5pm: The Garden Stand is open. Slow Botanicals are stocked.
Wishing you the best of weeks,