Grow Where You Are Planted….

…is something I heard for the first time about two weeks ago. I was at Trader Joe’s picking up some groceries. As the woman in the checkout line in front of me was finishing her purchases, she was picking up her bags and looked at the young, male cashier and said “Grow where you are planted”. While he looked at her strangely and repeated the phrase back to her, as though he mis-heard something, she repeated it for him to confirm what she had said. At that moment, I looked at her and said “Grow where you are planted. I really like that. Thanks for sharing”. She looked at me appreciatively and smiled, nodded her head at me. My first thought was that perhaps she was a widow as well, and this statement resonated with her the same as me because we both “got it”. That, however, would mean I was judging her, which is not acceptable. I let it lie in my mind and just appreciated the statement, the situation and the small gift it was to both of us; me for receiving such a nice sentiment and then being able to give her the validation of understanding it. The cashier still looked confused by the whole thing. I was amused. Another gift to me…tis the season :wink:

Flash forward to yesterday when I received a package in the mail for the holidays. Who the package was from and why I received it isn’t important, but inside was a card which on the cover had the words “grow where you are planted”. Once again, I took pause with this statement for a few reasons. First, when something repetitive like this happens, I can’t help but think the universe is speaking to me in some way. Second, I’ve said before, and I’ll stay it again, I do not believe in coincidences in life. I don’t think the encounter at Trader Joe nor was receiving this card yesterday a coincidence.

In between these encounters was a trip to Chicago where I spent an always-too-short weekend enjoying time connecting with my family and friends filling my “happy tank”. The weekend was full of good times, great conversations, fun and laughter, and for the first time I found myself questioning what I was going back to in Seattle. This has not happened once on my weekend visits. Usually, like most of my visits, by the time it’s over, I’m ready to get back home to Seattle. To my son, my doggies, my home, my life here. But this trip was different.

Now don’t everyone get too excited – I’m not going anywhere. In this challenge in figuring out who I am, what makes me “tick” and really starting an entirely new life of unchartered waters, where I want to do this is still questionable. I love Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. I have a wonderful life here filled with family, friends, support and just the everyday things one establishes in a home. My heart is here. I also have and will always love Chicago and call it home. My family and friends with whom I have the deepest of connections with are there. My heart is also there in so many ways. So in my confusion of thinking about where the next chapter of my life might be at some point in the future, the words “grow where you are planted” very much have resonated with me and made me realize that it doesn’t matter where I am located; my growth will take place no matter where I decide to be. In fact, my growth takes place daily and it does so only by my choosing to be present and making decisions with a clear head and calm heart.

This brings me to another area of growth that seems to be the one I am asked about most often, “Are you seeing anyone”? For whatever reason, there seems to be this notion that moving forward in life equals starting to date again. I think this is a natural default. If I think back to my 20s, there was a natural hierarchy of life that took place, and it looked something like this:

  • Once you were dating someone, the question was “Are you serious”?
  • Once you were seriously dating someone, the question because “When are you getting engaged”?
  • Once you were engaged, the question became, “When’s the wedding date”?
  • And as soon as the wedding reception was taking place the question became, “When are you going to start having babies”?

For most, this is somewhat the norm, and I say this with the highest of generalizations, but I think you get the point I am making.

There is nothing in the natural hierarchy of life where I am a widow at age 44 losing the love of my life.

I don’t think about dating not because I am still living with my marriage to Ed. I will never, not love him. He will never, not be my husband. He will always be the love of my life and he will always live in my heart. I do think about dating but haven’t pursued it because (A) I have other priorities in finding my way and happiness right now including writing, connecting with those I hold closest to me, and just getting through each day and (B) frankly, I don’t think I’d even know if someone was flirting with me, hitting on me, or asking me out on a date. I’m fairly oblivious to these things, and always have been and (C) there is no “normal” path in this life. The path I choose is up to me without judgment from myself or anyone else.

I’m thinking with a clear head and calm heart.

Interestingly enough, Ed and I talked quite a bit what my life might look like after he was gone. Some call these conversations “gifts”, and to an extent, I agree. I would however, like the “gift receipt” receipt so I can exchange the conversation to have him back. I digress…Anyway, in these conversations Ed and I had, he always told me he wanted me to be happy. I would ask him what that meant, and did that mean he wanted me to meet someone else. His answer was never specific and only to say, “I want you to do what makes you happy – whatever that is. And I don’t want you to live like Nana did”. It took me a while to fully understand what he meant by these words, but I am starting to understand it more and more.

The more I try to live life fully – be present, be aware, find purpose and most importantly – being vulnerable and opening myself up to new things which I may or may not be successful, I realize that this is what is hard. Not living life and just existing in it is what I feel like my grandmother did for so many years after my grandfather died. She too was a young widow at age 61, and I don’t think she ever really “lived” again. She existed never moving from the same home she and my grandfather lived in, worked at her same job until she retired, and centered herself with her children and grandchildren. And all of this was fine for her, and frankly, I understand it, and now I understand she didn’t “grow where she was planted”. And I don’t judge her decisions. They were right for her. She will always be the same wonderful, amazing and strong Nana that I cherished until the moment I watched her take her last breadth. I love her immensely and miss her tremendously. In retrospect, her life taught me that the easy path is for me to do the same as she did; Go to work every day. Stick with the same routine. Stay holed up in my house watching Bravo TV shows (don’t judge). This is easy. On some days, I give myself a break and take the easy path and that’s okay. “Growing where I am planted” is what I strive for more and more though.

Living life is hard, but living life and all of the lessons that come along with it are what makes it all worth it. This is what Ed wanted for me because he knew that living life fully and with purpose is what would create my happiness – and that didn’t mean necessarily prioritizing doing it with someone else right away. He wanted me to do what I wanted, on my own terms, when I wanted, without fear and without concern about what anyone thought….anyone but him of course ;-) I work on this daily and mostly struggle, but small steps will get me there – including at some point meeting someone else.

So if you want to know how I am doing – really want to know – ask me what I am doing to live today. Connect with me in some way – call me, Skype me, text me, whatever – just connect. Deep meaningful connections and conversations are what make me the happiest. And when we connect, I want to know how you are living life. And if you want a gauge on what is moving me forward; ask me if I have been writing lately. Ask me if I’ve made any progress on that so-called book I keep talking about. Ask me what I have done to make a difference in someone else’s life. I think these are the things that are what I am finding to make me happiest, and what Ed was trying to tell me.

As we move through the holiday season, I wish everyone the happiest and healthiest of times with family and friends. I am thankful to have each and every one of you in my life, and that is the only gift I need. I encourage you to think about how you might “grow where you are planted” and in that growth, make your choices in life with a “clear head and calm heart”.

Strength, Courage, Wisdom….Faith, Love and Hope

XOXOXO,

Tracey

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