Survive and Thrive

We played hookie from school the other day and found ourselves immersed in the scenery at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, WA.

This verdant place holds fond memories of tip-toeing down garden paths, formal wine tastings, and that first hypnotic sip of Col Solare.

But there wouldn’t be any wine tastings on this day of kid-filled fun: silly photos, a fun movie, copious amounts of junk food, and memory making.

Chateau Ste. Michelle offered the fresh air, cool breeze and earthy scent of garden shrubs, dirt and floral perfume– the scent of life, and it was just what we needed.

Then, as my son excitedly walked down a dark path (leave it to boys), he found a secret space, right there under the Japanese Maples. And that’s when those vague thoughts I’d been having on thriving came to fruition.

I’m sure I have mentioned this before in recent posts, but I’ll say it again: It has been a long winter here in Seattle. The days have been overcast, temperatures are just beginning to warm as we start June, and I haven’t been able to get a natural dose of Vitamin D since 2010 (well, not completely true, but you get the point).

So the garden is a place we Seattleites go to experience life, growth and a dose of awareness. Seeing something pop up out of the dirt reminds me that I’m alive, that there is purpose.

But as often happens, flowers burn from too-hot compost or strong fertilizer, and succumb to the wake of a slug’s slippery slurry. Just yesterday while taking the Chihuahua tinkle, I bent over and hovered my face over a sorry bunch of pansies, and gasped at the sight of the enemy slug. Not expecting to see it, I had to use the only tools I had on me, my hands, to hoist them onto other foraging ventures. *eeuuww*

A gardener’s job, amateur or not, is to assess whether plants, trees, seeds and flowers are surviving, and dare I say, thriving. Much of the time I have to say that my garden is hanging on by a weak tendril of life, as I supply water and nutrition at the last possible moment before it’s too late (and sometimes it really is too late). Call me lazy, absent-minded, neglectful, selfish, or just plain…behind.

And I wonder if I flirt with that last possible moment in other areas of my life: are my kids thriving? my marriage? other relationships? the sorry carnival goldfish we’ve had for two years when we were only expecting to have it for 2 weeks? And what about me? Am I merely surviving in suburbia, or am I thriving.

I confess some days I feel like a rusty weed poking out of a cracked desert floor, barely surviving under the heat and pressure of life. But then, in the surviving, the pushing through, the perseverance, and the dedication to this life, I begin to thrive a little bit, and then a little bit more.

So when I followed my son, and then my squeeling girls, around the dark path to the Japanese Maples, I took a deep breath and admired with child-like giddiness the beauty and age of these trees.

That’s why I will treasure this photo, silly as it is, because it reminds me to enjoy life, and not just that, but to embrace it like a loved one. The key to thriving lies within benchmarks, checking in, goal setting, and sometimes in playing hookie.

Go have some fun!

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