The Parable of the Succulents

I don't know much about gardening or succulents; I only know what I've read from other blogs and gardening forums. So this urban gardening project requires a lot of faith on my part—trusting things I don't fully (or maybe even remotely) understand. I probably check up on my plants more often than I should. Patience is a life skill I'm still working on.

It's funny how things we think we know for sure turn out to be completely wrong. Things we feel are thriving may actually have plateaued; those we think are dying are actually the ones who, in their struggle, are putting out roots that will anchor them for future growth.

Of all the succulent leaves I've left out to root, this was the one that looked like it had the least potential. Shriveled, shrunken and sad-looking next to its plump, green neighbors. Every day, I'd check all the other leaves for the roots that all the guides and garden gurus said would eventually emerge from the callouses. Every day, I've had to set aside my disappointment when I find nothing there. I hadn't even thought to check this sorry-looking one, so insignificant it seemed.

And yet, today, as I was moving it to make room for another, what should I find but these little white threads—enough to keep me hanging on.

Recipe for Success: Stop Planning, Start Doing

I don't think any house should be without an oven, but that's just me. I'm not a fantastic baker (unlike my neighbor who is an unassuming but undiscovered Cake Boss), but I've loved to bake ever since I was little when my mom would let me mix the batter and lick the spoon. I miss those innocent days before people cared about salmonella and sugar content. 

When we moved to our new townhouse, we had to give up the oven my mom had passed down to me. I agreed, but only on the condition that we'd get a new one to fit the smaller space. A year passed and due to financial limitations, the promise was still only a promise. Then we got the money (a gift from my mom—I love you, Mom!), but couldn't buy it until we were absolutely sure we didn't need the money for something else. (You'd be surprised how often that happens when you have a child.) When we finally bought the oven, it took weeks before we could have it installed—wiring problems, worker problems, we'll do it tomorrow problems. Then it was installed but I had three projects on my plate and deadlines to meet. Then work loosened up and we didn't have any darn vanilla. When we got the vanilla, we'd run out of brown sugar. When we'd gathered all the ingredients, E just wouldn't take a nap.

It seems like, as with most of my projects, having the perfect conditions is just wishful thinking.

Before I Go

"Edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning, you greet me." I haven't sung this in a while. E signs "baby" and says, "Ba?" Yes, darling, do you remember?

She climbs onto me and rests her head on my arm so that I have to cradle her, so I can rock her. She's getting heavy. "Baby," she signs again. 

Most days, she resists the nap and the lullaby that precedes it. She's discovering toddlerhood; she's just learned to walk, but she wants to run. She's starting to forget to reach for my hand. She refuses it when I offer it.

But, today, she's asking for a song. This song. When I start a different tune, she signs "baby." When I stop singing, two little hands come together with fingers closed: "Again. Again." Perhaps she senses that today is different and I won't be there when she wakes up. Work will take me away from her for today. I'll be back tonight, but that's a few hours later than she's used to—than I'm used to. 

Maybe as long as I'm singing, we can both pretend she's still a baby. Maybe if she were still a baby, I wouldn't have the heart to leave. 

"Blossom of snow, may you bloom and grow, bloom and grow forever." But not today while I'm away from you. Just for today, stay exactly as you are, not a millimeter taller. Don't learn a new word. Don't walk any faster. Don't be a minute older than you are right now. (Later that night, I see the tiny tips of two new bottom teeth. So willful, this child.)

I keep singing, nursing and rocking her. She doesn't fall asleep. I don't mind.

(Originally posted on Hi!, a wonderful writer's community. )

Hello and Welcome

Before you meet me, you will probably meet Ella. She's the one running five feet ahead—more, if she's barefoot and I have heels on—the one who never looks where she's going yet never seems to bump into things, or at least nothing she can't climb over and conquer. Always curious, always experimenting, always looking under, inside and (her latest favorite) through things. Constantly in motion, the blur in most of her photos, she's just learned what it means to live out loud, loudly.

If ever there were a life enthusiast, it's her, not me. I, her mother, simply tag along (at a respectful distance when I can help it), experiencing life more fully because she first poked it or picked it up. It's because of her that I finally decided to write a blog.

Before I was her mom, I was the editor in chief of a lifestyle magazine for tween girls, which in between Bieber news and 1D swooning aimed to empower young girls to be their best selves, embrace their individuality and explore their worlds confidently. I'd like to think of those seven and a half years as boot camp. Within a few months of having Ella, I'd packed away my comfy, carefully decorated boss-lady cubicle (with a view!), unsure of what my life would be like after saying goodbye to the life I'd known for so long, being who I thought I would always be, letting go of the goals I'd always had.

That new life, it turns out, is all sorts of wonderful.

Because I'm not so sure of myself anymore, I can do things I don't really know how to do, like gardening, making things, decorating, cooking, baking—oh, and parenting. Life is more fun when you're able to make a mess of things on a regular basis.

This realization didn't happen at once, mind you. I'm still learning how to be an imperfectionist. I was an editor for so long that sometimes all I can see around me are the mistakes. Sometimes, it takes all my inner strength to resist focusing on the flaws, in my life, in my work, in myself, but if I can start embracing this beautiful mess of a life I've been given, my hope is that I'll get better at embracing the messiness of being a mom to my beautiful daughter.

Because she's always running ahead of me, barefoot when I just bought her new shoes, never looking where she's going and never going where she's supposed to, the blur in my carefully composed photos, the curious finger in the middle of my layer cake. I'm grateful for every day that I get to learn how to love her better and love all the things I'm learning because of her.

Once upon a time, my motto was "live, love, laugh" (because it was everyone's motto) but now it's this:

"I believe in the transformative power of God, love, words, travel, music, and coffee."

That pretty much sums up all you need to know about me. At any given time, I will have at least two of the above fueling my life. Preferably all. At the same time.

Anything else you want to know about me? You can email me at[at]