wrestling with carrots

carrots - before beauty treatment

I volunteer for an organization that is part public/community garden, part harvest market, part nursery, and part educational resource.

I love it there.

In the beginning, all I did was weed. I didn’t mind. It’s quiet, peaceful work that requires patience and persistence, which it turns out I have when it comes to weeding. I’m the same with untying difficult knots. Can’t get your shoes off? Poor thing…come over here and let me take a look at the problem.

Certain activities bring out my perfectionism – without the Type A personality, of course. Uh, why do you still have your shoes on? I didn’t unknot your shoes for fun, you know. Next time, can you take them off before entering my blog? Here are some slippers you can wear (which I will burn immediately after you leave).

A weeder’s job is never done. Ever. I began to think that I would never graduate to doing anything else.

A few weeks ago, another fellow weeder and I were asked to help with some planting. We were so thrilled that our egos ballooned up over our heads.

We made it!! We’re too legit to quit!!

garden

A week later, the garden manager asked me to help harvest the broccoli:

“Get a clipper from the barn – ” He instructed.
My ego starting floating up into the air again. I quickly returned and started to cut some of the heads of broccoli, realizing that some of the stalks were way too thick for the clippers.
“How do I cut some of the bigger stalks? I don’t want to hack at them.” I said to the manager, holding up my narrow clippers.
“Well…first of all, those are wire cutters.”

Ego properly deflated.

I knew how ridiculous the situation was, so I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. He gave me his clippers and went off to get another pair. I put my head down and started working. I also harvested snap peas and then remembered the manager saying they needed carrots, too.

I couldn’t find him, so I asked someone else which carrots to harvest. I hadn’t a clue.

“Look at these tall greens,” She pointed to a large clump of carrot tops. “You could pull the more mature ones.”

Those were some stubborn carrots. I pulled, dug, and wrestled until I had sweat falling into my eyes (and everywhere else). Sometimes I was left with only the tops in my fist. If I had more time, I could have gotten more of them out, but everyone was beginning to leave and I still had to cut the tops and rinse them. As I was doing this, the garden manager showed up with another basket of carrots. He didn’t pick many mature ones – most of them were quite tiny.

Note to self: always find the manager and ask him how he wants things done.

carrots - after

My supervisors are loose and forgiving. They aren’t looking for perfection, which is perfect for an imperfect person who thinks she needs to be perfect. What they’re looking for is willingness, and  I am more than willing to learn and add to my growing base of knowledge (and superpowers). I predict all of this will come in very handy in the future…

 

lights, camera, refraction!

in the shadow of the sun

Check out the weekly WordPress Photo Challenge for more great images!

refraction: the change of direction of a ray of light, sound, heat, or the like, in passing obliquely from one medium into another in which its wave velocity is different.

[I read that definition about 16 times and kept getting lost at ‘obliquely‘. They might as well have used the word oblongitudinal or trigonomical.]

I’m finding my way with photography. It’s a beautiful thing, this marriage between your eye and the camera. Sometimes we fight. Surprisingly, I’m usually the one complaining: Hey Camera, why’d you place that tree limb directly behind their head? You made them look like a human shish kabob. But then I laugh, because I enjoy Camera’s dark sense of humor.

When I took the above photo with my iPhone, I pretty much shot straight into the sun. All I did was frame the sun, completely ignoring what was lurking in the shadows. When I got home, I lifted the veil a bit on the photo.

Do you ever feel like you are rewarded with something surprisingly beautiful when you review your photos? What about when you enhance and/or crop them to tell a certain story, convey a mood? Or perhaps you don’t have to do anything at all and it speaks for itself. This is what I love about taking photos. It gives me great joy to uncover something I didn’t know was there. I like being surprised (in a nice way, not a hiding-behind-my-bedroom-door kind of way).

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I know what I’m doing. I prefer not to know too much about photography except for the very basics. As you might have guessed from my difficulty with that rascally word ‘obliquely’, my mind starts to spin at the mention of ISOs, apertures and shutter speed. Whenever I tell people this, they try their best to explain (very slowly) what these things mean, stopping only after my head falls off my neck and rolls underneath the coffee table. This disgusts them and eventually, they give up.

I’m taking a trip soon, but am only bringing along my point-and-shoot camera; I don’t feel like lugging around my borrowed DSLR, especially when it might rain everyday. I’m looking forward to some new scenery.

DSLR. I think that stands for Digital Single Lady Reflects. How lovely. (Please don’t correct me with the real definition. It’s the only way I can keep my head reattached long enough to finish this post.)

 

teamwork

I think Mr. T is trying to smile, but his gold chains just won't allow it.

I think Mr. T is trying to smile, but his gold chains just won’t allow it.

“I love it when a plan comes together.”
~ John “Hannibal” Smith, The A-Team

Me, too, Hannibal, me too.

When I wrote about the different voices I write with, I saw that those voices belong to team of players: joy, patience, irony, love, the real me, the storyteller, the critic & the judge, fear, uncertainty, the perfectionist. And sometimes I forget to be a team leader. Without a team leader, disorganization and anarchy are a stone’s throw away. So what to do? Assemble them together and allow them to bring their individual strengths to the table. Above all, you’ve got to lead the rag tag bunch.

Have you ever watched “Top Chef”? Specifically the episodes in which the contestants have to work in teams? If you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about. A team of alpha dogs will gnash, crash, and jockey amongst each other to rise above the rest, upsetting the potential for a beautiful group effort. A team of peaceful non-combatants with no discernible leader will feel the love, but lose the power of a concise, focused meal. And sometimes there is a loose cannon that upsets any potential balance. They don’t want to play nice. Whenever I see this person on a team, I think, oh no…they’re going to ruin it for everyone…

On my team, this role is played by The Judge. And The Judge never travels without Stewart Martha, the intellectualizing Overthinker, and…where are they?…Fear is around here somewhere. Probably hiding out, as usual, waiting for the imperfect time to jump out and scare the crap out of me. Holy hell, they can be a menacing gang. They are incredibly irritating, mostly when they are allowed to run around, turn tables over, and cause mayhem. Because they know they can.

I’m taking a fresh look at my peeps, my role as a leader, and how to utilize everyone’s strengths and allow them to lead with those strengths. I don’t want to kick any of them out. I need all of them.

I love it when a team comes together.

*this post was heavily influenced by an article written by Martha Beck, The Avengers, and my involvement with the best team I’ve ever been on, where all members set their egos aside to create a strength of One.

 

Walking Tall (Even Though I’m Not)

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know that I have a fondness for self-deprecating humor. I’ve used it unconsciously and consciously and thought it was quite harmless. I didn’t mind making people laugh at my expense.

Except…I noticed (and it was also pointed out to me) that making fun of what I think are my real deficiencies doesn’t do me or anyone else any favors. Not taking yourself too seriously is a good thing; turn it against yourself too often and you weaken yourself with your own sucker punches.

I’ve made fun of my height, legs, cellulite, age, over thinking…well, I think that’s enough to begin with. We’re all self-critical to varying degrees, but when it plays heavily on our insecurities, enough is enough. Yes, I want to be a lot taller, have different shaped legs, dimple-free skin, be younger, and I want to stop thinking so damn much. But unless I have bone extension surgery, can turn back time, and stop being an INFJ, well, it ain’t gonna happen.   

As I tackle Project Jane and work on my “stuff”, I want to embody this mantra: Own and learn to embrace what you have, who you are, and that you are a work in progress. The stronger you are at your base, the stronger you will be against your inner critic and outside forces. Why not focus on your assets as opposed to highlighting what you think are your weaknesses?

Easier said than done, I know. It’s taken me a long time to even get to this point and even then, I falter. I just want to make sure I don’t falter too far or for too long.

It’s funny, for years I would walk down the hallways at work with my unusually fast, stompy stride, always giving people the impression that wherever I was going, it was important. And I needed to get there immediately. Sometimes it was true, other times, I had no pressing agenda. I’ve found myself morphing that walk into a strong, bouncy, purposeful stride. Like one of my Zumba teachers says, “Don’t know what you’re doing? Fake it!!!

Didn’t anyone tell you? I may be 4′ 11″, but I can be 6′ 0″ tall inside…

Blogging on a Runner’s High

Victory!!

Today was the first day I actually felt good while running.  I mean really good.  My body didn’t argue with me, the weather was beautiful, my mind strong.  And I felt happy.

Not every day is or will be like this, but I realized that it’s important to know this feeling, to know what it is that makes you feel good so that you can more easily recognize what feels off or wrong.

On a different note, today I learned that I can look at visitor stats for my blog.  Granted, not many people go to my blog, but I was shocked to see that a few people outside of the U.S. have visited.  So I have to give a shout out to:

United Kingdom
Australia
Canada
Belgium
Poland
Kenya

Of course, this doesn’t mean anyone actually read anything I wrote.  They could have accidentally gone to a post, thought “What the #!%*?” and immediately clicked their heels and disappeared.  But that’s okay.  I mean, someone in Kenya looked at my blog.  For real?  Thank you, Kenya!!  I love you!!  In fact, I love all of you!!

I think I’m still on my runner’s high…