Powerful Use of Next Steps: Trash or TLC

In our neck of the Midwest woods, it’s been a long, hot summer. Little did I know when planting and moving flowers to our west-facing balcony I’d have to make a decision on many of them whether their next steps would be trash or TLC.

I didn’t used to be so crazy about having flowers. Last summer our younger granddaughter, Gracie, asked me why I had so many. It took me a minute, then I told her because I don’t have kids at home anymore, and I need something to take care of.

One of the greatest gifts our daughter, Mary, has given and reinforced in her daughters, is compassionate and empathic hearts. 

Earlier in the year, their family pet, Peanut, passed away. Gracie grieved . . . a lot. Soon after telling her the flowers give me something to take care of, she told her mother she needed a plant.

Isn’t it amazing how children can make us dig deeper into ourselves, and change our perspectives, Dear Reader? Gracie made me refocus on choices about trash or TLC next steps in several things. She also made me consider how many of those choices are out of routine or neglect, and how many were intentional.

Last winter I became more intentional about my flowers. Yes, I know, they’re called annuals for a reason, but I enjoyed their summer beauty so much, I couldn’t bear to choose the trash.

Winter darkness is hard for this gal, who is already prone to depression. Pardon my sentimentality, Dear Reader, but having these sweet beauties beckon me from our bedroom window each day was a delighful blessing. A little extra TLC to them came back to me daily as renewed hope.

This spring, I thought I’d branch out with some new kinds of flowers. I researched, read their little instruction tags, and talked to nursery specialists. I had high hopes for our first balcony rail planter.

balcony planter

And here they are! Pansies, coleus, dianthus, violets, and some unnamed grass I decided to take a chance on. I babied these per all the research, instructions, etc. And I really thought they were going to take off, thanks to all my TLC.

Ummm . . . not so much!

The dianthus below are about all that’s left for that planter. And what little troopers they are! Just when I think heat has sapped all their glory and resilience, and they are headed for the trash, out pops a hot pink statement of confidence. Not sure I’ll give dianthus another try next summer or not, but I just learned the pink variety are perenials. We’ll see.

Sometimes the decision between trash and TLC, no matter what the circumstances is more difficult than others, isn’t it, Dear Reader? (This retired educator is always looking for connections, even between flowers and life choices.)

This formerly stalwart fellow may be my biggest heartbreak. I got three very small succulents for my last classroom.

This guy was barely the size of a quarter.  He survived a year under a lamp, no windows at all, then thrived when I brought him and his friends home to our screened in back porch.

Do you see the white circle? After four years, in and out of sunlight, and not forming a joint, it appears that his little neck has broken. I am ridiculously sad at the notion.

And now I second guess myself over something as simple as a houseplant. Could a dowel rod to help prop his little head up, that I thought of as tender loving care, actually have been the start of his demise? How silly, how foolish! And how easy to misdirect malaise about life choices, big and small, to a mere houseplant.

Wow, Dear Reader! Maybe this blog should come with a warning label, or maybe not. Maybe there are times when it’s good to reflect and refocus, times to consider how we relegate things for either the trash or TLC.

As the summer slowly draws to a close, what are you reflecting and refocusing on these days, Dear Reader? I pray your time of introspection instills peace, joy, and new energy in your daily life.

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