Girl School for Grownups

Like having a big sister, but better because I can't boss you around!

Orchids and dandelions

on November 7, 2014


If I ever get another tattoo it will probably be the image of a dandelion. The puffs blowing away represent the impermanence of life and the importance of staying in the moment. The resilience of the dandelion is admirable. And my dog’s hair reminds me of a white fluffy ready-to-blow-away-at-any-moment flower.

I like to think of myself as a dandelion, needing little water, little-to-no soil, kind of able to just bloom anywhere. Growing up in a chaotic home meant that very early on I learned that the fewer needs you have, the better. And through the decades I’ve gotten better and better at needing very little. So I spent a long time getting by on very little sleep and a lot of caffeine and not much rest and quietly prided myself on all of this. And it worked, kind of, until it stopped working.

Over the last 10 years ever since I started taking an antidepressant, I’ve wrestled with the issue of self care. Someone at an Al Anon meeting talked about taking “exquisite care” of herself, and I could barely breathe in hearing those words. Being a boy mom hasn’t helped things. Who takes the longest to get ready? Who’s the most emotional member of the family? Who needs naps on a regular basis? It’s highly uncomfortable to admit that it’s me.

My friend Annette grows and shows orchids. She has a special greenhouse where she cares for them. Although I’m not a gardener, I’m pretty sure orchids need consistent humidity and special food and a watchful eye. With those things, they produce these amazing blooms. And though I like to think I’m a dandelion, the truth is that I’m an orchid. So regular meals and exercise and naps and quiet time (sounds a little like preschool, doesn’t it?) are good for anybody, but for me they’re vital. And try as I might, I will ALWAYS run into trouble when I act as though I’m a dandelion.

So today I humbly admit that I am an orchid. And there is a nap in my future.

3 responses to “Orchids and dandelions

  1. Amy says:

    Beautiful, Leslie. If it makes you feel any better, I would bet most women are orchids, too. I know I am one and I embrace it!

  2. Jacqui says:

    Lovely, Leslie. I’m so happy that you’re “allowing” yourself to recognize your own needs and hopefully taking the next step, which is not feeling guilty when asking others to meet them. Taking pride in denying yourself is a house of cards.

  3. Julia says:

    Um wow … Epiphany …
    “Growing up in a chaotic home meant that very early on I learned that the fewer needs you have, the better.” This put words to the way I have and continue to operate in my life! Now to accept that I am an orchid and need & am worthy of care. XOXOXOXO

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