Another season of potential

Lilacs are the most perfect of buds, expertly wrapped in leathery veneer. Once the weather turns, they swell before our eyes, making kinetic the potential stored in them all winter.

I remember my mother cutting flowers from the lilac bush outside our back door, bouquets that spilled over a large snifter vase — the centerpiece of our dining room table. If I close my eyes, I can almost smell the memories.

That persevering bush from our childhood home has become old and brittle, and a large section broke this winter during a heavy snow. It stood sentry for more than 40 years, a witness to the comings and goings of my family. I can’t imagine the back door without it.

Perhaps it’s not done yet and holds another season of potential within.

Uncovering hidden growth

I spent most of yesterday cleaning away leaf litter and the remnants of last year’s garden. What started out as a chilly morning quickly moved to no-coat status courtesy of a bright, warming sun. I sawed — yes, sawed — down the dried plumes of Miscanthus and removed spent Sedum, Echinacea, and Rudbeckia stems that provided texture and height all winter.

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The old stalwarts of spring

It’s that time of year when we start to find out what’s coming back in the garden. Tufts of new growth pop out from the crowns of perennials as they break their dormancy. The usual suspects were up as I walked the garden this morning. Narcissus, Geum, Iris, and Sedum. They’re the ones I’d expect this early — the old stalwarts of spring with tough foliage that can stand dips below freezing.

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A sprig of spring

We woke to a snow globe of a day, wet flakes stirred into a frenzy by the trailing winds of the nefariously-named bomb cyclone. It made my decision to retire my winter coat for the season a bit short-sighted. On days like these, where the tease of spring is retracted by Jack Frost’s last gasps, it’s wonderful to come home and see the hope of a new season. The first vine of the Clematis starts I have growing on my kitchen sink has burst forth with a green only found in plants just born. This one is a C. jackmanii, so I think I’ll call it Jack Jack for now. Once its purple blooms grace the garden fence later this summer, I’ll give it a more regal name.

Our first inkling of spring

The march of the daffodils has begun. The length and warmth of days has slowly increased, enough to trigger the energy within the dormant bulbs to activate. I’ve lived long enough to not be surprised by the bright green tips emerging through winter’s brown, but each year I feel a joy as if I’ve never seen them before. An old friend, reincarnated, perhaps.

With less than two official weeks of winter left on the calendar, the daffodils’ arrival is the first sign of renewal. I haven’t yet added hellebore or witch hazel — the usual harbingers of winter’s end — in my new garden, so, for now, the trusty old daffodils will serve as our first inkling of spring.

Getting my math right

I deleted my Facebook account yesterday — the account that I opened in 2007 when the social media juggernaut was just starting to roll out of its college-only birthplace. It was a place where I posted more than 9,900 times — more than twice a day for over 11 years. It was a place where I met countless friends and shared so much of myself that I often ended up feeling exposed and empty. It was a place where I could be my best self, but often opened doors to my worst.

In the end it had to go because it was the place where I went to for the affirmation that I needed the most. I lived for the likes — and let their pulse become one with my own.

Today, I ran across this post on Instagram (where I’m still moderately active in a healthier way). It summed up what changed in me.

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I love this truth 🌻 #beingisbeautiful

A post shared by Kylie 🌻 McBeath (@beingisbeautiful) on

I will have to work harder to maintain my relationships with distant friends and family. Daily Facebook crossings give the illusion of depth. Now, those connections will require more intention than scrolling through a feed. In the end, I hope it gives them more meaning.

I think I finally have my math right as I open the next season of life.

Skychasing | 03.05.19

Frigid. That’s the only way to describe the first few days of March. The thermometer was lower in January, but there’s been something about the recent cold snap that goes straight to the bones. The sun dodged in and out between flurried squalls but never brought the warmth we’ve all be craving. Next week, perhaps.

Skychasing | 02.26.19

The last few months have been among the best of my life, both personally and professionally. I just described my life to a friend as “never having been more zen.” My inner circle has become more intimate and beautifully deep, taking center stage while the distractions of life have moved into the wings or disappeared altogether.

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Dear Facebook, here are some new rules

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Dear Facebook,

We’ve had this love-hate relationship for a while now. Just last week, I threatened to break up with you for good. I’ve tried so many ways of quitting you, only to return, IV needle in hand. It’s those bite-sized bits of information and affirmation you’ve got at your disposal, just enough of a hit to make me think I can’t live without you.

I’ve spent so much of my last 11 years plugged into your feed, much of it mindless scrolling. I’ve let you simultaneously command my attention and destroy my attention span. There is always something going on with you, never a breather to pay attention to anything or anyone else. I have trouble reading more than 20 pages in a book without you popping up in the back of my mind. I can’t get through a 30-minute sitcom with my son without wondering if you’ve doled out another like or comment.

That’s where the problem lives. I want my attention back — and you don’t have any intention of letting it go. Your sole purpose is to make it all about you.

2019 is going to be different. I’m reclaiming the intention in my attention.

You probably already know this, but I removed you from my phone. I’m sure it was a bit of a shock to know that you were no longer living at my fingertips, but I have to say it feels better. In just a few weeks, the urge for instant gratification is starting to wane. I’ve checked in once or twice a day via the web, so the withdrawls wouldn’t entice me into reinstalling you. I’ll consider this first step towards a healthier relationship with you a success.

Yes, that means I’m not going to completely break up with you. I’ve been sorely tempted, believe me, but then I’m reminded of the good things we’ve shared. The friends I’ve made through you. The networks you’ve helped me create. There’s still real value in our connection.

But we’re going to have some new rules (yes, just like Dua Lipa).

  • One: You will not return to my phone. We need our space. No more mindless interactions. Period.
  • Two: You’re no longer going to be the chronology of my life. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found myself in conversation and realize I have nothing to share. I’ve shared it all already with you, and you’ve broadcast it out to the world. The world doesn’t need to hear from me umpteen times a day.
  • Three: You’re not going to be there with me in the moment. I’m going to start living for the experience, not the share.
  • Four: We’re going to spend quality time when we are together. I’m going to use the tools you’ve already provided to see what I need to see and avoid the rabbit holes — and I’m only going to share things I’ve had time to intentionally construct.
  • Five: We’re going to be a positive in the world. At our best, we’ve brought a positive light into the world. The things I share with you will carry that compassion and intent.

I know you’re likely snickering, Good luck, buddy. But here’s the deal. I’m done blindly giving you my attention. I know where the deactive button is and I’m no longer afraid to use it.