Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Vision Without a Plan is Just a Hallucination

"Dreams without movement are delusions, escapes, kid's play. You have to put your feet into your dreams if they're ever going to be reality. The dreamers we know and love today are the ones who worked the hardest." -Paul Newman

Back in January, a bunch of my girl friends, and I decided we were going to make vision boards for 2021 ... You know how it goes, one person asks, "Has anyone ever done this before?" and before you know it, you're in, like, a 20-person pact, and dipping into your stash of glue sticks you may or may not have ordered in bulk a couple of years ago ... Anyway, the great thing for me was that this little project coincided with the first assignment in the Floret Flower Farm Workshop I won a partial scholarship for last year, that I didn't even realize I'd won, at first.  Each year, Erin Benzakein, and the incredible Floret team put on a workshop for everyone from folks wanting to hone their gardening skills, while learning how to transform their backyard hobby into a small scale - high impact growing operation, to larger producers looking to fine tune their methods in order to successfully scale up their business model, and pretty much everyone in between.  What's more, they offer people who are interested in the program an opportunity to have their tuition fully covered ... I mean, free lifetime access to a program designed by one of the most successful flower farmers in the United States?  It's worth a shot, right?  Besides, everywhere I looked, it seemed like I was being nudged sometimes gently, and sometimes not so gently in this direction.  Don't get me wrong, I know algorithms are a thing, plus, I'm not really one to live my life based on everything being a sign, or symbol for something more, but some things in life are simply undeniable, and I think this was one of them, so I went ahead, and joined the list to be notified when the scholarship period opened up.

Soon enough, the contest arrived, and it seemed like a fairly straightforward application, plus a couple of essay questions, and a what, now?  [record scratch] A photograph to run with a short bio should you win.  I know this doesn't seem like that big of deal, but Reader, when I tell you I wanted to bawl my eyes out, I am not exaggerating.  I'm not what you'd consider a prolific selfie-taker, in fact, I have exactly one photograph of myself on my phone at this very moment, and we all know I've been coasting on my blog bio photo for the last 5 years, at least; never mind we were smack in the middle of pandemic pandemonium, so it wasn't like I could grab someone to help me out on a whim.  Still, how hard can it be to snap a quick pic, just get over yourself and do it, you're probably thinking, and honestly I wouldn't blame you, except last year was just one loooooong lesson in Murphy's law.  So many more things went wrong than things I thought were even going on.  Like, if you're spinning plates in the circus you might expect to drop a few if you don't give them the proper attention, but I had plates crashing that I didn't even know I was spinning, and by the end of the year I had a heckler just throwing plates at me.  When it came time to try out of the scholarship, the Southern end of Puget Sound was socked in with smoke from wildfires, my garden was next to dead, and just a month prior, with no warning, my landlord's landscape crew destroyed my shade garden ... The only consistently lush vegetation I could count on in my back yard, in turn leaving me with a literal dust-bowl.  I was devastated.  I also assumed the photograph accompanying my scholarship application should probably include something involving growing flowers, especially considering every previous winner has included something in that vein. 

Roses: Hot Cocoa, Leaping Salmon, Jude the Obscure

I bit the bullet, grabbed my camera, tripod, remote control, and the handful of roses I was able to
salvage, and this is what I able to come up with between my camera turning off multiple times, the weak battery in my remote, and the smoke choking me and burning my eyes ... I'd have to re-set the camera, and dive back onto the blanket (which happens to be my 2019 temperature blanket), and adjust everything to make sure the photo didn't turn out low-key pornographic before the camera decided to randomly turn off again.  I mean, if nothing else, I probably gave my next door neighbors something to laugh at since the entire back end of their house overlooks my yard. However, I've always felt that you should be willing to look at least a little bit foolish for the things, and people you love, and really want in your life, so I can't get too out of sorts over the whole ordeal, even though once the workshop was underway there was an entire section on photography dos and don'ts, and to be very clear, the above photo has just about every imaginable "don't" in it.  And you know what?  I wouldn't change a thing.  My little hummingbird came to visit, and get in on the photo sesh, and about a week later the tree (my favorite on the block) behind me was cut down, so I can't be anything but happy that I was able to capture this moment, even if it does look like I'm trying too hard.  The truth is, I was!  I was trying very hard not to lose my temper, burst into tears, and hurl my camera into the bay.  I was exhausted, frustrated, and ready to quit many times, but I didn't, and it was worth it.  I won.  

Ok, ok, I didn't win the full scholarship, but someone on the selection committee liked my essay enough to act as my benefactor, and personally pitch in, and significantly cut the price of the program down, which was cool enough on its own, and admittedly feels very Great Expectations-esque, which is fine by me as long as I'm not Miss Havisham in this scenario!  But when I became aware of the sheer volume of submissions they received, I was legitimately humbled to even be considered after the first round of cuts, to be perfectly honest.  At first, I got an email letting me know that I was not, in fact, a scholarship winner, but that I had the option of accepting a decreased price for the program ... You guys, I thought this was just a sales pitch, or like when you sign up to win something, and they're like, "Oops, not this time, but here's 25% off our product" that they offer to a bunch of randomly selected entrants.  NO!  In the next email that went out to everyone on the mailing list, I saw I was actually lucky number 13 (which felt humorously, and wildly appropriate for the year I was having!):

"After deliberating for many hours, we decided that choosing just eight was impossible. After a generous donor came forward to offer a partial scholarship for a grower in her home state, we upped the total to 12 full scholarships."

That's me!  And I was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, my friends, I accepted with gusto, and thanked the committee profusely.  Like I said just a moment ago, after reading some of the other applicants' stories, I truly can't believe I made it into the top 100, let alone anything after that.  You know when people say, "it's just an honor to be nominated" and you're like, yeah right.  For real, it is a sincere honor to even be in the company of the scholarship winners, they were each so deserving in their own way, it was actually difficult to feel anything but joy for them mainly because I don't believe that other people's blessings take anything away from me, or mine.  Besides, it was a huge morale booster that a complete stranger on that review board believed enough in me, or got a good enough chuckle out of my essay to invest in my vision.  That is not something I will easily forget, and I look forward to being able to pay it forward in the future.

Back to the vision board ... I was kind of stoked that it was the first assignment in the workshop, and I enjoyed learning about Erin's process for pulling hers together.  I know a lot of folks prefer to put specific goals all over their boards, but I'm a little more like Erin, where I'm more interested in allowing an overall vibe to emerge.  I might sneak a few concrete goals in here, and there, but for the most part this became a representation of how I want to experience the year ahead.  I'm not really the lose x amount of pounds, earn x amount of dollars type of girl, instead, I'll let abstract ideas take shape, and this time around the themes that came forward were about coming home to myself (something I've been feeling heavily since last Fall) the readiness to embrace what's next, remembering to always take good care of myself - I mean, we only have these bodies on loan for a little while, we may as well be good custodians, and even my word, and color of the year made it in, but mainly it's a 24" x 36" reminder to carve out the time to do the things that are important to me for no other reason than because I love them, and that's something I think everyone who makes a vision board should absolutely include!