This is the year of the sunflower, and the drought, and a few other things.
After last year’s bust of a sunflower crop, my husband, Radames, nurtured these beauties through woodchuck attacks and squirrel carnage. Today, he picked the last of this particular batch…big huge blooms that the chipmunks were munching away at…we will keep them on the table a few days and then put them outside, up high, for the birds.
In celebration of 19 years here, I thought I’d try a theme for a while: 19 years on the farm. I’ll let you know if it works out. My husband said to tell you this isn’t a farm, and it really isn’t. But it was a farm and it is a lot closer to a farm than my homeland, the suburbs. I like to say I live out in the middle of nowhere but then I am reminded that there is a Dunkin Donuts about 4 miles down the road.
As a companion to my post on bullying, I dug through my archives to find this piece on branding that I wrote several years ago.
I have taught, and worked, individually with over 2000 people, children and adults. I have witnessed the same patterns over and over in human behavior. I am not a scholar of behavior, but I have found one pattern disturbing. People get branded by the society around them and then behave to fulfill the expectation. The society starts with childhood family and moves on through peoples’ lives.
When people are stuck and I have posed options to them, the responses have stunned me…their roots in voices miles, decades away. I wrote this for the artist in the engineer and the engineer in the artist; the leader in the the group of followers and the follower in the leader; and of course, the hero in the scapegoat. Circa 2011
Imagine you are walking down the streets of New York City and you have not been branded yet. There is no story tagged to you, like a piece of tobacco rolled up in thin white paper without a name, you no longer have a label or a story. Gone is your award for class clown, bully, or friend, along with your tag lines: the family hero, writer, artist, black sheep, and on and on.
You, like the pieces of tobacco rolled in thin white paper have no brand. You are free to create your own brand. You can shake off what defined you and write your own story. Like the Virginia Slim, you can ‘go a long way baby.’ The projections of you can be wiped out like your fb account. This is what happened when I rebranded my dog Mu.
Mu was our first puppy. I fell in love with her from the beginning; failing to tell my husband she was not a pure bred until we were half way home. Five months into our relationship, things went bad. Mu grew powerful and started yanking at my shirt sleeve at the end of our walk. The louder I yelled, the more she tugged.
We went for walks or rather she did, with me almost achieving lift off as she dragged me down the path. What to do with this mutt, we should have bought a pure bred?
I told so many stories about my bad, bad dog, that people who knew me then, often ask now, “what ever happened with your crazy dog?”
Then one day, I picked Mu up from an overnight at the vet. I could hardly believe my eyes; there she stood, straight and still with the vet. I asked how she behaved: “Great, she is a sweetheart.”
On my way home I realized Mu was not crazy after all. I needed owner training. With the help of a kind friend, Cathy, I took control of the leash.
I then changed the story. Mu truly was a sweet dog and I started telling people that. In a few short conversations, my little Mu, became branded as the best little boxer this side of the Atlantic.
Now, back in New York City, as you walk through those streets smelling the car fumes and seeing the lights of possibility, you can take that energy and mold yourself into the creature you want to be ~ the one that lives on your own terms and sits like The Thinker, real or metaphorical, its own divine creation, living just once in a burst of beautiful light.
Like Don Draper of my once favorite show Mad Men, you can write your soul, for better or for worse. And as Don did, and I did for Mu you can take a story that condemns you, rewrite it, start spreading it, and change it.
This picture was originally taken in 2012, I think. It was a sunflower that just grew and grew. It may have been one that my husband let take root, even though it contrasted with his vision for that particular area of landscape.
Like many things in nature, it can be a metaphor for our lives. We reach a peak of growth and then as we decline, whenever that moment begins, we are laden with the ripeness of our time. When that seed spreads, it may flower, feed other life, or disappear. It is the nature of things.
To see this sunflower in its moment, its fullness, on the brink of decline and then to revisit it nearly four years later, is a bit of magic.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
I found somewhere in my archives that at 16 I wanted to be a photojournalist. I was discovering the New York Times then and I was thinking action, adventure, and travel. That was good until I discovered in college, I really did not like flying, and until I discovered later in life, that I am a bit of a home body. Creature comforts trump adventure for me. So, as I am always telling my friend Myra, one must bloom where they are planted. Ironically, I am in the middle of a lot of vegetation and life with a gardener. So, here is a collection of some of the pictures, many of which have appeared here before.