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Finding Unexpected Joy in a Succulent Plant

Rae Hering

Photo credit: micheleroohani.com
Photo credit: micheleroohani.com

I wasn’t always the ideal candidate to nurture life.  In college my dorm was unimaginably messy, I regularly slept on a pile of clothes in lieu of a bed, and in the midst of all this, I managed to kill multiple cacti.  I repeat, the easiest plants to keep alive: cacti.

Photo credit: seongpodong.koreanconsulting
Photo credit: seongpodong.koreanconsulting

Maybe because of these failed attempts (as weak as they were), I resigned myself to thinking my thumb was not so much green as it was toxic, and didn’t really think about it much beyond this resignation.

But years later, when I was moving into my first, very-own, all-to-myself apartment, I got the urge to buy some plants.  It was kind of a weird sensation.  Where is this coming from?  I was at least willing to suspend my long-held allegations of horticulture incompetency just long enough to tantalize my intrigue.

Photo credit: tripadvisor.com
Photo credit: tripadvisor.com

So one day I stopped to eat at The International Market on Belmont Blvd (one of Nashville’s most beloved places to eat good thai food for cheap,) and I saw they had these adorable succulent plants for sale to benefit flood victims.  The perfect opportunity has arrived.

My first encounter with succulent plants was when I was working a summer job in college as a Plant Waterer.  Boredom reached pinnacle heights at this job.  I’d combat the doldrums by writing songs and listening to tunes, but when I arrived at the succulent section, I could help but be mesmerized.  The leaves on a succulent plant are like little pouches of water, delicately attached to the stem.  It was so hard to resist the urge to touch them.  Just to imagine the tactile sensation of these adorable pods of greenery was enough to keep me inspired throughout the day.

Simon the Cat, nestled up next to my succulent plant.
Simon the Cat, nestled up next to my succulent plant.

So now I’ve owned my little plant for about a year and a half.  Not only is it ridiculously easy to take care of in-door succulents (I’m making up for those poor cacti in my past) but I now notice an unexpected joy that rises up every time I see a sprout of new growth in my miniature potted garden.  And I’m not kidding, I really did not expect to get so much joy out of this.  I find myself fascinated again and again by these little spurts of life.

Admiring a new spurt of life.
Admiring a new spurt of life.

When I take a closer look though, my joy is not “unexpected” at all.  The word unexpected means surprise, unbenounced, out-of-the-blue.  What’s out -of-the-blue about consist and daily nurturing?  As I’ve watered the soil of my little plant, I did not know I’ve been watering my own emotional soil until, in a seemingly sudden burst, the bud has appeared.  All at once I’ve realized how much happiness it brings me to take care of another living thing.

I’ve learned that Joy is a slow and steady cultivation.  As I apply this to the broader scope of my life and my music career (which takes a lot of SLOW and steady work!) I will remember that Unexpected Joy may take awhile to break through the soil - but it will.

What is your Unexpected Joy in life right now?

For more info on succulent plants: Succulents & Sunshine Blog

Behind the Song "Hitchhiker of the Universe" and the Legendary Hippie Halloween Costume

Rae Hering

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/117798723" params="color=441b66&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /] What’s your favorite or most meaningful Halloween costume you’ve worn?

Hippie costume
Hippie costume

Mine has got to be the Hippie costume I wore in 5th grade, replete with seed beads, head scarf, rag purse and the tie skirt my Mom handmade when she was in her twenties.  Although the costume was, in my opinion, fabulous, that’s not the only reason it means so much to me.  My fun disguise reveals a poignant time of transition in my life: from girlhood to womanhood, the beginning of restlessness, longing and exciting discovery.  I ached to be an adult without knowing what that really meant, of course.

As with most adolescence, signs of my transition came in the form of many a frustrating remark to my parents.  I remember changing into my costume at school before my Mom picked me up to take me to the ALL IMPORTANT CAN NOT MISS THIS EVERYONE IS GOING TO BE THERE Halloween Party.  The not-so-logical part of my attitude was that I was embarrassed to be seen at school wearing a Halloween costume on (gasp!) Halloween of all days!!  Oh travesty!

I can hear my Mom’s confused and exhausted voice saying, “But Rae, you never get embarrassed.  Why now?”  I just sank further into my angsty frustration, trapped in the minivan as we headed to The Party, a place of anxious unknowns.  What if no one else is wearing a costume?  What if I stand out like a sore thumb?  What if my costume is stupid and everyone else’s is cool?

The toughest part about going through this transition stage is that everyone has a place on the social ladder at school.  Mine happened to be just a nose hair above the lowest of the low.  Here I was, so caught up in my internal conflict I didn’t notice that I was about to enter a place where the social playing field would essentially be leveled out.  I mean, what does a costume do anyhow?  It makes you become someone or something you’re not.  It disguises your true nature.  It transports you into becoming a silly whim or your deepest desire.  I was heading towards a free ride with my peace-loving, hitchhiking Hippie Child garb on!

But can you expect a hormone-enraged pubescent to think this clearly?  So there I was at the Halloween Party awkwardly mingling with my gossipy schoolmates while getting a taste of non-parental guidance.  And you know what?  I have to say with shining honor that my (oh so embarrassing) Hippie getup won the Best Costume Award.  Take that suckkkers!!!  I can see the envy in all those parochial school girls’ eyes now as I received my prize, a Boyz II Men CD.

“Hitchhiker of the Universe” is not only about longing to be older, more experienced and independent, but it’s about looking back at that time now that I am older.  It’s about reconciling with my younger self for being so naïve and thinking that I’m some “casual prophet of youth” who’s got it all together.  Even though the person I am now doesn’t look like who I thought I’d be, I revel in the strange comfort of knowing that who I think I will be twenty years from now is absolutely unimaginable.  Dream on, Hitchhiker of the Universe…

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/117798723" params="color=441b66&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]