Photo of Colmar, France. Taken April 13, 2011.
I love plants. They’re beautiful, strong, forgiving, and contribute to your physical and emotional health. Even as a vagabond twenty-something, I had plants that moved with me from apartment to apartment. Some of them are still with me today.
I have several types of plants inside and outside of my home. Most of the indoor ones reside in the living room, welcoming me home, watching t.v. with me, and blooming occasionally just to show they care (they are a Christmas cactus, a peace lily, an African violet, and some non-descript green plant that doesn’t need much sunlight or care).
Because they are obvious about their needs (the peace lily, especially, is a bit of a drama queen and wilts at the slightest sign of thirst), these plants get cared for more often.
I also have a large, full, gangly grape ivy in my home office, hanging behind me in the window. Because I spend my days staring at the computer rather than the plant, I forget about her sometimes (I call her Bette, after the woman who gave me the clipping of her 9 years ago). She can go weeks without water, holding on to life, waiting for me to pay attention. Once I give her a drink, apologizing to her brown,dry and half-dead leaves, she perks right back up, willing to give even more.
Letter writing is the grape ivy of my life. It’s the task most easily ignored (with the job, relationships, dog, bills, and house cleaning as the more-attention-grabbing “plants” in my life). Sometimes I can go a long while without writing letters, ignoring them because they aren’t “required.” They are secondary to grocery shopping or cleaning the toilet or even watching t.v.–which can get moved up on the list of priorities after a tough day at work.
But when I return to letter writing after a long period away, I find it to be forgiving and nourishing, just like my much-abused grape ivy. Letter writing sometimes blooms with return letters, other times it just provides an opportunity to stop and breathe in the fullness of life. Even though other responsibilities can steal my attention, I need to remind myself to water the sometimes peripheral, but still vital creative “plants” in my life, because without them my life would be less verdant and lush and full.
Writing letters–and journaling, paper crafting, writing, etc.– often takes a back seat in my life and I’m sure that’s the case with many of you. These creative outlets may be things you enjoy and plan to do but somehow never get around to because life gets in the way. My friend Laura just asked me how to “make herself” write letters when–even though she enjoys writing letters and clearly has time– she generally fills her time with other worthy activities like exercising, walking in the woods or watching movies.
I told her I’d think about it and get back to her.
This post is the first part of an answer, which is “it’s OK if you don’t get around to it for a while, even a very long while, because when you do it’s a forgiving process and always rewarding.”
In the next week or so, I’ll also share some of the ways I make time to write letters and maybe one will work for those of you who find yourself, like Laura and me, always meaning to write letters and not always succeeding.