plant care & re-parenting

First, sing along with me!

ft. some good rock ladies of the 90’s

I’m in a transitional phase; a season of pruning. I find myself craving severing poor ties; not craving forced conncetion over joyful solitude any longer. I still want to share of myself with others but I feel much more discerning about whom and how much, in a way I sometimes worry may come off as cruel when my only real goal is to protect my energy.

I was raised a people-pleaser. I grew up doubting my decisions; I was raised taking the “higher road” of self-sacrifice for others, to baby others because I was “smarter,” “more mature,” etcetera. I was raised to bite my tongue when angry and dissect every interaction, every thought before it became spoken word. I was a priveleged kid, I have privelege now, my family is good and kind – but I would not say I’ve ever been fostered for who I am. Supported to a point, but it’s that classic Catholic-school conundrum – if you went to Catholic school most of your life, you probably understand what I’m getting at.

I got in trouble for humming in school. Even though I was the top student, never got in trouble, and that meant I was supposed to get to play Mary in the school pageant in 8th grade, the part was given to one of the worst-behaved students to “help her out” – because her mom yelled the loudest. I wasn’t allowed to play a Who in our Christmas pageant because I wasn’t “small and cute and Who-looking enough.” (This is all just elementary school, mind you.) I was told I couldn’t be an actress because “I’d never look like them.” If I’m being honest – and it’s hard for me to be, because I feel that someone-else-has-it-worse sense of guilt every time – I was bullied quite a few times. And I wasn’t really listened to, either. I feel like I’ve always been fighting something and I didn’t know what; now I’m realizing maybe I’ve been fighting myself I grew up feeling bad about myself.

But enough complaining – that’s not what this post is about. I’m working on transitioning out of that old me, starting a new timeline of wild self-love and enjoyability. I’m “re-parenting” myself. The Artist’s Way taught me to treat my inner child, to love and support it now because now I’m both that inner child and the adult who can give that inner child support!

So I’m doing the things I love to do, even if they seem scary or pointless. For the joy of the day, the moment. This ties into “opposite action,” to be discussed if you read on. I’m

🌿Gardening

🌿Writing

🌿Making art and music

🌿Hanging out with my cats

🌿Napping

🌿Spending time outside

🌿Spending time with a few close friends

🌿Going dancing

🌿Cooking tasty, healthy meals

🌿Eating farmer’s market cherry pies

🌿Singing along with Spotify

🌿Hitting the bars

🌿Going thrifting for new clothes

🌿Dressing up

and more. Because these are things I enjoy, and when greater Society feels pointless, these things are there for me.

Like I said, [capitalist] Society feels pointless. A friend once told me he was happier when he was homeless, and I don’t doubt it. I can imagine a feeling of surviving for yourself and for your circle; every complaint now, when I’m above survival threshhold, feels measly. And of course that’s because survival now looks different than it does to my monkey brain. Survival may be different now but we have too much – or at least too much of the wrong things. That’s why landfills are overflowing and I had to drop $15 for the only recycled toilet paper option. That’s near an hur’s pay literally down the toilet.

I’m certainly not advocating that anyone should go without home or comfort, I just hope we as a Society change our values and actions a bit. I’m tired of hearing “sustainability journey” and the other green-team buzzwords. This isn’t a holiday. This isn’t just for fun. This isn’t a round-the-world fun cruise “journey.” We’re literally trying to change the way we function so that we and our children and our children’s children will be able to have home and comfort.

Opposite Action

Sometimes, between OCD and depressive symptoms, I struggle with momentum. There are many things I want to do but I sometimes feel like a lead sinker in the middle of the ocean; stuck and heavy.

I recently learned about opposite action and as I understand it, it’s basically pushing through mucky feelings and doing the opposite of what your anxiety/depression is telling you will feel the best. For example:

🧠I’m feeling down on a Sunday afternoon and I want to just sit in front of the TV and binge Supernatural. Instead, with opposite action in mind, I put on something light and happy (like Bob’s Burgers), stand up, and stretch out while I watch.

🧠I don’t feel like going outside. I just want to sit around the apartment. So thinking opposite action, I throw on some headphones and go for a walk around the block.

🧠I don’t want to take a break from staring at my computer screen doing work. So – because opposite action – I get up and wander around for a few minutes just to shift my mindset.

🧠I’m anxious about getting together with anyone, but I also know that sitting alone in my apartment for days won’t feel good – even though it seems easier. So – thinking opposite action – I set up a time to see a close friend for an hour or so.

🧠I worry that my bass-playing won’t be good enough and I’ll get grumpy, which makes me not want to pick up the instrument and play at all. But opposite action: I pick it up and play anyway.

What’s important here, I believe, is to notice the layers of want. Take that last example for instance. I both want to play the bass and want to not be grumpy/feel bad about my bass playing. And this is where my values-driven opposite action comes in. I value creativity, I value the enjoyment of playing music. So I push through the anxiety – I’m nervous that I’m going to feel bad if I don’t play well – and I play anyway.

In fact, a values-driven opposite action practice is going to inform the rest of this post – 🧠I really do not feel like taking care of my plants today because I’m nervous about getting dirt all over the floor or realizing that a plant is dead. But the health of my houseplants matters to me, so I’m going to do it anyway.

Cactus & Succulent Care

It’s the summer now, and warming temperatures mean an updated watering schedule for my cacti and succulents. Of course they still don’t get watered very often; I’m a proponent of rare and heavy watering for these types of plants.

Increased temperature and more intense sunny days also means I can remove my grow light setup for my adult desert plants.

As you can see in the image above at right, the vacuum will need to be broken out after all this.

My echeveria got a coffee treatment today to lower the soil pH. Luckily, I had some leftover bean juice I couldn’t finish and that just got funneled right into the soil. Plus I pruned away the dried-out flower stalks just so my cat wouldn’t chew on them and inadvertantly make a mess.

I’ve also still got my little infant jade plant going. I suspect she may need a larger home to grow into soon, but for now she got some very-diluted fertilizer and water.

Care for all the other plants

First things first, my own care. I stopped to eat a chamomile flower – I love the grassy-yet-sweet taste of these little darlings.

We start with the easy things to do. My kitchen window basils get misted, my recently-pruned celery gets checked on, and my epiphytes go in for their bath. My crispy wave fern goes in for its shower.

The crispy wave fern taking a nice shower. These plants apparently prefer regular moisture but not sitting in soaked soil. That means good drainage and regular – but not OVER – watering.

While the gorgini sit in their 20-minute warm water bath, I get to the rest of the plant care. The parlor palms also get checked on, and they seem plenty watered and happy. Next the ponytail palm gets checked on – same situation there. Take a look at the closed terrarium – all good, seeing some growth there. White willow sapling gets a good drenching from the watering can. All spider plants get a watering. Peperomia gets a look-see and since the soil’s dry down two inches, a good watering is had.

Gorgons come out of the bath, and look – these two are hugging are they dry!

My air plants have a specific bath routine – more about that in an upcoming post!

Next comes two bigger undertakings: (1) Pruning and cleanup, and (2) Re-seeding. These primarily take place for my bedroom and bathroom plants.

Check out the before-and-after of cleanup in my bedroom window:

You might notice that a wheatgrass is missing in both photos. All of my wheatgrasses needed replanted. With grasses, regular pruning/cutting can help keep them healthy and green, but I fell off with my pruning because wheatgrass just grows so fast! So I saved what I could and re-seeded.

Now, one of my bathroom plants died and so I had to prune the rotted-out remnants away. Someday, in my dreams, I’ll have somewhere to compost this type of thing. But otherwise I make sure all the bathroom plants are dust-free, doing well, and watered.

And that’s mostly it!


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