The Topsy Turvy planter has sat in my garage for two years before I finally blew the dust off of it and planted some tomatoes, jalapeno and herbs last week. Excited by visions of bountiful crops that would lead to many future tomato salads and marinara sauces, I decided to plant more vegetables. Last Sunday, I practically skipped my way into the Home Depot to buy plastic planters, Miracle Grow potting soil and seedlings of eggplant, green and red pepper. I raced home and immediately transplanted them into their new larger homes, taking special care to keep the roots intact. I gave them enough space, water and fertilizer to grow big and strong, and then set them out in the sunlight. I stepped back and admired my handiwork, the tiny plants looked so happy and full of promise, as they stood at attention facing the sun.
The next day, I went out to tend my new vegetable garden and I was shocked to find my little plants wilted and sprawled on the dirt in complete and utter surrender. They looked so sad. My little plants started out with nothing but potential. They had everything they needed to be fruitful and prosper, but they gave up before they even began. It was all just too overwhelming.
I can totally relate.
I’m at a crossroads now in my life where I need to decide how I want the next half of my life to look. Some call this a mid-life crisis, but I’ve decided to coin it “My Intermission”. My mind races 24 / 7 rehashing the same old self-doubting, non-committal dialog: Do I want to try to be a children’s book author? Do I need an agent? Can you make enough money doing that? What are the odds of success? Should I self publish? Maybe I should go back to school for my Master’s Degree? Should I try a completely different field? Do I have the talent, skills, connections to be successful? Do I have the time and stamina for a radical career change? Will I make enough money to be able to retire comfortably? Maybe I should just play the lottery? Round and round and round I go until I just collapse on the sofa and surrender, having not resolved a thing. My soul is wilted.
Last night, instead of sleeping, I began to try to think of a way to counteract my spiraling insecurities. I tried to think of the 5 best compliments I had ever received. It’s easy for me to rattle off the most hurtful or insulting things that I have ever been told, but I struggled to think of great compliments. Slowly (very slowly) they came to me. I was surprised to realize that I would have to cull my list down to get the Top 5, but I did, and here they are:
Top 5 Best Compliments Received To Date:
5. “You’ve Got Some Talent.“ — Martin Macdonald, former boss
This may seem like a rather lame compliment, but you would have to know the source to fully appreciate it. Martin was the advertising equivalent of Simon Cowell from American Idol. He was a smart, opinionated, often crass and obstinate, loud Scottish blowhard. He had a deep respect for the creative product and only surrounded himself with great talent. I learned a lot from him, and our agency created it’s best work under his tutelage.
4. “You can tell this is a house full of love.“ — The Plumber
The toilet was running and the kitchen drain was clogged, so we caved and called the plumber. There were other ways we wanted to spend our anniversary weekend, and buying a new toilet for the master bathroom was not really the most romantic of gifts, but we made the best of it. We joked that it really was a typical “Jeff & Becky” moment. The plumber was our “guest” in our home and we enjoyed speaking with him while he worked. As he was leaving he asked us what our secret was to a great marriage. We told him—marry your best friend, laugh a lot and have two equally good TVs in the house.
3. “You have such a happy glow about you every time I see you. It’s just wonderful.“ —Restaurant owner
There was a wonderful little restaurant by my old apartment that I used to frequent. I would chit-chat with the owners each visit, asking about their day and how business was going. One day, I saw one of the owners as I was driving past the grocery. I honked and waved, and to my surprise he came over to chat. As I was saying hello, he interrupted me to say how much he enjoyed seeing me and that I had such a “happy glow”. The genuine look on his face and the warmth of his eyes sold the line, and I was on cloud 9 for the rest of the day.
2. “You’ve got a good brain.“ — My husband, when he still had “boyfriend” status
Being told you have pretty eyes or a great smile is very flattering, but also fairly generic. How many girls get told from the cute new guy they are dating that they have a good brain? It was Kismet. And since he was the most talented and creative person I knew, those 5 little words carried a lot of weight. That compliment landed him second place on this list, but first place in my heart.
1. “That Becky, she’s a really good kid.“ — Dad
My dad is 87 years old and has advanced Parkinson’s Disease and dementia. Being a daddy’s girl, it’s been incredibly difficult to watch this once joyous, vibrant, loving, intelligent man slowly disappear. On one of our last visits it became apparent rather quickly that he thought I was my mom. I was heartbroken that he didn’t recognize me as being his only child. Out of nowhere, he said, “That Becky, she’s a really good kid.” I smiled and said, “You think so?” Dad replied, “Yes, of course! Don’t you?”
I’m working on it. 🙂