This blog post by Gayle M. Irwin
Spring sprung late this year in Casper, Wyoming (unless you count the few weeks in February in which we experienced some days of record-breaking temps and sun-filled skies!). The rain, snow, and cold, although contributing to greening grass and colorful, fragrant flowers, about did in the people I know in Casper and other parts of Wyoming. When mid-May comes, you desire sunshine, warmth, and outdoor activity… not clouds, cold, and confinement.
As moisture fell from the sky, both in the form of rain and snow earlier this month, I took some time when the clouds dried up briefly and explored my yard and my neighborhood. I noticed tulips in vast arrays of color, from deep red to striped pink, from vibrant yellow to dusky lavender. Lavish lilac bushes separated one house from another, and hedges of honeysuckle with pink blossoms enticed a variety of songbirds to eat and sing from the branches.
One bush especially captured my attention. An old lilac shrub in my backyard, which my husband had cut back many years ago, and which I suggested last year we give up on and dig up, sprung to life this year. It’s small, but there is life, including a few fragrant flowers. Obviously, I’m glad we didn’t destroy the backyard lilac! Seeing the resurrected bush, and all the varied plant species in royal array, made me think of the old adage “Bloom Where You’re Planted.”
That slogan is truly applicable to life and career, especially for me. I work part-time for a non-profit, and in many ways, my job is a gift: I work with wonderful colleagues, we do an important service in our community, and the three days a week allows me time to write, to speak, to travel, or to be at my cabin. Financially, it’s not bad either, considering it’s non-profit and part-time. I have four-day weekends, for the most part, giving me a few days each week to visit schools and/or to travel. At work, I’m often able to help write newsletters and share client stories (using fake names, of course) with donors, so I can use a skill/gift I’ve been given as well as use my brain at various other levels. Therefore, even though there are days when I wish I was not working outside the home, I can bloom where I’m planted.
Likewise with writing. I may not be the most well-known writer, even in my own state – we have successes like Craig Johnson, whose Longmire book series is a TV show available on Netflix and who travels the world, and Nina McConigley, who won a PEN award, got a book review by “O” (Oprah’s magazine), and is sought after as a speaker at literary and writing conferences as well as an educator on university campuses across the country. I will likely never be at their level, yet I have my niche, and it’s one I enjoy. Through my passions for writing and pet rescue I’m able to speak to children and adults, in schools and libraries, about the importance of the pet-human bond and then donate part of book sales back to those rescues that do such incredible work. Although I wish I was more successful financially in the writing and speaking arenas, perhaps that will come in time (and then, it may not). Meantime, I’m blooming where I’m planted.
As the weeks of May wane and June (and hopefully summer) arrives, I’m looking forward to more “road-time.” I have at least three speaking and booksigning gigs lined up (waiting for two others to confirm), and I’m hoping to garner a few more magazine editor “okays.” In fact, I’m looking ahead to my writing future with the desire to write more short stories and articles. Chicken Soup for the Soul has new call-outs, including proposed pet books, and since I’ve had six successes with that publishing enterprise, I’m going to try for a few more. Perhaps this niche, short stories and articles, will be my future flowering shrubs; book authorship for me has grown daunting with lots of work that I’m not sure I want to continue doing. I have a few works in progress that I’d like to complete – but it hasn’t been, nor am I sure it is – the season. Maybe those will sprout and grow eventually, like my backyard lilac.
How about you? Are you blooming where you’re planted? Do you see growth in your work, whether that’s writing or a “day-job?” (or both?) Wherever you are, may the fruit of your labors be pleasantly fragrant!
Gayle M. Irwin is the author of inspirational dog stories for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Sage Finds Friends, Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, and Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with my Blind Dog. She is also a contributing writer to anthologies, including the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul: Spirit of America, to be released in June, and Prairie Rose Publishing’s July release Pawprints on My Heart. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.