3Splitz Farm, dare to be different

A Doctor Digs in the Dirt

I recently wrote a rant-ish post about being a PhD. How I use my degree maybe not as a professor, but more as a thinker every single day.

I’ve recognized this a lot lately as I’ve waded into the first stages of flower farming. It reminds me of my surprise when I had a baby. When I became pregnant, I was immersed in this whole new universe and language I had no idea about. Pick up a baby magazine and I was surrounded by a new vocabulary. So many debates and decisions. What kind of diapers, how medicalized a birth, co-sleeping, onesies, products galore. It was a whole world I knew nothing about, even though it had been there all along.

Flower farming is much the same way. It has its own calendar, its ebbs and flows. So many special bloom varieties to choose from. Growing zones, soil amendments, succession planting…I am wide-eyed and soaking it all in. Just the photos on insta of all the beauty makes me swoony.

On the calendar side, so far I am playing catchup. I’m learning you have to be thinking at least 6 months ahead, and eventually a year. 3Splitz Farm is not even 6 months old (hard to believe!) so I am giving myself a little grace on that. We wanted tulips, but it took a while to find the right ones. In the mean time, I read in all sorts of places about where to source high- quality bulbs and what they should look like. My lightweight crumbly bulbs from the local mega mart weren’t going to cut it. This is a researcher in action. Most major places were sold out, but I finally found a farm with a great reputation that had the flowers we needed. The first set of bulbs went in the ground on the late side, but I’ve ordered seeds now so they should arrive in plenty of time. Slowly but surely the calendar is spreading forward. Soon we will be on pace.

Planning the land is the next challenge. It’s left me paralyzed at times, thinking that where we plant ______________ (bulbs, seeds, plants, veggies) is some kind of permanent decision. What if the flowers don’t thrive there? What if they can’t be seen the way we want them to? What if animals or pests destroy the crop? We took the step and planted the first set over the last couple of weeks. I was guided by my OLW: DO, and reminded myself that mistakes can be fixed. Of course, that’s only if we have the courage to make them! I am listening to the land and trusting that it will tell me what to do. It’s a wonderful intersection between science, wishes, and hard work.

family, Teddie Aspen

Dog Lessons

It wasn’t long ago I was digging through boxes leftover from my childhood home. I ran across an American Kennel Club certificate. Maximillian was his name.

I had heard his name many times in my life, often with a sneer from one of my brothers. They loved their dog, and I was the reason we got rid of him. Maximillian, the prized pooch, couldn’t stop knocking me over as a newly walking toddler. So, he had to go.

All this to say, I didn’t grow up with dogs. I had a cat named Snoopy I treasured but was allergic to (a story for another post), but never a dog. I just didn’t get dogs. Never wanted one. And who knows, maybe I was even a little scared of them from all my hard knocks as a babe.

As an adult, when my family wanted to get a dog, I resisted. We even had a dog live with us for a while that didn’t really work out. We ended up taking him to a new home where he could have the room and attention he needed.

Then Penny came along. My sister-in-law became her unexpectedly permanent foster mom. She needed a place to live and a family to love her. Would we be interested? I didn’t really want this at all. We could take her for a 2-week trial to see if we could handle it.

And she never left. We live together but I wouldn’t say she loves me. Still, my heart softened seeing how much everyone else loved her. She changed our family.

And then came the dog that I really did love. Chester. The unlikely, homely, wiry guy from the pound. The underdog. I didn’t even know why we would ever need 2 dogs. I was just getting used to 1! Then Chester who got scared by sudden movements and noises, Chester who always backed out of the room…Chester came along. He was very shy at first but eventually came around and became sweet, playful Chester. He loves to run and bound through the woods, and his sad eyes will pull at your heart strings every time. Chester changed my heart about dogs.

Now there’s the newest member of the clan named Nash, who I’ve taken a liking to. I even embrace my extended family and friend’s dogs. Heck, I even get to walk dogs and dog sit once in a while. Truthfully, I still don’t know how to act around dogs, and they can tell. It doesn’t come naturally for me and maybe never will. Thankfully, I’ve learned that many dogs are pretty forgiving if you at least try. They teach me about protection, loyalty, priorities and unconditional love. They seem to bring out the best in people just by being there and present in the moment. That bowls me over in the best of ways.

3Splitz Farm, adventure

Go for Launch

 

The final countdown is here.

We have our mission, our flight plans.  We’ve been preparing for months. After assorted detours and delays, we are finally loaded up and ready to launch.

We all know our jobs.  The team is working together. A functioning crew doesn’t need 5 pilots.  We have one pilot.  Then we have people who manage equipment.  People who execute plans.  People who support.  And then there are the people who carry along all the little science experiments. People who clean up the spills.  People who pack the snacks and make us laugh. People who cheerlead.  All have their roles.

We also know we will have to learn and support the mission and each other in unexpected ways as the flight goes on. Roles may change and expand. As Matt Damon says in a great line from The Martian, there will be times we will have to “science the shit” out of issues, situations, etc. Unpredictable things will happen. We are charged up to flex our problem solving muscles and figure some things out.

We are strapped in. Fueled to the hilt. Liftoff may be a little bumpy.  We might see some sparks as we burn through our usual atmosphere.

But how fun will it be to get to weightlessness?  To push through into something we’ve never experienced?  To really reach a new frontier?  To go where no chicks have gone before?

Hold on tight. We are go for launch.

 

dare to be different

Puzzles

“Raise your hand if you’re a puzzle person,” I said, shaking a jigsaw puzzle box.

It’s a request I made at the beginning of a staff training I did a couple of years ago.  Maybe a third of the hands in the room shot up.  Everyone else either shook their heads “no way” or shrugged.

How do you become a puzzle person, I asked?  Those who shot their hands up said things like, we did them as a family growing up.  My friends and family told me I was good at them. Puzzles take time, sometimes collaboration, and persistence to achieve a goal.

For puzzle people, puzzles are associated with good feelings and success.  Those feel-good experiences can contribute to what we we are good at and who we are, or rather, who we think we are.  Most of the non-puzzle people simply didn’t grow up doing them or got frustrated a few times and decided (or were told) they weren’t good at them to begin with.

So it goes with many things.  From a young age, the things we spend time on and feel successful at (whether we learn that from experiences or what we are told) shape who we think we are and what we say we are good at.

As for me, I was told I was smart, good at school, and naturally skilled at test taking. These didn’t require too much effort from me.  I breezed through my early years and took in the accolades.

But, I wasn’t really a puzzle person.  I focused on the things that came easily for me, and whatever didn’t come easily I learned to avoid.  Unlike many puzzle people, who learn to try, try again, and even set things aside when they get frustrated or stuck and return to the puzzle later, I had little persistence or resilience in the face of adversity.

Well, as of this moment (at my not-so-young age) I am raising my hand and declaring myself a puzzle person.

I am embracing the problems I face as puzzles to be figured out instead.

I don’t have to have it all solved immediately.  It doesn’t even have to come easily.  As I make myself vulnerable more often and take on bigger, more complicated tasks, I know I have to remind my mind not to get frustrated or shut down.  I may have to be coached (which means – eek! – being coachable, which I am decidedly NOT when I am feeling overwhelmed, afraid, or out of my depth). Like riding a bicycle, then trying to do a trick or two, I may flop.  The world will not end and I can try again.

I’m shaking life’s box of problems as puzzles, dumping out the pieces, searching for the corners and the edges.  I don’t really have a full picture of what it will look like in the end for reference, but that’s all part of the process.  It will be beautiful, whatever it becomes.

 

 

 

adventure

Short Chapter, Long Story

Little known fact about me as a reader: I LOVE short chapters.

When I start a chapter, I often (ahem, always) find myself flipping forward, scanning to see how long the chapter is.  If it’s short, I am much more motivated to keep reading with interest.  Long chapters bog me down.  Ever since my third grade teacher read Sideways Stories from Wayside School aloud, each chapter just a handful of punchy, memorable pages, I’ve been a short chapter fan.  I like to see the story move.  I like to see progress.

By contrast, many chapters in my life tend to be on the long side.  I’m a slow thinker, a slow decision maker.  Not many cliffhangers.  Relatively few unexpected turns.  Pretty predictable.  Not really the stuff of a best seller.

Every once in a while, though, life takes a truly unexpected turn.  Things that I thought were fated or immovable turn out to be flexible.  Something that was maybe just a glimmer on a far off horizon explodes into the sky at staggering speed. An opportunity brought into my story by one of its most adventurous characters. A plot twist even I didn’t see coming.

And, in a surprising move, instead of watching the story fly by, this time I actually grabbed onto the streaking star and decided to ride along.  Instead of watching stories happen for others, I jumped in, embraced the promising unknown, and decided to start a chapter that is entirely new.  For many, it will be a jaw dropper, a head scratcher, even a whisper-behind-the-back moment.  Let them watch, confusion to amazement.

Sunsets and sunrises somewhere different.  Dramatic changes in just a handful of punchy, memorable pages.

A short chapter, yes.  A beautiful, breathtaking plot twist in a long, long story.