Letting go of a dream.

My former blog.
My former blog. Don’t you love the name?

Two years ago, I started a blog called The Well Nested Life; this month, I’ll close that site down. I’ve moved all my blogs over to this current site, so I’ve retained my words, but I have to say goodbye to the dream.

Closing my blog feels like I’m losing an old friend.

With some brainstorming help from family members, I had arrived at the term well nested. It describes my life. Homebody. Introvert. Feeling most at home, at home. My plan was to blog about humorous and poignant and touching stories of my simple life. My hope was to gather followers—my flock—who would then someday buy my memoir, in progress.

That part of the dream—let’s call it Phase I— is intact. I’ve established my online presence as a writer, attracted loyal followers, and I’m closing in on the final chapter of my memoir.

In Phase II, my follower base would grow to scores of thousands. An editor at a “Big Five” publishing house would discover my writing and be impressed with my platform. She would pay me big bucks for the honor of publishing my book.

I’d be a best selling author!

(Please don’t think I’m delusional. Most writers share this dream.)

However, it’s Phase III where I got carried away (as I have been known to do). In this phase, I’d use my big bucks from my memoir to help others become well nested.

First, my husband and I would remodel our basement into an apartment to house immigrant families short term until they secured more permanent housing. 

Then, we’d buy and renovate houses in our community, and sell them at cost to families in need. Or maybe we’d partner with Habitat for Humanity, one of my favorite charities. 

Finally, I’d create a cooperative of gardeners to provide gardening and simple landscaping help to homeowners moving into and out of our community. This would help homeowners to become well nested, as well as maximize the curb appeal of their homes, increase their home values, and increase the tax base for the community.

Sigh. It was a lovely and honorable dream.

But here’s the reality: as a writer, if I really want to build my flock, if I really want to be found by an agent or editor, I need a website under my name. “The Well Nested Life” was a mouthful of a blog, and hard to remember. So now I write, and you read, at www.karendebonis.com.

I don’t have the time, energy, or money to maintain two websites, and not nearly enough of those resources to accomplish Phase III. Something had to give; The Well Nested Life blog had to go. I have no regrets; it connected me to new friends, taught me that I’m not a complete computer simpleton, and gave me joy that (mostly) outweighed the headaches. My heart is heavy, but full.

I’m glad you’re here to help me say goodbye, and to celebrate as I write the next chapter of this journey. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m letting go of the website, but keeping the domain. Www.thewellnestedlife.com is mine for as long as I want it. You never know when I’ll get big bucks for my memoir.

You never know when another dream will hatch.

I’m open to the possibility. You in?

Finding hope in the chaos of life.

My memoir, which I’ve not finished writing, has been given an unwanted sequel. Not by Matt, my 31-year-old son who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 11. By a close family member, who just received that same diagnosis. I can’t give more details yet, out of respect for this person’s privacy, but as you might imagine, my own brain is reeling.

The prognosis for my family member is good, as was Matt’s. Recovery will be long and arduous, as was Matt’s. My heart is breaking all over again.

I had planned to give you an update on what’s not blooming in my garden this year–my climbing hydrangea and my yucca. Both bloomed last year for the first time, giving me such hope. I wrote that I was “open to the possibility” that the blooms were a sign my chronic health issues would resolve. (You can read the post below.)

This year, those plants have not bloomed and my health has not improved and now my memoir has a sequel.

What does it all mean?

It means we will always be challenged to find hope in the chaos of life.

I remain open to that possibility–that there will always be hope. I still have mine. Do you?

(The chaos in my life will include some out of state care-taking, so you may not hear from me for awhile. I won’t forget about you if you don’t forget about me.)

 

 

When I looked out of the living room window the other day, I saw that my climbing hydrangea had buds. “Michael!” I yelled to my husband who was in the yard. I ran outside and dragged him over to look. Upon closer inspection, we saw five clusters of buds about to explode into starbursts of tiny white flowers. I had waited five years for this.

The next day, I was strolling around the back yard and again yelled to Michael to “come look!”  This time it was my yucca, a name that belies its stately spires of white flowers. In seven years, my yucca has graced me with this vision just once. As I pointed out to Michael the tall stalk rising up out of the scratchy foliage, I noticed two more blooms-to-be.

There’s more. If you’re not a gardener, stay with me here. There’s a deeper meaning to my garden eureka moments. At least that’s what I choose to believe.

My rose campion, started with cuttings I took from our other house 11 years ago, has finally produced a sprinkling of its vibrant magenta flowers.

And an ornamental variegated grass that I’ve had for four or five years surprised me with tall wheat-like plumes that dance gracefully in every breeze.

What the heck is going on in my garden?

People adhere to different philosophies about unexpected events. Here are some commons sayings:

“There are no coincidences.”

“It was meant to be.”

“It happened for a reason.”

One of my personal sayings is: “I’m open to the possibility.”

It’s possible that this year’s garden miracles are a coincidence. It’s possible they’re a result of our rainy May, or the new type of fertilizer I used.

I’m going with another possibility. I think my late bloomers are a sign of good things to come.

Last year, I declared that 2017 would be “my” year–the year I would finally conquer my crazy health conditions. So far, 2017 has not exactly been cooperative.

Then, this visual chorus in my garden like angels splashing the earth with a flower-petaled “Hallelujah.”

I’m taking it as a sign that I’ll get better. Or maybe there’s an alternate miracle in store for me. Maybe I’ll hit 1,000 followers on my blog. Or I’ll finish my memoir. Or, even better, all three AND a book deal. Or something different and superior, yet to be revealed.

Yup. I’m going with it.

If nothing else, when I peek out of my living room window or wander around the yard, I’ll be reminded that good things can be in store for us. They may be holding out, just beyond our awareness, waiting for the right moment to appear. I’ll stay open to the possibility that these things take their good old time getting here. And when they do, Hallelujah!

 

Gardener, writer, writer, gardener, not always in the same order.

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My back-of-the-house shade garden.

I was a gardener long before I became a writer, and it’s still one of my passions. It’s why you haven’t heard much from me lately–when the nice weather beckons me to the garden, I go. Last year, I wrote about the deer that wreaked havoc on all my hard work (in the garden, not on the page); you can read that below. Since I was losing the hungry critter battle, I started creating deer-resistant gardens. The photo is one example. (In her active potter days, my mom made that pot in the foreground–isn’t it cool?)

Don’t think that I haven’t been writing, too, though, as I have. I finished another draft of my memoir manuscript to show my editor, and she’s happy with the improvements, although more (and more and more) revisions are needed. I submitted another personal essay to a literary journal, and have a version of it ready to go to a large newspaper magazine. It’s a stretch, but if accepted, will be a feather the size of Big Bird in my cap.

Soon, it will too hot for me to enjoy much gardening, so I’ll retreat to the air conditioning and focus on writing. I’ll share another excerpt from my memoir about the challenges I faced as a mom. As you’ll see in my Stupid Deer story below, once you’re a mama, those feelings run deep, and can hit you in surprising places.

 

The deer members of Club Critter in my back yard are stupid.

There’s one doe in particular who’s not exactly the sharpest point on the antler rack. My husband named her Clarice, like Rudolph’s girlfriend.

Clarice is a regular at my popular social venue, stopping in throughout the day. I thought deer were nocturnal–sleeping during the day and foraging for food at night. But Google says deer are actually crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk.

Clarice doesn’t know she’s crepuscular. I see her at the club in broad daylight, grabbing a snack at my all-you-can-eat garden buffet and lounging in the shade.

A smart deer would be more careful. Humans are predators, after all. I don’t happen to own any deer-hunting weapons more deadly than a broom. But for all Clarice knows, I could be a gun-totin’ sharpshooter just pining for some venison stew for dinner.

If Clarice had half a brain in her pointy head, she would at least try to blend in with the wood fence or a tree trunk. But, no, she prefers the green grass where she stands out like a lawn ornament. Or a target, more obvious than a red-nosed reindeer.

There’s another thing that shows Clarice is two hooves shy of a six-pack. She devours plants that she’s not supposed to like. Google and all the other wildlife experts say unless deer are literally starving, they won’t eat certain flowers and shrubs.

Well, I shut down the deer dessert bar at Club Critter, getting rid of every single gourmet menu item. All that’s left are essentially tofu burgers. The woods behind our house offer a much tastier smorgasbord. But what does Clarice eat? The garden equivalent of napkins and silverware.

The biggest indicator that Clarice is dimmer than dirt is when I try to boot her out of the club. When I throw up the window sash and yell “Go away, Clarice!” she just looks all innocent at me, wagging her white tail as if to say, “How’s it going, girlfriend?” And when I run into the yard in my pajamas, waving my arms and yelling “Git!” Clarice calmly looks up with a mouth full of foliage like I’m the one who’s stupid. I have to get really close and a bit crazy before she finally trots away.

And then, Clarice got sneaky. As I was in the middle of writing this blog, she showed up with Bambi.

He was tiny and downy with white spots and saucer-sized innocent black eyes that made me realize where the term “doe-eyed” came from. He had spindly, wobbly legs that barely kept him upright as he silently pitter-pattered around Clarice in the grass. Bambi gazed up at Clarice and she bent down to lick his head all over, smothering him in deer kisses.

When I saw the pair, I didn’t throw up the window or run out into the yard or yell. I just watched, mesmerized, as they nuzzled and nibbled before they tiptoed back into the woods.

Well, Clarice is dense if she thinks I’m not going to run outside in my pajamas and yell at her simply because she shows up with an adorable little fawn.

If she believes I’ll let her gobble up my garden just because she has another life to care for, she’s wrong.

She’s got another thing coming if she plans to win me over now that I see her as a mama, just like me.

I keep looking out the window, hoping to see Clarice and Bambi again. I wonder if they’re OK.

Stupid deer.