The Road To Reinvention

Terracotta Sahrds

Lately, this is how I envision my brain: shards of broken terracotta strewn across the potting bench.  Where I once had a clear vision and firm ideas, I now feel a bit scattered and disorganized.  My struggle is to figure out why — why I can’t seem to focus; can’t seem to be motivated; can’t seem to get back to my two posts a week schedule.

My first thought is that I have stumbled into a very bad case of bloggers’ block.  Perhaps I’ve overextended myself — time needed for work and time dedicated to writing seem to be at odds with each other.  Perhaps the freshest ideas have all been used in the first year of this blog — after all, once you write a piece on the joys of raking, how many more autumns can you possibly write the same thing?

Then, just as I try to make sense of all these thoughts and worries, stacking them just so — one piece falls from the pile and I soon find myself once again in the throes of worry.

Terracotta Shards

Could this be something more serious?  I’ve never been much of a hypochondriac (okay, I know I’ve diagnosed myself with Garden Separation Anxiety Disorder and Post Holiday Stress Disorder) — but could these disorganized thoughts be the result of a head injury from a car accident 15 years ago?  Alzheimers?  Adult-onset Attention Deficit Disorder?

The answer, actually, has been staring at me the whole time.  When is a shard of terracotta no longer a shard of terracotta?  When it is used as a cover for the hole in a terracotta pot.

Terracotta Shard In Pot

Yes, reinvention — or rather the idea of it — is occupying all of my thoughts, and the inspiration for reinvention is surrounding me.

To begin, there are countless conversations that I either overhear or in which I participate — and I’m not the one saying the “R” word.  Others are saying it.  Others are searching for it.  It’s as if there is a global shift on the horizon.

Next, there are many of you.  As the blogging experience has progressed, I have made note of your careers and lives — not in a creepy stalker kind of way — but in how you have been able to combine your garden passion with your career.  There’s Cheryl of Gardenhood and Elaine of Rainy Leaf and Mario of Hortus 5 and so many more from whom I draw inspiration.

Then there is my friend Danielle, who was recently profiled in More Magazine.  Like so many people facing a changing job market, Danielle seized the moment and reinvented herself — going from an apparel merchandiser to a gourmet chocolatier.  Her story is not only fascinating, but it’s tasty too!

And now, my pal-in-my-own-mind Martha Stewart — yes, Martha Stewart — is having to reinvent herself.  According to a recent article in The New York Times, Martha’s company is facing financial stresses, but a new market of Brooklyn hipsters and crafters have taken a strong liking to the Stewart style.  Now, she has to figure out a way to build a stronger connection with a younger demographic that may not buy her Martha line of goods but who are hungry for her crafty skills.

But what do I want to be when I grow up?  I’ve already worked as a journalist and editor, and now as a school social worker — what will my next chapter be?  Is there a book in me?  Can this blog become a book?  Is there a way to earn money from garden blogging?  Can I be the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man?  What will I write about for the next post and the post after that?  I’m out of ideas and full of ideas all at the same time.

Why can’t it be a few months from now, when I’m snug and warm in my potting shed, planting seeds and finding inspiration to write and share?

And there it is: the potting shed — the place where I find my center.  Suddenly, the pieces come together.

Terracotta Pot

Reinvention is a process, no different than planting a seed and nurturing it until it roots and sprouts, stretches and flourishes — and if I don’t quite know the final destination on the road to reinvention, I’m looking for the on-ramp.  I just need to sit back, breathe . . .

to enjoy the ride, breathe . . .

to not be afraid to ask for directions . . .


What do you want to be when you grow up?

37 thoughts on “The Road To Reinvention

  1. What do I want to be? I want to be complete. And I will reinvent myself as many times as I need to, to achieve my personal level of completeness. I think it’s ok to take a break and redirect. I had a two year hiatus before I broke into the green industry. So take a break, recharge and reinvent. Your next chapter will be great (because I think you’re brilliant).

    • Mario, I knew I liked you for a reason. 🙂 In all seriousness, your blog and now your nursery work is a great inspiration for me. You’re an amazing teacher — and I love your comment on completeness. Thanks so much for your kind words. Best always.

  2. Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been thinking of lately. This need to write and express myself versus working full time, listening to two teenagers and making breakfasts, lunches and dinner every day. I want more out of my blog, but feel like I’m taking baby steps. Wondering where it will go? Knowing that I haven’t arrived yet. Just keep moving forward…. By the way, I love your posts, your writing and your blog name! I know you are heading in the write direction!

    • Hi Elaine. I think so many of us are thinking these thoughts — definitely a global shift. I also happen to love where you are taking your blog — it’s readable, enjoyable, informative, and growing. Be well — and like you said, let’s keep moving forward. 🙂

    • That’s one of the reasons I enjoy your blog — the honest voice that you use in each of your posts. Thanks for your kind words and support. It’s always appreciated. Enjoy the day!

  3. You may feel scattered but your thoughts come together beautifully. I can say from personal experience that I spent much of my 50’s thinking these kind of thoughts. I don’t presume we have the same circumstances, but I will share that almost like clockwork when I turned 60 this past March something in my head switched to “it’s all about quality of life.” Ambition has been a little less nagging. If there’s a take-away from that at all it would probably be to listen to any thoughts of writing a book or more creative pursuits and act on them now! And there is some kind of global shift going on…anyone with intuitive instincts can feel it. I just don’t know what it means…but if Martha Stewart/Omni Media are into rebranding, that to me speaks volumes! Have a good weekend re-charge, Kevin.

    • Debra, I’m smiling to myself right now, because that quality of life switch is already flicking! 🙂 Thanks for the advice — I’m listening to the inner voice and the outer voices. All the best!

    • Ann, I love this sentiment. When I think about the journey that I’ve been on just as a result of this blog — yes, the journey is so interesting. Thanks for the reminder. Enjoy your weekend. Cheers!

  4. Once, again, Kevin, this post chimed like a tuning fork. I’m a bit teary-eyed. So, I don’t know if what I write in response will make sense or be as concise as I’d like.

    First, and foremost, I’m grateful. “Meeting” you in the blogosphere has been an inspiration to me. Your voice is rich with candor, delight, and compassion. Your responsiveness to your readers so warm and genuine. I love the quality of the comment threads your posts generate, too.

    I’ve often wondered how you do it all — a meaningful and challenging career, a lush garden, two homes, a long-standing partnership, consistent and wonderful writing, all the networking that has gone along with your blog, and (let’s not forget) bagpiping. You have given me a kind of standard or idea of how I might be as I grow up. Setting myself loose along this trajectory has been an adventure in the true sense of the word, taking me to new territory.

    Gardenhood was always meant to be a way to challenge myself to write, to write more publicly, and to examine the process of becoming a garden. There’s no denying the focus is rather personal. To write more technically, I started a business website and do articles for The Colorado Gardener. That helps me express the educator in me and challenges me to let Gardenhood be the reveal-as-you-go exploration that it is.

    It’s a mystery to me, loving to write as I have all my life, why, from time to time, I can’t find the energy for it. Yes, a mystery…

    Recently, Gardenhood has been a little quiet. In the past, I’ve taken breaks for grief and out of the sheer exhaustion of being a landscape gardener in my late fifties. This time, it’s because of “the shift”. I’m glad to be in the company of so many who are feeling it and responding by hearing a new, renewed, synthesized, perhaps deeper calling. I’ve awakened to a vision of a new practice which integrates creative expression, deep listening, and shamanic journeys and am busy reinventing myself, too.

    Don’t know, really, where this will lead. But I can say, that wherever it does, I hope I’ll still find your voice.

    • Cheryl, I am speechless — almost. But I am so flattered and humbled. I love the personal essence of your blog — and after Sandy was finished with my area, I thought back to the inspiration found in your posts about the fires in Colorado. The educator in you appears in both your technical and personal pieces. 🙂 Thank you and enjoy the day — although, I have a feeling that you already do. 🙂

  5. I really have nothing worthy to add to all the wise words from not only your post but the comments that follow. But I do agree that blogging can help finetune the process of reinvention, or perhaps help us tweak where we are by sometimes allowing us the outlet to say things out loud we have been thinking, making them more real, reminding us of what we want to stay focused on as we journey forward, and helping us pull the things out of life we find important. In some respects, every morning we awake again, reinventing ourselves for the new day. ~ Kat

    • Kat, beautiful sentiments! I like the idea that we reinvent ourselves each day. And I also agree with you: you are all an amazing and wise group of commenters. Not for nothing, we would make one heck of a group blogging effort. Just a thought — or a moment of reinvention? 🙂

  6. yes Life is all about change…and finding the balance…Im at the point where I dont have to have a career….I took up painting..and am make traveling a priority..Doing what i love….think about how many Christmas you have left…scary isnt it.?.and now I want to got to a Broadway show,and visit japan…and get a hotel and see the macys parade….and make my garden simple (maybe get some help)…hand out boots to homeless people on times Square….Martha has plenty of money …she cant spend it all…ever…..what has she done as a legacy??? who is thinking about global warming,animal rights,…the poor, the sick…I was in the hospital during Christmas once and it meant the world to have someone come and bring me a care bear……….

    • Sharon, I love the list that you created for yourself — and I have a feeling you will accomplish your dreams. As you said, life is about change — and I am far from the person I was ten years ago, doing things I never thought I would be doing twenty years ago. So I guess it’s inevitable — twenty years from now I will not be the same person I am today. Thanks for putting things into perspective. Enjoy the ride. 🙂

  7. Kevin, I have been sitting here staring out in the air for the last 10 minutes thinking about what to write here ….your post hit the right spot in me, I am going through a similar phase myself, probably for slightly different reasons. I don’t think we ever stop re-inventing our self, making changes, small or big is part of human nature. But sometimes it is not our choice, sometimes reinvention and changes come as a result of things that happens around us or to us – beyond our control. I have had to reinvent myself several times in my life as my health situation gradually got worse and worse. I have always had a bucket list, it was a very exciting bucket list 30 years ago. These days the list is very short, concise and uneventful – well, apart from the fact that I wish for a tandem parachute jump for my 50th birthday, if my orthopaedic surgeon can be persuaded that it would be safe!

    I always wanted to make a book with my photos. It’s not easy to get a publisher interested enough in a newcomer today so I self-published instead – 6 books. My point is, you don’t always have to do the reinvention the huge and costly way, brand change in big companies cost millions but on a personal level you can do small changes for nothing, just a bit of elbow grease and spare time. And if you are not happy with your first choice, move on and try something else. My blog is almost 2 years old, I used to write 8-10 posts a month and sometimes much more. These days I am down to 3-5 a month and I can’t see me writing much more than that – but I certainly want to keep on writing about my garden. I am now ready for pastures new. I am bubbling over with new project ideas, but can’t seem to get started with anything. A novel is brewing in me, but I am not sure I am ready for it. Seems familiar? The on-ramp will appear when it is the right time, I am not searching for it, I am patient – it will be there when the time is right. Hope you find your new project too, looking forward to reading about it, take care.

    • Helene, thank you so much for these words. Each time I read them, I am struck at how similar we seem to be — other than jumping out of a plane; that’s all you! I followed your self-publishing odyssey, and it rooted firmly in my mind. A few weeks ago, I attended a self-publishing conference and it was amazing and overwhelming and fascinating — and now, it’s all I think about. Someday, it will come together. Good luck convincing your surgeon– maybe he or she can tandem jump with you. 🙂

      • Ha, ha, I’ll suggest that to him next time I see him! I have briefly mentioned my wish to him once before, and got an astonished reaction, but I had just had hip operation number 4 then so perhaps that had something to do with the way he reacted….self-publishing conferences sounds interesting, I must admit I just read tutorials on the Internet and did what I always do – trial and error.

      • 🙂 I had a similar conversation with my cardiologist when I told him I was thinking of getting a tattoo — he just stared at me in bewilderment, and then said, “You’re not getting a tattoo. You don’t go off your heart medication to get a tattoo.” So, no tattoo — but yes to a conference. I think what I most enjoyed was being out of my element, of doing something completely different. Cool stuff.

  8. I don’t think we are meant to be one thing, forever – static and unchanging. I think we are meant to be many different things throughout out lifetime. Provided what we choose takes us on the path to the next thing (and not prison or something along those lines). That fact that you are recognizing a need for reinvention, tells me you are standing at the precipice of reinvention. 🙂

    p.s. More magazine is my all time favorite magazine and I remember reading that story about your friend. Kudos to her.

  9. Hi Kevin, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on reinvention. I am on long service leave backing it on to our summer holidays here. I have spend every day in the garden with the cats, chickens and the dogwood in full bloom. My teaching load for next year is the worst ever and now all I want to do is combine my love of gardening with my love of writing. So I guess there’s lots of thinking time ahead. I am a firm believer that our lives change for a reason and always at a time needed the most. All the best,

  10. Well I had a similar experience a few months ago and I stopped blogging for a while. New posts came to my mind but none of them seemed to be good enough to be written, and days gone by… Now I don’t want to feel the stress about blogging and following anymore. Do I have something good to write? I write. Otherwise I won’t. No matters if I write twice a week or once in a month.
    Your reinvention process seems to be more complex than mine though, I hope you are going to get over it soon. Though you could have serious brain damages for good, or some kind of disorder :-)))

  11. a post close to my heart, I’ve always wondered what I want to be when I grow up plus I’ve been wondering where on earth the blog is taking me. There are time when walking into the unknown is fun, other times totally scary. Well that’s me and my life summed up 🙂
    Another superb post and beautifully illustrated. Does that increase or decrease the pressure 🙂

    • Claire, you have no idea. 🙂 The blog journey has been wonderful, but there are times when I feel like I’m driving blindly — and that’s the feeling that’s terrifying. I don’t really like roller coasters, so I am completely out of my comfort zone. I wonder where I’ll end up?

  12. Pingback: Margaret & Me & A Cup Of Tea « Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

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