by Carol Thompson
Editor’s note: This is the final post of an ongoing, 5 part blog chronicling the author’s journey with TLA.
What if nobody shows up?
My quest for finding Right Livelihood is currently split into two directions – one part of me wants to become a Rune Master and Teacher, and another part is a propagator and designer of miniature potted succulent gardens. Tomorrow night I’m having a “Trunk Show” highlighting my plants, and I’m also selling a wide array of my artistic wares – painted rocks and wooden bowls, photo greeting cards and essential oil infusion stones. I’m hoping to recoup some of the investment I have made in soil, plants, pots and fertilizer and the many, many hours that have been consumed by my labor of love of gardening.
Between my living room and the back deck, I’ve counted 88 different potted combinations of wee desert plants, some ready to flower, some covered with sharp needles that I have trimmed with scissors. Some are short and fat and others look like trees from an ancient African forest. I’ve sent out notification on Facebook and created an event on my own FB page, the “Weekend Workshop Club”. Several hundred people have seen the invitation, the photos, the note that if they buy a wee garden, they will also receive a vial of concentrated liquid fertilizer and instructions on how to keep their new babies happy. No confirmed “I’m coming/not coming” responses yet, a couple of maybes and several verbal probablys, but I’m not worried.
I’ve gone to great efforts to make this a delightful evening. I’m providing “light refreshments”, “nibbles”, a box of red and a box of white, iced tea, and homemade ginger cookies. I’m ready, prepared and bubbling with enthusiasm. The yellow brick road leading me towards Right Livelihood will be open to the public tomorrow night.
My daughter stops by to see how I’m doing, and after checking out the scene, she asks, “but what happens if nobody comes?” The question hits me like a brick. I had never even remotely imagined that this was a possibility. What if the future held a complete surprise? What if nobody shows up and I don’t sell a single plant? What if, on Saturday morning, I still have 88 pots of succulents?
I felt the full brunt of the force as it knocked my equilibrium off of center. The Power of Words was the bull in the china closet and I found myself stammering and trying to convince my daughter (and myself) that I love what I’m doing, people are busy and don’t always RSVP, and all of that time and money was an investment in my self – my creativity, my artistic spirit, my sense of beauty and design. And even though I was now a bit of a cowering, defensive wreck, I knew, deep down inside, that these beautiful, healthy, colorful, multi-faceted plants were an extension of who I am. It didn’t really matter if nobody came. I would survive and so would my dreams.
Three people came, two plants and a beautifully painted rock went to new homes, and the next day five other folks called to say they were planning to come but couldn’t make it. So, I considered the night a success and chalked the low attendance up to “life happens whether you show up or not”. I fulfilled my goal of curating the show and felt great because I did something that expanded the “me” that loves dirt and plants and spending time outside in the fresh air. I’ll have plenty of chances in the future to carry on and fill up that cookie jar with cash and checks. This was just another chapter in the story of my life.
So, back to the Right Livelihood and my experiences of the past two years as I have made my way through the Transformative Language Arts Certificate. I’ve met and chatted with many wonderful people, added tools to my toolbox, filled multiple pages in my journal, written poetry, explored my options and looked at the possibilities that will unravel from the giant ball of yarn that is still rolling ahead of me. There is motion and potential and I can see that I’m making progress. I’m getting closer to my goal of becoming.
I wanted to leave this blog with some words of wisdom, some evidence to the lights that have been fired up because of the many classes I participated in during the past two years. I dug out all of my folders and notebooks and print-outs and there was one workshop facilitator, Doug Lipman, who seemed to stand out above the rest. I ended up enjoying two of his classes during the time I was working on my certificate. When I first met Doug at the Power of Words Conference in Saco, Maine on August 13, 2016 he was teaching a workshop called “The Values of the Future, Through Story Telling”. It was during this time that I realized that my time spent working with runes not only contained the roots of my hope that I could transform my “hobby” into a Right Livelihood, but in actuality, working with runes was a form of storytelling. This realization changed my approach to how I described my “work”. It wasn’t all about clarity, focus, memories and self-awareness, it was about finding the unique fabric that dressed one’s life, gathering up the squares and sewing them together so they could become the crazy quilt representing the multi-facets of who we are. It was all about the story.
Doug’s workshop explained how to embed values into the process of storytelling. There were eight values that fell into two groups: Group A was the Primacy of Connection, and Group B was Respect for Our Amazing Minds. I just loved boiling down all of my Runic hopes and dreams and was able to see that these two factors were like my own security blanket. I was the one who needed connection and affirmation – this was exactly what I was looking for. I felt warmed to the core.
So I venture forth, one step at a time, one plant at a time, one rune stone at a time. I am confident with knowing that no matter what does or doesn’t happen, what evolves or simply sits still, all I have to do is show up.
Carol Thompson moved from the Mad River Valley in Vermont to Benicia, California on Christmas Day, 2014, in order to be close to the marina where her first grandchild and his family live on a 41′ sailboat. A life-long learner, Carol has a BS in General Studies and holds certificates in Counseling & Human Relations, Non-Profit Management and will soon be certified in Introductory Transformative Language Arts. Two of her main interests are the study of Runes and the creation of beautiful miniature succulent gardens. She has taught Introduction to Runes classes in Vermont, California and New Zealand. A DNA test confirmed her Scandinavian ancestry.