A few thoughts on gardening. Of the metaphorical variety.

Dear friends,


A few years ago, I heard a colleague say “It’s always a good idea to re-pot yourself every now and then.”

He was talking about professional transitions and the benefits of new jobs, new perspectives and new challenges. About that same time, I was planning to re-pot myself in the fertile soil of Missouri and another colleague warned it would take two years for me to feel fully adjusted and properly rooted. I remember the comment gave me pause. “Two years?” I thought. “I hope not.”

Turns out, both colleagues were right.

My re-potting was a great move on many levels. Though I was originally the one who instigated our transition, I think it’s fair to say all my family members now agree that the change of scenery did us good. I can confidently say we are happily settled.

So much so that Saturday night — when Mr. Mom and I hosted some newcomers for a friendly tennis match and dinner at our home — we played the roles of natives rather than transplants.

The couple has only been in town 11 months. The husband travels frequently for his new job and I could tell that the move combined with frequent spousal separations meant both he and his wife were missing their east-coast hometown terribly. I told them all the things we had come to appreciate about the community and urged them to reserve judgement for two full years.

The husband seemed surprised. “Two years?” he asked, unable to conceal the concern in his voice.

“I know,” I said. “I reacted the same way. But truth be told, if you would have asked me at the one-year mark, or the 18-month mark if I felt settled, I would have said no. And I might have sounded wistful about home. But now, at the 26-month mark, I truly feel like this is our home. We have friends. We feel connected. We belong.”

Our new friend expressed more surprise. “But don’t you miss home?”

“Sure I do,” I said. “But I miss it in a different way. Home will always be home because it’s such a comfortable place to be. And I’m a long ways away from lifelong friends, as well as professional relationships that spanned decades. But as much as I miss my old friends, I don’t feel homesick and I don’t miss living there anymore. I don’t rush at every opportunity to visit home. And that’s how I know I’m rooted here.”

I started thinking about the necklace I was wearing — a pendant of my home state that I purchased recently to support the relief fund for the devastating tornado in Moore, Okla. I’ve worried that my Missouri friends might view it around my neck and consider it a symbol of homesickness or discontent when, in fact, I feel more comfortable and settled than ever. I finally have a dear circle of friends who have heard my stories and I’ve heard many of theirs, which means not every conversation requires a set-up. I am a long ways from knowing everybody — like some who have lived and worked here “forever” — but I’m no longer the kind of lonely foreigner who has to actively seek out social opportunities, or ask for referrals for doctors or plumbers, or ask “Who’s that?” every time someone outside my family and co-workers are mentioned. And I’ve finally learned the short cuts and back roads to many of my favorite destinations, which is a sure sign that I’ve transitioned from outsider to local.

So I like to think of my Okie pendant as a talisman, suspended near the heart of an ex-pat who’s successfully transplanted and throwing out roots in all directions of her lovely new garden.

With gratitude {for the perennial sunny spot in which I always seem to find myself},

Joan, who can only claim success in metaphorical gardening and has the dead or struggling plants to prove it

Cheers to nineteen.

Dear friends,

We had a party last night. Best I can tell, it was a hit.

As was the cake.

I got a little nervous about running out of cake when kids kept showing up, but my four-layer beauty fed the hungry teenagers with one piece to spare. Whew!

The whole evening made my heart full. I couldn’t have been happier that so many friends showed up to help Kate celebrate. It’s been a tough year for her as she noted on a recent Facebook post: Eighteen was one heck of a year for me, but I made it through it. Cheers to nineteen and all that it brings me!

Our new little town has welcomed us at every turn over the past several months, and the kids have been especially kind and friendly. My debt of gratitude grows every day with each new gesture of friendship.

With gratitude {for strength of family, resilient kids, and the gift of new friends, which is one of the best reasons of all to celebrate},

Joan, who impressed a kitchen full of teenagers while making Pioneer Woman’s Baked French Toast (for Sunday breakfast) with her one-handed egg cracking technique

Take me back to Tulsa.

Dear friends,

Source: Wikipedia

I’m spending 24 hours in the land of my birth.  (In the words of Leon Russell, I’m in home sweet Oklahoma). I’ve made a whirlwind trip to Tulsa to help a friend celebrate a new job.

I’m making the most of my 24 hours: first I made a stop to see one of my dearest friends. She was the Matron of Honor in my wedding and I wouldn’t think of coming to Tulsa without popping in to see A.  It was a short stop, but we had time for a long hug, a glass of wine, and an hour of conversation.

Then I spent a long dinner with a group of former colleagues celebrating the transition of a member of our group. Ten of us got to together to toast C’s new job (and new pregnancy) and tell our favorite war stories from our memorable years together as a team.

Next, I stayed up late talking to another friend, catching up on all that has happened in J’s universe since I left town.

Saturday morning, I’m having two breakfasts with more friends, one early and one late, then I’m off to lunch with another dear friend that I’ve known since 5th grade.

Are you catching a theme here? It may only be 24 hours, but I’m luxuriating in friendship with women I’ve known forever it seems. It’s a much-needed dose of hearty laughter, warm hugs, and shared memories with a cadre of women who mean the world to me.  I can’t think of a better way to kick off February.

With gratitude {for dear friends who welcomed me home with open arms},

Joan, who, no matter where she lives, will always think the Tulsa skyline is the prettiest