Deciduous Blogging, Soul Gardening and Cherishing our Children

baby rainbow fingersIt is…the parent willing to nurture a child that will decide our fate. ~ Barack Obama, in his inauguration speech.

A few months ago, I coined the phrase ‘deciduous blogger’.  It seems I have a natural tendency to take frequent breaks from blogging; my blog often lies dormant while I gather strength, ready to reach for the sun, put out fresh new growth and blossom again.

I used to have a love-hate relationship with blogging; I’d periodically succumb to blogweariness, not only from writing and commenting at length, but from visiting dozens of blogs every day and spreading myself too thin in an attempt to participate in supportive, reciprocal blogging.

In that depleted state, I’d become more aware of the tribal drums of blogging and the underlying currents of hypocrisy, egotism and exploitation that so often leave me feeling queasy. Now, if blogweariness or cynicism sets in, I simply have  a break.

These past few months, however, I haven’t been going through a spell of deciduous blogging. I’ve actually been battling a wind that’s felled dreams, washed away blossom overnight and threatened to uproot me. My roots ache from having to hold on so tight, even though I know that every storm they weather strengthens them. Sometimes, letting go is simply not an option.

Despite a notebook full of drafts and a camera full of photos to share, I’ve been resting after a confluence of losses, bad news, family health problems, teenage exams, financial blows and a minor but confidence wrecking car crash. Even when I wanted to log on to explain, and to bask in the warmth of my online friendships, I spent a part of my time away virtually immobilised with back pain; sitting at a computer was impossible.

I’m a very honest writer and cherish authenticity and integrity; I believe in looking for the learning in challenging situations, but in two months that have included a short spell in hospital, doctors’ visits, physiotherapy, friends’  battles with cancer, and a medical diagnosis that threatens to blight my son’s adolescence, every bird, bee, cloud and sign from the universe has told me to lay low, rest, fill up the jug and focus on my own health and that of my family. That’s the only way I can replenish my soul and my writing so that some day, I can turn it all into something that might touch, help or resonate with others.

So often we advise extreme self care but are the last to practise it. I love my family, my friends and online buddies, but if I don’t take care of myself, I have nothing of quality to give – and this beautiful world of ours deserves the best we can give, not half hearted love on automatic pilot.

I hope to be writing again soon, here and at my Kitchen Table Space; a comment  response I left there the last time I logged on formed the core of this post. I adore my wee blog; I built it with love, hard work, time, energy, laughter, tears and a genuine desire to connect at the heart, to contribute something of value to the world, even if it’s just a splash of floral colour on a dreary day. I don’t get writer’s block; when I have an overwhelming need to stop writing and start living more, to clean house and do some soul gardening, I’ve learned to listen.

I hope you’ll bear with me while I tentatively dip my toes back into blogging waters.

In the meantime, here’s a video I’d urge you to watch if you’re an educator or have kids, nieces, nephews, young neighbours or grandchildren. As you know, I’ve had an organic, patchwork career which has included teaching, so I really resonated with Sir Ken Robinson’s latest TED talk. (I posted his 2006 TED video here when I started out blogging.)

In this latest talk, he discusses  principles and beliefs that my husband and I actually live by when it comes to our kids. (To read more about how we try to nurture their talents, please check out my piece called Sharing the Journey.)

The poem in Sir Ken’s video is also deeply personal and special to me; used in this context – and because of the pain both my kids have been through these last few months – it had me in tears. I logged off weeks ago to cherish my loved ones and my health and I’m glad I did. I posted today because I wanted, more than anything else, to connect with you again.




  1. Hi Janice .. it sounds like a tough time .. but it’s good to see you back with an update .. and written in such gentle loving terms. May peace be with you and the summer heal and wash the tears away ..

    My thoughts are with you and are often sent up country .. wondering and praying that all is well .. life certainly tries us at times .. enough for now – let your love be cherished within your family and friends .. and we’re not far away – when the need calls.

    With big hugs – Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Nature in Balance … and the Dark-Bellied Dew Lover! =-.

    1. Thank you, Hilary. I never took it for granted that anyone would come back to the blog after my wee retreat, but I’m very glad you have.

      I hope all’s well with you. I wish you didn’t have such intriguing blogpost titles because I’m not visiting anyone else’s blogs for a wee while in an effort to avoid slipping back into my old ways – my back and neck are hurting already after a few hours online today and I haven’t sat with a glass of water outside yet, despite the glorious sunshine. But Dark Bellied Dew Lover’s a good one!

      1. Hi Janice .. thanks for replying .. hopefully you’ve had your cuddle now .. and are easing your back away from the dreaded machine! See you when we see you …

        You’re right I try and make my blog titles catching .. did you see what a Dark Bellied Dew Lover is? It’s a fruit fly – bet you’ll look at them with a different lens in future?!

        There’s so many interesting things to find out .. I love it!

        Look after yourself and more hugs from here .. xoxo Hilary
        .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Nature in Balance … and the Dark-Bellied Dew Lover! =-.

      2. Hi Janice .. I’ve just listened to the TED talk & it is amazing .. and ties in with my Dark Bellied Dew Lover ..but also it’s just not about natural resources .. but human resources – I thought it was a brilliant talk.

        I’m going to append it to my post .. as it’s appropriate ..

        Love it .. and can quite understand why you relate to it .. I don’t know who Sir Ken is – but I’m sure going to find out ..

        Thank you – wonderful link .. Hilary
        .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Nature in Balance … and the Dark-Bellied Dew Lover! =-.

  2. It was so good to hear from you today. I have really been worried about you and had even put you on my To-Do list to email. In fact, I am probably still going to do that. But I want you to know you’ve been missed and loved. We are glad you are okay. Battle-weary and physically weary from some difficult months for sure, but at least we know you’re still around. Take care of you! Seriously, YOU!

    Much, much, much agapi.
    xx Carla
    .-= Chania Girl´s last blog ..The Big Break-Up =-.

    1. Thanks CG! One of the hardest things I did today when I logged back on was to delete hundreds of feed alert emails full of fascinating blogpost titles, posts written by people I’d gotten into the habit of connecting with every few days. It sounds daft, but it felt like I was deleting chunks of people’s lives as ‘unimportant’, lives that had begun to feel real to me, lives I’d grown to care about. But here, now…that’s all that matters, all there really is and for me, my family comes first. I nearly lost sight of that. Today I’m enjoying being online, but I’m also looking forward to logging off soon to hug my daughter and catch up on her news when she gets home from school.

      Hope to read/hear more about what you’ve been up to when I start dropping into folks’ blog kitchens again.

      1. Never apologize for clearing out the old and starting fresh. When I took five months away back in the fall/winter, the first thing I had to do when I returned to my reader was hit delete. It would have just dragged me down. Keep taking time for you and get those hugs in. There’s more to life than blogging.

  3. Hi Janice. I came here becoz I was drawn to. I just wanted to check whats happening with your blog. And your post spoke to me. I started a new blog through my brothers recovery(he had a brain injury). Yet I don’t have the energy to continue, to give. He is still in recovery at home, and I have time but my heart doesn’t let me. So I heed the advise you give yourself. Let the soul rest. Thank u for this. Truly
    .-= Uzma´s last blog ..14 lessons I wish I had known earlier in my life. =-.

    1. Hi Uzma,
      I’m so sorry I wasn’t blogging at my normal pace or I would have replied to this immediately. Thank you for your breathtaking honesty. You sound soulweary, and as you so wisely say, when you’re aware of it, the only thing you can do is rest and nurture your soul. That way, slowly but surely, we have something to offer the world. It’s why they tell parents to put on their own oxygen masks first in planes before they can help their children. To love our fellow human beings like we love ourselves, first we have to know how to love ourselves or it makes no sense. Feeding the soul and nurturing our physical health are vital to extreme self care, especially for those of us who care for others every day.

  4. One of the reasons I first became a Janice-fan, was because of your amazing ability to know when enough is enough. You know when to stop and take care of your family. Some people never get that important clue and then wonder what happened to their relationships with their kids as they get older.

    I wish for many of my friends what you have already learned: you don’t get a second chance at your son or daughter’s childhood. How fortunate that your children have a mother like you. And don’t feel badly when you have to delete blogs and feeds, and when you feel like you are deleting pieces of your friends’ lives. If we judge our friends by how often they visit our blogs, then we are sorely misjudging them. Your true friends understand and are waiting for those priceless moments when you can pop back in and impart some of that Janice-wisdom to us.

    I am so sorry to hear that things have been so rough lately. You are in my thoughts daily, seriously. I’ve been an email slacker I know, so I will correct that situation today!

    Thank you for the video. I loved the last one that you posted (I took many lessons from it and incorporated it into my teaching) and this latest one is just as impressive. As he says in the end, I don’t want to trample on any of my students’ dreams. I just watched Dead Poets Society with my 10th graders today and it carried much the same message.

    I am so happy to hear your “voice” today and am glad you were able to come online for a bit. I’m thinking of you…

    1. I haven’t been brave enough to go on an inbox safari yet, but I look forward to finding your email. Thank you for always being so understanding and supportive, as well as for making me laugh – something I need to do more of! I look forward to catching up with you. By the way, Dead Poets’ Society is one of my favourite films. It reminds me of some of my happiest memories, teaching English to young men of that same age.

      I’m not sure my kids would agree with you that seeing a lot of me is necessarily a good thing at the moment, but your girls came through the teenage years beautifully so I’m hoping you’ll keep supporting me when I wobble. Committed parenting can tire me in places I didn’t even know I had!

  5. Janice,
    I hope you are all feeling better now and was happy to have Hilary direct me back here and discover your work again. I had a computer crash and have been in recovery for quite some time.

    I don’t have teens at home but I have been quite ill this past winter and have found writing helps me get past myself and ease the pain, though I did have to write with the lap top on my belly and legs up on couch for nearly 3 weeks – hard to write on other blogs that way. I am installing Dragon Dictate but still hope I do not have another round of such leg and knee pain.

    Love the TED speech, I have watched is several time. Truly good stuff.

    Nice to find you here…welcome back and forth 🙂
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Savannah Blues: A Novel ~Mary Kay Andrews =-.

    1. Nice to see you back in the café, Patricia. Writing is wonderful therapy and so healing. That’s why I back off if it ever starts to feel like I’m overdoing it; I never want to taint or tire of something so precious. I hope the Dragon Dictate works out for you. I’ve been feeling better every day and my brighter outlook adds to the momentum of geeting back on track…and creating some new tracks. When I need to recover from something, or change the way I deal with or think about challenges, I usually go back through my hundreds of coaching books and files and do a detox and refresher course by devouring dozens of books. A healthy pile of uplifting, escapist fiction does the trick, too!

  6. Dear Janice – I adore your wee blog also! I do so cherish that authenticity, honesty, and above all, heart that is your writing. And I know that whatever is happening in your life, you’ll come through stronger, and even wiser.

    Kitchen Table Space at The Calm Space is waiting for you… anytime you’re ready 🙂 We’ll pull up chair, fill our mugs and get comfy as we relish the warmth of your hearth, once you’re ready to open that door to us. But it’s right, too, that family take that space for now.

    I do believe, Janice, that you always give the best of yourself… whether online or off, and I know your family will truly reap the rewards of your presence and attention. You’re an inspiration – thank you.
    .-= Karen Wallace´s last blog ..Drinking in the Wonder of the Universe =-.

    1. Thank you! Your grace inspires me, Karen, it really does. You know I’ll be back at the Kitchen Table when I can write pieces of the quality The Calm Space deserves and when I feel able to put time and energy into supporting my colleagues there with authentic, enthusiastic responses. I get a glow inside when I think of the day I’ll be able to sit down at a table and write what I think of as ‘Kitchen Table Space pieces’ again. At the moment, the table’s covered with all kinds of drama and art projects, sheet music and assorted expressive arts related work my daughter has to do throughout the holidays. She got prizes in more than half of her school subjects at the end of term, including music, drama and English, so I know she puts her heart into her passions, too. Speak to you soon.

  7. Hi Janice,

    I’m saddened to hear you’re in pain, both physically and emotionally. One is bad enough, but the combination of both can be overwhelming. My heart goes out to you.

    I know you call this your “wee blog”, but to me, it’s HUGE. Not only do you share words of wisdom which can be useful to all, but you also share your heart. Whether you post once a day or once every six months, know I’m here.

    You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

    Blessings and ((hugs to you and yours))
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..Hey, You! =-.

    1. Bless you, Barbara. I’m no longer in as much pain and it’s amazing how much brighter the world seems when physical pain’s not skulking around or sneaking up and taking me by surprise. I’ve acknowledged the pain as a teacher this time, almost screaming at it “Enough! Tell me what you want me to learn here!! I’m really, really listening!”

      I haven’t been over to your blog for a while, so it amazed me that someone came over to visit the blog on the basis of some words of mine you shared there. Thank you for inspiring me to get the balance. Your blog is an inspiration to me as are you and the others who’ve taken the time to comment recently, even though I’m still on a self-imposed no-blog reading diet while I focus on family and physical wellbeing. You blog and do what you do because you love it. You continue to teach, unite, support and inspire thousands while being authentically personal and professional at the same time; don’t ever underestimate what a contribution that is to the world.

  8. I’d just like to echo Randi’s comment about your “amazing ability to know when to stop” and Karen’s comment about being authentic and honest.

    It’s great to see your writing/blogging again and while your presence is sorely missed online, it seems we are all waiting patiently in your wee garden waiting for your return 🙂

    So no worrying about not being able to share in our journeys for a while. We’ll pick you up again along the way when you are ready.
    .-= Marc´s last blog ..Is Twitter Pointless? =-.

    1. It’s comments like these and folk like you and the others in these boxes today that make me want to come back and be my best self, both in my blogposts and the boxes below. So many smirking, sarcastic people sneer at the concept of authenticity online, seeing conspiracies and cynicism everywhere – and as you know, I go through phases where I simply can’t deal with blogs and bloggers who reek of hypocrisy and self seeking, self-serving exploitation, but the people I cherish most online are the real deal. I may go through periods of sadness, wishing cyber friends were ‘real’ flesh and blood friends I could meet in cafés for chats, but that doesn’t diminish how much I value the integrity of those whose essence comes across in every line they share with others.

      What I’ve learned most from this spell offline focusing on other things is I need to seriously address how time-consuming online work and blogging can be if I do it the way I want to. I tried to write one common reply to everyone yesterday when I logged on, but it grew to the length of a post! And today, when I tried to do a shorter one, it just felt ‘wrong’ not responding to folk as individuals. I mean, it’s not as though I have so many visitors I haven’t got the time to do that! Speak to you soon, m’dear.

  9. Dear Janice,
    Your blog is one that I come back to every so often because it is not only well-written but written with such love and honesty. I am so sorry to hear about the current happenings of your life. Know that you are not alone. We all go through the ups and downs of life, and have always bounced back, many times much better than before. So hang in there, and all will be well again.

    Take care, and think positive,
    Hugs from Eileen
    .-= E. Thai´s last blog ..Florida Gulf Coast Beaches =-.

    1. What a lovely, succinct way you’ve expressed what I hope to do here – write well and with love and honesty. Thank you. I know I say it a lot, but it’s knowing you and others have seen the real me, the best me in my writing that makes me want to keep going and get better. It also makes me brave enough to strive to stay authentic online. A lot of what’s going on here hasn’t changed or necessarily got better, but my ability to face it with clarity, resilience and love certainly has. I’m feeling brighter every day.

    1. I smiled when I read this. The image of the emotional and physical meat grinder is a perfect way to describe a lot of my days in the last few months, especially those where I’ve been supporting others whose circumstances are much worse than mine. My dad has despondent days when his memories and thoughts are not just on loop but on weary&bitter loop, understandable at his age, and as with most teenagers, there are days when my two feel everything’s not fair and my fault from the moment they wake up! Add my daughter’s end of year exams to the mix and a teenage romance that went awry and you can imagine what a tasty meatloaf I would have made!

      I feel awful that I haven’t been over to your place to see how things are, but please know that I think of you often when I’m with my dad and that I take courage from your quiet fortitude.

  10. Hi Janice.
    It’s nice to see you again, though I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having a rough time. I get the feeling from your post that you’ve let go of the ‘trying’… pretty much reflected in the picture you chose for this post, too. That tiny hand is your hand, allowing yourself to be taken care of. When things get rough we of course, have choices to make and things to do, but I also believe that ‘other’ things come to our aid when we let go of the ‘trying’. Sending positive thoughts your way, Janice.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..Living the Life Wheel =-.

    1. Hi Davina.
      Thank you for the positive thoughts! I’m glad so many folk have gravatars. It’s so good to log on and be greeted by the faces of folk I’ve come to see as friends. I’m looking forward to seeing if you’ve taken a break this year and gone on any trips like the one you wrote about last year.

      You’re right about the trying. Comes a time when we need to know what to let go of, and whether it’s temporary or not. I needed to let go of blogging so I could use the regained hours to dig in and hold onto things here, where they risked being swept away. Lots of situations lend themselves to letting go and letting God, but when it comes to kids, it’s a different ball game. Teenagers have taught me to let go of a lot of things, including a lot of perfectionism and the unrealistic, anxious desire to control the unknown, but because I can see a bigger picture than adolescents can, I know there are times when I not only have to hold on, but need to tie us all up to a mast and pray!

      I know that every time I go on blogging breaks, I lose subscribers and visitors as well as the daily intimacy that builds up when you spend hours a week with the same online buddies, but I’m now content to be in a place where the pleasure I get from a few quality, heartfelt comments is all that matters. ‘See’ you soon!

  11. Wow. I was re-directed here because Barbara Swafford shared your Blogger’s Mantra, and I wanted to meet Janice. Reading this post touched the part of me that understands exactly what you’re saying about backing off (for whatever reasons) and letting go, putting yourself and your family first . . . and letting the blogger in you lie in wait, simmering until it’s time to return.

    You and your heart have my complete respect and admiration, and I look forward to becoming part of your community!
    .-= Jeanne´s last blog ..Indecision- Oh Indecision- =-.

    1. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jeanne! When I get back to doing some blog-housekeeping, I’ll be incorporating those lines you found at Barbara’s place into my own blog. Re-posting that piece last month was a bit of a wake up call for me as I’ve always believed that it’s hypocritical of me to coach folk to be authentic and their best selves if I’m fading away into exhaustion, indecision, mediocrity and overwhelm! I hope you’ll check out the archives while I’m gearing up to get going again.

  12. Welcome back, Janice! I appreciate how you role-model self-care and, from my point of view, creativity’s natural ebb and flow.

    Such a joy to be regaled by Sir Ken’s wise, evocative humour again. Thank you.

    Tender regards,

    1. Thank you for so generously sharing all the TED delights you come across that you think might interest me. This guy’s a keeper!

      I’m in a weird writing place at the moment, just happy to watch the jug filling up after spending weeks cleaning and repairing it. I’m not nearly at the bubbling up and overflowing stage yet, but I’ve been reading a lot and that always leads to quotehunting which leads to me wanting to share stuff. To be honest, part of me hasn’t even missed writing; it’s like my body’s intense efforts to get well and my brain’s attempts to get clear and focused have temporarily shut down the urge. Or maybe it’s the knock-on effect of having walked away from my regular column and the ‘known’ audience and subject matter. Who knows. It’s good to be back today, though, even though it’s time to log off to go and cook now. Speak to you soon!

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