Originally published July, 2021
I write for the pure joy it brings me to “put pen to paper” and craft something that is funny, poignant, educational or just a personal brain dump. I don’t know that I could ever write assignment based articles. Oh, I suppose I could but they would not bring the satisfaction of sitting down to share what is happening in my head and my heart. Once complete I send my little essays off into the world to be read – or not – content that I had expressed myself. No worries about money, readership, egos, rejection letters…nope, just the satisfaction that I had completed what I set out to do. I really am a simple, low maintenance kind of person.
Who Am I?
I never noticed how often dandelions are used for logos and branding. Have you? It wasn’t until I decided that I am a dandelion in human form that I noticed dandelions, both realistic and stylized, are extremely common in branding. Trying to find a blog name containing the word dandelion that had an available URL was impossible. All the cool ones had already been taken. Don’t let the superficiality of that sentence fool you. There is a deeper meaning which I will get to a little later. Back to my personal branding.
For years I struggled to “brand” myself. In the fiber art world I have had so many social media handles many people just give up. No wonder I could never build a following. No one knew who I was going to be on any given day. My struggle was much deeper than the look and feel of my online presence. I was struggling to find me, my identity, my purpose in the world wrapped up in a cute logo with just the right pithy tag line. Funny how things work out; the harder I tried the more lost I became.
Three years ago I came across the story of a woman who continues to inspire me to this day. Trudy Smith was an artist. She had an artist’s heart and soul but didn’t live out her life’s purpose until she turned 85.
Trudy described herself as a “misfit” in her family. She didn’t fit in. She certainly didn’t conform to society’s definition of how a woman was expected to live. So she kept to herself, feeling like a weed in the middle of a flower bed. But Trudy was no ordinary weed. Is there even such a thing as an ordinary weed? Trudy knew about her passion for art but it didn’t fit, so she spent her life doing what was socially acceptable for her to do. She obeyed her father. Married a man who was much like her father in his stern nature and rigid opinion on the role of a woman, wife and mother. But when her husband died, Trudy came to life.
She picked up her paint brush and didn’t put it down until her passing in 2018, just two months short of her 103rd birthday.
“Be a weed — then you belong to everywhere or anywhere.”
To say Trudy Smith changed my life is an understatement. Not surprisingly, I came up with a brand, bought the URL, claimed the Instagram name and was off to the races. I was going to build a brand around this theme of embracing one’s inner weed. Then doubt set in and I quit. But I have never forgotten Trudy and her wonderful words of wisdom.
How Do Weeds Live?
Many of us pay a lot of money and work very hard to keep weeds out of our lawns and gardens. We strive for a perfectly manicured environment. But, despite our best efforts, weeds still find their way into our perfectly planned garden. They suck the water and nutrients out of the soil making it harder for the plants we have so carefully chosen and inserted into the environment to survive much less thrive.
What is it about weeds that allow them to do what they do? I have a few thoughts.
First, weeds know they are weeds. Weeds are not trying to be fancy or unique. They simply find a place to live and then get about doing the best job they know how to do. Some weeds are ugly, some are beautiful, but they don’t know that. They just are living their best life.
Second, weeds adapt. They can survive with minimal food, muss or fuss. Ever notice weeds growing in the cracks of a sidewalk in the middle of a city with no other plant life visible? Yup, that is a weed for you. It finds the tiniest bit of nourishment and it goes to town. Weeds don’t need fancy. They need whatever it takes for their roots to take hold and their stems and leaves to grow. Flowers are the icing on the cake.
Finally, weeds thrive despite their circumstances. Once weeds have found a place to survive, they learn to thrive. The surroundings may not be ideal but they do what is necessary to make more weeds. Because that is what weeds do. They grow, spread, and make more weeds.
Dandelions and Me
During this “Live Like A Weed” phase I adopted the dandelion as my spirit weed. I didn’t think very deeply about why, I just love dandelions. What is not to love? Pretty little yellow flowers turn into a puff ball and then sail away to settle in and begin the process once again. I love the symbolism. And, once I began to think more deeply on the subject, I realized just how much I have in common with dandelions.
Next time I will delve a little deeper on this part of the story. Until then…wherever you are, be like a weed.
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