(Apologies to those of you who don’t handle strong words… this post has them.)

Anyone who remembers the acronym in my title might be able to relate to what I’m about to discuss. Seems like, at this particular point in my life, I’m being pulled in so many different directions, being asked to “do this” or “donate my time and money to that” or “consider joining x, y, or z organization”, that I’m in serious need of prioritizing what deserves my time, attention, blood, sweat, tears…and money.

Sitting in my office during a lunch break a few months ago, I was going “into the wormhole” of YouTube and found a TED talk by a woman who seems to understand my predicament. Thing is, she knows how to handle these dilemmas much better than I do.

In a nutshell, she says when you look at all the things you’re being pulled to do, there are some you “give a f*ck” about and others you “don’t give a f*ck” about. Think of your “f*cks” as currency — either you are willing to spend them on something that is pig-896747_960_720meaningful to you (for me, that would be taking time to write or making a trip to a family graveyard for some genealogical research), or you are NOT willing to spend them on something (like going to a Pampered Chef party – I don’t cook like that!). Of course, there are some things you have to give some “f*cks” about – family obligations, etc., but for the most part, you have the choice on how you set up your “f*ck budget.”

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Tonight, I’m going to watch her video again and re-do my “f*ck budget” because I’m almost broke. Need to reallocate my f*cks, stop spending them on the things that aren’t priority in my life, and maybe save a few for something really cool down the road.

DILIGAF? I’ll let you decide that a little later…

Here’s the TED talk by Sarah Knight, bestselling author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” and “Get Your Sh*t Together”. Good stuff!


Tending the Roots (of the Family Tree)

I have this jasmine plant that has entwined itself around the posts of the pergola on the back deck.  For over five years, I spent time carefully guiding and gently securing the vines up and around the 9-foot post until they began to crawl on their own across the top beams.  The deep green leaves were beautiful, and the tiny white flowers provided me with calming, intoxicating scents when the right breeze passed through the yard in the summer months.

But this past winter was particularly harsh – on many levels.  As we experienced the most snow and coldest temperatures since I planted it, my life seemed equally as cold and bleak, as I was dealing with some physical and emotional issues that continued to nip at my body, mind, and spirit.  So, as my beautiful jasmine plant began to wither away… it seemed that I was doing the same thing.

Over the past few years, I’ve gradually lost connection with a family member who was, from the time I was eleven, the closest thing to a mother-figure that I had.  The details aren’t necessary to relate here – but they are such that our ability to spend time with each other the way we used to is forever changed.  This has affected me deeply – as I grew older and began to recall things about my life that had been kept “hidden” as a way of protecting myself and others, I began to realize that acknowledging and sharing those memories – especially with her – was an essential step in the healing process.  Unfortunately, sometimes one’s healing may cause discomfort and hurt in others. It was a tough, but necessary, decision.

The phone calls and weekend visits spent talking about meaningless things (and sometimes serious things), the updates on house projects driving us crazy, and the exercise walks on the boardwalk, interrupted by a “rest break” (cocktail stop)  – they were now a thing of the past.  I felt uncomfortable with the thought of calling her on a Saturday morning, for fear I wouldn’t know quite what to say to my own aunt — the sister who had shared her childhood bedroom with my mother and who had promised my mom near the end of her life that she would help take care of me.

Last week, I received a text message that asked if we were “still family.”  I must’ve looked at it at least ten times, wondering how our relationship had come to this – the occasional cryptic “Hello, I’m fine” that was supposed to make up for not talking for a month.  We were both guilty of it.

So I sent a note back to her (still hesitant to pick up the phone).

We started talking about the plants on our deck.  That was safe conversation after such a long time.  I mentioned the jasmine that had finally met its match this winter and said I was going to get a new one and start over.  Then she told me to look at it closely – saying that “when you think it’s dead, new growth will appear at the base, near the roots.”  I went over to the plant, brushed away the dead leaves and vines…

and found this.


Beautiful little green leaves sprouting up from the roots.

In that moment, I discovered more than the fact that my gardening skills (and vision) were obviously lacking.  I realized that the moment when you’re withered to the point of giving up is the moment when you must push aside the old, dead stuff and take a real close look at things.  Chances are you’ll find that you weren’t really in as bad shape as you thought.  With a little tending, your branches will begin to grow again, and before long, you’ll be winding your way toward the top of the pergola and the sunshine.

So it is with jasmine… and with family — if you’re willing to spend the time tending them.

I think I will give her a call this weekend. It’ll be nice to chat over a long-distance cup of coffee.