Even though my hands do not plant, water, or prune flowers, I’ve cultivated a garden of stories that is bursting with all kinds of relationships. This garden is Seedlings, Stories of Relationships and I created it using the analogy of a garden. I divided Seedlings into three sections: seeds, shoots, and blossoms. The stories are true, partly true, and stories of “what if.”
Seed stories grew out of one word or phrase that led to a story—ones like “Craggy,” “Empty Nest,” and “Compassion Ambassadors.” Shoots stories are ones where I heard anecdotes that had a bit of plot already. Like a small plant, I watered or nurtured them and created stories like “Summer Stock” where I added character traits, humor, dialogue and setting. The blossom stories are ones where I either share the whole truth of my relationship—most often with my husband, bless his heart, or a story told to me. “Ivan and the French Fries” and “Catherine the Great” are true to the story with occasional license taken in dialogue.
The garden analogy also relates to the theme of the book, which is relationships. Each of the stories is about a particular kind of relationship—marriage, the first child, remarriage, losses through illness, aging, and death; retirement, siblings, and parent/child. Just as plants and my stories need nurturing, watering, and sometimes pruning, so do relationships. Anyone who lives under the illusion that a relationship grows stronger by itself is probably in for a shock or disappointment along the way. Just as my sister plans out her garden and lays out what plants will go near each other and which will be along the border, so do relationships need some kind of planning and boundaries.
A friend who has an incredible garden told me, “The key to properly watering plants is all about paying attention. That’s because there are no hard or fast rules.” Same is true with your partner, or child, or coworkers. Without loving, or at least cordial attention, the relationship will either wither or explode.
Seedlings stories provide some easy wisdom through everyday events with ordinary people who share ‘how to’ have a successful happy relationship mostly by being present and throwing in a good dose of laughter every day.