Sometimes, You Need to Let the Weeds Grow to Find the Good

“The universe is clearly trying to tell you something,” my wise friend said. She set down her coffee and looked me in the eyes.

“Now you just have to figure out what.”

Tacos and Time with a Friend

Many of the things I love in life–good food, friends, thoughtful conversation–are rolled up in “taco time” with Courtenay.

Two or three years ago, my friend and I started meeting for breakfast once a month as writing accountability and encouragement. Before long, we really needed to talk twice a month . . . and just this week, the third time in August, we were sipping coffee, making each other laugh, and pondering our lives. Work, dogs, daughters, work, politics, parents, work.


Courtenay’s a good listener. She sat quietly while I went on about an upsetting situation, something that was causing me a lot of distress. And then she connected some dots that had been invisible to me; this week’s problem was a lot like another crappy problem–different people,similar tasks –from a few months back. Different work, same angst.

Her keen insight startled me.

Universe, I’m Listening

Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (no, Einstein didn’t author that . . . the saying, most likely, originated with Narcotics Anonymous). But what if you experience a problem over and over again but never realize the situations are the same? Is that nuts, too?

Despite a preference for directness and willingness to address conflicts head-on, I’m a tender soul. Petty people find out quickly how easy it is to tear my heart and bruise my feelings, and few things make me angrier than displaying that hurt by crying. As I type, previous wounds rise up without any conscious recall–the black granite in the bathroom stall at NXNW and me gasping, silently, after being decimated by an associate: “You will not cry. You will not cry. You will not cry.

The truth is, I take my work very seriously. I throw myself into projects–paid and volunteer–and care passionately about how well I execute them. I once told a boss, “I’ll work for you forever if you just let me know I’m doing a good job.”

Something keeps taking me down the same road. Maybe I need a better balance between inner me and professional me, to be a bit more blasé. Maybe I should aim bigger, to search out grander platforms where my passion and ideas find a better fit. Maybe a posse of close personal friends would take away that craving for approval and recognition that’s hard to satisfy through work. Maybe.

I’m 55. Maybe I’ll never know where the kink in this road lies, and why I unerringly keep finding potholes.

Weeds vs. Flowers

Small green weed growing between stepping stones in gravel.In May, I discovered this little sprout along the path by our patio.

Don’t ask me why, but something about its placement struck me as so very valiant. Hopeful. There it was, in the gravel, for god’s sake, reaching its tiny leaves upward.

I respect a volunteer, especially a plant I don’t recognize, so I gave it a chance. It could turn out to be something spectacular. Grow, little fella.

I took this photo with an intent to write about optimism. I’m an eternally hopeful person; I believe the world will be better, and tomorrow always promises a fine day. That I can learn and grow and become something more than I was before.

Every day, I’d walk by that sprout on my way to the garden or to fill the bird bath. Despite no watering or care on my part, the little fella flourished. It grew and grew, to the point where I realized encouraging this weed was indulgent.

It’s time to pull it up, I’d think, and then, No; not yet. Just a little bit longer.

As I procrastinated, long bracts of flowers formed and berries appeared. Leaves filled and reached outward. My little sprout had become a big plant.

Tall weed growing in gravel by an outdoor wooden chair.

Last week, friends were over early one morning and, as we walked out into the backyard, I asked if anyone recognized this plant.

Pokeweed, said Beth without hesitation. It’s a native and birds love the berries.

My hopeful sprout is a mixed blessing. The flowers are pretty and it survives quite well without any gardening attention or additional water. But after a bit of research, I’ve discovered it’s toxic to humans (at least, without great effort in preparation); as the plant sprawls, it’s beginning to block the path.

Time to pull this weed out by its sturdy root.

My work problem seems to be a lot like my weed experience. Maybe my observant friends, like Courtenay and Beth, can provide some helpful identification. Maybe I need to do a bit more reflecting on my strengths and weaknesses.

Maybe a little bit of patience and tolerance can help me pull the problem out by the roots.








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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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