Code Name: Succulent

You’ll have to excuse my photos
today – 12:30am in a dimly lit living room isn’t the best
picture-capturing environment. However, my red dining room wall
always photographs nicely.

This is a pencil plant (well, my pencil
plant, actually), formally known as Euphorbia tirucalli. Perfect
for a writer, right?

You
may recognize this one:
Sansevieria trifasciata,
commonly known as the snake plant, or mother-in-law’s tongue if
you’re feeling snarky.

And of course these
are pretty common (please excuse it’s slightly homely appearance –
it’s had a rough winter) – Crassula argentea, or the Jade
Plant/Tree.

What do all of these plants have in
common (besides brightening up my house)? They’re all succulents –
hardy plants that are able to store water to use in times of drought.
The word “succulent” has a few different meanings. From
Dictionary.com:

suc·cu·lent
[suhk-yuh-luhnt] –adjective


  1. full of
    juice; juicy.


  2. rich in desirable
    qualities.


  1. affording mental
    nourishment.

  1. (of
    a plant) having fleshy
    and juicy
    tissues.

I recently killed a
bunch of tropical houseplants. You can read the whole sordid story
here, but the basic gist of it is, I focused so much on one major
goal in my life (becoming a full-time writer) that I pushed
everything else in my life aside. And I realized recently that I’m
in danger of becoming a one-dimensional person, with my life
basically revolving around just one main interest.

Frankly, I don’t
think that’s healthy.

Until a couple
years ago, I lived by this adage:

The best way to know life is to love
many things. – Van Gogh

Hence the title of
this blog – The Variety Pages. It wasn’t always a writing-based
blog. I used to cover many topics here – a different one daily, but
found that readers tend to prefer niche blogs. So I broke them up
into their own little communities, and I find they do far better that
way. Still, variety in life has always been something I strive for,
something I lust after, really. I want to live a succulent
life – a “juicy” life rich in things that are healthy for me, and
nourishing to my brain.

For the past two
years, I’ve let that lifestyle slide away, to my detriment. And I
know that if I make an effort to recapture that love of variety, it
will not only make me a better person, but a better writer as well.

We’re all looking
for balance, no matter who we are or where our passions lie. I have
to say, I think balance is like perfection – neither one is
actually achievable in the utopian way we want it to be. But I do
think we can find a way to achieve our goals without sacrificing
everything else in our lives, if we’re willing to work at it, and
perhaps be a little more patient than we’d like. Having an interest
in something doesn’t mean we have to spend oodles of time on it. I
think taking little snippets out of our day or week to enjoy just a
small piece of those things that we love can make a huge difference
in how we see and interact with the world.

This summer, I’m
embarking on a personal mission, Code Name: Succulent. The
mission is to rediscover the things I love outside of writing, and
sculpt my life in such a way that I can enjoy those things in smaller
bites while still moving at a decent clip toward my main career
goals. The point is not to balance everything – I don’t believe
that’s possible or even necessary. It’s more a matter of being
content in each moment and savoring little slices of life wherever I
can.

I invite you to
join me on this journey of re-discovery every Thursday. I don’t
claim to have the answers, but perhaps you might find some of it
interesting. At the very least, you’ll know a lot about houseplants
when the series is done (and who knows what else?).

Next week, I’m
starting at square one by making a list of those interests I want to
make time for on a regular basis. I’ll share my entire list, and
then show you how I’ve chosen which ones to put at the top. Wanna
join me? Make your own list of everything you can think of that
you’re interested in (must be something other than your main interest…because this project is all about diversifying).


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9 comments on “Code Name: Succulent

  1. Carol

    I have a new mission in life – to find a pencil plant of my own! 🙂

    I’ve had a very interesting variety of plants over the years. I still have a lot of plants but now it’s down to just the hardiest – I tend to forget to water them and then make it up by over-watering. 🙂

    I’m going to start making my list of other interests (or maybe that should be other things I used to do) right now.

  2. Jamie DeBree

    No need, Carol – I’ll send you a cutting. The best plants are shared plants anyways…I got this particular pencil plant from a woman I used to sell Avon to (and her story is particularly interesting in it’s own right). 🙂

    I’m an under-waterer too. I just went a bit over-board this year with that. LOL

    Happy listing! 😉

  3. Ardee-ann Eichelmann

    Okay, I am going to become an almost mono-intrest person, the reason is that I HAVE WON A KINDLE 3!!!!!

    I just won it yesterday and I am supposed to have it by Saturday. If it gets here Monday I will still be thrilled.

    ANYWAY, I haven’t been able to read much except online for almost 10 years and I have missed it as I used to be a voracious reader. Now I can adjust the font on my Kindle and read to my heart’s content! I am going to spend most of the summer READING.

    I promise to write, work on my diet, cook, clean and surf the ‘net too, but I am going to READ!!!!! I will be a very diversified human being because I will be reading about new and different worlds, lifetimes and adventures. Watch out world, here I come!

    So know you know what I will be up too.

    Now, let me say your plants look lovely and I have killed every single variety. They SAY you can’t kill a Mother-in-law’s tongue, well, I am here to tell you that I can. I am plant killer supreme.

    In closing, I will say that my former Avon lady was quite the character and a story in her own right. She may be my NaNoWriMo novel for this year.

    Cheers,

    Ardee-ann

  4. Jamie DeBree

    Woohoo!! Yay!! And congratulations!! How cool is that? You are going to fall off the face of the ‘net for awhile, but I can’t think of any better reason for it than catching up 10 yrs of missed books. LOL Very, very groovy. 🙂

    Any plant can be killed, of course – I’ve killed sans myself before. It’s pretty darn hard though, so you and I, we’re made of stern stuff, by golly. LOL

    There’s nothing quite like selling stuff door to door to find out things you never would have otherwise… 😉

  5. Ardee-ann Eichelmann

    Jamie, you are right we are made of a superior mettle to be able to kill hard to kill plants. Salute!

    I won’t fall completely off of the face of the ‘net but I can’t wait to read, read, read!!!! I am just so amped!

    Cheers,

    Ardee-ann

  6. Brooklyn Ann

    I have a brown thumb, so my husband sees to all the plants in our household. I’m trying to keep up on other hobbies as well. For the last 2 years I was so focused on writing that I’ve been neglecting my fishing and art. This post makes me feel better about pursuing those things once more.
    On another note, have you read the book, “Succulent Wild Woman?” Awesomeness

  7. Carol

    Ha! I’ve got you both beat. I’ve killed an air fern in my time. 🙂

    Congrats on the Kindle Ardee-ann! You’re going to love it.

  8. Ardee-ann Eichelmann

    Carol, were we separated at birth. I have NEVER known anyone else who had killed an air fern. I did it too, the little bugger turned a very sickly orange=ish brown on me.

    Ardee-ann

  9. Jamie D.

    No…I haven’t, but thanks for suggesting it! I’ll certainly look that title up…

    Glad you’re pursuing your hobbies again too. I really think hobbies and interests other than writing can make us better writers (and mentally healthier overall, I dare say…) .