Re-Defining Success, Putting My Worth in a Bouquet of Lilacs, and Deglamorizing Being Your Own Boss

Real Talk More Than Lyme 2019

I’m wondering why the lilacs keep drooping when I cut and put them in vases.

I’m wondering, as I sift through old emails in attempt to find book edits I purposefully put in the archives, if I had ever noticed before that my grandpa had three different ways he “signed off” of our emails: Word-loving grandpa, your grammar loving grandpa, or GG (short for grammar grandpa).

I’m wondering if I cut the stems diagonally and put a little sugar in the water, if that wouldn’t help with the lilac situation?


It’s another rainy morning, reminding me of the other side of the mountains where moss grows everywhere, rain jackets hang by every door, and wiping wet shoes on the mat before you slip them off inside is something one actually does—an act that very much separates the damp to the dry environments. The wet clothes, hair, and soggy legs of your jeans, now thawing and drying next to a just-lit fire.

In an attempt to revive their heavy looking demeanor, I placed all the bouquets of lilacs on the windowsill, their sweet smell filling me with every childhood memory imaginable…

As I sit and contemplate, I can hear the grass being mowed in the park next to our house.

I’m holding myself accountable to noticing these moments, because even though they are very much rooted in what makes me feel most “at home,” they are somehow always the first to be overlooked.


I have plans to edit the book of poems that I haven’t opened since my grandpa died. I didn’t realize it until after, but I wrote them for him, a final nod of agreement. A promise that his word-loving-tendencies will be passed down through the generations.

I also have made plans to volunteer my time to organizations that I believe in, get outside more, read before bed (specifically old classics), explore different meal options in the kitchen, and maybe even get excited about them—and to write. I’ll write for me, for GG, for the sweet smell of rain and how I secretly love when it rolls over the mountains and into the desert for more than a day or two (a rare occurrence).


I don’t like to say that I have plans to slow down, because I don’t, though at first glance it might appear that way. I like to say that I have plans, and have actually begun to implement them, to re-prioritize. To figure out how to wonder more and worry less. To hold myself accountable to the little joys that have had me since day one. To recognize that yes, I have a want to make money from the work that I do.

But that it might not be what I had originally thought.

There was an idea, notion, and drive that I have spent the past year dedicated to. Stubborn in how I chose to go about it and stubborn in how I would eventually “make it work.” Once I’ve cracked the code, listening to anyone and everyone around me. The gurus, diploma holders, and the ones that know best.

Everyone but me.

Then will things will fall into place. Surely they will.


The idea that this might not be what I want didn’t cross my mind, not even once. I was hasty, eager, and willing to put in ridiculously long days just so I could say that I tried with every ounce of me. Soon, basing my worth entirely on when I started and when I finished. The longer the hours the better, I told myself, sharing this story through a glamorized lens of, “look how hard I worked and look how much I didn’t put myself first along the way.” This only provided evidence for my soon-to-be successes and unwavering dedication to A, B, and C.

I’m not mad at myself for being so dedicated to this viewpoint.

I’m not mad at myself for my stubbornness and unwillingness to adjust circumstances to have better met where I was at, both financially, mentally, and when it came to my physical health.

I’m not going to take the time to think of myself poorly.

To feel shamed into apologizing when someone says,”in the future, I would suggest never charging for something like that.” (After, I flagged this feedback as an insecurity of mine: Not fully trusting myself and valuing my strengths, therefor leaving plenty of room for the opinions of others to slip in while quickly being uprooted from my own).


I certainly won’t undermine how hard I did work, but I also can make the decision to let go and recognize that maybe this isn’t what I want right now.

But I did need to try.

To see what it was like.

Reminding myself that what adds value and purpose to your life is actually, and quite profoundly, up to you.

Recognizing what we like and what we don’t like.

What feels good and what doesn't.

And the privilege many of us have in making these choices when it comes to our health, work environment, and how we support ourselves and those we love.

I have had room to explore my options when many of us don’t, so beating myself up for doing so would be the silliest thing in the world. And the truth is, I don’t know what’s next or what I’ll be doing, so I can’t say that I won’t try and fail at something again. Actually, I’m certain that I will and that’s ok.

(The word fail in this instance meaning: Changing my mind in where I want to go from here, of which you are allowed to do at any point).

But I do know that I get to decide where I put my worth. Is it in the feeling I get as I try and solve the mystery of the drooping lilacs? Or is it in the idea that I won’t ever be enough unless I become my own boss once and for all? (I’ll let you guess).


But here’s the thing.

I plan to always show up for this community because it’s unbelievably important to me.

But I also plan to show up for the lilacs, the GG’s of this world, and the way the rain pools up on the desert earth, seemingly never soaking in. I plan to re-read that book of poetry I wrote before my grandpa died and I plan to spent a ridiculous amount of time outside, even if that means posting up on the porch with a cup of coffee and sun on my back for the afternoon.


Opinion: What success is & isn't.

Success is what you need it to be right now.

Success is found in the process of getting somewhere or nowhere.

Success is found in the in-between.

What no one else sees.

Success is not found in what you do but in how you do it.

So be ambitious and work really gosh darn hard, but also check in with yourself and make sure that you’re still curious about the moments so often overlooked.

Like why the gosh darn heck my lilacs aren’t standing upright (open to pointers and helpful tidbits)!

All my love to you,

Chloe