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Pulling Weeds

From Lover, Mother, Seeker, Sage

I have been pulling weeds.

I am forty-two years old and for the first time in my life, I am spending a significant amount of time with my hands in dirt. There is nothing cute, novel or fun about it. In fact I hate every minute.

And yet I am obsessed.

For several weeks, I start my days on the grounds of the house that has become both mine and not mine. I pick and pull and pluck through frosty morning and rainstorms. I kneel and stoop and crouch until my lithe yoga body bears a constant ache.

I look at my delicate, graceful hands and think of an old farmer’s wife who traded in her name for the word ‘Ma’. She has no need for my fancy speeches on connecting with the earth. Her posture and fingernails say it all.

In those early hours I am free from distraction, alone with my task and my thoughts. I work with the focus of a Zen monk, hardly looking up for hours at a time. To view the enormity of it feels defeating. I can only just handle one clump at a time.

I think of all the habitats I have disrupted, and say a quiet prayer that those critters easily find new homes. I think of my house — no, best to keep my mind on my task. I hear Ma saying, in her no-nonsense voice, “Well dear, you reap what you sow.”

“Yes, Ma,” I answer.

I have sown these weeds, through years of denial and neglect. And now it’s time for uprooting, both these un-invited ground guests, and my life.

It’s so much harder now that I’ve let it get out of control. The disastrous marriage I let go on for far too long now takes all my fortitude to end. I dared not admit to the state of my property, or my union, for fear that it would make it impossible not to act. Like the stubborn dandelions, I dug in my heels and pretended I could stay forever. In the end he, (the other) won, his roots more unyielding than mine.

But now it’s all got to go. I am cleaning and clearing to sell this house, which I love and hate simultaneously. Leaving is the only option, the situation as toxic as the weed killers I refused to spray. Although I’ve moved on, my heart finding a temporary haven, my roots remain — in the form of my beloved child, the years we spent together as a family, and this house we built together.

I hope that those I’ve displaced find homes in a better place. I hope I find a spot to rest myself, and heal my blisters and sores, perhaps keeping a closer eye on the weeds my next time around.

This essay is part of the upcoming compilation — Lover, Mother, Seeker, Sage by Pascale Kavanagh.

I’ve drawn my inspiration from the many flavors of my life experience. Once a sad, shy girl, I’ve also been an MIT-educated engineer, biotech executive, professional dancer, yoga teacher and business owner, school founder, spiritual counselor, and entrepreneur.

These days, my favorite titles are author, mother, and hot stuff.

And I own a magic wand that I’m certain will work one day.