Deb Sofield


Be a weed

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So by now, you know that little things in life make me wonder. Big things make me wonder too, like how many stars are in the universe and what are we going to do about the trash in our oceans and overfishing by some countries.  But sometimes my mind seeks to know how little things work, like how is it that a dandelion–you know, the little yellow flowering weed with a thick stem and hairy little leaves that I can crush with my hand and have it wither away quickly–can push its way up through asphalt, the road that my car drives on, and yet this determined little weed can push through and sprout and grow and break the roadway seeking the light.

As I was walking around my neighborhood, I noticed a bump in the new asphalt and a day later the bump started to form a crack and soon I saw the beginnings of a small flower pushing through, breaking the asphalt.

So my curiosity got the best of me and I went online to figure out how this is possible. And, of course, the World Wide Web gave me the answer I could not figure out on my own. Since asphalt is porous, it doesn’t take much for a seed to fall into the cracks. A little dust, a little water, and soon the seed started to form in the crack and began to grow, reaching for the light. The main idea is not that the weed breaks through concrete or asphalt; the asphalt breaks around the weed!

Plant or weed roots will grow anywhere there is water. The edges of a concrete slab or asphalt drive are particularly attractive, as all the runoff water from the slab’s surface collects there. The roots will continue to grow into any gaps beneath, exerting enough force to lift it.

Imagine lifting a piece of paper from its center–the unsupported ends will fold down. It can do this because paper is flexible. The same happens when the root lifts the asphalt, but, because asphalt is brittle, the pressure will eventually cause it to shatter, creating a crack, thus the answers to my question.

So, I think we should learn this lesson from a weed. If you really want something to happen in your life, you need to make a way or you need to find a place where you can grow. It may be in the cracks of your life, but, friend, all you need is a foothold to plant your roots deep enough to sustain the elements.

The reality is that the little seed would not germinate, if it didn’t have water or dirt or sunlight to help it grow. Sort of like why I constantly preach that you need to surround yourself with those who fan your flame, not those who blow it out. You need to look around and see who is planted deep enough to help you anchor in the hard times, but, most importantly, you need to find the strength to push through the hard times, so you can bloom against all odds. The simple fact is this, if a weed can make it, friend, you can too.

We all need a little sunlight in our lives, and if you’re not finding a place in the sun to grow and stretch and bloom where you’re planted, then you need to move. No one is going to move you; no one is going to check the temperature, the weather, and the pollen count. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You have to figure out how to break through…but the good news is, if you’ll dig deep, you’ll find a way. And the better news is that, sometimes in the cracks of life, you’ll find a sliver of dirt to re-plant your life–to grow into the person you always knew you could be.

In the brokenness of the highway of life, you can bloom where you fall. If a little weed can break through and disrupt a highway, by pushing against the odds to the surface looking for light, food and nourishment, I have no doubt, with the power of your mind, the strength of your character, the force of your self determination you can survive.

I can remember when I was at my old house and I had some plants in the back of my two-story home that were growing a little sideways, and once, when my yard guy was there, I asked, “What is up with these plants which aren’t growing so well?” and he replied that they were stretching around to see the sun. They were never meant for the shade, and that is why they’re not tall and seemed to be growing sideways. They were simply looking for the light. Wow! If that is not a metaphor for people! You know, some are bent, some are a little sideways, but, when they are exposed to direct sunlight, they straighten up and grow tall.

Now I contrast that to some indoor plants I recently had to separate, in hopes of growing them larger. My favorite peace lily just seemed to be growing full, but with no flower, so last week I hauled it out to the yard, pulled it out of its container and gently cut it in two, where it had very strong roots. The shock of the cut and heat of the outdoors started my plants to wither, until I was able to fill the new pot with soil and then soak down leaves and roots. With its new freedom of space in the new pot, it quickly recovered. It was fascinating to see that, within a day, the plants (now I have two) both have perked up and are already starting to grow new leaves.

I find it interesting that what it needed was space and a little room to grow, to spread its roots; to rebuild a stronger more robust plant that I’m hoping will soon have a few lilies in the leaves.

Isn’t that just like life? I meet people who need to cut some old roots, to spread their leaves and rebuild their base, and maybe to be replanted in a new pot with some space and new soil in which to grow and bloom.

I’m not saying that everyone needs to break out of the old container, but some listening today need to think seriously about removing the old negative leaves or worn out soil or broken pots to allow themselves the freedom to grow towards the sun and put down roots that go deep, looking for life-sustaining water. Because, if you don’t, you won’t blossom, and you may even rot and be good for nothing but the recycling bin.

I know that today’s message is a little out of the ordinary, but I have been so enamored with the little weed on my street and the old plants on my porch and new plants in my house, and as I watch them grow, two against all odds and the other two in a wonderful welcoming place, they are all on their way to blooming where they’re planted.

People tell me all the time that they don’t have much in this world, and it seems like everything is hard for them. The soil is hard, the sunlight is hard to get to, and the rains don’t come as much as they need or as often as they’d like, and yet I know that with a touch of dirt, water and sunlight they can beat the odds and bloom, no matter who they are, what life has thrown their way, where they are in their journey or when they were planted.

Today let me encourage you to hang on. Summer is now here, and the days are warm and welcoming and it doesn’t get dark until later, so you have some time to rest and grow and bloom in your own way.

And for those who seem to have it all, be prepared, when life decides to cut you in two to make some room for more growth or simply to add another plant to the household. Even when you’re broken, be assured that you can sustain the cut, if you’ll reach towards the light and dig deep to plant your new roots. Be encouraged that the sun will rise tomorrow, and the warmth will dry your tears and the light will make it easier to see your path forward, and in your own new way you, too, can bloom where you are planted.
So, friend, today be like a weed. Go ahead and push against the asphalt, find your break in the road, unfurl your leaves and open your petals to show your true colors, and then bloom.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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