Idiomatic Investigation: “Bloom Where You’re Planted”

While I feel strongly that we need to be cognizant of the implications wrought by our political sphere, it’s time to return to the sunny side of life. Don’t you agree?

Over the past few years, “Bloom where you are planted” has become one of my favorite sayings. This is because up until the past decade, I never imagined a scenario in which I lived out my entire life here in my home state. I was positive that at some point, we’d be moving on. We considered it more than once, but various obligations induced us to stay put, and now we’re happy to do so. There comes a time in life when you mature and see that you have what you always wanted, and pipe dreams give way to attainable goals. We replaced speculative discontentment with determined gratitude.

My recent post, in which I shared recent vacation photos, caused this idiom to bubble up to the surface of my consciousness again. As I often do when an expression captures my attention, I began exploring the origins and meanings of this particular idiom, beyond the obvious. We have certainly learned to bloom where we are planted, for which I am grateful! I still wondered, however, who first coined this phrase and to what degree should it be embraced so that “blooming” doesn’t turn into “getting stuck”?

To get to the point, as far as I can surmise, the saying “bloom where you’re planted”, is most often attributed to Saint Francis de Sales, The Bishop of Geneva (1567-1622). The exact quote is as follows:

Truly charity has no limit; for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by His Spirit dwelling in each one of us, calling us to a life of devotion and inviting us to bloom in the garden where He has planted and directing us to radiate the beauty and spread the fragrance of His Providence.

That’s the oldest recorded mention of this particular expression, but there are various iterations on record. One of my absolute favorite (though not an exact quote), is attributed to Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

He who does not serve God where he is would not serve God anywhere else.

My inarticulate restatement of that is along the lines of:

She who cannot be content where she is will not suddenly be content anywhere else.

One of the things I like to tell the restless, wandering souls who desperately believe they will find greener grass on the other side is this (and yes, I know it’s neither new nor original):

Wherever you go sweetie, there you are.

As I researched this particular idiom, Bloom Where You’re Planted, I found several sources that referenced an article written by the late, great Paul Harvey in which he used the phrase. I have looked diligently for it. My Google-fu is pretty weak, but I can usually find what I’m looking for eventually. It’s been a week and I haven’t found it, so it is with heavy heart that I forge ahead and follow this trail to completion.

Along this path, I found an article written by a man who advocated blooming where you are planted (’cause life, man!), but without making the mistake of getting stuck if you are genuinely planted outside of your natural soil. While I have contentedly -happily, even- learned to bloom where I am planted as it becomes increasingly unlikely that I’ll be going anywhere, this guy offers a different take. I think he’s fairly insightful:

So how does this translate for us? How are we to bloom where we are planted? How are we to thrive in our lives if we are living in “too shady” or “too dry” a setting? It is fair to say that we all have different versions of how we would like to live. For some, the intensity and vibrancy of a metropolitan lifestyle is essential for happiness. For others, clearly a more rural, small-town setting is where they feel more comfortable.

Is it that we are pre-wired for our spot in the “garden” of our life? Do we all have some “type” some “hard wiring”  at birth that determines where we will “bloom?” What if that were true? What then becomes of the small town, mountain-loving, rural “type” if they are “planted” in the city? Can they ever feel at peace? Can they ever truly bloom?

I don’t know where the ultimate wisdom lies. Perhaps, it really comes down to two things. Bloom where you are planted, BUT you better know who you are and understand that if you are “country” living in city, or “city” planted in the “country” you might want to make a change and get to the sunnier side of the garden.

I think he has a point, and a good one, but I still believe that it is incumbent upon each of us to find reasons to live life of joyful gratitude and cultivate fruitful relationships wherever we are.

I mean, for all we know, we could be dead tomorrow, and do we really want to expend our last moment in a state of ingratitude? Keep on the sunny side of life!

Word Nerd Wednesday: Culture Wars

In honor of Mr. Obama’s most recent attempt to gaslight us, I thought a repost of this July 2021 Word Nerd Wednesday post was in order.

Our entire culture has been upended using ambiguous language and sleight of hand. Sadly, most of us have fallen for the ruse in one way or another. Rather than list all of the lies that have been re-framed as truth to great effect, I want to focus on one particular phrase and how our misunderstanding of it has been used to exploit us in a bid for power.

There is a tendency in our country among media, academic, and politically elite institutions to rail against conservatives engaging in an endless “culture war” while ignoring the greater threats of climate change, economic inequality, and lack of affordable health care.

These are straw man arguments, designed to keep Americans from thinking about the reality of what it means to wage war, what it means to wage a culture war, and who is really waging said war. I’ll start with an example.

Let’s assume I have a next door neighbor named Larry, whom I dislike. Larry has never actually done anything to me personally. He lives a different lifestyle from me. He believes different things than me, and his likes and dislikes differ from mine. In fact, he disagrees with much of what I hold dear. He’s never mean, though. He always waves hello, and he even picks up the newspaper off my driveway every morning when my family is on vacation so that it’s not obvious that our home is unoccupied for the week. We’re never going to be besties; that much is clear, but overall, we coexist well enough.

One day, I decide that I can’t stand Larry’s smug politeness nor his disagreement with my beliefs. So…I take a brick and throw it through his windshield. I want him to pay attention to me, to engage with my beliefs and ideas. I know that if I throw a brick though his windshield, we can no longer play this game of polite coexistence. He has to confront me, because I broke his windshield!

When Larry comes out of his house to confront me about the brick in his driver’s seat and broken windshield, imagine if I said to him, “Why are you so upset about a broken windshield when I just heard that the guy in the house on the corner is selling marijuana out of his garage? Isn’t shielding your kids from a potential drug dealer more important than a stupid broken piece of glass that your insurance company can take care of before the day is out?”

My response to Larry sounds ridiculous on its face, and most people would readily say as much. However, many of these same people will screech and howl that conservatives are waging a culture war, simply by noticing something absurdly inappropriate, and noting that said thing is absurdly inappropriate. The issue of course, is that we have a large swath of people who are offended by the very idea of appropriateness. We have reached a place in our culture where standards, which all societies have, are considered evil. Hegemony, they say (ooh! there’s another good word), must be resisted at all costs. I just decided to take a detour to discuss hegemony in its purest form, rather than get stuck with Antonio Gramsci’s interpretation of it:

noun: hegemony; plural noun: hegemonies

  1. leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others.”Germany was united under Prussian hegemony after 1871
  2. Opposite:self-government


mid 16th century: from Greek hēgemonia, from hēgemōn ‘leader’, from hēgeisthai ‘to lead’.

I have a minor quibble with this definition, because it indicates that a dominant cultural standard, even one that flows from the top down, necessarily undermines self-government. Any Christian can tell you that isn’t true. Any wife in a traditional marriage can tell you that. Any child can tell you that having family rules doesn’t negate the necessity of each person to exercise self-government.

For what it’s worth, I’m not particularly enthralled with top down control any more than the next American. Free markets are good, the ability to move up in socioeconomic status is good. This of course, makes our current wholesale embrace of Gramsci and his understanding of hegemony even more ironic. But that’s a topic for another day. We’re trying to decide what a culture war is and how we have come to misunderstand who is waging one in our current cultural moment.

I have a question: Who started the war between me and my hypothetical neighbor, Larry? Was it him, or was it me? The answer should be obvious. Now who started the culture war? Is it the people who push boundaries and rebel against everything that mankind has known (and largely agreed) to be good, true and beautiful since the dawn of civilization? Or is it the people throwing the bricks through the window of created order and natural law for the sake of destroying cultural cohesiveness?

Someone suggests, “Disregarding the necessity sexual self-control in favor of unchecked desire is the road to freedom“, handing men and (mostly) women all manner of options to sever the tether between sexual behavior and reproduction, including killing babies in the womb. “Larry” objects that this diminishes the value of both mothers and children, and the retort is always some version of, “You just want to infringe on women’s freedom!” Who started the battle?

Someone suggests, “Marriage should be available to anyone who wants to marry no matter their sex“, and not based on the natural law that under girded it since the beginning of mankind. Larry objects, “Once we do that, we shatter the foundation which has proven to provide the best outcomes for children”. The retort is, “Love is love, you bigot. Nothing about this is going to lead to worse outcomes for children.” Did Larry throw the brick?

Someone asserts, “Men and women are interchangeable; so much so we can simply do away with the concepts, and let people choose their sex.” Larry objects, “But wait. We’re supposed to be living in the age of science. Biology is clear. Male and female are concrete, biological reality. Doing this will create utter chaos. Especially for children.” The retort is more ranting about bigotry and marginalization, along with the idea that the slippery slope thing is just a fallacy. Larry, with his wheelbarrow of bricks!

Time for the next frontier. “In order to acclimate children to this new, more tolerant and loving reality, they need to be taught from an early age that two mommies are natural, two daddies are natural, men as women are natural, and women turning into men is natural. The best way to do that is through exposing children to these sexual realities from a very young age; in school, at the library, even via television programming for preschoolers“. Larry, growing increasingly concerned, objects more strenuously. He is treated to invective and ridicule from all corners of the media, academia, and on social media. He is called a bigot. He is threatened with the loss of his job. He is told to shut up or else.

Instead of choosing to start a culture war based in bigotry, discrimination and cultural hegemony, Larry would have been better off trying to save the planet, which is about to be destroyed by climate change.

He hasn’t even figured out yet that the teacher at school has been teaching his son Justin that he is an evil oppressor, and that his son’s best friend from church, Michael, is being taught that he is the victim of Justin’s evil oppression. When he objects, he’ll be accused of selfishness for complaining that I set his house on fire when people in Guatemala are suffering under a corrupt and oppressive regime.

Larry needs to get his priorities straight instead of being distracted by stupid culture wars, our former President says to the parents whose daughter was violently assaulted by a “gender fluid” boy wearing a dress for admittance to the girl’s bathroom.

In Other’s Words: An El’s Rabbit Trail Post

In which I wax political…

This may seem wholly irrelevant on a blog dedicated to education and literature, but it’s relevant to me because I teach history, and am currently immersed in studying the end results of one-party dominance combined with the inability of a people to educate themselves and self-govern.

If you had told me, even 5 years ago, that large swaths of the American populace would be literally begging for the state to govern them harder, I would have thought y’all crazy. In my naivete, I thought the rule of law would somehow assert itself because even the most partisan of partisans would surely see that laws selectively enfored are no laws at all. But here we are, and as I am taking my students through the Communist revolutions of the early 20th century, I am perturbed.

So, bear with me as I share this post from Sondjata at Garvey’s Ghost in its entirety:

Lawlessness in Virginia

Last year I practically begged Democrats, particularly black Democrats, who won’t vote for a Republican or Libertarian or anyone other than a Democrat, to at LEAST vote for sane Democrats.  Y’all voted for an early alzheimer’s patient anyway.

So at this point I don’t expect much. Well I actually don’t expect anything.

Two points for those who may still not have their mouths firmly attached to the Dem phallus:

First, the VP is releasing a tape to [black] churches in VA in which she openly endorses a candidate for governor. I don’t care WHO the candidate is, ’cause that’s not relevant. The fact is, that it is against the law for a church or any other 501c3 (tax exempt) organization to engage in partisan campaigning. Hence, by showing the video those churches are in violation of the law and *should* be subject to revocation of their tax exempt status (something I think they should be anyway for other reasons) and be subject to taxation.

But the fact that they would engage in this blatantly illegal behavior tells you what you need to know. You cannot be expecting the police to “treat us” (as in black people) fairly and to be held to account under the law, and then reward blatant law breaking by your church.

That would make you a hypocrite.

Secondly, A school board in your state actively covered up multiple sexual assaults by a student claiming to be “binary” or whatever the hell they want to call themselves. A parent of one of the victims of assault attempted to petition the school board (his absolute right) to address that situation (among others) and he was arrested and charged.

This is what these people are about. They have no regard for your children anymore. A candidate for state high office said that he doesn’t think YOU have a right to determine what your schools teach children.

Ya’ll voted these people in. I would think you all have enough sense to vote those people out. But I’m not holding my breath.

Y’all made a bad choice some 11 months ago and now you have to wonder if your supermarket is going to run out of stuff you need. Gasoline prices are through the roof and winter is coming. Oh, and some of you are being fired for asserting the right to decide your own medical care.

Let’s see how many of you wake up in time to say no to those responsible.

/End rant.

The Colors of Fall

We live in the tropics, which means we don’t experience the changes that those of you in northern climes associate with the onset of fall. It’s green here year round in Florida, which makes our beautiful winters. However, I’ve often wished we experienced the spectacular bursts of fall color that inspires post cards, calendars, and photography.

I do love where I live. It has taken me nearly all my life, but somehow I found the resolve to gratefully bloom where I’m planted, and see that God’s fingerprints exist here as much as anywhere else. Ironically, it was the pandemic that kicked our exploration of our home, The Sunshine State, into overdrive and caused us to explore places, some as little as an hour away, that we never even knew existed.

What follows is not a lament for greener grass. After all, there is nothing to be gained from that! However fall colors are stunning, and worth a trip to see in all of their glory, so that’s exactly what we did last week. For our fall break, we spent several days in the mountains of North Carolina. One of the best parts, in addition to all of the natural beauty, was having conversations with people from all over the United States who, like us, made the trip to see fall in of it’s east coast glory. Enjoy the show!

Fresh-picked apples!

I am always struck by my relative lack of fitness when we hike in the mountains. Jogging around on flat, paved streets and sidewalks does precious little to proeare one for elevated hikes.

Along the trails

The best part of fall is the stunning colors.

Look at it!

I suppose a picture of me on the mountains is in order as well:

One of my husband’s favorite parts of traveling to the mountains is the water, streams, and rocks:

I hope you’re enjoying the changing seasons; if the seasons are changing wherever you are.

Happy Fall y’all!

In Other’s Words: Literature as Prophecy

In a recent post, I offered a quote from Michael Knowles’ Speechless, in which he noted that in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, authors around the world prophesied the effects of political correctness. The chattering classes of our day, particularly those who lament the loss of tradition, education, and common culture, often point to George Orwell’s seminal work, 1984, as the most prophetic of all the novels exploring the ends of unchecked political correctness. It’s easy to see how Orwell earned this honor. Are these not the expressions of a man whose brain is a crystal ball?

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

How much more these words?

“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”

Much ink has been spilled by postmodern commentators striving to determine whether our current cultural and political iteration has more in common with Orwell’s 1984, or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Astonishingly, we live in a time and place where both men’s visions of the future are unfolding simultaneously.

Hearthie, at, took an insightful turn at exposing all of the ways we have succumbed to Huxley’s version of the future. From her post, Soma:

In Brave New World, soma is the government supplied drug that numbs and offers blissful escape from any unpleasantness, whether great or small. Modernity has built up her offerings until it is nearly impossible to avoid dusting oneself with our own versions of soma. One starts with the obvious – the internet. But it is not the internet that is soma, it is what we grab while we are here on the web.

We grab numbness. We grab stimulants. We grab psychedelics. The internet simply makes the grabbing easier – these have been progressively more available through the years. Luxury and free time offer us the opportunity to do anything. Being humans, “anything” tends to be that which makes the pain disappear.

I was the child with few friends, the one with her nose in a book. At first it was not my deep love of the written word that drove me, it was the pain of being alone. I found friends and adventure – safe adventure, with nary a skinned knee – between the pages. One thing led to another, and most of my summers were spent with stacks of books. I gorged. I dreamt. I fell.

Music calls to some, as they lose themselves in the sounds from the radio, youtube, headphones… there is a virtual cacophony these days, where the absence of noise is more precious than the sound of rhythm. You need never be out of earshot of your favorite music.

You should click over and read the whole thing, because she’s right. The unlimited number and varied versions of entertainment are our soma, here in the West.

Pause, and think about that.

I wonder if Orwell and Huxley would receive news of their eerily accurate predictions with smug satisfaction or justifiable horror.

Quotable Literary Quote: Speechless by Michael Knowles

I am composing a review of the book I recently finished. Writing is slow going these days, but I plan to post it by Wednesday. In the meantime, I have already moved on to another book, and I wanted to share a quote from it because I love sharing tidbits of what I am reading. But y’all already know that about me.

My current read is Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds, by Michael Knowles. It’s a scholarly book with a conversational tone; in my estimation, the best kind of nonfiction. On page 73, he notes:

Leftist academics contrived the intellectual framework for political correctness in the 1920s and ’30s. Novelists around the world prophesied the political effects of PC in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Student radicals, armed with the writings of Mao and Marcuse, took up the cause in the 1960s. And in the 1970s, feminists helped political correctness break into mainstream public discourse.

“A man cannot be politically correct and a chauvinist too,” averred the feminist activist Toni Cade in her 1970 anthology, The Black Woman.

Feminists sought to overthrow a culture they decried as patriarchal by making language fickle, which itself required a fundamental restructuring of the political order.

For the record, this is not a book about feminism. It’s a book about the trajectory of language -and the political result- in the 20th and 21st centuries using thorough research and rigorous scholarship. In lieu of a formal review, I expect to give this book the same treatment I gave to Thomas Sowell’s, A Man of Letters. Insightful quotes seem far more impactful than my personal opinions of the writing within certain books.

Hope you’re having a great Monday.

Friday Faves: Funny but True

I’m not even sure how I ran across this woman, but her satirical videos of the 21st century church offer food for thought. I am feel certain that the first one is an accurate portrayal of what most of us look like to believers from parts of the world where Christians suffer heavy persecution, and even the threat of death.

The second is different and more funny, but equally tinged with truth.

“We’re called to love, not judge. You’re not a ‘mature’ Christian!”

LOL. That’s a judgement. Lastly, but certainly not least, is the deconstruction of what passes for a women’s Bible study in so many churches and church groups:

Have a great weekend!