Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bloom Where You're Planted

The first time I heard the phrase “Bloom Where You're Planted” in a context that held meaning for me was in 2002. I had reached the end of a military training school and all of us young officers were waiting to find out where we would be stationed. The staff at the school decided to make the assignment process a three part event.

First, an assignment team came down to the school and presented a power point presentation on our options describing the unit, location and number of slots. The only location with multiple slots was Korea. I had set my sights on Europe. There was one in Italy and two in Germany, but at different bases. The only other tour that somewhat appealed to me was in Hawaii. The school threw a banquet dinner for the assignment team, consisting of three members, and unleashed 75 barracuda students to mingle with them. The goal was simple: find a way to make yourself memorable and state what you want while giving a compelling reason for it. Not an easy feat.

The second part of the event was in a controlled environment littered with political minefields. Each class of twenty-five students had the delightful opportunity to have a cutthroat lunch with the Deputy of the school. Objective was pretty much the same as above. The one catch--understand the political dynamic of the staff, know who their favorites were and steer clear of trampling on their toes, and don’t say anything that would piss off the Deputy or cast you in a negative light. No sweat, right?

The final part of the process was like a game show extravaganza. All three classes, totaling 75 officers, gathered in a ballroom. Each class stood at the front of the ballroom as a group while a slideshow was presented set to music, chronicling the last six months we had spent in school. At the end, a picture of each student was put on the big screen, also set to music for dramatic effect, and your assignment was announced with everyone watching you to see how you’d react. This is not a joke. It really happened.

Before they began the big announcement, the commander gave a speech on how to bloom where you’re planted. The words were motivational and quite inspiring, but all I could think was, what blooms in Cannon, NM? I’m no desert rose and not every flower can thrive in any environment. The meaning was lost on me at the time as I watched one officer breakdown publicly when faced with being stationed in Idaho for two years.

When my turn rolled around, I was so nervous my heart throbbed in my throat and my skin tingled. Watching a slot in Germany go to one of the Deputy’s favorites, I held my breath. As the Deputy’s second little pet got Italy, I’ll admit that nausea hit me so hard I nearly puked. Hawaii went to a buddy of mine, which put a smile on my face, but at the same time it was my second pick. I already knew who my rivals were for Ramstein, Germany. As they dropped one by one getting Korea, New Mexico, and Korea, my odds improved, but the gut-wrenching nerves lingered. Finally, my picture popped up on the “jumbotron”, a drum roll erupted in my mind washing out the background music … then Ramstein flashed on the big screen. Joy and relief gushed inside of me and I actually jumped up and down with glee. I quickly tempered my elation as I scanned the faces of the other barracudas who didn’t get what they wanted. Yep, I just admitted I was once a barracuda. How do you think I got the only slot at Ramstein?

Eight years later, I heard a sermon by Joel Osteen on the very same topic of blooming where you are planted. He discussed how life’s challenges and the “challenging” people we encounter are all designed to teach us something to improve. Think of them as sandpaper, he said, smoothing away the rough edges. I found the insight brilliant and it resonated on multiple levels for me. No matter what job we have, what city we live in, who our co-workers or friends may be, each day we have a choice to accept we are exactly where we are supposed to be and face our current circumstances with joy in our hearts.

Of course I am ready to have an agent say, “I think you’re talented and want to represent you”, and to finally have one of my books published. In the meantime, I choose to accept the present as a gift. I will enjoy each day and spend it with loved ones, reading, traveling, indulging in decadent delights, and most definitely writing. As I bloom where I am currently planted, I can hear the angel at my side whispering in my ear, “Grow.”


  1. Isis: That whole process sounds like the third circle of hell. I work for the Navy and I always feel sorry for the JAGs when the detailer comes a-calling. You are blessed with a wonderful character that allows you to move around and find the best of every new place. I m not that way - I like to be in one place and and have very deep roots in that place. I love to travel but I don't like to move.

    Thank you for sharing with me.

    I wish you the best of luck - I'll be cheering you on at GIAM!


  2. Isis, what a great story! (It reminded me of Harry Potter when all the Hogwarts students find out what group they're in.) And I love the advice to "bloom where you are planted." There are so many aggravations and stresses in life that sometimes you need to just slow down and savor your pleasures. And sometimes you have to remember that your hell might be someone else's heaven - my husband and I are considering retiring in Idaho! LOL

  3. Dear Isis,

    I have always loved to travel, and all or any of those places would be great. What a great story that will make some day.

  4. Isis, this is exactly what I needed to hear "Grow"..That is what life is about growing, listening, being still, seeing the beauty around us and the beauty within us.

    I love and miss you very much

  5. Very well written. I also remember "go for what you want, write down what you want;stop trying to manipulate the system-I won't get first, so I will put Korea first......" Isis, remember our other list-almost everything came true. I KNOW that it will all come together. 2011 is going to be a great year! Things may not always be what we think we want (think short) but in the long run, it is what we always wanted. Grow, Grow and continue to bloom. I am proud of you!

  6. Isis-

    This is what I need- to remember to live in the moment.

    Great blog!

    Connie G.

  7. Isis what a great blog. I love the bloom where you're planted. I'm trying hard here right now. Living with my sister isn't going to help me with roots. We agreed today we are complete opposites. She wants to be in control and every little thing just so and don't put anything where it doesn't go. I'm the opposite I roll with the flow. I don't have a set place for stuff. And if I do and you put it in the wrong place I won't say a word just rearrange and move on. I was so frustrated with people in Germany and Hawaii when they would say I hate it here. I'd ask them where have you been in Germany it was the PX and the commissary that was it. Not us we got out visited places had fun. Then I tried to absorb culture and understand their ways. In Hawaii I heard someone talking about something and I popped up with but the alphabet only has 12 letters the five vowels and 7 consanants. The person went really how do you know that? I told them I read it, actually when I had been on vacation there with my mom 2 years before I read it in the book we had. I tried to learn all I could. I really did bloom there I loved it. Was awful for hubby but I was in heaven lol. I managed to survive the transplant to East Texas rural and country while longing for a city life lol. Now I am happy if we could just get our own place again. I love the traffic and the congestion it is part of it. I could see myself living in San Antonio easily or Austin but a lot of folks can't. I love the city what can I say? I have had enough country to last a life time for 20 plus years.

  8. Awesome post, Isis! Very inspiring. Thank you for reminding me of a favorite saying a friend of mine preaches to me all the time: Yesterday is history, Tomorrow a mystery. Cherish today for the gift that it is - that's why it's called "the present".