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Grow where you're planted. Sunday December 22, 2013

So reads the ubiquitous fridge magnet I've grown to hate. When I first came across this wee quote I liked it, I was younger and full of high expectations that life would take me in many directions, preferably away from my home town. It was cute and easy to like then.

Now? In all honesty oftentimes, I'd very much like to be re-potted.

Late one evening last year I was about to turn off the TV and wend my way to bed when I heard a narrator say that this week's Secret Millionaire was from my hometown. Needless to say, I stayed up another hour. The opening line of the Channel 4 programme went something like this: "Bootle is one of the most deprived areas in the whole of the UK." Yikes! The conclusion was, as always, very moving. (Although, given that gun and knife crime were mentioned in every other sentence, it did cross my mind if it would be prudent to start wearing a bullet/stab proof vest whenever I leave my home. 'Could I buy a pretty, floral flak jacket?' I wondered.)

Yes, circumstances have meant trying to put into practice those vexing words: Grow where you're planted. But what can help us do so?

I've always loved the advice to see our home town through the eyes of a tourist. Seek out local tours, interesting events and exhibitions. (Your local library or council's website maybe a good starting point.) Find the independent shops and cafes. Get to know the names of your local shop keepers, neighbours, postman or street cleaner. I find my mood soars if on the way to the bus stop I can shout a cheery "Hello" to someone whose name I know.

If you live in a place where languages are manifold, learn basic greetings and watch the eyes of folk light up as you greet them in their mother tongue. (Dzień dobry is "Good day" in Polish and pronounced "Djane DOH-brayh"; "Hello" in Mandarin Chinese is "nǐ hǎo", pronounced roughly as "nee how")

Keeping things as fresh and as new as possible may help us blossom, even if planted in unfavourable conditions.

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Anonymous Sun, Dec 22nd 2013 @ 8:54am

Grow where you're planted? Gosh, that sounds like an instruction rather than a suggestion, not making allowance for individuality or individuation - potentially producing pot bound people. Emotionally and physically. How about "Take heed of your inner voice, follow it, while remembering your roots?"

Anonymous Sun, Dec 22nd 2013 @ 9:03am

To remember " nia hao "'s your knee...? tho' don't know what "hao nia "
might be intrpreted as...nothing offensive I hope ! We have two good Chinese Restaraunts in this town ! ( can't spell ! )

Rowena Parsons Sun, Dec 22nd 2013 @ 11:12am

Great post thank you! The grass will not be greener somewhere else, you always take the weather with you. So make the sun shine where you are by whatever means necessary!

Neil Sun, Dec 22nd 2013 @ 1:41pm

Very good read. So true

Lostinspace Sun, Dec 22nd 2013 @ 2:31pm

I so want to be re-potted and re-born!! Absolutely agree about saying hello and knowing people, I've lived abroad in the same place for years and am now myself someone people say hello to. It's definitely the small things which keep my life going, the big picture can be overwhelming - I usually get my main news from the BBC website and keep away from that other picture, the TV. Every time we switch on the News there is something awful that we can't do anything about.

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