Word Nerd Wednesday: The Paths We Take

Happy Word Nerd Wednesday! It’s a lovely sunny day here in my home with excellent light, the perfect day to share a story about a first-time homebuyer.

Shawna has just bought her first home, and she’s thrilled to move in and make it her own. She paints the walls, finds furniture, and sets about accessorizing her space. As a lover of nature, she wants to include a range of potted plants to finish the look, so she starts with one plant first, planning to add more in the future.

Unfortunately, though, the plant doesn’t do so well. Whether it was already diseased or needed more sunlight or got improper care, who can tell? (This is a judgement-free zone. Sometimes plants die and it’s no one’s fault. No one’s fault, you hear me?) But whatever the cause, the poor plant slowly turns brown and dies. Definitely not the look Shawna was going for.

So she buys another plant, hoping this time will be different. But this one goes the same way. Perhaps being a plant-owner is simply not in her future. But she’s not willing to give up on the fresh look a plant brings to her space. Like any savvy home designer, she adapts and finds a solution: she substitutes her real but really dead plant with a beautiful, artificial one. No mess, no death, and still a lovely, fresh look.

To “substitute the plant” = supplant (suh-PLANT), meaning to take the place of, to replace. The dead plant is supplanted by an artificial one when Shawna recognizes plant death is becoming a pattern.

Sometimes life does that, thwarts your carefully constructed plans, and so you swerve and create new plans to supplant the old ones. In our story, Shawna embraces that art of adaptation by refusing to compromise the vision of her home as one accessorized with plants; she simply finds another way to accomplish that.

She could keep buying plants and watching them die, hoping one will finally survive, but she doesn’t. Instead, she acknowledges her reality and releases her ideas of how she expected things to be, stepping off the path she thought would lead to her goal. And when she does that, she finds a different way to achieve her vision.

Things don’t always work out how we want them to. So we supplant our plans, our methods, but not our dreams. We can follow Shawna’s example and find a different path, but we don’t have to change our destination.

Word Nerd Wednesday: Time to Soar

Welcome back to Word Nerd Wednesday! I trust you’ve all finished off those Thanksgiving leftovers and are being fully swept up into Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa preparations. Today’s word nerd story is about being swept up into something rather similar.

Melody is a wonderfully talented fourteen-year-old. Musically gifted, she’s been playing cello since she was a child. And as is the case this time of year, her school has a holiday recital, and Melody has a solo. Since she’s incredibly shy, it’s the first time Melody has had a public solo. She’s understandably nervous, and her mother is practically terrified for her. It seems to take ages before it’s Melody’s turn, her nerves building backstage. Finally, she takes her place on stage, sucks in a deep breath, and begins playing. The audience is transfixed, the beautiful notes soaring over them as Melody loses herself in the music, her hours of practice carrying her through her performance flawlessly.

Afterward, Melody’s mother is in tears from the beautiful performance. She’s never heard her daughter play like that. “Note by note, Melli flew us to a beautiful place,” she murmured.

“Melli flew us” = mellifluous (mel-LIF-loo-us), meaning smooth, lyrical, or sweet. Melody’s mellifluous playing touched people in a way that only music can, taking them on a beautiful journey. But this adjective doesn’t only refer to sounds. From the Latin words for honey and to flow, it can also refer to sweet-tasting foods or anything that has a pleasant rhythm and flow, like poetry.

As Melody would no doubt tell you if she were a real person, sharing with people can be unnerving, even terrifying. But we are each gifted in specific ways. Melody’s gift is music, a special ability to elicit mellifluous notes from her cello and send them soaring. And when she summons the courage to share her music, people are touched by it, their lives improved by her offering.

Whatever your gifts are, there’s no time like the present to breathe new life into them through study and practice and then share them with the people around you. It is, after all, the season for giving. You never know what good may come of it.