Words of Encouragement From The Haunted Greenhouse
Because what else did you expect?
The older I get, the more I love fall. Especially Halloween. I love how everyone decorates their houses like Beetlejuice has popped by. I love theoretical spider-shaped cookies in the bakery windows. The air is more crisp. Tim Burton is swimming in royalties checks. I’m here to say: I get it now. It’s a vibe.
The Anatomy of This Email:
Is simple. I’m leaving you with a collage of reflective and hyper-simple thoughts. Then sharing a woo-woo cerebral fiction piece that I wrote on Halloween night last year. It’s the “spiritual wellness retreat at Sleepy Hollow” aura that you asked for from my newsletter.
Reflecting on Human Connection:
Studies show that living without regular human connection is as unhealthy for your life as smoking cigarettes. As a homebody-alone-time-lover, this news depressed me. The digital age has convinced us that we can get real connection from a screen. But, a synthetic “connection” can only do so much. Here are a few challenges I’d like to offer up to my readers around human connection and getting better at it.
Choose to converse with people that greatly differ from you in age. One of life’s underrated skills is learning how to be a conversationalist across several generations. It’s an admirable quality, when someone can talk to their elders in immersive conversation then turn around and have a deep chat with a tweenager. It takes practice! No matter our age, we can all be better at this. (And no, family doesn’t count!)
Silent book club! Is there really anything better for the local community of socially awkward readers? No. Find one, start one, join one! Or any special interest group where there’s a built-in commonality.
Tell a joke to a stranger. Think like ‘dad joke to a waiter’. They’ll laugh as long as you haven’t paid yet. It helps build our social confidence because you will likely get a positive affirmation after stepping out of your comfort zone.
Sign up for a group volunteer activity this month. I swear there’s nothing better for the soul. Save the doggies!
Get off you’re freaking phone! Please. Need help? Read this article.
Reflections on Love:
A friend of mine recently sent me a book by one of her favorite authors. Here are some in-text quotes from ‘All About Love’:
“Genuine love is rarely an emotional space where needs are instantly gratified. To know love we have to invest time and commitment...'dreaming that love will save us, solve all our problems or provide a steady state of bliss or security only keeps us stuck in wishful fantasy, undermining the real power of the love -- which is to transform us.' Many people want love to function like a drug, giving them an immediate and sustained high. They want to do nothing, just passively receive the good feeling.”
& my favorite: “Living simply makes loving simple.”
- Bell Hooks
Reflecting on Financial Savings:
A little over two years ago I decided to get super serious about my money goals. A good many of my subscribers are late Gen-Z (and probably confronting your own in the next five years) - so I thought I’d include a tidbit today. Lucky for you, I journaled about my findings and try to revisit it often to make sure I’m on track - then it all ends up on the stack. (See what I did there?)
The first thing I had to learn about was my spiritual connection to money. (Yeah, I’m serious lol). Not like “I manifest more money” and then expecting it to fall out of the sky. But actually realizing the cost of money. Here’s an excerpt from a book that taught me alot about money back in 2021:
“Money is simply something you trade your life energy for. You sell your time for money. The only real asset that you have, that you’ll ever have, is your time.”
“Time is your treasure. It’s the only way you can connect with those that you love, make the contributions that you desire, enjoy the simple pleasures, and make a meaning out of your short existence. Money is a trade on life energy. Getting clearer on our life values means cleaner financial transactions. You evaluate just how much you’re trading your life for. When time is the real value you see in life, you start to look at your spending and think ‘How did it all get here? What’s it really worth to me now? Really?’”
- Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
This book was an inspiring read that helped me start focusing on money as more than just a “fund” but rather the best tool to align closer to my values. To all my Gen-Z friends just getting serious: I’d start with this book before you take on Robert Kiyosaki. (Which you will, I promise).
Now for some haunted gothic homes!
If you don’t read further, here are some clicky buttons that help our my career as a writer. I appreciate your read. Thanks for being here.
A poetic/fictitious short about greeting your melancholy with kindness and making your mind into a nice place to call home.
The autumn flush bashfully comes in during this time of year. Traces of red and orange line the green just enough to give the sense that it might actually get colder than fifty, but it never does. Most of the homes in Tomales are farm-style. Less greek revival, more horse and buggy. Wrap around porches hug the treeline rooftops parallel to an unneeded chimney. Hummingbird feeders hang nectar on every doorstep like there might be a modern day Passover. I once even heard someone call their laundry closet an ‘alcove.’ The neighborhood is literally so pretentious and inviting that you can practically taste Grandma’s cookies underneath a family timeline of Stanford cap and gown photos.
Houses like that are meant to be shared. Mine is just for me.
There was a Victorian on the hill, half a mile south of the city limits. There were rumors about it. Ghost stories that were best left dismissed. With fresco painted ceilings and a view of the bay, I’d blindly bought in. The previous owner even left behind an old piano. I called it a steal.
Economically sound: the only type of noise I’d ever considered when buying the house. The first creaky floorboard fell through while I was carrying in the dishware box. Termites. And if that wasn’t enough, the flip of the switch fried the chandelier’s circuit in one go. Ridiculous of me to expect the house to do more than look like the photos.
“Goddamnit.” I collapsed onto the piano bench for the first time. All of my boxes were just inside the hall. The air was stifled by thick humidity. I could feel myself getting sick in the first breath. Nobody had lived here in years. Perhaps no one was meant to.
I’d left the city to learn more about myself. My friends found it a bit extreme: “You’ll be all alone up there, away from the city.” Their voices carry through the thirty-two miles in between us. There was always the buzz of life swarming me into a perpetual FOMO. And in some manic-state, I decided to discover the sensational melancholy that William Wordsworth wrote all of those poems about.
On the first night I’d been on the air mattress. That was when I decided that the air quality might be getting to me. Around one in the morning I woke up to the sound of my own floorboards giving in. Tip-taps echoing in fours. The sounds of a horse. I thought myself to be crazy – exhausted from moving. But, when I peeked out the bedroom door into the hall – I saw it. A ghost-white Shire tiptoeing across the fragile wood.
The next morning, there were the slightest indentations in the floor. So faint, that suggesting a horse might be responsible was insane. Still, I called my mom to tell her the news. She suggested a hallucination remedy, a new brand of air filters, and sent over a list of psychologists – just in case.
Still, the horse visited me. New air filters and all. Nineteen hundred pounds creaking through the halls on four legs. Some nights when we made eye contact, the horse would spook and kick hind legs into the air. If it weren’t for all of the holes born in the walls – I’d pass it off as delirium. Too frightened to unpack and settle in, and more afraid to abandon the purchase: I’d tell myself one more day. I can do one more day here at this place. And for weeks, the house remained as it was. Empty and unusable. A graveyard of boxes. Every night brought new holes in the hallway walls.
Then something changed. Call it boredom or insanity, but I went for a walk. The cookie cutter houses allured me in their simplicity. Transformation of a new perspective. With flower beds lining their white picket fences and patio furniture I felt a sense of inspiration to decorate my own lawn. Wandering down the street further, I found myself at the market.
“A single potted plant and a carrot?” The cashier chuckled briefly before a glance at the dark bags sunk under my eyes.
I set my plant out on the porch that day. The only unboxed item in two-thousand square feet. And while the house had a long way to go, it was something pleasant. Something small.
That night I set the single carrot outside my door, in hopes to soothe the fear of the Shire. And to my surprise, I slept through the night. Full of rest, my feet found the floor next to my air mattress and when I opened the bedroom door, the carrot was gone.
In a burst of unwearied energy, I unpacked the first box. Dishware. Some cups and plates chipped from the move, but the functionality remained in tact. I organized them neatly into the cupboard. At the bottom of the box was a glass vase, sized perfect for the window sill in the front hall. After placing it there, I left the house for another walk, this time hunting for the perfect flower.
There weren’t many wildflowers left, especially in such a domesticated area. But, I found one. Maybe nothing more than a weed. Yet, it looked like a daisy to me. It would do just fine.
That night I put the carrot further down from my room, closer to the front entrance and I went to bed, sleeping through another night peacefully. Many days went on like this – another box unpacked, a new plant adorning a canny corner, the horse reappearing at night to come and go. By what means – I do not know. Furniture was arriving. I was off the air mattress and into a real bed by the third month. The tent for the termites came and went – more affordable than I’d predicted. I wrote the check at my window, foliage draped over the glass in a perfect frame.
Yesterday on the phone with my mother, I accidentally called this place home.
It’s late October now. “Finally settling?” I read on the phone screen once more. I woke up early these days, in a routine to water my back porch plants. They’d become more like friends to me. And there the white Shire was, grazing through the green yard.
My body went limp at first sight – remembering all of the fear caused. I hadn’t seen it face-to-face. Not since the carrot remedy. And I’d almost finish patching the holes in the halls. But, something had to be done. Inching towards the creature, I held out my hand in a white flag.
I stroked the muzzle once. Then again.
You finally rested your head on my shoulder, and I named you Casper.
Our moments were never filled with fear again. We understood one another. You ruled acres of land and I had the Victorian. There were still the occasional spooks. Mangled hair and disagreements. But, I no longer lived alone.
Even if I never had to begin with.
A year has gone by now. It’s Halloween. And I’ve got Trick or Treaters. Football-sized ghosts and miniature princesses making the long haul up my driveway. The only monster in the house is inflatable, peering out the window next to the vase. The kids love it. So do I.
I baked for them this year, a recipe from Ms. Arnett. She lives in one of the homes off Kennedy – widowed at forty-nine. We met through our gardens. Nicknamed ‘The Greenhouse:’ my plant collection had grown into a jungle. Dutch bulbs lit up the yard in frenzied patterns. I coined myself Queen Wilhelmina, but the kids don’t quite get that one. Ms. Arnett stopped by to chat about an idea she’d had for her tulips. We forgot to finish that conversation, two pots of tea later. We’re always forgetting, it seems.
Casper’s dressed as a reindeer this year. The kids feed her carrots I picked up from the market and she takes them tamely. Gratefully even.
When the night grows late I find myself at the candle-lit at the piano. A new thing. With my shadow dancing off-key to my chorus, I remind myself that I’m learning.
I always was.
Copyright: Lindsey Lamar | 2022
Wow you read this far! You’re my favorite.