random thoughts on plants, obsessions and “playing hard to get”

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Our new home has a lot of light, as well as a cozy patio, so for the last few weeks, I’ve become obsessed with houseplants. I’ve bought indoor palms. I’ve bought outdoor container plants. I’ve started seedlings. I’ve repotted things, for crying out loud. And as each day goes by and they remain alive, I’m astounded.

One of the side effects of this new little obsession is that I can’t really go anywhere that there might be a live plant for sale and not walk out with it. (I even have a little money tree from Target. Who knew you could get money trees from Target? But I figured as much as I spend in that store, they owed me a money tree.) Then the other day, while Marcus and I were at a hardware store to pick up some shelving, we passed through the plant department, and I saw the succulent, above.

“Marcus, I must have this,” I said.

“You’re obsessed,” he groaned.

“I am,” I agreed. “And I have to have it.”

We bought it, and I took it home and made Marcus repot it. Because the spines on that thing are scary.

Once repotted and on my patio, I kept staring at it. It’s so beautiful, and so scary-looking. Like it’s playing hard-to-get, I thought. And then I was immediately irritated with myself.

I’ve always hated that phrase, “hard to get.” I mean, what is that? Why is it always used as a pejorative, especially when speaking of a woman? What if she’s not “playing” — she actually is hard to get? And why must a woman get got, in the first place?

(I told you, I’m not right, lately — these plants are making me a bit loony.)

Anyway, as I thought more about it, I think the truth is that the phrase “hard to get,” while interpreted by some as meaning a woman is a tease, or somehow duplicitous, might have a more powerful meaning, when used correctly: a woman who is “hard to get” knows her worth. And she knows the worth of her work, and skills and experience. And she is discerning about who is worth her time, both professionally and in her personal life. Maybe we women should be wearing “hard to get” like a banner. Because a woman who has grounded confidence in her value is beautiful, intimidating though she may be.

Or, you know, maybe a plant is just a plant.

(And maybe I need to stay away from the nursery for a while.)