January 10, 2023


My Mantra Word for 2023

I don’t create New Year’s resolutions, but I do usually create a mantra for myself or business each year to keep in mind when making decisions. Recently my good friend and business partner Maria Failla asked me what my word or mantra was for the new year. I’d been noodling on it, but hadn’t nailed down just the right word yet. Then, it hit me…

Totipotency. That’s it, my mantra word for 2023. It’s also one of my very favorite botanical (biological) vocabulary words.

Totipotency (in the context of botany): The ability of a single plant cell to grow, divide, and differentiate into an entire plant

Halleck Fungi Block Print

Halleck Fungi Block Print
My first attempt at wood block printing in 30 years, from a recent fungi illustration I completed. It's not perfect...but it was fun!
PC: Leslie F. Halleck

Most of us get put on a hamster wheel at a young age. We’re all expected and trained to choose one narrow path upon which to earn a living and ultimately define ourselves as adults. The reality is all of us have so much more creative potential and or varied proclivities than that one path allows to manifest. While that one main path can certainly form a strong trunk that anchors and ground us firmly, providing stability and direction, ultimately, we must branch out if we are to grow a large leafy canopy capable of nourishing our whole selves…from roots to shoots.

Just as a seed is totipotent, containing all the genetic information needed to grow and develop into all varied functioning parts of a mature plant, so are we…seed like…totipotent.

While I certainly have an innate passion for plants, nature, and gardening, and have carved out a successful professional path in the horticulture industry, horticulture, singularly, does not define me. As a person, I encompass many seeds of passion, the first being art, that when germinated add necessary flesh to my being.

Totipotency is what guided my decision to take a step back from all my hard-earned work in the horticulture industry, and start a well-earned sabbatical. A sabbatical that will allow me to also take a step back from myself, observe and see what is missing, and begin to germinate all the other seeds of passion from which manifest my whole self.

The last few tough years of the pandemic have “helped” to break down those hard seed coats. After all, you can’t manifest your totipotency before first breaking whatever dormancy has been holding you back. That’s the theme and plan for the next year, the year I spend being 50. My days are and will be filled with new learning, creativity, and manifesting in tangible form a massive backup of art that’s been building up, patiently dormant, for far too long. And of course, I’m sure I won’t be able to resist a few interesting planty projects or opportunities if they manifest as well along the long as they help me branch out.

I hope you’ve found your word, or mantra, for the new year that helps illuminate any and all new paths and branches you hope to add to your very big and very whole tree of life.

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