The Good, the Bad, the Beautiful – Reflections on Life

I have a confession: as my nearest and dearest can attest, I have to work at just sitting and “seeing.” It’s the notable downside of being a doer. When I look at something I immediately start breaking it down into constituent parts, tasks, responsibilities…whatever. Give me a mess to solve and my cup overfloweth.

Schlepping with me this elemental piece of baggage, this morning I strode down the hill and entered my garden.

Hang with me here – this story is going somewhere.

First, a little background

My garden has been a decade-long rehabilitation of the stream feeding our pond. When I began the project, the entire area was a tangled mess of pernicious non-natives: tree of heaven, honeysuckle, stilt grass, black mustard, curly dock. Over the years I eradicated invasives, cleared the choked stream bed, and reintroduced some 30 Virginia native plant species rescued from areas slated for development. Gradually over the years it became a healthy, thriving, native wetlands habitat.

And then cometh the flood

Relentless rain fell throughout the night Sunday and into Monday morning. Living on a pond, high water is nothing new; this rain, however, was unusually heavy. As I walked down to the pond evidence lay everywhere that the stream had overtopped the road: tattered leaves, stones, and blue-bellied fingerlings lay in great, sweeping “W’s” across the pavement, heaping into furrows where the pavement meets the roadside grasses.

Then I entered the garden itself to view the post-flood damage.

And what damage. At first glance all I saw was an Armageddon of sand, stone, and mud – lots and lots of mud. My beautiful natives all appeared gone, now replaced by slick sludge and rock. My little wooden bridge was nowhere in sight, it, too swept away in the night. Close examination showed most of my natives were actually still there, just crushed and deeply buried. Instinctively I set to work engineering in my mind what to tackle and how.

But – marvel of marvels – before setting to work I forced myself to sit and “see.”

And this is what I saw: on the moist banks, on every rain-soaked branch, even on the wrought-iron garden archway sat butterflies, scores of butterflies, fanning in the morning light. Some twitterpated threesomes tumbled in the air, while others sniffed at me, the big, white foreigner in mucking boots sitting on the sodden bench. The roots of the giant sycamore had been scoured clean and now lay stunningly white, like an enormous albino python basking in the sun. Overhead an oriole nest bobbed in the morning breeze.

A shuffling noise caught my attention: a huge, lumbering snapping turtle plodded toward me. Several times the green heron shot back and forth across the swollen pond. A goldfinch landed on a nearby seedpod, and in the distance scores of songbirds called.

Life, life everywhere, surrounded me despite the storm, the flood, the fury.

The hopeless situation I had feared I’d find I did not. Instead I found a garden newly scoured but newly shimmering, newly undone but newly recreated, newly rich and delightfully vibrant.

Then the thought occurred to me: my garden is a parable, a reflection of life.

Life is change

Change, at first, rarely looks good. Change is often hard. And in the ever-changing world of financing retirement, change can be particularly hard.

During retirement conditions constantly change. Needs constantly change. Lives constantly change. It’s just part of life – but in the retirement years, life’s changes can be uniquely challenging, and more options are needed. And it’s here that a reverse mortgage can be pretty darn near a life-saver.

As I’ve said many times, in retirement no one is going to get by on just their Social Security. No one is going to make it on their 401-K. Few are going to survive on their pension, their annuity, their IRA, their bank account – or their reverse mortgage. But when added together, all these combine to create a long-term means of maintaining dignity and independence in retirement.

If you would like to explore how an FHA-insured reverse mortgage might help with your retirement plans or those of your loved ones, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.


Laurie MacNaughton [506562] is a freelance writer and Reverse Mortgage Consultant. She can be reached at 703-477-1183 Direct or

One thought on “The Good, the Bad, the Beautiful – Reflections on Life

  1. Beautifully written, Laurie. You are a spectacular writer – you should seriously consider writing a book. Your unique perspective coupled with your wordsmith prowess is truly one-of-a-kind!
    I hope you are feeling better and that things are looking up! Keep the faith.
    Karen Rayfield.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s