Susie Succulent’s Plant Therapy & Desire for a Service Dog

Years ago, I discovered my passion for succulents. A beloved friend named Annabelle Brown mentored me after we met at SAIF Corporation. I had a summer job and she worked in Microfilm. This delightful woman reminded me of the fictional character Mrs. Pollifax. She once drove a car-jacker straight to the police station and had him arrested. She had such a creative mind, and I learned so much from her. She had a passion for life. Annabelle inspired me with her deep and intimate faith in God, her love for the LORD and others, and we became fast friends. I met her when I was 16 and she was already in her sixties. In high school, she was my best friend and I’d go swim and hot tubbing at her mobile home park, and she’d make us stir fry and popcorn. Then we’d get into the Word together.

Annabelle gave me some of her chicken and hens, and wherever I’ve moved, I’ve always taken some of those original plants with me (or their offspring). As I lived in my condo at Cinnamon Lakes, my father battled cancer courageously, and I eventually married my husband who moved in. I found planting succulents to be so therapeutic during those stressful years, and I collected many different starts from friends and planted them on the lakefront hill to prevent erosion and also on my balcony.

My father eventually died and I often think of our early years on the farm together as a family whenever I work with my succulents. Dad loved farming and instilled that same passion in me. My mom, a talented woman, has a gift for landscaping and creating beauty in her gardens. So I feel a connection to both of my parents when I enjoy time in my garden. I grow vegetables and fruit, but the succulents captured my imagination.

When we moved to a small rural town, I transplanted most of my succulents to our new yard. Over time multiple sclerosis has continued to progress, so I have been fixing up raised beds to make gardening easier. After a bad fall near my raised beds this past spring (during COVID), I had to start using my power chair more again. Things which bring joy, and lift the spirits remain vital, and succulents rank right up there for me.

I would love to have a mobility service dog again, and God inspired me one day after I fell in the garden. I thought why not save some money by offering succulents (or my photography or other skills) to others who’d like to help us reach the goal of getting and training a service dog. We also need to get a different van for my power chair, another ramp, and I hope to set up a detached office that can double as a growing room for the exotic succulents. I plant mostly hardy succulents, but need an indoor space for the exotic ones. My husband doesn’t really like indoor plants very well. So, that’s kind of how Operation Mobility Dog got started (that’s just my code name for the cause)…and it’s going well thanks to the generosity of many folks. We need to build a fence (with a gate) across the side yard, but otherwise we’re ready. I’ve researched some breeds that would potentially work well. Now, we’re just praying for the right dog.

I started a FB page called Susie Succulent (@SusieSucculent), just for fun. I am finding a lot people out there are kind of succulent addicts. But if they get a lot of joy from these fun plants, and find plants to be therapeutic, then more power to them! I can relate!! Local kids like to help me plant succulents and it is a fun way to get to know them. Friends have donated interesting planters that they no longer needed, and I create arrangements to offer others. A very popular one is a resin sheep planter that I order from Amazon. Those aren’t cheap, but they are adorable. I’ll post some pictures here eventually.

I’m a writer, and I hope you’ll enjoy my blog, also located on this website. I’m currently working on a project about mental health in times of crisis. I’m a retired counselor and during this pandemic and the west coast wildfires, I know many people are struggling. Life is hard. Plant some succulents and join in the fun– I think you might enjoy the therapeutic benefits, too!

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