did you ever want to just walk away?

  1. Sally says:

    I must stop reading your new book at night….dreaming about snakes

    I love your sense of humor which surprises me each time :)

  2. Kristine D Brown says:

    I have never read any of your writing until today and it spoke to me loudly! You are an excellent writer!!! I too love to garden , but no where near to the level of your expertise. I garden to get away and or to go away in order to get close with myself. I retired last year at the age of 55 and had spent 25 years as a support staff for faculty, at our local Unicersity. I couldn’t wait to be free of being inside of a building all day long and dealing with mundane tasks. But, here I sit eight months later, not working, living in the woods (with a garden) and still asking myself “what is it that I was put here to do?”. I keep reading, researching and talking about the what next phase, and nothing happens. Money is an issue, I want to do something to accomplish my financial security, but it’s as if everything as just shut down!!! I have been told many times that I have excellent customer service skills and a great smile, but how to I maintain any level of financial independence with these traits????

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Kristine. Thanks for your kind words about my writing. As I say in my book, I sought counsel (a therapist a couple of times a month) to listen and help me figure out what I would do once I got here; I didn’t know for months what shape things would even begin to take, and still now am inventing this path as I go. It does take time to navigate change, and as I say for me it was really helpful to have someone listen to me puzzle it out out loud.

  3. tilly says:

    Hi, this is my entry for Jonathan’s books I didn’t know how to get to where the contest was:
    I find my inspiration from everything and everybody. There will never be enough inspiration in my life because I believe the best is yet to come and I like winning.

  4. Shelley says:

    Your book title alone spoke to me! I have a log cabin that I like to escape to on the weekends and I dream about being up there full time – photographing nature and having a flower garden. I just ordered your book off Amazon and I can’t wait to read it. I already know I will be extremely envious….!!!

    1. Margaret says:

      Thanks, Shelley, and welcome! Sounds like you will be there before long…the bug has bitten. Log cabin? Escape? Nature? You are going to be there! :)

  5. Maria says:

    I wasn’t sure where, but decided here is as good a place as any, to tell you how much I enjoyed your book. You captured the evolution of life transition so well, with humor, only a slight amount of angst (much less than you felt, I am sure), and amazing insight. It totally resonated with me. I took my own journey, but never really left my un-profitable career in public service, except for 2 years working for someone else’s nursery (Heronswood — not a bad gig!). Despite never really leaving, never really fully embracing my own garden-life, your journey resonated with mine. Thanks for articulating what I felt! Best wishes for continued peace on your path!

  6. Cyndi says:

    I saw you on Martha Stewart a few weeks ago. I remembered your picture from the magazine. I googled you and found your site. The title of your book is sublime. I ordered it immediately and have not been able to put it down. It lingers in my mind. I am in the corporate world and have always believed that I was meant to do something else. I rescue plants from my employees and my office is overflowing with plants. They seem to love it there. I keep soil, a spray bottle, spare pots, and gardening gloves in one of my credenza’s. I applaud your ability to step out on faith and live the life you were meant to live. Your words resonate on every level. When I grow up I want to be like you. I am 51. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Cyndi, and thank you. Love the “when I grow up” part — I know what you mean. :) I had a colleague at Martha who has the most astonishing potted azaleas in her office. It was uncanny. I swear they bloomed half the year, and again and again for years. Love the image of your plant zoo on that credenza!

  7. Marilyn Wilkie says:

    This is amazing. I just stumbled upon this website, video and book this evening. I left my job behind yesterday for exactly the same reasons that you did. I need peace and to find myself again. I won’t have a pension, only social security and whatever inspires me to earn a bit more – that may be doggy daycare, or baking or who knows. I am fortunate to have a supportive spouse and hopefully we will be able to extricate him as well in a year or so. I came to your site because I will now have time to garden again, and do woodworking and cook and enjoy our 3 dogs and two cats, and even keep things cleaner and more organized. I will have time to think about my health and actually do something about it rather than drowning my misery in food. I have worked for almost 50 years, beat ovarian cancer about 3 years ago and I am just tired. Tired of trying to conform to what others think I should be. It is time for me. Before it is too late. Now I need to go and order your book. How timely! Thank you.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Marilyn — and welcome to the “starting over” gang. I am so glad you found me! Holler anytime; I am here. :)

  8. tilly says:

    Just read your article in Parade and speaking words of wisdom, “Let it be, Let it be”
    Let it be” that you keep writing and sending your inspiring thoughts and beautiful pictures into the Universe.
    “Let it be” that the Universe be full of inspiring articles and books like yours.
    “Let it be” that everyone sees and hears the beauty of birds singing, flowers blooming and the magic that nature offers everywhere.
    That could be the answer, “Let it be”

  9. Toni says:

    So Margaret, it was great to finally meet you at the Hickory Stick bookstore and hear the words I have been reading. I wrote about you in my post today, wish you well and hope to be in the garden ASAP. Also, my writing group and I are anxious for the other new Roach book. Do send us the date it’s coming out, and send us your sister – how about a Roach Redux at the Hickory Stick?

  10. Joanne Fendell says:

    You should wear hearing protection when operating your tractor. Having to wear hearing aids is not an experience that Ir recommend to anyone. They don’t work as well as eyeglasses and are far more inconvenient.

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Joanne. I was wearing in-ear plugs that day but normally wear acoustic “earmuffs” of course from the power-tool supply place. Promise!

  11. Deborah Hamilton says:

    “It’s me again Margaret.” (Homage to Ray Stevens). This time I am requesting to know if you are planning audio book or additional podcasts in the future. My elderly friend in the North Georgia Mountains, Dr. Bettie Sellers, can no longer read due to macro degeneration. She was poet laureate of Georgia (see this web page below for background) and would be delighted by your book. Thanks!


    1. Margaret says:

      Thanks, Deborah, for asking. I have only taped a few short sections. Would love to do an audiobook but no specific plans yet. You are very sweet to ask for your friend.

  12. suzanne says:

    Margaret -I finished your book “and i shall have some peace there” last weekend – and it was such a gift to my life. Your writing flows, your wit and humor are so welcome in this busy world. I am newly retired and wondering who am I if I’m not “suzanne. …@ ,,, .com” and in so many ways I can identify with your day to day life adjustment, the no schedules (my life was built on schedules for decades !) – Yikes! So thank you so much for your inspiration, relflectivness, and for sharing bits of your soul. (and I’m a cat person – and it would take so many pages to tell you about Benjamin Blue the jungle cat !) Loved your sharings of Jack! Additionally, I moved in a few months ago with my dementia/alzheimers 92 year old mother – and just finished reading “Another Name for Madness” about your and your sisters courageous journey with your mother’s alzheimers. The book is an enourmous support to me as I live this journey. I too have a sister. Thank god for sisters – and I am very grateful to have “met” in such a timely way the Roach sisters !

    1. Margaret says:

      Thank you, Suzanne; how sweet of you to say so, on all fronts. I will tell Marion, too. Just remember to give yourself time to acclimate to the “new life,” which I imagine with the caregiving responsibilities you are also undertaking now is especially complex. See you soon here again, I hope.

  13. Kim Krueger Goranson says:

    Hi Margaret, I so appreciate finding your book! I kept browsing thru self-help books, none of them spoke to my issues. Also, I have a wonderful therapist who is helping me cope. I had to walk away from a 27 year career as a top producing Realtor because of a local shark attack, and I live in Nebraska! No Realtor should be publicly villified for protecting their clients federally protected rights to property ownership; but that is what ensued after HUD investigated our discrimination complaint. Last year I fled to my garden seeking peace, safety, trying to escape unrelenting nastiness. As outraged as I was due to the unfairness of the situation (life is not fair, bad things happen to good people the self-help books all said; I wanted to just slap that Author) I recognized that the only control I had over the situation was myself; I turned my Real Estate License in in Nov. 2010. I have two boxes of top producing awards in my basement (should I hang them in my garden?) and suddenly, I was nobody. Martin Luther King wrote about the “dibilitating sense of nobodiness” minorities suffer from; but went on to state that the biggest threat to civil justice is the sympathetic white liberal who just wants peace. I realized I would rather be a nobody, then a middle class white girl who stood by, said nothing, did nothing and acted as if injustice was not my problem. I always tell young girls to “own their bitchdom” because when you are sucessful and strong, persons don’t disagree with you, they start name calling. Consider it a compliment. I owned it and kept climbing over every person who denied me my rights until I got to the top in D.C. HUD is finally investigating the retaliation I have suffered through. . .justice? we’ll see. I totally related to everything you wrote about. My first goal was to simply be dressed by the time my husband got home from work. I go for days without leaving the house. I am obsessed with the entire line of swiffer sweeper dusting products, the swiffer sweeper “wet jet” is a genius invention. A 409 bottle stuck to the end of a stick with a diaper dragging behind it; works great! I inherited a cat from my adult kids who is now my best friend (yes, I talk out loud to the cat also) But the oddest feeling started creeping into my world in which I star as the nobody housewife. Peace, quiet, safety. . .joy? Enough time has passed that I now realize instead of creating wealth, I am creating joy! JOY! It has been so buried under stress & long hours of work (also known as success) I could barely recognize the feeling when it first started to bubble up. At our age, time becomes our most valuable asset (asset wealth management advisor? invest in JOY) I cursed the higher power for what I had been subjected to only to find that this personal hell lead me straight to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; which, of course is no pot of gold after all, it is my garden.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Kim. I am sorry for the chaos that led you to the new phase in your life, but happy that you are finding that there is joy in the adventure. :) I love the idea: “asset wealth management advisor? invest in JOY.” Thank you for that. See you soon again, I hope.

  14. Karen Tweedy says:

    I am grateful to have stumbled onto your web-site as I was surfing for Hosta ‘Cherry Tart’ then Microbiota ‘Jacobsen’ while taking a break from gardening. Just watching your video made me breathe satisfyingly deep breaths and long for your lifestyle. I am a 51 year old critical care nurse of 30 years who is currently immersed in evaluating what to do with myself at this crossroad. I arrived at this intersection after ignoring years of flashing caution lights, ever-increasing minimum speeds and terrain that strained my body’s transmission and left my soul on empty. I happened upon a book in a Barnes and Noble that is going out of business that I thought was just another self-help diversion. When I found myself sobbing uncontrollably while just reading about a recommended exercise, I realized that the book is offering me a true window to myself. I think that it’s no coincidence that I also came to a site that so resonnates with me. It’s reinforcement that I am not crazy (at least not in isolation!) and that I can live a fulfilled life. I just have to stop being afraid to go for it. I’m buying your book for extra ammunition for my passion-hunt!
    Karen (aka Shadepeace).

  15. Deborah says:

    In addition to your great web page and inspiring book, I must say Margaret that reading the entries on your blog is the best part of all! What a relief to “meet” other women who have had similar experiences and feelings….stress, isolation in the crowd, success on the outside but pain in the middle. I am sending your web page to everyone I know including a lady I met the other evening known as The Wacky Weeder! She lives outside of Philadelphia and is a “Master Gardener” (gave me some great advice about dealing with the slope behind my house) So, just a note to thank you again for sharing and thus opening up a world of gardens, cats, and virtual friends.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Karen. Well, if we are crazy then at least we are in good company. :) I hear you about the flashing lights/intersection phase. Even now there are crossroads for me, and I have to push myself across some of them.

      Welcome, Deborah. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement. I get a lot out of the connections here, too, of course, and am glad you have joined us.

      See you both soon again!

  16. Karen Tweedy says:

    I tend to jot down song titles and lyrics that strike me on any paper at hand. I later add them to my precious yet irritating piles and on rare occasions, transfer them to my index card catalog playlist for my future ipod albums.(I don’t have an ipod!). I got a giggle this morning when I googled lyrics found on a bookmark inside a partially read book entitled “Don’t Waste Your Talent” just after I read your response to my comment. The lyric that grabbed me was “even your emotions have an echo”. The lyrics so dovetail with the thoughts you and I exchanged about being “crazy”. I too indulge in “magical thinking” that assigns meaning to incoming messages that others consider just coincidence. I believe they stick to my filter for a reason- even if just to entertain me! I know you are probably in a frenzied dig-a-paloosa as I am, but if you get a chance, check out the lyrics on YouTube (Gnarls Barkley – Crazy). Promise I’m not selling or promoting anything. -Hope you’re devouring spring!
    P.S. Sorry about the run-on sentences. I loved your book. I’m gonna let it percolate and read it again while taking notes regarding what I learned about myself from you. Also,
    I should expect no less based on your background, but I did not come across a single typo. Usually I see lots of them and wonder how they got past the editor. I know, weird for a nurse to notice.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome Team Gloria, and thank you for the very kind words. Much appreciated. Fun to see my book cover over there!

  17. Chris Pike says:

    Margaret, The first part of your book describes your frantic exodus from NYC on 9/11–how do feel now that Osama Bin Laden has been eliminated?

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Chris. No different, really — still happy to be out of the city for various reasons. Not as afraid as I was (we all were) at that time, but not because of the recent military operations.

  18. In 2002 I lost my dream business and purpose so I thought. I had to close my business and lost everything. Over 20 years of hard work gone. I thought that I could just pick myself up by the bootstraps and get back into another business because I’m a tough lady! But I was soooo tired and depressed I couldn’t move! I thought, I’ll garden till this all goes away. And then I discovered that ‘IT’ (business) was killing me slowly and hey, these plants, worms, bees, butterflies and birds were talking to me! lol So I can really relate to all your words and insight. I’m going to be 64 in August and then in one year when I’m 65 (medicare) I’ll be able to have cataract surgery because I have no insurance now. In the meantime I’ll get really close to see my veggies and flowers and even appreciate them more. I really believe that I have been so lucky to discover nature again and be able to do what I love, gardening and be outside with my dogs and worms! One more thing I really wish you had an audio book. I listen to books in the garden. Are you planning on making one? Thank you for being!

    1. Margaret says:

      Thanks, Frieda, and welcome. No audio book yet — but I have my finger crossed. I wish you every happiness in the garden this season and a speedy recovery when the time comes for the surgery!

  19. OMG I just saw your musical track to the book and that’s the same music I have been playing! You are brilliant and will touch the heart and soul of many! I hope your book signings are few! hahahaha

  20. Dawn says:

    As I finish your paragraph about holding the kamikaze titmouse in your hands willing it back to consciousness, I am reminded of the many birds I too have held that mistook reflective glass for an expansion of sky and it is just another of your many shared “inside” moments that resonate with me. Woo woo books included.

    If you exchange “publishing” for “luxury retail,” my story is the same (well, just about) – the perception in others’ eyes of my success; the closet full of tailor suits and $600 heels; the jewel box full of the real thing so that my clients saw me as a peer. However, as I continue thru your book – and re-read parts (“the print media industry [replace with: luxury retail] where my skills are centered…”) – I search for clues to piece together the dramatic financial change and the potential solutions. Too young for SS, and too old (read expensive) to easily move to another position, 10 months into this path has lead to a crossroad.

    I don’t know which way I’m going to turn, but I AM going to continue to turn the pages knowing even if there’s not my particular answer, there will be some peace there.

    Thank you for digging deeply in those dark corners and sharing your story. Next chapter, please!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Dawn. What a beautiful comment; thank you for allowing me a glimpse into your take on this crossroads in our lives. So nice to meet you here.

  21. Janeen says:

    My dear friend and co-worker and I have this code-word catch phrase: “As soon as I learn how to raise chickens, I’m outta here!” I even keep a miniature chicken (from a child’s barnyard toy) next to my computer to look at when I ponder this dream.

    To me, it’s not really about chickens (I’m content to buy my eggs from a local farmer), but it’s about this idea of just being able to say, “I’ve had enough. I don’t need this anymore. I can be on my own and not tethered to the 8-5 workaday world.”

    So, when I found your blog a week or so ago, Margaret, I was just floored by your question: “Have you ever just wanted to walk away?” And my answer was, “YES! Just about everyday!!” My Kindle is full of gardening memoirs (including yours) writing about this very topic. I keep thinking if I read enough of them I’ll be able to summon the courage to do what I really want to do. But, the problem is making a living at it, and therein lies the fear. I just turned forty and have the ultra-responsible desk job (financial manager) that requires “real skills” (haha) and lots of concrete sequential thought. But, it bores me — although the view from my corner office, which has two wall-length windows and overlooks a park and some wide open spaces is lovely (and part of the problem, all at the same time). I’m only forty — a blessing and a curse I suppose — young enough to think about something new, but worried enough about accumulating for retirement and the all-important health insurance.

    I recently found this story from a London newspaper, about women cultivating second careers in horticulture:

    It made me green with envy (pun intended) about the fact that gardening is regarded as a real profession in England, and that programs actually exist for people (women especially) to embark on it as a serious career option. I’d be interested in knowing about courses of study in the U.S. that some have used to make this transition.

    I LOVE your blog… and I’m finding the stories on this comment thread fascinating as well. I especially appreciated the comments upthread about finding inspiration in music (esp. lyrics) and gardening, as I am cut from the same cloth. “Watching the Wheels” from John Lennon has provided me much-needed inspiration.


    1. Margaret says:

      Thank you, Janeen, and what a beautiful comment. When I was in school nobody told me that “green” professions existed — it was as if everything related to plants was some kind of laborer thing, not for me. No wonder we experienced such alienation from the natural world in the 20th century. Thanks for that link; very encouraging. Hope to see you again soon.

  22. Diana says:

    Your preview made me cry. I live in an apartment in San Francisco, I consult for a living and am a busy mom – and I hear the call to walk away. Luckily my sister is letting me garden in her beautiful huge garden in Marin. I am finding my peace with every plant I touch or talk to, with every weed I pull, with every seed that sprouts, with every grain of dirt that finds its way under my finger nails. I cannot wait to read your book.

    Di from San Francisco

    1. Margaret says:

      Thank you, Diana, and I am especially THRILLED to hear that you have found a place to garden in. What a blessing. Sounds like we are birds of a feather. :) See you soon I hope — and enjoy the book.

  23. Rick in MA says:

    Hi Margaret.

    So glad I found you again after leaving MSLO! I appreciated your gardening advice on “Homegrown”…I’ll get to enjoy it again. I’m have a vaguely similar experience of dropping out of big corporate life to begin to balance workload with “meload”…the things I to be balanced.

    Three generations ago, my ancestors were subsistance farmers in Europe…I became a deadline driven time driven beast flying from city to city in the Northeast Corridor, I had to ask myself: “How can a human evolve that quickly without some other distress?” Life is getting much better and more balanced.

    Look forward to picking up your book!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Rick. How nice of you to find me again. Thank you. I love the way you describe your priorities, questions adventure.

  24. Diane Benner says:

    Hello, Margaret! I believe it was an issue of Newsweek that mentioned your book. (I’m not positive – I forget so much these days!) Regardless, the premise spoke to me and I ordered the book from Amazon. I thought, “BULLY for YOU, woman!” as I began reading. Moreover, I could relate, having left the corporate world where I spent 3.5 hours a day driving, (often more.) I once counted the stop lights between home and work… 64 of them took me to a job that had me “on call 24/7,” at the beck and call of customers with problems. Then at age 52 I was “let go,” and I still struggle with questions about purpose and self-worth. Your story articulates exactly what it feels like to be extracted from one’s career, co-worker culture, and social circle. It took alot of guts to do what you did, and to share the the thought processes, emotions, and the images (both mental and real,) in your book. Thank You greatly for sharing! Thank You for reminding the reader that it’s okay to “just be,” and that life can get better if we allow the world around us to show us the way. Isn’t it sad to think of the many people who don’t garden?

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Diane. Maybe Parade or People? Thanks for your enthusiastic response and encouragement. As you say: allowing the world around us to show us the way seems to me, too, to be just right. I don’t have all the answers by any means, but I have never regretted my decision to be here fulltime and puzzle it out day by day, surrounded by the rural setting. See you soon, I hope.

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