Dominique a.k.a. "just Dom" 2

If I met you in person, I’d say: “Hi! My name is Dominique – it rhymes with UNIQUE!”

I’m not fussy about titles with a name and I didn’t take my husband’s name when we got married. “Mrs…” was who my wonderful mother-in-law was, not me! So the first time the love of my life introduced me as his “fiancée”, I put a stop to that! I smiled and said: “I’m just Dom’” as I took the person’s hand.

But even 40 years later, he says: “This is JUST DOM” when we meet someone new. You can bet that requires some explanation! A bit awkward for an ice-breaker, don’t you think? For our 25th wedding anniversary, I made him a “dance card” (popular in the 18th & 19th centuries) with many of the names he’s used over the years. The grandchildren love quizzing me about the names. They know that Grampie will only “dance” with one person, since all the nicknames are various versions of ME!

I was a retail store manager for over 20 years, naively believing that being a workaholic (and a perfectionist) was a “good thing”. Many of the habits that I thought were “qualities” rewarded in the work place were actually gnawing away my self-esteem and confidence. The nagging voice inside my head (“Where’s the other 5%?” on my report card) meant that I grew up confusing DOING MY BEST with BEING the BEST (“perfect”).

Clinical depression and 6 months off work was the new beginning I needed. I didn’t believe others when they said I’d look back on it as an opportunity for growth, but I now know they are 100% “right on!” I work at my recovery every day; nobody is immune to mental health issues, even if you’ve had them before! At least now I can talk intelligently about my serotonin levels and OCPD!

I guess you could say I have “more issues than Vogue”!

My favourite book is The Little Prince which has been translated into over 300 languages and dialects. My growing collection (60+ at last count) ranges from Alsatian to Zulu! I post and pin a picture of each version as I add it to my glass cabinet, giving credit to whoever helped me get it.

My garden is one of my passions and it saved me several times (“Gardening: cheaper than therapy and you get TOMATOES!”). I also collect quotes, witticisms and puns. So when I started making signs for my own garden, to add a touch of whimsy here and there, it combined my “passion” for gardening with my “penchant” for collecting puns. The process of finding new puns, the creativity and attention to detail in making a new signs took me to “my happy place”, giving me a chance to practice good recovery habits (i.e. when I remembered to ”step away from….”.)

When friends asked where I’d found the signs, I saw a chance to make other people smile. They encouraged me to sell at craft shows and on consignment at garden centres. The new-found self-confidence spurred me to open an Etsy shop!

Can you spell “outside my comfort zone”!

So my garden led me on a new adventure of e-commerce, Facebook and Pinterest, even though, according to one of my grandchildren, I’m “already a BIG number (Nana)!” The thrill of figuring something out (i.e. on social media) feeds my craving to learn, which never bounced back to pre-depression level.

The only thing I knew about bloggers was what I learned in the movie “Julie & Julia”! I always loved to write (short stories etc.) and even had a diary growing up. I kept it until the day I realized that my son, now thirty-something, might come across it when I “shuffle off”! I was mortified (pun intended) at the thought and destroyed the diary in an impulsive moment!

Thank you, Lynne Huysamen for sharing your amazing journey that I can learn from, and thanks Jill du Preez for making me realize that I only want to be “unique” in some ways and that there is comfort knowing others face similar challenges to mine.

And thank you ALL so much for taking the time to get to know me by reading this!

My Etsy Shop
My Little Prince Collection

7 Comments
  1. Lynne Huysamen 4 months ago

    Wow Dom – it is fantastic to get to know you better! And I know EXACTLY what you mean about being grateful for your mental health melt down! I landed up first in a psych ward in 2008, then in an outpatient addiction program, followed by staying in tertiary addiction safe house and then even further backwards going into secondary care addiction treatment for 3 months… and while at the time it felt like my life was falling apart it was actually the start of a my life – turning it around.

    I am so grateful for my mental health journey – it has made me into the person I am today!

    It is amazing to hear that you have found something that inspires you, something that you can be passionate about! I think you and @jillalexa will get on like a house on fire!

    And remember that this is your introduction thread – so please add some links to your Etsy store and your social media links so we can stalk you and have a look!

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  2. Karmen Tripar 4 months ago

    @domleonard, it is so nice to meet you 😊 You have an incredible journey behind you and I admire you for that. Depression is something I think we all struggle sometimes (I just depends on the level) but it is no fun for anyone and you can very easy surrender to it. So thumbs up for not giving up and finding yourself again.

    I can totaly help you with your Little Prince collection! Do you have the Croatian version?

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    • Dominique Leonard 4 months ago

      Hi @creativersis and thanks for the support! I love the offer to contribute to my collection but I DO have a Croatian version. I’ve got a list (on Excel) but since I’m so new at this, I haven’t figured out if/how I can make it accessible to you and anyone else who’s interested! Any tips are welcome!!!! Talk to you again soon!

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  3. Lauren Kinghorn 4 months ago

    Hi Just Dom, I loved reading your story, told with such wit. And I agree wholeheartedly with @lynne, you and my Mom, @jillalexa will get on so well! You are both such great storytellers.
    And my Mom is also creative and loves gardening.
    I’ll share your post with her in case she missed it.
    Lovely to meet you and looking forward to checking out your Etsy store, what a fun combination! I adore those quirky garden quotes/puns.
    Chat soon,
    Lauren

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  4. Felicia Austin 4 months ago

    Wow Dom! This is quite the story. I commend you for sharing with us such a personable story. Thank you for entrusting us with this information. You are so right about gardening, plus it saves you money! I love gardening, even though ours is tiny because we live on base and have a small back yard. I still managed to plant bell peppers, strawberries, and two kinds of potatoes! When we get back to the states we are definitely going to be growing more veggies. Welcome to the club and it was great to get to know you!

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  5. Rubitah Abraham 4 months ago

    @domleonard Hi Dom! 🙂

    I thoroughly enjoyed your story. Wow you have quite an experience trying and risking and trying again. I feel so inspired just reading your journey. There is so much to learn from you.

    Looking forward to our interactions!! 🙂

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  6. Beth Allingham 3 months ago

    Dear Dom,
    I think I will be reading your intro several times. You have had lots of experiences and interesting reflections on them. I also am compelled to garden. When you say you are a perfectionist, I will give you this example, since I am too. I’m actually picking out crabgrass from our lawn with tweezers, and though I’m sure there is a simpler way to do it, I haven’t found one, and it can be soothing.

    I too am about to celebrate 40 years of marriage to my husband. It wasn’t always easy, but I’m glad we kept at it. We’ve raised two sons, both very interesting people, which we may have had something to do with. They are 35 and 32 now.

    I admire that you have followed your garden to where you want to be. I used to teach botany and even though I enjoyed it, I actually now just prefer trying to figure out how to get plants to grow that I want. I LOVE your botanical puns! You have many more than I remember being able to call to mind when teaching high school.

    I guess I’ve followed my kitchen where I want to be, and I’ve unlocked creativity in recipe design and photography that I didn’t expect and I quite enjoy.

    Look forward to sharing with you!
    Beth

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