How to Live a Flower Filled Life

Living a flower-filled life is not as hard as you think and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort either. It’s actually more of a mindful practice, much like journaling. Once you get into the habit of it, it will become second nature. Simply a part of your every day.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

William Shakespeare

The irony of our modern lives is that while flowers are literally all around us all the time, we do not notice them much. To most people, flowers come from floral shops: a dozen red roses for Valentine’s Day, a bridal bouquet of white peonies, or a “special occasion” bouquet of sunflowers and statice.

For years, I saw flowers in that same way, and it made me feel as though flowers are a luxury I couldn’t afford. And so, my life was pretty flower-less. Unless someone gave me a bouquet of flowers, I never had flowers in my home.

Now, every corner of our small home has at least a small jar of flowers. And this is not because I got into flower gardening or bought a lot of flowers. It is because I learned to see flowers. The silly thing is, I once knew how to see flowers but I had forgotten.

Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness

Mary Oliver

My dad told me that when I was just a child, he used to take me to pick wildflowers growing along the side of the road or in front of people’s houses. He said that we were dirt poor and there was no playgrounds or any kid-friendly places in Saigon after the ravages of war. So he’d improvise by taking me on these little flower-picking adventures. He told me it was my favorite thing to do.

I don’t remember this at all, but when he shared with me this story, I knew this must be true because it’s how I’ve always felt about flowers.

I began to see flowers again much later in life. I was at work actually when it happened. We were preparing for an event and I was given the task of making flower arrangements to decorate the tables. The instructions were simple: go to the garden, gather some flowers and put them into jars.

I ended up spending hours in the small garden lost in amazement. Look, there’s red sage flowers by the greenhouse! Up the peach tree are clusters of fuschia-pink blossoms and at its roots in the shade are those sweet orange nasturtiums with variegated round leaves! Oh and there’s clusters of blue ceanothus by the elderberry tree. There by the gate are tall spikes of hollyhocks! Flowers I didn’t even know the name of at the time enthralled me.

I was fixated by each flower’s unique shape, color, and texture. Each one so incredibly different and beautiful. Then, when I went to put them together, I was joyfully confounded by the challenge of creating just the right balance and symmetry between tall and short stems, dainty sprays and gigantic blooms, graceful arching branches and cute fuzzy leaves.

From that day forward, I started to see flowers all the time.

The unruly jasmine vine covering the tool shed was a delightful discovery that filled my bedroom with the most heavenly scent. Wild dogwood glowing like moons in the dark, green woods are some of the longest lasting cut flowers. Like the wide-eyed child of my dad’s memory, I delighted in foraging these flowers and filling our home with their wild fragrance and beauty.

The world opened up to me as never before. A simple stroll up the road can be a whole journey of discovery. Almost every season, something new is blooming. Even when our garden is taken over by dandelions and buttercups, I think it is lovely and I can’t help but put a few blossoms in a vase.

And you too, can live a flower-filled life. Look closely down at the ground and up into the branches of trees, what do you see?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

Mary Oliver

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