14 Dec Day 28 Stop and Smell the Roses
I LOVE flowers. I love the colors, the vibrancy, the fresh, yummy smell. Flowers are another joy slam dunk in my opinion. They just make me happy. And look at the return on my investment. It only costs me $10 for over a week of joy and beauty! Are you kidding me?
Flowers are also a fantastic vehicle for self care. How better to honor myself than with a beautiful arrangement of fresh flowers? They represent so many things to me: life, love, beauty, joy, possibility, abundance, change/transformation, the brevity of life and the artistry of our awesome God. I mean look at the detail and nuance in a single bloom? The color, the texture. Each phase of a flowers life is different yet equally beautiful. When I have a vase of flowers around my house it is a visual cue to think about and remember these things. They are like a portal out of the every day drudgery.
During the recession, when we were going through very difficult financial times, I would still do my best to buy my $10 roses. Sure it was extravagant given our situation but that was my way of keeping hope alive. Seeing those beautiful flowers made me feel wealthy and abundant – no matter what my bank account said. It was also a bit of message to myself to remember that just like a flower’s life, this time in my life was only temporary. And, even though things were hard, I still deserved love and beauty in my life. Those flowers sustained me. They allowed me to transcend my circumstances.
You see a lot of things were happening in my life at that time that were out of my control. It was very stressful and I was overcome with fear and uncertainty. When you are going through something like that the natural survival response is to shut down. Which is what I did. For a while. It was hard to wrap my head around what was happening and even harder to try to communicate it to my friends. And even though at the time intellectually I knew everyone else was going through some version of the same thing I felt very ashamed, isolated and alone.
Stress and fear do crazy things to you. It put an enormous strain on my marriage – mostly because we both kind of decided we didn’t deserve to enjoy our life until this storm passed. So we didn’t. I can’t tell you the exact moment when things changed. Maybe because it wasn’t one moment, but a combination of moments and small actions over time that changed everything. Maybe it was the continuous stress and pressure or the deep unhappiness I was feeling that made me “snap.” Or “snap out of it” is perhaps a better way to describe it. But I did. I realized that although I could not control the outside circumstances that were happening in my life – I could control how I let them effect me. And so I took control of that very thing.
I made a conscious decision that nothing, and no one gets to decide how I feel day to day. They don’t get to invade my family or infringe on my happiness. I drew the line and set out to create our bubble of joy within the awful circumstances. And it all started with some $10 roses. The roses led to some dark chocolate and a nicer bottle of wine than we could really afford. Then it led to visiting friends. It led to fun. We gave ourselves permission to have fun again and to enjoy our lives no matter what the circumstances. It transformed my marriage and made that time in our lives an opportunity to get closer and be more deeply connected. It also gave me the experience of what I call practical faith.
I say practical faith because to me there are two kinds. There is the faith you talk about and then the faith you practice. Faith you talk about is lip service. Faith you practice is when you take action and are relying on your faith to survive. This is what we did. And each time I took an action in faith for my joy and for my family, the resources to support that action would show up. But I had to take the action first with no guarantee. That is how practical faith works.
What is the result of using practical faith? Once you have experienced this phenomenon you no longer have fear. It disappears. So while I may get nervous about cutting my hair or writing a blog post – I have NO fear whatsoever about the future, about our finances and about the health and well being of my family. I know with absolute certainty that we are provided for. I know this because it has happened time and time again. This is also why I am deeply grateful for those painful experiences. They were one of the greatest gifts of my life.
If you are going through a difficult time right now or if you have been through one recently and are still shut down – the way to find your way back to joy is with these little gestures. Bring some life back into your life. Treat yourself. If you can’t buy flowers from the store then cut some from your yard. Create your own bubble of joy within the stress and pain and fill it will beauty, life and love. The reward for me was a strength I never knew I had and the peace that comes from knowing I can transcend any circumstances and be joyful anyway.
So today, stop and smell the roses (or hydrangeas, or lily’s.) I promise, it will be the best $10 you have ever spent.