Welcome to my kitchen. It’s where my family and I make most of our memories and messes. It’s where we cook, eat, play, paint, talk, problem solve and dream. This kitchen of ours is also the place where I always, always keep something fresh and beautiful.
Bringing the beauty of nature in hasn’t always been such a huge deal for me. It is now. Many of the objects in our home have a story to tell. For me, flowers have many stories to tell. They remind me of victories won and lessons learned. Most of all, they remind me that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.That simple lesson has been hard one for me. I suppose it was a bucket of rotted, slimy flowers sitting on my front porch that really drove that lesson home. They didn’t begin as a nasty disaster headed for the compost. They had been a bucket of gorgeous blooming crabapple, peonies, columbine and mint. And they weren’t supposed to sit out there and rot. I had big plans for them….
You see, I rather fancy flowers. I mean, I really, really love flowers. The way that bees love honey? That’s the way I love flowers. In fact, I love them so much that four years ago I started a wee-little flower farm and design studio. It wasn’t much, but it was a start and I threw myself headlong into growing and marketing and designing. Up until this point, it seemed as if my perfectionist tendencies could only serve me well.
Then, as families have a way of doing, we grew. We joyfully welcomed sweet baby boy number three. And then the reality set in. Suddenly, I understood what everyone had been saying; all those warnings about the transition from two to three children proved more than true for our little family. With three sweet boys under 6 and daddy with a new job, I was overwhelmed in a way I had never been before. Exhaustion set in, and if I’m honest, so did post-partum depression. For a while, I didn’t want to do anything but sleep, preferably for more than 45 minutes at a time. But as life has a way of doing, we all grew and slowly we settled into a rhythm. Even then, our littlest guy took to sleeping like a cat takes to baths and it was over a year before real, meaningful rest became a part of my life again. And with it, the fog began to lift…
I discovered that I wanted to work with flowers again. Unfortunately, I also discovered that as much as I had learned about myself in the last year of parenting, I still had not yet learned to let go of perfectionism and pride. So instead of simply enjoying the flowers and doing what I loved, I had to get it exactly right. Instead of creating something for the uncomplicated joy of creating, I worried about pictures and posts and portfolios. Simply put, I worried about getting it perfectly so others would be impressed. And so it would go…I would cut a bucket of gorgeous flowers, set them out on the shaded porch and promise myself, “When the dishes are done, then I’ll design an awesome bouquet.” Or, “When the kids are all in bed and sleeping, then I can rock that hand-tied bouquet.” And guess what happened? Bucket after bucket of flowers sat outside on my front porch and rotted.
For me, those buckets of rotted flowers started to represent a pattern that I was becoming painfully aware of: they were a symbol of a lifetime of striving for perfection.
It took that bucket of slimy peonies to make me realize that my need to do it perfectly was keeping me from enjoying the brief moments of beauty that were right there in front of me. I could have brought those flowers in, plunked them in a vase and relished the perfection of creation.
I’m learning that beautiful moments pass so quickly and they are meant to be savored. Not left to rot, while I wait for the circumstances to be just right. Because life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. That’s why there are flowers on my windowsill. Freshly cut, plunked in a vase and ready to be enjoyed. As I stand at my kitchen sink, they make me remember. Remember that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful, that beauty begs to be brought in and savored. They make me remember that, just like those blooms, those moments with my three precious little boys are passing quickly. Those flowers remind me that if I always wait until the dishes are done, or the laundry is folded, I will miss out on the joy and beauty of getting down on the floor and playing or reading just one more book.
So that’s my flower story. That you’re reading it here on this blog is even a small victory over perfection for me. When my friend Angela asked if I’d be interested in contributing, I thought, “Yes! I can do that! But first I have to update my business page on Facebook, and post more on Instagram, and learn how to edit my pictures, and, and, and! And then I remembered. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
And now I have a challenge for you, mama. Will you join me? Will you bring beauty in?
- Pick something outside: a bloom from your garden, a fern, a beautiful blade of grass, a handful of roadside daisies. Or perhaps it’s not even a stem that you find…perhaps it’s a rock or a shell or that twig that your little one collected for you.
- Now bring it in. Choose a special place to set it, a place where you need to be reminded to let go of perfection and savor the beautiful moments that are happening right now.
- Now pause and enjoy it. Then repeat again and again. If you’re inspired to share, I’d love to see how you’re bringing beauty into your home and your days. Snap a picture, add the hashtag #bringingbeautyin and share below or on Instagram.
Wishing you many beautiful moments this day,