April showers bring May flowers

It's been a whirlwind of hustling, learning, creating, and growth the past couple weeks. Last week, I had the pleasure of working the inimitable Janet of Floral Verde (@floralverde) in Cincinnati. I've never visited Ohio and was truly blown away by the many blooming branches and vines and flowers growing in her neighborhood. I mean, there was freaking clematis climbing up mailboxes and exquisite bearded irises and columbine beauties sprouting right out of the ground. 

While Janet and I were creating floral arrangements in her studio, we listened to several different podcasts and radio programs, including Freakanomics and This American Life. Prior to making the trip, I asked for podcast recommendations on Instagram and heard an overwhelmingly positive response suggesting NPR's latest, S-Town. The host, Brian Reed, receives an email from a man in a rural town in Alabama (aka Shit Town) about a possible murder cover-up in the town's recent history. Through the series, listeners follow a tale of shrouded truths and find both depth and humanity in the quiet gifts we offer to those we love. My friend Dylan offered a keen reflection, she thought Reed uncovered the story with an unbiased lens, highlighting the depth and complexity of the story's key players. I highly recommend the series to anyone who enjoyed Serial. S-Town has a similar flavor with a maze of twists and turns throughout. 

After we finished delivering the flowers to each of Janet's events last Saturday, Janet asked me the most glorious question, "Hey, want to go foraging?" To say my eyes lit up and my shoe laces tied themselves with excitement would be an understatement. We cut mauve tree peonies(!) and bountiful branches of spirea(!) from her childhood backyard. We hit Kroger supermarket and Home Depot to pick up flowers and plants to cut for our project to mix in with our newly foraged friends. It was a beautiful way to end our busy week of creating and an experience I will treasure as a highlight of my career. 

Below is a photo of the bouquet I made featuring foxglove, tree peonies, hellebores, spirea, orchids, garden roses, and assorted foliage tied with trailing silk ribbons (swoonface):

 Photo by Janet Martineau of Floral Verde

Photo by Janet Martineau of Floral Verde

Passion Pit. (No, not the band.)

I am a Google Empress. I google everything. I am also horrendous with foreign languages. It may seem impossible to receive a D+ in Spanish 2, but I am living proof: anything is posssssible. Thus, full disclosure in sharing the following words: je ne sais quoi and joie de vivre. 

Je ne sais quoi translates to "I do not know what." 

Joie de vivre translates to "exhilaration." 

These two qualities are present in every human being who exudes passion. It is the inability to put your finger on the quality that makes a work or person different. That little something special spice and the joyfulness one exudes when living life.

In conversations with friends, I've found a disconnect in identifying passion. There is no difficulty in recognizing that there is something missing. Everyone knows when their equilibrium is off, we physically fall over from the lack of balance. The decay of living a life without a true north is a more nuanced falling over. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but slowly, it erodes the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed enthusiasm of childhood. A lack of inspiration, like a broken heart, can transform otherwise lovely individuals into zombie-hearted life forms. These ideas reminded me of a conversation about building a career in post-graduate life with a dear professor from college. 

My professor told me his intentions in pursuing literature and writing were questioned tenfold in his youth. People asked him what he planned to do. First of all, that is the most jolting question to ask a young person. While well-intentioned, it is the verbal embodiment of clammy hands attempting to escape a room covered in butter. Ask a young person another question, say, how are you planning to celebrate graduation? Way more fun of a question AND it will help you write a thoughtful note and/or send a gift in the spirit of their answer. ANYWAY. I digress. This professor fell in love with literature and spent his undergraduate and graduate studies devouring books and studying his craft. He has spent his life teaching what he loves. While he doesn't expect his students to love reading and writing in the same way he does, he hopes his students feel that passion for literature when enrolled in his courses. He also mentioned the charming paradox of sometimes hating the very thing that makes you feel passionate. That which we allow into our hearts and love deeply has the power to harm us the most. That's okay. It's part of the work and the experience. 

This idea of finding happiness is well researched. The documentary "Happy" is one such exploration. Roko Belic's 2011 film explores the idea of measuring happiness in humans through a micro lens into communities throughout the world. The increase of happiness tapers off pretty dramatically after one's inherent needs are met (food, shelter, yadayada). Thus, money is important, yes, but it is not the end-all, be-all to success and fulfillment. Additionally, the advice of FOLLOWING ONE'S PASSION is truly terrible advice. There is honesty in working a job one may not be crazy about to pay bills, loans, health insurance, etc. Certain sacrifices must be made if one wishes to purse a passion that may not be lucrative in the initial stages. Such examples include: working odd jobs, not traveling, getting reaaaallly good at home cooking, exploring the joys of living with one's parents and/or in less desirable and more affordable locales. 

How does one #findtheirpassion? For some it is soul searching, for some it is having a meltdown in a psychologist's office when approached with the question, "What do you want?" (Hi, Nancy Glenn circa 2013. LOVE YOU!), sometimes it is watching someone else's zest for life and asking them to coffee. The important thing is to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Some things that may spur an idea: take a walk around your neighborhood without headphones and just listen to your surroundings, consider what you would do for free when you wake up in the morning, research different clubs/book groups/activities where you could meet different people (a change of scenery and different perspective can do the trick to feeling renewed), try to think about the people you admire and what you admire about them, write down a list of your values, take note of what you would and wouldn't want to do at work (sometimes identifying what you wouldn't do is the most helpful anchor to this process), and then put the list away. Don't think about it. Yank it out in two weeks and re-do it again, or re-evaluate what you said before. We are always refining and tweaking our passions. Feel free to re-rack yer life, so to speak. 

I believe we see into the hearts of people who listen to their inner voice and -do the work- to craft a life that speaks to their unique talents and sensitivities. Whether one chooses to pursue their passion through their career or through how they spend their time outside of work is irrelevant - the important part is seeking and pursuing a life that makes one's soul sing. Delve into the endlessly chic and French way of life with a little exhilaration and acknowledgement of "I do not know what" - it is the secret to finding you. 

Botanicamuse Studio Playlist I

Soul Food 
A journal dedicated to all things hardly strictly flowers. 

Inspiration is a funky thing. Sorta reminds me of the opening scene of Love Actually when Hugh Grant explains that love is all around us in myriad forms. Inspiration is the same way; looking outside of one's medium, I feel, is the most beneficial way to seek authentic voice and originality in one's craft. I alternate between music and podcasts when I'm working. Click me to listen to the studio playlist I've been jammin to as of late.