For years I told my husband that I did not need bouquets of flowers in order to bring me happiness.

“It’s a waste of money,” I said. “They will just end up dying.”

“A nice sensible potted plant is fine,” I said, “but flowers are silly and frivolous.”

I think the truth is I decided way back when that flowers would not bring happiness because then my feelings would not be hurt when I did not get them. This has nothing to do with Bixby – this goes back about 25 years. 

Young Susan

Back in the day there was a special kind of hell called “Valentine’s Day Carnation Sale” at our junior high and high school. This was a day ear marked to make sure everyone saw me loping through the halls (keep in mind I was one of the tallest PEOPLE, not just tallest GIRLS in my grade) empty handed. At least that is what it felt like.

The pretty, petite, popular girls carried armloads of red carnations, giggling about the secret admirers and boy friends who sent them flowers. I scuttled off to the gym for basketball practice, my feelings hurt and my hands empty.

awkward teenager
Me in 7th grade. Yes the photo quality is bad, but the reality was not much better.

So I boarded up my heart and decided I did not want flowers. If I did not want them, then it was me who got what I wanted when I did not receive any. Or so I told myself. Sometimes we make up weird truths to not have hurt feelings, instead of just saying our feelings are hurt. 

Today Susan

I’d rather be a hypocrite than the same person for 20 years. 

Adam Yauch, Beastie Boys

I am not sure when I turned the corner to want flowers. Definitely after I was married. For sure when I was growing joy in my own garden. 

vase of flowers is happiness

Everything in this vase came from my own garden. One of my favorite times in the garden is the end of a few hours of work. There is always a sense of accomplishment:

  • Patch of weeds cleared out
  • Compost spread onto growing veggies 
  • Newly planted flowers bringing color to a blank area
  • Backache that says I exerted an effort

This is when I go around with my scissors or clippers and take a small cutting of a bunch of random things. Then I bring them in and arrange them. At least arrange them like a PE major. I have seen gorgeous arrangements in garden centers by the pros, but I love mine because they are from my clumsy paws. 

Better yet, someone gave me everything in the above photo.

  • Pampas grass from a neighbor
  • Iris from a friend thinning them out
  • Euphorbia that Ellen Ashley gave me after helping in her gorgeous garden

The cheapo in my is giddy because they were free, of course. But there is another layer. There is always another layer if you sit quietly enough. This arrangement has a story. Even the vase, which I picked up for only 50 cents. This vase is from Reconsidered Goods, a non-profit creative reuse center in Greensboro. 

One of the three pillars of sustainable productivity is having a physical environment that works with you and brings you joy. 

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

William Morris

It turns out I love having bouquets of flowers in my home. I love it even more when these flowers come from my garden. Embracing what is true has helped me to be able to improve my physical environment. This is all part of the process of creating a life that does not need to be escaped.

Look around the space you are sitting in right now. What do you love and would benefit to having more of? Could you throw out or donate something? What is keeping you from taking action on either of these things?