I have a complicated relationship with flowers.
It’s complicated like my relationship with sweets, comedies, and romance.
The common denominator is that for most of my life I have overlooked, distrusted and even disliked many of these parts of life that are simply meant to bring us pleasure. As a result, I have learned that I have a lot of healing to do when it comes to enjoying life and feeling pleasure.
As many of my friends can attest, I almost never finished my Halloween candy as a kid, would choose a depressing documentary over a comedy any day (still true) and encouraged romance in everyone’s life but my own. Needless to say, I have often struggled to let down my own defenses enough to enjoy even the simplest pleasures.
Thankfully, though with much effort and a lot of help, I have learned to enjoy sweets, comedies and even romance. I have learned and am still learning to be less hard on myself and to enjoy certain activities just for fun.
Flowers are next on my list.
I have told my partner on more than one occasion that I don't really like flowers. Yet as I listened to myself discount flowers over and over again, I eventually could not help but wonder why and chose to take a hard look in the mirror.
Flowers have taught me a lot about my own need for growth and helped me discover a deep desire for healing.
This piece is a part of that process.
As is often how my art unfolds, the words came first in this piece. The short poem at the center of this watercolor speaks to the consolation that comes from the big (and small) decisions we make every day that honor who we are, where we have come from and how we desire to grow; the decisions that open us to the love that we deserve and affirm the life path that we are choosing for ourselves.
Most days discovering what I desire and making decisions based on what I want has been a challenge; so when, despite my fear and anxiety, I am able to make those decisions anyways, it “feels like a triumph, a victory, the most complete love letter my heart could ever receive.”
And when discerning an image to accompany that feeling, I settled on my own hands immersed in a field of flowers, soaking in the joy and pleasure of the beauty we share.
Unsurprisingly, I felt conflicted about painting flowers; I wanted something stronger, darker, and more dependable. I almost painted the moon in a dark night sky.
But flowers seemed to better represent my struggles with vulnerability, pleasure, and healing, themes at the heart of the words in this piece.
I have also learned that these struggles are common to the journeys of many of my dear friends and loved ones. This piece is also for them. I am inspired daily by the courage of those who are choosing to share themselves more fully despite paralyzing fear and the realities of isolation, discrimination and hate.
I imagine not everybody feels as conflicted about flowers as I do, but there might be other parts of life that folks struggle to embrace, other elements of joy and pleasure that folks struggle to let into their lives. This piece is about choosing to lean into those parts of our life that affirm our dignity and remind us to love and care for ourselves.
My intention in this piece is to create a reminder for myself, and for each of us, that the challenging process of healing is worth it and that the life we are empowered to choose for ourselves through healing is the love that our hearts most deserve.