March 1, 2014

Pink Carnations

"Be of good cheer. 
Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. 
You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; 
and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. 
Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost." 

On Thursday, I bought pink carnations.

As Millie and I passed the display of four dollar bouquets at the grocery store, I suddenly found myself reaching towards the rows of flowers. Normally, I would feel guilty spending money on something unnecessary, but on a Thursday morning before a snowstorm, they felt necessary. I pulled out two choices- creamy, white daisies with bright yellow centers, or the carnations, and Millie's heart was set on pink. She carried them carefully in her small hands. We found a blue Mason jar for the kitchen table, and a tiny vase for her room, and filled them both with the bright buds. I explained to Millie that it would take a few days for some of them to open. Then, I leaned back against the wall, feeling like I had accomplished something just by snipping the green stems and dipping them into the water.

I am trying to consciously, intentionally make an effort to be more focused on joy. Both giving it and receiving it. Creating it and resting in it. I want to make good things a priority. I want to celebrate beauty and minimize the negative.

Until recently, joy has always felt frivolous to me. I can't quite pinpoint why, to tell you the truth. But it's been a long winter. I've found myself wanting color, pining for good things. Green, growing things. Newness and life and hope, instead of snow covered and forgotten. I want to place more value on the condition of my heart and the well being of my spirit. I want to make the place I'm in a better one, for myself and for those who are a part of my life, even in small ways. It should matter. It does matter.

And I bought pink carnations.

And life was beautiful.

And this was supposed to be the end of the blog post. Neat and tidy, wrapped up and simple.

But then, I lost my temper with Millie. More than once and over things I didn't know how to fix. Walter was clingy, which is normally quite nice, but not convenient when I'm also battling a three year old. I dropped things. I hadn't been able to reach Sky when I had hoped. I didn't feel like cooking, and after I did, Millie had a wild melt down in the middle of her grilled cheese sandwich, even though it's her favorite.

I looked at the flowers as if they were to blame, frustrated thoughts running through my mind. "I don't even know why I bother. Flowers are stupid. This day is stupid. And it's a good thing I'm only thinking this stuff, because Millie would grab a hold of the word 'stupid' and I'd never hear an end to it and that's the last thing I need right now." I was reduced to blaming flowers. Blaming everything.

Beauty doesn't happen overnight. The blossoms happened on my table as soon as I gathered them into that glass, but before that, they were grown. And it happened over time.

I can't turn on a switch and make my life a dreamy, sunlit landscape with no problems. But I can buy a bouquet of pink carnations. I can pause before I speak. I can find joy in small things. I can mail a surprise to a friend. I can write when I need to and be silent when I don't. I can light a candle in the evening and use a favorite mug in the morning. I can make spaghetti for dinner and use extra Parmesan. I can take a breath after I stop two babies from crying and be thankful, even then, that they are healthy and they are (usually) sweet and they are mine.

That is beauty. That is joy. A process. A quest. Carnations bloom slowly, and so do most good things. The time, in fact, is part of what makes it so beautiful. That it took a while. That it wasn't a snap of the fingers. That it required many things, and patience most of all.

Flowers are never necessary. Except maybe they are. Especially pink carnations. So I will take the joy they give, and the joy I will work to create, and slowly, daily, it will grow.

11 kind comments from you:

Alissa said...

Sorry you had a bad day. Your carnations are beautiful and so is your decision to find joy, purposefully and through time. Love your writing.

Jen said...

I know how it is, when the kids are crazy and the hubs is away. :( Hopefully you'll see better days ahead. :)

Michelle said...

I love this so much, and it's written beautifully as usual. I'm trying to do the same thing in my own life.

Ashley Phillips said...

Joy is not always easy to focus on, my friend. We all fail, but at the end of the day all that matters is that we tried. I adore this post. I'm off to share it in Facebook land ;)

Melissa Gilliam Shaw said...

This is such a beautiful post, Erika.

Jessica Lynn said...

"Flowers are never necessary. Except maybe they are. Especially pink carnations. So I will take the joy they give, and the joy I will work to create, and slowly, daily, it will grow." Yes.

Kaylee said...

I loved this post. I can relate so, so much.

JG said...

"Flowers are never necessary. Except maybe they are." I bought myself flowers today for this very reason. <3

ash schlax said...

this is beautiful. and so much similar to what i'm learning. i'm also realizing flowers are necessary--much more than i ever thought. praying for a rich growing season for you, friend. ♥

Fran said...

Love this post. Good things take a while ;)

blm said...

yes, just yes. so feeling this way these days.

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