"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that's why they call it the present"
Two days before Christmas, I came through the house, arms loaded with stuff from the car. There were groceries, presents and of course, two bunches of flowers. The holiday crunch was in full effect, so I literally grabbed two vases from the shelf above the refrigerator, filled them with the minimum amount of water, stuffed the flowers in and then went on to the next task, which was hiding the last minute presents before my kids arrived and found me out.
This year we were hosting dinner the day after Christmas. Christmas as you would expect was nuts, with lots of wrapping paper, heavy meals, and a little Kahlua in our morning coffee. We woke the morning of the 26th with a singular goal; friends and family arriving at 4:30 for cocktails, eat more food and enjoy some time together, before the Christmas holiday is done and we all go back to reality.
Needless to say the stress level in the house started to get pretty high, our son was still wound up from the day before and my spouse and I were still operating in holiday panic mode. This led to a bit of an edge in the air as the bathrooms needed to be cleaned, the rug vacuumed and cooking responsibilities ironed out.
About 10 AM, I decreed, "I have to do something with these flowers."
For the time being the baby was quiet and the four year old was entertained. I grabbed the bunches of tulips, greens and few stems of white Orientals. I found the nicer vases at the back of the cupboard, laid the flowers on the kitchen table and split open the plastic sleeve. The very act of starting to work with the flowers brought my blood pressure down. I cut the tulips short for a low cut round vase, which would be the evening's dinner center piece. Gently placing the red and white tulip blooms in a circular pattern took my mind off the credit card bill, focusing on cutting perfect 45 degree angles on the stems took my mind off all the tasks that lay ahead.
What was happening was that I was finally in the moment, I was finally present and most importantly I was being mindful. This doesn't happen when you're washing dishes, sometimes it happens when you're cooking, but on this crazy day the wisest thing I did was carve out 15 minutes to organize the flowers into some creative arrangements. While I focused my energy on the moving each bloom to the perfect spot in the vase, the days stress fell away.
Holding each stem, stripping the foliage, evaluating its shape and how it would work with the other tulips, this was something I could control in a great uncontrollable holiday chaos.
As I took the stems and unused leaves out to the compost, I felt like I had accomplished something.
What I had accomplished was to center myself and as I took a deep breath, I had a realization that perhaps a New Year's resolution was staring me right in the face. How can I take a fifteen or twenty minute break every day to do something that pays off in mindfulness? Working with flowers can do this. I think just holding a piece of the natural world can calm you spirit and make you connect with "now."
Let's promise to let "now" happen in 2014.
Photo Credit: Bill Prescott