Goodness and Beauty, Simple Pleasures

Goodness and Beauty {3}

Like the rest of the nation, my heart has been heavy with the news this week. I’m sure like many of you, I took more moments than usual to slow down, hug and cuddle my children, and be more fully present with my family.

In times of heaviness and worry, I find that it’s more important than ever to look around and notice the good and the beautiful and to make sure that I’m filling my mind with things that increase my sense of peace and hope rather than those that increase my fear and anxiety. While it may seem like the world is more filled with negativity than ever before, there has always been a dichotomy of good and bad, of joys and sorrows, of injustices and great mercies and kindness.

Every Sunday (with few exceptions), I spend time working on learning more about my family’s history and genealogy. And every Sunday, I am endlessly fascinated and awed by the strength and fortitude that it’s ALWAYS taken to be a human being living in a fallen world. When I see how many of my ancestors lost babies, lost children to now-preventable illnesses, lost spouses at tragically young ages, lost every member of their family, endured persecution, suffered the loss of everything they owned…it actually fills me with a sense of appreciation for all that modern living affords us, for a sense of gratitude that I have been given 35 wonderful years on this messy and beautiful planet, for the chance to have the kind of life that allows me to slow down and simply enjoy what’s right out in front of me.

I don’t try and minimize the suffering of so many today. There are times in ALL of our lives when we will suffer and find ourselves in situations we’d rather not have passed through, whether through the simple fact that we’re all mortal or through the choices of others. However, I’ve realized for myself that my own tendency to anxiety is not made better by grief-spiraling by watching the news and imagining the heartache around the world. My own ability to be a strength and a help in a world filled with people who need comfort is dependent on me knowing how to find peace even amidst the turbulence.

For me, the only way I can be mentally and emotionally resilient despite my tendency to hyper-empathize with the hardships of others is to 1) serve others and offer compassion and help where I’m able rather than letting my anxiety and fear spiral me down to the point where I can’t help anyone, and 2) let go of the things I cannot control and remind myself that worrying does not guarantee a different outcome–only action towards the things I can control can do that.

In case you need more than the pictures and thoughts today, here are some articles that have given me a boost this week:

Here are five things that have brought goodness and beauty to my days lately:

Note: There are affiliate links to books mentioned.

i. beautiful books + the excitement of summer reading

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump every since 2020, but I’m finally pulling out of it, even if I don’t have as much time as I used to to actually read. Part of it is that I’m super excited about the summer reading list I recently made, which is filled with titles that I can’t wait to get my hands on (and which I’ve already started reading from!).

Part of it is that I’ve had a bit more time lately (and will soon have even more once everything is planted out in the flower farm) to peruse some of the flower farming and arranging books I bought last year, like this one (which is the one pictured above) and this one (which is a recent favorite). I love books that combine gorgeous photographs with inspiring and informative writing, and there is a lot of that in the flower farming/arranging niche of books. In any endeavor or hobby that I’m pursuing, I’m always most inspired when I combine my own actual work with inspiration from the work and insights of others, so studying these books is actually an important part of keeping up my enthusiasm and motivation for flower farming, which can get hard in the spring just because you’re so busy.

Also, my oldest, Raven, who recently turned 7, has really started to become quite a good reader herself. At the beginning of first grade, she was still having to put forth a lot of conscious effort in order to sound out every word, but now, she reads fluently and with a decent amount of expression to boot. She’s taken to reading aloud to her brothers, which just melts my heart. Watching her enthusiasm for reading reminds me of the magic of my own childhood reading, which is perhaps one of the reasons why my reading life has felt re-infused with new life again.

ii. flowers that are too short to sell

I always dream huge when it comes to flower farming and what I’m going to have available in any given season, which can get frustrating if reality doesn’t match up to my high expectations. And while I still do wish that more of these ranunculus were blooming on long enough stems to actually sell (because it would mean I would be selling a LOT of them right now), I can’t deny that it has brought me so much joy to be able to enjoy these little shorty blooms myself.

Since I basically need to put every usable stem I have in the bouquets that have already been pre-sold to our CSA (community-supported agriculture) bouquet subscription members, that means that I would literally almost never have any flowers for myself this early in the season. So, even though I do wish they were longer to take some of the stress off of creating the arrangements for the CSA members, I can also appreciate that if all of them were blooming on tall stems, I wouldn’t have any to bring inside my own home.

iii. homegrown lettuce fresh from the garden

Our vegetable garden ambitions are definitely smaller this year than last, but I did make sure I took the time to plant a few rows of lettuce, which we’re now reaping the benefits of. Homegrown lettuce picked at just the right time blows any store-bought stuff out of the water, and right now we could have salads for about every meal if we wanted to.

We’re also growing onions, kale, and possibly some snap peas if they would start growing a little faster, as well as some warmer weather stuff like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and pumpkins. Oh, and about a zillion herbs, just because I grow so many of them for filler for my flower bouquets that we never have a shortage for our own culinary needs.

Being able to grow our own food never gets old.

iv. the close of the school year

There is so much I love about the above picture — the trays and trays of seedlings hardening off in preparation to get planted out next week after our last frost, the chalk art the kids had done all over the porch, and most of all, that beautiful girl on the top step who grew so much this past school year that it constantly astounded me.

On Wednesday, we went to the elementary’s end-of-year program, and besides marveling at my daughter’s intense concentration and focus during every part of their performance, I was also made painfully aware of the fact of how fast time passes. As I watched each grade get up to perform their dance, I could see how quickly it all goes by, how fast kids really do grow up.

I once heard someone say that the first 5 years of your kid’s life go by so glacially slow that it feels as though they will never end, but once they hit kindergarten, you’ll be begging time to slow down. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s just having the school year to put a definite time stamp every August and May on just how old your kids are getting, but there’s a lot of truth in that statement.

However, I am relieved to have the school year over. Trying to keep up with flower farming stuff AND homework and school pickup and everything just starts to become a lot, and I feel like I can hardly catch my breath. Now that summer break is officially here, I’m excited to be able to actually let my kids sleep in (not that they really will, much) and have leisurely breakfasts made up of food other than cold cereal and to be able to take power naps if necessary in the afternoon after super early morning harvests, rather than worrying about missing school pickup.

Summer’s slower pace is just what I need right now, and I’m looking forward to it.

v. unexpected blooms from many different places

The bearded iris in the picture above did not exist last year. Well, the plant existed, but the plant(s) never bloomed. In fact, I thought the irises that we inherited with the property probably needed to be pulled since not a single one produced a flower last year.

However, to my surprise, several of the old iris shoots started throwing up buds this year, and I waited eagerly to see what they would look like. At first, I thought they would be purple, which is always a good color to have around this time of year since I have a lot I can pair it with (alliums, lilacs, bleeding heart, etc.). Then I thought it was going to be a burgundy-brown and bright yellow, which I wasn’t as excited about because it’s tricky to match and not my favorite color combo. But THEN — it opened to reveal this gorgeous dusky sunset combo that was a complete surprise, and I was so glad I hadn’t just given up on them all and pulled the plants last year.

The irises aren’t the only surprises.

Perennials we transplanted from a yard up north ended up having all sorts of little bulblets tucked in with what we were taking, so in addition to the peonies and irises we’d meant to transplant, we also got bonus alliums and muscari and stars of Bethlehem.

And let’s not forget the other surprise flowers, like the long-stemmed red rose given to me the day before Mother’s Day when we visited our favorite burger place (where they were handing them out to all the moms who came in), or the tulips my neighbor left in a milk carton outside my front door the day after I announced that almost our entire tulip crop had failed, or the flowers that my son’s preschool teacher let me have from her yard when I came up short one week for bouquet subscriptions.

I’m amazed at how much support I’ve had in going for my flower farming dream, and the different forms that that support has taken.

I’m so thankful.

Now it’s your turn–Drop a comment below and let me know 5 things that have brought you goodness and beauty lately!

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