The other night I joked with my boyfriend about how ironic it would be if in the future I became a divorce lawyer but then did weddings on the side in the summer. "Lets just hope that they didn't come to you first for flowers and a few years later they're hiring you again for a divorce". That would truly be horrible...But it did make me think...If God is really leading me to pursue family law (which at the moment is pretty speculative and the idea is continuing to germinate). Getting to do wedding flowers would definitely help me to remember the joy and sacredness of marriage, amidst the conflict, abuse and he said,she said I would have to experience in day to day work.
Just to give you a bit of background. Yes this website/blog is about sharing my DIY's on all things flower related. But the girl behind the keyboard and the flowers is me - Janet. There are a number of flower blogs that I follow religiously namely Amy Merrick's of Amy Merrick Flowers & Styling, Allison Westlake's of Coriander Girl and Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua. Of course there are a gajillion pictures of drool worthy flowers for inspiration - but they also write about their lives so honestly and poignantly. It's not just about flowers, but it's about life - all the tiny tragedies and triumphs that make it worth living. I fell in love with not just their work but who they were as people.
So now back to the bizarre, title - Divorce Papers and Wedding Flowers. Lately I've been struggling with calling, vocations, life and happiness. I know, big topics. And I just want to take a moment to be honest about who I am and what this is all about. And it all started when I was an exchange student in Copenhagen Denmark in my fourth year of undergrad. I went to a Women's Conference at my church at the time and Charlotte Gambill was preaching about calling and obedience through the story of Moses. In Exodus, when God approached Moses while he was an exiled shepherd and asked him "What is in your hand?" and Moses replies "a staff". Then God asked Moses to throw it on the ground and it turned into a snake. And then he asked him to pick up the staff again - and now it wasn't a staff just for shepherding sheep but to shepherd people into freedom.
Charlotte challenged us to ask the difficult questions. What are the things in your life that are your staff? Your source of comfort, identity and security that keeps you safe and stagnant in one place? And what is your snake? The thing that could bite you in the butt and even kill you? And what mission is God calling you to do after you take that leap of faith and you grab the snake amidst the uncertainty?
I knew the Holy Spirit was stirring in my heart and speaking to me so clearly and loudly...that law school was my snake. And being an advocate for abused and battered women was the mission. I had been denying it for years. I come from a family of lawyers and every year my uncle would ask me, "so when are you going to be a lawyer?". And I would always so I don't know or I don't think so. I wanted to be a creative, an artist, work in film, journalism, or documentaries - anything but be a lawyer. But in that moment at that conference, I couldn't deny it anymore - I had to say yes and from there it was history.
I worked really hard to get my grades up in my final year of undergrad, I started working at a law firm full time as an legal assistant to learn the ropes of the profession, and I studied for the LSAT at night and on the weekends. But by the New Year I was completely burnt out and spent. I was depressed, had a pretty bad case of bronchitis, and was exhausted. I threw myself full force into this dream that I think I lost myself. And in that dark place was where Flora Symbolica was born. It was my escape, my safe haven, the activity during my week that I did just for myself, a place where I could be creative and appreciate beauty, a time to sabbath and rest.
It has helped to give me the energy to keep going on this path. To keep studying even though it's hard and to hold fast to the promises of God. These flowers have been my drink of water during a desert period in my life and I couldn't be more grateful. So thank you to all those who have been so loving and encouraging with this little project, I'm glad that you've been enjoying it as much as I have. And someday, that can be my life...where I draft divorce papers for a woman exiting an abusive marriage in one hand, and a bridal bouquet for the start of a new one in the other.
The other night when I was flower arranging at home, my mom brought up an old memory she had of me from when I was a kid. Whenever she would take me grocery shopping, I would see the flowers near the front of the cash and wanted to buy some. She always said no because my mom isn't particularly partial to flowers - as they are not very practical and they die after a few days.
I remember crying after she would tell me that I couldn't have any flowers. I never really cried if I couldn't get an ice cream, or a cookie, or a toy - but I cried over flowers.
As a kid I was painfully shy, and my favourite place to be was at my uncle's library looking at hardcover books filled with paintings of flowers - Monet, Van Gogh, the Dutch Masters. Looking at the pictures in those books was like discovering a secret garden. It was a place all of my own where there was colour, beauty and light.
This is the first year of my life where I have a steady 9-5 job post graduation and I have a bit more disposable income than I previously did. At first I debated with myself, should I really be buying flowers? Isn't it too frivolous, wasteful or obsolete? Should I be spending my time doIng other things? But the thing is - none of those reasons matter if this is what makes me happy and if I'm able to make others happy by putting together a bouquet for them. I find the greatest job about this hobby has not been about receiving the flowers themselves but about seeing others find joy in receiving something that has been crafted especially for them.
And now I can buy all the grocery store flowers I would like!