In The Midst of Winter

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.
— Albert Camus

Winter has this way of making me curl up inside myself.  It makes me look inward forcing me to get comfortable within.  Like a hibernation before the spring, or the gestation before the bloom.  There is a lot happening in that quiet before we move forward with a sense of newness.  The word "reflection" comes to mind but this is a deeper connection than that word lends meaning.  New Years and anniversaries tend to make us reflect on what has come before and look ahead to where we are going.  So, today, in the midst of winter and on an anniversary, I find myself somewhere in between this connection and reflection.  See a year ago today we launched the Power Flower Project website.  It was a commitment to expanding the experience of Power Flower beyond our community.  A way of sharing with others the gift of connection and kindness while tearing down insecurities and isolation.  It was filled with excitement, dreams, goals and we'd be lying if we didn't mention a wee bit of fear.

We chose to launch the website on Inauguration Day.  After a long election season where we witnessed from our "leaders" calls to violence and hateful rhetoric that left us feeling more divisive than united, our choice of launch date was full of purpose.  Some may say, "Don't get political" but I have to agree with, the good Friar, Richard Rohr when he states, " There is no such thing as being non-political. Everything we say or do either affirms or critiques the status quo.  Even to say nothing is to say something."   So for the last year we've been getting political and pollinating kindness, spreading encouragement and creating connections by doing our best to overcome our shortcomings to look you in the eye and say, "I see you.  From my beautiful mess to yours, I see you."  It was awesome, we handed out a lot of flowers, met a lot of beautiful people and encouraged others to start pollinating all the way from Colorado to Chile! (mind blown)  It brought new friends, and babies to love.  It brought new jobs to stoke our passions and use our skills.   It was also a hard year, full of loss, failures and hardships.  We didn't find as many Pollinators as we hoped or hand out wellness grants.  We've even neglected this website for months.  I look around and I see communities more divided...connections getting weaker and hatred, not kindness, more prevalent in our day to day.  

This may seem terribly discouraging and to some extent....it is.   But, I find myself looking into the reflection, in the midst of winter, and finding something stronger.  And so I say, "Onward."  Put down your tools of fear and take up those weapons of love and kindness. It's our pledge to you and we believe a flower is a powerful weapon. Let's use our eyes to be curious and truly see the beauty in one another. So wherever you are and whomever you see...let's keep connecting.  Pollinate kindness, to yourself and others.  Sow the seeds of curiosity and let's see what can grow when we consider the uniqueness, beauty and strength each of us humans have to offer.   Don't worry, from time to time we will fail at this too and often in the most miserable of ways.  But don't fret, that's just part of being human.  So as we sit here, marking a milestone, looking back with grace on last year and hope for the year ahead, I leave you not with a bouquet of flowers to brighten this winter day but with more words.  Words that have been ruminating around in my head keeping me thinking about purpose.....thinking about you.

A person is a person through other persons. None of us comes into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. I am because other people are...
— Desmond Tutu

....Onward.

A Long Time Coming!

40weeks

Here I am, 40 weeks pregnant and FINALLY getting back to writing a blog post because my house is clean, laundry is done, kids are with family and time can't feel any slower. It's been an interesting thing, this blogging process during this pregnancy. I assumed that with the excitement, gusto and passion I have for Power Flowering that it would go hand in hand with growing this baby and be "easy" to keep up with. Not so much. So I'm doing my darnedest to hold any self-imposed judgement of being a "failing blogger" at bay. Because, honestly, the only person holding any expectations of how this project "should" go is me. 

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Even though my blogging has been inconsistent, the Power Flowering act as stayed a regular practice over the summer. And even better, it has been supported by the incredible farming/gardening talents of friends who I could not be more grateful for. From Niki at Flourish Flower Farm to my friend, Kara, with her community garden plot, my dad and one of my dearest clients we have had consistent donated flowers all summer long! It's been incredible! We've also had a couple of pollinators share their experiences...locally AND in Colorado (what?!) And I've gotten to share one of my Power Flower paintings with T.H.E Center to hang in their new office and hopefully bring a spark of beauty to the support of those in our community working hard at their recovery! All of these Power Flowering happenings, once again, remind me that EVERY ACTION towards sharing kindness and beauty in the world counts. And WE NEED THAT SO MUCH RIGHT NOW! 

 Our Hand-Delivered Pollinator Package! 

Our Hand-Delivered Pollinator Package! 

 Painting for T.H.E Center - Power Flower Healing

Painting for T.H.E Center - Power Flower Healing

So even though I may not step up the blogging posts in the near future, I can say that Power Flowering won't stop as this new addition comes into our family. If anything, it might gain more momentum as I continue to use the practice to stay present and grounded. Which has continued to be my main goal over the past couple of years...and will continue to be. 

This practice, this project, these flowers and humans bring me joy and the daily reminder that WE are all in need of support and love and encouragement. And goodness knows that my brain will need as many reminders of that in it's postpartum sleep deprived state! So I will keep on keepin' on - sharing flowers when I can and writing official blog posts when inspired. 

ONWARD to welcoming the coming changes, additions and LIFE LESSONS! 

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This Week...in a short snippet

Happy Sunday and Howdy Hey from Power Flower People. When I turned on my computer and came to this screen I looked around and was settled by the words that we share at the top of the blog page. 

BE REAL. BE KIND. BE BRAVE. BE HONEST. BE YOU.

Such a beautiful challenge to give ourselves each day we are here on this earth, don'tcha think? Le sigh. Other than that, I've got no deep thoughts of full throttle emotions to muse upon today...just a simple sharing from the past week. 

Here are some snapshots of the Power Flower Project this week. Flowers, paintings and cards OH MY! 

We got to share the beautiful bouquet on Saturday. It was grown and created by my friend who has planted Power Flowers in the community garden that she helps cultivate! How incredibly cool, ahhhhhmazing and totally awesome is that? These flowers were planted with the intention of Power Flowering! It makes my heart feel like it's going to pop out of my chest. 

We picked them up at the studio on Saturday morning and after some errands, I decided to drive by the hospital. We drove through the parking lot with the plan to find someone walking in to visit a patient. A young girl with a man and a woman caught my attention, so I slowed down beside them, rolled down my window and asked if they were going to visit someone in the hospital. I didn't ask details - I didn't need them, I just wanted to extend the healing power of the flowers without any strings attached. As they walked ahead of us I watched the little girl read the note and smile. Power Flowering done and done! 

Let's keep on keepin' on...no matter what comes our way! 

Hugs, love and High Fives all around!

 

 

 

 

Let's Acknowledge Kindness When We Witness It

It's been a few weeks since I've sat down to this actual blog...as I continue to grow this baby and stay as alert as possible to the other two small ones in our house, my energy has been a little quieter. And, by golly gee, that's ok!  It's all about the ebbs and flows of life anyways, right? 

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But today I wanted to share our experience because it got me thinking about something that comes and goes in my mind often. Why, in general, do our brains tend to focus on the negative acts we are witness to? The bad drivers, the rude cashier, the unfolding murder case we heard on the news? Is it the news? And, if so, why does most news have to be the negative stories? 

We have 24 hour news channels that track events all over the world...natural disasters, bombings, murders, financial crisis, celebrity divorces and on and on and on. What about a 24 hour POSITIVE new channel? Community gardens being built, innovative research towards health, babies being born, kids laughing, animals being rescued, businesses helping build local community, teachers who are supporting the learning of our children!  There is so much good that could be focused upon but so much of our brain space is eaten up with the road blocks, it can be difficult to make the shift. 

But as I continue to learn, and talk about, our brains have the ability to shift focus. And when we do, we begin to see more and more kindness happening. 

Case in point - our afternoon ice cream stop. We went to a new ice cream shop that our friends told us about. It's local and small, something that we very much like to support. When we walked in, there were two people working and they both greeted us and worked together to get our order prepared. As I sat with the kids, two men came in to order. I believe they were law enforcement of some sort, but not wearing official uniforms - however as they placed their order, I overheard the employees ask if they were on duty. The two men said yes, and they were given their ice cream on the house - being told that it was the shop's way of saying Thank You for their service in our community. 

Such a simple gesture probably made such a positive impact on their day. 

As we got back in the car, I decided to go back through the drive through and share our Power Flowers with the employees to help "repay" the kindness and let them know their kindness was seen. The woman asked how she could pay the kindness forward, and I told her they already were! 

So Thank You to Frostbite Ice Cream for not only providing delicious treats BUT also sharing kindness into our world! 

And here's to opening our eyes to the GOOD in the world...because it's always there! 

Do the Hard Work AND Use the Pretty Filters

I sat in my therapist's office yesterday, snuggled under the blanket on the couch and said (would have rather screamed but I was being aware of the other people in the building) ... "WHY do these new patterns take sooooooo eff-ing long to set in???" 

I think I ask this question an average of 3.7 times a week. 

 "the beauty of smeared mess"

"the beauty of smeared mess"

I get it, neural pathways and blah-blah-blah...but I have to be honest, sometimes I wonder if electro-shock therapy wouldn't feel easier, because today here I sit - revisiting one of my "things." Money management. The checks and balances, spread sheets, black and white. "The numbers don't lie" kind of things that cause me to put my fingers in my ears, close my eyes and yell in my whiniest toddler voice "I CAN"T HEAR YOU!!!!!" And then after doing that, I sprinkle the glittery dust of disillusion over everything and do something like go shopping with my almost maxed out credit card for things that I don't really need and pretend like it all isn't happening.  All while gasping for the breath of honesty within the oppressive blanket of shame. 

And then I add reading the news and seeing pictures of dead children with white foam oozing from there noses. It's enough to make me want to throw in the towel and call it quits. 

SHOOOOOOWHEEEEEEE THAT IS SOME DRAMATIC FEELING SHIT, Y'ALL! 

But guess what! I didn't throw in the towel...hence I sit here at my computer writing it all out. Within the drama and shame's attempt to keep me in the same groove - I DID THE WORK. I didn't do it on my own either. Jason did it with me. We asked the hard questions, said the shame inducing things out loud, pulled the rug out from under our attempt to find the thing outside of ourselves to blame AND TOOK RESPONSIBILITY.  (que superhero stance and victory music)

 "small steps towards progress" 

"small steps towards progress" 

No, the money stuff didn't then magically go away or get fixed. 

BUT I feel my grooves changing. Slowly and surely, the new pathways are becoming more comfortable. My brain is so tired...but not in the emotionally strung out way. It's a deep, heavy, earthy way that makes me breathe more slowly and and soften my overly furrowed eyebrows. 

It feels GOOD! In the midst of the mess, it's a comforting safe space that I am just now...after 35 years, learning to find within myself. So I'm here to say...WE CAN DO IT. We can work hard, take responsibility for our actions or non-actions and make changes. It's slow and challenging and mostly uphill. But along that uphill pathway, we can pause - take it all in and make sense of it. 

From there, we move forward. And in my case I paint some flowers, give some flowers and put a pretty Instagram filter on it all and share it with the world. Because that's what helps me make it stick. There are many other ways to do it, so my wish for you is that you find your way. May we all continue to dig in to the feelings and keep on keepin' on...TOGETHER. 

 "the pretty filter" 

"the pretty filter" 

We appreciate you...

 

I've spent over a decade working in the mental health field.  The last 7 1/2 years I've worked as a community mental health worker/therapist in Buncombe Co, NC.   Everyone always says, "That must be a very rewarding job."  I'm always polite and answer, "Yes, it is."  But it is also a very thankless job with long hours, often low pay, emotionally exhausting work where sometimes even those who are benefiting from your work aren't thankful or perhaps didn't want you there in the first place.  It's even harder when the resources you need to do your job are constantly changing or being impacted by political decisions at the local, state and federal level.  It is a stressful job that requires a lot of self care and a supportive community around you.  So when we at Power Flower Project were asked to participate in Social Worker Appreciation Month we didn't hesitate to join in. 

We gathered just over a hundred flowers and handed them out to the members of the Child Protective Services division of Buncombe Co Health and Human Services. Each flower had a note of encouragement and thanks for the difficult work that they do.  Truth is, we didn't see many DSS workers that day. This is only a little surprising if you know their job.   They are constantly out in the community meeting with families, investigating allegations, in court hearings and meetings with teams of people trying to make sure children are safe in their homes.   The lack of Social Workers present was not an obstacle for us, we luckily had access to their cubicles.  So we left flowers right at their computers where they would have to stop, at least for a second, and take in something encouraging and beautiful before delving back into the painful, hopeful, thankless, rewarding work that they do.  Thank you, Social Workers.

Spring Has Sprung

Happy First Day of Spring to all you Power Flower People out there. If Spring doesn't make you think of flowers, then I don't know what will. In honor of the official day we did a quick gas station Power Flowering on our way home from preschool today. 

I decided to share a painting instead of real flowers today...just to do it a little differently. It was another simple and quick exchange with smiles passed between me and the woman getting in her car and I hope it ripples out some kindness into her world. 

As I continue to remind myself daily...every little action helps AND since Spring time is the official beginning of the blooming season we might as well plant as many seeds of love and kindness as we can. Hopefully many of those seeds will take root! 

Onward We Grow! 

Power Flowering in Honor of My Recovery

If you've read "My Story" you may have noticed some of my labels listed. If not, then let me begin by saying "Hi, I'm Corey. I'm 11 years deep into my recovery and healing process from bulimia and anorexia." That's a fun introduction, isn't it? Truth is, it isn't fun but it's life and it's a part of mine, so I embrace it. No, I don't introduce myself that way to strangers I meet along the street, nor do I say it when I'm Power Flowering someone in the gas station parking lot. But I do think it...especially when I'm Power Flowering, because it's one of the main reasons I started this practice. 

It's incredible how much space something like an eating disorder or an addiction can take in our brains. I am constantly flabbergasted by the human ability to function (at least somewhat) and do everyday tasks while being consumed by the voices and thoughts that come along with these diseases. In their attempt to protect us from the big, scary, full-of-feeling world they strip us of any ability to truly connect to anyone outside of ourselves. It's exhausting. If you have your own experience with something like this, maybe you know what I'm talking about. If you don't, please do your best to practice empathy because believe me when I say, judgement only adds fuel to the fire of the disease. 

When I first started out in facing my eating disorder, I thought ok...I will take these couple of months and get over this thing and then move on with me life. Ha! Not so much. Just like anything, it's an ongoing process. It's a part of me - sometimes it's a quieter, mild and easy going part that feels distant and containable. Other times it's an all consuming, enraged and dangerous storm that wreaks havoc through every part of my existence. I have learned (the hard way) that the best way to handle my recovery is to wake up every day and say hello to all of my different parts...the healthy and vibrant part, the controlling and vindictive part, the scared part, the brave part, the kind and gentle part and all of the other parts in between. Doing this is easier some days and like pulling teeth on others. I now know that I need as many positive reminders to help me get through the more difficult days...case in point, Power Flowering. 

Last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and I felt the need to acknowledge it in my own way. In our city we have access to some incredible resources for the support of recovery and there were events held throughout the week to support the growing awareness. Part of me wanted to make Power Flower Project a bigger part of the week, but I realized that I didn't have the energy to be that visible and vulnerable with something that I am that personally connected to. That may sound weird, since I am so willing to share details of my life and thoughts that many don't...but I just had to trust my gut and go with it. 

So, in theme of many of the Power Flowerings I went more simple and decided to bring flowers to two of the events that were supporting T.H.E Center - a local nonprofit that provides support for those in recovery and their families. It wasn't grandiose or elaborate, but it was heart felt and genuine...exactly how I hope this project continues to grow. By doing this, I was able to continue to support my recovery and find comfort for that part of me that works so diligently to "protect" me. With each of the Power Flowers and messages I shared last week, I was able to gently remind my eating disorder that I don't have to be so scared of the world.  SO I say "Thank You" to Power Flower Project, T.H.E Center, Clasique Acupuncture and Pilates, The Asheville JCC and my eating disorder for allowing my heart more moments of healing and strengthening. 

In closing, if you are reading this and are in need of support for any mental illness or addiction PLEASE ask NOW! Recovery is difficult and scary and hard BUT if you have survived long enough to get to today, You have the strength to heal and there are so many people available to help you along the way. No one else can take the first step for you...but they will be there to walk along side of you once you move that foot forward. 

Onward we GROW!!! TOGETHER! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sharing Philosophy

There are so many people out there who are finding ways to pollinate kindness through direct acts or supporting those who do.  We have taken on the philosophy that we shouldn't just "like" and approvingly nod our heads at these good people.  We should shout their praises and spread the word of their kind acts.  So don't just "like" what you see, retweet, regram and share it far and wide.  If you see some kindness out there, let us and others know.  Acts of kindness only require one individual but a movement of kindness takes a community.  This is why we want to make it a practice of introducing you to our community. 

Today we want to bring your attention to the Gardeners Cottage.  They are a retail shop in Biltmore Village that specialize in nature inspired gifts, out of the ordinary houseplants and art from locals.  They have been kind enough to partner with us and have already provided several bouquet's of flowers that have made their way through our community.  Thank you to Libby and the rest of the Gardeners Cottage family for supporting our Power Flower mission. 

We Belong

You. I. Us. Them. She. He It. They. WE BELONG. In this world, to each other. The people like us and unlike us. The people we like and the people we don't like. EVEN those who believe that not everyone belongs...they belong too. And guess what, there is room for us ALL. So why are we so scared? 

If anyone has an answer to that question, please let me and the rest of us know. You will get the GOLDEN TICKET of the Universe. 

Of course, I get scared too. It's often easier for me to put up the barrier of Us versus Them so that I can feel safe in my world. Especially when I don't agree with what They are saying. But deep down in my gut and ever expanding heart, I know that keeping that barrier is only making my enjoyment of life smaller. I do believe that it is possible to listen, disagree and continue to live side by side with those that are different...it just takes A LOT of work and courage. And that's OK...I am willing to keep practicing.

Today I practiced. Granted I didn't run full throttle into facing someone who I disagree with...there is only so much courage I could muster today. But I did show up and share the best version of support that I had today of via Power Flowers.

On Monday morning the JCC in my community received a bomb threat. It was a teacher work day, so no children were there BUT still. UGH. I'm not Jewish nor do I have kids that go there however I still felt the array of emotions. Scared. Angry. Sad. Dismayed. Perplexed. Confused. Disheartened. 

I had a few choices...

I could let those feelings fester and start finding people or groups to blame. Find the "Them" that I could hate and wish ill-will towards. But doesn't that just continue the cycle? 

I could ignore it. Brush it to the side because it "doesn't effect my personal life" and continue on with my safe bubble. 

Or I could acknowledge the hurt, sadness and confusion in the ways that I have learned I am capable. 

I choose the third option. After I did preschool drop-off this morning, I took a few minutes to do my art project of coloring a card and buying some flowers while sending compassionate thoughts to the Jewish community and the anonymous threat makers, because they need compassion too...as hard as it is to give. I drove to the JCC and delivered the flowers. I told the woman at the reception desk that they were for EVERYONE who was a part of their community. And left with tears of peacefulness, sadness and acknowledgment that this life continues to be messy and beautiful all at the same time. 

Power Flowers won't make bomb threats or hatred do away, but I like to believe that each moment I spend on this practice helps to neutralize the moments someone else may spend on planning attacks of fear-based violence. 

So I'm going to continue to let my love bloom and share it as often and as much as I can. 

Honoring YOUR Courage...Because WE ALL Belong Here TOGETHER.