By: Miranda Mowrey, Columnist
The other day as I was grocery shopping, I stumbled across a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers. Each flower was the size of my head, the petals growing from the center emanating a warm, yellow glow as if they housed a little bit of nature’s sunshine. Instantly, my mind drifted to the windowsill that sits above the kitchen sink – they would fit perfectly here, in a room cloaked with colorful wallpaper that was often painted with beams of natural light.
At home with the flowers in hand, I filled a glass vase with water and carefully cut the stems at an angle in order for them to soak up the most nutrients. I set the vase of sunflowers where I had imagined it in the store, stepped back, and admired my new muse.
For a day or so, I routinely refilled the receding water, positioned the not-yet bloomed bulbs so that they faced towards the sun, and plucked any dying petals from the plant.
Life unfortunately got in the way, and I was too busy worrying about taking the trash out in time for trash night, renewing my car’s registration, and ordering textbooks to think about caring for my sunflowers.
What was once a charming addition to the room has now become a murder scene! Brown, fragile petals littered the area around the vase. The petals still clinging on for dear life were no longer burning, beautiful and bright, but tired and deflating. Kicking myself for my lack of responsibility, I threw the flowers away in the trash, silently bidding them goodbye as my thoughts drifted to my next task of the day.
The reason I am writing about how I single handedly killed a bouquet of flowers in record time is to emphasize the importance of watering your ‘sunflowers,’ in other words, taking care of yourself in the midst of this fast-paced world we live in. Our lives are dominated by checking off to-do lists, adding to our resumes, maintaining a multitude of relationships, filling our weekends with fun activities, the list goes on and on. These extremely high (and I would argue, often unattainable) standards often result in us not neglecting our neverending to-do list, but neglecting ourselves and all facades of our own health.
I urge you to stop, take a deep breath, and tune into yourself.
Has the water that fuels your flowers evaporated? Have you noticed that you no longer feel strong and resilient, but deflated and tired, like sunflowers thirsty for water?
Water your sunflowers. Take a couple of minutes daily to really think about what your body and mind need from you. Is it a nice nap after a long, stressful shift at work? Or, do you need an hour-long walk in the park with your best friend so that you can rant about your roommate’s new boyfriend?
Are there parts of you that are not yet fully blossomed, parts that need to be repositioned so that the sun can coerce them into blooming?
Adjust your sunflowers- focus on parts of your life that need more love and attention. Invest more in whatever you feel needs a bit more sunlight and recognition, that being your family, friends, career, mental or physical health.
Are you carrying any withering petals that need to be plucked?
Cut off your dead petals. It is exhausting to constantly be weighed down by things not producing anything useful in your life. Cutting off dead petals can translate to cleansing your life of deadend jobs, unreciprocated friendships, hobbies not providing the same happiness as they used to, etc.
The highest priority on all of our to-do lists needs to be to care for yourself mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Although easy to overlook, our wellbeing is the main provider of our happiness, not ‘keeping up’ with our hectic and demanding reality. We have the potential to be bright, big and beautiful like the sunflowers I brought home from the store, but we must invest time and energy in ourselves to keep our flowers uplifted and blooming.