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WHEN FLOWERS BLOOM, SO DOES HOPE

I was 10 months deep in a severe depression, after returning home from living and working on conflict issues in the Middle East, when I discovered flowers.

Even in my depressed state, there was something in me that came alive when I stepped into the floral studio.

I was transfixed.

I would watch the designer delicately handle a soft blush ranunculus with a kind of reverence. I would watch her work with her hands –create combinations of color and texture, create structure.

I found myself taking quiet walks in the morning, surprised to find myself paying attention to my surroundings. The dewy grass, the rustling of the trees, the lush foliage, and most especially - the flowers.

Flowers have since became an important part of my story of healing and recovery.

For the first time, I was able to access a quiet place outside of myself and engage in a sensory experience through flowers’ and their natural color, texture, and scent.

It was a gift.

"Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you.” - John Muir

I felt that my mental illness was limiting me from reaching my full potential, limiting my capacity to dream outside of the career path I had carved out for my life.

The personal and professional sacrifice. The risks that I voluntarily stepped into. The narrative that war-related trauma was merely a byproduct,the result of living in perpetual situations of conflict and crisis.

And so, I suffered in silence.

I was human.

I needed to be human.

I was not a hero.

I felt so alone in my experience, hoping that no one could see the depression, the tension of my shoulders, the lids of my eyes close frantically, the one tear that I brushed away when the plane flew over us.

It was always personal.

I convinced myself that I could manage my depression and PTSD, that I could overcome this false version of myself that is my depression.

Another year went by. I had touched the dream. I made it. I stood in front of the United Nations and realized the audacity, the sacrifice, the mental duress. It was all worth it, in that moment.

I spent the next few months holding on to the dream, gripping it tightly.

Surviving.

7 years.

7 years of my life.

The Masters degree. The training. The travel. The heart and the heartbreak.

I had no regrets.

And yet, I suffered. I couldn't understand why I was so fulfilled and so unfufilled. Happy and unhappy.

I am now on a journey of creative recovery and re-discovery of the self.

Reading “The Artists Way,” the author speaks about the process of creative emergence – that there will be a time when we begin to mourn the self we abandoned as we align closer with the artist within us.

In the floral industry, I am finding that it is impossible to get better and look good at the same time. I constantly have to remind myself that it’s okay to begin again but I must give myself permission to bloom fully. ​

Spreading love, always.

Ashley


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