A Peony's surrender / by Jessica Hunter

It's cold and rainy today. The garden needs it though. I neglected to water my plants last week as wedding season began in full swing. Sim bought some rain barrels to water the garden with so we can conserve energy and reduce our water use. When he renovated our bathroom last year he built in a grey water system. He says I take too many baths so he wants to make sure we get good use out of my moments of luxury. He's right and I appreciate that he thinks of these things. 

Sim built us a front porch this week 

Sim built us a front porch this week 

rain barrels in the walkway

rain barrels in the walkway

I'm tired, in a good post production sort of way. I had a wedding this past weekend. My mom and I spent all last week working away on arrangements, garlands, bouquets and then packing it up to install at the Berkeley Fieldhouse. The couple I was designing for are friends of mine, which always makes the process such a joy to help make their dream come to life. They are such a classy, stylish couple, I mean there was a coffee trailer that had a stamp for the cups saying "forever + always." I can't wait to see images from their day. 

I cleaned the house this morning before my sister and brother-in-law stopped in for coffee. Our nephew played some instruments and chased Rosemary around the house because as he puts it, "she's the nice one, mommy."

It's amazing what a little tidying and organization does for the soul. Post-wedding blues is a thing when you have a home studio. Everything is in disarray when it's over, green buckets of leftover foliage, plant clippings under rugs to be used as a mice by the cats. I put on my morning brew, began the sweeping and threw in a load of laundry. Sundays are my cleaning days. It helps me feel prepared for the coming week and allows me to really rest in the afternoon. 

We had some unexpected news this week. Sim was laid off of his job. This weather seems appropriate. When I woke up today I said it was miserable outside, like the sky was crying. Sim said, "maybe the sky is so happy it's crying? Like you do sometimes." Somehow with this shitty news we know we will be okay. Life is full of moments when we have to surrender and let go. This is one of those times for us. 

When we fool ourselves into certainties that's when we get lost. The older I get the more I am convinced that nothing is certain except for love. I don't mean this in the sense that two lovers will stay together forever, although it's beautiful when this happens and I wish it for all the couples that come my way in the wedding world. Instead, I mean this in the cosmic sense that as humans we continue to love, to give, to sacrifice, to be generous, to hope even when we have been let down by life. I think we do this because there is this larger life force extending continual grace to us, we mirror it in our daily acts of kindness and faith against all odds. We don't love perfectly, but we continue to try. Humans have this incredible ability to push past extreme disappointment, to rise out of unfair and unjust situations and to continue to grow and flourish. 

When Sim told me the news I was chopping vegetables for dinner, feeling the weight of the knife as it sliced through the asparagus. Sure I was a little stunned but I looked over at him and said "I'm so sorry love. We will be okay. We will get through this." I didn't say this to make him feel better, although I'm sure it helped to know that we are in this together. I said it because it's true. We will get through. Just as so many people before us have. 

It was Tuesday when Sim told me, the same day I finished my 30 day challenge. That morning I woke up smiling because of a happy dream I'd had. They are rare as I normally dream of things I'm afraid of or some strange combination of events that doesn't make sense because I ate pickles and cheese too late the night before. But on this day, I received a gift and wrote this: 

I awoke to the happiest dream. It was full of beauty and I wanted to hold it, I reached for it as if it were something I could bottle and save forever. It spoke of contentment, joy, peace, and freedom. When I opened my eyes and stretched my body long I smiled to myself because this gift of love was for no reason at all. It wasn't circumstantial that I felt this way, nothing magnificent had happened. It was just another ordinary day but I was so hopeful in the now. It was that same feeling you have when you wake up in an exotic new place while travelling, or the morning after getting engaged. I knew that this day was my dream. I'm living it. With Sim, in Hamilton, on our little plot of land with our two cats and so many lovely people. My dream is now. It's always been and always will be. My heart felt goodness and I could see the goodness all around me. I am, I am and that is enough. This has been the best gift to awaken to on the last day of my 30 day challenge. 

Does this mean the dream was for nothing? Of course not. If anything it was needed as circumstances had just taken a turn for the worse. Instead it helped position me for the news and I wanted to lean into this little miracle, content with where we are regardless of what's going on around us, all while reaching for what's next at the same time.Will we choose to get anxious, angry, bitter, entitled and spiky with each other or will we let go with ease, breathing, falling into the rhythms of grace? Surrender is an art, it takes years to perfect and so we are choosing to make this time an opportunity to practice it. 

When I walked out into the garden this afternoon the peonies reminded me that letting go has a way of leading to peace. They were shining with the wet dew of rain on their petals, bowing to the earth the way the body does when it moves through a sun salutation. They didn't fight the rain, instead, the heaviness and vitality of the water was the very thing that caused them to open. It's here they were at there best, beautifully undone, soaked in the sweet act of surrender. 

Let it Go (Danna Faulds)

Let go of the ways you thought life would unfold:
the holding of plans or dreams or expectations. Let it all go.
Save your strength to swim with the tide.
The choice to fight what is here before you now will
only result in struggle, fear, and desperate attempts
to flee from the very energy you long for. Let go.
Let it all go and flow with the grace that washes
through your days whether you received it gently
or with all your quills raised to defend against invaders.
Take this on faith; the mind may never find the
explanations that it seeks, but you will move forward
nonetheless. Let go, and the wave’s crest will carry
you to unknown shores, beyond your wildest dreams
or destinations. Let it all go and find the place of
rest and peace, and certain transformation.