100 Days of Blooming Love: Story of an Artist Who Stopped to Notice
She admired a rose bush growing on a trellis in her garden. As delicate as it was, it was also immensely resilient and tough. What Arlene noticed while sketching its branch was that there were the pathways that formed from one branch and split to form another. One path had no thorns and led to a blooming pink flower, while another thorny pathway led to various branches of leaves. Yet another led to a single bright red rose hip. There were so many different pathways in that single rose bush, and each had its own uniqueness, texture, and beauty. The rose bush was a teacher on choice.
Arlene made her daily visit to the garden. Her eyes immediately focused on a glistening spot of earth. She walked over and discovered a fallen hummingbird. It looked so peaceful and still with its vibrant teal body and soft, black neck.
Before she knew it, Arlene began digging a spot for its burial, adorning the earth with an assortment of flowers from her garden and playing Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem to honor the sweet creature.
She dedicated the Indian Paintbrush to the hummingbird. She had just learned of the plant this week. They both felt so wild and free.
The process of sketching the Indian Paintbrush with the hummingbird was a transcription of their message to the world, a message of freedom, joy and presence.
Fast forward to Day 20…
On a walk in San Francisco, Arlene found two daisies shouting at her to remember to notice the beauty in the simple things surrounding her. These two flowers looked like they were about to dance – one was doing a curtsey while the other was holding out its arm.
On this particular day, the message from the daisy was:
“What do you notice from these simple moments in your life?"
We began an experiment of adding a simple reflection prompts to each of the 39 of the drawings from her original collection and called them “Gratitude Blooming” cards.
Choice: Are you facing a decision right now? Try to be grateful for the choices available to you. What does your heart want to choose?
The hummingbird and the Indian Paintbrush’s inquiry was:
Joy and Presence: When you make time for stillness in the moment, what does joy feel like?
The two daisies came with this message:
If you were to simplify your life, what would you choose to keep?
We brought them into dinner conversations with friends and family members to see what feelings, ideas and insights could be sparked from the art and inquiry questions.
The cards inspired such meaningful dialogue and group connection that we took it a step future and designed indoor, interactive Gratitude Blooming poster gardens for community spaces. The poster gardens created a trail of wisdom for people to experience together.
Arlene’s story shows how the plants and flowers leave us messages when we are receptive and present. Her series of drawings became a devotional practice of noticing the pure wonder of the natural world that surrounds us in our everyday lives.
What lessons can we learn when we slow down and notice the gifts of nature that surround us?
Gratitude Blooming has become our way to share nature’s wisdom and healing with the world as an energetic forest bath for any time of day, alone or with community.
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